Wednesday, June 20, 2007

raccoon synchronicity

My last night at Weymouth I glanced out the window and saw something very small scurrying along the ground. My first thought was that it was an injured kitten, so I ran out to see. It wasn't a kitten. It was a baby raccoon!

The baby let me get incredibly close. I went inside for the camera and took these photos - very blurry as it was deep dusk and I wouldn't use the flash. Still, you can see the characteristic markings that make raccoons so very charming.

The most amazing thing about this sighting is that the main character in the book I was revising has a significant encounter with a raccoon - she looks out and sees one, though it's not a baby in the book.

When I got home I immediately turned to Ted Andrews' wonderful book Animal-Speak. This is what he has to say about raccoons:

Raccoons are extremely curious, which is partly why they often get into things they shouldn't. They love to explore. Their nocturnal excursions can be likened to mini-adventures. They can be very curious about new realms and will examine anything that fascinates them.

One of the most striking features of the raccoon is the mask that it wears. Although some associate this with thievery, it actually gives the raccoon a very powerful mystical symbolism. The use of masks to achieve altered states and for other healing and ritual purposes has been a part of every society. Mask making is an ancient art employed all over the world for ceremony, celebration, and in magical practices.

Concealed behind a mask, people could become something or someone else. Masks are invested with mystery. They are tools for transformation. The hidden aspect, the secrecy , helps promote the transformation. It helps us to change what we are to what we want to be.

Just as there is with the raccoon, with masks there is ambiguity and equivocation. When we wear a mask we are no longer who we thought. We make ourselves one with some other force. We create a doorway in the mind and in the physical world a threshold that we can cross to new dimensions and new beingness.


All three main characters in my book are on this journey, but the female who sees the raccoon is the one whose path most matches the words above. Amazingly, the above passage has given me a much-needed clue to my character, an aspect to her that I had not yet discovered. It's already layering into my next edit.

The raccoon sighting is a gift. A synchronicity. Being so close to a baby raccoon was itself magical. That it fit so perfectly with what I was working on went even further. Discovering the deeper layer is part of what makes me love the writing process. Every day is a treasure hunt. Every character is a mystery.


Joni said...

"Every day is a treasure hunt. Every character is a mystery."

Thanks for this! Such a great viewpoint.

billie said...

Thank you, Joni. I have skated by your site this week with the intent to slow down and settle in for a bit there. :)

There's so much going on right now - in daily life and energy-wise as well, but I will find some time and make a visit.

I have not forgotten the pomegranate martinis, either!

Matthew said...

Wonderful expressive imagery and images!

billie said...

Thanks, Matthew.

I was initially very disappointed in the photos, even though I knew it was too dark and we were both moving around too much... but looking back the entire experience had a sort of ephemeral, surreal quality that is absolutely captured by those blurry images of the baby.