As we close out the cosmic year, the 2 of Cups and the 9 of Swords ask us to come into deeper union with our disowned parts, and to love up on our whole selves without reservation, says Brandon Alter… Cast using The Wild Unknown and the Prisma Visions Tarot
A spirit animal is a reflection of you, and is there to remind you of your inherent wisdom. They represent archetypal energies, typical traits that are personified by a specific creature. Acting as our allies, teachers, guides and protectors, if a spirit animal is showing up in your life, it has a message for you and wants to work with you.
Think, what are this animal’s strengths and how does it act? This is the message for you.
To work with your spirit animal is to step into the power you need most in any moment. This can help you feel more grounded, give you the confidence for a job interview, make you feel more alluring for a hot date or give you the strength to ask for help when you need it. Above all, it can help you to feel more confident, proactive and supported.
:: WHO IS YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL? ::
Spirit animals have an energy you will resonate with and feel drawn to, sometimes inexplicably. This doesn’t have to be specific to an animal either, it could also be a deity, super hero or even a celebrity! Yes, you could count Beyonce or Mary Magdalene as your “spirit animal.” There will be something familiar about your animal, and they’re there to teach and guide you in a direction that supports you.
Maybe you already have a strong affinity with a particular spirit animal, but if you don’t feel like have the connection yet here are some tips to help you to activate your connection.
A Vision Quest
In the morning, take some time to meditate and invoke your spirit animal to show itself. Create a presence of awareness throughout the day and look out for signs that could represent your animal. Your spirit animal is likely appear to you in a series of synchronicities, where you may literally see it everywhere—on street art, the internet, magazines, books, posters, gifts you receive from friends, dreams or even a chance encounter with the animal itself.
When your animal wants to be seen, it’ll make sure you notice it so keep your eyes wide open. Journal your encounters as these encounters are all insights into what is being revealed to you. You may come into contact with more than one animal, but the animal you see most often is the most prominent message. Think of the additional animals as the supporting acts.
You can connect with your spirit animal through meditation, while a guided shamanic journey will lead you to your animal and hold space for you to communicate more deeply with them. There are guided meditations available online (search: “spirit animal guided meditation”) and workshops that hold space for you to meet your spirit animal. Check event listings for sessions in your area.
Before you go to sleep, ask your spirit animal to reveal themselves to you in your dream. Your intention could be, ” Spirit animal, who serves my highest and best good, please come to me in my dreams tonight. I am open to your wisdom. Thank you for your protection and guidance. You will be remembered in the morning.”
Repeat this invocation as you fall asleep. Make sure that you have a pen and paper by your bed for when you wake up in the morning, and write down what you remember as soon as you wake up and the memory of the dream is still fresh.
One of the quickest ways to connect with your spirit animal is to use an animal oracle deck (we love the Wild Unknown Animal Spirit deck). Connect with the deck and draw a card (or a few cards) to represent what serves you. You can take guidance from the reference book that accompanies the deck but I would also recommend journalling how this card makes you feel, use your intuition to find the meaning. Meditate on the card and see what messages come through to you from the unseen realm.
If you draw an animal that makes you feel uncomfortable, brings up a phobia or a feeling of dislike, this animal can represent your shadow side. This could symbolize something in the animal’s character that you’re avoiding in your life. Take this as an opportunity to tune in to what may need healing in your life. Remember, if this animal is showing up for you, it is there to be seen, and it’s because you are ready. Even if you don’t think you are…
:: HOW TO WORK WITH YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL ::
Act Like Your Animal
Use the animal’s instinct as a guide for what action you need to take. How does your animal think and act?
Here are a few examples: Stand strong and committed like the bear. Be sensual and independent like the cat. Do some Vinyasa yoga to connect with your flexibility like the snake. Howl at the moon to embody the wolf. Share your wisdom as a teacher like the owl. Seize an opportunity like the magpie.
Check out youtube or some David Attenborough documentaries to study the characteristics of your animal. Have fun with how you embody your animal, no-one else needs to know, and watch to see how people respond to you after you’ve been channeling the ways of your animal.
