“The archetype of spirit in the shape of a man, hobgoblin, or animal always appears in a situation where insight, understanding, good advice, determination, planning, etc., are needed but cannot be mustered on one’s own resources.” ~ Carl Jung
We do not choose our spirit animal—our spirit animal chooses us.
There is so much to be learned from animals and as Carl Jung explained above they will appear when we need a clear understanding of something or when we need strong direction or guidance. Jung also described archetypes as a symbol of the collective conscious and animals are as much a part of the collective conscious as humans are.
I have had a few spirit animals, however the one that has always walked by my side is the wolf. By studying the wolf and learning more about how wolves have a profound understanding of the role that each member of the pack plays, I have learned a lot about respect, survival, protection, co-dependency and trust.
I have also found a strong connection to the lone wolf and by observing the behaviour of the lone wolf I have understood more about courage, skill, solitude endurance and independence. These are all things that I desperately needed guidance with and I have also felt an inner calm knowing that the wolf is at my side offering me wisdom and knowledge when I need it most.
I also know that the wolf is not weak by roaming alone, if anything it is stronger in many ways, as it has had to develop all of the skills normally found within a whole pack, and each of these skills are essential for daily survival.
Spirit animals represent aspects of our personality, our emotional and physical situations, however, they should not be viewed merely as symbols, but rather as being here to awaken us to what our eyes are closed to and also to offer us alternative perceptions on life.
Spirit animals are also known by many as either totem or power animals. They are spiritual symbols that mirror back to us the psychological or spiritual qualities that may be missing from our lives or ones that we need to focus on more.
A spirit animal comes into our lives to provide magic, to heal us, and to awaken and enlighten us. Therefore it is imperative that we place our faith in these animals and that we honor and have respect for them.
When we connect with a spirit animal we can find a new understanding of ourselves, our relationships, our careers and everything else that goes on in our lives.
It is important to remember that spirit animals may come into our lives and leave at various times, depending on what it is we need guidance with. The animal we need in our lives right now may be very different from the one we will need in two months or two years time.
We also shouldn’t be surprised or alarmed by what animal connects with us. Sometimes we think we are going to be united with a cute or fluffy creature, yet quite the opposite occurs.
If we follow the process correctly, whatever animal we connect with is the right one for us. We then have to trust that this animal is here to guide us, strengthen our intuition, protect us and teach us many of the things we still need to learn.
It is very possible that our spirit animal is one that we have always felt a strong connection to without recognising them as a spirit animal. If we have always felt magnetised to a certain animal, or the same one constantly shows up in our lives, it is a strong indication that this animal is trying to gain our attention to offer support and to share with us some of its wisdom.
It may be that we have always felt close to a particular animal since childhood or we recognise aspects of their characteristics as being similar to our own. We may have always felt compelled to draw a certain animal or we might have collections of figures or soft toys that we have felt have a deeper meaning in our lives.
When we begin to see this as our spirit animal we can learn the lessons of what it is here to teach us and what aspects of our lives could improve by studying the traits and habitat of it further.
A spirit animal will most likely come to us when we are in a state of altered consciousness, for example dreaming or meditating.
When we are open to connecting to a spirit animal it is also possible for the animal to keep appearing in its physical form. Spending time with nature is one of the most natural ways to open up to a connection with a spirit animal.
Sometimes an animal may be displaying unusual behaviours or acting as though it wants our attention. We may even be drawn to getting closer to it. However, this is not always advisable with wild animals. Even if this is the spirit animal we connect with it does not mean all of their species are going to be friendly towards us.
Animal spirit guides are grouped by their habitat:
Land. Represent our physical and emotional state of mind and teach us to become more aware. Help to keep us mentally grounded.
Bird. This animal represents your desire for freedom and assists with obtaining a higher consciousness.
Insect. Teaches us patience, detachment and determination.
Water. Relates with spirituality and intuition, and also opening up to our fears and desires. Reveals what is going on in our subconscious mind.
Reptile. Shows us the view we have ourselves both from the inside and the outside.
There are four types of animal guides:
Journey animal guide. The animal will appear regularly when we are at a crossroad in our life and a decision needs to be made. The spirit animal will remain at our sides whether the journey takes a day or many years to complete and will offer support, wisdom and guidance at each stage. If we become lost along the way the spirit animal will help to redirect us by shining a light on things we need to become aware of so that we can make the correct choices to get back on the right path.
Life animal guide. The spirit guide will remain connected to us all the way through our lives and will regularly show up to let us know they are still there with us. Although other animals may weave in and out of our lives, the life guide will remain a constant and will never be far away should we need to call upon it for extra guidance. The life animal guide teaches us a lot about our own personality, as the animal’s traits are like a mirror to our own.
Messenger animal guide. These are the briefest of visits by animal spirits, as they will enter our lives to quickly teach us something significant and then depart as quickly as they came. The messages are often awakening and can also come to warn us of something that is ahead. Either way, the message is often a profound one and will remain until we have seen and understood what it is here to teach us.
Shadow animal guide. This is the most powerful visit and often one that will shake us to the core. The animal will visit to show us our shadow side and parts of our life that we are avoiding which causes lessons to repeat many times. We often feel fear when these animals turn up in our lives and until we pay attention to it and watch the traits it is displaying carefully, we will continue to have negative situations occurring.
When we have connected with our spirit animal it is essential that we pay close attention to what it is they have arrived to teach us. We can only learn if our minds are fully open to the possibilities that can unravel through these connections.
It is also interesting to find out what our close friend’s or partner’s spirit animals are. We can then understand more about their personalities and traits and also look at the dynamics and connection between our spirit animal and theirs.
When you connect with a spirit animal you will see things with a greater understanding and more clarity. Spirit animals are there to help develop a healthier emotional, spiritual, mental and physical health.
Finding and Connecting with Your Spirit Animal:
To create an opening for a spirit animal to appear the best place to go for a good result is somewhere outside with nature.
Sit on the grass or stones by water, trees or somewhere that is very peaceful and away from noise and traffic.
Close your eyes and focus on the inhalation and exhalation of the breath.
Feel the touch of nature surrounding you, the wind on your skin, in your hair and the sun shining down.
When you feel totally calm and balanced speak to the spirit animals and ask your spirit animal to show them selves to you.
Clear the mind totally of any perceived images and leave the mind free for the spirit animal to make an appearance.
Many animals may appear at first, some will go and some will remain. Remain in this meditative state and allow your imagination to focus on the animal that you need in your life at this stage.
When all the other animals have disappeared and one remains, this is the animal that has chosen to be your spirit guide.
If no animal appears, that is okay, repeat the exercise until one comes through, or try again on another day or a different setting.
Talk to the animal and ask if it has any messages for you and also thank them for appearing in your life.
Pay close attention to all behaviours and body language and especially the essence of the energy you are feeling.
When the animal disappears remain breathing deeply for a short while, then you can open your eyes, ground and regain composure and return to your normal state.
From here on this exercise can be repeated anywhere at any time or the spirit animal may just appear without you calling on its presence. Honor it but do not worship it as the spirit animal wants to be at one with you and not feel as though it is a higher force.
If the spirit animal no longer appears, the lessons have been passed on and you will notice new spirit animals taking their place.
It is likely that spirit animals will also appear in physical form, these can teach us just as many lessons and pass on as much wisdom as those that appear mentally can.
Note: In part two I will explain the meanings of the spirit animals that appear most often.
Waylon finds out his animal spirit:
Author: Alex Myles
Editor: Travis May
Images: Flickr/Hartwig HKD