For as long as I can remember…I have always retreated to the woods. It didn’t matter if things were good or bad….the woods called me to a place that I could not access anywhere else.
I remember when I was younger, 8 or 9, my mom would have my grandma tell me the stories about the Booger Woods to try to keep me from disappearing amongst the trees behind the house. Little did she know that later on, my grandma was pulling me aside to tell me that as long as I walked hand in hand with the tree spirits, the four-leggeds and the winged ones, that they would never allow anything to hurt me.
Most of the time, I would pull my shoes off at the back door and make a run for those woods. I have always been able to feel the call of the trees and critters that lived there. I never knew any kind of fear of any of the animals there. I can close my eyes and remember sitting there among deer and foxes and birds galore. Isn’t it funny? Children don’t know that they aren’t able to do things until adults tell them that it just isn’t possible. I never knew that it wasn’t possible to carry on conversations with my four-legged and winged friends. I would sit for hours talking to an old fox that my mom was quite sure was vicious. I would take bread out by the buckets and feed the crows and all the other birds. I never knew that a crow was supposed to be a nuisance. To me, they were friends. I remember how mad my dad used to get with me because most of the time I had a ton of birds following me.
One animal that always called to me as a child was the hedgehog. I remember a cousin of mine had one and everybody thought that that little hedgehog was mean. I have never been afraid of any animal…now that doesn’t mean that I didn’t approach carefully and with the utmost respect…and was absolutely enthralled with this little hedgehog. I went over to my cousins one afternoon and we were sitting in the floor. That little hedgehog was out running around. He ran up onto my leg and curled up in my lap and went to sleep. My cousin couldn’t believe it as I sat there and rubbed that little hedgehog’s belly as he snoozed on my lap.
I preface with all of that information, so that I could talk about my trip to the woods yesterday. Friz and I slept in a bit yesterday, so the sun was already up when we headed outside. I had my cloak on and the backpack packed. It is so funny to watch how excited that little blue dog gets when he sees a loaded down backpack. He took care of whatever business he needed to take care of before we plodded down the sidewalk. As we got closer to the edge of the woods, the energy of nature itself bathed us from head to toe.
I unloaded the backpack and placed the candles and the skulls and my cauldron. I felt that incense needed to be burned today, so I pulled out some the wonderful woodsy, earthy incense that a friend sent me. As I sat there in front of the cauldron with my legs crossed, Friz crawled into the hollow that my legs made and curled up. I should have taken that as an omen of things to come. Wolf and Crow energy manifested quickly….but there was energy coming forth that had not been there with me before. I recognized this energy from my childhood….it was hedgehog energy.
The woods seemed to dance around me. The birds sang even more excitedly welcoming this new energy. The trees swayed rhythmically to welcome our new friend. I thought that it was no coincidence that Friz seemed to pull himself into an even tighter ball as he napped between my legs. I leaned back and soaked up the sun peeking through the leaves of the trees above. My hands were flat against the earth and I could feel her wonderful soothing heartbeat against my palms. It felt as if I was seeing everything around me with new eyes. I inhaled deep and could feel that wonderful earthy, woodsy incense pulling deep into my chest….building a strength and hope. I could feel it pulling up wonderful memories of past times of playfulness and I had to take my shoes off and run my toes into the dirt of the floor of the woods. Even though it was chilly out, there was something that kept pulling me closer and closer to the earth.
I cleaned up and Friz ambled around me smelling the incense and the skulls. We walked leisurely back to the condo and I settled down onto the couch….I had to look up hedgehog energy and symbolisms. This is what I found:
The hedgehog is symbolic of fertility and being connected to the earth. It’s belly is close to the Mother (earth, that is) and this close proximity is symbolic of its connection to earth and all that is fertile. The hedgehog’s tendency to curl up in the fetal position is also a message of centering, and connecting with the source.
Further, central Asia and parts of Iran associated agricultural abundance, fertility and the gift of fire to the hedgehog. In these cultures it is considered a solar power animal, and is strongly connected to the energy and vitality of the sun. This may be further understood when we think of the hedgehog’s splayed spikes look much like the spanning rays of the sun.
Being a nocturnal creature, the symbolism of the hedgehog deals with intuition, psychic ability, prophetic dreams and visions. This is because the night deals with concepts that are cloaked in shadow – a realm that is not altogether clear. That the hedgehog’s active time is at night is symbolic of “second sight.”
Another testimony to its spiritual power is the hedgehog’s natural resistence to snake venom. This is carries extreme importance with many Native American Indian tribes and is seen as a symbol of victory over evil. This attribute is also a portent of resurrection, life after death, or defeating death completely.
This little critter packs a powerful punch! So many things to learn from it. I appreciate what the Lord and Lady have given me and helped me to nurture in my relationships with animals as I have grown in the Craft…..but I do miss sometimes the innocence of childhood. I talk to the animals around me all the time, but fear of other humans and what they may do to them keeps them from getting too close. I miss the days of lying barefoot under a canopy of trees and chattering away with the fox and the deer (and the one my mom hated) the snake. I have had it proven to me over and over that their energy seeks me out, but still I miss the contact. They teach me constantly.