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The Druid Animal Oracle by Phillip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm
Otter: Joy, Play, Helpfulness
Otter invites us to play, to 'go with the flow' of life and
experiences--to become a child again.
Allow yourself the freedom and pleasure of relaxing and letting
go of all your daily concerns.
Otter could be prompting you to take a day or a weekend out
of your usual routine--to do
something purely for fun. Your practical self may tell you that
you cannot afford the time, but
deep down you know that you need to take care of yourself to
be of real value to others.
Someone may even be coming into your life who will show you
how to play again--something
you may have forgotten as you accepted the responsibilities
of growing up. Otter shows us that
being playful can even lead us to catch the salmon--the fish
prized by the Druids as the totem of
wisdom. Otter also confirms in us the sense that we are truly
Contrary suggests that you may be "pushing the river"--going
against the natural course of
events, perhaps out of fear or stubbornness. Try letting go,
relaxing and trusting in life. Although
Otter urges us to be playful, we must beware of becoming the
playboy or girl who uses play as
an escape from the demands and responsibilities of adulthood.
Keynote: Joy, Playfulness, and Sharing
Cycle of Power: Spring and Summer
The otter amuses and fascinates most humans. Their playful expressions
and activities capture
our imaginations. Whether a sea otter or the river otter, there
is a natural, joyful curiosity about them.
Once on a a canoe trip in northern Ontario, Canada, a river
otter popped up about ten feet from
the front of the canoe. It raised itself up out of the water
and peered over its nose as if curios as
to who would be up so early and coming into its playground.
It would dive and disappear and
then reappear off to one side or the other, as if trying to
size up the situation from every angle.
When its curiosity was satisfied, it dived and disappeared,
going about its own activities.
Otters awaken curiosity. They remind us that everything is interesting
if we look at it from the
right angle. They are playful and seem to have fun at whatever
they are doing.
Otters always have their homes close to the water. During the
summer, they are rarely on land,
especially river otters. They usually have a large home territory
around and in the water, and they
usually mark their homes with a scent.
Their connection to the water links them to the primal feminine
energies of life--especially the
pleasurable aspects of the feminine--creation, imagination,
joy and love of the young. Otters
remind us to keep the inner child alive or to give birth to
it. They remind us that life can be fun if
we approach it with the right attitude. Otters are seldom seen
alone. They are either with others
or playing with some object.
The adult otter has practically no natural enemies. They protect
the young very well. They are
agile and fast in the water, with the ability to outswim fish.
If there is a threat, they usually swim
away fast, but they can be ferocious fighters.
The mother otter usually chases the father out of the den when
the young are born, again
reflecting the otter's tie to primordial feminine and mothering
energies and patterns. When the
young are out and about, the father is allowed to rejoin. Usually
two to four young are born, but
they must be taught to swim. This task is handled by the mother.
Sometimes otters show up to
help awaken the primal mothering energies and responsibilities.
It can indicate a need to set up
your boundaries within the home and define your feminine role.
Otters are extremely agile and acrobatic in the water. They
love to slide on their bellies and dive
in and out of the water. When under water, the nostrils and
ears close. Remember that water is an
ancient symbol for the feminine and creative forces of life.
An otter's activities and playfulness
reminds us all--male and female--that we all need the feminine
qualities in some form for the
greatest joy in our life.
If otter has surfaced in your life, it may be time to find some
play time. Involve yourself in some
creative activity. You do not have to be good at it; just have
fun with it. or are you being too
playful? Are you not staying focused? Are you afraid to have
fun? Are you getting too serious?
Are you worrying? Do you need to awaken your inner child? Treat
yourself to something special.
Honor otter and it will teach you not only how to have fun,
but it will reawaken a new sense of
wonder at life and all things within it.
*Bobby Lake-Thom/Spirits of the Earth:
Otter is a good sign. He represents wealth, playfulness, and
happiness, and also brings good luck
and good health. His message is similar to Mink's. Native men
and women in a variety of
different tribes often used Otter and Mink skins for hair ties
and decorative wrappings. They are
symbols of good luck, beauty, and wealth.
