By Sara Violante, July 2018
While practicing Shamanic Journey meditation for nearly two decades, I’ve come across, and worked with, countless power animals. I’ve been so grateful for their care. They have seen me through some of life’s most challenging times. Each has offered a unique perspective allowing me to rise above the chaos of intense emotion. Their insight has helped me to synthesize important information more clearly, make better decisions, and lend my support in a loving and healthy way to those around me. They have offered their love, affection, and humor.
When I work with clients, power animals often come forward to be introduced. I let the client know this powerful spirit ally – that is showing itself to us in animal form – is there and offering to work with them. Though I run through how to work with, honor, and partner with these spirits, I sometimes get the sense that they are being treated as an interesting or fun tidbit of information (like knowing your birthstone), instead of a potential relationship to be developed, nurtured, and treasured.
When we practice Shamanic Journey meditation we seek spiritual wellness and connection. We are usually in a state of asking (for help, for health, for wisdom, for strength, etc.). Power Animals expect this, but like any relationship, it shouldn’t be all one sided. These are loving and giving spirits, but an unbalanced relationship is always less than it could be.
If you practice Shamanic Journey meditation yourself, which I encourage, you can communicate directly with your power animal. This by far is the best way to form a bond. The simple act of asking your power animal what you can do to honor it or what you can offer it in return is often overlooked. Simply ask and then follow through! You can also Journey to visit the animal simply to spend time with it, without an agenda, much like you would do with a close friend or loved one.
If you don’t practice Journey Meditation (and also if you do) there are a number of other ways to honor and form a relationship with your power animal in ordinary reality (aka the tangible world of our everyday lives). First and foremost, if you are able to observe your power animal in its natural habitat (not a zoo), then do so. Observation can impart deep wisdom and knowledge about the kind of gifts, strengths, and habits that your spirit animal has to offer. Direct observation isn’t always possible, for example if the animal is exotic, extinct, or even mythical. In these cases, do some research. Look at photographs or videos of the animal. Reflect on their habits and habitats.
You can also practice merging, in ordinary reality, with your power animal. Merging in ordinary reality is the act of holding the animal in your mind as you experience the world around you. In this way the animal gets to experience some of the beauty of our world through us and it is a loving way to give back. Go for a walk in nature – even a park will do – and offer the sights and sounds of nature to your power animal. If that is not possible, simply breathing in fresh air, snuggling under a warm, soft blanket, listening to music, or other pleasant experiences can be shared with your power animal. If you are an artist, create something to honor them and let their inspiration guide you through the process.
And finally, a word about the numerous books on the market that present the meanings and wisdom of power animals. There are some decent books out there. It is fun to read the “meaning” or “gifts” associated with power animals but, much like dream dictionaries, one size does not fit all. Symbols and qualities have different connotations based on our life experiences and attitudes. Power animals are also not one dimensional beings. There is a lot they have to offer and one “skill” or characteristic may or may not be as significant for one person as it is for another. Explore these books, but let them be a starting point only. Often something of interest will jump out from the descriptions. Diving in and doing deeper research is a way to honor this important spirit ally.