By Kerri R.
Remembering a conversation she had with the Cheshire Cat in Wonderland, Alice once again wonders which way to go. What happens when there is no rabbit hole in sight? She isn’t very much in the mood for digging her own. Alice then notices that the larger animals seemed to have created a path of their own through the wild jungle leaves. Of course she is curious. As she follows the trail, being cautious for carefully placed twigs and leaves that could be another hidden snare trap, her surroundings begin to mysteriously change again. Although still a jungle, the leaves that had formed a thick canopy overhead before now seem to thin. She wishes she had brought a sweater for the unexpected cooler temperature. She becomes winded as she finds herself climbing a mountain, following in the footsteps of those who have walked this path on spiritual journeys throughout history. Do the challenges or the beauty encountered along the way inspire that deeper connection?
Alice had walked all the way into nightfall. Maybe she would sit to rest. As she looks at a picture sent from home of Dinah’s black kitten something flies overhead…a bat?!
“And here Alice began to get rather sleepy, and went on saying to herself, in a dreamy sort of way, ‘Do cats eat bats? … and sometimes, ‘Do bats eat cats?’ for, you see, as she couldn’t answer either question, it didn’t much matter which way she put it.”Alice in Wonderland, Chapter 1
Tis’ the season of superstition! Just as Alice is pondering how myths like the dangers of the number 13, vampires, and witches were nothing more than medieval propaganda meant to create fear and discrimination, a shadowy figure crosses her path. Was it one of her wolf friends? The figure circles back towards her with curiosity. Reflective green eyes stare at Alice (unbroken looking glasses). A familiar, yet somehow distinct sound vibrates through the atmosphere. It is definitely not the howl of the wolves. It reminds her of when Dinah purrs with contentment, but not quite as soft. Is it her tiger friend? Alice’s eyes adjust to the moonlight and she can clearly see. The loud purring does come from big cat, but it is not the Tiger this time. Once believed to be extinct in the wild, now standing before Alice is a black panther; the “ghost of the forest”; a very large black cat… Alice doesn’t feel unlucky at all! Affectionately brushing against a tree and rolling to the ground he suddenly leaps up and growls before retreating back into the forest. Just like Dinah, who is loving one minute and then suddenly annoyed by the attention; the authenticity of a cat is present in each moment.
She is like a cat in the darkStevie Nicks (Rhiannon)
And then she is the darkness
The black panther’s “ghostly” reappearance to the jungle reminds us that sometimes what seems like an ending may be a new beginning. We can honor what once was and celebrate what is to come, both without fear. Maybe we honor our past self. Maybe we honor our ancestors or those who are no longer with us. The tiny panther (black cat) teaches us that we can transcend any stereotype or false belief that has been attached to us, whether from a real or imagined history. We can move forward as ourselves unapologetically.
To be confident without arrogance both the wild and domestic cats are masters of self care. They display a healthy self-reliance that does not seek approval or influence from others. Taking the time to observe any situation before acting they sharpen their intuition. And they always land on their feet.
“Believe in yourself and there will come a day when others will have no choice but to believe with you.”Mufasa (from The Lion King)
Alice awakens to the sunrise. She stretches towards the sky, tilting her head upwards when she sees another big cat high in the trees. Golden like the sun with her own pattern of spots, the leopard has no worries.
Black panthers are leopards or jaguars
Bats are a keystone species and important for our ecosystem
Origins of the black cat superstition
The Sri Lankan Leopard is endangered
The Amur Leopard is critically endangered
The Snow Leopard is vulnerable
Continue the adventure with the next post in this series.
Kerri is an advocate for the introverted activist. Often at a loss for words in person, she writes to make sense of the world and connect with others. She wishes for more curiosity & kindness in the world.