Being the inquisitive soul that I am, I recently sought to sate my curiosity on the subject of spirit animals. After a few Google searches I found a website dedicated to the subject that didn’t look like a fourteen year old’s MySpace page. Rather than spirit animals, though, it worked with Animal Totems, icons chosen by you to represent, protect or guide you. I performed a basic meditation exercise to discover my animal totem.
Close your eyes. Regulate your breathing. Breathe in for three counts. Hold for one. Exhale four counts. Repeat until it comes without having to focus on it. Some people use music to help them achieve this state. I didn’t, but I had the crashing of waves in the distance to listen to.
Picture an environment. It can be whatever you like. Mine is a crescent-shaped beach edged by a forest.
Ask for help, guidance, or merely the appearance of the animal. Out of the darkness flew a stately raven.
When I saw the raven I snapped out of the trance state. I was hazy and a bit shaken but that was most likely due to being overtired and spending fifteen minutes with my eyes shut.
Ravens, corvus corax, are reputed to be the most intelligent of all birds. They’re survivalists and appear quite often in the folklore of the world.
The next night I did the same, and at the end came a big brown bear, I’d assume it to be a grizzly, lumbering out of the forest in my mind.
To me, bears are representative of strength and loyalty. The wisdom of never getting between a bear and its cub is known even in places that don’t have bears.
For the next few nights and even during the day I kept at it, and each time it would be a bear or raven, and once it was both. So I took these two animals for my totem and then consulted the website about this pair of creatures.
The raven symbolizes magic and transformation and is said to be an omen, or harbinger of change. It is said to also represent intellect, skill as well as illumination and light within the darkness. They represent living without fear and balance of the varying aspects of life.
As with many spiritual things these days, it seems intentionally vague, but what’s there corresponds partly to my own associations with the bird.
Bears represent strength, balance and inner energy to find answers and judgement to make changes in life. They’re known for willingness to defend if necessary, leadership qualities, caution, insight and taking opportunities when they arise.
Again, these fit in part with what I see as key characteristics in bears.
So with this in mind I chose my totems. Whether or not I’ll craft an actual totem is debatable, but I don’t think I will be any time soon.
The next week I came back to the spirit animal concept. I was still eager on discovering the spirit guide, so I asked at the only place I know which has a spiritual studies section which isn’t likely to spout a bunch of psueodo-mystical nonsense; the Jedi Order, surprisingly enough.
I made an enquiry and was helped by Mark Anjuu, one of the Order’s Specialists on the subject. He sent me an audio file, fifteen minutes long. It was a narrated guide with drum&pipe meditation music.
Close your eyes, regulate your breathing. Three counts in. Hold one. Four counts out, repeat.
Visualize a forest. Walk through it and take notice of the nature around you. Walk until you find a hole in the ground, big enough to fit you. Pass through it. On the other end you’ll find a river. Walk beside it until you come to a waterfall; the end of the river. Ask for the help of your spirit animal and it will appear on the opposite bank.
When you are done, leave the way you came and then wake.
I wasn’t sure what I saw the first time. It had grey fur, was four legged with a long snout and bushy tail. It could have been a fox or wolf. It was obscured by reeds in the water.
The next night I repeated the exercise. Again, vague. On the third night I came face to face with a grey wolf.
I was happy with my guide being a wolf because I respect them and what I think they represent. I haven’t met one yet, so my thoughts on wolves are more likely to be idealistic rather than realistic.
Wolves I associate with nobility, tenacity, courage, loyalty and to a lesser extent, spirits and magic. Often in films a shaman is seen in wolf-hide headdress.
The source I consulted for my totems had this to say about wolves: They represent family, spirit, royalty, strength, freedom, the wild. They’re said to teach steadfastness, family loyalty, balance, adaptability and wisdom.
In all I think my guide is one that suits me. So now I have an animal guide and two totems. Might make for a nice tattoo some time in the future.
As always, I value discussion. There’s a comment box there for a reason.