08 June 2008
Years ago, when I attended my first pagan camping festival (for Beltaine) I was lucky enough to visit a now-defunct place called Woodhaven in Pineville, Missouri. And it was a gorgeous, magical place with a river, woods, bald eagle nest, a waterfall and a fascinating cave system. I was lucky enough to befriend a local who took me for the grand tour of the caves. And while the caves themselves were amazing, what with shelves where the Indians once placed certain items, the most magical event occurred after I left the caves. I walked out and marveled at the stupidity of the archaeologists who had driven spikes into the trees for their lights circa 1920 and slowly made my way back to the campground, following my guide as it was a big, wild place. The trip back to the campground must have taken over 10 minutes and as my new friend lifted up a barbwire fence for me to duck under he said "Hey, there's a bat on your back!" Can you believe it? I couldn't at the time. I was wearing a rather thick and heavy shirt and didn't even feel the tiny thing clinging to my shirt just below my right shoulder. And it was holding on for dear life and kept holding on until we got up to the slope and met up with our fellow camping pagans. Luckily, one of the revelers knew a little about bats and knew the right way to pick it up. After that, the adorable youngster flew straight back to the caves. I guess I must have brushed up against it when I squeezed through the tighter spots. It was an amazing feeling and an inspirational experience.
I think about that day often and even more so now that our local bat has returned to our pole light for the summer. I love watching our bat fly around our house and dive after bugs. When the bat wheels against the stars I lose sight of it but then it rapidly reappears around the light and I smile like an idiot. And on two different nights lately my bat has had a buddy, perhaps a mate? I wonder. And I also wonder where my local bats spend their days and winters. Bats can live in tree holes but they also, obviously, live in caves. So, Missouri being The Cave State, there could very well be a cave around here that I don't know about. Either way, I just love my bat and would be delighted if the mate sticks around. It would be so awesome to see a baby bat, a pup, around my pole light.
American Indian peoples consider bats to be trickster figures. Ah, tricksters, those wonderful, sneaky, wise and wicked beings that take away and teach at the same time. I'm not sure what lessons the bats in my life have been trying to teach me. Perhaps they are just there to inspire or make me feel special. I know that when I spend time in the wee hours watching my bat wheel and dive around the light and through the stars I feel serene as I never do during the daylight hours. My local bat is my nighttime guide, my companion in my star watching and moongazing. Perhaps it is my spirit guide. Above all, my bat is my friend.
Bat image from beekeeping.com.