The Coyote Lust Project
I've developed a new research-creation project from part of what I've learned from Mary Maggic (hormone extraction) and from part of my current residency, in rural New Brunswick. I've now completed the steps, following Mary's protocol, for extracting estrogen and other hormonal factors from my own urine. It just so happened that I collected my sample during the ovulation phase of my cycle, meaning the hormone profile should technically be an 'attractive' one. It's like a bit of a love spell, and it is potent, I can already confirm. As I boiled down the extraction solution to evaporate off the ethanol, the kitchen around the wood stove very slowly filled with an acrid smell: the lightly pissy stink of my (now) concentrated pheromones. I was filled with an unexplained feeling of general well-being, and my partner's nose perked up, in a sudden interest in my physical presence. Strangely, the pheromones turned pink.
What I'm really interested in, though, is whether or not the pheromone concentrate will be attractive (or repellent) to the coyotes who closely surround me. My next experiments will be to slightly dilute the concentrate and either spray or dab it on the trunks of trees, in the coyote territory I've invaded with my presence already. I have a new infrared trail camera that can be strapped to a nearby tree to monitor any wildlife interactions with the site. So, I'll be able to see what creature picks up my scent, and if it is indeed an attractant to any or multiple species. But my interspecies attraction experiments don't end there. I also have frozen menstrual fluid from my last cycle, and will put that through the hormone extraction process as well, to come up with an entirely different profile of pheromone concentrate. My main question is, will coyotes be attracted to the ovulation pheromone solution, or to the bloody one (or to both)?
Contemplating interspecies attraction is a complicated meditation, and one I have spent some time with in recent days. For example, what if I somehow 'train' the coyotes to be sensitive to my particular smell profile? Will their 'attraction' manifest in an urge to hunt or maul me? The relationship between eating and desire is a well-established one, particularly for more wildish types. Will my pheromone concentrate signal to them that a delicious feast is near? Will their noses perk up and eyes glow with meat lust every time I step outside? Certainly this seems more feasible than any kind of taming possibility. Who is tamed by attraction, anyway? Invigorated to consume seems the likely response, particularly for a hungry coyote. It's a small risk I'm willing to take for the sake of an experimental (and non-harmful to them) research interaction.
When I hear the coyotes howling just outside the farmhouse, they transition into something myth-like, a greater community of darkness-dwellers that I can never fully be part of. They keep company with owls and badgers (each of whom I've seen in the yard at night recently), and other nocturnal beings. They frighten and titillate—humans, for sure, but likely multiple other species of animals as well. The relationship between humans and dogs is ancient and epic, but what of the expanded relationship between humans and coyotes, a wild dog species?
"The bloody mouths of coyotes, wolves, and dogs after a kill and their howling during the full moon must have been noticed by our early ancestors. Coyote is a trickster god/spirit/brother in tribal traditions of hundreds of tribes of the [North] American continent. Women in particular, treasured Coyote, continuing to emphasize his religion even after the men had moved the focus of their religious activities to Sky. For the Miwok of California, Coyote created death as well as menstruation, and for many others, he is part of a flood or other creation myth. The menstrual mind, reflected through its metaform Coyote, thus created the consciousness of death and the distinctly human approach to dying." (Grahn, Judy. Blood, Bread, and Roses; How Menstruation Created the World. Beacon Press Books: Boston, MA. 1993) (Thanks to my friend and co-author, Ravi/ Molly McKinney for sending me this reference).
And so, the entanglement of life and death, the dance between food and desire, meat and lust, is the thematic for this new set of experiments. I also wonder how all of the chemicals from the military base might have disrupted coyote hormones and responsiveness already—will they respond differently to my smell than if they'd been undisturbed by synthetic xeno-estrogen bombs? Or will my 'natural' pheromones be the more potent sensory explosion? How will my hyper-distillate chemical presence impact their living environment, or interactions with it? I may never determine the answers to some of these questions, but if I'm lucky, I may catch my furry paramours on motion-detected snippets of night vision video.