*Patricia Telesco/The Language of Dreams:
Native American: The feminine power of water. Also gracefulness
Forgetfulness or lacking closure. Otters are known to take one
or two bites from their food, then
leave the rest behind when distracted by something else.
*Timothy Roderick/The Once Unknown Familiar:
Key Words: Elusive, joyful, spritely
Magical Influences: Physical flexibility; ability to take the
form of another, mastery of the
element of Water, healing
Personality: Otter types like to be alone, but often enjoy the
company of others. When they get
together with friends, they are so adaptable that they mirror
their company's behavior, language,
and even thought patterns. If an otter is in the presence of
some other strong personality for too
long, it loses its sense of exactly who it is. Otters need to
set goals for themselves because they
can easily lose track of where they are going in life.
*D.J. Conway/Animal Magick:
Otters are both the fresh water and sea species. They are mainly
fishermen and are skilled
swimmers. They love to frolic in water, often sliding down banks
into streams or ponds in play.
They are playful, friendly, curious about everything, and enjoy
The American Otter is about three and one-half feet long and
can weigh from ten to fifteen
pounds. It is a rich brown with lighter under parts. The otter
has a broad flattened head set on a
long stout neck, small ears, and a heavy tapering tail. Its
short legs have webbed toes.
The otter was an important cult animal in ancient Peru and,
for some reason, paired with the
ocelot. The Ainu of Japan, however, think the otter is forgetful
To the Celts, the otter was a very magickal creature; it accompanied
the god Cernunnos. Native
Americans said the otter symbolized female energy because it
lived in both the Earth and Water
Elements. This energy could be used by both men and women. However,
they also called it a
Magickal Attributes: Finding inner treasures or talents; faithfulness;
gaining wisdom; the ability
to recover from a crisis. Be sensible, but not overly suspicious,
when something or someone new
enters your life. Its appearance points to a need to enjoy life
rather than just endure it. Social life,
friends, happiness. Guidance to uncovering talents, psychic
*Denise Linn/The Secret Language of Signs:
The otter is capricious, playful, and fun-loving. Get ready
for fun! Enjoy life in the moment!
*Mary Summer Rain/On Dreams:
Otter implies the recognition of inner joy generated by spirituality.
*Lady Stearn Robinson & Tom Gorbett/The Dreamer's Dictionary:
Whether in or out of the water, this animal in your dream is
telling you to conserve your
resources now because you've got some rainy days ahead.
*Jamie Sams & David Carson/Medicine Cards:
Woman Medicine. The medicine held by Otter is a set of lessons
in female energy. This applies
to both men and women, as all of us have female sides. The Otter's
hide is very often used to
make medicine bags for powerful women because it represents
balanced female energy.
Otter is very caring of its young and will play for hours, performing
all types of acrobatics. It
lives on land, but always has its home near water. The elements
of Earth and Water are the
female elements. At home in both of these elements, Otter is
the personification of femininity:
long, sleek, and graceful;, Otter is the true coquette of the
Otter is always on the move and is very curious. Unlike other
animals, Otter will not start a fight
unless it is attacked first. This joyful little creature is
adventuresome and assumes that all other
creatures are friendly--until proven otherwise.
These character traits are the beauty of a balanced female side,
the side of ourselves that creates a
space for others to enter our lives without preconceptions or
suspicions. Otter teaches us that
balanced female energy is not jealous or catty. it is sisterhood,
content to enjoy and share the
good fortune of others. Anchored in the understanding that all
accomplishments are worthwhile
for the whole tribe, Otter people express joy for others.
Long ago, in tribal law, if a woman were widowed, her sister
would offer her own husband to the
widow as a lover to keep her from drying up and not using her
creative urges. This is Otter
medicine, too. Envy, or the fear of being replaced, has no space
in Otter's balanced
understanding of sharing goodness.
Woman energy without games or control is a beautiful experience.
It is the freeness of love
without jealousy. it is the joy of loving other people's children
and their accomplishments as
much as you love your own.
