growing up

Animal Crackers

I love animals. I always have. From my earliest years all I ever wanted was animals. I loved visiting zoos, wildlife parks, petting zoos and seeing animals in their natural state was an absolute pleasure. I loved coming home to my pets. I loved playing with my stuffed animals and my animal models. My favourite board game growing up was the 1960’s Wild Life game; a game recommended by the World Wildlife Fund. When I left home I took that game with me. During my many moves I lost it and was devastated. But, thanks to the internet, 25 years after I lost the game I managed to find one in England. The day it arrived in Australia was one of the happiest. So many of my childhood memories were there in that one box. And yes I have played it again and again!

Although I loved all animals, one thing I didn’t have was a favourite. I wanted to have one so I tried ways of picking an animal that would be my favourite.

The Children of the Night

As a vampire fan from a young age I formed a bond with Dracula’s animals – the wolf and the bat. We are lucky to have fruit bats in Melbourne that fly through the night sky, just like bats in a Dracula movie. One of the local parks has colonies of bats that you can visit during the day. If you go there at dusk you can see them wake up and get ready for their nightly flights. Many an evening has been spent watching these magical creatures. It was a colony of bats living in the trees of a caravan park I was staying at in Sydney that inspired me to create the Dracula Tarot!

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hanging around

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daytime flight

 

While we don’t have wild wolves in Australia, we have their domesticated brethren; the dog. It is through these pack animals that I have bonded with the wolf archetype. While I will one day write at length about my special pack of dogs, for now I need only say that I call them my WolfChildren from the WolfChild pack. My first two dogs – Batty and Wolfy – were named after Dracula’s bat and wolf 🙂

Astrological Symbols

In Western Astrology I’m a Taurus and my animal is the bull. I researched bull and cow mythology which is quite fascinating. But while I liked them as animals, I just couldn’t bond with cows or bulls on a spiritual level.

I had a bit more luck with my Chinese animal sign which is the snake. Snakes are extraordinary animals mythologically. They are so extraordinary that I’ll be doing a separate post on their mythologies 🙂 But I will mention that snakes are linked to vampires – especially Dracula – which makes them very special to me!!

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is that a python on your shoulder?

The main problem for me with snakes is that they are also creatures of fear when you live in Australia. We have 9 of the world’s Top 10 venomous snakes here so they are always in the back of your mind when you go outdoors in Spring and Summer. I’ve seen a few in the wild and they are magnificent creatures. But your heart always goes into overdrive as you wait to see what they will do. Usually they will leave you alone if you leave them alone – which is what I do! I’ve always said that I don’t fear them but I do respect them. That fear and respect was tested this year when a large, venomous tiger snake came into my yard!! While I waited for the snake catcher to come, I stayed in the yard with the snake – at a not so safe distance. I had plenty of time to reflect on this creature of myth, legend and fear. And I realised they really are scary! But I still love them – just not as a favourite 🙂

A Very Special Pair

While I couldn’t find a favourite animal I found two that are very special to me; the red panda and the puffin.

I first encountered the red panda at Melbourne Zoo and it soon became one of my favourites. Whenever I went to the zoo I would go see the red panda first and visit it again before I left. I loved its red fur and adorable face. I thought it looked like a fox in a tree. There is even an International Red Panda Day which is celebrated on the third Saturday in September.

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feeding the panda

I became fascinated with puffins when I was lucky enough to go to Iceland for a holiday. Before the trip I researched the local fauna and thought they sounded interesting. When I first saw them on Grimsey Island I fell in love with their precious, serious little faces. They won my heart when I saw them fly. Their wings are so tiny that when they take off you think they are going to fall out of the sky. But they flap and flap those tiny wings and off they go!

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puffin road trip – iceland

Two important animal organisations for me are The Red Panda Network and Project Puffin. Through them I sponsor a red panda and an Atlantic puffin. It is a lovely way to give back to these animals that have given me so much pleasure.

I tried hard to find a favourite animal but I never did. And then a most peculiar animal chose me. It took a long time but I finally have a favourite animal. I’ll be telling this “tail” very soon 🙂

Clubbed Out

I was lucky enough to start seeing bands at a very young age.

It was the mid 70‘s and I was two months shy of my 12th birthday when I saw Alice Cooper at Festival Hall in Melbourne, Australia. Alice and a troupe of performers treated us to a mix of music and theatre; a night of song and dance. I was blown away. It cemented my love of music and performance; a love I was born with. Two years later The Police played the same venue. I went. They were great and while I loved the concert, I was totally unprepared for the wild journey I was about to take.

I was invited to The Police’s second concert by a group of women I had just met. I didn’t have tickets but they said not to worry as they knew one of the security guards so we could get in for free. Naturally I went. We had a great time and they invited me to see some local bands with them on the weekend. They had no idea how young I was! Once they found out they took me under their wing and introduced me to a world of bands, bands, bands. I really wasn’t supposed to be going into clubs and drinking but it was the late 70’s and nobody really cared about those things.

What followed was 7 years of drinking and seeing bands. I left school at 15 and left home at 16. I was totally immersed in the Melbourne Punk Rock scene. I was even briefly a thrash punk bass player! The years flew but as I got older I got bored. I was getting sick of the lifestyle, the people, the music. I wanted something different.

It was a great shock to everyone – especially myself – when I left the scene and went back to school. I went and finished High School and then went on to University. I immersed myself in my studies and music almost became a thing of the past. The only band I kept listening to and following was The Damned. I mean, how could I resist the gothic charm of vampiric lead singer Dave Vanian? In my darkest moments – and there were many – I would sit alone in my room and listen to The Damned. I would remember a time of music, of friends, of fun. I wanted to go out and see more bands but something always held me back. I thought that maybe I was rebelling against what I had once been. Then someone who had been through a similar experience said that maybe I had seen too many bands, gone out too many times and drunk maybe one too many times. Maybe I was simply “clubbed out”. Yes! That was it!! Now that I knew what the problem was, could I find a cure?

In 1992, I celebrated the Pagan festival of Lammas by getting together with some Pagan friends and camping out for the night. The next day I heard some of them excitedly talking about their plans for the evening. They were going to see Nirvana. I was so out of touch with modern music that I thought they were seeing some New Age band. When I asked them who Nirvana were their looks of incredulity froze me to the spot. The young girl who had seen Alice Cooper at 11 years of age was long gone. I often think back on this and think “Damn! I missed Nirvana!!”

Synchronistically it’s thanks to Alice Cooper that I returned to the club! While watching him on some show I can’t even remember he talked about a band he really liked – The Offspring. I decided to listen to them and my world of music came crashing back to me. Something about them reignited my love of music and my desire to see live bands. I’m happy to say I’ve seen them many times, as well as a host of other bands. And I am so happy to say that I am no longer clubbed out!

Have you ever over indulged in something you love so much that you never want to do it again? I’d love to hear!