The validation of creatures

Often what I do when stressed or distressed is walk. The rhythm of it helps resettle my body, and the activity can help get the stress toxins out of my system. Green spaces are known to be good for mental health, and beyond that, there’s the powerful business of encountering.

I walked last night, with my husband and son, because I needed to try and clear my head and straighten my thoughts. We saw rabbits, deer, herons, a kingfisher, numerous small birds, fish, moths, bats… We got close to several of the herons, who opted to stay put and tolerate us moving through their territory. The deer watched us back. The bats flew close to our faces.

Wild things make their judgements in very different ways to humans. They judge our speed and direction, how loud or quiet we are, what kind of attention we pay to them. If they tolerate us it is because we are interesting and unthreatening. As far as I can tell, they do not care one jot about our body shapes, faces, bank balances, or social status.

To be in a space with creatures, to be in your creature body and in sympathy with wild things is a powerful kind of magic. It is one of the most affirming and healing things I know of. I have a lot of issues around how I deal with people, and whether I’m good enough. Last night reminded me that I am good enough for herons. Little grebes have no problem with me. Deer find me curious.

Domesticated creatures can be incredibly affirming too. The dog who rushes towards you, delighted by the mere fact of your presence, the cat who decides you are worth bothering with. The horse who comes over for a scratch. If a creature has the space to choose, and they choose to engage, it feels like a blessing, to me.

We humans make up a lot of stories and complications over who and what we are to each other and what it means, and what might be important. It’s exhausting, disorientating, and when you’re on the wrong end of it, painful. Sometimes it’s good to just go and hang out with a heron for a while.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

7 responses to “The validation of creatures

  • Siobhan Johnson

    The best life advice I ever heard was ‘Be the person your dog thinks you are.’ I’ve never had a dog, but I like the sentiment.

  • Jade Hall

    Rings very true. Thank you for the reminder, I hope a lot more people stumble over this piece in times of unsettled family or social issues.

  • heedful moon

    Thank you for these thoughts. This was all beautifully said!

  • Swimmer

    This is important. I think that one central reasons for small-scale farmers to continue their work in countries where other better-paid jobs are available, is the possibility to be involved in a magic interaction with very special animals (the domesticated ones): these relationships are formed in such way that both the farmer and the animal depend on each other in order to maintain their lives in the local ecosystem (which – if maintained correctly — can become very rich in every aspect from soil to the canopy of silviopastures). My example here: sheep are about the same body-size as a human being, and they often do something very positive to humans, although it can take some time for the human to understand the signals (the human need to learn a non-stressed body-language and about how sheep like to be itched; in my experience especially between the front legs). The reward for the human is a very peaceful feeling. Hugging a sheep is maybe as good as hugging a tree, or even better? At least it’s very different. Hobby farmers in industrialized countries are very important for the preservation of old seeds and animal breeds; they often work many hours with low profit in terms of money. They still continue. Why? Maybe it’s about the sense of peace and harmony with their animals and the local ecosystem that they create together.

  • Robin

    herons are brilliant, I saw a heron this week perusing the bankside vegetation in the stream and it was utterly still. Extraordinary I thought how humans struggle most of all with not having to be anything but a very still shape in the middle of a stream!

  • Lucy

    I completely understand. It’s quite specific for me. I get sheep and sheep get me. Human people, well, not so much. When in doubt, and when I don’t know what to do, don’t know what to say, I go and find peace and acceptance and comfort with sheep.

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