Spring has really sprung here in Idaho and the weather couldn't be more volatile. In the last week we have experienced gale force winds, snow, driving rain, hail and beautiful sunny days. It's a lot to keep up with. I have become much more mindful about how much the weather affects my mood. As it turns out, it's not really fair to snap your kids head off because it's raining outside! All of this moisture is greening up the forests. Scott and I have spent many days this last week wandering around gathering morel mushrooms and wild asparagus. It is a hobby of ours in the spring to do so. Yesterday we were in the woods hunting for morels when we discovered the most delightful thing. Scott saw him first. A porcupine was sitting in a tree watching us. It is common for porcupines to bed down in trees. They even make a nest. This guy was just hanging out doing on branches and watching us curiously. Even our loud kids didn't dissuade him, though he did climb a little higher. He allowed us to get some video and some beautiful pictures of him.
I started thinking about the significance of seeing the porcupine. What spiritual significance could this have? What lessons can I glean from this unique creature? I set out to do a little research on the totem of porcupine. I learned that the porcupine is a member of the rodent family. His barbs help to keep him safe. He actually does not have great eyesight, so he likes a high vantage point. I noted that the porcupine has a very sweet and innocent face.
Porcupines are a totem of faith and trust. They remind us to have faith in ourselves and our own inner wisdom. They also remind us to retreat to the trees to get a better vantage point and to change our perspective. The porcupine quill provides protection when necessary and yet they have a soft underbelly that can be exposed if they are feeling safe. Sometimes I see people’s spirits like that. I see them covered in barbs, like life has been too much for them and they have now covered themselves with their protective exterior. We have all felt a bit prickly from time to time. Can you think of a time when you felt so irritated, your spirit felt so prickly that you could not stand to have other people too close to you or in your space? That is the cautionary tale of the porcupine. Know when to use your prickly exterior to keep you safe, but also know when to allow yourself to expose that vulnerable underbelly.
For me, I think that the porcupine is a reminder to me to slow down, to observe more and to remember to seek out joyful things in life. I could use a reminder from time to time to be curious, to seek out knowledge and wisdom and to renew my own sense of wonder. What can you learn from our wise new friend?