Can the Red squirrel come back from the edge of extinction… can we? Some encouraging words about Winter Finding and survival…
Today, the 23rd of September, is the Autumnal Equinox, when our wheel of the year turns to Autumn, towards Winter… and the dark part of the year! This is a good time to get prepared before the chilliest weather sets in… Odinists refer to this holiday, when we enjoy a celebratory ritual, as Winter Finding, and Pagans of more Celtic bent also call it Mabon. Here is a little squirrel to light up your day… see how many nuts he has!
Gathering acorns is also a good activity… for both squirrel and tree… This symbiotic relationship ensures that the squirrel is well- fed in winter, but it is also of benefit to the oak tree, because extra acorns, never recovered but often planted by the squirrel in nooks and crannies where they can grow, ensure that these amazing little seeds of the oak are spread far and wide… sometimes becoming towering oak trees that the squirrels can use as homes and for sustenance.
Although edible, the tannin in acorns makes them a bit hard on human stomachs, however, for Odinists, the acorn has great spiritual significance, nevertheless. The acorn is full of potential and a symbol of good fortune. All over Europe, and far beyond, the oak has been considered a sacred tree for our people for millennia beyond counting. It has often served as a place for ritual gatherings, and it harbors the holy mistletoe in its branches as well, which is thought of as a gift of heaven.
Because the oak attracts lightning more than any other tree, it has, since our beginnings, been the symbol of our great God Thor, and also of Perun, and Zeus, his Slavic and Greek counterparts, respectively. The lightning is a symbol of growth, hope, and fertility, and of the masculine power and strength of Thor, just as the swastika is. They are symbols of the life force.
This creative power and strength is meant to extend to our people as well. The oak forms a bridge between us and our Gods, a connection between us and nature, and a link to our ancestors. When standing under the spreading branches of an ancient oak, one is in a timeless place. One who could not feel the awe of it would have to be insensible indeed.
The red squirrel is the native squirrel of the British Isles, and due to the mass immigration of the grey squirrel, which is bigger and more aggressive, he has almost become extinct. The grey squirrel imports a disease that the red squirrel is especially susceptible to, a squirrel pox virus. The grey squirrel can also digest seeds that are not fully ripe better, giving them a competitive advantage over the red squirrels, whose habit, quite naturally, is to collect seeds when they are ready to eat. The grey squirrels also steal nuts from the red squirrels who have collected them. Also the grey squirrel is less sensitive, living anywhere, while the red squirrel prefers a more natural environment, which is why they are seen often in more remote forested areas, such as Scotland. If our forests diminish more, so will they. There seem to be many parallels between the animal kingdom and ours! Nature teaches us everything we need to know, if only we will listen…
Let us hope that this little red squirrel wins the battle of survival and does not leave us. The world would be a much poorer place without him…
May we win our war for life and freedom as well. Let’s start preparing NOW.