I have thought about writing this entry a number of times, but refrained because it seemed a little unbelievable. But when it happened again today (and for more times than I’ve kept track of), I decided I could not avoid it.
One of my regular exercise routines is to climb up and down some stairs outside, in my back yard. Every time I get near the top, there is a single ant there. The first time I encounter him, he is sitting practically in the middle of the step, so I have to work hard to (a) not notice him and (b) miss stepping on him. The next time I make it to the top, he is making his way down the steps. This process continues until he has come down five to seven steps, then he starts back up. Now this is no easy feat for an ant. The steps are irregular in height and length, and steep and uneven. Additionally, I rarely see another ant with him, which I believe is unusual.
So, why the ant? Well, I am reminded of the traditional teachings of animal medicine, which quantify the qualities of animals so they can relate messages or lessons to humans. In this tradition, the ant represents patience and perseverance—both qualities I certainly am in need of for my strenuous stair-climbing exercise. Having happened upon this ant innumerable times, the message seems clear to me to not give up and persevere.
Additional qualities associated with the ant include trusting the laws of nature, knowing your reward is just over the next horizon, and working well with others. Ants are mighty for their size and accomplish much through cooperation. When ant medicine shows up in your life, consider when and where it occurs. Does it happen in situations where you need a little encouragement to complete a task? Perhaps you need to support your community in order to get something done? Are you carrying too much weight on your shoulders and need to reach out for help? Do you need to remember to be more patient and trust your reward will come?
Along with the positive attributes of ant, there are a few to be wary of. For instance, ant medicine can also warn of greed (quick reward-seeking), impatience, or not working as part of your family/community. These can be messages or lessons about yourself or about someone else with whom you are involved.
Whether they are acting on their own, projections of our subconscious, messengers from a higher power, or pure coincidence, there is something to be learned from animals . . . if we just pay attention.