Tuesday, March 19, 2013

An Appreciation for the Opossum Totem and Its Meaning

When I do my Animal Totem Art, each painting begins with an intuition. I listen for messages and the wisdom that the animals teach. Each one comes in their own time, better said "when they are supposed to arrive". This is what happened with the Opossum Totem. 
The Many Faces of the Opossum, Contemporary Folk Art by Jeanne Fry

I had never really given much thought to the Opossum. I rarely see them, except for a brief glimpse here and there when the night sky has pulled its shade down. Now that Spring is arriving, I am beginning to see them again. After three days of seeing them, I had this great pull to paint the Opossum and study on his living skills. Everything other "work in progress" in my studio had to be put aside to make way for this new totem to come to the canvas.
In the past I hadn't much affection for the opossum. So many times you see them hissing and a bit aggressive...it never gave me much of a warm and fuzzy feeling. Although now I have to say, with a better understanding of how they live and their symbolism, I have a new appreciation for the wisdom that they can teach.
Opossums have a relatively short life span of two to four years. As the only marsupial  in North America, within their pouch exists 13 nipples for their young. The gestation for the opossum babies is a brief two weeks before they are born. While the litter may be upwards of 20 or so, only 13 will survive, since there are 13 nipples for nourishment. 
The Opossum Medicine teaches one to use "faces" for survival. Sometimes one may need to be aggressive in a situation, other times they may need to be passive. They are a supreme actor, using whatever face may be needed. And of course they are famous for their great act of "playing dead". The skills of changing the persona in any given situation is linked to their survival in the short life that they have. It's a complete using of all of the layers in one's personality while here on this Earth. And when we think about it, isn't that what we all do? Don't we all have to pull up a courage from deep within to face our challenges? I learned to appreciate the strength and diversity in this creature's fragile existence.
Close up view of the Opossum Folk Art Painting by Jeanne Fry

Last night the urge pulled hard to bring him to canvas. I wanted to portray the delicate nature of the opossum, the beauty that it can carry, and the wisdom it possesses. 
In the painting I created the Opossum resting on a tree branch under the shine from the moon. The branches that surround him have a moon glow...each branch having 13 leaves to represent the 13 nipples of nourishment they carry. His paw prints are shown in the moon, representing the wisdom from this nocturnal animal. My hope was to bring a "sweetness" to his persona that others may not always associate with him. The sweetness comes from an understanding of the road he travels.

You can find this original painting for sale in our Etsy Shop here
Opossum Original Painting on Etsy 

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