"A human being is part of the whole, called by us 'Universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest - a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." Albert Einstein 1950
Primitive man was much closer to the others sharing his world than modern man is today. He lived in harmony learning from his animal brothers as he journeyed through life. He honored the seasons and respected the natural world, a small harmonious part of the environment finding spirituality in the depths of nature as he attuned to energies that opened doors to the astral and the realms beyond.
As modern men we can tap into this well of knowledge by reconnecting to the natural world,opening to its wisdom and acknowledging the signs that show up. Totems come to us in the psychical world to offer encouragement or grant a needed answer. Some act as helpers or guardians, avatars that aid us on our spiritual evolution. These helpers take the form of an animal spirit, appearing in our daily routines, dreams, or during meditation to impart information to expedite our spiritual evolution.
Some totems come to us as teachers, to speak to us through signs and synchronicities in an attempt to communicate life lessons, a reflection of our innermost essence representing the qualities we need to thrive in the world. Jung called these figures Archetypes or primordial symbols of the collective unconscious citing that they were a constant truth found throughout the world, a part of a group mind, knowledge embedded in the very DNA of our species. He taught that archetypes and symbols were a way of organizing this information to understand ourselves, those in our community, and the world around us. If we accessed this inherent wisdom in a conscious way, that transformation and healing would occur with the gaining of a broadened understanding of ourselves.
Archetypes reveal themselves to our consciousness through symbols: The buffalo turning up again and again, the cloud of butterflies that whirls by, the humming bird hovering at nose level. When an animal appears repeatedly or in unusual circumstances, it is not appearing as a single animal, but carrying the message of the entire species, a magic of life that our ancient teachers have bid us to see, energies that speak to us through signs and synchronicities. If you are present and aware you may hear their message.
How do you do this? It simple. Pay attention to the people, places and things you encounter day to day. Don't discount things you happen to come across. If something stands out, take note of it. You will be surprised at what you are missing simply because you have not allowed yourself to remain aware. Treat each encounter as if it offers a valid message. Don't discount the message just because you don't understand it. Often times these messages come in the symbol of an animal and if you recognize the message, the means for its interpretation will also show up. This is synchronicity at work. Carl Jung wrote, 'Synchronicity reveals the meaningful connections between the subjective and objective world,' implying coincidences can bring personal insights.
Though I live in the middle of a city I have had encounters with actual animals that were sent as messengers to give me the assurance I needed at that moment. I have crossed paths with a great horned owl, a coyote, a toad and a pair of ducks. Other times the image of the animal messenger repeatedly turned up. And each time I recognized the encounter as a message, I received words that eased or aided my journey at that time.
Great Horned Owl - Be fearless and ferocious when working toward your goal. Look to what is not being said.
Coyote - Lighten up and look for solutions in the turmoil you are experiencing,.
Toad - This is a volatile period of change. A new you will emerge.
Duck - This is a time of fertility, the turmoil has passed. Take comfort instead of denying your needs.
This has been a year of change for me and my family and it has taken a lot of faith to let go of the old and go through the opening doors. This week we reached a critical point and I had trouble letting go of my fears but the universe was there for me and kept presenting me with the sign of a buffalo: first on a quarter in my dryer, then on a quarter on the floor of my car, then on a wrapper of jerky that fell out of a kitchen cabinet. It took three times before I realized that I was being given a message. When I went to decipher the message, I read, 'Trust that you'll always have whatever you need. Focus on being grateful. Have faith in the natural abundance of life.' This was the perfect message for me in that moment.
Meet Your Totem
As you go about your day, pay attention to the world around you. To open your eyes and acknowledge the sacred you encounter in your daily life. Pay attention to what catches your eye or ear. Don't worry about what it means, just notice. If you are able, jot the thing that you notice down and look for patterns. Don't dismiss those intuitive hunches and always ask questions. What are you trying to show me? What is the message I am supposed to be receiving? What is the lesson I am supposed to be learning? What do I need to know? And most importantly be open for the answer.
If an immediate answer doesn't come to you then look it up. Research the symbolism. If you still are unsure then meditate on the sign. Meditation quiets the mind and increases your vibration, both necessary for increased intuition. The easiest way to do this is to sit comfortably in a quite room and allow your mind to become blank. Relax as you slowly and deeply inhale, then exhale. Now visualize a giant blank screen as you breathe. As you relax see the curtain before the screen draw back. Now visualize the symbol and wait or mentally ask your question. Take note of any images or sounds or any feeling your experience. You will either: hear the answer, see it in your mind's eye, get a feeling about the answer, or simply know the answer.
Keep a journal of your findings and note any reoccurring patterns. Patterns are one way to decipher our intuitive voice. (Such as encountering the sign of the buffalo throughout the day.) Guides come in many forms. An animal totem is a power animal that acts as a spiritual guardian offering messages from the natural world. Animal totems can change through the course of your life as your needs change.
You can meet your totem animal through a vision quest or meditation. When you do find your guide then do some research on the animal you've connected with and find out why that particular creature has attached itself to you.
Meditation to meet your Totem Animal
Set aside about a half an hour for this exercise. Find a peaceful place where you will be allowed to be completely calm and undisturbed for the entire session. When you're ready, sit quietly with your eyes closed and your palms face up in your lap. State your objective. 'I want to meet my totem animal.' or 'Reveal to me the face of my guiding spirit. In this moment, I accept the message of this guiding spirit' or simply 'Show me what I am searching for.'
Do a simple ground and center as you breath out to the count of three, pausing to the count of three and in again to the slow count of three. When you are relaxed, visualize on the screen of your mind that you are sitting on a couch in a room with an elevator. You notice that the doors of the elevator are made of shining chrome. It draws your attention and you rise from the couch and walk towards the elevator. Your shoes click on the tile floor as you cross the room. You notice your reflection growing larger as you approach the reflective doors. The elevator opens and you step inside. The floor indicator shows you are on the 10th level. The lower floors are numbered chronologically below. You look at the elevator keypad and push a button to send the elevator down. The doors close. You feel the elevator move as it begins to descend. You feel the vibration in the floor as you move downward. After awhile, the elevator stops and a bell chimes as the doors slide open.You gaze out at the lower world and take note of what you see. If this level does not feel right to you, then stay on the elevator and push the button to descend to another level.
Continue on your journey until you find the level you are looking for...one that feels comfortable to step out in to.When you come to the level that feels right, step out.
Take note of the path you are on. Is it sandy? Is it paved? Take note of as many details as you can as you move forward. Move forward until you find a place to rest. Sit down and relax and wait until something approaches or shows itself to you.You may ask it questions though it may not answer. When you are ready to return to your previous state of consciousness reverse the process by going back to the elevator and taking it back up to the room with the couch. Sit back down on the couch. Take a deep breath and wiggle your fingers and toes then slowly open your eyes.
The first time I tried this meditation I descended several floors until the doors opened on a forest path. I walked the path and as I went deeper into the woods the trees became older and older until the trees I passed under were huge and ancient, flanked by ferns that stood to my shoulder and twining vines that covered the ground. I walked on until I came to a clearing where I found a stone that made an inviting bench and I sat down. I waited until a creature came to greet me. After awhile, small snake slithered up to where I sat.
Honor the animal that has shown itself to you even if it does not seem a likely totem. It may not stay in your life as a guardian, but it has shown up with something to teach you. Listen to its message. You may find the answer you were looking for.