Thinking About – The Hunter and the Hunted

Thinking About – The Hunter and the Hunted

When I’m out walking there is a sound that I love to hear. It is a sound that was absent in Sussex for many years, and it is the call of the buzzard. Not too long ago I had to get in my car and head west to see one. They would normally begin to appear around the New Forest, but to see a lot of them you really needed to go all the way to Devon and Cornwall. An area that was the buzzards’ sanctuary. I remember saying to myself, “When the buzzards return to Sussex, that will be a great day”. And then I began to see them. At first heading up from the west, but then their numbers began to radically increase, and now they are quite a common sight.

I heard that call yesterday whilst out walking Oscar.

I stopped walking and looked to the skies, and there I saw that majestic bird, but instead of flying alone, it was being dive-bombed by rooks. It got me thinking about the relationship some of us Pagans have with animals and birds who are hunters. The sight and sound of a buzzard makes my heart sing, but not so for the rabbit, mouse, or the vole. If, when I walked through a British woodland, I actually had the chance to become the dinner for a wolf, would I still have that same feeling when I saw one?

I absolutely get the respect of power and grace. When I finally allowed a tarantula to walk on my arm and hands (I’m very arachnophobic) I suddenly understood that the root of my phobia lay in the awe of spiders, and what they do. Like some memory in my DNA that understood that spiders, along with snakes, should be avoided for my own safety. That a bite from one of these creatures (not necessarily the tarantula, but one of its cousins) could cause me severe pain, injury, and possibly death.

It’s all still in there.

That ingrained fear doesn’t extend to the wolf anymore, because they no longer prowl the forests of Albion. But put me into an area of land where the danger was real, and soon I would react differently. I’m sure there are those of you reading this who live in areas where the bear or wolf still run wild, and I’d love to read about how you relate to these animals on a spiritual level. Sometimes I can’t help but fall into that trap that suggests I am somehow an observer of nature, and not a part of it. One of the things that reminds me I am just a part of it all is the feeling that I am not the top of the food chain. I get that in Australia when I go there. It’s very primal, and somewhere inside that hunter gatherer, who risked life to bring food to the tribe, is still within me, buried extremely deep, but still there. When I see the rooks dive-bombing the buzzard I understand that. I as a human I can watch, but to the rook the buzzard is a real threat that needs to be dealt with for survival.

Many of us have discovered the spirit of an animal that walks with us, and for many these are hunters. Do these spiritual animal guides help bridge that gap between the sterility of modern day life and the hunter-gatherer that lies within those deeper recesses of our brains, and instincts. I think they do. My animal is a herbivore, but when I go to see the rut in Autumn, and hear the call of the stags echoing through the landscape, the clash of antlers, the “yes I do look bloody awesome with my full Antlered Crown don’t I?” attitude of the stag, I feel that same primal power.

Living in built up towns hearing the call of the buzzard whilst out walking is a reminder that I am not only surrounded by nature, but a true part of it, and with that recognition comes responsibility, and relationship.

13 responses to “Thinking About – The Hunter and the Hunted”

  1. Well said. I feel a similar “you are part of nature” feeling when I manage to catch glimpses of curious rabbits, just sitting and watching me. It’s like they have something to say, like “Hello, neighbour!”

  2. Here in Texas, buzzards are vultures. The raptor in your photo is what we call a hawk. We are lucky in that where we live, it is the wintering grounds for the golden eagles and the red tailed hawks. They are magnificent, pitiless predators. And I get to admire them daily during the late fall and all winter. Yes, for many our totems are predators, and I absolutely agree it helps us connect with the more primitive, the more primal parts of who we are. I was lucky enough to have a one-on-one experience with a rescued wolf this last summer. It left me in awe. Though my spirit is the wolf, I find she transforms into whatever shape she wishes and according to circumstance. At times I am the bear, especially with my children and in their protection. Others, I am the hawk, observing all from above, detached, impersonal, proud and indifferent. Lately, the hawk has abandoned me and I am the Raven; cold seeker and caller of death, darkness and sad wisdom. But most often the wolf is my shadow and my strength. In many Native American legends, wolf is our older brother, and if it weren’t for his protection and guidance, we would never have survived. Although I have never been hunted, I have been observed, many times, by the bobcat and wild boar, hawk, eagle, and most eerie – packs of coyotes. Our coyotes are similar to wolves in many ways, and we also have a hybrid here called a coywolf, which is a mating between a coyote and a wolf. These can grow frighteningly large. There have been a few nights, at the farm, down in the dry creek bed, where I felt the pack watching me, or more dangerously, my children; before giving their lunatic yodeling and striking out for easier prey.

