In previous columns, we have explored the dynamic symbolism and influence found in the natural world, and particularly those represented by the animal spirits. They often fly, jump, hop, crawl, swim, saunter and leap into our lives at the most pivotal time, generally when we have a big decision to make, and are grappling with two paths on that fork in the road we call life.
I found myself in just such a position last month, as I had two big decisions to make and each involved a considerable amount of time and money, two precious commodities in short supply in my world. I was casually told by the property manager of my apartment building that rent for my lease, ending in December, was going to go way up. Similar units in the building were going up more than $700.00 per month. No rent control here! I decided to start looking for another place that would be in line with my budget, but not without some serious soul searching as to why I seemed to move so often…always with good reason, but move nonetheless!
The second big decision centered around making a commitment to sign up for a nine-week yoga teacher training that was to meet on the weekends, which were actually the only days I had to really decompress from the intensity of the work week, and usually I could only manage to clear part of one weekend day anyway. I have taken many rounds of yoga teacher trainings with multiple instructors, as I felt it would give me a diverse and well-rounded exposure to study with more than one teacher. I also discovered that the teacher trainings were like mini yoga retreats. They became “my time” on the calendar, meaning a time I could devote to myself, the yoga practice, to meditation, to the stillness we all so crave, living in the constant energy of Los Angeles’ urban setting.
I found a wonderful new residence in the form of a fully renovated triplex close to the Marquez area of the Pacific Palisades. I could actually walk to the Self-Realization Fellowship on Sunset, one of my favorite sanctuaries! I toyed with a Downtown LA move, but the energy of the Fellowship seemed to be calling me strongly, so I opted to move into the triplex. And I asked for a sign about the yoga teacher training.
My sign came a few days later as I was walking up the freshly painted white stairs of the unit I had rented. I couldn’t help but notice the bright green, very long grasshopper waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs. I was there to meet the wireless Internet installer and upon further study, he told me that I had to return to my old apartment for a piece of equipment. As I jumped into my car, I noticed that my grasshopper friend had planted himself firmly on my windshield. I backed my car out of the long hilly driveway and turned left onto Sunset Blvd., heading toward Barrington Avenue in Bentwood. With speed and wind to 45 mph, I thought for sure the grasshopper would fly off the windshield. I made it over to my old apartment, retrieved the router, and then rushed to get back into the car to make my way to the new place. Much to my surprise, I noticed that the hitchhiking grasshopper had stayed on the windshield, returning all the way back to the new apartment. Now all this felt very profound to me. Was I indeed receiving a relevant sign urging me to “take a leap of faith”? Here is what author Ina Wolcott wrote about the great grasshopper totem animal:
“Grasshoppers/Locusts medicine includes jumping across space and time, astral travel, new leaps forward/leaps of faith/jumping without knowing where you will land, leaping over obstacles, ability to change careers quickly.
There are 10,000 or so species of grasshopper, they are cold blooded as all insects are and are more mobile when it is warmer. Each species has their own unique song. However, only the males are able to sing with a few exceptions – the males sing to compete for female attention. The power of sound and song is part of grasshopper’s medicine. It is an ancient method to use song to alter ones consciousness and communicate with animals and spirits. There are some Native American songs that date back 20,000 years. If grasshopper has leapt into your life, maybe you need to recognize where you come from, to go back to your roots and to honor your ancestors.
Grasshopper is the Chinese symbol of good luck and abundance. Anyone with this power animal has been given the ability to take chances – to act on a whim and jump right in. For them things may not progress step by step as they do for other people progress – but rather extremely fast. When taking that leap simply trust your own instincts on when to make the leaps. Listening to your inner voice and responding to it will lead you to positive outcomes. Don’t be afraid to make that leap, remembering all the while that Grasshopper’s only ever jump forwards and never backwards.Needless to say, grasshopper quickly became my new favorite animal totem!
Kwai Chang Caine, the Shaolin monk mentored by Master Po and played by David Carradine in the film, sheds light on where the term, Ahhh, Grasshopper came from: “One of Caine’s first instructors was the blind master named Po (Keyed Luke). Po considered Caine his favorite pupil and behaved more like an elderly grandfather. Caine was given the nickname “Grasshopper” by Master Po; the reference was from an exchange where the still ignorant young Caine asked the old blind master how he could function without seeing. Po asked Caine to close his eyes and describe what he could hear. Caine explained that he could hear the water flowing in a nearby fountain and birds in a nearby cage. Po then asked if Caine could hear his own heartbeat or the grasshopper at his feet (Caine hadn’t noticed the insect until that moment). Incredulous, Caine asked Po, “Old man – how is it that you hear these things?” Po’s reply was, “Young man, how is it that you do not?” From that point on, Po affectionately called Caine “Grasshopper”.
The move is behind me, and today I wrapped one third of the yoga teacher training, all because of a green grasshopper crossing my path in a very profound and prolonged way.Keep your heads up and perhaps the animal kingdom will soon be talking with you too! The question to ask yourself is not how long they have been “talking” to you, but indeed, how long have you been listening!