|(Photo by Stan Shebs)|
These Antarctic denizens have long been associated with an idealized version of what humans ought to be. In a review of the documentary March of the Penguins, Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat of Spirituality & Practice compare annually-migrating penguins to "pilgrims on a holy trek." The Brussats also note that the seemingly playful waddling of penguins "draws out our maternal instincts." They offer the following lessons about spiritual practice from their observations of these aquatic birds: waddling slows things down enough "to savor all that is going on" in the immediate environment; ritual bowing within a courtship situation can enhance tenderness and respect; and play time is essential to a balanced life.
Holistic healer Phylameana lila Desy expands even further upon penguin analogies. In her Penguin Totem posting she explains that the flightless penguin is an expert swimmer that is capable of a "swift" transition from water to land. She states: The penguin is able to leap out of the water and land on its feet. Desy then concludes that the penguin totem "teaches connection between the physical and the spiritual."
However, Wikipedia also points out the all-too-human foibles that penguins are heir to. Limited resources can stimulate agonistic ("social behavior relating to fighting") displays within a colony. The famed monogamy of these fine-feathered friends can be limited to the length of a breeding season. And - when a mother loses her chick, she may attempt to steal that of another penguin.
Nevertheless, penguins and humans can sometimes be as benevolent as Santa. It seems that life on this planet is generally a mixed bag of naughty and nice.
Copyright December 23, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke All Rights Reserved