HJ: Discovering your spiritual power animal is an incredible potent, ancient way to connect more deeply with yourself, who you are and the natural world. Power animals are archetypal and have much to teach us about ourselves, our strengths and our own innate wisdom. They also act as guides and usually show up in our lives in synchronistic ways.
Own Your Animal: Find your power animal to guide yourself to greater expression
By Stacey L. L. Couch | Wild Gratitude
We believe that we are separate from our animal guides. Our perceived separation from power animals is a reflection of how we think we’ve taken ourselves out of nature. We can’t be apart from nature any more than we can live without air or water. Power animals are an expression of who we are. Our power animals are already with us guiding our way on a moment-to-moment basis in the same way that our soul is always there talking to us. To hear the guidance we must debunk the key myths and dispel a few dangerous fears.
Debunking the myths
My power animal has to come in a special ceremony – I’ve seen power animals connect in the most mundane and the most astounding of circumstances. Just as there’s no single path to God, there’s no one way to relate with an animal guide.Mouse came to me while live trapping hundreds of mice for a scientific study. It was an inglorious job of repeatedly setting and checking traps, weighing mice, tagging their ears, determining their gender and setting them free. Deer power animal made her presence known to me through a life purpose journey a shamanic practitioner performed on my behalf. A wild mountain lion came to me on a riverbank while I was all alone. We stood eye to eye for many moments before she quietly walked back into the woods. There’s no special ceremony needed, just contact that leads to consistent interaction.
Someone else needs to retrieve my power animal for me – Of all the beliefs around power animals this is the most limiting. Beware of the expert healer that tells you that the only way you will receive a power animal is through their ability. This is an invitation to hand your power over to someone else. Ultimately, we all need to practice discernment and decide for ourselves how we’re going to connect with divine guides. I’m an adamant proponent of direct revelation. I believe that we have more abilities than we give ourselves credit for, including the ability to claim our own power animals.
I only get one power animal – I’m not sure where this one came from, but I know a lot of people live under this illusion. As the beneficiary of a community of dozens of power animals, this is a preposterous idea to me. Over and over in my years worth of work, I’ve seen a whole host of power animals flood in to assist people. They are eager to help and one never seems to do. This doesn’t mean that we don’t have stronger bonds with some animals over others; it just means that we don’t have to limit ourselves so severely. It would be akin to explaining who we are using just a single word. Once we understand that our entire future, healing, power, or identity doesn’t hinge on one animal, we’re much less afraid of what it will be.
Addressing our fears
What if my power animal is stupid, silly or weak? – Part of being human is worrying about what other people think of us. If we have what we think is a lame power animal we fear it will reflect poorly on us. Power animals mirror either what we have inside or what we need to build inside. The thing is, no power animal is stupid, silly or weak. That is our projection on them. When you take the time to pause and study the creature that’s come forward to help you, you have the grand opportunity to see what an amazing creature of God they are. The power in a mouse is their ability to see the details in life and this is a power that mouse calls us to embody. The power in skunk is to have our reputation precede us, in ant is to help us with hard work, and in beetle is to teach us about resurrection.
I’m afraid of snakes. What if that’s my power animal? – Many of us have animal phobias. Before I could walk, I was absolutely terrified of even the tiniest of spiders. Fear of an animal is common. Shifting that fear into a gift is not. To be able to face our fear and transmute it into a partnership is akin to the power of loving one’s enemies. This is one of the most potent of relationships with a power animal you can ever hope for. If you don’t feel like you’re ready for this kind of encounter, don’t fret. You can politely invite another animal into your life to help you get started. The animal spirits are often kind enough to oblige our idiosyncrasies. Be gentle with yourself in the process. You’ll get there someday.
What if I can’t SEE my power animal? – So often people are worried they won’t be able to envision their animal and then once they do they’re worried they’ve made it all up. I say don’t stress it. Over time the animal will show up enough times in absolutely unrelated ways that you won’t be able to dismiss their presence. You’ll see them in your dreams, in waking reality, and in photos and videos when you aren’t intending to look. People will bring them up in conversation without your prompting. Stay open to the countless ways these guides make their presence spontaneously known.
Name your power animal
Consider the animals that have drawn your attention since childhood – As children we role play and play with incarnate counterparts of our power animals. Some little girls gallop around and whinny like horses while others catch live snakes out in the fields. Other children pour over books about sea mammals while some have the opportunity to live in the company of deer or elk herds on their property.
What animals stand out to you – Evaluate what characters in mythology, novel, or story stand out to you and come back to mind over and over again. Timeless classics like My Friend Flicka, The Velveteen Rabbit, Never Cry Wolf and My Side of the Mountain capture the minds and hearts of children who have a deep, soul connection to the animals in these books. Whether your favourite story was a classic or not, pay attention to any animal protagonists that contributed to the plot.
Look for images of animals in your house – We unconsciously surround ourselves with images of our power animals. We’re intuitively drawn to them and can’t help but purchase the giant wall hanging of an eagle or choose the throw blanket covered in bears. Often people dismiss this way of identifying their power animals because it’s so obvious. Just because they’re right in front of you doesn’t make them any less valid. In fact, the presence of their images around you all day every day makes them more real.
Pay attention to your dreams – Recurring dreams with a certain animal are telling you that this is a power animal of yours. Even if an animal shows up in a dream once, their presence indicates that this animal has a message for you and incorporating them into your list of animal guides will prove beneficial.
Recall the real-life encounters with wild animals that baffle you to this day – Visits from incarnate complements of power animals can make a big impression on us. People tell me stories about encounters with wildlife that go back 20 or 30 years all the time. We remember these experiences because the interaction with the animal made an imprint on our soul. Journalling a list of these memories stretching back from yesterday to your childhood will open up the process entirely.
Now that you’ve come up with at least one (but hopefully more!) power animal, start watching for their presence in your world and learning about their lives. The more you can acquaint yourself with the animal, the better opportunity you have to embody the gifts they bring you.
Stacey L. L. Couch is a Certified Shamanic Practitioner, power animal publicist, and author of Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks. She empowers people with the ability to form a real connection with their own souls through the natural world. Stacey’s power animal interpretations can be found at www.wildgratitude.com.