Hello, and welcome to my first article for the Power Animals column! I don’t think I could be any more excited to introduce you to the animal I am going to talk about today. This animal and I have a history that goes way back to when I was a wee little fifth grader and had to choose two endangered species to write reports about (you know — where they live, what they eat, why they’re endangered — that sort of thing). One of the animals I chose was the sea otter, and I’ve been infatuated ever since. You can imagine how thrilled I was when I decided to draw an oracle card from The Druid Animal Oracle by Phillip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm to ask for guidance in picking an animal to write about for this month’s column, and Sea Otter’s cute furry little face showed up.
Before we begin, here’s how this works. Anyone can google “sea otter power animal”, or pick up a copy of Ted Andrews’s Animal Speak (I know you have it in your witchy library!), so I’m not going to waste your time reciting all the information that’s already out there. I hope to give you a new perspective and share with you things I’ve learned by simply getting to know Sea Otter in the last month — meditating with her, using crystals that seem to resonate with her (for me, ocean jasper and amazonite worked nicely), and asking, “Hey Sea Otter, what messages do you have for the people who are going to read this thing?” I’ve also gotten way too much enjoyment out of watching youtube clips showing sea otters out in the wild living that sea otter life.
If you type “sea otter” into youtube, you are going to see about twenty-seven gajillion results of sea otters holding paws while they sleep, or baby sea otters cuddled up on Mom’s chest while she floats on her back and grooms her pup. Why do sea otters do these unbelievably adorable things? Surprisingly, it is not to make humans gush over their charm. It’s actually because sea otters have the densest coat of any animal on this planet. In fact, their fur holds so much air that it both insulates them and makes them float like rubber duckies. (This is in part why oil spills are so dangerous for sea otters. Oil equals matted fur, which equals no insulation, which equals freezing to death.) With all this floating around, Mama Sea Otter has to keep her young and directionless pup close so he doesn’t float out to sea! Mother sea otters have discovered resourceful ways to keep their pups from floating away while they go off to hunt, like wrapping baby sea otter in kelp, or even pushing baby sea otter onto the dock of a ship (which I imagine must be an interesting surprise for sea faring folks).
Sea Otter comes with a strong message to nurture that which brings you joy. We are talking about playful and creative creatures here, who are one of the few mammals on Earth that use tools to open shellfish, who spend their time bopping in and out of the water with their raft (a term used to describe a group of sea otters), if they aren’t floating on their backs soaking up the sun, of course. I imagine Sea Otter with a gentle feminine voice saying, “If you don’t love it, don’t do it. If you do love it, hold it close and never lose sight of it.”
What makes your heart flutter? What brings a sparkle to your eye? Find that thing. Do it, and learn to do it well. Do it every day. Don’t let it float away from you. Hold it close to your heart. Groom it to perfection. Nurture it and watch it grow. Let go of any doubt that creeps in, and be in the flow of your joy. There may be times when other duties call for your attention. Wrap your dream up in some kelp (in a witchy sense, I mean this quite literally), tend to your other responsibilities, and then return to your dream, where it will be just as you left it, waiting for your return instead of getting lost in the vast ocean of unrealized dreams.
Sea Otter may also be telling you to open yourself to the possibility of finding a mentor, whether in teaching you a new hobby, or changing careers to something more fulfilling and meaningful for you. If you’re like the sea otter pup and feel lost with no direction in sight, allow someone who already has the experience to hold your hand and guide you. There is no shame in seeking out help, or taking it when it is offered.
To learn more about the conservation efforts of our nurturing, playful, and clever sea otter friends, please visit Friends of the Sea Otter, an advocacy group founded in 1968, at http://www.seaotters.org.