WILD UNKNOWN: HOW TO WORK WITH THE ANIMAL SPIRIT ORACLE

It’s the deck everybody’s talking about. Gabriela Herstik has the low-down on how to work with the Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Oracle…

Wild Unknown creator Kim Krans

It’s “Animal Spirit” and not “Spirit Animal” for a reason! For Kim Krans, head honcho/Goddess of The Wild Unknown, her latest oracle deck is an exploration of all the divine animal energies that encompass aspects of human existence and spirit.

Instead of focusing on your “spirit animal,” Krans invites us to focus on the elemental energies of each creature in a way that speaks to our relationships and to deeper parts of ourselves—once again, inviting exploration of the wild unknown of the soul.

This new deck allows for introspection in a radical and untamed way. This deck says it’s okay to be feral and wild, or tame and controlled, because it’s important to wander through it all. And by including Spirit as an element, Krans takes it one step further, inviting creativity and intuition to be a part of the journey. Whether you’re a unicorn or bumblebee, all is welcome in The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Oracle.

Below, we explore each element, as well as an animal card from each, gaining a little more insight into the fantastic world of the Animal Spirit Oracle. And in learning about the animals in the deck, Krans hopes to inspire a more connected relationship to this world and all her creatures.

:: Earth ::

Animals of the Earth represent our basic needs, like home, money and work. These animals are grounded in the present and approach their routines with ease, but can get stuck without freedom from what they know. Animals of the Earth ask us to listen and shift perspectives—are we looking too much to the ground, or too much at the sky? These creatures are asking us to soften and surrender to the changes we may be facing, and they remind us to water our own soil, since self-compassion is necessary for growth.

The Deer – The Deer suggests a feminine softness and a graceful, maternal take on what can be a very stoic energy. How can steady and grounded Earth energy help you to bask in everything new? Don’t be afraid to reap the rewards of your harvest. By finding tenderness in yourself, you’re able to walk this life with more grace and intention—no matter how bumpy the ground is. Tap into your intuition and listen from your heart. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself in your situation, your inner deer will thank you.

:: The Air ::

With freedom comes wisdom. Creatures of the Air are able to see what others may miss, observing quietly, powerfully and deeply. When a creature of this suite comes up in a reading it can be a reminder to find some grounding, to slow down and to reconnect to the physical realms. Life is complex and we seek to move as effortlessly as possible, like the wind. By tapping into Air energy at its most expansive, we are invited to see and feel the subtler realm of existence.

The Crow – Through the eyes of The Crow, the world becomes something magical—something mysterious and precious and exciting. The Crow is a drawn to the unseen, to the supernatural and the occult. She has a fascination with the deeper, all-encompassing experience of the past, present and future. Use this energy when your mind is ready. To be present. Be open. Be patient. Sometimes the wind tells us secrets that we must be ready to hear.

:: Fire ::

By working with animals that speak of our passion and what lights our spark, we’re able to tap into the fiery aspect of ourselves for the ultimate transformation. These most powerful, and sometimes destructive, aspects of ourselves, pave the way for transmutation and rebirth—as the creatures of the Fire elment attest to. These cards represent growth, they represent the death of ego, and they ask us to sit in the fire until it’s too hot. Invite these beings in to help burn the way to a new you.

The Lion – BE the Lion. You have it in you to be the king of the jungle, after all. Don’t stop feeding your flame simply because others are not ready for it. The Lion’s energy may intimidate those who aren’t ready, but his energy is available to all who are willing. By tapping into this card, transformation is completely possible—with a keen sense of your personal strengths, you’re able to accomplish anything. The Lion simply asks you to open up to this sort of revolution. Once you do you’ll see how easy it is to roar.

:: Water ::

In the name of balance, creatures of the Water are asking us to jump into the messy, wonderful, beautiful world of our emotions, loves and passions. These are creatures that speak of our ability to express ourselves and to love and create. These animals ask us to open ourselves up and to surrender—to be a conduit for the flow of the Universe. Allow the current to take you where it may—what can you learn from floating down a different stream?

The Oyster – We all have special gifts – and the Oyster reminds us to share these gifts with the world. When we see the sensitive, watery side of ourselves as a treasure instead of a burden, we’re able to use our intuition and deep-rooted wisdom in a more authentic way. The Oyster works hard to create her pearl—a beautiful gift that no one else can give. By revealing this part of yourself, by showing your more vulnerable side, you’re allowing space for growth and reflection, all while giving others permission to do the same.

:: Spirit ::

The nature of the Spirit cards is steeped in mystery. These creatures exist on realms parallel to our own— asking us to shift our gaze so we can embody the messages they’re trying to teach us. By working with our subtle body and energies, like the chakras, these cards help us view situations in a new, more inviting and profound light. Even for Krans, these cards are mysterious, inviting one to delve into the deeper, unknown waters to see what lies beneath the surface. Krans explains that it’s okay to not completely understand the Spirit cards. Invite the energies in, work with them and let them take you on their journey.

Sea Serpent – Ruling over the second chakra, the Sea Serpent gives us permission to bask in creativity and sensuality without shame. This card is like Kundalini energy personified, allowing us to live with our desires in a way that feeds our soul. Like a mother giving her child a loving embrace, this Spirit card asks us to step into pleasure in its purest form. What do you have to let go of to let the energy of this card flow through you? Where is there drought, and what is flooded? Allow the energy of the Sea Serpent, allow the energy of Spirit, to cradle you. Do less. Open yourself up, there is nothing to be ashamed of.

