A Power Animal is any natural object, being, or animal that symbolizes a specific kind of energy. When one awakens to a Power Animal and honors it, the mythical energies behind it are released into one’s life. My first power animal was Deer. Deer taught me patience, gentleness, healing and many other important qualities.
The first shamans watched Animals very carefully, their traits, abilities, habits and learnt to respect them. Through time, myths and stories were told and retold by shamans to explain their understanding of the spiritual animal to their village mates. We encounter that in circle, the similarities between journeys, the similar characteristics between our Power Animals. They may be present in their earthly manifestations, but they aren’t bound by physical forms. One does not worship a Power Animal; one follows it. The way of a Power Animal is something you aspire to, rather like someone who aspires to live according to a code of honor. A Power Animal will share information through our voyages, our visions and dreams. Animals come to us because they have a lesson we need to learn or a power they are willing to share. They seek to give us understanding, love, energy and knowledge.
The Power Animals that come to us offer us power and wisdom once we learn to communicate with, respect, trust and understand it. Each animal has its own special power and message, for each animal has a powerful spirit and an inherent skill. Animal Spirits choose a person to be a companion to, a friend to, not the other way around. The animal will choose you and make itself known to you.
Eventually, everyone who practices the shamanic journey will encounter the Shadow Power Animal. They are sometimes frightening and threatening, but always intimidating.
From a psychological perspective the Shadow represent those aspects of our psyche that we choose to ignore – our fears, our secrets and dark thoughts. They characterize our personal boundaries, our self-imposed limitations and those parts of ourselves that rejects spontaneity, risk taking and the development of self-esteem.
I have a weakness for Grey’s anatomy, so I watched it last night. The entire show was dedicated to playing with Shadow. The characters fears of ‘not being seen”, or “judgment”, “loss of a best friend”. The duality played out in the writing was very coincidental, I thought! I pondered the hardest parts of our drama, our tragedy. Playing right into our shadow. Each main character was presented with a mirror of him or herself, and had the embrace the ensuing chaos that inevitably comes when they faced themselves.
Shadow Power Animals represent our dark side – the shadow aspect of our soul that we tend to ignore or suppress due to the connotations that they represent and the responsibilities they force upon us. They make us to look at ourselves, to stand before our weaknesses and our frailties and to honour them as lessons and as stepping-stones to power.
The Shadow Animal is a substantial presence in the Spirit world, similar to a nightmare in your dreaming reality. It usually presents itself as the scariest, most frightening animal, or being, you can imagine. They can be fire-breathing dragons, trolls or skeletons wielding arm sized machetes, really anything. A Shadow Power Animal tests us. They have keys for us, but will put us through tests before they will let their power work with, and for us, instead of against us. In all of nature there is prey and predator. In the spiritual world there is the same.
Shadow Power Animals are equally as important and as valuable a teacher as one’s Power Animal. Remember it is Shadow because it is unconscious. We cannot see what we are unconscious of. The Shadow Self operates mostly in unconscious reflex, it is not based upon instinctual desires alone, but is a sum total of many parts including fear, anger, repressed drives and needs, past pain not yet been healed, resolved and integrated, as well as our early childhood conditioning.
Shamanic work is not always fun and fluffy and light. It is very serious work. Many times we have left this temple, this circle, in tears, in confusion, frustrated… or light and fluffy with lots of giggles… kinda a crap shoot eh!!
The Spirit World has, often times, a very different agenda then our waking reality. Walking somnambulists are not welcome there. To participate in the land of the spirits you do have to be awake and take a certain level of responsibility for yourself and your walk. To get our attention we are often presented with what may scare us, or what may frustrate us. A snake may be very frightening for some, for others who don’t have a great deal of fear they may encounter barriers to this world or that. The idea is we are taken deep into ourselves in order to understand ourselves, the challenge we face is to bring our newly awoken CONSCIOUS SELF back to our waking reality and incorporate it.
A shadow Power Animal is one that initially you fear. The shadow Power Animal often represents inner fears that you must overcome. Until you face the fears of the shadow Power Animal, its powers may very well work against you, not letting you soar. When you overcome the fear of the shadow Power Animal, it becomes one of your most powerful allies. Your goal with a shadow Power Animal is to learn the lessons and incorporate that animal into your life. If you are scared by something over and over then you still have not accepted the lesson that animal has for you.
Your shadow does not have to be scary. It does not have to harm you, you don’t at all have to be afraid to encounter or meet your shadow side. You may be at the point in your life where you are friends with your shadow. I have found over the years my shadows counsel has been invaluable to me. I have been able to see my limitations emotionally, physically, and above all spiritually.