As I sat in one windowless room after another, I held my retreat sisters and our experiences in my heart while I listened to one presentation after another explaining how to create more sustainable practices by sparking social impact, engaging employees, assessing economic impact, enhancing leadership skills, implementing better technology, issuing more thorough reports, and shifting to more renewable energy sources. Throughout the weekend I came back to one question: Where was the natural world in this conversation?
Almost immediately after the death of my mother on March 21, my healer cat and Reiki Master Saqqara was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The tumor was already causing fluid issues near his left lung, and it was very clear that I would lose him sooner than I ever expected.
After almost 14 years in partnership teaching classes and offering healing sessions with me, Ankh Ka Saqqara passed into Spirit on Wednesday, April 21, 2010, exactly one month after the death of my mother. He was the equivalent of 84 years of age in human years or 16 and a half in cat years.
Saqqara was much more than a beloved companion, he was a very integral part of both the classes and healing sessions offered for people at Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing. Both he and my other healer cat Shaman (crossed into Spirit two years ago) helped create the principal philosophies: equality between species, and animals as teachers and healers.
Of course I knew none of that when I first met him. I was living in Worcester, MA at the time, and had not yet taken training in Reiki or shamanism.
My vet, Dr. Anita Trom, called and asked if I would be willing to raise a five-day old kitten. She told me that the poor little guy had been found cold and unconscious, lying next to his dead sibling, under a tarp on someone’s porch. It was believed that dogs had frightened the mother away. Without her care not only was the young kitten starving, but flies had come and laid their eggs in his tender skin.
After reviving him, Dr. Trom said that she had removed maggots from various places on his body, including his eyelids. She warned me that meant that she had had to open his eyes prematurely and that since he was only five days old he would still require bottlefeeding every two to three hours.
Having fostered kittens before, I knew that meant quite a bit of lost sleep, but felt drawn to say yes. I made one stipulation that I recall vividly to this day — I requested that the office help find a home for him when he was old enough as I had many more cats than I do now.
Finding him a home might have remained an option had he not required hernia surgery two days later. Many vets might have given up, but Dr. Trom made an effort to save him despite her estimation that he only had a 50% chance of surviving the operation. He pulled through, and for the remainder of his life there was a lumpy area on his side from the surgery as testament to his tough nature. I still feel deep gratitude for how much care and skill Dr. Trom offered to a kitten so small and homeless.
After such a rocky start in life, I felt that this scrappy kitten needed a long life name. I wondered how many of the cat family’s fabled nine lives he had already used up! In an attempt to offset that loss I named him, and in so doing probably sealed the deal for his staying.
In choosing his name I was drawn to the Egyptians who held strong beliefs for the afterlife as well as having revered cats. I felt that someone must have been watching over this little kitten who had been virtually raised from the dead. It seemed that gratitude was due to Bast, Egyptian Cat Goddess.
And so he became Ankh Ka Saqqara: Ankh after the Egyptian symbol for Life, Ka for their word for soul, and Saqqara after the site in Egypt which contains not only the oldest stone-built pyramid in the world, but which also became the focus for the burial for other sacred animals such as the cat.
It was only in later years that I would realize that his name meant so much more…
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A WILD WAY TO HEAL
Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC, is an animal communicator, Reiki Master Teacher, shamanic energy healer, and author. Her classes, sessions and ceremonial work are inspired by wild and domestic animals who have issued a call to action for personal and global healing.
Her book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism features heartwarming stories about animals and their role in her evolution as an energy worker and shamanic healer.