Through trackless forests and
Like clarion trumpets and
this Singer’s steady Wisdom is revealed.
“Quietly we forge our forest trails,
Removing obstacles like waving away flies…
our quiet ways contrasting with our strength, our power.
Wise in council, vast in intellect, happy to advise,
Majestic, carrying all upon our broad backs like a grand tower.
We sing of fertility, fortune, and earthly might…
Loyal and Motherly care for Elder and Child…
Divine blessings in sacred white…
Don’t just look straight ahead, or
you may find yourself dangerously beguiled!
Dig deeply with ivory blade for the hidden Truth.
Respect the bones of your ancestors!
Patience and Remembrance are keys…
Wisdom can be gentle or sharp of tooth…
Mighty winds created with a single sneeze!
Life’s great circus can teach us magical tricks,
and a thick skin sees us through many conflicts."
Who Sings Now?
“I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent!” Horton Hatches an Egg by Dr. Seuss
“Even though you can’t see them at all … A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss
“…And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!
So, oft in theologic wars
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean;
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!"
John Godfrey Saxe
There are two kinds of Elephant in the world, Asian and African. Africans have only four visible toes on front feet instead of five, and three on their back feet. They have larger ears, straighter backs, and two “fingers” on their trunk tips rather than the one on Asian trunks. Their tusks are larger and both sexes have tusks in the African species, where as Asian female elephants have much smaller tooth like projections known as tushes. African elephants stand a bit taller. Males average around 12 feet and females about half that, and Asian males stand around 10 with females half that high.
Elephant’s four legs remind us to stay grounded and in balance with the Earth. The elephant’s foot is quite interesting because so much of it is composed of fibrous fatty tissue which acts as a shock absorber. These elastic, spongy qualities enable the elephant to walk almost silently even in dense forest, to grip the ground, and allow the enormous elephant to walk even in deep mud without difficulty! The foot’s circumference becomes smaller as it is withdrawn, which reduces the suction.
Metaphorically, this makes Elephant very at home in its earthly existence, sure-footed even with the emotional element of Water added. In fact, elephant is almost at home in the water as she is on land, and all elephants use mud and earth as a protective coating for their skin! Elephants are excellent swimmers, drink between 100 and 300 liters of water a day, and love to squirt themselves with this cooling liquid. Stability, Intellect and Emotion in harmony speaks of the great heart of the Elephant, which weighs between 40-60 lbs and beats 30 times per minute! It takes a lot of heart to be the largest land mammal on Earth.
They are, of course, more well-known for their unusual trunk than for their feet or hearts. Elephants do not drink through their prehensile proboscis, but they do suck water up with it and then squirt it in their mouths or on their skin. This extremely flexible muscular organ is a fusion of nose and upper lip. It is used as a means to explore, to manipulate objects like a hand, as an aid to feeding, drinking, and a variety of playful or loving actions. Adults are capable of uprooting trees, or plucking a single blade of grass with their trunks. Even calves can lift 4% of their total body weight!
“It has always seemed miraculous to me that these colossal animals can move noiselessly through the bush, and are thus able to surround one without warning.” Joy Adamson in Born Free
“There is nothing quite like an elephant. Nothing with which it can be compared, though the proverbial Six Blind Men of Indostan did their best, likening each part encountered separately to a snake, a spear, a fan, a wall, a tree and a rope. Taken altogether, these ingredients add up to a most singular animal whose trunk alone is enough to justify removing the elephant from the rest of the animal kingdom and setting it aside, along with ourselves perhaps, in categories of our own.”
“’And yet, when you see an elephant embedded in its own earth, comfortable in its own skin, carrying its great weight effortlessly along on cushioned feet, the only possible response is: ˜Of course. How could it be otherwise?” Lyall Watson, Anthropologist
This is an encouragement to engage fully with your environment and life choices, and to be as flexible as you are curious! The elephant’s best senses are hearing, touch, and smell. This is a reminder to look beyond the surface of things, look from a variety of angles, and to be open in body, mind and soul to the Universe that we may receive the answers to our questions. Their large ears, and small mouths are a reminder to listen more than we speak.
In the language of metaphors, teeth are transmitters. An elephant’s teeth, including the tusk, are very important to them. They only have a finite number of teeth to see them through life after all, much like Horse, and many an elderly elephant has starved to death because they were unable to eat enough to sustain them with the deterioration of their teeth. The tusks that are present in newborns are like milk teeth which fall out after the first year, and are soon replaced by more mature tusks at 2-3 years old. Tusks, unlike the grain-grinding molars, are used to dig up roots, tear edible bark from trees, uncover salt sources, and as a defensive weapon.
