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The Badger, as the Wise Zuni see him

July 21, 2012

A friend of mine bought a used book about the Zuni at the library book sale last weekend.   The Zuni are a very old tribe of agricultural pueblo Native Americans.  Following is an excerpt from the book regarding Zuni beliefs about Badgers:

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LEGEND
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In Ashiwi mythology Badger was assigned as Guardian of the South and the chief fetish of the Summer People. The world was seen as divided between summer and winter people. The activities of the summer people included curing and teaching; the winter people were warriors and hunters. At first glance, Badger’s aggressiveness would seem to suggest a warrior or hunter mentality. But if we study the behavior of Badger, we see that this animal is neither. Though aggressive and vicious when provoked, it does not exercise these qualities in the service of a community, as a warrior would. Moreover, since it feeds mostly on roots from the earth, it has little need to hunt.
The Badger’s aggressiveness is almost entirely focused on self defense; thus, as a healing fetish it amplifies the energy of all our natural healing processes, including those of the body. The medicine of the Badger is the single-minded, passionate defense of the organism. The person who suffers an illness frequently must overcome a sense of passivity and victimization in order to rally his or her energy for the healing process. The naturally aggressive nature of Badger lends this kind of support.
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Badger symbolizes the basic, aggressive drives of human life. Driven by the ego and physical needs, the Badger can be so singularly focused on satisfying its own drives–sexuality, hunger, jealousy, acquisitiveness, fear, competitiveness, judgment of self and others, vengeance that it would rip anything to shreds that stands in its way. This wanton destruction of others who get in our way, with no thought for such consequences as injuring the others feelings or causing physical harm, ignores our oneness. To injure anything that is part of that oneness is to injure ourselves. To contemplate the Badger fetish is to acknowledge that as human beings we are quite capable of being so caught up in our basic needs and so convinced that we are right that we ignore the needs of others and can become destructive. As a fetish, Badger can heal because it identifies our greatest weakness, the tendency to forget that our limited perceptions of the world are never enough and that only with our pooled spiritual resources can we even hope to come into harmony with the higher power.
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AFFIRMATIONS
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When you are feeling like a victim, such as during an illness or when you have given your power away to another person, hold Badger in your hand and bring to your mind the image of this animal at its most ferocious. Take in the high energy aroused by this state of being, without resorting to the destructive acts it might suggest.
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FETISH READING
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Recognize that when you feel like a victim, your sense of passivity can be simply a cover for rage, which can easily become destructive. Badger is there to remind you that peace of mind and health are achieved not through mindless destruction but through a balance of action and contemplation that serves to bring harmony between the expression of our own needs and the expression of our oneness. At times of change, when frustration runs high and fear heats us, Badger can help you either define or focus more staunchly on a goal. Change frequently involves a sense that you are fed up with the way things presently are and you want to move forward. However, running away from the present problems that are making you unhappy is the position of the victim; you lift yourself out of the victim role and begin to live more creatively and constructively when you thought fully establish an objective and begin to climb toward it. Badger’s power, combined with his single-mindedness of purpose, can help you overcome the inertia of an unwanted way of being and launch you in the direction of your new choice.
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AREAS TO EXPLORE
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Badger’s physique is very compact and incredibly muscular. This is a thick-skinned animal that hugs the earth almost as if a part of it. Possessing long, razor-sharp claws and razor like teeth, Badger has the weapons to pose a threat to animals ten times its size. But its greatest defense is found in its absolute ferociousness. When this ferocity is triggered, Badger has nothing but destruction of the enemy on its mind. There is no stopping Badger from its goal of tearing the enemy to shreds. When we humans are fearful, we are quite capable of switching into the Badger mind. Convinced that our perceptions of the world-our own thoughts, feelings, and interpretations of whatever is going on—are all that matters, we say and do things that later prove to have dire consequences. In this respect, Badger—mindedness can be the source of guilt, which is a combination of regret for having injured others and a fear of retaliation.

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If we are able to acknowledge our own Badger tendencies and be aware that we have the power to choose compassion and empathy instead, a miracle occurs; our enemies become far less fearful. In the process, peaceful negotiations become possible, bringing harmony instead of war and all the grief that goes with it. The secret of managing the Badger mind is to use its energy to stop our tendency to lie around and feel helpless, vengeful, or put upon when disease or antipathy are monopolizing our attention, and then to turn that same energy into the pursuit of creative solutions. Contemplate Badger, absolute single—mindedness, as it faces its opposite in the North, absolute knowledge. We humans always rest somewhere between these two poles, seeking the path of wisdom, which reveals that which is eternal and changeless. Though few of us will complete that path in this lifetime, having it in view as we take each small step brings a quality to our lives that we can enjoy in no other way. Be grateful to Badger for this insight.
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Zuni girl with jar, 1903

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Seems “pretty right” on to me, ‘cept, people tell me I’m usually a pretty swell, nice guy (‘cept when I’m pissed off and being a badger, and the only roots I eat are potatoes and carrots).

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