Dress Like Your Animal
Wear the colors and patterns of your animal to connect with their spirit. This can be a subtle act, for example wearing leopard print underwear to honor your inner wild cat. Let your hair loose to unleash the lion in you. Think of black as the color of mystery and transformation. If your animal is colorful then it’s a sure sign that you need to been seen.
Eat Like Your Animal
Food nourishes us and gives us energy. Animals use food to do this in the purest way, no fad-diets! They forage or hunt for what their body needs and eat specifically to adapt to their environment. Use the dietary habits of your animal as a guide for what will nourish you at the moment. If your animal is a herbivore, try a plant-based diet and see how your body feels. Birds have a very fast metabolism to enable them to stay light so that they can fly, eating little and often. Maybe the message is simply that you take time to slow down to eat.
Meditate With Your Animal
Using a guided meditation, journey to connect with your spirit animal. Ground yourself and when you’ve connected with your animal, visualize the animal’s energy merging with yours. Feel yourself integrating its strength and wisdom. Set the intention to embody the animal’s empowerment for the day ahead. Working with animals is very grounding, so know that your energy will be protected by the animal as it serves you.
Animals are wise and gentle guides. They haven’t forgotten their connection with earth and with us, and they need our help to protect and heal our planet. As always, the healing journey begins with us. This is an invitation to call on your natural superpowers and work with animal instinct to create the change in your life that you’ve been waiting for.
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…
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.
How to fully embody the lessons of the Tarot? Play tarot fashion dress up of course, says Gabriela Herstik…Photography: Mary Decrescenzio
:: THE MAGICIAN ::
There’s a certain power that arises when you tap your own intuition, your spirit, and declare to the Universe that YOU are the one in charge of your own manifestations and actions. The Magician sings of this. She is inner strength, manifestation and power. And she uses all the elements at her disposal to create.
I wanted to feel alive, regal, and (my version of) colorful in this outfit. I wanted to feel cloaked, and protected and magickal. I wore the dress I wore for my 20th birthday layered under a big, knit sweater, and I added layered necklaces and a scarf I cinched around my waist. I wore two different mala beads around my wrist, wrapped my pentacle necklace into a bracelet.
I grabbed my skeleton hand chalice and figured I would find a wand in the forest and use my eyes as daggers to round up all the suites of the Tarot. I wanted to feel strong and powerful. I wanted to feel like I was magick manifested.
:: TEMPERANCE ::
Temperance speaks of working with opposing elements and using them to find balance. Battle water with fire, earth with air. Temperance is a card of healing, of renewal, a flowing stream promising something better, something easier.
I wanted to interpret this card surrounded by water, with pieces in sweet blue and just a touch of red (lipstick always counts). I picked up this wonderful vintage teddy from the place I work, Hip Wa Zee, and paired it with this sweet little robe I got from my friend Ivory who runs an incredibly curated vintage shop called Forgotten Feather Vintage.
I was feeling very “Secret Garden,” and I believe Temperance reminds us to find our own secret garden, our own place of peace. A safe haven to remind us that once we find balance, everything else will fall into place.
:: THE HERMIT ::
The Hermit speaks of vulnerability, of shedding your layers and moving inward. In the Wild Unknown Deck, the Hermit is represented by the turtle, and the symbolism is both obvious and profound – that underneath your shell, you are your own home.
My spiked leather jacket is like this shell, a barrier between me and the world. It gives me the confidence and strength to own my s***. Pieces like this are my protection as I move through this life, especially as someone who can be passed over as vulnerable or weak because of my small frame.
I wore a vintage nightgown from Forgotten Feather, something really delicate, to represent the journey inward. Embracing The Hermit means dealing with your own issues face on – finding them, learning from them and hopefully growing from them. It also means picking up your shell, and continuing along your own path as you explore what it means to tune into yourself.
:: THE HANGED MAN ::
The Hanged Man. This card reminds us to change our perspective, let go of ego, and embrace the sense of rebirth that’s available when we choose to see things in a new light. The Hanged Man is represented by a bat in the Wild Unknown deck, and just like the bat uses echolocation to see, we are reminded to use our intuition when our own sense of perspective is off.
