Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Kabbalah Dolittle

Ever since I can remember, I have had an affinity with living creatures. No, honest, I have. I have always loved dogs. Cats are cute (if slightly annoying with their superiority complex and the fact that I am highly allergic to them). Gerbils and rats - great pets. Okay, so let's narrow this down a little - anything with fur that is vaguely predictable, that has the capability to sit still and be petted and not bite chunks out of my finger or scratch my arms to ribbons, I love.

Insects? Well, not so much. But that is changing.

I always wondered how Buddhists could be calm enough not to squish wasps. Wasps and I have a history. When I was 2 years old, I was stung by a wasp for absolutely no reason at all. It was enjoying the common wasp pastime of bashing its head against the living room window and I was curious. I don't remember poking it but maybe I did, and it vented its frustration by landing on my face and stinging my cheek. For this reason alone, I had absolutely no issue with my mum's method of dealing with wasps - crushing them against the window with the back of a tablespoon. I can still hear the crunch now.

For the next thirty or so years, wasps and I had a tense relationship. They would seek me out in a crowd and no matter how fast I ran or how hard I flapped, they would stick to me like glue. It was a remarkable way to keep fit. When I was seven years old, the family took a trip to Bear Mountain. What a wonderful view. We sat on the edge of a large, rolling rock to eat our picnic. And then the wasps arrived. Who invited them? How did they find me? I was induced in to such a panic that I kicked most of the picnic off the rock and in to the valley below. And then ate what little was left in a baking hot car with the windows wound up, whilst my family sat outside, wasp-free, trying to convince me that it was safe. Why did the wasps want my sandwiches? Didn't nature give them berries or leaves or ants to eat, or something? (I have no idea what wasps eat).

My sister, by comparison, was always much calmer with wasps. Whilst I was flapping and swatting and darting and dashing, she would sit back calmly and offer helpful advice like, "just stand still, and they will go away" or "don't swat them, you will make them angry". Right - like they weren't already frantic with anger whilst I thwarted their desperate efforts to land on my face.

But this year I have discovered a new sense of calm (hard to believe, but it's there) and the wasps don't appear to be interested. If one comes inside the house, I talk to it as I catch it in a glass and deposit it outside. Not that I want one trapped in my bedroom, or anything, but somehow they appear to have given up their vendetta.

Surely this is symbolic of something? Progress, maybe? But maybe not so symbolic as the Ant.

Everyone (surely?) has a history with ants. There were three large ants nests on the front lawn outside Wasp Attack House, but not happy with staying on the lawn, they often used to venture - enmasse - in to the kitchen and have a bit of a sight-seeing trip round the cupboards. Mum once again dealt with this invasion in her no-nonsense way: ant powder round the entry points and bases of all of the cupboards, and a kettle of boiling water on each of the nests. Every summer, without fail.

The last house I lived in had an ants nest outside and eventually I decided to put down some poison for them to take back to their nests. Seems like a bit of a cruel trick to me and I felt pretty rotten for doing it, but needs must - it was a one bedroom house and there was little room for ten thousand guests.

But this house is different. Six months after I moved in I was visited by an ant. A single, solitary ant. So I named him. Anthony.

Anthony would turn up whenever I was feeling slightly despondent. One minute he wasn't there, and the next he would be crawling over my laptop or whatever paperwork I had scattered on the floor. Just on his own, minding his own business. Maybe he wanted a bit of company (although he wasn't really in to conversation). Every now and again he would crawl up my leg. And then he would just disappear. Usually (psychically) just before I started vacuuming.

After a couple of months of this, with no other ant friends turning up to invade the house, I got curious, so I wiki'd the symbolism of ants. Very interesting:

Since ants live in colonies, they symbolize organization and planning in a group. Ants are also a symbol of strength and energy, and patience and perseverance. As colonies, they symbolizes diligence and industriousness.

As Anthony wasn't in a colony (or rather, wasn't bringing his colony with him), I made the conclusion that he was there for encouragement - to remind me to stay strong, be patient, keep persevering - without the back up of a group. And so every time I saw him, I reminded myself what he stood for, and kept my chin up.

But today has brought new information - the Kabbalistic meaning of Ants! A friend of mine from the centre sent me her notes from the weekly Zohar class and the energy of this week is to have the consciousness of an Ant!
"The ant has the consciousness of the end of the tikkune (correction) process. Why? Because it gathers 51,000 kilos of grain in its 6 months of life and only consumes a tiny, tiny fraction of that amount. It doesn't work for itself and knows that this is his job - to gather for others rather than gather for himself".

The ant is symbolic of having Certainty for why it is here. Perhaps that is what Anthony has been trying to tell me all along...


  1. Ok, now I'm worried about you.
    Couldn't the Zohar have produced 'energy of the week....of a panther'? Now there's an animal to emulate.

  2. I love the fact that ANThony is a symbol for sharing in its purest form! And you and wasps...friends? Nah. Don't believe it. Must be a lie to make good blogging material...musn't it?? If not, that really does symbolise true change! Love you honey xxxx

  3. Lulu: I guess that spiritually speaking, the Ant holds the higher ground.
    Nicola: I swear to you - last night the biggest, gnarliest wasp flew on to my draining board (man, he was angry at landing on washing up froth). I gently rescued him with a cloth and placed him on the back door step. Last year I would have been leaping in to the living room shouting "Oo you f**king f**ker, f**k off out of my f**king kitchen, you big old gnarly wasp, you" before opening the back door wide and poking it with a broom handle, wearing protective clothing from head to toe. It's a subtle difference, I know...

  4. Kabbalah : I can always count on your posting to make me think. I was reading something this week about wasps. It seems that the reason why they sting people - for no reason - at the end of the summer is because they are disorientated. The workers have been rejected by the Queen and the organisation of the hive has broken down. This means something but at the moment I can't think what.

  5. Hi Alan. Now you've really got me thinking... I wonder if the next reincarnation of the wasp is a honey bee? And hence if wasps succumb to their reactive nature and sting someone for no other reason than being upset and rejected by the Queen, they have to spend another lifetime as a wasp. Could explain the sharp decline in honey bees... :o) (but seriously, I have no idea!)