My Power Animals
Some refer to them as totems, totem animals, spirit guides, animal guides, etc. I simply call them power animals. There are several definitions and uses to distinguish. I learned several, but to me my power animals are always with me. In meditations they accompany and/or guide me. I can ask them questions, or to bring me somewhere or to someone.
I want to share with you how I met my power animals. I know a person can have temporary power animals too, but at the moment I have two permanent ones with me.
Years ago I was at a workshop with Gavin Bone (author, lecturer and Wiccan High Priest). He guided us in a wonderful meditation to find our power animal. Gavin has a talent and great voice for guided meditations, so it was quite easy for me to get into it. Along the path we followed I felt a presence next to me that felt very familiar and reassuring. I didn’t pay much attention to it. At a certain point Gavin told me to look around and see if there was an animal that caught my attention. I didn’t see anything, but I felt the presence that was next to me bump into me! I looked and noticed a beautiful black panther staring at me. I thought: ‘no, not you Bagheera! You’ve been with me like forever…’ She sighed and gave me a look that said: duh…! Suddenly I realised I’ve had a power animal all of my life. As a child the panther had been my ‘imaginary friend’ and I called her Bagheera (after The Jungle Book of course). She never left and I loved her presence, but didn’t do anything with her anymore. The meditation was a great way to get reacquainted. From that moment on we work great together.
Black panther’s power includes astral travel, guardian energy, symbol of the feminine, death and rebirth, understanding of death, reclaiming ones power, ability to know the dark, aggressiveness and power without solar influence, reclaiming power.
An anecdote about a black panther and me… Long ago I was in the Frankfurter Zoo with Ron, my husband (then boyfriend). Of course I had to visit the cats. From some distance I noticed a black panther and ran towards it. I was able to approach the cage up until the fence, about 50cm from the cage. I followed the leopard with my eyes and spoke softly to him (or her). Suddenly he stood still and pricked up his ears. He turned and walked right at me. I kept whispering soothing words. We had eye contact and after a while he sat down. Without any hesitation I wiggled my hand through one of the bigger openings in the cage. He moved his head towards it, sniffed and licked my hand. Slowly, very carefully, I stroked under his chin. He nuzzled against my hand and I continued to pet whatever part I could reach. Then he gave me another lick on my hand, stood up and walked away calmly. It was such a magical moment… I thanked him and looked over my shoulder to look for Ron. He was standing some meters away with the big cats’ keeper. The man had stopped him from calling me and walking to me. He said it was a very stupid thing to do, but he had also noticed the magic between me and the animal. Only at that moment I realised what I had done and started crying. I don’t think I will ever pull a stunt like that again, but I wouldn’t want to have missed this magical experience for anything!
Three years ago I attended a seidr-themed workshop about divination / oracle “under the mantle” in Amsterdam. Útiseta literally means “sitting outside” and ‘sitja á haugi’ means “sitting on a burial mound”. The practitioner or ‘vala’ retreated to a place in nature, covered herself with a mantle, blanket or animal skin and just sat there. Singing and praying she tried to get into contact with the dead (ancestors) to seek information and/or advice. We tried it ourselves. At first I didn’t feel comfortable at all covering myself. I struggled to find the right position for me. Then suddenly I found it and I surrendered myself. After a while I encountered an unexpected ‘guest’. Next to me a polar bear showed up and offered to be my power animal. He said I needed him in that time of my life and he’d be happy to help me. Wow… I was flabbergasted and didn’t really know what to say… I never heard of someone getting a power animal this way before, but of course I was as honoured as I was surprised.
Although it felt wonderful to have him with me, it took some time to get to know each other. After a while I asked him whether I could give him a name and he agreed with Knut, in honour of a famous but unlucky polar bear that had just died.
Polar bear’s power includes the ability to navigate along the earth’s magnetic lines, introspection, ability to find sustenance in barren landscapes, purity of spirit, strength in the face of adversity, solitude, expert swimmer through emotional waters, finding one’s way back from the brink, communication with Spirit, dreams, death and rebirth, transformation, creature of dreams, shamans, mystics and visionaries, defense and revenge.
Of course my power animals have their own place on my altar
I feel very privileged with those two magnificent companions. A major theme in my life has always been (and still is) balance and even my power animals are balanced: black-white, male-female.
To honour my power animals, I try to do a little extra for their real-life family members. I adopted a black panther called Bagheera (coincidence doesn’t exist…) at Big Cat Rescue, a non-profit educational wildlife sanctuary in Tampa, Florida that gives a home to unwanted, abandoned or abused exotic big cats. Bagheera died in 2010 at the age of 21, but I continue to support BCR in the great work they still do.
I haven’t found a way to support an individual polar bear yet (although I might symbolically adopt one at WWF) but I support the survival of the species any way I can. Their Arctic habitat is endangered and that worries me…
I’d love to hear how you met your power animal(s) and how you work with them.
Links & sources:
· Homepage Gavin Bone & Janet Farrar – http://www.callaighe.com/
· Power animals, totems & spirit guides – http://www.shamanicjourney.com/display-category/100-0-30/power_animals_totems_spirit_guides
· About Knut, the polar bear – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knut_(polar_bear)
· Big Cat Rescue – http://bigcatrescue.org/
· Bagheera’s tribute at BGR – https://sites.google.com/site/bigcattributes/home/bagheera-black-leopard
· WWF adopt-a-species – http://gifts.worldwildlife.org/gift-center/gifts/Species-Adoptions.aspx