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Teachings from the Dead Rat

26/06/2024, NOTES



Anja Vensild Hørnell is a biologist from Copenhagen University. She works as a nature guide and communicates her knowledge about nature and science to institutions and schools. She has contributed content to the popular Danish children's TV channel, Ramasjang, and has also published a book in collaboration with the program, Wild Wonderful Animals.

I saw the dead rat the last time we were in the Garden [Hjortetakly], (September 12th 2023) that time it still had flesh and fur. I didn't say anything, so as not to scare, because a dead rat starts many thoughts.

When we came yesterday, only the bones remained, fine and white. Cleaned by nature itself, ants, worms and other decomposers. What does that mean, I thought. Rat, what do you want to show us? What are you telling? Many thoughts came, but no answer.

Today, when I was walking in the woods, the answer came quite clearly.

"See yourself in me and remember that you (too) must die," says Rat. Rat is smart, incredibly adaptable, a master of survival, clean and takes care of the family. Just like us. Rats live pretty much all over the world, we share many similarities.

Rat show us that even though we are masters of adaptation and survival, we must remember death as part of spacetime. Also in Hjortetakly. Space and time in Hjortetakly are not only in the living, death is always there. Death gives life and life gives death. We have learned to understand the first, the second just has to sink in. "Memento mori" says Rat from one friend to another.

Try this exercise to connect:

Hold the small fine shoulder blade from the rat in your hand and close your eyes. Feel your own shoulder blade. Search for and feel the connection to Rat. You can thank Rat for sharing her wisdom. You can also just be in touch, feel the connection and give thanks for that. Breathe. Stay in the connection until you are ready to let go and get back.

Open your eyes. Look around so you know where you are and so you land properly. Breathe. Put the shoulder blade back. Keep breathing.

When we feel and connect to other beings we get closer to them, our minds are one and we feel that we are not alone. Vertebrates have shoulder blades to stabilize and move the forelimbs. A shoulder blade almost looks like a wing.

P.S. You have to be careful when touching dead animals with fur and flesh on them, but you can easily touch dry white bones, there are no "gross bacteria" on them anymore.

- Anja Hørnell

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