Spirit Animal – Rat

The pandemic threw my plans for a loop back in January. Everything including my further study of shamanism took a back seat to making sure my extended family and I got ready for the disruption and then survived it.

The virus did surprise me. I expected based on early information that the pandemic would be much worse than it was, though the recent reemergence looks pretty bad.

One good thing, long hours of introspection has refocused me and I’m ready to begin my journey again. I hope to begin posting here each Monday, so check back then.

The Spirit of Rat

It is important things for everyone, not just shamans, is having some order to your life. There is just too much chaos out there, even worse than a few years ago. Very few people can live in a whirlwind.

We are heading into a “Grand Mutation” later in the year. This is according to John Michael Greer, who wrote the book “Green Wizardry” which my other side is based on. Along with being a druid, he is also an astrologer.

“It’s not just you. The energies are definitely in flux. I’ve made certain changes in my practices over the last year, mostly intended to make use of the changing energies for the sake of my own self-transformative work, and I know other people who’ve had to do the same. Astrologically speaking, we’re about to have a Grand Mutation — a shift of the cycle of Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions into a new element, from Earth to Air — and in traditional mundane astrology that was seen as a major turning point, the end of one era and the beginning of another (The last one was in 1842, and brought in what we might as well call the modern world; the upcoming one will be on this year’s winter solstice; the one following won’t be until 2219.)”

Time to get a little order in your personal life then.

One of the things I’ve begun doing to promote order in my Life is while having my first couple of cups of coffee in the morning, to take time and read from my small library of occult and Craft books. I’ve been neglecting my studies.

I live in a rented duplex, whose driveway leads up to my front door. I have a chair where I can sit and look out that door. I usually toss bird seed, mixed with cat food out first thing. The smaller birds like the seed and my neighborhood murder of covids (crows and starlings) have developed a taste for cat food. They also know when I do it, and are on the electrical wires awaiting me.

I work with a local animal shelter and currently have several foster cats in my home. They like to sit at the door and watch the birds eat.

This morning I choose to read from Raven Kaldera and Galina Krasskova’s book “Neolithic Shamanism”. Its one of my recommended craft books and one that I go back to a lot. I had planned on reading about the herb Mugwort, since I’ve been using it lately as a purifying smudge. Mugwort is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, plant spirits and can be a powerful ally. Grandmother is a little difficult to work with, since she is happy to let you make your mistakes. She has the attitude that failing at something, is often the best teacher.

Ratatoskr, in the branches of Yggdrasil

Instead, I ended up reading about the World Tree Yggdrasil and the squirrel Ratatoskr. There is a huge tree directly across the street from my home, which always reminds me of Yggdrasil. Ratatoskr is one of the three animals who reside in Yggdrasil. The other two are Vedrfolnir, an eagle who lives in the branches above, and Nidhogg, a dragon which lives in the roots below. Ratatoskr lives on the trunk and among the branches and carries messages (and sometimes insults) back and forth between the two.

(The World Tree’s name is pronounced “Ig-Dra-Sil”, the Ygg is like the “ig” in pig.)

As I was meditation on that, the cats sitting in front of the screen door became agitated as they do when a bird or squirrel are close to the house but out of my view. I’d had small birds and some starlings eating, as well as a male cardinal.

To my surprise, a rat ran out from in front of the concrete step at my door. It grabbed a piece of cat food and ran back. As I sat there the rat did this several times.

Now having a rat in the neighborhood is not unusual. I have a small garden at the side of the house and where there is a garden you can have small animals. Rabbits and squirrels are common but rats are showing up more and more. Enough that internet articles on how to deal with them have appeared.

Rats, like squirrels, are prey animals for a host of predators and because of that they have evolved over the millennium to be smart, swift and crafty, watching their environment constantly. Nothing ruins your day like getting eaten. They are very intelligent, a trait which makes them great lab animals. Rats in a maze is a recognition that they know how to get out of a difficult situation.

If Rat comes into your Life, it may be time to look at the dangers in your Life you haven’t been watching out for. Is there something in the background that you have been ignoring. A situation that has you stymied. Someone who might have eyes on you in a harmful way. Time to look around and use your wit and intelligence to find a way out.

Rats are also great adventurers, knowing all the little places to hide and the good places for food and shelter. European rats colonized the New World right along side the first Europeans. Asian rats did the same from their side of the World. Consider what kind of skill it would take to crawl up the anchor rope of an early sailing ship, hide among the bales and bundles of the hold, coming out only when it was dark and the crew was asleep to eat a little food here and there. For weeks you hide and avoid being seen and when the ship arrives in a far off land, you scurry out along the anchor rope to begin your adventure again.

If Rat has appeared in your Life, he may be saying its time to expand your horizons. Time to leave the nest and seek your fortune beyond. Perhaps you have been a bit complacent lately. Get off your butt and explore.

Rats are also considered signs of abundance and fertility. They have been with humans from the first farmer’s huts. When the harvest is plentiful, then rats will breed and multiply. A female rat can have many litters over the course of a year. Some of her young won’t survive birth, some will be eaten by predators or even her own kind, but a few will live and go on to spread their species.

If Rat has appeared in your Life it may be time to review the abundance in your Life and how you can contribute to your Family or your Community. Rat does not hoard, and you should not either.

If times have been tough and the bounty scarce then perhaps you should see where you can join forces with those around you to seek what you need. Rats are not choosy, they use what ever the World offers them. And if nothing is offered, then rats go out and find it.

The Spirit of Rat marks new beginnings. Time to let loose of the clutter in your Life and embrace change.

Yggdrasil, the World Tree in my neighborhood.

Final Note: I’ve not seen the rat since that first day. Not surprising because I’ve been leaving food for her at the entrance to the spaces below my front step, so she doesn’t need to venture out during the day. I suspect its a female, with a litter of young. That’s why she ventured out that first day. I have to be careful, since if the neighbor sees her, they will call the landlord and he will put out poison. Rat though will survive.


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