    It is, indeed, frightening.

  3. Just returned from a few days living in a cabin in a forest in Norfolk and walking the salt marshes during the day. The cry of the Brent Geese as they return to these shores is so evocative and really made me feel part of it all. And, as for living in the forest at night, what could be more magical.

  4. I am lucky enough to have the remnants of wilderness to camp in accessible by public transport. There are still bobcats and coyotes living there, and they are active at dusk and dawn. I like walking at these times, but I most definitely don’t want to surprise them as they are known to attack when caught unawares. There is signage on the trails warning us to make noise when walking to avoid this.

    I do tend to walk quietly and often surprise humans and other animals–and get to see wonders that way. I had a stag start to walk in on me a couple months ago when I was sitting under a pine in meditation in the middle of the day. It was awesome, we both froze for a moment, eyes locked, then he turned and walked off.

    I was feeling like prey on my last trip, something I’ve never felt before these signs were posted, and it is indeed an interesting feeling, something I have only felt before on city streets, among my own kind. I saw a coyote walking along the ridge and knew my sudden fear would only call the predators to me. Being quiet was likewise not a good idea. It works in the city, but was completely useless in the wild. So I started singing. I met no one on the trail, human or non, and hopefully never will because I don’t plan to give up my twilight walks in the wild.

  5. I do understand the awe you feel at having buzzards n your home patch…..over recent years we’ve begun to see Red Kites. At first it was just the odd one at a distance,now we see two or three every day. I love to hear them calling to each other.

  6. Ahh the buzzard, such grace and beauty. Here in Wiltshire UK the numbers are well up, and they hunt overhead in two’s or small family groups. That piping call is unmistakable and somehow echoes an ancient past.

    A few years back I had the honour of going to a wolf sanctuary where human visitors could hear their night song. The humans were fenced in a safety compound whilst the wolves had a much greater fenced area to roam, part of which was woodland.

    It was a cold and dark night, I muffled in my scarf and coat, waited amongst the other few human visitors for a glimpse of our wolf friends as a huge pale moon climbed in the sky, and the stars appeared one by one in the frosty night. I caught a glimpse of flitting shadows in the trees, and the hairs on the back of my neck told me the mighty predators were watching us. Swift snd silent they were, spectres in a moonbeam dappled landscape.

    The humans did not speak. The silence of the night broken only by a distant owl hooting for a mate. My skin was tingling. I felt some form of dread creep over me, despite the fact that I adore wolves. Some very ancient fear moved in me. I knew they were there, yet could neither see nor hear them. But I knew full well they could smell, hear, and see me. If the fence gave way would their instinct take over and would they rip us to pieces with their white sharp teeth?

    Then the song came, like an orchestra starting up. A howl here to the left, answered from the right. A baleful wail, a banshee’s cry. Then in concert they sang. Such a song! Mournful and beautiful. And occasionally I saw a silhouette of a wolf’s head raised toward the moon. Tears ran down my face, and, as I shivered with cold and delight, I too raised my head and howled. The sound flew from my throat without thinking, as if it came from somewhere in my guts. And when the song stopped, as quickly as it had begun, I was left with a feeling of awe that I carry in my heart to this day.

    “Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!” Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

  7. This reminds me of the link between the hunter and the hunted. We live in an artificial, separate human world now where for a lot of us getting meat involves a quick trip to the supermarket. The link has gone with hunting in the wild for a lot of humans and with it to a greater degree the love and respect of nature in the general population. A lot of anglers get more pleasure out of the river bank life and their quarry that they have relearned connection on this level probably more than most. Hunting with guns is so one sided, the creatures have not much chance of escape, it lessens the challenge and respect in most cases. When I eat meat I always honour it with words of gratitude for its sacrifice and the nourishment it gives me. Even if it came out of a supermarket packet or in the form of a burger. It seems the Druid thing to do.

  8. Your words strike a chord. I am fortunate to live in the Idaho Panhandle where I hike with my dog daily on the mountain. My dog wears a bear bell on his harness to alert bears, moose and other wildlife to our presence so they can quietly slip away unseen. I have had a recurring dream since childhood about being hunted by someone or something frightening and dangerous. Sometimes in my dream I am fleeing for my life with heart racing and shaking with fright. Other times I take great delight in outwitting my pursuers, even though I am always aware of the peril of capture. I have had these dreams so many times they are old friends even though there are many variations. I am sensitive to the reality that animals may be hunters but sometimes they are also the hunted. As you may guess my spirit guide is the Fox and to encounter one, as I occasionally do, makes my heart sing.

