During the first two nights on Fire Island, a raccoon attacked the garbage pails in our yard and on our deck, making an epic mess of chicken bones and other food scraps. On the second such assault, I was awakened by the noise at 5:20 AM, and went down to investigate.

There it was, staring at me, completely nonplussed as it was using its nimble hands to untie the rope that I’d rigged up to hold the lid on the pail. I scared it away with a loud shout, though it didn’t exactly look particularly frightened. Everyone who knows about raccoons knows that they are persistent and don’t scare easily, so I knew something more was going to be required to prevent further such events during our month-long stay. And I knew that the “something” had to include not just physical measures, but more importantly, accepting that the raccoon was bringing me a message, and that it represented something spiritually.

So, I did my research. 

First, I found a close-up of a raccoon online, which I made into my desktop picture. That way, he would be present in my consciousness on a  daily basis. 

Second, I looked up the spiritual meaning of raccoons, and found this:

The name ‘raccoon’ is believed by some to come from the Algonquin Indian word ‘arckunem,’ meaning ‘hand scratcher.’ One of the most striking features of the raccoon is the mask that it wears. Although some associate this with thievery, it actually gives the raccoon a very powerful mystical symbolism. When we wear a mask we are no longer whom we thought. We make ourselves one with some other force. We create a doorway in the mind and in the physical world a threshold that we can cross to new dimensions and new beingness. This is the magic of raccoon. It knows how to wear masks for a variety of purposes. Do you need to present a different face to people for greater success?”

This had a lot of significance for me. For one thing, during the last 2 Julys here on Fire Island, the spirits of a group of Algonquin played an important role in our spiritual work (See the FPL post HERE.). 

Secondly, masks have held a negative meaning for me because of my therapeutic work, which to a great extent has always been about removing masks, certainly not honoring them as sacred. This was some fodder for meditation and an opportunity to observe my judgments. I did so, and on the third night, there was no disturbance from the raccoon. In fact, it is now Day 20 without any garbage mischief from Arckunem!

The work related to the raccoon wasn’t done, though. Subsequent to the above, during a spiritual gathering here at the beach, we were asked to help the spirits of a young Algonquin boy and girl. The boy had died at the hands of wild raccoons, and the girl blamed herself for the event. We did our work to help them release their anger and guilt, forgive themselves, each other and the raccoons, and move on.

That agreement was complete, but... 

... The Great Spirit said there was more to do.

During Week 3 of the vacation, a screaming bird made its appearance (though actually we couldn’t see where it was perched as it sent out its clarion calls.). For two relentless nights, this barker screamed rhythmically from sunset to sunrise, making sleep a bit of a challenge. The remedy, or rather the lesson, once again was acceptance, understanding and being of service, in this case calling for a spiritual gathering at the ocean itself.

Our task this time was to assist two other Native American tribes, the Iroquois and the Lenape, the latter being a tribe I had never heard of before, but which it turns out upon doing some research after the fact, did in fact live on Fire Island, and did battle with the Iroquois, as well as the White Man. The Lenape, the translation of which means “original man,” we discovered, are also related to the Algonquin.

We did our work again to bring peace and forgiveness to all concerned, and lo and behold, no more bird screaming through the night.
And so, there it is, folks, loud and clear (often quite literally). Whatever plagues you, whatever aggravates you, hassles you, torments you even, is not in your life randomly, nor meant to cause you suffering or disruption just for the sake of causing you suffering or disruption. It is a call, a message, a beacon to guide you in a particular direction.

That direction is towards acceptance, understanding and service. And you will know that you are on track if by the time you get to the service part, you are not finding it to be arduous or “hard,” but you are finding it to be joyful.


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