By Laura Daligan - July 2011
Art by Laura Daligan
'As I run through grass plains, past humid forests, and gushing streams, I spy a large and beautiful Leopard ahead of me. I feel no fear as she runs towards me - greeting me as an old friend. As we walk together, I begin to notice Leopard spots appearing all over me. Within a few heartbeats I shape shift in to Leopard form and we begin to run together; my companion and I exploring the wild landscape...'
The above paragraph is from a Shamanic Journey I experienced with my Power Animal, not in fact, an actual physical meeting with a Leopard! However to me my Power Animal is a very real and important part of my life, and when I return from a Journey with them, I always feel revitalised, inspired and deeply relaxed.
Shamanism is the oldest spiritual path in the world, evidence of Shamanic practice has been discovered in all cultures across the globe. Shamans believe thateverythinghas a spirit and power, including trees and stones. The most important ally for a Shaman is their Power Animal.
Most people are aware of the term 'Power Animal' or 'Animal Guides', however not so many people realise that they can create an empowering and rewarding relationship with their own personal Power Animal.
As you are reading this, and already have an interest in Power Animals, I'm pretty certain that you will already have an Animal Guide or two around you, peeking over your shoulder as you read this magazine! These Power Animals are most likely jumping/splashing/flapping/purring (delete as applicable) with anticipation, in the hope that you'll finally start paying them some proper attention!
So, where do we start on our journey to discover our Power Animal? Well, let's start at the beginning, with the question: Whatisa Power Animal?
A Power Animal is a guardian spirit; protecting and helping us so that we may gain physical, mental and spiritual strength.
When I speak of power, I don't mean using power in a negative way in order to gain control over others. I mean tapping into our own deep reserves of power, enabling us find our inner strength and sense of self, so that we live fuller more joyful lives, being grounded and connected to the world around us.
By attuning ourselves with the energy of our Power Animals we can learn their unique wisdom, which is sometimes called 'medicine'. The 'medicine' of your particular animal can help you heal, come to terms with the past, and bring the spark of inspiration for the next step of your life's journey.
By connecting with our Power Animal we are able to experience more deeply the interconnectedness of all life, allowing us to live in the moment, and be in life's creative flow.
As a species, we have pretty much extricated ourselves from the animal kingdom and natural world; this is obviously not healthy for us, or the animal kingdom, as can be seen when looking at the state of our planet. With the destruction of the forests and the wild places, we not only lose animal's natural habitats, but we also lose the sense of wilderness within ourselves.
Now we've had a brief look at the benefits of meeting your Animal Guide, we'll move on to the next question - How do you meet your Power Animal?
There are many ways of experiencing your Power Animal, you may simply see the word 'Penguin' everywhere you go, or be continually drawn to wearing Tiger print clothing! Below are some of the techniques I've found most effective:
1) Pathworking & Meditation. Using guided visualisations and meditation is a great way to get started on your Power Animal path. Begin by finding some time to relax, close your eyes, and breathe in and out slowly and deeply. In your mind's eye see yourself seated in a beautiful space in nature. Let your imagination be as creative as it can with the environment. Everyone's experience here is personal, you may find it easy to visualise, or it may take a bit of practice. No one's perfect at this the first time around, so please be gentle and patient with yourself.
State your intent to meet your Power Animal, either out loud or silently, and wait for any signs or sensations. You may see, hear, or smell your animal, or you may simply know that they are there. Trust your intuition, spend as long with your Power Animal as you'd like, ask them their name, or simply observe them. When you feel ready, slowly bring your focus back to wherever you are sitting, and open your eyes. Always eat and drink something if you are left feeling 'ungrounded' after a meditation.
2) Dream Work. When we sleep, our conscious mind loses the tight control it's had over us in our waking hours. When we dream we enter another state of being, and are more open and aware to messages from our Power Animals. Keep a dream diary close to your bed and before you sleep or nap, state your intent to meet your Power Animal. Do this for at least 3 nights running if you can. As soon as you wake, write any insights and dreams down in your diary.
3) Shamanic Drum Journey. A drum journey is a powerful way for us to not only meet our Power Animal, but to deepen our relationship with them. Through a fast and repetitive drum beat we enter a Shamanic state of consciousness, and journey to meet our Power Animals. If possible find a drumming group, or a Shamanic workshop to learn how to journey properly and safely.
These are just a few ideas, see what feels right and work for you personally, and always remember to note down the results.
As your relationship grows with your Power Animal, you will begin to learn more about their wisdom and habits; you may find yourself becoming nocturnal like an Owl, or basking in the Sun like a Lion! You may even find yourself taking on some of the traits of your animal; becoming as busy as a Bee or as playful as an Otter! If possible seek out your animal in nature, if this isn't possible visit a Wildlife park, or even spend an evening watching nature documentaries.
The sad fact is that many of the animals you will meet on your meditations and journeys are from critically endangered species, in desperate need of human help and compassion. By helping charities or association which work with animals you are giving something back to your Power Animal, and the animal kingdom as a whole.
I hope you enjoy learning about your Power Animal, and I wish you many happy adventures together!
To find out more about Laura Daligan and her Power Animal Workshops please visit www.lauradaligan.com