This Month’s Animal: The Sponge!
Our ancient ancestors knew that the majority of consciousness on Earth is not human. They looked to their animal brothers and sisters for guidance on who they were, and how to be in the world—and so can we. As we explore these many relationships through international online classes, workshops and local classes this year, we will post a monthly blog on a selected animal, to expand our own range of awareness and to honor and support our animal relatives.
The word animal comes from the Latin animale, “a being that breathes,” which comes from the root word anima: “breath, soul, a current of air,” from Greek anemos, and Sanskrit anilas, “wind, breath.”
Biologists define an “animal” as an organism with most or all of the following traits:
- multicellular, with specialized cell functions;
- cells have a nucleus enclosed by a membrane rather than the cell walls of plants, algae and some fungi;
- can move spontaneously and independently at some point in their lives;
- has specialized sensory organs
- depends on other organisms for its food;
Sponges fit most of these traits, lacking only specialized sensory organs, and are considered to be the earth’s first animals!
Here are some highlights related to the sponge from the live chat of our recent online class, Manifesting New Year’s Intentions with the Animal World:
S: Sponge told me that “filtering” out my judgments every day will help me a lot with my project!
N: Sponge told me RELAX.
T: Keep it simple like a sponge.
W: The Sponge told me: Stay and wait; then (what I am looking for) comes by itself in time.
J: I saw through the sponge the Universal feeling of Love and that I need to awaken my love … of the spirit
M: Sponge says that the sea gives me everything I need.
Is this from a dream where sponges talk to people? In a way of speaking, yes!
In this recent online class we practiced parts of a Tensegrity® movement series called The Evolution Form (coming soon to our Tensegrity® video streaming library), emulating a span of stages in the evolution of animals on Earth, moving through: sponges, flatworms, mollusks, crustaceans, fish, frogs, lizards, birds, and wolves before returning anew to our human form—pausing at each stage to allow those animals, and their way of moving, breathing, being and perceiving, to inform us as we evolve our dreams for this coming year!
In this endeavor, there seemed to be an abundance of wisdom coming from our ancient relative, the sponge!
Sponges have been around for more than 580 million years, and some species have been known to live as long as 100 years! They are multicellular, and don’t have nervous, digestive or circulatory systems. They simply settle on a rock or send roots into rocks, shell beds or coral reefs, and draw in oxygen and nutrients such as bacteria or plankton, which are absorbed or digested directly by their cells. They release what they can’t digest or don’t need, by “sneezing” with their whole body.
They don’t need a lot of oxygen to live, and by filtering out tiny particles of organic matter from the water, they help to further oxygenate their environment. This allows phytoplankton—the tiny plants of the ocean—to sink faster and further oxygenate those waters. A recent study suggests that in fact it was the sponges who helped create the oxygenated environment that gave rise to other sea animals. So it could be said that we owe our very existence to the sponge!
There are at least 5000 known sponge species, ranging in size from less than an inch to six feet tall, in a multitude of colors and shapes. They are found in nearly every aquatic environment on earth. They shelter tiny creatures and larger ones such as shrimp, fish and crab.
Some species of these transformational creatures can morph their gender and many spend the first few days of life floating through the water before landing and taking root.
These amazing adaptable animals remind us that there are many parts to play in life. There is a time for exploration, as well as a time to slow down, root and receive the nourishment that comes to us, if we allow it—and to release what we don’t need, or can’t carry or digest! And we can do it in a way that enhances our environment.
Is there a place in your life where you could slow down and receive, to filter in what is nourishing, and release the rest—and allow that to bring fresh air to you, your space and those around you?