I live in the country side and every year in October we get two to four days where the house is covered in lady bugs. To make sure they don’t come into the house, we cover the doors with plastic and remove it when the cold has set in. This year, there were no infestation of lady bugs. I don’t even remember seeing any. Not even around Equinox where usually they are numerous and feeding on the autumn flowers of my garden. The missing lady bugs became such an issue this past month that I heard countless neighbours talk about it at the post office and the local food stores.
“Isn’t it great: NO LADYBUGS!” cried out this young woman pushing a stroller with twins at the Chambly IGA.
“Not really,” responded an older man squeezing the melons and peeking through the apples, “they may be a pain in the ass for a week but they do wonders all summer long keeping the pests away from our harvest.”
As I continued food shopping the words of the farmer kept ringing in my mind. I remembered my grand-father teaching me about lady bugs when I was young. He used to say that “our Aboriginal ancestors believed that the lady bug was a totem of beauty.” I grew up loving these insects because they inspired me with a sense of my own personal beauty. For me it wasn’t so much about clothing, hair and nails but about how I felt inside about myself. I understood beauty as self-confidence and personal pride.
What is beauty for the people of the past who didn’t have mirrors, didn’t have clothes to drag around in luggage, and didn’t have models to tell them about the latest trends in makeup and shoes? I decided to call a Passamaquody elder friend and ask the question. At first she thought I was kidding. I often call to ask questions about the Medicine Wheel and Dreaming but this time, I was looking to know more about our Ancestors. She told me that beauty and abundance often go hand in hand in traditional sectors.
“Beauty is often about health,” she said seeming preoccupied and perhaps busy at doing something else than just talking on the phone, “our ancestors understood beauty as healthy skin, or healthy looking hair, or healthy meat or healthy bushes etc…”
When I hung up I looked around the house and noticed how my plants had been struggling since September (inside and out). My garden had been eaten by all kinds of pests all summer long and it seemed to continue all through October. Also more so than any other Autumn season I noticed that there were lots of sickness amongst the people around me. People were having trouble with aches and pains they weren’t even aware were there before August. And now, this year the pandemic flu seems a bigger preoccupation than any other year.
I wondered if 500 to 1000 years ago, my ancestors would have understood the “missing lady bugs” as a kind of omen. If lady bugs mean beauty, missing lady bugs mean a “lack of beauty” which may have meant to the people of yesterday a decrease in healthy ways. As far as I’m concerned this way of thinking still applies even though it was replaced with Christianity or capitalism. We may not be surrounded by nature in the same manner as our forefathers were but we are still people of the earth and if we observe and we listen we can communicate and hear the cries of wisdom from Mother Nature.
At this point, I ask myself how can we compensate (so to speak) for the missing lady bugs? Can we concentrate in “healthy ways” and hence, become the lady bugs in consciousness and perhaps, affect the condition that is presently settling in? Do we need to walk the path of NO BEAUTY to understand what beauty truly is and how important it is for us? I’m already overwhelmed by the stories of heart ache; chronic illness; and death that surround me. How much worst does it need to get before we pray for the lady bugs to come back… How important is it to be aware and to be respectful towards nature?
I thank my ancestors and the traditional people of today who have crossed my path and shared with me the wisdom of yesterday. It always seems to appear in my life when I need it the most.