Here is the Report From The Back 40 – the 3rd Day of Christmas and the Prairie Chicken.
Today being the third day of Christmas, which is often symbolized by “three French hens” in the popular song “Twelve Days of Christmas”, and since we do not have any French hens per se here on The Back 40, I thought I would share a bit about its close cousin, the Prairie Chicken, who lives nearby in and is considered the spirit of the Tallgrass Prairie just west of here. The Prairie Chicken is a type of grouse. Grouse are equipped and able to fly, but prefer to stay close to the ground. They feed on grass seeds, worms, grubs, and other insects and are adept at probing the soil to uncover these. By these actions, they help keep the insect population in balance, fertilize the grasslands, and help condition the soil so that it can be the amazingly powerful productivity machine that it is. Here is an animal whose actions just by living show us the ripple affect actions can have.
The mating ritual of the grouse, and most certainly including the Prairie Chicken, is extraordinary and magnificent to behold. The males dance with spread feathers, raised ear-like feathers above their head, expanded colorful membranes along either side of the neck, all accompanied by a sonorous, rhythmic sound called ’drumming’. All of this hustle and bustle is all finely designed to get the rapt attention of the females, of course. My observations of the wild turkey tribe here on The Back 40 at Squirrel Run is that the males do their absolute best to spread their feathers, redden their waddles, and strut their stuff with great abandon, but unless the females are ready, there is no hope – it’s just practice really. I imagine that the male Prairie Chicken and the rest of the grouses probably experience the same treatment from the females. Pretty cool. The male energy here holds space while the chaotic and creative energy of the female sorts herself out to receive. Sound familiar?
When we experience Grouse medicine, we learn the lessons of our connection to the Sacred Spiral – the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, and of our growth and expansion as well progress in our spiritual journey toward the center, where we find balance and realize our place within the Universe. Grouse medicine is said to hold the energy of a whirlpool or tornado, wherein the force of the resulting spiral pulls one towards the center.
The grouse totem also invites us to engage in life as a dance. What kind of movement is in your life? Do you feel in balance between your actions and the desires of your heart? The act of dancing, or even walking if you prefer, helps put us more deeply in touch with our body and Mother Earth. It can help us to move energy that has become stagnant, can help us to slow frenetic energy, and can help to ground and steady us. Movement then brings us into mind, body, spirit balance. The Prairie Chicken is a cog in the great Wheel of Life and with its joie de vivre and talents in balancing energies of the spiral, this extraordinary bird helps keep the balance of its own environment. Its ability to show us these lessons makes it a perfect symbol for this season celebrating the Light made manifest in mankind, womankind, and all creatures. What’s up in your neck of the woods?