“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
You may have noticed by now two themes that come up on The Heart of Awakening Blog are Animal Totems and Archetypes. Until recently, I have not done too much exploration in the similarities and relationships of the two. In January, I met Janet Roper of Talk2TheAnimals, an animal communicator, advocate and host of Talk2TheAnimals Radio. Through our conversation, the idea to explore this topic arose. I wrote my first guest blog post for Talk2TheAnimals last week and will be joining her tonight at 8 PM EST on Blog Talk Radio. The topic was Animal Totems & Archetypes: A Shaman’s World. You might like to drop by and read that post, as this one continues from that exploration.
In many cultures around the world, Animal Totems or Power Animals are a way to connect with the wisdom of animals and the natural world. This can be seen in artwork such as cave paintings, jewelry, and statues as well as many legends and stories. Animal wisdom helps us connect to our innate being and to access our inner wisdom and strength. In earlier times, there was no sense of separation between human and animal and it was understood that we were connected to animals and to all of creation through the web of life.
Shamanic traditions carry this awareness forward and offer a way to bridge the separation we have created through our modern world. If we just look at the treatment of animals in our world today, it is evident that we are most often moving from a place of disconnection. Working with Animal Totems offers an opportunity to reconnect with our place in the natural world and to access a spiritual connection that can help to guide us into a more balanced way of being. At this time in our evolution, this is something that is much-needed as evidenced by the chaos, turmoil and toxicity of our world.
There are a number of ways to connect with an Animal Totem. Sometimes a shaman will do an animal totem retrieval for a person or an animal will come as part of a soul retrieval process. Also, one might be guided in a shamanic journey or facilitate their own journey in which they connect with a power animal. Traditionally, animal totems come when one takes a vision quest, a ceremony to find spiritual guidance and deep understanding of one’s life purpose. Also, power animals may likely be ones that repetitively appear in our lives and that we feel a strong sense of connection to.
There is so much to be learned if we are observant and aware of the natural world around us. Animals can speak to us in so many ways. Often by observing their behavior or actions, we can receive guidance. Connecting with an animal totem helps us to connect with nature and to access aspects of ourselves, which may be lacking or hidden. They can help us to find our strengths and qualities that can bring us into a place of wholeness and greater peace.
For a few years, I had the privilege of serving as shaman and holistic practitioner at a residential holistic addictions treatment program. One of the main tools I used in our shamanic healing group was a power animal journey. It was always amazing to see what animals came and how easily clients were able to reconnect with lost aspects of themselves, finding new strength by connecting with their totem animals. The sense of protection and support that came from this connection was so beneficial for clients, especially in early recovery when their sense of self and the possibility of change was quite limited.
One client found himself encountering an alligator, which was actually an experience he had when he was a teenager. He was amazed that this animal came to him in the journey and he was able to reclaim a part of himself that he felt was long-lost. This is a great example of how an animal that is present in our lives may be a totem animal and yet, the beauty of the journey is that we never really know who will show up. This is where the magic lies!
Psychologist Carl Jung defined an archetype as “a universal and recurring image, pattern, or motif representing a typical human experience.” In a sense, archetypes are an encoded energetic structure that lies within our unconscious but may be accessed as a tool for transformation and healing. It is relatively modern phenomenon that archetypes have been labeled or identified and yet, just as with animal totems, they have been present in many cultures through artwork, stories and mythology since recorded history began. Another way they have shown up is in the Major Arcana of the Tarot deck, which can be a great way to explore these patterns. Archetypes tend to have a human or sometimes divine form.
Based on our personal life experiences and even, our astrological charts, we may hold the pattern of certain archetypes more strongly than others. We may also have work to do with a certain archetypal pattern during our current lifetime. Examples of this include the Victim, Hero, Divine Child, Visionary, etc. Also, archetypes are collective and may be held in common by a social group or culture. As we consciously work with archetypes, they have a vitalizing power and help us to access more of our potential, supporting our soul purpose and empowering our universal experience.
As we consider power animals in relation to archetypes, we can see that both serve similarly in helping us to access deeper aspects of ourselves and provide symbols to guide us. They may connect to us personally or culturally as in a tribe that has a certain animal as its totem or a certain mythology that is present. As we connect with our animal totems, they reflect to us own innate qualities and help us to better understand our connection to the web of life and the natural world. Perhaps this differs from archetypes, which seem to have more to do with our human or spiritual connections rather than the natural world. Clearly, both animal totems and archetypes can serve as spiritual and energetic symbols that convey wisdom, understanding and a treasure map for life on earth.
All of this is just the beginning of an exploration on the subject of Animal Totems and Archetypes. I see many similarities and some differences to consider. I look forward to exploring this more in coming posts and dialogues. From my shamanic perspective both serve as spiritual resources for awakening consciousness through accessing energies and qualities that are inherent in our nature and yet, often remain dormant until a conscious connection emerges. When accessed, these gifts of spirit can provide a path to greater personal awareness and understanding as well as a gateway into our collective consciousness.
A major intention on The Heart Of Awakening Blog is to help to uncover our authenticity and truth as we explore embodying the big picture in daily life. I view this as a key to creating change in our own selves and in the world. By coming from a place of connection and wholeness, anything is possible. I find actively working with animal totems and archetypes to be a powerful part of creating wholeness and living the big picture in daily life.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, insights and reflections on this subject.
Listen to my conversation with Janet Roper, host of Talk2TheAnimals Radi on Animal Totems & Archetypes. Here is a link to the replay:
Are you looking for a speaker, radio show guest, or someone to write a guest post on your blog? I’d love to explore with you! Feel free to contact me through my website, www.bethshekinah.com.
Discover The Healer Within Teleseminar Series Starts of Monday, February 18th
Join us for an exploration in discovering the healer within. Everyone has the potential within them to become their own agent of change. This 4 part series will focus on experiential tools and techniques that support cultivating the healer within and stepping forward in one’s own process of transformation. Some of the tools that will be explored include shamanic healing, meditation, energy awareness practices, self-reflection, journaling and connecting with the heart as a gateway for healing. See below for specific dates and topics:
Part I: Connecting With Our Sacred Space – Monday, February 18th at 12 PM EST
Part II: Energy Awareness Tools & Techniques – Thursday, February 21st at 7:30 PM EST
Part III: Transforming Limiting Patterns & Beliefs – Monday, February 25th at 12 PM EST
Part IV: Reclaiming Our Essence – Thursday, February 28th at 7:30 PM EST
Preparation: Participants will want to be in a comfortable and quiet place as we explore together, somewhere that you can be sitting and/or lying down. You may wish to have a journal on hand as there will be some writing exercises and time for reflection.
This is a free event. Registrants will have access to all parts of this series and links to replays. Call in phone number and instructions will be sent prior to the event.
For additional information, visit www.bethshekinah.com.