I chose a floral shirt to represent growth and rebirth and a slick leather style skirt to represent how we must let judgments pass over us without resistance. The darker color pallet and oversize knit shawl were inspired by the aesthetic of the card, and the image of the bat itself. I was inspired by pieces that make me feel powerful, intuitive and strong.
You can check out Gariela’s full fashion tarot series at the link.
Artist and island dweller Monica Ruiz shares why she finds a deeper connection to her Tarot practise at the beach, where the elements conspire to create soul connection, serenity and focus. Will you follow her lead this summer?
“…treat them kindly. Build a relationship with them that is respectful. Spend time with them, especially at first. Look through the imagery and handle the cards daily…Be sensitive to how you feel when you handle the cards…Allow the ritual of using them to be positive, exploratory, & even fun…” ~ Kim Krans
I’m in love with my practise of Beach Tarot: besides breathing and meditating with my cats (of course), it’s one of my favorite ways to center my energy and bring much needed clarity to my dream endeavors, my emotions and the daily happenings in my life.
At first I was hesitant about bringing my deck to the beach with me, thinking the sand, spray or a random raindrop may “ruin” them. But when I thought about it, I remembered how much I love the elements of the beach with all of my heart: the sand (earth, grounding); the ocean (water, flow); the clouds and mists (air, breath); and of course the SUN (fire, heart).
Breathing, reading, thinking and writing, as well as watching the love of my life surf in the swirl of these elements, as represented in the Tarot, brings me pure joy – so why wouldn’t my beloved cards benefit from the same energies and vibrations that I treasure so much?
When I use my cards it’s about listening to my heart, inspired by intuitive visual imagery that vibes with me and my mind’s eye, which is why I gifted myself with The Wild Unknown Tarot deck by Kim Krans at the beginning of this year. From the first time I came across Kim’s magical illustrations, I felt like my spirit became entwined with the secrets of the Universe and the soul of Mother Nature when I gazed at them. That’s the thing with art: when it makes your heart tick, you FEEL it.
I pull a card at least every other day at home, when I’m setting intentions, looking for some guidance or just in need of a friendly reminder to listen to my gut. I LOVE to cover my art projects in my Tarot cards as well, to infuse them with the same beautiful and natural gifts I get from the sun at the beach. Gifts of light and energy.
But I breathe deeper and slower at the beach, and because of the love and respect I have for this environment I believe it creates a stronger more authentic connection with my deck, and so the guidance the cards provide feels more loving and natural. The beach allows me to tap into a “Be Here Now” experience, where pretty much all nonsense dissipates. When I gaze at the horizon, I immediately start to feel calmer and am able to rationalize my thoughts and keep my intentions solid without the innocent distractions I may find at home. The voice in my head sounds loving and knowing, while the elements contribute to an overall feeling of serenity, and I can focus.
Mother Nature provides the best environment to heal, meditate, ponder and celebrate your existence – wherever that may be. Forests, the mountains, a meadow, park, your backyard or even a favorite garden, are all amazing places for sole/soul attunement. Even just sitting with your houseplants helps. I take advantage of this as a form of self-love, so it makes sense that my Beach Tarot practice brings me a sense of true connection to my core being.
Once settled on the sand, I shuffle my cards for a few minutes and just focus on the ocean and my breath, to help center my mind on what is truest in my heart at that moment. When I draw my card, (or, as actually happens quite often at the beach, the wind chooses a card for me during my shuffle) I sit with it for a couple of minutes. During this pause I absorb and contemplate the image, along with my thoughts, paying attention to my heartbeat, before looking up its meaning.
After reading about the card and meditating for a moment, I set my card in the sand and allow it to “re-charge” while I stretch and usually do some writing. I will journal about my connection to my card, about its meaning and usually write out a set of affirmations that pour out of me, inspired by the card. If it feels like an extra potent card, like the message couldn’t be more perfect, I’ll usually carry it with me for a few days afterwards, in my journal or whatever book I’m reading.
