Thursday, May 22, 2014

AMMONITE CELEBRATION: Dancing with the fossils as totems of survival and thriving existences

AMMONITE CELEBRATION. Hallelujah to the ammonite! Welcome to learning a little about one of my sacred totems which serves as a potent reminder of survival. (Art by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for knowledge! Hallelujah for preserving the accumulative wisdom by securing it in writing! Hallelujah for recognizing deep time and stories of survival in the rocks--like the story of the ammonite! 

I am in love with paleontology, one particular paleontologist (my Chiboogamoo), and the wealth of lessons that have entered my life through geological explorations, expansive discussions, and books that deepen my understanding.

One such book is Planet Ocean: Dancing to the Fossil Record, written by Brad Matsen and illustrated by Ray Troll. In addition to being in love with the way these two collaborators explain the origin of the Earth visually and verbally, I appreciate the symbolic value attributed to the humble ammonite, an ancestor of the chambered nautilus and octopus.
THE HUMBLE AMMONITE. While so much of the world hovers around dinosaurs and anything with a backbone preserved in the fossil record with a lot of "hoo-ha", this mighty mollusk is appreciated by those who seek more subtle displays of longevity from our Earth's past. (Art by Hallelujah Truth)
The ammonite persisted through several mass extinctions over a 330-million-year history only dying out 65-million years ago along with the dinosaurs when more than 96 percent of life on Earth ceased to exist. Ammonites, which fossilized easily, are abundantly available for purchase around the world, and it is possible to dig some up as I did years ago along a lake in Idaho. But what about its symbolic value and my reason for celebrating it at this period in my life?

Brad Matsen writes that the ammonite's survival story so impressed him when he was writing the book, Planet Ocean, that he bought one as a gift of encouragement for his college age daughter and penned this letter: 

"Dear Laura, 

This ammonite is to honor surviving your first semseter at college and to share some of the natural elegance I'm discovering lately. The fossil was found in Morocco, in North Africa, which was once the bottom of the sea. A moment of meditation with it in your hands will give you clues to survival, no matter what the situation.

Love, Dad"
HALLELUJAH CELEBRATING THE AMMONITE. I will wear my ammonites while I dance joyfully, easefully, playfully. Thus, I shall move into my life's spiral as a celebratory act. Will you join me? (Art by Hallelujah Truth)
Today, yesterday, tomorrow, before, and again in the future, I will return to this symbolic value of the ammonite: SURVIVAL. Now, at my wise age of 55, I am imbuing my ammonites' totemic power of "survival" with a playful, joyful dance. 

As each one of us gathers our years and deepens our wisdom, we experience the ebb and flow of life's gifts. We bid some friends good-bye. We change jobs. We face new environments. At each turn of the spiral we meet challenges, loss, growth, and new opportunities to survive with the exquisite appreciation of life's force. Life has heft and weight to it. 

Let's dance the ammonite spiral. Let's celebrate our survival from one day to the next with joy and love in our hearts! Hallelujah!

That's Coffee With Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and share your journey with me. What books have you read that morphed into a drawing, a poem, a journal record? Do you have an ammonite story of survival?

Acknowledgement: Thank you TJ Worthington for this prompt that you wrote for our Facebook group, The Daily Creative Practice (join us here). The above blog entry is my response! :

How has reading informed your art form(s)?
Looking at reading as visualization, perhaps a source for learning visualization. Have particular writers inspired you to visual expression? Ever had inspiration from reading to do something visual, in writing, or other art expression, music, movement? Self-help books, facebook, online, biographies, poetry, spiritual, fiction, children's books, magazines? How does one transfer an idea or insight gathered from one art form into another art form? I don't mean these particular questions to be answered, but an attempt to point to examples. Or does reading have no part at all in your art expression? Or sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't.


  1. Hurray for the persistence of ammonites in the fossil record and hurray for your love of them. Cephalopods hold a special place in my brain, but I usually ignore the ammonites. Thank you for giving them so much life and meaning. Now if we could only find a choreographer to orchestrate their dance.

    1. Special Needs Cat, I hear your hallelujahs in response to my blog entry on ammonites! Thank you for loving cephalopods! We all need to be championed and loved for who and what we are!

  2. Very nice. Ammonites. Some years ago when a woman I know was a teenager, she was visiting the waterfalls with her sisters and mother. Then, I only knew mother, not the girls. I was in the woods across the road, saw this girl crying, knew she was lost, took the wrong trail coming back from waterfalls. I didn't know what to say. I thought of all the teen pop movies of the time of older white men killing white teenage girls. I thought, if she sees me she'll die of fright. I hollered to her, "You're not as lost as you think you are." I showed her where the cars were parked nearby. She told me many years later that when she gets in a spot in her life she can't find her way, she tells herself, "You're not as lost as you think you are." It felt good. It spoke a truth to her she'll carry all her life as an aide. Inadvertently, without intent, it was something that helps her reassess when she feels all is lost. We have those times. They're hard to get through.

    1. TJ, I embrace your story with an open and loving heart. "You're not as lost as you think you are." What wise words! Thank you for understanding me and sharing your wisdom.

  3. Thank you Ruth for a fun and informative blog...I love learning from you and I appreciate all that you post. I am happy to read you are doing 'happy dances' and are meeting challenges with a glad heart...

    1. How wonderful to have you visit me again and again Darlene! Big love and yes to happy dances!