About six years ago I rented an old stone cottage in a country town. Shortly after I moved in I swept the cobwebs off the verandah. In a dusty corner I found the carcass of a little skink – a kind of lizard. Its body had mummified and was perfectly preserved. It was a curious find and I put it away in a box with other odd things I’ve found. Recently I came across it again and placed it on my work table.
This weekend I incorporated the lizard into a talisman. In the process I had to think about what the lizard represented. The metaphysical properties and messages of animals are found through observing their behaviour and thinking about what that symbolizes, The more I thought about lizards the more I realized my little skink can be seen as a symbol for this stage of lockdown.
Lizards have the ability to leave part of their tail behind if they are caught. They then scurry away from danger and hide in shadowy places. By blending in with into their surroundings they escape detection.
This ability to sense danger and hide away is something this pandemic is asking of all of us who are not in a life/death situation or working on the front line.
Lizards ability to leave part of its tail behind and grow a replacement symbolizes regeneration – the letting go of things that are no longer needed so that the new can some into being. This time of lockdown is giving us the opportunity to sort through everything we are carrying with us – physically, emotional and mentally. Anything we have outgrown can be jettisoned now so that it no longer holds us back.
In many indigenous traditions the lizard represents the dreaming state. The lizard sunbaking on a rock appears to be dreaming the day away. At present during this intense and dangerous time many of us are experiencing weird, nightmarish dreams. Often these dreams feel like they aren’t even ours. Many of us are currently in heightened states of fear, grief and shock. This seems to have opened the floodgates and the repressed and unacknowledged content of the collective psyche of humanity is pouring into our dreams.
Although this is very disturbing is can be healing and cleansing. We have a chance now to peel back the layers and see just what is is we have been ignoring and repressing in our headlong rush to succeed in the materialistic world of late capitalism.
In this strange time of hiatus rushing to achieve can feel increasingly pointless. Suddenly we have time to slow down and step away external pressures. As the demands of others lessen we can catch our breath and think about what we really want for ourselves, deep down in our own hearts. We can take the time to imagine new and more fulfilling ways of living our lives – ways that are more in tune with the natural world. Nature in many parts of the globe is regenerating itself in our absence. There are lessons for us all in this. The ways we have been living have been harming the natural world. The sudden lockdown has shown us we can change that. Of course we can’t live in perpetual confinement so that that nature can heal itself but we can learn to live in ways that are more environmentally friendly.
Many of the internet sites I looked at while thinking about what lizards represent described it as a survivor. The idea of survival takes on deeper meaning when I consider that I have taken the body of a dead lizard and made it into a talisman during the time of Covid-19.
I know there are many conspiracy theories about where this virus originated but the explanation I find most plausible is that deforestation increases the chances for transmission of zoonotic, or animal to human diseases:-
‘researchers suggest that relatively small buffer zones, such as tree farms or reforestation projects, around biodiversity-rich forests could dramatically lessen the likelihood of human-wild primate interaction… “At the end of the day, land conservation and the reduction of forest fragmentation is our best bet to reduce human-wild animal interactions,” says coauthor Tyler McIntosh, a former graduate student in the Stanford Earth Systems Program’ ‘https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/forest-loss-diseases-covid19-coronavirus-deforestation-health/
The virus is thought to have originated in a wet market in Wuhan, China. These markets deal in the sale of exotic animals for human consumption. Living animals are caged in terrible conditions alongside recently butchered animal carcasses. All of this occurs in unhygienic conditions where refrigeration is non-existent.
The market in Wuhan recently re-opened and wet markets continue to trade in developing countries across the globe. The chances of deadly viruses transferring to humans remains a risk as long as these markets continue. The World Health Organisation says it “is working with UN bodies to develop guidance on the safe operation of wet markets, which it says are an important source of affordable food and a livelihood for millions of people all over the world.”https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52369878
I find this stance bizarre. Surely people who work in these places could be retrained and educated as to why their old ways of earning are living are dangerous. Right now a total of 81% of the global workface have had their workplace fully or partly closed and we are facing a global depression. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-52199888. To continue to condone the slaughtering and eating of exotic animals for a minority of people at this time doesn’t make sense. Surely the WHO, with all the resources at its disposal, could help people eating this food find substitutes.
206,988 people have died so far from COVID-19 outbreak as of April 27, 2020, 01:16 GMT. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/coronavirus-death-toll/
As I finished making my lizard talisman it seemed to me the little animal was saying let this terrible death toll not be in vain. Let us learn the lessons this pandemic is teaching us.