  9. Living here in Canada, the wilderness can be a very dangerous place. We have huge predators, grizzly bears, polar bears, black bears, timber wolves, arctic wolves, coywolves, coyotes, and cougars. All of them magnificent creatures. The birds of prey are so beautiful, and I love them all.
    I find myself looking up a lot. I watch the birds everyday. However, I felt the fear of being stalked one time long ago when we spent a weekend in the wilderness. I didn’t know what animal it was, because I couldn’t see it. But I definitely felt it’s eyes upon me. I was very afraid.
    Another time, we were camping at Algonquin provincial park, and a huge moose trampled through our campsite in the middle of the night. It was so big, that it’s very footsteps were what woke me from my sleep.
    Back to birds, I feel myself drawn to the crow. I find them very beautiful, and mysterious. And they have always been around me. I love the wildness in the creatures of nature, the raw power they have, as well as their beauty. They are to be respected, and revered.
    I enjoyed your blog. Keep looking up.
    Blessed be /|\

  10. We live on the outskirts of Plymouth, the fields of the south Hams are our boundary. We are lucky to have many birds of prey hunting near our house, the buzzards I love to watch when they air dance in the spring time. The crows are the villains of the piece here they don’t give any quarter. They were busy attacking our local kestrel the other day while he was trying to hunt, the even had a go at a sparrow hawk, although they keep out of the way of the perrigrin.
    I can spend hours just watching the wildlife and feel totally at home out in the fields, even at night when the owls hunt we have Tawney and barn here so are really spoilt.

  11. Reminds me of my spirit animal, who when asked one day what to do about a bully, merely offhandedly said, “Eat him.” 😀 He is very good for me!

    As for predators, well I live in Oz and yet am in awe of people who would walk in woodland where bears and mountain lions live, and truly fear inner city streets by night, yet would walk here in the forest alone, even by night with no torch, perfectly happily. I guess to some extent we learn our own places and know when to fear and when not to fear, and how to live in between those states as much as possible.

  12. Years ago while visiting the Canadian Rockies (a big deal, being that I’m from the Atlantic Coast), I was woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of coyotes and wolves. I walked to the door and was about to open it when something inside me snapped, “What are you doing?! There are wild coyotes and wolves out there! What are you expecting to happen if you go out there?!”

    The next morning while leaving by bus, we were told we’ll hear the wolves but not see them…and then our bus pulled over to watch a pack of wolves run up the road and pass us. As the public pagan in the work group, everyone shot me sidewides glances – which I know I shouldn’t have liked, but I did. 🙂 The best luck was a media friend piecing together all the pictures and (horrible) videos people took of the wolves and giving it to me, so I’ll always have a record of it.

  13. Having the good fortune of being raised in a small town (at the base of a sacred mountain), allowed for many amazing & awe inspiring experiences with wildlife. Just today, my sister & I silently observed 3 beautiful Deer, as they roamed her back yard, eating the last of the fallen apples & berries from the Harvest. Her dog has even learned to respect these graceful beings, & watched silently with us. They allowed us to be there With them, in a Namaste’ energy, of Divine recognition.

    Deer are hunted in this area, so they are generally afraid of Humans & run away. Some of us have become a “Safe Haven” for these lovely creatures of Mother Gaia. My Sister’s yard is sometimes “Host” to 12 or more Deer at a time, as they seek refuge from Hunters and the winter cold. Her Grove of trees, is a Favorite spot for them, especially during Deer Hunting season. We communicate to them that we love them, & that they are welcome to be at peace here. A friend had two living under her porch one cold winter.

    In Japan, I had the opportunity to visit “Deer Park,” in Nara. They are not hunted there, so they trust Humans & feel safe walking up to people (& allow folks to feed & pet them). I feel a great understanding, love & respect for these sacred creatures. Once, during an outdoor Spiritual Hypnotherapy session with a Client, a Deer came & joined us. During the session, I learned that Her Spirit Guide was a Deer. 🙂

    One Full Moon Eve, two other friends & I enjoyed a powerful spiritual connection with three Great Stags, glistening with white light in the moonlight. We felt “as One” with these magnificent Creatures, as we all watched each other in awe… My friend, who lived near the mountains, said that they lived at the abandoned home, across the street. He often observed them in reverence & respect, from his yard at night.

    I’ve had many experiences with my bird friends (Ravens, Owls, Hawks, Robins, Seagulls, etc.) Once while taking my favorite drive from San Francisco to Santa Cruz California, the Hawk that followed me, left me feeling “watched over” & protected. There are many more experiences with animals such as Coyotes, Wild Pigs, Racoons, etc, but that would take up even more pages, so I will end here…

    Bright Blessings to all, Brigit

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