In this way, bringing my cards to the beach with me has become a fun, sacred practice, combining heartfelt intuition and magical imagery with energetic pulse of the majestic sea. This is my Beach Tarot.
Island dweller Monica Ruiz is a collage artist, hardcore daydreamer, HayHouse book reviewer, bloggess, burrito lover, cat enthusiast, librarian assistant and wanderluster who is obsessed with good hip-hop beats, Lana Del Rey and Paris, France. She owns way too many black clothes, swoons over Sofia Coppola films and loves the concept of protecting your magic with an open heart.
Illustrator Kim Krans has gained a cult following as creator of The Wild Unknown Tarot deck. Launched in 2008, her mystical vision has since expanded to include zodiac prints, jewelry and even a kids’ alphabet book. As she launches her latest project, a collection of one-off paintings based on the cards, she explains her connection to the Tarot an invites us to take a trip into the wilderness within. Words: Ruby Warrington. Portraits: Daniel Arnold.
What was your first introduction to the Tarot and why did it resonate with you?
One night when my band was on tour we crashed at our friend’s house in Boston and I slept in a bed that had a beautiful woodcut print of the Magician hanging over it. I remember starting at it before I fell asleep and saying to myself; “someday I will draw the Tarot deck.” I was introduced to the Tarot well before then but I swear something happened that night…The Magician crept right into my bones.
The Magician: When the Magician appears in a spread, it points to the talents, capabilities and resources at the querent’s disposal. Depending on the card’s placement in relation to other cards, the message is to tap into one’s full potential rather than holding back, especially when there is a need to transform something. There are choices and directions to take. Guidance can arrive through one’s own intuition or in the form of someone who brings about change or transformation.
What makes the Tarot so relevant in post 2012 life on planet Earth?
We all want a little guidance, right? We have lots of voices within us – some come from places of fear, doubt, low self-esteem, bummer things that happened in the past, etc. These voices get all tangled up and lead us to believe we are less amazing then we are. But underneath all that, waiting for us to hear it, is one super clear, resonant, calm voice that knows exactly what to do. It’s tough to hear it if we don’t consciously listen for it, but Tarot helps us get there… in that it helps us see ourselves and our patterns. If you wonder why after a good reading you feel “relieved” or “more yourself” (even if it’s a dark-ish reading) it’s because you made contact with that inner voice. Keep finding ways to connect with it, listen to it, and soon your path becomes golden.
What’s your favorite card in the Wild Unknown deck, and why?
The Moon card, for sure. The most important reading of my life had The Moon as the central card…that reading was a real turning point. It was just months before the deck came out. So I am ever-loyal to that card. The Hermit is a close runner-up fave.
The Moon: The Moon is the card of intuition, dreams and the unconscious. The Moon provides light as a reflection of the Sun, yet this light is dim, uncertain, and only vaguely illuminates our path as we journey toward higher consciousness. When a path leads between two towers into the distance, it is showing the way to the unconsciousness. The astrological sign associated with this card is Pisces – psychic, receptive and mysterious.
We discovered your Zodiac project on Pinterest. Will we see more of this? (Obsessed!)
Yes! The Zodiac series I drew just came out as a blank notecard set. All twelve drawings in one box…no more stressing to find your far-out friend a birthday card!
How do you connect to the Wild Unknown inside you in your daily life?
The best access point for me is meditation, yoga, and mantra. I also take walks on Zuma beach a lot. Singing also helps me.
Is that “Wilderness” the same thing as the guru they say lives inside us all?
I’m going to take a bold stab at this big question and say – the “wilderness” is not the guru but instead it is the place within where the guru can be found. It is the realm of the guru. But the wilderness is fluid, changing, wild, magical, creative and mysterious…while so far…the moments I have glimpsed the guru it is perfectly still. Perfectly, perfectly still.
And if it were an actual place on Earth, what’s the closest you’ve come to finding it?
In a small shrine in the Poconos.
“So I cut off my hair and I rode straight away, to the wild unknown country,
where I could not go wrong…” – Bob Dylan