Years ago, when I was just starting to explore shamanism, I was in a workshop where the teacher told us to let our inner vision guide us as he led us on a drum journey.
As he began drumming, I closed my eyes and began to relax. Colors started to pulsate in my inner vision and soon I could see an image of a deer walking through the woods. After a few minutes, I realized that I wasn’t seeing the deer, I WAS the deer, seeing everything through Deer’s eyes.
When we completed our journey, our teacher explained that what I had experienced was my power animal.
Power animals are different from the more common idea of animal totems. Totems can come to you in a vision for a reason, for a season, or for a lifetime. Perhaps you see a certain animal during your meditation because it is trying to communicate something to your spirit that is going on at that time, or because it symbolizes a particular time in your life. Or, think about when you were young and always HAD to see a certain animal when visiting the zoo. Chances are, that’s one of your lifetime totems, especially if you are still fascinated by that same animal. However, if you see yourself as the animal, rather than simply looking at the animal, you have discovered your power animal.
In shamanism, a power animal is one that is deeply intertwined with your being, and a guide that protects you and lends you wisdom throughout your life.
Deer, for example, is a very gentle animal, but one that is also very powerful. Personally, I have struggled with finding my voice with people who have strong personalities, so I have called on Deer to help me be a quiet, yet stoic presence, knowing that I have the strength to be myself.
Deer’s antlers symbolize a higher sense of perception, and I have called on Deer in my meditations to help me become a deeper, more attuned listener. This is helpful to me, not only in my relationships with family and friends, but also with my clients so I can tune in to their needs and struggles as well as their strengths and gifts.
Other Power Animals might be Mountain Lion, Crow, Butterfly, Dolphin, Otter, Snake or Turtle. The possibilities are endless, each with its own unique gifts, personality traits, and ability to support us in specific ways.
For me, it makes perfect sense that Deer is my Power Animal. I see many qualities within myself that are similar to Deer. I have learned a lot from this beautiful teacher about owning my power as a “gentle soul.” And, although I didn’t realize it at the time, it makes me smile now when I look back and think about a good friend of my parents who used to call me “Katie Dear.” I wonder if he saw a part of me that would emerge into my own awareness many years later.
Are you curious about your power animal? Come in for a shamanic healing session, and together we can go on a journey to help you discover your secret animal guide.
(Artwork courtesy of Rion Wang)