The KEY to
What are Spirit Animals?
What are Spirit Animals?
Throughout history, humans have been inspired by the speed, strength, intelligence and beauty of animals. We are intrigued by their many unique abilities: to fly, to see in the dark, to breathe underwater, to camouflage.
Every animal species brings a distinct gift to our world — a special way of seeing things or a particular skill. Because there are many different animals on our planet, there are many diverse teachings. A soaring eagle brings us clarity of vision and a reminder to see larger perspectives. Peacock encourages us to shine our true colors or reclaim inner beauty and express pride in who we are. Octopus recommends that we be flexible, curious, and adaptable.
THE SHAMANIC WAY
Ancient shamans — medicine men and women — knew the value of observing animals in nature and studying their teachings. They formed personal relationships with power animals and journeyed with them through inner worlds. Spirit animals helped shamans to heal, advise, and solve problems. They also served as protective companions through difficult situations.
Like modern day shamans, we can learn to perceive teachings in nature and benefit from the experience and wisdom of animal guides. We, too, can discover our own spirit animals and develop ongoing relationships with them built upon trust and mutual respect.
Some spirit animals work with us for a lifetime, helping us to develop our spiritual natures and achieve the unique set of goals our soul would like to accomplish. Like master teachers, they follow our progress — cheering on our successes and helping us to learn from our mistakes. Sometimes we are aware of these guides; other times they operate quietly in the background of our subconscious.
Some spirit animals come for a short while to impart a specific teaching or assist in a particular situation. Alligator motivates us to be tough, persist through the task at hand, or armor ourselves with protection. Deer arrives to help us heal trauma or learn to soften our heart through difficult times. Such animals may become journeying companions in our dreams and meditations, staying with us for as long as we need them.
Spirit animals may also act as messengers, delivering hints, clues, or inner nudges. Seeing a flock of geese flying in V-formation may remind us to streamline our pursuits, while the glimpse of a red fox inspires us to sharpen our senses or draw upon our clever, foxy nature. We may not form lasting relationships with such animals and their presence may be fleeting. Their assistance can be invaluable, however, in providing accurate, timely insights — if we are paying attention.
Still other spirit animals challenge us. These are our shadow guides — the animals that help us to confront our fears or explore shadowy areas of our life that are stuck, stagnant, or in need of change and expansion. Such animals are often those we dislike or fear. And yet, these spirit animals may hold our most valuable teachings. For in learning to work with them, we begin to discover a truer version of who we really are.
THE PATH TO LEARNING
For the past 20 years I’ve been exploring, teaching and writing about our deeper connections with animals. What I’ve learned is this: our ability to access animal wisdom and form meaningful partnerships with spirit animals depends a great deal upon our ability to open in authentic relationship with ourselves.
How do we that? I’ve found that the best learning is often achieved through experience. That’s why the following pages are filled with meditations, dreaming and journaling exercises, and artistic projects that can assist you in getting to know yourself better. Think of the book as a buffet of tips, suggestions, and techniques — an invitation to try on different approaches in order to discover what works best for you.
The aim of this book is to engage spirit animals in more conscious ways. In Chapter One we’ll use meditation and dreams to invoke creative encounters with animal guides.
Chapter Two looks at ways to open awareness, deepen presence, and communicate with animals. In
Chapter Three we’ll fine-tune observational skills and learn to interpret the subtleties of what animal
Chapter Four offers a handy reference to the unique teachings of 96 animal guides. Brief descriptions of each animal’s expertise are included along with questions, suggestions, and recommendations to benefit from their teachings.
Lastly, Chapter Five explores practical ways to integrate our experiences as we develop deeper
relationships with our spirit animals and with ourselves.
SEEK WITH AN OPEN HEART
The adventure ahead may require some effort and patience. You may become frustrated or hit a temporary dead end. My advice? Trust yourself. Trust the experience. Most animals sense and
welcome our endeavors,especially when we convey a genuine desire for help.
Seek with an open heart and the natural world responds. Messages, answers, and clues arrive in wondrous ways, uniquely suited to our needs. A rainbow trout splashing in sunlit water, the cheerful
trill of a robin’s call, the moon-cast shadow of a lone coyote—all little smiles from the Universe reminding us that we’re on the right track. Each sighting, sound, event, and encounter triggers a deeper form of knowing, a deeper connection not only with our spirit animals but with ourselves.
Animals can be incredibly wise and patient teachers. They are clever guides, insightful advisors, and thoughtful friends. What it takes from us is a willingness to be present, to perceive in deeper ways, and to open ourselves to heartfelt connection. Are you ready?