They also serve as a handy shelf when your trunk gets heavy, and elephants tend to be right or left-tusked just as humans are right or left-handed. Elephant people should be mindful of their teeth, what they put into their mouths and especially what they allow to come out of their mouths! Elephants are truly powerful creatures, and as such should take extra measures to be mindful of their actions, their choices, and their impact on the Universe around them.
“Awake. Be the witness of your thoughts. The elephant hauls himself from the mud. In the same way drag yourself out of your sloth.” Buddha
“I shall endure hard words As the elephant endures the shafts of battle. For many people speak wildly. The tamed elephant goes to battle. The king rides him. The tamed man is the master. He can endure hard words in peace.”
“A friend, well behaved, prudent and wise… Fare alone as a king renouncing his conquered land, and as an elephant roaming alone in the wilds.” Buddha
Mature male elephants (6-10 years) live a solitary life occasionally joining small bachelor herds, while females exist and travel in matriarchal herds throughout their lives. Sometimes sisters and their respective families will travel together. When food grows scarce, families will split apart into smaller groups to maximize resources. Long respected as very intelligent and deeply feeling creatures, science and observation certainly support these qualities. Elephant brain development and growth are very similar to that of our own people. Elephants are born with 35% of their adult brain mass, and people are born with about 26%. Like us, as the brain develops so does the elephant’s ability to learn. Elephant social structure is still not fully understood.
Their acute hearing and ability to speak in deep rumbles that register in the infra-sound range allows elephants to communicate over a range estimated to be within 50+square kilometers. This range was tested out under normal daytime conditions. Dusk increases their range with the night time temperature conversion, but such communications do not go on during the predator-active night. Messages of distress, danger, and mating can be sent and received this way.
“In order to leave nothing to chance, elephants plaster themselves with mud and dust as a further protection against both heat and flies. In the animal kingdom, it is not necessary to be thin-skinned to be sensitive.” C. Court Treat in Out of the Beaten Track
“A king who always cares for the elephants like his own sons is always victorious & will enjoy the friendship of the celestial world after death.” Kautiliya, scholar of Buddhism in India
They display humor, joy at the birth of a calf, during bouts of playing, and in the greeting of a friends; human, elephant or otherwise. Tales of joyful greetings from these amazing creatures, even after a separation of many years, are common. Did you know that there is an Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee? text can be linked I forget now which show I caught on television that introduced me to this delightful haven for old, sick, or needy elephants who have been retired from zoos and circuses across the U.S., but it was a captivating set of tales. I remember best the tale of two young elephants who’s paths separated in their early years, only to be reunited after much trial years later at the Sanctuary in Tennessee. After much wild trumpeting and dancing about, the tenderness with which one elephant’s trunk caressed the face of the other took my breath away, and brought tears to my eyes.
The innocent cavorting of young elephants is truly marvelous to behold, but fun and games aren’t just for calves either! Elephants have been observed at play at all stages of life, when alone, in groups, in captivity or in the wild. This very expressive behavior is fascinating in such a large and powerful creature, although it is not the only animal to be observed involving itself in the serious art of play. Elephants will also tend the sick and dying with a tender compassion, and they will mourn them with obvious grief. Many observations have made it evident that the Elephant has a deep emotional need to mourn and remember those that they have lost. To the matriarchal herds family is everything, and a precious newborn is just as loved as an elderly mother. All of which are excellent reasons never ever to buy anything that even looks like ivory.
“Curiously symbolizing profligate luxury as well as purity, ivory has for uncounted millennia been procured from vast distances and masterfully carved into objects of rare beauty. Since elephant tusks are its chief source, and since Man is the elephant’s only serious predator, ivory is at the root of the African elephant’s threatened extinction…” (Robert McCormick Adams, “Smithosian Horizons,” Smithsonian 19(12):14, 1989)
“Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.” Elie Wiesel
“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ’Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.” Thomas Paine
“Few men during their lifetime come anywhere near exhausting the resources dwelling within them. There are deep wells of strength that are never used.” Richard E. Byrd
“Wisdom is your perspective on life, your sense of balance, your understanding of how the various parts and principles apply and relate to each other. It embraces judgment, discernment, comprehension. It is a gestalt or oneness, an integrated wholeness.” Stephen R. Covey
Ganesha, the Opener of Ways, Destroyer of Pride, and Lord of Success, is the elephant-headed son of Hindu gods Shiva and Parvati. Worshiped as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth, Ganesha is one of the five prime Hindu deities along with Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Durga. Like the sacred Cow, different parts of Ganesha represent different things. His head, for example, symbolizes the soul or atman, the ultimate reality of our spiritual existence here on Earth. The sweet so often held in his trunk is a reminder to find and savor the sweetness in atman.
