For a day or two before Titania went into labor, the lone raven made her way through the corral and orchard, stopping here and there to comment on circumstance. Odd, it seemed to me; we had lost so many of the bird population to West Nile during the summer. This was the first large and prominent member of the corvid family I'd seen in a while, close to human dwellings, commenting on what was, and what was coming. Ravens have been omens in my life, and seem to spark magic on the earth.
A day earlier, by chance, a planned training at the school where I work was unexpectedly canceled. I was home that Saturday morn when Titania seemed to have drifted to another dimension and kept looking at me mournfully, appealing to me for some answers. I walked over and talked to her, touched and petted her and uncharacteristically she didn't move away from me, but kept staring at me with her wide deep eyes, searching.
Before long, a bubble was coming out her rear-end. At first, I was naïve to think this was something magical or immaculate; the boys had been gelded; Titania was an otherworldly llama, more spiritual than physical; she couldn't be having a cria. This had to be a medical anomaly concerning some internal process... The bubble started looking much like a water bag, however, and Titania still stuck close, again uncharacteristically for females in the Llama Deara herd, who typically go out to pasture or orchard to deliver their babies far from human observation.
Not Titania. This seemed a distressed birth. Her water had broken, she seemed to be asking for help, perhaps unconsciously because she didn't understand what was happening, being a first time mom. She wasn't bearing down, and after a while I started to be concerned that the cria might smother. I had called the vet and another llama person, but no other camelid-knowledgeable being was available on this cold late October morn, just me, my domestic and feral cats, and the rest of the herd.
Normally a quiet, contemplative person, the me of that day hardly wanted to be the only human on the ranch. I was scared, excited, reverent about life, anxious, and full of love for the mama llama and her cria, all at the same time. Fortunately, the excitement and love prevailed, and fear played second fiddle to courage. I washed up.
Of course, I had seen the films about cria birthing and read the books. Assuredly, those activities hadn't really prepared me for what was to come and how the intuitive mothering principle across species enveloped the moment. An interspecific event unfolded, as I, motherless in terms of human babies, let myself be guided by the mother of compassion.
Awakenings - births if you will - are chaotic moments, as we struggle to recreate ourselves, whether human or camelid. And in this case, it was a transpersonal rebirth for me, and a physical birth for one underweight and beautiful llama girl.
Gratefully, a little head made its way to Titania's opening, with front hooves following not far behind. Gently I pulled on the hooves and the whole bundle of legs, torso, and head came sliding out, a girl, Kwan Yin's Blessing.
Titania still didn't seem to know what to do. I cleaned the baby and carried her over to a blanket in the catch pen, where mom and cria could have some space by themselves. April Twilight, the boss lady of the herd, grandmother, and veteran mother of four with possibly another on the way, stayed with her. It's hard to know exactly what was going on in Titania's head, heart, and spirit, but it seemed to my human perception that she didn't know the baby was hers. She kept humming and looking around and at April and me for seeming guidance. I knew I had to leave them so that she could bond with the baby. 10 or 15 minutes later her maternal instinct had kicked into full gear and fear.
By chance, at a ranch three fields away, the fall slaughter of the cattle had begun. The mourning of the cattle was heartbreaking, and caused apprehension to Titania. After the delivery, she was nervous and humming for days and nights as the slaughter, or harvest, proceeded. At night, I would bring the llamas all into the corral, which is safe from predators, but still she heard the moans of the cattle and was uneasy. Whereas she had leaned on me in the recent past to help with the delivery, as a human, Titania might have now been viewing me as a potential threat, a human that might take her baby to slaughter. Somehow she seemed to know what was happening to the cattle, and that the human hand was involved, although she couldn't see the slaughter from Llama Deara's pastures. The different species shared the collective consciousness of grief, death, and loss.
I still did what I needed, talking to her and the baby calmly as I went. It was the first time that I thought I might be stopped by my llamas, normally so accommodating to me. The herd was always right there, all, wondering what I intended, circling around me as I would sit on the ground to massage the baby, check the teats, and weigh her. No, they didn't stop me. Trust prevailed over misgivings.
This baby was unexpected, and my assisting in the delivery, one of the greatest joys of my life - this at a time when I was wanting to reduce the herd and my load. Nature had another plan, which sobers me about my lack of knowledge in some things. Life brings its share of responsibilities and stresses, and in general, celebrates the potential for magic and love in each baby that is born. My spirits have renewed, and in my own life since, I'm starting to drop the confusion; it's not that clarity prevails, but that the frustration due to confusion is reduced. I don't quite know how to articulate this state: I'm unclear about what to do; I still don't have the ANSWERS, yet I know something is coming - or is already here - because I am not as upset by confusion or circumstance, and answers don't seem that critical. Maybe I am starting to absorb Rainer Maria Rilke's suggestion:
"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves."
Maybe, too, Kwan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion, has granted the gentle kindness we so need to give both ourselves and others.
Titanium's Lorenzo is the cria's father, so all those fun and games at the end of 2002 did result in a conception before Lorenzo was gelded. Lorenzo and Titania are two of the most beautiful llamas I have ever seen, with exceptionally sweet personalities. The daughter has been born and has breathed new light and love into my life. This cria is the manifestation of the lone raven's omen of the creative power we so often ignore.return to events page