new age spirituality

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The Power Animal

Excerpt from Animal Spirit Guides by Chris Luttichi. CICO Books, $16.95, 2009.

Animal Spirit Guides

In essence, an animal spirit guide, or power animal, is a guardian spirit. However, as well as being our protector, it has several other roles. As the name implies, a power animal helps us find our own inner strength, which comes from knowing who we are and being “centered.” Linked to this is a sense of being connected to the rest of creation in a healthy, balanced way that enhances our own life and that of others. Not only do we then function well in the physical reality of our everyday lives, but we have a direct and strong connection to the spiritual world.

A power animal helps you walk a strong path where you manifest your true self and are of good service to others during your life. This means following a path that allows you to continue to grow in understanding and expand your awareness of all that life is. You must trust yourself and your own power while maintaining humility, and be willing to own and transform the distorted sides of the self, such as self-importance, limiting fears, and negative projections. Connecting to your power animal also implies living in accordance with the natural laws under the guidance of the Creator, the Great Spirit, the Divine, or whatever term you prefer to describe the highest power, and it has nothing to do with controlling others. The power animal is your protector, friend, and companion on the path.

The Power Animal As Your Mirror

As your spirit helper and guardian, your power animal exists outside yourself, but it can also be seen as a reflection of who you are. The way you walk and talk, your body language, habits, demeanor, and appearance are all like those of your power animal. It is therefore possible to learn to see someone’s power animal just by looking at that person and noticing their behavior and appearance. For example, someone with hawk as a power animal might have a certain detachment in the way they tend to view the world. Such a person might prefer to live on the upper floors of a building or sit in the upper rows of a theatre, for example; he or she may have a sharp eye for detail, and even possess a certain fierceness. The hawk will also be reflected in their face and in their general appearance. Likewise, people with bear as a power animal will have a similar walk and posture to a bear. This makes them appear strong and grounded. One of my teachers, a Native American, told me the reason why you have this likeness is that you have been your power animal in a past life. The union between humans and their power animals is reflected in many of the ancient mythologies, from Greek to Native American, where gods and goddesses appear in various animal forms: as a salmon, a swan, or a white buffalo.

The merging of humans and animals also reflects the fact that deep, spiritual work by humanity has always involved merging with animal spirits, for the simple fact that they have abilities we don’t. On a basic level, for instance, their senses are in most cases superior to ours. Animals and humans are made of the same material, and union results in more than exists when the two are separate.

The Nature of Power Animals

Power animals warn us of danger, protect us from it, and awaken sleeping powers within us. Our health improves when they are near, since they affect our immune system. When we have made a real connection with our power animals, we can begin to feel grounded and safe in our bodies, becoming more comfortable with the world around us. Power animals help us to find our confidence with people and guide us home to ourselves. Once they are with us, we are never alone.

In a sense the connection to a power animal is very similar to the phenomenon experienced by many people in love: an energetic link is established to the loved one so that, for example, you can feel when he or she is approaching.

It doesn’t matter if the energy in this connection if physical or metaphysical, it can be understood as the same energy. This understanding resonates in the hearts and minds of many people, and is supported by discoveries in quantum physics with its concept of non-locality: the world is host to an invisible reality which allows non-mediated communication to happen faster than the speed of light, despite separation over great distances. An example of this could be extra-sensory perception, one of the traditional skills of the shaman. Some of the exercises described in this book are about training your ability to perceive in this way.

From a shaman’s perspective, nothing really dies. When an animal’s life ends, the spirit survives and leaves the physical body behind on earth, just like the spirit of a human being. Some of these spirits become power animals. According to the teachings I have received, humans are usually born again as humans, but not always. You can come back as a raccoon, for example. From a spiritual perspective, animals are people just like you and I, only in animal guise. This is why native people refer to themselves as relatives, brothers, and sisters.

In our DNA we are very similar to animals. In mythology, where humans and animals speak the same language and sometimes form close bonds, our lives are intertwined. Human beings see and then rationalize what they see, but animals see and experience directly – their perception is not colored by a rational mind. Animals are clairvoyant on a different level than is manifest by some humans. The clairvoyance of animals works on a more instinctive level. They can’t send an SMS, but they have empathy, they can grieve, and they are emotional like we are. They have a consciousness, and they have access to the divine. Power animals make wonderful allies as spirits.

In this book I distinguish between power animals and animal spirits in general. When using the term power animal I refer to your guardian spirit, the one who is also your mirror. Other animal spirits might well help you with different tasks, but your closest connection is with your power animal. This distinction is for the purpose of clarity, and not necessarily how others would explain it.