Saturday, August 22, 2009
Witchy Totem Visit; American Toad
I've a new neighbor, and perhaps a familiar friend or "toadem" animal, as well. A large American Toad has taken up residence in the back yard my wee apartment has to offer. At first I'd only occasionally see a small toad on the back patio taking shelter from a hard rain, but one night there were two toads. The second was much larger than the first, and since its arrival the smaller toad is absent; likely having been consumed by the new comer. Now, nearly every evening the big toad comes right up to the screen to crawl safely under the door ledge. It's a calm confident creature and has allowed me to pet it; stroking between the eyes being careful to avoid the toxin glands on either side of the head.
I couldn't help myself to interfere with nature, so I began to catch some of the numerous moths that gather at the patio lamp in the hope of hand feeding my new pal. I've had a lot of experiences with wildlife, both exotic and indigenous, but had never spent time with a simple toad until now. It thrilled me when that quick tongue flash out to grab a moth from my finger tips! A relationship of a sort has developed, without a doubt, because when I make a deep hum noise Toadie walks out from under the door ledge to come right up to my hand. I still feed him (I think it's male because the colors are very dark) moths by hand but also chase crickets his way so his hunting skills remain sharp. In truth, I doubt my offered snacks could dull his hunting skills; a toad of this size is bold and opportunistic, taking whatever moves and fits in his mouth.
In Western lore the toad often gets a bad reputation as a wart giving ingredient for evil witches' to brew into curse potions, but the toad has a variety of meaning as a symbol. Because they often burrow into the ground and produce abundant numbers of offspring, the toad can be viewed as a symbol for the Earth Goddess. Just as the Earth can both give and take life in a flash, the swift deadly tongue of the toad also makes it a representation of death or transformation. Death itself is merely a transformative change, not always a bad thing, so Toadie making friends could signal a deep change in my life is approaching (though I've already had quite a few). For unstated reasons, toads are also thought to be signs of good luck and near future prosperity; Perhaps this is because of that opportunistic nature, patience, and quick hunting skills they have. Toads do NOT cause or give warts, but they do produce a toxin from the fat lumps on either side of the head. It's mostly harmless to humans unless it comes in contact with an open cut, is swallowed, or comes in contact with the eyes. It's a good idea to always wash your hands thoroughly after handling toad to be kind to yourself and wash before handling to be kind to the toad so you don't pass any bacteria or pollutants onto the toads thin skin. Perhaps persons with a Life Totem (not a Temporary Totem) of toad might seem a little "thin skinned", being easy to irritate others, and may even have a tendency to seem toxic during stressful or social situations? To understand what an animal means as a symbol we must look at the animal traits and how it lives, but also how it makes us feel when coming into our own lives individually.
Personally, I'm happy with my new pal Toadie. As long as I keep the dog from eating him, Toady is doing good work keeping the insect population in check and offering me childish chuckles from exploring his company. He's welcome at my door, and I'll be keeping my witches eye out for a stone to offer itself to be painted as a toad Spiritkeepers! ;)
*American Toad (Bufo americanus) graphic provided at http://ian.umces.edu/discforum/index.php?topic=151.0
All art work images, unless otherwise credited, copyright Tree Pruitt. Text information may not be used for profit. Information about hand painted Spiritkeepers™ stones & shells by WWAO artist, Tree Pruitt.