START WORKING WITH YOUR SPIRIT ANIMALS TODAY

Whether it’s a beloved pet, a fluffy social media meme, or even a lowly housefly, animals are reaching out to you constantly to offer their assistance. Aria Mae shares how to work with your spirit animals and start receiving their medicine. Main Image: Mathilde Aubier

 

It’s the third raven you’ve seen this week. Or, your friend mentions otters just moments before you notice a billboard featuring their fuzzy faces …

Are these coincidences, or something more? Serendipitous events are actually the language of animal medicine. Animal totems can come to us in many ways—you simply need to open wide to receive the magic! It’s easy to forget that we, too, are part of the animal kingdom, and that out furry, scaly, and feathered friends are asking to communicate with us all the time!

If you have a specific animal that you feel wants to work with you, read more about how to work with your spirit animal here.

If you’re new to working with spirit animals, here are five ways to start working with their medicine right now  …

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1/Pay attention
You could have an animal dream, vision, shamanic journey, or an encounter in nature … but there are also reminders for us in magazine ads and funny videos posted on Facebook. Yes—spirit animals are responding to technology by being present in virtual spaces!

Notice what element(s) the species is associated with, what the archetypal characteristics of this animal are, both in our culture and in other societies, and what kinds of messages you receive when you tune in to this species. 

When you track your spirit animals moments, you will see the patterns and signs of species reaching out to you.

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2/Ask for Visions
Remember that you can ask your animal animals specific questions too. Seeking guidance for a big decision? Request their assistance!

While riding a bus on one of the most dangerous mountain passes in northern India, I asked my spirit animals for help. Immediately I had a funny vision—in my mind’s eye, I saw a tiger hopping around inside the bus, totally enjoying the harrowing adventure. It reminded me to let go in that moment and to enjoy the ride!

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3/Build Uncommon Altars
There are so many species we don’t think of as “power” animals, and yet they contain huge medicine for our lives—think insects, worms, or other creepy-crawlies, predators we don’t romanticize, like hyenas, and birds we love to hate like starlings and vultures.

Pick something that really bothers you about these creatures, and ask: what are these spirit animals messages for me? Create an altar with images of them, a love poem, and something to represent their favorite foods as an offering.

As you pass your altar daily, feel gratitude for the role this animal plays in their ecosystem, and remember your own importance in nature, too. 

 

Image: Sean Gadoury

4/Cast Spells, in Love
Writing poems is a beautiful way to draw boundaries with spirit animals while also honoring them. I use this often for so-called “pests” like mosquitoes and ticks when I’m out in the woods. If you live near the ocean, you could do this for sharks or jellyfish …

For example: Ticks I love you/But I don’t need you/Find your food another way/Leave me in peace on this glorious day!

The trick is to hold the poem spell in love, not fear. Be grateful for your ability to enter the spirit animals’ homes, as you practice holding boundaries.

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5/Own YOUR Animal Medicine
A beautiful thing about our relationship with other species is realizing we can give our own animal medicine back … We are spirit animals, too! 

What does your unique medicine look like? Do you want to donate your time to a farm sanctuary? Can you organize a fundraiser or give cash to a well-researched wildlife fund? Is it time to adopt a rabbit, rat, or donkey from a shelter?

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And most importantly, have fun with it! Let yourself be in awe of the inchworm that somehow landed on your sandwich. Smile and wink at the ducks in the pond at the park. Surrender to the beauty of the housefly before you open the window to let it outside.

Keep this attitude of joy at the forefront of your journey with animal guides, and you will receive more than you imagined possible … 

Aria Mae is an Ancestral Healer, Priestess, and Spiritual Heart Surgeon. She creates heart-awakening medicinal experiences through her Magical Monday private retreats, three-month AWAKEN program, and group gatherings. Using a medley of family constellation therapy, shadow work, sociology, animal communication, tantra, mindfulness and love, Aria helps others mend what may have been deemed “broken” by life’s trials – forever activating the vibrancy of their heart’s intuitive abilities. 

REMEMBERING THE WISDOM OF WILDNESS

Re-connect to the wisdom of wilderness, and perhaps our planet will save US, says Darren Austin HallArtwork: Stéphane Recoupé

“To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.” — Terry Tempest Williams

The worst kind of loss is one you’re not even aware of. The loss of the wild and our allied wildness is one such loss, haunting us in a multitude of inner-howlings and muffled cries; deep, psychic pains and distant, all-engulfing yearnings.

