Hedgehog Medicine- on the value of literal and metaphysical prickles
When my daughter was small, a story at bedtime was one of the things we treasured and like many parents, we had our own favourites. The Winter Hedgehog was one we all loved.http://www.amazon.co.uk/Winter-Hedgehog-Red-Picture-Books/dp/0099809400/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417864863&sr=1-1&keywords=the+winter+hedgehog
It tells the story of a young hedgehog who refuses to go to sleep for the winter and sets out to explore what winter is. Without spoilers, I can tell you he found it to be “beautiful, dangerous and very, very cold.”
Last month, I had a series of baby hedgehogs needing rescuing. All (probably) from a late litter, I found them in my garden at night, one at a time, and all were tiny, hungry and riddled with fleas, lung-worms and ticks. A few days before I’d seen a dead adult squished at the side of the road, and I am pretty certain that was their mum. In total, we took five little hogs to the rescue centre, and I am pleased to report that most recent report has them all thriving and doing well. This is against the odds, as usually only 20% of youngsters rescued at this size survive. If they all make it through to the spring, we will bring them back here to release in our garden.
I’ve handled a lot of wildlife in my time and I have been privileged to handle many hedgehogs. They’re at a critically low level in the UK, and there are fears we may lose them altogether. There are lots of things we can all do to help, and for more info, do look at the Hedgehog Society’s website for advice http://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/
on feeding and more general information about their lives. We put out food every evening, because contrary to what most have believed, they don’t sleep the entire winter but will come out during mild spells and will need food if they do.
Now, as far as I am concerned, there are messages that come to us from within our own souls and from the outside world: oracles, if you like. The arrival of quite so many spiky little beings coincided with a time of needing to withdraw and of going within, but also of the need to protect myself. I have often felt raw and with too few skins and the hedgehogs remind me of the need for psychic protection for the sake of staying safe while being able to go about my daily life. I’ve talked before about armouring and becoming vulnerable and this encounter with hedgehogs has been a reminder that while I need to protect myself I should not do so by becoming cut off from the world. Hedgehogs are agile, and are good climbers, despite their apparently cumbersome outer layer. Each prickle is actually a modified hair and is very flexible and quite light.
One of the very curious things about this litter of hoglets is that I found it much harder to pick them up. I’ve scooped up hedgehogs with bare hands in the past and not been prickled, but when the rescue centre lady handled them she showed me these ones have a different pattern of prickles. They seem to have a number of extra prickles that are longer, thicker, sharper than the others, and which are also paler. It would seem they have been adapting and changing too. One of the few predators in the UK that can do anything with a hedgehog is the badger; they turn them inside out and eat them. I imagine that these new pricklier versions may well be harder to do that with. The other curious thing is the fact that FIVE babies have made it thus far from a late litter. Hedgehogs can have up to ten babies at a time but it’s rare for more than three or four to survive to leave the nest. All of ours have this new pattern of prickles and so are almost certainly litter mates. This gives me hope that they are somewhat better protected than others.
In terms of personal psychic protection, the use of metaphysical prickles is the same as for literal ones. No one gets hurt by prickles if they are not actually attacking the hedgehog; psychic prickles are the same. You are not choosing to attack anyone else, but should they attack you, it will hurt. If you are curious about protection, there are a lot of excellent books I can recommend, but I’ll leave you with some medicine information about the hedgehog as totem or guide or guardian.
Wisdom of the female elders
Defense against negativity
Enjoyment of life
Understanding weather patterns
The Hedgehog teaches how to be on the defence and how to protect yourself.
It shows how to protect the soft inside – your inner self.
Hedgehog shows how to be gentle, yet protective at the same time.
How to build defences and protective barriers that discourage negative people.
It also is the symbol of the Wisdom of the Female Elder, with close ties to Mother Earth. People with a Hedgehog totem often understand weather patterns –
they know when it will rain.