Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. --Job 12:7-8
Shamans and indigenous cultures have long been familiar with the concept of animal guides. Animal guides are represented by animal forms, and provide information, guidance, and protection. Some people use the words animal totems and power animals interchangeably, but according to Dr. Steven Farmer in his book Power Animals - How To Connect With Your Animal Spirit Guides, there is a subtle difference.
Totem animals are usually asssociated with groups, such as a tribal totem, clan totem, or family totem. Even contemporary cultures have totem animals, such as those for sports teams (e.g. Toronto Blue Jays), or clubs and societies (such as the Lions Club).
Power animals, however, are personal and specific. Like totem animals, they are guardian spirits who empower us. Yet, power animals have a unique and highly personal relationship with the individual, leading the way through non-ordinary reality. Power animals can be contacted through meditation, dreams, visions, and shamanic journeys. They can also appear in physical form, bearing an omen or message--depending on the context of the sighting, how often it appears, and how it is behaving.
The book Power Animals describes the three realms of non-ordinary reality--and the plane where power animals reside--the four channels of spiritual perception, and how to honor your power animal. Farmer gives a summary of 36 different power animals, including a channeled message from each, qualities of the animal, what it means when a particular animal is your personal power animal, when to ask for this animal's help, and how to access it's power. He acknowledges that his summaries aren't exhaustive, and there are other power animals that exist--including imaginary ones like dragons and unicorns.
Included with this book is a CD featuring guided meditations, with a run-time of 65:53. The first three featuring drumming with a particular rhythm, the fourth has a similar rhythm using a rattle, and the fifth offers a unique type of rhythm and sound using the didgeridoo and click sticks. The drumming and rattling are at the rate of 4 to 7 beats per second, which is the same rhythm that shamans use to induce a trance state in order to do their work.
Track 1: Journey To Retrieve Your Power Animal
Track 2: Guided Meditation Journey For Divination
Track 3: Self-Directed Shamanic Journey With Drum
Track 4: Self-Directed Shamanic Journey With Rattle
Track 5: Self-Directed Shamanic Journey With Didgeridoo
Personally, there are several birds and animals that I've identified with over the years--animals that gave me great wisdom. However, I never really felt that I connected with them as a power animal. (Of course, I didn't really try to establish a relationship, either.) I approached the process with an open mind, and listened to Track 1 which is a guided meditation to help you find and retrieve your power animal.
Farmer's soothing voice led me down into the earth and out into a place where I was to watch for animals that crossed my path. One could imagine a forest, mountain, desert, beach, ocean, and so on, and I was surprised that my visualization actually shifted between all of these terrains. Quite a few animals, including sea creatures and birds, crossed my path--but Farmer says to be on the lookout for the animal that appears four times.
I was quite surprised that a creature did, in fact, come to me four times. Most surprisingly, however, was that it was a creature I did not expect. As I "retrieved" this beautiful creature with Farmer's guidance, I felt a sacred joy and reverence fill my being--and tears welled up in my eyes.
After coming out of the meditation and reading about my power animal, I had to chuckle. It made such sense to me! In fact, in a personality system I have studied, my particular personality is often associated with this particular creature. Even the keyword for my power animal is reflected strongly in my astrological chart!
If you're looking for a simple but profound way for discovering your own personal power animals, I highly recommend this book and CD from Dr. Steven Farmer.
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