We may taste it in the devastating awe of a sublime valley of meandering meadows and lakes surrounded by towering mountains. Or else in the skin-crawling terror that some city slickers can experience in the dark woods. We get little nudges of it, too, when we boldly take risks, calling upon unknown resources. In the ecstatic place when limits are transcended and we witness how much more powerful we are than we believed.

And we also find it in the rebellious streak that smirks at authority figures, sometimes playfully, sometimes out of a sheer desire to transgress any kind of ‘taming’ of our primal being, as if it were a grave betrayal. The story of our wildness—what it is, what happened to it and what to do with it now—is old and complicated, but it’s one worth remembering, for it harkens back to the most ancient wounds that usurp us all.

Our natural world, horrendously abused, is now in a state so perilous our very survival as a species is threatened. This is an example of just how deep the wound of separating from our wildness goes. At the heart of perhaps one of the longest and most insane of wars in our story as a species, it is also one we are largely ignorant of: the war against both nature and the wilds of our own human nature.

I realized this returning to Toronto after a recent vision quest in Manitoba, and realizing what we’ve lost in choosing to pave over Her wild, ragged skin; to relegate Her rawness to sanitized city parks; to drown out the peaceful pulse of Her wilderness with the perpetual motion of the traffic and busyness that charge our cities with a certain kind of restless madness.

Moreover, how we have become cut off from something so vital and necessary; something that keeps us in constant alignment with what is true and good, on a path of virtue, and away from the suffering that modern culture wreaks upon us by way of social conditioning.

But all it takes to remember is to acknowledge the inherent wisdom that awakens within us when we’re in the wild, like a silent soul-switch.

In any moment of heartache, when you’ve felt called to take a walk in park or, better yet, hike in a forest, didn’t you experience an almost immediate peace-of-mind? And perhaps a subsequent yet even more powerful cascade of wise insights, resolve, and answers? In my one-on-one healing practice, I often send people besieged by turmoil to the park to sit beneath a tree, to ground into the earth and simply ask questions. I counsel them to enter a state of meditative receptivity and to wait to see what happens. It never fails.

One incredulous friend later admitted she thought it was some ‘hippy bullshit’—but that within minutes of sitting, she found extraordinary insights. On this note, one ancient name for Goddess Earth is Sophia, meaning ‘wisdom’—also at the root of the word philosophy: philo (love) of sophy (wisdom). Or Sophia, the Earth Goddess, whose quality is wisdom.

I believe that when we encounter any kind of wilderness, even in a city park, an extraordinary resonance takes place between it and the wilderness buried deep in us. Suddenly, stagnant emotions, thoughts and experiences find flow because what is wild is always in flow, cannot be tamed nor contained. To take a hit of this means an immediate sense of liberation.

It’s a feeling we experience as teenagers: as our hormones thrust our bodies into adulthood, and we feel the unhinged energies of our being expanding. In traditional cultures, these were times to take the boys and girls into the wild to teach them how to navigate these new energies, so that their wildness could be channeled, and not devour them in arrogant hubris and inflated egos vulnerable to narcissism.

Nowadays, kids do drugs, and partake in other risky activities to test their mettle against these dynamic evolutions. All too often, it leads to disaster—disasters we often survive (we are sturdy folk). But some are are never able to escape this deep yearning for more aliveness, chasing the sensation for the rest of their lives in whirlwinds of drug and alcohol abuse.

For the great call of the wilderness is forever present.

If we choose, we can learn to ride the stallion of our desires using the tools of our spiritual practice, while fostering a quiet reverence for the wild, knowing that there will always be a part of us that lies beyond our control. For if we don’t figure out how to live in harmony with our wildness, we’re doomed. Something we’re reckoning with as a species right now.

And so I invite you to rediscover the wild in you and to find ways to connect more deeply and even sacredly to the wilds of the world.

  • Perhaps this means a month-long discipline of mini-vision questing a la urban shamanism, going to the nearby park every morning to sit in gratitude and receptivity for potential flumes of wisdom.
  • Perhaps this means shaking for twenty minutes a day and letting the voice vent into roars, yells and spontaneous songs.
  • Perhaps it means following our instincts more, our gut-truths, and heart-wombing wisdom; giving head to our heart.

