One of the incredible privileges of living in Cape Town and specifically on the mountain is the opportunity to live in such close proximity to a rich natural environment. Although it is becoming increasingly sophisticated and developed, it is this proximity to nature that gives Cape Town the edge when compared to other cities.

It is always lovely to be reminded of our connection to the earth and all the sentient beings that occupy this space with us. Baboon neighbours keep us on our toes as they regularly pass by with their barks and cackles (and their bent for thievery). I have on many occasions driven home at night and had to stop my car because a tiny little bokkie (baby buck) was standing wide-eyed in the road.

On Sunday night, it was another curious creature – the porcupine – that came across my path. Well more specifically it disturbed my sleep because it had given the neighbour’s dog a fright and so it was her barking that woke me up.

I decided to investigate the meaning behind the porcupine’s appearance. Of course these things are what you make of them, but I have always been intrigued with Native American philosophy and teachings and so went to look up the meaning of the porcupine according to Sams and Carson’s Medicine Cards which “draw upon ancient wisdom and tradition to teach the healing medicine of animals”.

What I read was just so beautiful, I felt I wanted to share it with you.

“Porcupine has many special qualities and a very powerful medicine: the power of faith and trust. The power of faith contains within it the ability to move mountains. The power of trust in life involves trusting that the Great Spirit has a divine plan. Your task is to find the pathway that is most beneficial for you and that uses your greatest talents to further that plan. Trust can open doorways to the creation space. The space thus created allows others to open their hearts to you and to share their gifts of love, joy, and companionship.

If you were to observe Porcupine, you would immediately notice its quills. These quills are only used when trust has been broken between Porcupine and another creature.

Much like Otter, Porcupine is a gentle, loving creature, and non- aggressive. When fear is not present, it is possible to feed a Porcupine by hand and never get stuck by its quills.

Through understanding the basic nature of this animal, you may come to understand your own need for trust and faith, and for becoming like a child again.

In today’s society, this is a needed reminder to honor the wonder of life and the appreciation of each new day as an adventure of discovery.

Porcupine sat silently, looking at a hollow log. She wondered if it was a playhouse that nature had created just for her. Porcupine envisioned all the things she could do with the log. She could climb on top and make the log roll from side to side. She could go inside and see if there were any nice juicy worms for her dinner. She could also scratch her back on the rough outer bark if she wanted to.

Just as Porcupine was pondering what to do next, she saw Bear approaching. Bear was big and black and looking for honey. “Oh, another playmate to share my log,” she thought. “Hello, Bear,” she cooed. “Do you want to play and share my log with me?” Gruff old Bear snorted, “Porcupine, don’t you know that I am too old to play? You are in my way. I am looking for honey. Go away!” “Why Bear, you are never too old to play,” she replied. “If you forget what it was like to be a cub, you will always be as impatient and gruff as you are now.” Bear began to think about what Porcupine had said. Maybe she was right. All the other creatures had run away from Bear in fright. Even the other Bears had turned up their noses when he growled at them. This little Porcupine was certainly trusting him not to eat her. She even offered to be his friend.

The old Bear looked at Porcupine and began to feel something move inside him. He started to remember the games he had played as a cub. Joy started to live in him again.

“Little Porcupine, you have reminded me that in becoming strong and seeking answers, I got caught up in trying to be an intellectual. I became afraid of what others would think if I dropped my mask of gruffness. I was afraid they would not take me seriously anymore. You have taught me that in being a fuddy-duddy, I was causing others not to care for me. Thank you. I would love to play with this old log and you.” And so it was that Bear became childlike again and learned the innocence of Porcupine.

In choosing the Porcupine card, you have given yourself a gentle reminder not to get caught in the chaos of the adult world where fear, greed, and suffering are commonplace. The medicine in this card is that of relief from seriousness and severity. Open your heart to those things that gave you joy as a child. Remember the preciousness of fantasy and imagination, and the making of some game or toy from nothing but scraps. Honor the playfulness of spirit that lets everyone win.”

I think we can all make use of this message. Go get in touch with your child-like nature today. Splash in a puddle, run through a sprinkler, laugh til your belly aches.

And if you have come across an animal in a dream or in real life and you want to know its significance, please get hold of me and I will share that card’s meaning.