Green Wizardries: The Spring Equinox


Green Wizardry, The Spring Equinox  by Maxine Rogers

This year, the Spring Equinox falls on 19 March but it is usually celebrated on the 21st of March which is the day this paper comes out.  It is a day of perfect balance between night and day.  It is a time of transition from winter to the exuberance of spring.  

A few days ago, the bitter cherry trees, native to this part of the world, and always the first to bloom put on a glorious show of tiny, snow-white blossoms.   A fitting announcement that spring really is here.

The sun, suddenly not so shy, shines forth and the birds return from southern lands bearing the glories of summer under their wings.  The frogs are singing love songs and one of my neighbours has already begun talking about drought!  I see lambs here and there.  Beautiful spring flowers grace our gardens.  

I want to take a moment here to laud a great Druid man of these islands.  He has been a kind of Saint Francis to animals, wild and domesticated lo these many years.  Yes, I am talking about the great Peter Karsten.  

Peter is the man we all go to when we need help with wildlife.  The following is a very recent story but he has helped me with injured wild animals before this and done the same for many other people and creatures.  

My husband called me to come out and deal with what he thought was an injured raven asking for help.  The raven was hopping around our compost bins uttering an uncharacteristic squawk.    It was raining and I could see an open wound on the raven’s chest.  I had brought a large bath towel and we managed to herd the raven between us and I was able to scoop the injured bird up in the towel.  The bird was soaking wet.  

He lay in my arms like a pet cat, unresisting and not attempting to slash anything with his huge, powerful scimitar of a beak.  I brought the raven into the house and called Peter, luckily getting him on the third ring.  We exchanged greetings and Peter asked how I was.  I said I was fine but I had a raven in my arms.  Peter inquired after his state of health and said I should bring him right over.  

I got my husband to hold the raven so I could change out of pyjamas and the bird did begin to struggle a bit then.  Once changed, I was able to rewrap the raven in the big, fluffy towel and he again relaxed totally in my arms.  I expect his relatives told him this was a safe house for ravens.  We have long been friendly with the pair of ravens who hold our farm as part of their territory.   

We drove over to Peter’s house and he readied a small room with a low perch for the raven, putting in a bed of clean straw and a bowl of water.  I released the raven who simply hopped into the room and began to explore in the coolest manner possible.  Peter said he would cook the raven an egg and put some meat out to thaw.  We noticed the raven also had an open cut on his head.  He seemed quite strong and fit and I was hopeful for a full recovery.  Peter said he might have been attacked by an eagle or even another raven.  

I called Peter three days later to inquire after the bird’s health and Peter said, “That is sad.”  He had driven all the way to Nanaimo to take the raven to a wildlife rehabilitation centre.  The raven had tangled with a hot wire and been electrocuted.  The wounds we saw were electrical burns and his wing had developed gangrene.  Peter asked if they could amputate but they said the bird would not have a good life with only one wing.  The raven received euthanasia, which is a Greek term for a peaceful death.  

While this was not the result we had hoped for, the raven came to us for help and we all did our best for him.  Peter did the heavy lifting.  The raven was able to die warm, dry, with a full belly and no pain.  I call that a win.  

I was really impressed by the raven’s intelligence and calm under what must have been a very stressful circumstance.  Birds and animals are not so different from humans. They are our little brothers and sisters.

I am planting a memorial flower hedge in my vegetable garden for the raven.  It will have sunflowers, cosmos daisies, calendulas, sweet peas, nasturtiums and bachelor’s buttons.  The blooms will feed the insects who will in turn feed other insects and spiders. These will in turn be eaten by little birds who will feed the hawks and so on.  We can be a help to Nature and the Living Earth if we put our minds to it.  Happy Spring Equinox to you all.