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Clicking on the image above takes you to our t-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, tote bags, notebooks, calendars, and more with this design.... Clicking on the image below takes you to all our llama designs on various items.

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lamas are a kind of ruminant–they chew their cuds. Morning, noon, or night, I could see my llamas just sitting quietly and chewing their cuds. What were they doing as their jaws moved in steady rhythm? I thought they were ruminating, in the second meaning of the word.

As far back as Shakespeare’s time, ruminating has had two meanings in English: chewing the cud and meditating or contemplating. Watching the llamas, it was easy to see how the second meaning grew out of the first.

Sometimes, sitting among my llamas, I too would ruminate. Somehow their minds seemed to be more connected to each others’ than I normally felt between people. Especially during pregnancies, I felt a sense of two minds emanating from the female llamas, their own and their growing offspring’s. They seemed to be keeping each other company.

At llama gatherings, I seemed to sense a kind of group mind connecting the animals. It was elusive, but I kept noticing it. At a Llama Association of North America conference in Oregon, there were fairground stalls filled with maybe a hundred llamas: long wooled and classical, mature and juvenile, male and female. There were also a few alpacas. There they all were, chewing cud, eating, pooping, and observing each other and us. I watched a male put his ears back, a gesture which seemed to be directed at another male several stalls away. That one put his feet up on his fence and stared intently at the first one.

As I walked among them, it seemed that they were having their own conference. Some llamas were almost always in a ruminative state of mind. I called them the Council of Elders. Other adult llamas seemed to touch into the group meditations, but their focus was more outward. The young ones played. Whenever I noticed this group mind, I would breathe more deeply, the muscles of my body would relax, and my eyes would become clearer. I felt the mixture of calm and curiosity that I so admired in llamas.

I would do my early-morning stretching exercises near the llamas and stroll among them last thing at night. At those times I could most easily feel the llamas’ conference. During the busy days, human mind chatter (my own and other people’s) made it more difficult for me to focus on what was happening with the llamas.

There was one large, handsome male llama whose owners had placed some photos on the wall. One showed him leaning out from his stall at some other event to greet a small child; in another, he was visiting a nursing home with the greatest of aplomb. “So you’re one of the bridge llamas,” I said to him. He looked up at the sound of my voice.

I used the phrase ‘bridge llama’ to mean a llama who was more interested than most in bridging the gap between llamas and humans. These were the best llamas to take out to meet the public, and they were often their owners’ favorite animals, no matter what they looked like. In my own herd, Poco and Lil Bit were the ones I thought of as bridge llamas.

As I sat and watched this male at the conference, I noticed that he seemed to be one of the more contemplative types. Perhaps the best bridges were the llamas who partook fully of the group mind and also connected with people. There were llamas who leaned more toward people and less toward their own kind. These could be endearing pets but they weren’t quite the ambassadors the more centered ones were.

As I ruminated, I thought of the ancient connections between llamas and the peoples who lived in the rugged South American altiplano long before the Incas. Their mythology said that llamas and humans both originated by coming up out of different parts of Lake Titicaca. There was poetic truth in that image.

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