What does that animal "mean?" Tools for working with Spirit Animal Guides
When we encounter an animal on a hike or unexpectedly in our home, we often wonder if there is a reason for the visit. We often feel a certain energy in the air that feels as if a message is trying to reach us. We stare at the visitor in awe and ask, “What are you trying to say to me?” This Spirit Animal Studies library is a resource for anyone wishing to deepen their ability to connect with animals and the natural world in a unique and personal way. The suggested exercises and worksheets here are a starting place for you to develop your own method for communing with nature. We hope you find these activities a helpful addition to your Spirit Animal Studies!
A Beginning Place:
Animals live in a space/time different from our own without any notion of good or bad, right or wrong. They live in a dimension of eternal perfection. We also live in that same dimension with the animals. But we need to make an effort to connect with it. Using our imagination to commune with nature is the main skill we learn when we work with Spirit Animal Guides.
The first step in working with Spirit Animals is to validate your imagination as real because it is through the imagination that animals will be able to make contact with you. There is a whale in the ocean right now whose mind is open to speaking with your mind. There is a dolphin, an elephant, a bear right now milling about in their environment who, just like any neighbor, would be receptive to holding a conversation with you. If you have a cat or dog companion it will be easy for you to accept this concept. But even if you do not live with an animal, you can start to understand that we do live with the animals. There may be a spider eying you right now. An owl may have watched how you walked home from its domain. The minds of animals are open to commune with our minds. And all minds are connected. Through free writing, drumming, and vision journeys we can learn how to establish meaningful connections to our creature relatives. That is the practice of Spirit Animal Medicine and the beginning of the study of Shamanism.
Earth is an enormous, multi-dimensional being who includes everything and everyone within and upon her. In this one world, there are countless other worlds, other dimensions to discover. The spider’s web, the hummingbird’s nest, the badger’s burrow are just a few of the worlds we can visit when we engage in Spirit Animal Studies. Animal Spirit Guides are teachers of how to enter other dimensions and release or retrieve what we need to help us find deeper peace in our lives.
Our animal relatives live simultaneously here with us in the 3rd dimension as well as in their own dimension of origin with their own language and priorities. Their world is a whole other world than the one we know. Working with Spirit Animals teaches us how to explore this world of many, many worlds.
The human spirit is made to travel. For the past 150 thousand years, our evolution has been focused on obtaining a physical body most conducive to travel and exploration. We have achieved a stunningly mobile and industrious form. The new frontier for human evolution is with our minds and our imaginations. Validating the imagination as real is the beginning of a personal shamanic practice.
We do not need a shaman to guide us to our own shamanic abilities. We can converse with Spirit Animals at any time. We need only take the time to do so. Animals will never speak to us in English or any verbal language. They can only ever reach us through our willingness to open our imagination to them.
It is not a random coincidence that many of our movies feature crows and ravens as an element of mystery, danger, and intrigue. That is the Crow and Raven nations finding their way into human stories. It is no coincidence that cartoons feature animals, making many of them, like the Mouse, or the Coyote quite famous. The power of those icons comes from the power of the spirit animal nations who are quite literally making an effort to reach us.
How to find the messages brought by Spirit Animal Guides
When we meet an animal in our life’s journey, we are meeting a teacher who is asking us to consider some new aspect of our current situation. To help you discover on your own what an animal visitor might be saying to you, here are a few questions to ask yourself about the animal you’ve encountered. Grab a pen and notebook and follow these steps:
- Make simple observations about the animal’s design. How does this animal use its feet? Does it even have feet? Does it have eight feet? What does this animal eat? Does it hunt, forage, or graze? What element is this animal associated with? Does it live in water? Air? Dirt? Does it have fur? Scales? Write a list of obvious statements- really obvious- things like- “It has wings.” or “It weaves a web.”
- Make a list of all the pop-culture knowledge you have about the animal. Is it famous like Mickey Mouse? Does it have a significant feature or signature attribute like spider’s infinite thread and weaving or whales subsonic singing, or bat’s sonar vision? What is this animal most known for? Does she burry nuts? Hibernate? Totally transform into another creature entirely? All these forms of expression are telling you something very literal.
- Using the lists above, ask yourself how the energy of those descriptions and features apply to some aspect of your life at this time. How is the quality of these attributes relevant to a issue at hand? Are you hibernating? Are you weaving a web of intrigue or connections? Or have you woven yourself into a sticky situation? Is someone burrowing into your space?Is it time to take flight and lift up to higher ground? Or maybe it’s time to land…
Working with Spirit Animals is an exercise in free association. You may feel reluctant to engage in this activity because it feels like you are “just making it up.” But how else can the animals reach you if you do not open your imagination to them? The ability to free associate ideas, images, and messages is the skills that Shaman’s learn. You can learn them too. Empower your imagination and commune with nature with simple observations. Then apply those observations to a situation in your life. Extrapolate, personify, and let your imagination roam free.
Working with Spirit Animal Totems is the art of conversation and creative connection. What energy is needed in your life at this time? Has the Hawk come with its talons? Or is the mouse hiding in the walls?
For inspiration and suggestions on what any animal visitors may be saying to you, here is an Animal Spirit Totem blog for your reference. I hope the ideas presented here help to generate your own ideas about what your animal encounters may mean. Every message brought by an animal is unique and ever-changing. There is no way to discover once and for all what an animal “means” in the same way we can never discover what our sister or our best friend “means.”
The desire to reconnect to our natural wisdom within and a willingness to grow still and silent is all the guidance we need. Here is a library of Spirit Animal Guide messages to offer suggestions about what an animal visitor might be telling you. We hope these articles help you discover your own way of communing with all our relatives on Earth. Here is a demonstration on how to discover the message of a visiting Spirit Animal
Aho! Mitakuye oyasin!
For all our relations…