Whatever your way of connecting to the wisdom of wildness, know that you are healing the great wound between ourselves and the Earth, a wound that has pushed us to the harrowing brink. Know that these small acts are in service of a greater movement that is sweeping through our species as we begin to remember a deeply eternal love for Earth, and for the wild.

In which we might just find the way to live one of the most splendorous truths imaginable; we might find the way to let the world save us.

Discover more about Darren Austin Hall and his work at Darrenaustinhall.com

HOW TO WORK WITH YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL: A TOTAL GUIDE

Tap into the wisdom of the animal kingdom by learning how to work with your spirit animal, says Wolf SisterArtwork: Erin Petson

 

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.

Meditate
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.

Dreamtime
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.

Oracle Cards
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.

I CAN SEE CLEARLY: NEPTUNE RETROGRADE FOR YOUR SIGN

King Neptune, planet of intuition, imagination and illusions, has begun its annual backward spin of the Zodiac. Ruby Warrington gets to grips with this elusive but powerful entity, and asks what this retro period will ask each sign to confront.

Neptune is the planet I find it hardest to get my head around – but then, that’s to be expected. Ruler of Pisces, Neptune is the dreamer and the empath of the cosmos, the planet ruling our imagination, our intuition and our ideals. One of the slower-moving celestial bodies (or “collective,” as their influence extends over generations), in the natal chart of anybody born between November 1970 to January 1984, and again briefly between June and November 1984, Neptune will be in Sagittarius, a sign where this deep-sea diver feels quite at home.

Sagittarius appreciates high ethics, prophetic thinking and spiritual seeking too, and has been working hand-in-hand with King Neptune to wire today’s thirty-something generation to idealize a broadening of our collective worldview. Welcome to the global village, baby, where the lure of escape into foreign cultures and spiritual codes is felt like the pull of the poles, altruism is aspirational and even the yoga or meditation practice we idolize is often seen as a gateway to a higher state of consciousness.

For Neptune the escapist and the mystic, mind-altering substances are another portal to the other dimensions that are always there in our peripheral vision. And with expansive, optimistic Sag on hand to pour or roll us another one, “go on, why not, it’ll be fun!”, it’s not surprising we found a stairway to heaven through ecstasy culture and invented binge drinking in the 1990’s. Or that addiction is the symptom of so many Neptune-in-Sagittarius casualties. Lucky we’ve learned to embrace the Neptunian notions of self-help and self-love too.

With Sagittarius rising, I have also have Neptune in my first house. Enter the body dysmorphia that led to an eating disorder in my teenage years, compounded by my controlling Scorpio North Node return – but also, Sag, for granting me the compassion to love myself out of it, allowing me to learn from it and refusing to let me take it too seriously. Neptune in the first house can also mean an effortless slide into the deeper reaches of the imagination, an alluring shape-shifter and a storefront displaying the mysteries of the Universe. So go figure, Numis…

Why all the Neptune research this week? On June 9, he began his annual retrograde cycle. Of all the outer planets, Neptune spends the most time treading water in retrograde motion – 158 days every 12.07 months – a fitting pattern for the planet that also governs subconscious memories of distant childhood and even past lives. In a Neptune retrograde cycle, the mysteries he usually conceals are brought to the surface for us to examine in real time. Our intuition is given more currency. Dreams demand to be interpreted. Illusions, and delusions, are exposed, and creative ideas that have been gestating come forth and begin to take shape in the material world.

Currently in Pisces, Neptune’s cosmic castle, I was curious to explore what this might mean for me in the coming months (he resumes direct motion November 16) and what subtly sensed waves his backward strokes will send across the Zodiac at large.

* For a truly accurate reading, get your birth chart for free here. As an Aries with Sag rising, I will feel ripples of Neptune retro in Pisces in both the twelfth and fourth houses. But as Pisces actually rules the third house in my natal chart, I’ll look here for the most meaningful and relevant insights.

Aries / Aries rising (twelfth house)
Here is your chance to dive deep and rise to the surface of your subconscious with that most highly valued prize: the truth. Pay close attention to the neuroses that occupy your thinking now, and be bold in seizing the opportunity for healing that comes with smoking them out. Avoid indulging in mind-altering substances. Be honest with yourself and embrace clarity as a tool for lasting personal development.

Taurus / Taurus rising (eleventh house)
Choose not to ignore your paranoia about issues affecting any area of your life where group dynamics rule. Demand to know the details of the political dealings you rightly sense are going on behind the scenes. Then, think not what your friends can do for you, but what you can do for your friends. Fall into compassion and fire up your humanitarian efforts. Meditate on the germ of a revolutionary idea, and watch it flourish.

