Reflecting on Retreat-ants by Drew

Posted by on Jul 14, 2013 in Blog, Featured | 5 comments

Reflecting on Retreat-ants by Drew

I had the following experience during my first month here in the community and it opened me up to a new level of understanding. The inspiration to write about it hadn’t come until last night when I sat with Andy and Petra by the pool and in conversation was reminded of the beauty of the mirror, which can be found in every symbol of the world.

It was an arid Saturday afternoon here in southern Spain. The only place where I found some relief from the heat was on the hillside overlooking the Andalusian mountains. I sat among the many plants and sank into relaxation. I noticed an ant crawling up my leg, and another up my arm. My back tants1hen became very itchy and soon realized as I stood up to move that I had inadvertently sat on the entrance to a colony of army ants, blocking the small hole that was set within a small crater in the ground. I assumed it was a large colony underground given the sheer numbers that emerged from the loose soil.

When I was done scratching, I looked down at the seeming damage I had done and felt a twinge of guilt as the ants scurried around. Forgiving myself was a quick job since I did not want to hold on to the burden of being a home-wrecker for too long. I took a step backwards away from the macroscopic muddle and repositioned my seating arrangement. For about 20 minutes I was entranced by what I saw as I inspected the insects. I felt totally tuned in to the movements of the group and clearly saw how the ants reflected the way we all join together in the community.

ants3I saw several kinds of different sized ant working together to recover from the fallout and they all had specific functions. There were 2 main ants larger than all the rest that were guarding the entrance to the hole. Their function was to protect the colony, ensuring its safety.

There were small diggers that worked hard to remove blockages from the entrance and they were overseen by several medium-sized ‘soldiers’. If one of the diggers struggled, one of the soldiers / overseers moved in to help push the soil. If there was a particularly large piece of debris, another overseer would leave the crater to bring back a few more workers to assist.

There were foragers / gatherers. They would scout the surrounding area for tiny twigs that were passed to the diggers who would use the twigs as shovels. Sometimes a gatherer would just stand there after dropping off his twig, seemingly not knowing what to do next. An overseer would lead him out of the crater to rejoin the team. Some of the gatherers brought back what looked like tiny scraps of food because soldier ants cannot look for food themselves. Their mandibles are so big that they have to be fed by the worker ants.

What really caught my eye were the ants who came to the edge of the crater and then stopped. After a little time they slowly and very deliberately moved down towards the hole entrance but they seemed not to offer their assistance in digging, nor had they brought anything with them. I sensed that all they wanted was to just go home. Two, sometimes three overseers would quickly approach these ones and guide them out of the crater to rejoin the team above. I watched in utter amusement as one of these ‘homies’ tried to break away from his guides and sneak back around the opposite side of the crater. His guides were razor sharp and caught on very quickly. After that two more guides came to the crater edge and not one ‘homie’ was allowed anywhere near before contributing to the cause.

I also observed how many of the smaller ants were just rushing around in a panic, lost, confused, trying to figure out where to go. Some of them wandered off quite far from the crater. There were overseers that clearly had one function to fulfill and that was to go find and rescue their lost companions.

Of course, the queen ant is never seen. She’s behind the scenes, but you know she’s there and no matter how faint the thought, she’s always in mind.

Army ants’ communication is completely dependent on chemical messaging and trail pheromones, which could be known between humans as telepathy. These methods of communication act as a stimuli for changing behavior patterns.

Ants are often referred to as a super-organism because the entire colony works towards a single purpose.

It all looked so similar to this extended community of ours and I thank Spirit for such an enlightening and clarifying experience.



  1. Thanks and beautiful Drew!! 🙂

  2. beautiful!!

  3. Thank you Petra and Rejean.

  4. Thank you Drew. What an amazing contemplation. I was giggling along with you! 😉

  5. I mean I was giggling with Ludvig!

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