I usually look for signs and think about all their possible meanings.
In my therapy practice for clients who are open to the idea, we talk about the universe, the signs to which people feel they are attuned, and how these signs can help them.
Sometimes, I try to convince myself that the signs aren’t real, that, somehow, what I’m seeing is just a coincidence and there’s no meaning attached to it whatsoever. That was true until recently, when the signs came flooding in over and over again. Whenever I asked for a new one, just to be sure, that new sign would show up. Just. Like. That.
Let me explain what happened.
Anyone who knows me well, knows that the number 61 has a special significance for me. In 1961, a special person in our family—who passed away five years ago—was born. I kept noticing the number “61” after his passing in times when I needed support, or some remarkable change was about to occur—at least, that’s what made sense to me. It made me feel that he was watching over us, that he saw what was happening, and he was with us for guidance. Every time I saw it, it made me feel comforted, good, and protected.
About eight months ago, I’ve realized that I hadn’t seen “61” anywhere in a long time. I thought, “Okay, maybe my time with 61 is over.” The support I needed has come to an end and maybe it’s time to move on. Occasionally, I would see a random “61,” look skyward, and say “thank you.” I thought maybe his work with us was done.
Boy, was I wrong.
It was October 2019, a time when my family seemed to be at another important crossroads and I worked to find ways to build my practice. It was almost at that precise moment that the number “61” showed up again, incessantly, everywhere, mostly on my phone. My phone always seemed to be at 61% charging. But, it showed up in other places, too. Pictures on Facebook and on Yahoo news. I can’t tell you how many times it was 61 degrees out there. It was also a time when I had an explosion of clients. I was basically able to build up my work in the way that had never happened before and which my family had certainly needed.
Whoa. Is it happening again?
But, what did it mean this time? Was “61” giving me a message for my husband? Was it for me? Or both? Oftentimes, I have a really hard time listening to the message or believing that it’s actually happening. Maybe it was a regular warm fall and it just happened to be 61 degrees more often than not. Maybe I was forcing my phone to be at 61% because I looked at it too often. Or, on any particular day, “61” happens to be a popular number of likes a person would get on Facebook.
I consulted with a friend who’s a true believer and understands the very nature of the signs of the universe. When I asked her what to do, she simply said, “If you are in doubt, ask for another sign.” And, she suggested raccoons.
Raccoons. Yuck. I don’t like them. They are sneaky and mean, and they are constantly in my garbage. Of all the possible signs to ask for, did it really have to be raccoons? But I trust my friend and if she says look for raccoons, then for raccoons I shall look.
Exactly one week after her raccoon suggestion, at 7:30a.m., as I was walking my daughter to the car to take her to school, two plump, nasty, gross raccoons, ambled across the street toward the gutter next to my house. Two raccoons, in broad daylight. My daughter was my witness.
And then, there were raccoons everywhere. I mean, everywhere. Not sitting next to a group of deer as I was driving down the street, not sneakily grabbing the garbage at night, but I saw them in every Facebook post, every article I read, every commercial on TV. They showed up on a random rerun of my favorite sitcom. Even while my son was out taking pictures, he snapped the perfect shot of a raccoon sitting in the hole of a tree.
Who knew raccoons were so popular? Had they always been there and I never noticed them? Again, my disbelief took over. This can’t possibly be a sign; it has to be a coincidence.
In my disbelief, my friend and I decided on another sign, even though she knew that another sign was not necessary, but I was obviously still not convinced.
I needed more clarity. So I asked for something I knew I would never see rummaging through my garbage: I asked for elephants. Yes, elephants. There’s no way I would see an elephant walking down my street canoodling with the deer, right? Raccoons are so common, of course, I would see them everywhere. Little did I know the secrets of the universe and how elephants would show themselves to me, over, and over again.
I made a commitment to elephants, thinking there’s no way I’d see them. Nope, I will not see elephants; until I took a short trip to Chicago to visit an old and dear friend. As we were innocently getting our nails done, I looked up at the TV to see a safari show on, and, wait for it…elephants! Okay, that was seriously not the sign I’m looking for. Elephant shows are on all the time. There’s nothing unique about seeing this. I shook off the possibility that this was a part of my sign.
The universe must have seen me shake because what happened next was truly remarkable.
The next day, my friend and I decided to leave Chicago for a quick trip to Skokie to see a museum exhibit on Ruth Bader Ginsberg. None of this was important other than we were talking excitedly and distracted by our trip when I get into her car and, lo and behold, what do I see in her cup holder? An elephant. Yes. A Ganesh, to be more specific, the Elephant-headed Hindu God. You heard me. The “Elephant-headed” Hindu God, sitting right next to me in my friend’s car.
