Beetle Spirit Medicine

Animal Spirit Guides can help us in many ways. They might lend us their strength, mirror something back to us or get us thinking a bit more deeply about the life themes we are exploring at this time. None of this has to be taken literally, and what a lot of people don’t understand is that people who believe in things like animal spirit guides, are simply employing some good psychology and mild self-hypnosis to facilitate a healthier mind-body state.

Beetle spirit medicine has been making itself felt in my life over the past week or so, triggering both memories that need processing and reframing, and free-association cascades that help me think outside the square and tap into my own deeper wisdom.

First was the arrival of the christmas beetle, reminding me that christmas is coming and encouraging me to think about what christmas means to me. My husband and daughter want to do christmas decorating and they think I’m an old grinch because I’m not interested. “But my kids are grown-ups now! I don’t have to anymore! Let me be free!” I protested.

It just seems so incredibly, mind-numbingly boring and pointless to me. All these resources being used to make something look pretty for a little while and then you take it all down again. And I find it hard to relate to strange things like trees and pretend snow, from a tradition based on living on the other side of the world: Christmas here is damned hot! There is no snow, and I can’t bear the idea of buying yet another tree just because the last one got destroyed by the heat after being stored in the shed for a year. To the minimalist and environmentalist in me…. it just seems like a waste.

But I am perfectly happy for my family to do it if it brings them joy. And with that thought came some really happy memories of all the decorations I had hand-made in my childhood and when the kids were growing up. Now that was fun! Buying them isn’t for fun for me, but making them from recycled materials is. So perhaps I can join in by creating a chain out of old magazines or something. Because for me the spirit of christmas is all about the sharing, the connection, the time spent together, the laughter, the warmth and best of all, the creative joy of making presents (and decorations) rather than buying them. Hours and sometimes even years worth of loving work can go into the presents I create for people and that brings me an incredible amount of joy. Thank you christmas beetle for drawing my attention to Christmas and encouraging me to think deeply about it before it arrives!

With beetles flying everywhere, buzzing around my head and landing on me, I inevitably began thinking about the scarab or ‘dung beetle’ as it is more commonly know. In ancient Egyptian mythology, they personified the dung beetle as a God called Khepri and imagined him rolling the sun across the heavens each day, in the same way dung beetles roll piles of dung across the ground. One of my favourite writers, David Lawson, in his book ‘The Eye of Horus’, suggests we can think of this metaphor as being a choice: we can choose to see our everyday mundane lives as endlessly rolling our pile of dung over the dirt ( ‘shovelling shit’ might be a more familiar term!), or we can see ourselves as Khepri “making a journey of glory, commitment and spiritual purpose across the heavens’. The second choice can cheer us up when we are feeling down, and the dreary monotony of it all is getting to us.

But what I can relate to best is the idea Lawson presents when he talks about developing a belief in ease, rather than expecting everything to be difficult, or being addicted to ‘hard work’ and the idea that we aren’t achieving anything worthwhile unless there is blood, sweat and tears involved. There is most definitely an over-responsible, martyred and melodramatic side to my personality that can get sucked in by this kind of thinking and the arrival of a beetle in my life is always a welcome reminder to snap out of it and remember that life is allowed to be easy and fun.

But I think for me, the most relevant messages the beetle has delivered this time around are some new ones that hadn’t occurred to me before now. The first came via a couple of stink beetles who visited me on monday, shortly after someone had happily torn me to shreds because she didn’t approve of who I was and what I do. I had to laugh. I rescued the beetles because they were spinning around desperately on their backs on my office floor and I didn’t want to step on them. Boy did I stink afterwards! It was a perfect metaphor for the experience I had just been through: I extended a hand in support, and was promptly told that I stink.

This triggered an old memory from my teenage years to the surface of my mind: I was preparing for a singing event with the local choir in the town mall, when I felt something bite me, again and again and again. Then an awful smell rose up from inside my top, where the biting was coming from: A stink beetle. I panicked and ripped off my top in front of everyone, but I couldn’t find the beetle. I’m sure half the people there thought I had disrobed to embarrass them, draw attention to myself, and be my usual inappropriate, annoying self.

