As you know, this blog series is broadly titled Awakening Alchemy. It is our hope that some of the topics we cover in this blog may awaken the inherent spiritual side that resides in all of us. Our goal is to open your mind to the incredible possibilities that are happening all around us, right now, on planet Earth. The old, tired paradigms are being swept away, as science and especially quantum physics, begins to illuminate the true nature of matter, of consciousness and of spirit. Many of the old philosophies, and beliefs are again coming to the fore, as science begins to show us there is much more to this Universe than that which we can see, feel and touch. We are celestial beings that harbor greatness inside of each and every one of us. It is my dharma to spark some of that interest, excitement and questioning nature within the readers of this blog.
Today we will be exploring an old, traditional, tribal belief of Shamanic origin, known as “Power Animals”.
What Are Power Animals:
Broadly speaking a power animal is a concept that has come down to us from Shamanistic teachings and worship. Shamanism is a practice that evolved in Asia, especially Mongolia and Siberia and over time spread to North and South America, as well as parts of Africa. Shamanism involves reaching an altered state of consciousness (often using natural hallucinogens, meditation, and ritual chanting) that allows the Shaman to interact with the spirit world and then channel these spirits and energies into the physical world.
For most of us westerners, the idea of Shamanism is perhaps that which we have had portrayed to us on the silver screen, as the idea of “medicine men”, especially as it relates to the early Native American tribes. Essentially this is true, and shamanism is still practiced routinely, and ritually in many places, especially in the Northern Asian areas of Mongolia and Siberia.
The concept of the power animal is one that is Universal across many cultures. You can perhaps think of power animals as being spirit guides that help protect us as individuals but also our ancestral lineage and that which is still to come, as well as nations, as a whole.
To the Shaman, everything is alive and connected to us. Everything contains a unique wisdom, power and virtue. Power Animals are said to embody our individual qualities of character, morality, and our most personal inner thoughts and being. We all have experienced the love and bonding that we can create and nurture with living animals (see last week’s blog on Animal Communication: )
What shamanism teaches us is that we can have the same deep love, bonding and respect, on a higher consciousness level, with our power animals. Shamanism contends that every person has a power animal(s) inside of them. They act as protectors to us and guard us against illness as well as imparting some of their inherent skills and wisdom to us. For example, the Hawk spirit will lend you some of the skills and wisdom of the hawk.
Different Types of Power Animals:
There are absolutely no set rules as to what animals can be power animals. They certainly don’t have to be mammals and can just as easily be reptiles, insects, birds, or sea creatures. If it lives, then it can be a power animal. In this vein, even plants and trees can serve as spirit guides. One thing to note, however, domesticated animals are generally not considered to be power animals because they are already acting in service to mankind. What the experts say is that you should always keep an open mind when looking at power animals. Try not to associate or “lock in” certain characteristics to an animal e.g. Lion is fierce and courageous. All animals have attributes that we, as humans, may not even be aware of until we bond, communicate and share with them.
What is truly important is that we honour and value our power animals. In the Western-Judaic culture we have been taught that animals were put here for our exclusive use and that we have dominion over them. This is an attitude we must let go of. Animals are at least our equals, add greatly to our lives and the world around us, have gifts to offer us and are deserving of gratitude, love and respect. Think of it this way – your power animal is giving up his/her independence and mobility to spend its time with you. It is a selfless act and by your honouring and valuing that act, the connection you have with your power animal can only deepen and grow.
A couple of ways of honouring your power animal are to regularly thank him/her for being there and to have objects (knick-knacks) where you can see them every day that represent your power animal. This all shows that you care and can only deepen the bond. As in shamanic practice we need to get into the habit of honouring and valuing all things in our life – they all have something to teach us and power animals, especially, have a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to impart to us.
How Do I Discover My Power Animal(s)
The most important thing to bear in mind in the process is: You don’t choose your power animal – it chooses you!
- One way to do this is to consult a Shaman, but for the vast majority of us that would be difficult, time-consuming and possibly expensive (if you had to travel).
- The best way to discover your power animal is to receive the information in a dream. See what happens! Go to sleep thinking about your power animals and you never know what you will dream about.
- Meditate to discover what your power animal is. If you don’t practice meditation, check out my previous blog on Meditation to learn how to get started:
- Journey deep into the forest, the ocean, the desert, in your mind. Sit in a quiet place, breathe deeply in and out an observe the animals that come your way – one of them will almost certainly become more apparent to you than the others and will choose you.
- Ask, out loud, for your power animal to show itself. If you suddenly begin seeing one particular animal more frequently than others that could be a sign. As an example, let’s say you are flipping through TV channels and you consistently come across documentaries on Lions; you see a sign advertising the local Lions club chapter; your friend invites you around to watch the Lion’s rugby team playing on TV. By using repetition, the power animal is drawing your attention to him/her.
- Search the internet for surveys and quizzes that can help pinpoint your power animal. There are a host of resources available on the internet for this purpose. Just type in: “how do I discover my power animal?” and you’ll be amazed at what pops up.
Some Common Power Animals and their Attributes:
- Deer: Deer are symbolic of love and harmony within oneself. They are also incredibly timid creatures and may signal the need for your protection from predators.
- Spider: The spider is very representative of the feminine side of us and the power of feminine energy. Their intricate webs and patience tell us how our lives are interweaved with others. Spiders are also very common power animals for creative people, as evidenced by the beauty and intricacy of their webs. They remind us that everything takes time and it is the journey that is magical, not the result.
- Butterfly: A butterfly symbolises more than any other creature the idea of profound change and transformation. As you are moving through different cycles of your life, especially “making a fresh start” the butterfly is the perfect spirit guide / power animal for you. Another intrinsic characteristic of the butterfly is its lightness and its ability to transcend the earth and the more prosaic things of life.
- Horse: The horse represents the driving force of life, the ability to run free, wild and untamed. In the same way, horses can be domesticated, restrained and stopped from their complete enjoyment of life – just like us.
- Crow: The crow is a double-edged sword, offering both positive and negative characteristics. Whilst on the one hand, it symbolizes the magic of life, intelligence and fearlessness, it can also represent a trickster, a manipulator, or those of a mischievous nature.
- Hawk: Hawks represent courage, truth, perspective and self-awareness. They offer the ability to see things from a higher perspective and to recognise truth. It also represents intuition and inner wisdom. Having a hawk as your power animal is an indication that it is time to re-evaluate your life, to look at the broader picture, from a higher perspective. Use the hawk’s keen vision to view your life and then its intuition and inner wisdom to guide you.
- Lion: The Lion is the symbol of extreme strength, self-assertiveness and power. They bring you strength, courage, authority and assertiveness, while still pointing out dangers and weak spots in your life.
- Grasshopper: Grasshoppers symbolise that it is time to take a leap of faith. They are innovative and never miss an opportunity to move forward in life. They’re also considered to be good luck and a good omen. If you’re struggling with a decision that needs to be made, the grasshopper is a good animal to have by your side.
Well, there are just a few of the possible power animals you could have in your life. Remember a couple of points. Firstly, you can have as many power animals in your life as you need, at any particular time, and secondly your power animal can change over time, as your circumstances and needs also change.
I hope I’ve piqued your interest in this topic. If you have any questions at all, or you’d like recommendations on where to research further, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment here on the blog or contact me via the website. I’d love to hear from you.
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