Working With The Animal Totems
Spirit of the Big Horn Sheep: New beginnings, creativity, energy and endurance, defend your territory
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep
Bighorn Sheep ~ (Wikipedia)
BIG HORN SHEEP painting by Duane Mittlieder ~ 2008
Sheep/Ram/Ewe's Wisdom Includes:
* Maintaining balance in dangerous situations
* Confidence in ones abilities
* Courage needed to maintain balance
* New beginnings
* Assurance in new areas
Keynote: Seeking New Beginnings
Cycle of Power: Late Fall and Early Winter
The ram has long been a symbol in many societies. For many it was a symbol of sacrifice. It was killed in ritualistic traditions for a variety of purposes. This is found often in biblical lore. Moses initiated Passover with the sacrifice of a lamb. It also symbolized the quest for great rewards, as is seen in the Greek heroic tale of Jason and the Quest for the Golden Fleece. It is also a symbol of great force and power. Battering rams were used in many societies to knock down doors and gates of enemies.
If the ram has shown up in your life, prepare to seek out new beginnings in some area of your life. The ram is the symbol for the astrological sign of Aries, the first month of the astrological year. It falls in the spring, a time of new beginnings. The ram tells us to assert ourself in new areas.
In Chinese astrology the goat and the sheep (ram) are often interchanged, representing one of the twelve months of the year. It is a sign associated with sensitivity and perseverance. They are somewhat stoic, never coming out and speaking their minds directly, and they can also have a tendency toward impracticality in the Chinese tradition.
In real life, rams embody many of the characteristics associated with them in mythology and lore. Their power and strength is often depicted in nature films where they are seen butting heads in duels of strength.
Rams and ewes of the bighorn sheep family live above the timberline. They eat tender grasses and the flowers of certain herbs. Throughout the spring and summer they build up layers of fat and a thick coat which enables them to survive the winters.
The horns are a predominant feature of the ram. In individuals with this totem, they stimulate great mental activity. There is a curiosity and an active imagination that must be constantly fueled and that gets stronger with each passing year, just as the horns of the ram grow larger with each passing year.
The horns of the ram are weapons, a form of defense and a status symbol. They grow throughout the life of the animal, eventually forming a full curl or spiral. The spiral is a symbol of great creativity, and because it is associated with the head in the case of the ram, it has even more significance. For those with this totem, there will occur a new stimulation of mental faculties, imagination, and inspiration--along with the energy to act upon it.
Young rams often play a form of king of the mountain, testing strength and new positions. This is most evident in the autumn, when the pecking order vecomes more focused. There begin challenges for the right to mate with the ewes. The rams spin, lunge through the air and heads crash, horns knocking together. This continues until one admits defeat. For those with this totem, autumn may bring a time for you to assert your strength and move to new challenges.
A ram can live to about 14 years of age, but the life expectancy decreases with the size of the horns. The larger the horns the more frequent the duels. The rings on the horn actually mark the age of the ram.
Bighorn sheep, like mountain goats, have toes that pinch. The hooves are covered with an elastic material that helps absorb the shocks and aid the grip. The joints of the sheep act as miniature shock absorbers when they make their great leaps down. The bighorn sheep only need a two-inch space to get a foothold.
This is very important for those with this totem. It is a reminder that the openings for new beginnings may be small, but if acted upon, they can be secured. Those with this totem must learn to trust in their ability to land safely on their feet as they make new moves and new beginnings.
If the ram has come into your life, do some examination--but don't take too long with it. It is usually an indication of a time to make some new beginnings, to initiate new endeavors--rather than just think about it. Are you takin advantage of opportunities that are presenting themselves? Are you staying balanced as you make new leaps and climbs? Are you initiating things appropriately? Are you acting on your ideas or just talking about them? When the ram shows up, it will teach you to bring forth the powers of the mind and imagination and use them to seek out new heights and adventures.
From *Animal Magick/D.J. Conway:
Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep have extremely sharp eyesight and long-range vision. They have an acute sense of smell and sharp ears. Their habitation is the rugged, dangerous terrain of the high mountains, where they gallop at breakneck speeds and negotiate nearly impossible places. Excellent climbers, these sheep can balance on the narrowest of ledges.