It may be time to examine your feelings about sharing the bounty
of your life with others. Otter
may be saying that the finer qualities of woman need to be striven
for in both men and women so
that a unity of spirit can be achieved. This would involve the
destruction of jealousy and of all
the acts of anger which stem from that fear. It would mean keeping
a Hawk-eye on your ego and
maintaining total trust. It would mean a world full of people
coming together to honor the right
of each person to *be*.
If you have drawn this symbol, Otter may be telling you to become
the playful child and to
simply allow things to unfold in your life. It may be time to
stop your addiction to worrying.
Otter also teaches the importance of not hanging onto material
things that would bind you ro
become a burden. In looking at how you can learn from Otter's
habits, you might look at the
joyousness of the receptive side of your nature. Have you given
yourself a gift recently? Have
you received any messages in your meditations? Become Otter
and move gently into the river of
life. Flow with the waters of the Universe...this is the way
of balanced female-receptive energy.
Honor it! In doing so, you will discover the power of woman.
Contrary: If the Otter card appears reversed, you may be running
from one idea to another
without focus. This could also imply that you have forgotten
how to receive, and are blocking a
gift from the Universe with your male side. If this is the case,
you may be embarrassed to receive
compliments, to have someone hug you, or to allow your genuine
personality to come out. Fear
of being rejected is the contrary message of Otter. Drop the
seriousness on all levels and play at
life so that the fear rolls off your back. Realize that the
only flow is the flow of love from the
Great Spirit to you, from you to others, and from others back
Otter represents joyousness, playfulness, and happiness; faithfulness,
agility, and good luck;
sharing and healing.
Otter's gentle playfulness encourages you to enjoy all that
life has to offer. She wants to see you
happy. Otter lives in an aquatic world that speaks of psychic
gifts that will come to the fore in
some manner. These gifts may manifest in any number of ways
since she is both a social creature
and a loner at times. Learning to mirror the behavior of others
is one of the lessons she will
teach. In this you can learn to fit into a new environment,
or read people through the experience
of enacting similar behavior yourself. You will often find Otter
playing blissfully by itself for
hours at a time, but in that play it is also examining everything
around it from a wide range of
directions--up, down, over, and under--and sometimes through
them. These creatures are
everywhere and they make a playground of life while learning
Otter will stir your imagination to create wondrous things that
stimulate the child within you and
make it easy to nurture your own children or those of others.
Through this type of creativity you
will learn to be a virtual pied piper of little ones and teach
them in exciting ways about life and
Spirit, defending both fiercely. This is a feminine energy and
while the father does not have a
major role in raising the little ones, the female does. She
will help you define what should and
should not be of concern for the well-being of the young in
Otter has a healing quality that stems from the purification
and cleansing qualities of the watery
world in which she dwells. It is curious enough to go to the
heart of a problem and solve it and
has long been a symbol among indigenous tribes as one who can
teach many skills in this area.
Otter is trusting and finds being a sister to her community
part of life, not a conscious effort. She
will trust until that trust is broken and in that makes it easy
for others to be accepted for who they
are and what they can offer. She does relish the joys of the
community as much as her own and it
is a natural flow of energy that is exuded. The thought of having
power over others is not an
issue, nor is coveting the property someone else might have.
With her playful spirit she will
simply find her own toys and treasures.
Otter's ability to play in the water and immerse herself in
it wholly demonstrates the ability to be
one with Spirit and all of creation. She will take you to the
depths of Great Mystery and teach
you to cross borders within yourself and other dimensions. Her
playful actions are also
intentional, she wants to explore and with her joyful attitude
it makes the lessons she teaches a
pleasure. She understands the currents she plays in, the cycles
of the seasons, and has mastered
going with the flow. Because of this you will often find her
effortlessly floating on her back and
using her own stomach as her playing surface. All of life is
to be celebrated.
There are two kinds of Otter, the river and sea. Delightful
creatures to watch in the wild otters
have a strong curiosity exploring every nook and cranny they
can find just to see what's there.
Their curiosity reminds us that everything is interesting if
looked at from different angles. They
know how to float on the currents of life enjoying the beauty
that it holds. Their relaxed attitude
reminds us to laugh with life and not take things to seriously.