Gemini / Gemini rising (tenth house)
Duties or responsibilities you’ve been avoiding can no longer be ignored. It’s time to take the reins and begin to steer your ship into deeper waters, however intimidating this might feel. Don’t be afraid to tap into your inner ball-breaker. Act “as if” you’re the boss. When the limelight beckons, don’t hide away in the shadows. Get real about the sacrifices you need to make if you want your career to take off the way you envision.

Cancer / Cancer rising (ninth house)
Come out of your cave and give in to your wanderlust. A spiritual awakening could be in store for you when you open your mind and put paid to fears you can now see are completely unfounded. Dive into your studies in the University of Life, and embark on a vision quest or spiritual pilgrimage. To achieve enlightenment, deal only in what you know in your soul to be the truth, and demand the same of others.

Leo / Leo rising (eighth house)
Like a butterfly, you are on a journey of transformation and rebirth. But now you’re being asked to come clean about wherever wallowing in your comfort zone is stunting your personal growth. Escape into obsession and control will only compound your sense of being stuck. Ignore your intuition at your peril, and pick up creative projects with Leonine gusto. A mystery about an inheritance or money owed could also be resolved.

Virgo / Virgo rising (seventh house)
Expect a breakthrough in your couple’s therapy sessions, as deep-seated fractures in your closest relationships come up for air and healing. Embrace situations that show your creative and business collaborators’ true colors, and resolve to accept what you see. Give in to the notion of compromise. See past your ego for ways for justice to be served. Accept that the skeletons in your closet could actually be good PR.

Libra / Libra rising (sixth house)
Any flaws in your logic will be exposed now, so arm yourself with a backup plan. Details you’d prefer to gloss over will demand your attention. Tackling mundane-seeming tasks could actually lead to the breakthroughs you’ve been looking for. Knuckle down. And no more excuses about your emotional over or under-eating. Your health and wellbeing is at risk if you continue to delude yourself about your diet. Be ready to redraft a creative project to perfection.

Scorpio / Scorpio rising (fifth house)
A clandestine affair or flirtation could come to light, or maybe you’ll be asked to play your hand in matters of the heart. Your secret vice won’t stay a secret for long. A creative project you’re personally invested in could come to fruition now, and this fertile creative phase could also see your parental urges kick in. Be wary of situations that allow you to escape into over-indulgence. A hidden talent for the performing arts could also be revealed.

Sagittarius / Sagittarius rising (fourth house)
Expect the unexpected from a family situation, as whatever’s been going on behind the scenes is unveiled. Family constellations therapy could prove especially insightful. In all other areas, embark on a Dream Quest to get to the heart of the matter, and let your subconscious be your guide. Now examine your daily habits. What nourishes you and what is holding you back will be clearer to you now.

Capricorn / Capricorn rising (third house)
Be ruthless in speaking the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Allow yourself to hear the same in what others are saying. A hidden affinity with writing or speaking may come to light, embrace opportunities to explore this. Allow your logical mind to be infiltrated by your intuition. Journal about your dream life. False advertising won’t be tolerated. A sibling’s or neighbor’s secret may be revealed.

Aquarius / Aquarius rising (second house)
Get real about your finances and banish your credit cards to the back drawer. No more hiding your head in the sand and spending beyond your means, especially if shopping is a means of escape for you. Ask yourself; who am I without my luxuries and creature comforts? A creative way to add to your income may be unlocked. Look out for it, leave no stone unturned. Then act.

Pisces / Pisces rising (first house)
You’ll see past what’s in the mirror and view body image issues for what they really are: nothing but a figment of your insecurities. Now is the time for honest self-observation. Get real as you analyze your actions. In what ways do you allow your emotions to sabotage your personal vitality? Clean up your act. Insist on clarity of self-expression, no lying to yourself or your inner child.

NEED-TO-KNOW: A VISION QUEST IN THE PYRENEES

Mara Hoffman S/S 13

I’ve done a lot of change-your-life-type workshops from bootcamps to spas and goddess weekends, but  something called a ‘Vision Quest’ has had the most massive and long-term effect on me. A Vision Quest is like camping-meets-Carlos Castaneda, and is the only thing that’s ever really ‘re-booted’ my life.
Continue reading “NEED-TO-KNOW: A VISION QUEST IN THE PYRENEES”