His body represents the bounty of physical earthly existence. He carries a goad in one of four hand which he uses to encourage us forward or remove obstacles. He also holds a small noose with which he captures all difficulties, and an axe with which to separate us from attachments like Pride. A broken tusk in one of his four hands represents the necessity of sacrifice within our lives, although I have also seen him depicted holding a shell either empty or filled with coins, or a water lily. A snake coiling around Ganesha’s mighty girth is also common, so a quick look at Snake might also be in order as a balancing energy.
His mount, the humble mouse, also reminds us to use different perspectives when examining a situation. An elephant’s eyes are small compared to the rest of him, and their positioning makes it difficult for them to see anywhere well other than straight ahead. Elephant people can’t always believe what they see, because they often aren’t seeing the whole picture. Elephants rely on their ears much more than their eyes not only for the sense of hearing, but flapping their large ears helps to cool them! The balancing energy of Mouse helps Elephant people look at things more closely and in greater detail. Despite many years of amusing cartoon propaganda, elephants are not at all afraid of mice, and those called by this mighty Teacher would do well to examine Mouse’s lessons too.
Other than man, the elephants’ only predators are Lions, and wild dogs like Hyenas which makes them a potential balancing energy. They do have close relationships with many avians like Tickbirds, and Oxpeckers. The far-seeing eyes of Hawk or Eagle would also be useful to review. Dragonfly’s clear vision is a wonderful gift to the Elephant, which impacts on this insects’ breeding grounds in the wild. Flies and Vultures are always a possibility too! The Grasses, Trees, and Fruits that elephants eat can also be examined for their lessons. Turtle is often associated with Elephant in lore. Mammoths from our ancient past are more closely related to the Asian elephants than either of the two African strains, and is the Elephant’s link to Ancient Wisdom.
White Elephants are considered to be especially sacred beings, often heralding the birth of a great Teacher or Boddhitsatva. As such, they who should be attended with every care. How this came to represent a purchase worth far less than what we paid for it is probably an interesting tale! Elephants have represented power, strength, royalty, wealth, success, fertility, wisdom, understanding, discernment, earthly stability as well as it’s tremors, strength, government from self to societal, faith, noble gentleness, and calm majesty. For all it’s nobility and wisdom, how did it become the animal in the corner that no one talks about? Are we being to thin or thick skinned? Are we really looking at the whole situation? How does this amazing Teacher appear in your life?
“Elephants are symbols of might and memory, harmony and patience, power and compassion. We are equivocal about them, as we are about anything which evokes strong feelings in us. We love and fear them, kill and revere them, see them as beasts of the moon with crescent tusks or as buffoons in baggy pants.”
“My roommate got a pet elephant. Then it got lost. It’s in the apartment somewhere.” Steven Wright
“One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know. " Groucho Marx
“No matter how much you feed a wolf, an elephant still has bigger balls.” Popular Russian Saying, translated by Vladimir Ivanovich Shlyakov, 1993
Potential Balancing Energies: lion, eagle, mouse/rat, hawk, fly, wasp, ant, bee, mosquito, elephant beetle, lepidoptera, spider, snake, turtle, plants like caladiums, carrot, cabbage, sugar cane, bamboo and grasses, trees like acacia, banana and apple, birds like Tick birds or vulture, hyena, sea cow, hyrax
Key Concepts: Ancestoral wisdom/power, Strength/Power, Endurance, Royalty, Luck/Fortune, Sexuality, Fertility, Earth energy, Discernment, Discretion, Purpose, Moderation, Responsibility, Leadership, Natural Law, Memory, Respect for All including Self, Sensitivity, Loyalty, Familial Devotion, Co-operative effort, Compassion, Humor, Faith, Feminine energy, birth/death/rebirth cycle, Community, and service to Divine Purpose
Associated with: Ganesha, Laxshmi, Durga, Indra, Brahma, Shiva, Buddha, Alexander the Great, Hammurabi, Hannibal, Pyrrhus, Noah, Ut-napishtim
Each Who Sings Now? poem is inspired by a Teacher found in Nature; tree, stone, animal, plant, etc. All Our Relations are still willing to teach anyone willing to gratefully listen. Nothing is ever truly lost as long as there is still someone willing to look for it. Can you guess who is singing?