Having found lists of obscure/obsolete color names and rounded out the alphabet with a few simply-charming-to-me colors, each day, I’ll introduce a color and a swatch I’ve painted and then write about whatever comes to mind as I muse about the day’s color. Fair warning, my mind is a non-linear traveler, so who knows where my contemplations will take us.
E is for… Eburnean – ivory in color
I’m hitting the double E today because musing about ivory, of course, brings beloved elephants to mind. I feel all talk about elephants must include mention of the multiple factors endangering them. The heart-wrenching truth is that poaching is once again an overwhelmingly serious problem, despite the 1989 ban on the international trade in ivory. There is also the crucial issue of habitat loss due to deforestation, as well as human-elephant conflict because elephants now have to share their habitat with humans. There is also the not-to-be-ignored problem of the mistreatment of elephants in captivity. Conservationists believe that both Asian and African elephants are in grave and imminent danger.
While this is grievous and entirely incomprehensible to me, and I think we all need to be strong advocates for the elephants; I want to celebrate the joy that is elephantness as well.
My C post contains a tale about elephants that delights me, but there are other associations of elephants with clouds as well, which charm me as well. The Divine Elephant, Aryavata, whom Vedic god Indra rides, is known as “the one who knits or binds the clouds.”
There is also the association of elephants and rain reflected in the story of the goddess Lakshmi. As she rose out of the ocean seated on a lotus, the elephants of each quarter of the sky took up their pure waters in golden vessels and pours them over the goddess. She, too, is pictured with a Divine Elephant or Megha (cloud).
When I’m studying something, I often keep a journal dedicated to it. It’s a practice I began as a perfumer and began my listening and relationship with various flowers. I do the same thing with totems and allies. One of the things I believe is that we don’t often tell one another how important they are to us or how much we love and appreciate them. I don’t actually just mean other humans, but also beings of other kingdoms such as animals, plants, and the myriad of others. I think the entire world could use more love letters, little heart valentines of love and respect and celebration. And so I often write them. Today, I’ll let you peek over my shoulder as I write a little love dispatch for the elephants.
My Dear Beloved Elephants –
Have I told you lately how much I love you? From your first appearance in my baby life as a plush toy that walked, I was smitten with you, and my delight has only grown exponentially with the years. I am most definitely a card-carrying member of the Elephant Adoration Society. Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s poetry taught me I am affected by Aanabhrandhanmar, which means mad about elephants. I carry that proclamation proudly.
It is said you once had wings, and that you are associated with clouds, and there is that wonderful tale of your alliance with the rabbit kingdom. You carry such powerful medicine and have so much to teach us about communication and loyalty, compassion, intelligence, and nobility. You are considered a “keystone species” playing a pivotal role in structuring both plant and animal communities. It grieves me my species has harmed yours to near extinction, and I vow to continue supporting those who are stewarding different visions. I love that the Dutch word for you is olifant; in Lithuanian, you are called dramblys; and Swahili hails you as tembo. Such beautiful words befit creatures as wondrous as you, and to them all, I add Beloved. May you always be safe, always know peace, always know joy. And know I love you! Deborah
Let me end today’s mind ramble with a quote from artist Gregory Colbert: “The stars you see at night are the unblinking eyes of sleeping elephants, who sleep with one eye open to best keep watch over us.”
I confess hearing those words totally changed how I view the night sky.
What about you? Do you like the idea of elephants watching over us? Are you crazy about elephants, too, or is there another animal that sparks your heart? Do tell – you know I’d love to hear.