10 Feb 2011

Toads

I was delighted the other night to dream that there were two toads in my garden. I love toads and they were a great favourite of my Grandmother, who actually looked rather like one.

Toads have unfairly had a very bad press in the past, often being seen as evil and poisonous. Some species do have an irritant in their skin that is used for self defence, but they are not evil of course. In the Middle Ages they were associated with witches, devils and bad spells. Witches were supposed to have made `flying ointment' from toads - I can't help wondering if there is a dim, race memory here of ancient, shamanic practices. We know that shamans used the poisonous fly agaric toadstool to go on hallucinogenic trips to the Otherworld, so maybe toad ointment was used in a similar way by our distant ancestors.

What is certain is that negative ideas such as the toad being so evil arose from church propaganda, and have nothing to do with real pagan beliefs. It is tragic that many toads - and Wise Women - died horrible deaths as a result of this bigotry and ignorance. The toad was also seen as having the gift of immortality, and was supposed to carry a magical jewel in her head. No doubt many toads died in vain as silly people searched for it.

The toad does carry a jewel - but it is a metaphorical one - they have exquisitely beautiful golden eyes, and they are quiet, unassuming little animals, living close to the earth in humble, damp places. This may have given rise to their connection in folk-lore with the Goddess, and Mother Earth. Like other amphibians, their ability to live in both water and in air, and their unusual life-cycle, changing utterly from tadpole to adult, has made people associate them with metamorphosis and changing luck.

So - what if you dream of a toad? It's really up to you how you see the message! Some people (misguidedly in my opinion), see them as repulsive, even dangerous and evil. To dream of a toad, or a frog may indicates big changes coming up in one's life. The toad's ability to shed its skin as it grows reinforces this idea. And for me? As I painted this little picture I felt peaceful and grounded and I knew that for me the energy of Toad is magical, connecting me to the earth and the wisdom of my grandmothers.