I sat there trying to collect my thoughts. Shocked, consumed by disbelief, aghast, and utterly dumbfounded. I tried to explain to my friend what was happening while simultaneously crying and laughing. I’m not sure she completely understood my story or whether I gave the story any clear credibility. However, she happily explained the meaning of my new Elephant-headed best friend.
Ganesh (or Ganesha), to the Hindus, is the God of beginnings, traditionally worshipped before any new or major endeavor, and is the patron of intellectuals, bankers, scribes, and authors. Ganesh is the remover of all obstacles.
Okay. I randomly pick elephants as a sign. Is it possible that this is related to the number “61” at my husband’s request for me to build my business and then getting an influx of clients? Has Ganesh removed obstacles for me? Has “61” brought me to Ganesh for this purpose? Is that even possible? I have no idea if this is real, but it certainly is nice to think about it.
I also think my head is about to explode.
I leave Chicago feeling a little closer to some answers, a little more accepting of the signs, and with a little Ganesh of my own that I put in the Northwest corner of my house to increase his powers.
Then, the elephants kept on coming: on the internet, in the background of an episode of Family Guy, as part of a clue on Jeopardy. At this point, the average person would probably be convinced, right? But, not me. Maybe I’m overly skeptical, or maybe I’m greedy for signs, but I asked for more. And more I got. Giraffes, turtles, and finally peacocks. Everywhere I looked. Sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs, sometimes one right after the other. The number “61”, raccoons, elephants, giraffes, turtles, and then, peacocks.
I have proof of all these signs, time-stamped, date-proofed. Every time I saw one, I took a picture and sent it to my friend because I needed someone else to experience this with me. I know I must have driven her crazy, but I couldn’t stop—I needed a witness.
Each time I would see a sign or a series of signs I would catch my breath, smile, and feel protected. Each time I asked for a new sign, I received it. Something was happening, right? But, what was it? What was the big meaning behind all of this? What was I supposed to see?
My friend would tell me over and over again, “No, it is not necessarily something bigger, it is just the fact that you are receiving, that you should just feel the support, acknowledge it, and accept it. It doesn’t need to be anything else.” But that wasn’t good enough for me. There had to be more.
That said, we started asking each other more questions: “Are these signs related in bigger deeper ways?” “Why have we been drawn to animal signs as opposed to songs or flowers or butterflies?” Perhaps, this was the way of the universe to keep me busy and distracted, as almost all of this occurred right before and during the Great pandemic of 2020. Was it possible that these signs were also tied to the world, at large?
Now, this part may make me sound really, really weird, but bear with me. Using the book Animal Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small, by Ted Andrews, we looked up all the animal signs we saw, starting with raccoons all the way to peacocks.
What we discovered was brilliant. Of all the animal signs, the raccoon seemed to be the most relevant, given the pandemic issues and all the uncertainty during this time. If you think about it, what is the most relevant aspect of a raccoon? It’s the mask. According to Andrews, raccoons hold the knowledge of transformation through their masks. What has been the most relevant part of this pandemic era? The mask. Maybe, this meant that I should ask myself how to transform during this time. How would this ultimately affect me? How can I change?
I believe that signs point you in a direction of clarity, a new way to look at your world, and show you a new way of responding. Some may say this a self-fulfilling prophecy, that I wanted to see these particular signs and that somewhere in my unconscious mind I made them become a reality. I suppose that is one way to look at it. But, the other perspective—the one which I choose to adopt—is about faith. That if you open yourself up to the world around you, if you are attuned to the signs that are meaningful to you, then a great awareness can grow, a transformation.
But what about all the other animal signs? Why did they all appear? Probably as a confirmation for me to open my eyes and stop being a doubter, or maybe to show that signs can morph, but they all have the same meaning. They are all interconnected in some way, like all of us, just like the universe. What started out as “61” has changed all the way to peacocks, but they all pointed me in the same direction: to accept what I know is true, that I am protected and loved, that everything works out the way it should, and that transformation is good.
What is the moral of this story? Why am I sharing this with you?
Because it’s about trusting yourself.
It’s about knowing that everything will work out, that the universe has your back. It’s about putting your attention on the things that bring you peace, joy, comfort, and opening yourself up to the idea that maybe, just maybe, you can adapt to what is presented to you.
It is about the interconnectedness of all signs, both big and small. When you raise your awareness to these signs, great discoveries can be made. It is also about talking about the signs that you see, having another person join you on your journey, objectively, and with an open heart. And, during a very stressful experience, sometimes this is all you need.
Also, it’s a really fun story to tell.