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Totems: Horseshoe Crab

by Cie Simurro, a.k.a. Thunderbird Starwoman

Who, in these times will come to hear my ancient wisdom? My people, the Horseshoe crabs have seen the rise and fall of many civilizations. Yet, who among humans has learned the lessons that you came to Earth School to master once and for all?

I am HORSESHOE CRAB. I wear the helmet of the Warriors of Light. The lessons are:

Love yourself and all creation unconditionally.

Create the story of your life as you would have it be, and repeat that story only – and often.

Compassion for all beings will bring you to enlightenment, for the greatest force is Love.

Some humans think they rule creation, yet humans are meant to be stewards of the Earth. Care about the ancient ones that record all that has gone before. The records are in stone and crystals. Wrap your arms around one of the Standing Ones, or sit with your back to one, letting their wisdom flow through you. Open your hearts to all the animal kingdom on the planet for they were given to you as precious companions on your earth journey, so you will not be so lonely in your state of separation from Source. Be kind to my People, and all the species to which you are indifferent or merciless, because our purpose on Earth is significant in the web of life. Our very existence is a gift to humanity, improving your health, and your grasp of how your own complex bodies work. Honor and respect us for our gifts. Care about us. Walk lightly on the web of life, for all either survive and thrive, or all perish according to the Web’s integrity.

My family moved to the North Shore of Long Island just before my 12th birthday. I had only one neighbor; fortunately she was the same age. During humid summer days, before we got our driver’s licenses, we walked to and from Centerport Beach on Long Island Sound. That’s where I became acquainted with horseshoe crabs. Each summer, I observed their life cycles. There was something so exposed about them, despite their hard, chitin shell. Mornings, walking the shoreline, I would often see molted shells of many sizes that had washed up on the beach. Some shells were empty; some contained bodies underneath the shell. Turned over, their bodies are at their most vulnerable, like lovers willing to be naked and undefended with their emotions, as well as their bodies. How are you with your lover? Do you think of your spouse as your lover? If your partner has this totem, know that they are delicate emotionally, like a moonbeam and just as mystical. Are you willing to let others get close to you? Horseshoe crabs are what they are, and nothing else. Are you willing to be yourself, no matter what the cost, with friends and family? Once someone with this totem takes you into their heart, they will be devoted and true.

They were all over the beach and at the shoreline, having migrated from the Continental shelf, or Long Island Sound to mate. While swimming, I always had one eye peeled for them, making sure I didn’t step on their spikey tails (called telson). Otherwise they were harmless, gentle beings. It always made me sad and angry when ruffians deliberately broke their shells or picked them up by the tail.

In late May and early June, up and down the East Coast and the Gulf, horseshoe crabs instinctively select the highest tides of the month on, or around the new and full moons. When the weather is calm, they lay their eggs on the outgoing tide, between the high and low tide lines. Are you intuitive? Look for the influence of the moon and the tides on your emotions and physical cycles, if you feel a kinship with horseshoe crab. During mating season, the male arrives first. He patrols the frothy surf at the shoreline attempting to intercept arriving females. The male attaches himself atop the larger female by means of specialized front claws called claspers, which look like boxer’s gloves, and are used during mating to hold onto the female’s carapace (shell). Once joined, they crawl to the beach. Other males may cluster around the spawning pair like satellites, increasing the chance of egg fertilization. Thus, several different males may father eggs in a single clutch. The female scoops a shallow nest out of the sand, into which she deposits several hundred to thousands of eggs, which are then fertilized by the male’s sperm. Sand seals the nest until high tide a month later. They then move on to make another nest. The process will repeat many times in successive tides; maybe 22-50 nests altogether. Females lay between 80,000 and 100,000 eggs in a season. It is estimated that less than 10 young will survive to adulthood. Horseshoe crab folks are willing to expend extraordinary effort for the greater good, no matter the outcome. They often participate in humanitarian organizations, relief efforts, and conservation initiatives. Males remain attached for a spawning cycle – the male is "carried" by the female anywhere from a week to a few months. It takes a man who is not afraid of his feminine side to partner up with a woman who has a horseshoe crab totem; a man who is not afraid of closeness and intimacy.

Horseshoe crabs are not true crabs, but primitive marine arthropods, more closely related to spiders, scorpions, ticks and mites than crabs. Arthropods have exoskeletons (on the outside), which don’t grow with them, so need to be periodically shed – a process known as ecdysis. Until their initial molt, the larvae do not need to search for food because their digestive tracts carry egg yolk remnants. When this food supply is used up, the juveniles molt for the first time. In its first year, the small animal will molt at least 6 times. Horseshoe crab teaches that we carry within ourselves, the template we need to live and grow. As we mature spiritually, we become adept at accessing the power within, in order to thrive. All the rest can be let go.

In autumn, though parents move into deeper waters, young horseshoe crabs remain, burying themselves in sand or mud flats to escape the ice and cold winter water. They are resilient to temperature extremes. It takes 9 to 10 years for a horseshoe crab to reach sexual maturity. Before that, it will molt about 18 times. Once a horseshoe crab reaches maturity, it stops molting its shell. Are you a late bloomer? Sometimes folks with this totem must take a circuitous route to find out who they are, what they love, and what things they are good at. Horseshoe crabs can live anywhere from 10 to 18 years beyond adulthood. Molting has great significance spiritually. At molting time horseshoe crab struggles to emerge from its old shell into its new skin. The new skin is wrinkled like an accordion. No one ever said change is pretty – only that it is necessary, in order for us to grow and get bigger spiritually and emotionally. Horseshoe crab gets 25% larger every time it molts. As our connection with Spirit supports us during great change, so does the increased amount of water (Spirit) flood horseshoe crab’s tissues, unfolding and hardening the skin into a pliable new shell.

Perhaps you’ve heard someone express the feeling that they have "lived many lifetimes in this one." People with horseshoe crab as a totem experience their lives in segments very diverse from each other. It’s as though, to move on, they leave everything known and familiar in order to begin again, either in a new place, in a new career, or with a new partner. If this has happened to you, or you are in a period of your life feeling the influence of this power animal, where you are continually starting over, try not to develop cynicism or become hardened. Allow yourself to experience your life as a clean slate, fresh and new. Ask yourself, "When do I need to be open and vulnerable, and when do I need to protect my sensitivity?"

Here’s something amazing to know about horseshoes: they have the ability to regrow limbs! Are you able to regenerate spiritually and emotionally? Would we be able to regenerate limbs if we truly believed we could? Horseshoe crabs have five sets of segmented legs. The first pair has pincers used to pass food into the mouth in the center of their legs. Here’s another amazing thing about horseshoe crabs: they can go for up to a year without eating! They are also resilient to environmental changes. The second pair (pedipalps) are walking legs. The remaining four pairs are pusher legs, used for locomotion. Do you wonder if the tail is used for defense? No; it’s used to push and dig with, and helps horseshoe flip over if stuck on its back.

Stay tuned next issue for PART 2 of the amazing HORSESHOE CRAB!

Cie Simurro ~ Thunderbird Starwoman has been a healer and writer for 40 years. Her work is to bring forward and disseminate the healing arts and ancient universal wisdom through writing, teaching, and healing, facilitating the mystical reunion of humans with Source and Nature. For 13 years, she has been a contributing writer for Wisdom Magazine. For healing for you or your animal, for training, to invite Cie to bring her presentation: "Our Partnership With Nature" to your area, or purchase her book, Totems for Stewards of the Earth ($22 to PO 295, Shelburne Falls MA 01370), call 413 625-0385 or email: cie@ciesimurro.com

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