WITH OUR ANIMAL
Table of Contents
with Chapter Summaries
Part One: Apprentice to Change
Several months before he died, my old dog-friend Barney shared some challenging and thought-provoking talks about the nature of death. As a student and teacher of conscious dying, Barney offered to share his insights, beginning with how the way we ‘hold’ or think about death greatly influences the way we experience it.
Chapter 2: Facing Fear
This chapter explores our individual and collective fears surrounding death, as well as our human fear of change in general. Shapeshifting is introduced as a way in which we can experience our projections of fear and come to appreciate how they offer keys to healing. Included is a personal experience of facing fear and releasing the ‘knot’ of energy that served as a guardian to prevent premature movement into greater levels of awareness.
Chapter 3: A New Set of Eyes
The central metaphor of this chapter explores how it is necessary to release old beliefs and worn-out paradigms as we open to new ways of seeing ourselves and our world. Topics include how we use surface consciousness as a defense against deepening; how humans moved from a conscious relationship with death to a fearful one; how we may know the ‘scenery’ of death by ‘walking the path of death’ in advance; and, how reincarnation is a form of shapeshifting. Read an excerpt.
Chapter 4: Endless Variations & Infinite Perspectives
This chapter celebrates the incredible diversity of species and views on planet Earth as well as the many ways in which we can make use of assorted incarnations to learn. It features three unique views of shapeshifting through talks with the Penguin People, the Spirits of Fish, and an ancient form of Bird.
Chapter 5: Open Doorways
This chapter opens with Barney’s explanation of how his many lives as a teacher of shapeshifting led him to his teachings with Death. We explore karmic illusions, different forms of shapeshifting, and what happens to the consciousness of the ‘other’ with whom we merge or shapeshift. In addition, this chapter takes us back to Barney as he prepares himself (and me) to die.
Chapter 6: A Conscious Death
A short yet potent chapter featuring a talk with my ‘Higher Self’; a talk with Barney the day before he dies; the experience of waking up a few hours before his death and meeting Barney’s “Spirit People” (guides and friends); and Barney’s conscious movement into death.
Chapter 7: What Happens Next
“The experience of death is to some degree very personal,” Barney told me a few days after he died, “though a few of the basic transitions do happen to a great many beings.” This chapter looks at Barney’s personal voyage as well as some of the general experiences that we might encounter upon dying. We also examine what happens when consciousness leaves the physical body.
Part Two: Adventures in Shapeshifting
Chapter 8: We are All Shapeshifters
“Once you get past this division of ‘life’ and ‘death’,” Barney told me one morning, “you see that it is simply another choice of form. This is where shapeshifting can play an important role for you and other humans.” Discussed in this chapter are reincarnation, the distinction between personality and soul, the value of conscious incarnation, and the use of shapeshifting as a means to ‘wake up’ while in the body. Also included is an experiential shapeshift with Rabbit and Fox.
Chapter 9: This Mosaic Called Earth
Spirit moves through a multitude of beings, each—due to its unique software—offering a different perspective of life on our planet. In visiting these perspectives through shapeshifting our consciousness, we may experience a remarkable range of diverse realities. This chapter looks at how different animals ‘move’ on the earth and some of the insights they hold for all. Also included are talks with a cactus and a sharing of cactus mythology.
Chapter 10: Limitless Possibilities
This chapter title refers to the endless potential of shapeshifting experiences. We explore how gaining fluidity in shifting consciousness is often a prelude to meeting one’s inner selves. Included are experiences of becoming water and seeing through another’s eyes; sharing adventures with a raven, a jaguar and a goldfish; and a brief incident of teleporting consciousness. In addition, we meet a group of beings who focus on reawakening humans to the deeper nature of shapeshifting.
Chapter 11: Deepening Dream Awareness
This chapter investigates using shapeshifting in dreams to access deeper aspects of dream awareness. Included are talks with Dream-Guide teachers and conversations about the parallels between shapeshifting and dreaming, using dream experiences as templates to other states of awareness, and integrating dreams and waking consciousness.
Chapter 12: Moving Through Fear
This chapter regards fear as a guardian between worlds—not only between life and death, but also between our small, unawakened self and our greater potential. In considering how our deepest fear isn’t that we are powerless but powerful beyond measure, how might we use fear as a barometer of where we are in our journey? An elephant dream serves as an example of transforming fear through different selves in different times.
Chapter 13: Other Voices…
This chapter includes three individual talks and one linked (merged) voice from an eel, a plant and a member of the group. Yet another aspect of this chapter’s title is explored through how the voices of disowned inner selves are reflected (or projected) onto outer selves. Similarly, teachings from Raven reveal how the many ‘selves’ we interact with in the world relate to the selves we hide within.
Chapter 14: …Other Selves
Here we focus on shapeshifting as a tool to integrating our selves. Included is an experience with whales, revealing how sound can serve as a pathway leading us to alternate realities and selves. We also explore how finding the “spirit tracks” we make for our future/past selves allows us to meet and consciously know ever larger aspects of who we are.
Part Three: The Art of Greater Living
Chapter 15: Embracing the Yeti
This chapter focuses on remembering and recalling our lost selves, with the Yeti as a great example of a legendary ‘lost self’. We explore the interweaving of cultural legend, personal mythology and different versions of reality as we work to reclaim that which is lost); dissolve the fear that keeps this lost (or as repressed shadow material); and use shapeshifting as a means to embrace all our selves in the process of becoming whole.
Chapter 16: The Circle of Projections
In recalling and reclaiming our projections, we begin to refashion ourselves and experience more deeply the essential oneness out of which our selves are created. But how do we know what is ‘real’ as we work with projections of self and ‘other than’ self? How do we not get lost in such a flood of projections? This chapter looks at the “meeting place” in which a clear recalling of selves is possible.
Chapter 17: Ever Re-Beoming
Evolution, the nature of time, and the process of incarnation/reincarnation are central topics of this chapter. Several animals share their experiences with incarnating, and we again view reincarnation as a form of shapeshifting. Also explored is how we can contact and share information with the different incarnations of ourselves.
Chapter 18: Beyond the Mirror
This chapter features a conversation with Barney on the value of conscious death as a touchstone to meeting and merging with other selves—not only inner selves, but alternate selves and other dimensional selves. We look at variations of time and space in terms of integrating these selves, and how shifting energy (via shapeshifting) allows us to meet ourselves in other dimensional forms.
Chapter 19: A New Set of I’s
This chapter features conversations with an inter-dimensional being I came to know as Tau. Tau and I were paired as students of shapeshifting who had similar levels of development, though in different ways. We had numerous talks about shapeshifting and different perspectives of different worlds, as well as several merging experiences in which we shared consciousness.
Chapter 20: Claiming Presence
A Leopard Spirit shares his view that one of humanity’s biggest challenges is not knowing who we are and that one of the greatest things we can learn from certain animals is to claim presence—to experientially know the suchness of who we really are. This chapter also explores the core of shapeshifting as a means of “creating and translating soul work in the world.”
Chapter 21: Here & Now
With all our exploration of different dimensions and alternate realities, we expand ourselves to a place of becoming more. And yet, all we ever need is right here, right now. This ending chapter brings the adventure home as we re-member ourselves to seeing the infusion of ‘here’ and ‘now’ within any--and every--aspect of reality. The full journey of shapeshifting is reviewed and ideas are offered by various beings about opening ourselves to the Art of Greater Living.