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Totems: Cockroach, Part 1

by Cie Simurro, a.k.a. Thunderbird Starwoman


Even if all the world despised you, as we are universally loathed, except for an enlightened few who glean the power of our lessons and the essence of Light that we are – even if all the world turned against you, and you found yourself alone, friendless, outcast, looking for something you could turn to, you could find us and the gift we offer in our message – even in the darkest times, you are meant to find happiness and to thrive.

WE ARE COCKROACH, legion of many. A few of us may plague your existence by living in your home-space, but like all good hardships in life we are really in your life to help you change your attitude toward the difficulties that beset you, to a more transcendent, empowering way of dealing with these old patterns. We are meant to highlight unavoidable trouble spots, so that this transformation can take place.

Our purpose is to direct your attention away from your fears of the future and regret over past decisions to the amazing present. And in that present, we urge you to find something to appreciate; even have joy in – for there really is always something positive to appreciate even in the most dire circumstances; the parts of your body that work well and have served you so long; the play of light through the tree; trees themselves; the animals that comfort you; food and water that give you life, etc. There is even that to Love: that which is loving in you; that which is becoming more compassionate; that which does, and creates, and that which simply is, not having to prove anything. When you are willing to focus on these things, you are creating a better future. It is the law that your predominant vibration draws to you more of the same. So, blameless as you are, seize your power to create and direct toward yourself, more of the happier things in life, even as you appreciate the everyday things more. Each of us has a purpose in the web of life. Be blessed, fellow beings with whom we share this planet; moreover, realize it is time for you to bless yourselves and all life, for it is law that you must also be willing to give yourself what you wish others to give to you.

La Cucaracha

The cockroach, the cockroach,
Can’t walk anymore
Because it doesn’t have,
Because it’s missing
Two little back legs.

People they say the cockroach
Is a very small animal
And when it gets into a house,
It’ll soon be the master of it all

Everyone knows the first words of the song, La Cucaracha. I included two of the verses in English, because they really do take over if they get into a house. Cockroaches (order Blattodea) have a bad reputation. They are universally despised by humans, even though out of the some 4,000 species of them on the planet, only about 25 of those have anything to do with humans. The others hang out in niche habitats like burrows, caves, or leaf litter. Most of the large ones live in tropical climes, but if one of those 25 species has entered your home – either because you live in a city with attached buildings or because your sister and brother-in-law came to visit with a hitchhiker or two in their luggage – well, then you can’t have just one. You’ll soon have a gazillion of them.

So, why are they so reviled? Well, one reason is that they’re attracted to filth and heat.  Another is that they scurry and that makes human skin crawl. When I lived in Brooklyn NY, no matter what I did, I could not eliminate them altogether. As I walked down the long hallway from my bedroom to the kitchen, I would always wonder what I would see when I turned on the kitchen overhead light. Half the time, a roach would quickly scurry into the smallest crack in the woodwork you could imagine. And they’re fast; very fast (50 body lengths per second).

 They have the ability to detect even slight changes in air currents, thereby getting out of the way of a potential predator or adversary (us). Their tushes have a pair of appendages called cerci. Fine hairs on the cerci detect the slightest air movements, so when you run after them, they will feel the push of air, and escape being crushed by your shoe by running in the same direction as the airflow. In fact, given a choice between a light-filled hideaway with still air, or a dark place with moving air, their instincts will always choose the lit space with still air. There is an awful lot of money and energy spent trying to eliminate cockroaches. Even the method some swear by: sprinkling boric acid isn’t foolproof, and I can’t prove it, but I would swear that they can develop an immunity to this and other poisons, even if you’ve betrayed your oath not to use poison in the house or in the yard. (You HAVE made that oath, haven’t you?).

Okay, so you clean up every bit of food in sight before you go to bed. That will discourage them, won’t it? Not really. Cockroaches can play the waiting game longer than your momentary streak of neatness and meticulousness. They can go without any food at all for months. After that, there’s always each other – ewww! They eat anything and everything. No really, EVERYTHING, even book bindings and shoe polish. There’s a roach in Trinidad that feeds on bat droppings. Quoting from Oh, Yuck! The Encyclo-pedia of Everything Nasty: “They’ll eat the sweat out of your sneakers, the grease on your stove. They’ll eat the glue on your postage stamps and the wiring in your TV set. They will eat the fingernails of sleeping sailors aboard a ship. They even eat leftover bits of their own bodies! They will eat paper, soap, and paint. Oh, and food, too. They love food!” Turnabout is fair play. The further south you go, the bigger the cockroaches are – and the more predators. Geckos love to eat roaches; centipedes too.

It’s been said that if a nuclear war happened, the only creatures that would remain alive are cockroaches. They’ve been around unchanged for 200 million years, with ancestral strains that go back 350 million years. Cockroach wings have been found in 300 million year-old fossils. Put into context, we humans have been on earth for a measly 2 million years or so; dinosaurs roamed for 130 million before they vanished. You can see how if cockroach is your totem or it has temporarily scurried into your life, you are a true survivor. Your alignment with them assists you in coping with the most difficult issues of your life, and the most trying times. Whatever the circumstance, you have amazing adaptability to adjust to what’s happening, and make the best of it.

For millions of years, cockroaches have carried on a symbiotic relationship with special bacteria carried within their own bodies. These microscopic flora are passed down to new generations of cockroaches by their mothers. Talk about probiotics! In exchange for living inside the cockroach’s fatty tissue, the bacteria manufacture all the vitamins and amino acids the cockroach needs to live. This arrangement allows the cockroach to snack on just about anything it finds. The good news is that with this totem you have a cast-iron digestive system.

I wondered why cockroach was coming up as the next totem to write about until my research on this insect revealed what an incredible adapter and survivor it is. We are living during a time of unsurpassed influx of Light onto the planet. Whoa, you say? Cie, there’s turmoil and strife all over the world; so many people are really sick and even taking their own lives. There’s so much chaos and pressure. Yes, that’s true, I say. That’s what happens when Light floods the world. Ultimately, it is preparing us to live on a new Earth of much higher consciousness, sustainability and greater humanity. Meanwhile, all old patterns that need to be resolved and healed are coming up for that purpose. Light creates pressure to release resistance and old ways of reacting to stress. The Medicine here is that cockroach’s very existence is meant to highlight the tension in our lives between our isolation and intimacy; between our beliefs and our instinctual knowledge; between fear and courage. Enter cockroach, the perfect totem for these times.

Above all, cockroach totem is an example of how to be flexible and willing to move on to Plan B. Here’s a tiny example of what I mean. This morning, I spent some time looking for the brush I use to get salt stains off my suede boots. You know, the salt they use on the roads in winter. Couldn’t find the brush anywhere. Knowing that while writing about a totem, I am always under its influence and experiencing its Medicine, instead of wasting more time looking for it, I got the job done by going an alternative route: using two cleaning tools: a wire brush and a scouring pad for abrading paint. I just needed to be flexible.

Look for Part II of Cockroach Totem in the next issue of Wisdom Magazine.

Cie Simurro ~ Thunderbird Starwoman has been a Healer, Writer, Minister, Advocate and Steward for the natural world for over 40 years. For Healing for you or your animal, Flower Essences, Training, or her Book, Totems for Stewards of the Earth ($22 to PO 295, Shelburne Falls MA 01370), call 413 625-0385 or email: cie@ciesimurro.com


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