Shop The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Oracle

TURNED ON: SCENT AND SENSUALITY

Our sense of smell is a basic bitch. This month, resident sex and spirituality columnist Ellie Burrows investigates a case of scent and sensuality. Image: The author shot by Mikal Marie Evans

I am a human animal. I know this because I spend most of my time relatively upright asking important existential questions like ‘why am I here?’ or ‘what is the meaning of life?’

But lately, I feel like a complete and total beast. I’m talking about the kind that walks on four legs, doesn’t speak, and just sniffs its way around its habitat. Like those kind of animals, I’ve been at the mercy of my nose.

Recently, I smelled the best-smelling human I have ever smelled in my life. It came from the neck, right behind the ear. No, it wasn’t cologne. Yes, it was just skin. The smell was so compelling, so intoxicating, so layered in deliciousness that I was completely and totally hooked from the first whiff. It was a case of scent and sensuality.

Even for a writer, describing the mute sense is challenging, but I think it smelled something like clean laundry, drenched in fresh water, wrapped in sandalwood, sprinkled with bergamot, dipped in Yerba Mate, and peppered with masculine musk. I realize these could be the notes in a ubiquitous fragrance called “Eau de New York City Man,” but this scent was specific. It was his scent.

Smell. It’s like the basic bitch of the senses. It’s the sense associated with Muladhara chakra: the first and lowest, the base chakra. This energetic center has to do with basic needs and survival. No one wants to have first chakra problems: trouble making money, and feeding oneself. If we can’t work these things out, it’s pretty hard to function in the world. But the smell I smelled, I would happily get low for, like first chakra low. I would literally get on all fours for it.

Sadly, many people are grossly misinformed and rank smell as the sense they would be most likely to forfeit. But smell is associated with the first chakra because it is the origin sense, both in science (did you know our entire brain grew from what was once a primitive olfactory cortex?) and other schools of thought, too.

I’m not a particularly avid bible reader as that’s not necessarily how I contextualize my spirituality, but so many of the spiritual parameters of the western world, are rooted in The Book. So it’s worth noting that according to the Judeo-Christian piece of the spiritual pie, our nose is how we got our souls: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7). And so it goes; no nose, no breath, no soul, no life. The inability to smell is considered a spiritual impairment, as then the body would not be connected to the soul.

Beyond the bible, in all sorts of spiritual circles, smell is wildly important when it comes to creating scared space. Walk through any house of the divine and you might smell Frankincense or Himalayan herbs. When it comes to my own sacred space, I would never sit down to write without burning something like Spider Woman, a handmade incense to enhance creativity from The Sword and Rose in San Francisco.

But sadly in urban society, smell doesn’t get a lot of attention unless we are avoiding bad aromas, or being lured into a restaurant by the part of our sense of smell that’s connected to our taste buds. And FYI The estimated size of the global antiperspirant and deodorant market in 2015 is $18 billion. That’s a lot of hush money when it comes to B.O.

If our sense of smell is the basic bitch, then in modern society sight is like top dog. Although perhaps touch should be alpha when it comes to love, just consider the fundamental M.O. of generation Tinder: we decide whether or not we’re willing to even meet someone via Google image.

Now more than ever the Internet has forced us to determine attraction in the context of sight, and this is highly problematic. Your eyes can’t tell you important things like if he smells like truffles* – or if he will like the taste between your legs.

I remember a period of time when looks mattered most to me, but that theory went out the window when I met a bald, portly guy who excelled in touch. And in college there was this guys who was totally HST (Hot, Smart & Talented), but something about him smelled like that acronym too – if you add an “I” and rearrange the letters. He smelled of mothballs, stale laundry, last night’s beer, and whatever is growing underneath your nails. You could argue that most college guys smelled like that, but there was something in his skin that was repulsive to me. Easy on the eyes, but extremely hard on the nose.

For all the sight hype, looks can grow on you provided you enjoy someone’s personality or feel they love you in the way you need to be loved. But I would be willing to bet big money that the same doesn’t go for smell. It’s too polarizing. It’s too ancient and primitive, too deeply tied to good and bad and fight or flight. I couldn’t hang around a person who smelled vile no matter how many boxes he or she ticked.

I knew I couldn’t write this piece without reading Rachel Herz’s The Scent of Desire and in it she writes this: “body chemistry plays a startlingly large role in who we are attracted to, and our nose speaks loudly to our souls even if it seems like only a barely audible whisper.”

The smell I smelled on him, spoke unequivocally to my soul – but rather than a whisper, it was an ecstatic scream. It turns out it was actually the mating call of an immune system complimentary to mine, a seed’s serenade to its ideal fertile soil. This scent, which scientifically can belong to one person and one person only, was designed for me. And so, my humanity must surrender and be humbled.

I’m an animal. I know this because lately I feel comfortable on all fours and my nose knows the answers to the questions like ‘who should I have sex with’ and ‘how can I ensure my children will survive.’

Fun Facts:

*Some truffles contain a steroid, androstenol, which gives them the musky nutty taste. That same steroid is also synthesized by human males in the testes and secreted by their sweat glands. I love truffles. I love men. Makes so much sense! Makes me want to listen to this.

Also:
No, it’s not pheromones.
Why using your nose isn’t foolproof.
When Kate met Steven.

Further Reading:
The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell
by Rachel Herz
A Natural History of the Senses
by Diane Ackerman