When I first moved to Oklahoma twenty-three years ago, I became intrigued with a small mammal I often saw as road-kill on the rural highways. I know plenty of people who think armadillos are ugly and strange creatures, and I have often heard avid gardeners say, “The only good armadillo is a dead armadillo”. Having lived up north most of my life, however, I had never really seen one and knew little about them. The way folks around here talked about the armadillo, I thought they must be some kind of devil-creature! But I did not have to worry about them much while I lived in town – armadillos prefer to live in warm, wet climates, typically making habitats in forested and grassland areas.
Relocating to this ten acres a few years ago, I discovered quickly that the woodland below the slope was home to many armadillos. Though I did not actually see them at night when they do most of their feeding, I did see the evidence of their presence the next morning, as it was obvious the little devils had been rooting around in our yard! Armadillos seek out food with their elongated snouts, and use their powerful legs and claws to dig for grubs and various other sorts of insects and invertebrates. My flower beds and our yard were sabotaged each night. However, I was not personally fond of grubs so, rather than be upset about the armadillo’s digging, I simply added, “filling in holes” to my list of chores. If you care to find out more about the Nine-Banded Armadillo, the National Wildlife Federation webpage offers accurate and interesting information.
This spring, I suppose nature was speaking to me about armadillo medicine because, on several occasions, I managed to see the Nine-Banded Armadillo up close! In fact, toting my flashlight on a recent night’s trip to the canyon to visit with Daisy deer after a rain storm, I heard a strange sniffing and snorting sound coming from the tall grasses a short distance away. Daisy became very alert and, pointing my flashlight in the direction of the noise, we both strained our eyes and ears to see what the ruckus was. I was half afraid that it might be a small wild hog! But then, out from the grasses came a wee, young armadillo. Sniffing for grubs or insects I suppose, it made its way closer and closer to where Daisy and I stood under the dripping trees. Only about a yard from my feet, the little armadillo rose up on its hind legs and sniffed the air, then froze upright for just a few seconds as if it was contemplating its next move. And then, BOING! Straight up it jumped, scampering off into the tall grasses! Evidently, it sensed danger in its path – me?! Not at all bothered by the armadillo’s antics, Daisy went back to eating her feed. I, on the other hand, was all goose-bumps at having had such a close encounter with this little critter!
There were other times, while walking along the river this spring, that I caught glimpses of armadillos on the animal trails I traversed in search of wildlife. I always wonder, when I have frequent sightings or visits from an animal or bird, if there is perhaps a message from that species. After seeing and having the opportunity to photograph several of these critters up close and personal recently, I decided that it was time to research armadillo medicine.
The first and most obvious symbolic feature of the armadillo is the armored shell. The cue here is to “protect inner self” and perhaps set boundaries. We can utilize our own defense system to protect our hearts and inner spirit when the occasion arises.
I have observed armadillos as being solitary critters, often seeming aloof and self-absorbed in their own existence. In society we think of these as negative qualities. But, I wonder, could it be that “detachment and objectivity” can be embraced, leading us to understanding different attitudes and ways of being?
What about sharp little claws that love to burrow and dig? These symbols of searching, discovering and “getting to the root of the problem” might prompt us to research or investigate something deeper of ourselves.
Lastly, the armadillo spends a lot of its day sleeping. Perhaps they feel it is time to “relax, recover, or recuperate” and get a little rest. Since the armadillo lives in a den underground, it could also indicate, “retreating, withdrawing or becoming more reclusive” in order to recharge physically and spiritually – to gain a fresh perspective.
For me, it became increasingly clear, as I learned more about our little friend, what message was to be gleaned from armadillo appearances in my life. I did have an issue I had allowed to get out of control and cause discomfort. The armadillo’s message was that it was time to establish my territory, put on my armor and defend my values. Sleep had been evading me as well, so it was also time to crawl into my burrow and get some much-needed rest. Yes, this was definitely the right moment to tap into my inner armadillo and gird my loins for change!
© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…