They offer us the gift of laughter,
trust and playfulness.
Otters are agile and fast in the water. They are often seen
floating on their backs with their paws
extended out of the water, sliding on their bellies playfully,
or performing acrobatic maneuvers.
Water has long been associated with the emotional energies in
man. Otters glide through the
emotional ups and downs of life with ease and can teach us how
to do the same. They represent
the creative, nurturing energies that live within us and show
us how to honor them.
Otters are excellent parents and care for their young longer
than most other marine mammals.
They enjoy the company of other otters and are rarely seen alone.
Those with this medicine
benefit by living on or close to the water and find comfort
in group interactions.
The otter is very talkative. When frightened their calls take
on an eerie piercing sound similar to
a baby screaming. They have few natural enemies and are not
afraid of humans. During the
Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, otters were one of the few
creatures that would allow humans to
hold them without putting up a fight. As the oil was wiped from
their bodies the otter would lie
very still in the arms of the one caring for it, unafraid and
When otter appears in your life it is asking you to let go of
worry and pain, lighten up and enjoy
what life has to offer. Trust your inner knowing , develop trust
for others and embrace the world
with excitement and enthusiasm. Life is what we make it. The
otter shows us how to create a
joyful future. All we need to do is follow its lead.
Otter, Joyous and Free, Come on in and tickle me!
Laugh and whirl and spin and play.
And touch my heart in your special way.
You know the depths and know the Light.
You go where it's dark but there's no fright.
Your gentle humor makes all right.
You share with currents, understand their play.
Please, bless me in my Heart today.
Even if I wrote in a silly way.
"Glen of the sleek brown flat-nosed otter
leaping lightly, freely fishing"
From 'Deidre Remembers a Glen,' Irish fourteenth century
The otter is known for its strong sense of family - the cubs
stay longer with their parents than
most other young animals and when an otter dies its mate will
often mourn for a long time. For
these reasons the otter has come to symbolize the strength of
The otter is sacred to the Irish god of the sea, Manannan mac
Lir and there have been a number
of sightings of Otter Kings or 'Master Otters.' One was said
to have appeared at Dhu Hill (Black
Hill), waited upon by about a hundred ordinary otters. Another
lived in Sutherland and was
completely white. In Scottish tradition, Otter Kings are brown
and are always accompanied by
seven black otters as servants. When captured they would grant
any wish on the promise of
release. Some preferred to kill them, for their skin when worn
rendered a warrior invincible.
Fortunately these otter kings were hard to kill: they could
only be harmed if stabbed at one tiny
white spot below their chin - a spot well-guarded by their teeth.
Although sacred to a god and having kings, the otter is also
sacred to the Goddess. Ceridwen, the
great Mother Goddess of the Celtic tradition, pursued Gwion
Bach as an otter-bitch when he
tried to escape her by shape-shifting into a fish. The otter
and the fish are an ideal pair to
symbolize the chase, for otters are excellent fishers. In the
Irish tale The Voyage of Maelduin the
seafarers toward the end of their journey reach the Island of
the Otter. There the kindly otters
bring Maelduin's men salmon, just as they had been bringing
fish to the island's sole inhabitant.
Here the otter is portrayed as the friend of man, exemplifying
the ideals of service, charity and
helpfulness. Recognizing this quality of friendliness, many
Celtic names for the otter include the
world for dog: water-hound, brown-dog, water-dog or sea-dog.
At home with the two feminine elements of water and earth, the
sleek and graceful otter
represents femininity, joyfulness and play. And like the toad,
fox and snake the otter is said to
carry a secret power object - a jewel or pearl within its head.
Otter skin was considered magical - it could be worn as a charm
against drowning, it would keep
harps dry when made into a carrying bag and when lining the
inside of a shield it would offer
protection to the warrior. The magical powers of otter skin
extended to healing: it was used as an
antidote to fever and smallpox and was helpful in childbirth.
As well as offering healing and
protection, the otter calls one to play, to relax in the knowledge
that nature will provide for all
needs and that life can be fun and joyful.
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