Detail from an altar at the Spiral Dance
Later, I checked on the lore and symbolism of frogs. They are creatures of earth and water (the two elements I resonate with most strongly). Due to their life cycle, from spawn to tadpole to frog, in many cultures they represent change and rebirth. Frogs seemed to be creatures I could have a connection to – and my eye was drawn back to the sentence about rebirth. In the days leading up to my initiation, a rite of passage symbolising the death of the old self and rebirth of the new, was it mere coincidence that an abundance of frogs – dead frogs – had crossed my path?
More recently, I was at my friend S’s house preparing, along with others, for the initiation of another friend. A couple of us were cleaning and tidying the space in readiness for the ritual, when we discovered the dessicated corpse of a frog under some shelves. We checked with S that it wasn’t a precious magical or ritual object (cue for many jokes about only having to ask such questions in a fellow Witch’s home!). It wasn’t – merely the hitherto undiscovered grisly relic of a hunting trip by S’s cat. Yet I noted the strange coincidence. Initiation. Dead frog, symbol of death and rebirth. Again.
My own initiation marked the onset of a period in my life where everything that could go wrong, went wrong. My health suffered, and I felt like for some reason I was out of step with the Universe. This period culminated in the end of my marriage, and a huge re-examination of my Self. And then, one evening last summer, just as I finally felt truly back in harmony with the Universe, another piece of frog magic occurred. Going out to shut the chickens away, something made me look up at the garden wall as I passed. There, at eye-level with me, was the biggest, healthiest looking frog I’ve ever seen. We regarded each other for a few seconds, until I quietly said, ‘Thank you.’ Then the frog jumped over the wall and disappeared.
I do think some part of me died and was reborn at my initiation. I think somehow, somewhere, my life had gone off-track without me even noticing. I think the Universe gave me gentle and some not-so-gentle signs and nudges to get me back on the right track. And I think the frogs - dead and alive - were part of that, a sign or message about the death and then rebirth of the self. Or at least a damn strange coincidence.
I have mentioned on this blog before now the notion of being predicted by the weather – the fact that sometimes, the weather seems to reflect our inner moods. Or are our inner moods subtly coloured by the weather without our realising it? The trouble with messages from the Universe is they can be so hard to spot in amongst ordinary day to day events. Another potential pitfall is that sometimes, we may be looking for a message when actually, there isn’t one. Sometimes a flat tyre may be telling us something profound about our journey through life. And sometimes it’s just a bloody nuisance. Sometimes, the Universe does have a message for us. But sometimes, shit just happens. The question is, when is a dead (or live) frog a message from the Universe? And when is a dead frog just a dead frog? How can we tell?
This is what I think. I think we live in an amazing and interactive Universe that speaks to us all the time. I think sometimes we hear, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we misunderstand, or only hear what we want to. I didn't notice how out-of-tune my life had got - the Universe tried sending me gentle hints, then glaringly obvious symbolism (dead frogs) then finally had to whack me over the head with stress-related exhaustion, illness, misfortune and the end of my marriage. I can be a slow learner, but I got it in the end. How much simpler, though, if I'd been listening in the first place.
The trick is to hone our listening skills. Tune in. Listen carefully. Notice coincidence and serendipity when they occur. Use the divination methods that work for you. Ask Reya's useful question, 'If this was a dream, what would it mean?'. Trust your intuition, your gut instinct. Pay attention to your dreams. Don’t just listen for what you want – or expect – to hear. Remember to say please and thank you.
And most important of all, remember that sometimes, a dead frog is just a dead frog.