We all had a favorite animal, whether that was a classic “teddy” bear or something else. Perhaps we wished that we could, or imagined we were able to, talk to them and hear their replies in a language that we miraculously shared.
Over time, that affinity sometimes shrinks, often stays, always changes. Some people spend their lives preferring the company of animals to that of people. (Are you one of them?)
As we mature, new perspectives open to us.
But as we mature and begin to think more consciously about the spiritual side of our existence, the possibilities in animals as spirit guides or helpers becomes clearer, as well. This was the subject of one of my recent podcasts, in which I shared something about my own introduction to the concept of a power animal, and the ways I have learned to call them in.
Learn to Observe
When we talk about the state of being open to something, a fundamental aspect of that state is learning to be observant.
We are, all the time, surrounded by beauty, by mystery, by strength and potential and inspiration. Yet, whether we actually see this is another matter.
Life–busy, distracting, demanding, and also always surrounding us–gets in the way of itself. But once we begin to observe, we begin to notice, and when we are noticing what is around us, that is when the spirits that are trying to get our attention are able to begin filtering through. Your power animal may be there already, in the periphery of your vision, in odd and coincidental appearances…perhaps you dreamed of a whale one night, and the next day see a different image of a different whale on one of your social media feeds. Over the next few days, you notice that whales are appearing with astonishing regularity. Is this a power animal, your power animal, trying to swim into your life? Undoubtedly so!
At other times, the approach of your power animal may not be so clear, or, you may need to become more proactive about calling it in – or back in.
Call in Your Power Animal
You can do this by reminding yourself that it is your intention to find yours and have a relationship with it. Invent for yourself a meditation or visualization that will help bring it to you. Sit by an open window in your mind’s eye, look out at the landscape, and wait to see what walks through. In either event, the power you need comes in, on paw or claw, by wing or fin.
Finding and connecting with this creature is the first part of your relationship with it, but the next thing is to decide what the animal means to you at this time in your life. This is usually the first and most pressing question people have when they learn any new system of spiritual work: what do any of these symbols mean? Culturally, of course, there are some meanings ascribed to individual animals that carry across populations and are generally agreed upon. But even these meanings change radically across societies. The figure of the dragon illustrates this very well. In Western cultures, dragons are evil: bad-tempered, miserly assassins who rampage the countryside and terrorize the residents unlucky enough to live nearby. But in Chinese thought, dragons are great good luck. They are power, authority, enthusiasm and determination. They overcome obstacles and bring needed rain. When I see a dragon represented in Chinese art, it always seems to be smiling, while European artists prefer to show dragons being slain.
The point is, you are likely to find vastly different meanings ascribed to any animal, depending on where you look.
The popular book Animal Speak by Ted Andrews is widely consulted, and you can consider it, or something like it, as a starting point if you want to reference how other people have perceived your power animal. But ultimately, figuring out what it means to you–and in particular, to the set of life circumstances that have brought this animal to you in the first place–is down to you.
So look deep within, and think first about what associations you yourself have with this creature. For instance, fox might mean liminality, given the in-between spaces they inhabit; elephant may make you think of the fierce protection of motherhood; or you might associate snake with the transmission of knowledge. (BTW, when I was doing soul retrieval work, one of my clients received elephant and the mother energy was palpable in the session; shortly following the soul and power animal retrieval, not surprisingly, my client became a fierce new momma to a healthy baby and the trajectory of her life changed completely!)
But it is up to you to uncover these deeper meanings, and in a world where we may be accustomed to other people telling us how to think and interpret, this can be both a scary and an exhilarating experience. It is how you develop both your own intuitive powers, and the ability to decide what is right or wrong for you, based on that inner knowing. This is also how you figure out what it is you need, what might be lacking or moving in the wrong way in your own life, which was the thing that brought this power animal to you in the first place.
And remember to look after it, the way you look after anything else in your life you care about. Your power animal, part helper, part guide, part teacher, is as real as anything in objective reality. The relationship will flourish for as long as you take care of it; when the time comes for your power animal to move away from you again, you will understand the wisdom of that, as well.