Recently, I was inspired to pen an article that explored the topic: What is my spirit animal? The desire to write this piece came to me after speaking with a friend of mine, Ben, who is a member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians.
According to Ben, several Native Indian tribes hold the belief in spirit animals. The long and the short of the belief is that a higher power (a creator) makes these animals available to people as a way of communicating important life lessons.
Here are some things he shared with me about spirit animals:
- We do not choose our spirit animal but instead, the animal chooses us.
- All of us have a number of spirit animals (we are not confined to one)
- Spirit animals teach us the wisdom of their specific species
- Spirit animals are with us for the lifespan and do not go away.
- Once an animal becomes extinct, the collective wisdom of that animal is gone forever.
Spiritual or Mental?
The conversation with my friend reminded me a bit of Carl Jung, who helped to coin the phrase, active imagination. At its core, active imagining is a cognitive approach that uses the imagination as a conduit to deeper understanding.
Various forms of active imagination can be found within numerous philosophical, religious and spiritual traditions. Jung believed that this approach could act as a kind of bridge between the conscious ‘ego’ and the unconscious mind.
Jung often used active imagining exercises with clients as part of dream exploration, understanding fantasy and to a lesser or greater degree, neurosis.
And it should be noted that some psychologists believe that forms of guided imagery and meditation act as stimulants to the hypothalamus, which in turn causes a state of peace and happiness for the meditating individual.
While in this “place” of calm – the subconscious mind sends messages to the person in the form of different creatures as a way of providing visual cues to things we need to focus on.
What do animals mean during meditation & dreams?
Native Indian culture places a great premium on all forms of life and particularly, animals. My friend Ben shared with me several of the more common animals that appear as “spirit friends” to us. He shared that each animal has its own “life lesson” to impart to us when they appear in corporeal form during meditation.
Here are a few examples of animals that I jotted down when talking to Ben, including their specific lesson “traits”. You can find a more extensive list of animals and what they symbolize from the Manataka American Indian Council.
- Bear: Strength, Power and Conviction
- Turtle: Wisdom, Longevity and Patience
- Wolf: Leadership, Orderliness and Loyalty
Readers of this blog know that I will sometimes write about topics that are non-traditional in nature but relate in some way to psychology, wellness and goal attainment. A recent example can be found in the post, Do Really Empaths Exist? (a super popular post I later found out).
And so I have some fun but very real questions for you: Do you believe in spirit animal guides? Are they a figment of our imagination or do animals truly have spirits which have been sent to us from a higher power to teach us things? Was Carl Jung onto something when he encouraged active imagining?
Finally (and this will require courage on your part to answer) do you have a spirit animal guide? I look forward to reading your responses and I bet others will too!
Photo Credits: Pinterest