Spirit Animals & Shamanism: The Angels of Nature Guide the Way
You may know them as power animals, totem animals, animal guides, or spirit animals, but they are all the same. They are animals that play the role of a spiritual guide for you much like the way a guardian angel does.
Spirit animals can appear to you in this world such as fox running out in front of your car at night or a rabbit that nibbles grass outside your window. You can be inexplicably drawn to pictures or videos of your spirit animal. Your spirit animal can come to you in dreams or spontaneous visions.
We all have more than one spirit animal and some stay with us for life while others join us to offer support at critical junctures in our life. It is okay to speak of your spirit animal, but not all right to be prideful or boastful about how great you think your spirit animal is!
You don’t have to be a gifted shaman to have a spirit animal and you don’t have to have a shamanic practitioner retrieve a spirit animal for you. You already have many animals accompanying you on your path.
The reason why spirit animals are such a critical component of the shamanic path is because shamanism is an ancient, earth-based practice. Shamanism came into being tens of thousands of years ago and is at the root of every culture around the world.
When shamanism first originated, it came to being in a world where humans and animals were intimate. People hunted animals for food and clothing. Songbirds alerted people to the danger of a stalking mountain lion. People relied on horses and other beasts of burden for transportation and help with farming. Wild animals were a more common sight than domesticated animals.
Now everything is the opposite. We’ve forgotten that animals give their lives to feed us. We shut bird song out of our houses. We notice pets and livestock more often than we see wildlife.
The thing is, it is all an illusion. We think we are separate from animals and nature, but they are there living in our parks, soaring in the skies above us, and nesting under our porches. They still speak to us. We’ve just forgotten how to listen.
A lot of people think of Dr. Doolittle when they think of hearing a message from an animal, but animal communication or telepathy isn’t the first or most common way the animals bring messages.
Their appearance in your life can simply be an affirmation that you are on the right path. If you are on a path of deep transformation at this time, a butterfly fluttering in front of your face can say, “Yes, your transformation from caterpillar to butterfly is underway.”
Spirit animals also arrive in your life to remind you to get back on track. If you were learning how to work with your breath to relieve stress, but recently got too overwhelmed to keep up with your practice, a dolphin spirit animal may visit to remind you of the power of your breath.
Many times, the messages of animals come by the timing of their presence. If you are feeling like your whole world is changing around you and you’ve set events into motion you can’t undo, seeing a rabbit will confirm that all is as it should be. Going down the rabbit hole is going to be a disorienting experience, but when you know that’s what is happening, the medicine of rabbit can help you open up to the adventure as it unfolds.
The stories surrounding certain animals could be the message. For example, the wolf’s role in Little Red Riding Hood teaches you about discernment and keeping an eye out for the wolf in sheep’s clothing. The Ugly Duckling tells you of the power of the signet to grow into a beautiful swan.
Mythologies about Gods and Goddesses often lead you back to messages animals carry. Athena, the goddess of wisdom, traveled with an owl companion. Owl is thus conveying the message to tap into your innate wisdom. The goddess Saraswati rode a swan down a tributary of the Ganges playing her lute while holding a rosary and book. She’s known as the goddess of music, song and poetry as well as spiritual purity. Having a swan swim into your life points to the need to open your artistic senses as a way to contact the Divine.
The last way a spirit animal can bring you a message is through seeing their biology as a metaphor. An animal that gives birth to helpless, naked young shows us that when we birth a new project into the world that it may need some special protection and care for a time. On the contrary, an animal that has precocial young, like foals who are walking within minutes of being born, shows that your project will be up and running quickly with little help from you.
How Can Shamanism Help?
Shamanism helps in that it gives you a framework for understanding spirit animals. The shamanic way teaches you that there is much going on in the unseen worlds that you can’t perceive with your senses. Shamanism relies on the power of dreams and spontaneous visions just as much as concrete reality sightings and can help validate what reason may not.
In the shamanic belief system, spirit animals send their live, “real” world counterparts into your life at the exact time you need to make contact.
Most importantly, shamanism teaches you that we are all interconnected and that we are all equal. Thus, you have the opportunity for a goose to become your guru. Now doesn’t that sound fun?!
Listen to me discuss spirit animals with Lorane on her radio show, below
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