As an author, and a person involved with politics, I hear a lot about how you need a thick skin. I don’t have a thick skin, and I don’t want to sacrifice sensitivity for the kind of obliviousness that seems to make politicians less than compassionate. Apparently there are other stories to tell about skin.
I spent yesterday afternoon reading David Dillard-Wright’s lovely book At Ganapati’s feet. The story of how we even got to this point deserves a blog, but not today… One of the comments that leapt out at me, was about the skin of elephants, which although thick, the author says can be incredibly sensitive.
I’ve been wandering through the wisdom on the internet today. Apparently elephant skin can be up to 2 inches thick in some places, and is incredibly tough, especially on the soles of their feet. The baggy, wrinkled look increases surface area to help manage heat, so elephants have a lot of skin. They also have places where their skin is incredibly thin. Thick skinned doesn’t have to mean thick skinned all over, and it doesn’t have to mean insensitive. I really should have known this. I walk barefoot, my own soles are hide-like, and my fingertips lack sensitivity after decades of playing stringed instruments. Other bits of my skin are not thick, tough or unfeeling.
Left to its own devices, my body grows thick skin where it needs to, and doesn’t where nothing is required. I ought to be able to apply the same approach to my more psychological skins.
So why the elephants? Why was I reading about Lord Ganesha? That’s hardly indigenous Druidry… except that there were elephants in the UK after the last ice age. Smaller, furrier ones, now extinct. There were mammoths. It’s entirely possible that the Romans brought military elephants here. There is elephant armour too; I saw it in the Tower of London, although I think it’s now exhibited somewhere else. There are elephants in our zoos and circuses, and have been for a long time, and thus there are also remnants of departed elephants in the soil of this land. If living and dying somewhere doesn’t create the option of being a spirit of place, what does? And since there are elephants, and have been for a long time… how could it possibly be undruidic to contemplate an elephant headed God?