To the card description in the Medicine Card Book I would like to ad, that for the Zuni People the Cougar/ Mountain Lion is “Elder Brother Mountain Lion”and stands as the Medicine Guardian of the North direction.
He is seen as the Master Hunter, that teaches hunting skills like stealth and patience to the young men. When in camp however, these young men are to emulate strength, patience with the young and weak as well as grace and courtesy in their dealings with the woman folk.
Cougar/ Catamount also teaches about holding territory and respecting territorial boundaries – of self and others.
When portrayed as a fetish by Zuni – and now in modern times also other stone carvers – Mountain Lion is adorned with a piece of White Mussel Shell – for North, Red Coral -for life Blood and black Jet – as the sum of all colours. Often also a piece of Turquoise for healing or a Turquoise arrow is added. Truly old fetishes can be recognized by the tail being bent backwards over the back of the Mountain Lion.
.rom the web:For the Zunis of Turtle Island
the Cougar was the Master Hunter, known for its high
intelligence, its knowledge of other animal and life forms,
its physical prowess, its strength of will, and its intuitive
ability. The Cougar sees the maintenance of its territory as
essential for its survival. Poshaiankia, the father of the
Medicine Societies, designated the Cougar the duty of
carrying messages from humans to the higher spirits,
because of this animal’s personal power, superior knowledge,
strength of will, and steadfastness. Therefore, the Cougar
represents the link between ourselves and the most powerful
spirits in Zuni Mythology: Mother Earth, Father Sky, and the
Originator of All.
I had several short encounters with Mountain Lions – or Cougars, how we call them here:
The first was way back in the summer of 1981 on a back country hiking trail in Brice Canon, Utah. My then travelling partner Didi and I had made camp in this enchanting landscape, pitched our tent beneath a long dead gnarled Cedar Tree. To make sure our food was safe from Bears, after supper we put it all into my backpack and hoisted that one via a rope up high into one of the last few branch stumps of this dead Tree. (-stupid!! I know – now! )
Douse camp fire and off into our sleeping bags.
In the middle of the night we heard strange sounds right above us, scratching and some weird pitched growling…. Someone was at our food bag! Out of the tent and in the beam of the flash light we saw, what it was:
A young cougar!
That one, seeing us, promptly lost its purchase on the backpack and – fell right into our tent.
Grrrrouwwwwwhrr!! Ripping the collapsed tent to shreds the Cat knew nothing better than climb back up the Tree!
We scrambled out of the immediate area of the tent and with our backs to a smooth rock wall spend the rest of the night shivering in fear and cold. We heard the Cougar scratching around on the Tree, but the beam of the flash light did not carry as far…. until it died on us….. Was the Cougar gone? Or was it sneaking up on us?
Finalllllly dawn came – and no Cat!
Just a ripped Tent and a ripped backpack.
The second encounter happened here at home:
It was a efw years ago, not suite sure when, my ooooold poooooter died (– isn’t that always the case?)
Anyway, it was just after midnight when I went downstairs and out the sliding door of the jewellery workshop to replenish our Raccoon dinner dish with the nightly ration of Cat kibbles.
Then, after my evening shower 15 minutes later I thought, I just take a little looook, if maybe some of our Raccoons already had arrived and was at the food.
Some of these guys were shy, wild ones, not from the litter of orphans that we raised and released the year before. So I was very quiet and did not turn on the light.
The moon illuminated the deck
– and there was something – someone – but not a Raccoon!
A HUUUUUUUUGE slim slick Cougar was crouched before the dish, stretched out , munching away, looooong tail stretched out behind, its tip swushing back and forth nervously.
As quickly and quietly as possible I ran upstairs for my camera – and to call Peter, who was already asleep.
Never wake a sleeping man!
Grumbling he poltered down the stairs and, hearing the noise, with an elegant jump our elusive dinner guest was gone!
What a missed opportunity.
– For years and years we locals of Muskoka have been telling each other stories of the Cougars we saw, the ones that ate our dogs, the prints we encountered. But the MNR insists, that there were no Cougars in Muskoka, just large Tabby Cats and the odd Bobcat….
Well, since this encounter the MNR had to give in finalllly and admit to Muskoka having yet another “dangerous vermin”, The Eastern Cougar – Catamount.
Then, after yet another Cougar chased a dog in broad daylight in the suburbs and numerous clear pictures were taken and no travelling zoo or circus had accidentally lost one, this had to be a wild Cat.
Sadly they did, what in these cases they always do: Kill it 😦
You could gooogle “Muskoka Cougar” and read more)
Ok, comming to my cougar encounter No 3.
This one I posted under Notes on my FB account, date and all:
A cougar at the house!
Saturday morning (April 1st 2011)
With a warm blanket,some dry crackers and my camomile tea I hunkered down on the upper deck. There had been a strange ruckus going on outside all day.
3 Crows and our pair of nesting Ravens were flying to and fro and cawing and crowing practically none stop. Just about 30 meters to the East of the house they were up in the Pines and something was making them Very upset!
And then I heard it!
There is only one thing, that makes sounds like this:
A mad Cougar!
30 meters away in the bush!
I waited and listened and had the camera at the ready….
But just the Ravens and Crows submitted to a photo op…..
I saw him/ her the very next morning:
Right after waking up I stumble out onto the deck to hang up the 2 freshly filled Bird feeders onto the lines.(- I have to take them in at night because of the Bears and the Raccoons…)
And that is when I heard loud scratching sounds and cracking of branches and saw him/her come down head over long tail coming down the tall Pine Tree East of the house. Probably he/ she was startled by the noise from the sliding door or clumsy little me.
The last part she jumped to the ground and then away into the bush….
A HUUUUUGE animal! Even bigger with the long tail! The tip of the tail was turned up…
Yesterday evening the Coons did not come as usual. And then, late, almost midnight, 3 adults came. They were nervous, quickly munched some cat food and then were of…. Normally all 6 of them hang around on the deck…..
I wonder if the Cougar sticks around in hope of a Raccoon meal?
These encounters , all commung out of the blue, have prompted me to always asociate Cougar/ Mountain Lion with a sudden surprise encounter wth a formidable individual of power and maybe also danger.
Someone to be reconed with, someone who needs a lot of personal space, someone who is fierce and passionate.
Another association I never forgot is, what my Inde’ teacher once told me: Cougar is an Animal of March! Of the change from winter into Spring….