Updated: Jul 28, 2020
We are animals, but sometimes we forget this. Fortunately, there are animals around who know who they are and can remind of our own divine Animal Nature. In the US the average person spends very little time outdoors. This deprives us of our sense of self, or sense of our natural self. And of course, we are not likely to meet many animals if we are not where they are.
Whether you are interacting with domestic or wild animals, they can open your hearts and minds in a way that nothing else can. This is because they are connected to their spirit, so interacting with them can connect you in deeper ways. Sometimes animals will cross our paths, and even a chance encounter can change us -- if we are willing to be touched. All animals communicate, they just may be communicating in a way our hearts are not yet open to. Occasionally, we have an encounter with an animal that changes us completely. Sometimes this is a physical encounter, other times it can be in a dream or a meditation, in a Shamanic Journey, or in a moment in nature. These are often animals that have a message for us, which may be symbolic or literal. But we will have to have a very quiet mind in order to hear and feel this truth.
If an animal has caught your attention, whether or not you have met this animal physically, chances are, it has the potential to be an important "Soul-Shifting" encounter. Is it simply a message about archetypal energy that you need in your life? Or is this a domesticated animal that seeks to enter your life? This is the time to listen and to deeply trust your intuition. Logic is a very valuable aspect of our brains, but when it comes to clarity and connection with animals, this is the time to trust your inner knowing. The animal has come to help you know your own truth -- which is your real power.
Sometimes an Animal Messenger comes to you to share something deeply personal. They can be guiding you, protecting you, or inviting you to reconnect with nature and your inner truth. If this happens, I recommend paying attention! Animal Messengers only come to people who are willing to listen, and if you disregard the deeper meaning, they may not bother to come again, or for a long time.
If you are lucky enough to go to an environment that has wild animals, that is wonderful -- but if that isn't possible, don't let that stop you. There are animals everywhere, in shelters, in rescues, and in people's homes. Even a profound encounter with a domesticated animal can lead you home to your heart.
For me, I had such an encounter with a rescue horse named Miss Betsy. She had a horrendous past, forced to be a drug runner, where they tie all their legs together to keep them from escaping. She had been terrified of people, dogs, anything that moved. I had been working with Miss Betsy in a rescue sanctuary for a few months. One day, we were just sitting together, as I was letting her chomp from the stacks of hay piled up in the barn. At some point, she stopped eating and came right in front of me and looked me in the eyes so deeply, with such gentle power, that I literally almost fell off my chair because the energy was so pure. I felt like she was saying "Thank you," for all we had done together, and for all the work I would do with animals. Miss Betsy is now in the spirit realm, and I believe she is watching over me.
Native and Indigenous Spiritual Wisdom – Exploration of “Power Animals”
Native Americans and other Indigenous cultures were intimately connected with animals. In some cultures, such as the Mushuau Innu First Nations of Canada, the hunter would pray and ask the animal for permission to hunt before setting out. If this important step was not followed, it was believed that the animal would not surrender itself, and misfortune for the village would ensue.
In many Native American practices, all animals were considered sacred, each species carrying its own special wisdom and power. Connecting with one's personal power animal was considered essential for protection, guidance, and spiritual well-being. There are many books, such as Animal Wise by Ted Andrews that can help you gain insight into the knowledge gifts of each animal. It can be useful to use a resource to peak into the mysteries of animal spirits. But I always recommend doing your own journey as a Jaguar can represent reclaiming your personal power, but the Jaguar can have different meanings for different people.
Some power animals are with you for life, for eternity, and others may come just for a time, or just a moment. Cultivate this relationship and it will change you in every way. Some of the longing that you feel in life, is not something another person can deliver. Sometimes we long for connection, communication with our spirit guide animals who have been with us for longer than we can remember. Sometimes people will say "Even as a child, I always was drawn to elephants." This might be a clue that Elephants are important, and present, and you can connect with the spirit of elephants to get guidance for everyday life. Remember that this relationship is private and intimate, and you don't necessarily want to share this with people who don't understand, as they may cause you doubt or underplay the importance of this most primal connection.
Every encounter you have with an animal, whether it is on the physical or spiritual level has significance. It may not be obvious at first if you are not used to talking to animals. If a street pigeon stops to connect with you for a moment, it is not an accident! Be grateful for any encounter, and offer gratitude to this being who has chosen to notice you. This will help you connect with your deeper inner-knowing, the lovely animal that is you.
As Chief Dan George (Tsleil-Waututh Nation, British Columbia, Canada) said, “If you talk to the animals, they will talk with you, and you will know each other.”\
This video below features Gerry Starnes, from Austin Texas, a Shamanic practitioner and author discussing the different types of spirit animals.
Genie Joseph, PhD
Director: The Human-Animal Connection