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Hey! Where did all my Power Animals Go?
When I first started journeying my teacher at the time was very adamant that I forge a strong bond with my power animals. I still very much agree that this is a incredibly important first step on one's shamanic path. The Spirit World is infinite and because of its very nature difficult to navigate safely without a guide. There are many folds, dimensions and archetypes that exist there that are not in and of themselves 'bad', but are easy places to get lost without a road map. The guides that we take on as allies exist in the Spirit World for that purpose--so if you are reading this piece and have not been practicing journeying for too long, keep on strengthening your relationship with your guides! But also please keep reading, because there is something important that you need to know about who they are.
About a year and a half ago I began to notice that my two main power animals would come around less and less in my journeys and in client sessions or workshops. When they did appear it was for a brief moment and seemed faint. It was harder for me to grasp their image, and I began to worry. All of my teachers in the shamanic realms, both corporeal and not stressed the importance of these alliances. How could I go on as a shamanic practitioner and lead workshops about finding power animals and spirit guides if I was not myself in daily communication with my own? What did it mean when the landscape of my journeys began to shift away from the rationally constructed milieu of my lower and upper worlds to a less organized format? I was still getting messages from Spirit, sure--but I had made a direct connection in my brain about the presence of power animals and MY power. My biggest fear was that without their daily presence I would lose my power. This shook me deep down to my core.
As within, so without--As above, so below. Have you heard this phrase before? It reminds us that our inner world is reflected by our outer world. That you cannot remove one pieces of the great web of life without effecting the whole. Or that Great Spirit is everywhere and in all things. This phrase carries deep wisdom and has taught me the following lessons about where all my power animals went.
The first is that I was never separate from 'my' power animals. I AM my power animals. When we first venture into the spiritual realms and are awakening our energy body to the infinite universe, it is a jarring experience. All of us have to shed deeply engrained conditioning and heal trauma that is impossible to touch alone. So we need to project our ability to heal outside of our self so that we can understand it. Our power animals are projections of our own powers. They are not separate from us, they come from us--by us--for our own healing; when we are new to the practice we simply can't see it. It would be too unbelievable. [note: I am talking about power animals, not animal medicine--animal medicine is a different discussion altogether].
The second teaching that I learned was that the truth above does not diminish the importance of forming such a strong bond with our allies. Projections of our own strength or not, they serve as potent reminders to us that we have power. When we sit a difficult healing process we often lose touch with our power, but if we form a strong bond with it in the Spirit World and anchor the metaphor as real in altered states of consciousness then we free that power to act on its own accord for our healing when we cannot access it through the pain of the healing process.
There is additional importance in projecting our power into an spirit animal when we work as practitioners. It is usually safer for clients to release energy into objects like stones (they are people too!), feathers and other sacred power objects, then it is to release directly into the room or into the practitioner (heavily frowned upon and discouraged in fact). Power objects are a reflection of our power just as power animals are, so by using them in sessions after we have imbued them with our power we are essentially using the projections of our power as healing tools for others.
To conclude, the big take away for me from these lessons is that as practitioners walking a shamanic path one of the main core teachings that we are charged with is to be bridges for others. We are to have one foot firmly rooted in each world so that we can act as clear channels for our healing, the earths healing and her childrens' healing. To do that we need to work to integrate as much of the raw materials we receive as gifts, messages and guides from the Spirit World as possible so that we can carry them with us wherever we go. So to bring this back around to power animals--my power animals have not disappeared. I have integrated them into my state of being such that seeing them is no longer necessary to prove their existence to me. I walk with them every day because I walk every day. I understand now that they always have been me and therefore can NEVER leave me. Integrating this truth has been an incredible acknowledgement of the power that each of us contain to unlock great healing in ourselves and others.
I express deep gratitude to Great Spirit for these teachings!
About the author:
Andy earned his Masterís degree in Integrative Health at the California Institute of Integral Studies in May, 2013. He is a certified Wellness Coach, Shamanic Practitioner, and Reiki Master teacher. He currently lives and works in Michigan with his partner and young daughter. He focuses his healing approach on helping others connect with their true life path with the assistance of helping spirits, guides, and nature. Andy is also passionate about assisting others in developing their spirituality and using it as a wellness tool.