|Raven Mug by PattyMara on Etsy|
A few years ago I began an interview with a wonderful Native American artist about spirit animal guides from her cultural perspective. Unfortunately our schedules never seemed to connect and we didn't finished the interview. Looking back I'll admit I found myself a bit hesitant with the interview though, mostly out of deference for her background, but also because I didn't want to ask too many probing questions and over step my bounds. She found herself treading lightly too, wanting to be respectful and true to the knowledge that had been passed down to her from her grandmother. She also did not want to pass on information that she may not have remembered correctly.
As she stated :
"Animal guides have always been a part of my life. These are the beliefs I was raised with - my great grandmother would tell me stories about the Spirit Guides. She taught me that all things have Spirit - animals, rocks, trees, etc. and that all these things have a lesson to teach to those that take the time to listen, that all these things should be honored and respected, that no life is more important than any other life & most importantly that we are all connected. I didn't realize it at the time but she was sharing a culture that was fast disappearing. Now I very much regret not having listened more closely & there are many questions I wish I had asked. She crossed over when I was 11 years old.
...I believe that your animal guide/guides will come to you when needed, some may remain for a lifetime others for only a brief period. Guides can change during your life & most people have more than one at a time. I believe your guides show themselves when a person needs to hear the message the guide is there to convey or learn the lesson that needs to be taught. Guides often manifest in dreams and they can be accessed through meditation. Sometimes they announce their presence in a far from subtle manner - a particular animal may suddenly seem to be everywhere you look. Regardless of the manner chosen to reveal themselves a guide will show itself several times - usually within a relatively short time span trying to gain the individual's attention."
From my own experiences, every time I have ever found myself contacted by an animal guide there has been no doubt about their presence or the message they were sending me.
In dreams, meditation, or literally standing right in front of me, they have made their existence and their connection to me crystal clear. They have also invariably sent me scurrying to my stacks of books, as well as the computer, to do more hours of research then I would like to think about.
Every culture and every spiritual tradition has their share of stories, folklore, and spiritual beliefs connected with animal guides. And, the more you read, the more you will find that their differences eventually become similarities.
I thought I'd share a few of my more memorable experiences with you -
- Walking down a busy street in a very urban town and a deer runs out in front me. It dodges traffic, crosses the street and runs up into the back yard of a neighboring house. Yes, I have seen deer in this neighborhood before, but not during rush hour, and certainly never running so close to me that I could have put my hand out to touched it. I was completely startled.
Oh, but did I mention that my 3 dogs, who were also along on the walk, didn't even seem to even see it?
- Having dinner and conversation on our deck with a group of friends. One of them is telling me that every time he thinks about doing something that his gut tells him he probably shouldn't be doing, a huge black bird flys over to him and lands at his feet. We all have a big laugh at that, and as I'm replying that maybe it has something to do with the birds where he lives, and that that I have never seen a big black bird do that where I live, a huge black raven lands on the deck, right at his feet.
Everyone was so stunned, we just stood there. Our mouths wide open in shock, we picked up our dinner plates and silently hurried into the house.
After that, we all read up on ravens.
- And speaking of birds, I could write a book about all my bird experiences alone, there are the always the majestic, soaring, swooping eagles; along their friends the brave jaguars, that totally invade my meditation on a regular basis and make themselves the focal point.
Over and over... and over, and over and over.
I know you let the meditation take you where it will...
I got the message ~
- Then there is Dreamtime. The beautiful dream I had where I walked to my window one night, opened the curtain, and saw the yard full of beautiful Sayomeds happily sitting guard around the house, under the twinkling night sky.
That one still makes me smile.
- How about imagining this one -
You are in the middle of your front walk taking to a stranger. All of a sudden the stranger's eyes bug out and she gets a really odd expression on her face. As you turn around to see what she is looking at, you're shocked to discover hundreds and hundreds of beautiful butterflies in your yard right behind you.
No, it wasn't a dream.
I still haven't quite figured that one out yet, although the energy from those butterflies was really quite amazing.
Yes, in case you are wondering, I have seen the stranger again.
She just looks at me kind of weird.
and finally, I'll wrap it up with this one -
- I stepped out of my car into a parking lot, turned around and saw a deer standing right next to me. (close enough to touch... again).
What's so interesting about that? Well, that is interesting in itself...I know, but that's not the point right now.
I was about to go inside a building into a meeting where I had volunteered to be a 'student' for teachers who were training to become meditation facilitators.
My friend told me in advance - "Just be honest, but be kind and careful with your feedback...they are just learning".
Unfortunately I know that at times I can really be almost too honest and direct with people, so I think I was getting a very clear message from my guide the deer, reminding me to be 'extra gentle and kind'...like a deer... with the budding, new teachers.
For any one who would like to learn more about animal guides, their spiritual nature and folklore, I suggest starting with the classic book "Animal Speak" by the late Ted Andrews.
Although reading back through this blog post I chose to share some of my
experiences through humor, (mostly because sometimes looking back leaves me no choice but to laugh), I really do appreciate all the wonderful encounters that I have had within the natural world around me, and am also very thankful for the guidance that I have been open enough, and wise enough, to receive from the animals I have connected with.
I hope you will start noticing what's going on in the world around you a
little more too.
'Be present'... as they say.
If you do, the natural world and animal kingdom might really surprise you ~
~ diane fergurson
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