Life is Simple, Jellyfish

     According to a number of online calendars, November 3rd was Jellyfish Day.
     The origins of this day are said to rest with enthusiastic marine biologists, and taken up by people who respect and celebrate these strange and beautiful creatures.
     Several years ago, during one week, jellyfish made themselves known to me in a number of different ways. First, jellyfish drifted past me in a dream. They had no role in the story I was experiencing: they were simply there, and they gained my attention. Then a website I visit often suddenly posted a picture of jellyfish, and on the same day, they were used as a metaphor in a book I was reading. Then, during a visit to the local library I was confronted with a poster advertising a lecture about oceans and fisheries; the illustration included jellyfish. That same week, I heard a talk about totems and power animals. One of the themes was about the significance of connecting with the spirits of animals living in all the physical realms. I learnt the importance of bonding with energy representing creatures of the air and the ocean as well as the land.
     The idea of personal totems like eagles and stags and elephants and wolves was not new to me: contemplating jellyfish as a power animal most certainly was. Given my experience that week, however, there was no whale or dolphin or octopus or salmon that resonated. Synchronicity had already declared that my guide was a jellyfish.
     Jellyfish float rather than swim. They respond to the conditions around them, trusting in the eventual outcome instead of imposing an agenda of their own. I aspire to such a degree of faith.
     Water, as a symbol, represents emotions, and the image of being soft and yielding in an ever-changing emotional environment appeals to me. Adapting and drifting, embracing acceptance and having faith in the journey is both a philosophy and an ambition. Releasing any need to obsess about the destination allows me to untangle myself from many of the systems that our society would like to impose.
     The anatomical simplicity of the jellyfish can remind us that complexity is a distraction. Jellyfish are transparent, and call for us to reveal the truth that exists in our hearts. Both pain and growth arise from such revelations: resisting these will stunt the development of our souls.
     Simplicity makes for multiple uses: the same body part is used to eat and to void. They have a sting, which they use for both defence and for hunting prey. Their venom is neurotoxic and can paralyse small aquatic animals. When they defend against the touch of a human, it may cause pain, skin rashes, fever and muscle cramps, depending on the size and species of the jellyfish involved. The symbolic parallels of the sting arise in communication: when words and actions might, however unintentionally, cause pain.
     There is a call to be gentle in our use of words: a caveat to express ourselves with compassion.
     For jellyfish there is no rushing: nothing hectic. A while ago I found a lovely meditation online  showing how these lovely creatures move with the water currents around them, trusting in the process of life within the conditions which exist.
     There is a lesson in that.

     Jo Leath has been supporting clients through change and growth since the 1980s.
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