Wasp As Totem, part II

by Rachel Creager Ireland

I’ve noticed there seems to be some interest in wasp as totem, or perhaps more a dearth of writing on the subject. Wasp is a totem of protection and security, so it may be particularly appropriate in these days, when security means invasion of many kinds of privacy, or flying drones across oceans to kill our perceived enemies. Wasp is aggressive, and doesn’t mind hurting -in fact, wasp’s intention is to hurt that which is perceived to be a threat.

I wrote in another post that working with wasp totem is bound to lead to a sting, eventually. I’d like to clarify that I think it’s more than simple statistical likelihood (which it is as well). The sting is embedded in the form of protection that wasp offers. You might say it is the flip side of the coin, but I think it would be more accurate to say that it is the other side of the mobius, which is an object which only appears to have two sides. In fact, it has only one.

There is another aspect of wasp as totem which I haven’t seen anyone discuss. It has to do with the behavioral scripts I wrote about before. Wasp has very specific patterns of behavior. When one is triggered, the wasp goes through a totally predictable series of actions. It never varies the pattern, and in some cases will repeat the pattern as many times as the trigger occurs. One behavior I wrote about was upward flight when a wasp finds itself trapped in a confined space. It might seem obvious to humans that the way out would be to go back the way one came in; this is not among wasp’s behavioral scripts.

How could this be applied to human experience? Upward movement is sometimes a metaphor for spiritual seeking. It’s often been casually observed that when people feel trapped or threatened, they tend to “get religion,” which is to say, they begin to identify with forces more powerful than themselves. No doubt we want Divine protection from our assailants.

I would suggest that there are two lessons from wasp in this case. Wasp can demonstrate for us that flying upward is sometimes not the way out of the trap; the way out is to go against instinct, to call up one’s human ability to reason and choose new behaviors by turning around and going back, step by step, finding the way out by figuring out how one got here in the first place. It may be attractive to pray, do ritual, or read new age books, but because most of the walls we encounter are self-created, the only true liberation is to take them down, block by block.

The other lesson is that the way to avoid the protective sting is to give up protection altogether. It was shocking and impossible for me to believe when I first read in A Course In Miracles the words: “There is nothing to fear.” It’s that simple. Still, it took a lot of practice and thought before I could begin to live as if all the things I feared weren’t what my life was all about, as if everything that happens is what is intended for the greatest joy for everyone involved. It’s hard to believe on the best of days, but I find I am only free when I make choices as if this principle is true. There is no need for protection, because there is nothing to fear.

And that sting? It’s not something to fear, either. So far I’ve successfully avoided it, even when one once flew into my face while I was escorting it from a small room with a broom. Still, it’s always a possibility, just as there may come a time when wasp protection might be what I need. I may not notice, though; I’ll be too busy dismantling walls.