Tuesday, October 25, 2011

California Condor: God of the Skies

Dispensing with the formal greeting today. Moving right on to worship of the Sacred Thunderbird.

First, a little navel-gazing.

I have worshiped vultures since I was a teenager. For many years (and even now) this religious devotion has run parallel to whatever other deities I praise and worship. However, having achieved the wisdom of a half century, I now choose to center my most important devotions around Vulture.

This puts me more within the Native American worldview than the European. There are numerous songs and dances, stories and Rituals, surrounding the Peace Eagle (aka Vulture) among Native American groups all across America. Especially in the Pacific Northwest, where the California condor was once widespread and majestic (wingspan of 10 feet -- think about it).

EXHIBIT A: GOD

In 1984 I went to the San Diego Wildlife Park, where a captive breeding program had begun for California condors. I wrote an article about the efforts for the Detroit Free Press. Since I had a press pass, the biologists let me go see the "Condorminium." It was a huge, netted area where they kept the condors they were trying to breed.

Needless to say, even a glimpse of these deities from afar, in a flight cage, had immense meaning for me. (We couldn't go close, because the biologists didn't want the condors to become used to people.) Mr. Johnson could hardly live with me for weeks thereafter. Rapture? Forget about Rapture! Give me a Raptor!

At its lowest point of population, the California condor dipped to just 27 individuals. They were rounded up and kept in San Diego. Some creatures might not like being in a flight cage, but the condors are pretty happy with their dependable supply of carcasses. They have been making whoopie for 25 years.

We can be cautiously optimistic about this deity. The Sacred Thunderbird of California now is represented by approximately 400 individuals, some of them in the wild. They have been released in the Grand Canyon, where there are no power lines or hunters. Efforts are underway, partly funded by the Yurok Indians, to release condors in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, where carcasses are abundant and there are traditions of condor Ritual worship.

Angels and faeries are purported to be able to fly. Vultures can do it visibly and gracefully. No skeptical atheist can scoff at the flight of Vulture. It is magnificent.

None of us will live to see a California condor pair soar over our heads in the rugged wilds of America. But it's a comfort to me to know that the species is making a comeback.

Honestly, think about it. If you looked up and saw a bird with a ten-foot wingspan glide silently past, wouldn't you feel that you were in the presence of something greater than yourself?

I can ony speak for myself, but ... As for me and my house, we will worship Vulture.

Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. First clause of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.

Hail Vulture, the visible Higher Power!

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4 Comments:

At October 25, 2011 , Blogger Debra She Who Seeks said...

It's always wonderful to read of any species making its slow comeback from near extinction. Long may the condors make whoopie and soar!

 
At October 25, 2011 , Anonymous Rhonda in WNC said...

We drove up the Pacific Coast Highway a few years ago, from LA to San Fran. Saw a condor flying overhead in the Big Sur. Felt extremely blessed.

Condor Reintroduction Program has some videos & other info about condors in the Big Sur.

 
At October 25, 2011 , Anonymous BellaDonna said...

I live in California, and would LOVE to live long enough to see wild Cali Condors fly over my head! But I'm happy knowing they are at least on their way.

Thanks for the update, from one Vulture lover to another!

 
At November 01, 2011 , Anonymous Claire-Marie said...

There are a few condors living in Partington Cove in Big Sur. Last winter my friend and I parked on the side of the road and walked down to the cove. If you're in the area, just visiting the cove is worth the stop. And if you're lucky, as we were, you will see one or two soaring overhead.

And that one, blessed, day, when I was in an outdoor bathtub on the top of Partington Ridge, a condor soared by just at my height, about 1300 feet above the sea. And it sang. I sounded like a croaking crocodile, but I heard a condor song.

 

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