The Medicine Way of the Natural World, Part One
Animals are everywhere on our planet with us. We've taken them into our homes as friends and we go out and look for them in nature just to enjoy and observe them. In shamanism or native medicine way teachings, animals are also helpers to us in very powerful ways.
Power animals can assist us with their energies or "medicines" if we choose to avail ourselves of them. We can find out which animals we are working with by "journeying" (working in non-ordinary reality and "retrieving" our power animals). Or we may get a reading from someone trained in this area. We may also discern for ourselves through the dream state, contemplation, meditation, or by doing our own card readings, which animals are working with us at the time, and which is our particular power ally.
Power animals often act as ambassadors to our spiritual growth. They are similar enough to us that we can relate and empathize with them. Once we make that connection, they may act as skilled teachers of perception. They feel our hearts and can align to our frequencies to show us lessons. Animals may appear to us in dreams or show up in our daily lives in a Variety of ways. By looking at these visitations in new ways, we can learn more about ourselves and our personal paths or purpose in life.
For example, whenever Raven medicine comes to me (i.e., I see a Raven in a particular way or one approaches me), I often feel that magic is afoot. The sighting of a raven could also be an omen for me, or a synchronous experience. In working with Raven, I learned the following information from the book, Animal Energies:
"There are many stories in Native cultures about the mystery and magic of this elusive black bird. Shamans know the power of an unexpected piercing sound in altering consciousness. Ravens exercise this power, emitting as they do, a variety of sounds, some quite piercing and startling. Ravens are associated with psychic abilities, and their feathers are sometimes used to aid clairvoyance. If Raven has flown into your life, you can be sure that something unusual will be happening, something out of the Void, from the Great Mystery. While you can't fully prepare for the mysterious, it is good to meet Raven not with fear, but rather with an appreciation for its magic."
If you are interested in working with animals in this way, or in finding out more about your animal guide or ally, there are many books and websites that offer valuable information. Readings can also be done using various animal card decks, a classic one being "Medicine Cards, the discovery of Power Through the Ways of Animals," by Jamie Sams and David Carson. A very informative book comes with the deck and can help guide you in an approach to discovering your animal allies.
Another way to work (and one that works well for me) is to tune in to the Deva of the kingdom YOU ARE working with or that has appeared to YOU -- it could be an animal, plant or mineral kingdom member -- and "download" the information about the animal, plant or rock directly from the inner planes.
Consider any animal in your search for meaning and instruction. Be open. Discover new ways of noticing all that enters your environment. Going out into the "wilds" and looking for animals is very useful, but also take notice of animals you see on TV or in magazines, or ones that unexpectedly pop into your mind upon hearing a sound or while you are involved in some activity. A good guideline is to note what "jumps out" at you.
Obviously, animals that are quite prevalent in an area might not be bringing a special message to you, but the way in which an animal appears could give a clue as to whether the visitation is an omen or synchronicity. For example, if two huge ravens walk right toward your car in the Wal-Mart parking lot (this has happened to me in Anchorage!), you may be dealing with Raven medicine. Also, don't limit the form that an animal may appear in; consider even a fish fillet in the grocery store.
An interesting form of animal medicine practice is the use of gemstone "fetishes" or carvings. These small animal figures are made by many cultures, though particularly well known are those made by the Zuni tribe of southwestern America. Using a fetish is a means of working with both animal medicine and rock or mineral medicine.
Enjoy your adventures with animals, your inner senses and the world around us. This is a wondrous and magic-filled life!
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White Bear does Word Medicine and Ally Medicine readings for people, and Wellness Consultations (using holistic and spiritual healing methodologies) to help companion animals. She can be reached at 907-529-1833 in Chugiak, Alaska.
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Here are just a few books concerning shamanism, animal energies, and medicine ways:
Animal Energies, Gary Buffalo Horn Man and Sherry Firedancer
Animal Speak, Ted Andrews
Zuni Fetishes, Using Native American Objects for Meditation, Reflection, and Insight, Hal Zina Bennett
http://www.delphi.com (look for the forum "Animal Spirit Guides")