The tunnel was dark and damp.
Somewhere up ahead I could hear the sound of water droplets lightly falling from above. My footsteps echoed off the cold stone walls. Her voice, soft and husky, beckoned me forward.
I could see light—soft, hazy white light, glowing in the distance. I must be almost through, I thought to myself.
Suddenly, I felt a presence. It was no longer just the voice and I down here. My heartbeat increased. Sweat oozed out of the pores on my palms. My breath became shallow and sharp.
The energy I was sharing the space with was powerful—and I could feel myself growing more and more intimidated with each step forward. A part of me wanted to run, but a bigger part of me wanted so badly to know.
Then, she emerged.
Slinking out of the brightness ahead, moving with an effortless elegance, her eyes glowed green. Her body vibrated with the distinct purr of a big cat. She moved closer and closer.
I felt a bolt of courage surge up my spine.
I was in the presence of a gorgeous lioness.
She approached me and affectionately nuzzled her head between my arm and stomach. Instantly, I felt full of strength. My body buzzed with excitement. I knew she loved me. And it made me feel so proud.
When I opened my eyes, I could barely make out my living room ceiling through the tears that were welling up behind my eyelids.
I sat up slowly and hit the spacebar on my laptop to stop the guided meditation I’d been listening to on YouTube before the next video played.
I’d been recently curious about spirit animals and shamanism, and so I decided to try to connect with my power animal after reading a shaman’s blog on journeying. It was the latest experiment in a long line of New Age practices I’d been trying on.
I was 23-years-old and in the middle of a serious spiritual awakening.
The year before, I had graduated from university with a journalism degree, ended a major relationship, and fled my Canadian home for six months of international travel. Now I was back. And still struggling with all of the issues I thought would’ve just “sorted themselves out” while I was gone.
I was wrong.
The pressure I felt to figure out my career crashed down upon me like a ton of bricks. I felt lonely. I missed my friends and the community I’d had around me in university.
Life felt so daunting. I felt deflated.
So one morning, I hit my yoga mat and prayed.
It was probably the first prayer I’d said in years. While I’d been quite religious as a young Catholic girl, I’d separated from my faith in my teen years when it became cooler to skip church than to go.
It didn’t matter. The words rose up from my heart and softly floated out of my mouth in a delicate whisper as salty tears rolled down my cheeks.
After that, things slowly began to change. I found myself increasingly curious about things like meditation, crystals, energy work, and spirit guides. Now, it was shamanism biting at my interest.
But the doubt I felt about what I was experiencing was intense. I questioned everything and trusted nothing. Even though my first encounter with my lioness felt so real it left me in literal tears, there was a part of me that thought the whole thing was a joke.
Several months after listening to that guided meditation on YouTube, I found myself at a local bookstore browsing titles in the metaphysical section.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a poster advertising a local workshop on shamanic journeying.
It felt like a sign.
Two weeks later and I’m at the workshop, lying in a circle with a dozen other people, listening to the rat-tat-tat of a hollow drum with my eyes closed.
At first, all I see is black.
And again the doubt begins to seep in. Why am I even here? I ask internally.
Then I feel her—that distinct fierce, feline energy. And she emerges. Slinking her way out of the darkness.
I begin to shape-shift with her, absorbing her strength. I feel like I want to roar, but hold back so as to not startle the other people in the room. I am full of confidence. I am hungry to create. I can feel my predator instincts kicking in.
I hear the drumbeat change. My consciousness is being called back to the room.
Whoa, that was wild, I think to myself. But that nagging voice of doubt immediately tries to discount everything I’ve just experienced. You just made that all up, it says.
So I left that night totally bewildered by my journey, but hesitant once again to truly trust it.
Nearly 10 months later and I’m sitting in my home office on a Skype call with my friend Jennifer.
We connected on Instagram and realized we were both studying to become healing practitioners, so we decided to connect a couple times a month to run practice sessions on each other.
I am the client today. As Jennifer tapped in to begin our session, the very first thing she says is that she sees a beautiful lioness standing behind me.
I almost choked.
I hadn’t shared any of my power animal experiences with her. She didn’t know about my guided meditation and subsequent journey at all. I hadn’t told her anything about my lioness.
I trusted Jennifer and knew she was a gifted healer and a psychic. She definitely wasn’t making it up. This stretched way beyond the realm of coincidence. The universe was using Jennifer as a vehicle to confirm my truth to me.
And suddenly, I realized why.
Power animals in the shamanic tradition act as guides and protectors. They are universal to all cultures and represent a person’s connection to the life force of the universe and to their individual power. Some power animals stay with us for a lifetime; others make themselves known to us in order to teach us something important.
Lioness came into my life to teach me a powerful lesson in trust—one that took me three visits and over an entire year to learn.
In order to reach our highest potential, we must be courageous enough to trust the voice within. Intuition never fails us. But it challenges us. It’s not always easy to listen and to trust, especially when our inner wisdom runs against the grain of society.
It thrusts us into a place of vulnerability.
It can be scary to be the trailblazer.
But if we are to walk a spiritual path, it’s what we must do.
The world needs our voices, our wisdom, and our truth. It needs us to roar.
Author: Alex Weber
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Social Editor: Danielle Beutell