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Animal Spirit guides

Many indigenous religions feature the idea of a "spirit guide" -- usually an animal that has some wisdom, some guidance, some means of offering inspiration and maybe protection. Take a moment right now and close your eyes and "ask" for an animal to appear. Or, maybe you have had encounters with a certain animal in your life or in your dreams. Don't only consider the obvious important animals; bear, dog, wolf, owl.. but also consider less obvious animals; wren, worm, mosquito, porcupine.

Consider how this animal might be a "spirit Guide" for you. Try to "be with" this animal -- where does it live? How does it move? What is its purpose? What threatens it? and, most importantly, what can this animal reveal to you about yourself? Make a list of the qualities this animal exhibits; is it skittish, imposing, camouflaged, tiny, beautiful, abundant, common, sneaky, frightening, powerful... And then, see where those qualities live in you. Maybe you might play with "becoming" the animal. ie. "I am bear woman. Strong and unafraid. Quiet yet resourceful. I am protected by heavy fur. I rest all winter. I am resilient, yet I frighten others with my power... etc."

You might consider making a small collection of icons of this animal, or gather images of it. Make a mask of it. Draw or paint it. Write about it. Read up on it. Just allow this animal spirit to "guide" you in the coming month.

The poet Rilke was assigned by his mentor to go to a zoo everyday for several weeks and to sit and observe one animal. Rilke observed a panther in a cage and wrote this famous poem about how the panther itself and its spirit was trapped in the cage...

The Panther

~. R. M. Rilke

His vision, from the constantly passing bars, has grown so weary that it cannot hold anything else. It seems to him there are a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over, the movement of his powerful soft strides is like a ritual dance around a center in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils lifts, quietly--. An image enters in, rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles, plunges into the heart and is gone.

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