Hermit Crab Medicine

Ah, the Hermit Crab, mightiest and most wise among all living creatures on Earth. What’s that you say? Just a little scuttle bug that scurries on the rocks? What’s so special about a a tiny crab?

Well, perhaps she doesn’t get enough street credit these days. It’s likely most people have never sat down and pondered the profound and powerful nature of this tiny cosmic being. Perhaps, then, introductions are in order.

Yes, this crab is a shell-dwelling hermit, but just because she’s a crustaceous recluse doesn’t mean she’s antisocial: she’s just especially aware of the shell that defines her reality. In fact, she uses this shell-realization to her advantage. She can retreat to it at any time, for protection, direction, dignity, inspiration, and yet she never forgets its temporary nature and limitation. She is ready, when the synchronic oceans of time tell her, to move on.

Our wise friend the Hermit Crab remembers a shell before: a past life with its bundle of self-definitions, cultural identifications, ideological considerations. And she knows one day soon (in fact, really as soon as possible) she will selflessly abandon her present identity-home in favor of larger and loftier territory.

She’s always on the lookout for a shell that might be her next step. This is the defining spark of Hermit Crab medicine. We’d all do well to have a little of it ourselves, too. After all, in a world today so overwhelmed by change, tumult, flow, and strongly opinionated identities, it’s good to remember what it takes to be a hermetic master.

It will be a little scary—moving into something  bigger than what she can imagine now. But because she’s done this dance so many times before, and embraced it as an art, it’s also quite natural. She knows that letting her limitations build up too much will only make change a painful process.

Hermit Crabs are actually like sadhus, or yogi renunciates. They perpetually renounce all that no longer serves them. This is not so much a frozen spiritual philosophy as a fluid way of life. Some sadhus move every three months, lest they develop cumbersome identities that prevent expansion of the soul.

So learn to live life like the Hermit Crab! Let each new stage of life feel more natural than the last. The road ahead is endless, lined with many beautiful shells, and the only obstacle to evolution is the courage and ability to release that which no longer serves us, back into the tides of time wherein all forms return to the formlessness presence of the sea. And next time you see our little friend scuttling along the seashore, pay a little respect!

Namaste! The soul within my little identity-shell bows to the soul within you little identity-shell. May we learn to identify not with the shell but with the great sea of life! May we support each other in this way, that one life may accomplish many soul missions, and that we not have to die and be reborn many times only to realize the great Shell-Game our souls play.


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