Sheep as a whole are considered to represent placid stupidity, unthinking conformity, and timidness. The ram, however, represented virility, fertility, and sexual prowess. The Moon was often called a shepherd, his flocks the constellations.
Sheep in general have been sacrificed to many deities; rams were particularly sacrificed to phallic deities. The Greeks and Romans sacrificed them to Zeus, Hera, Mars, Silvanus, Terminus, and Cyprian Aphrodite. they are evil to the Hindus but sacred to the Muslims. Shepherds in China hae a god of sheep, Huang Ch'u0Ping, who can give them large flocks.
The ram on the other hand, has been a symbol of virility and procreative force. In its solar attributes it was often associated with sky gods, but its horns sometimes connected it with lunar deities.
The Phoenician god Ba'al-Hammon wore rams' horns. In Babylon, Ea-Oannes was often represented by a column with a ram's head on top. In Egypt the sacred ram of Mendes was believed to embody the essences of Ra, Osiris, Khepera, and Shu. Amen-Ra was called a ram, and Khnemu was ram-headed.
In Greece, the ram was sacred to Zeus/Sabazius, the fertility god, and Dionysus, the generator of life force. The followers of Attis would bathe in ram's blood as part of certain rituals during their Mystery rites. The god Pan was closely associated with flocks and rams. Hermes, as Lord of the Flocks, carried a lamb. A ram was sacrificed to the hous god Lares in Roman purification rites.
In ancient Crete, Anatolia, and the Aegean, rams having wings or three horns were often portrayed on seals and wall engravings. Three horns may associate the ram with the Triple Goddess, while the wings symbolize an animal acceptable for sacrifice to the gods.
It is the main sacrificial animal in the Islam culutre, an din India it represents the sacred fire of Agni.
To the Celts, the ram was of chthonic power and connected with the Otherworlds. It was an attribute of war deities, but also accompanied the Horned God. Engravings show ram-headed serpents and rams with human heads. Ewes and their milk were associated with the Celtic goddess Brigit and her Spring festival of Imbolic, which means "ewe's milk".
The Norse god Heimdall's name meant "ram"; he was in charge of a special horn that he would blo at the end of the world.
The term "black sheep of the family" has come to mean a person who is different or troublesome and goes their own way. Except in places like Shropshire, England, the black sheep is considered lucky. To many shepherds, a black sheep or lamb in the flock is a good luck sign. In Shropshire, though, if black twins are born it is a sign of disaster.
In many areas in England, it is believed that if you take a certain small bone from the head of a sheep and carry it with you you will have good luck.
In Scotland, sheep are driven under rowan hoops at Halloween and Beltane to keep away the faeries.
Sheep bow three times to the East on Christmas morning.
Some shepherds are still buried with a tuft of wool in their coffins. This is so they can be excused from attending Judgement Day and not have to leave their flocks.
Being able to keep your balance in precarious or dangerous situations. Being confident of your abilities. Ram: fertility, courage to remain in balance in an unstable situation. Ewe: abundance, pregnancy, new beginnings.
If the big horn plays a big part in your life, and is your animal totem, it is a sign that you are seeking new beginnings in portions of your life.
You are on the threshold to tomorrow, and are being inspired to use the great creative powers of your mind to lead you to those much sought after new experiences and beginnings.
Western Astrological Sign
"ARIES the Ram" - March 21st - April 20th.
Aries, the first sign of the Zodiac represents the ram with the golden fleece.
"Year of the Sheep"
Chinese name for sheep" YANG"
In the Chinese horoscope the sheep sign appears every twelve years.
Our most recent Chinese Year of the Ram occurred from February 1, 2003 to January 21, 2004.
Years of the sheep: 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003
Corresponds to the Western sign of Cancer, Fixed element fire.
Of all the wild animals associated with prehistoric man, petroglyphs and pictographs of the big horn were the most prevalent, being found throughout the American states of Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Utah and Idaho.
It is said that the prehistoric native peoples of these areas were as dependent on the big horn as the Plains Indians were on the bison. Big horn sheep provided many of life's necessities especially food and clothing. Ram horns were used to make impressive head dresses, prized bows for the hunters, and tools and utensils.
Embers were carried in ram horns for ceremonial fires, and special significance was given to the big horn when he appeared in dreams and vision quests.