The stink beetle then, just as it did just the other day, seemed a perfect metaphor for the humiliation of exposing my undergarments in public. Perhaps there were a few people in the choir who genuinely liked me, but it often felt as though 80% of them thought I stank as a person, and they kept their distance. My home life left a little to be desired and while I was coping the best way I knew how, my coping mechanisms probably looked a little crazy to people who came from happy homes. There was a kind person or two who checked to see if I was okay, empathised and tried to help me find the beetle before I put my top back on, but the rest just stood and stared. I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole.

That familiar sea of unfriendly gazes, whispers and snickers have followed me around throughout my entire life, because I simply don’t fit in: I don’t conform, I don’t behave, and I don’t ‘look’ right. Typical it would be me who does the dance with old stinky and makes a complete fool of herself! It’s funny looking back, especially when I consider that so many young women these days get around in frilly under-garments and this is considered entirely normal clothing. Perhaps I’m just ahead of my time. Like the time I got a nose ring 20 years too early! haha!

I usually do things 20 years earlier than I’m meant to, come to think of it. Which always puts me in the minority basket. If I was smart, I would look around, and try to work out what everyone else is doing so I can fit in and be accepted but I seem constitutionally incapable of doing this, so I will probably be doomed to eternal stinkyness in the upturned noses of the mainstream majority. By the time 20 years rolls by, I’m at it again, breaking all the rules, being a bad girl, a social misfit, or ‘a person like that’, as I was so affectionately referred to the other day.

The thing with stink beetles is, that you can wash the smell off (eventually, after you get home from the choir performance and everyone has had to suffer standing next to you for a few hours), and even though the smell may linger for a few days, it doesn’t stay forever. Unless you keep imagining the smell is still there of course, which can happen if you have toxic shame wounds.

I had a lovely year last year after moving a mountain of dung called ‘toxic shame’ out of my mind-body. The effect was incredibly liberating and it freed me up to be more myself because I worried less about what others thought. Thats the thing you see- if you don’t really care what others think, you can be yourself without needing to squeeze yourself into identities that don’t fit. But if you are a born rebel AND a sensitive with toxic shame wounds, you can’t help not fitting in and yet you kind of wish you could, because every new hater reminds you painfully of all the haters who have come before.

I’m loving Tailor Swift’s new song, which reminds me to ‘shake it off’, because the haters are going to hate, hate, hate…. and there might not be much we can do about that, but we can shake, shake, shake it off and come back to that lovely light-hearted belief in joy and ease that serves us so well when we remember to stay connected with our playful, happy inner child. If you don’t have a reference point for this (i.e. no happy childhood memories), just use your imagination: what might it feel like to be a happy, playful, light-hearted child? Practise a good mood long enough and you will start to get the hang on it, but in the process, you might come face to face with a crap load of dung from your past. Roll it up and hand it over to heaven. There is always someone who can love, respect and approve of you, even if this person is simply yourself, your higher self, the angels or God/Goddess/All That Is. Or your dog. Dogs are pretty good at unconditional love.

You are not the stink that lingers on you from the shame-filled painful experiences you have endured throughout your life. You are something beautiful hiding under the stink.

And every time I rescue a beetle stuck on it’s back, I wonder…

Am I really helping, or am I just hindering some kind of strength the beetles need to build for themselves? Turning yourself back up the right way after you get slammed to the ground with the wind knocked out of your sails…. I can see how the struggle to get back on your feet could be character building and muscle-strengthening.

And yet, the scarab beetle always reminds me that growth can be easy and joyful. On natural surfaces, there would always be a leaf or a blade of grass you could grab hold of to right yourself, but today’s bugs are contending with smooth slippery floors and without a little kindness from the very people who put those floors there, they can die from exhaustion. I think I’ll keep being kind. It fits my personality better. I’ll wait for a little while to see if they can work it out themselves, but I won’t walk away and leave them there to die.
I don’t want to be one of those people who stares unkindly, snickers and doesn’t offer a hand in friendship, because that’s not the kind of world I want to live in. All of this reflection makes me even more determined than I have ever been to pull up my socks, brush up my act and polish the kindness values in my heart. I know my humanness, my ego, my fear, my ignorance will occasionally get the better of me and I will fall short of the mark as I have so often done in the past, but so long as I learn from the experiences, that is what truly matters.

If you would like to learn more about shame, you can read more blogs on this topics by typing shame into the search bar.