Sketchbook Prompt #14 - Finding your spirit animal(s)
Animals are tuned in all the time.
Spirit animals seem like they have been very trendy lately, I see the question asked in Home Design books, what is your decor style, favorite color, and animal spirit? Sometimes when something is trendy I want to stay away from it for a bit so not to fall victim to someone passing it off as trendy rather than authentic. However, our need to relate and want to know more about animals has been with us since the beginning of our living together. It is no wonder we come back to the questions of how do they relate to us, how can we relate to them, what animal am I mostly like, Is there one that can protect me spiritually?
The explanation of why craftsman incorporated animals into this work, which people wore and would be buried with is that animals connected people to God. Animals were the pathways to the next phase of life after the physical one they had just lived - Isabel Gillies
When we go to ask the question, “What is our Spirit Animal”, I don’t want you to feel like this is a Buzz feed quiz. However, it doesn’t have to be deeply spiritual for you either.
Many cultures have used dreams and guided quests to find out what their spirit animal is. In many ways this has been at the heart of their beliefs. In my limited research I found many culture hold a sacred force behind magic. The Hindus call it Prana, The Sufis recognize it as Baraka, The Chinese name it Chi, The Japanese identify it as ki, The old Norse regarded it as wodan. - Brad Steiger
There are many different Cultures who have named this energy. This energy that many try to harness to to find personal transformation. I think finding what works for you is what is most important. I don’t think it has to have a name if that doesn’t suit you, but listening to yourself and your inner quieter voice is what is at the heart of this.
In my own practice I have connected with animals often, because how they eat, rear their young, form communities, build homes, play. Looking at their practice of life alongside mine has been quite exciting for me. At different times in my life I have felt drawn to some animals more than others, I had a time where I was obsessed with animal homes, like Termites in Africa and Mud Daubers who build beautiful hives on the sides of houses. One year on my birthday I gifted myself a painting (that I created) of a peacock, half male / half female. I have been drawing it ever since. Recently, I have been interested in a two headed creature that has legs. I am still not sure of it’s origins.
How do we find our Spirit Animal:
There are numerous answers to this, I have seen ways where you give numerical data to your name and then add it up and see what animal it relates to. There are guided spiritual quests which take you partnering with another person you trust. Paying attention to one’s dreams and seeing if animals appear.
I am going to suggest a couple of ways, the first being the simplest, and in all respect, sometimes simple can be best.
Just Chose something. Ask yourself - What Animal do I like? Now pick. Don't dwell on it to long. You probably have an animal that comes to mind over others.
Ask yourself what color do I like? - know in your next sketchbook, use that animal and that color in a way that supports the two.
Here is a longer more involved look into what your Spirit Animal is:
For me my dreams have garnered many interesting animal adventures. The horse with a snake that was tied around it’s neck. Me reaching down and picking up an alligator by it’s tail and bashing it. I know these are intense. I don’t expect others to be this wild, but they might be. Here is how you might begin.
Keeping a dream journal. This can happen a number of ways by recording them with pictures or words. When you wake up record any memory of what you just dreamt. The quicker you put this information down the better. A lot of times just the simple act of brushing your teeth will make your dream disappear from your mind.
Keep it simple. Just get down what happened. Don't try to analyze it then, just be sure you put down what seems important. It might not even be an image you saw, but a word that stood out.
Come back to your recored findings later to try and figure out what it might mean. Warning* There are a lot of different interpretations of what one animal means over another. You will see that certain cultures had different meanings, there are archetypes that exist but theses were created by mostly Western men. So I say be brave and you decide what it means, rather than relying on some other persons customs or beliefs.
Something extra that can happen from this introspection is that if you plant in your mind a question before going to sleep, often in your dreams you will figure out the answer. This has helped me out so many times. Sometime my day brain is just not as creative at problem solving as my sleeping brain. Give it a try, I think you will be happily surprised.
I read at some point how a Native American family would discuss their dreams at their morning breakfast. They would help each other analyze them. This sharing helped them discuss their inner fears, hopes, and worries. This allows for a deeper connection to their kin. Think about how this discussion with people you love and trust cold deepen. Perhaps you could let someone who you value hear your dream and see what they make of it. Those close to you often have great insight.
This journey may seem slow at first, it might take up to 6 months before something percolates. But if you plant the thoughts of wanting to know more about your dream state, at some point it will open up to you. So in the meantime, try the quick way to help budge the doors open.
After writing this out and thinking it over, it took me several days to really decide what I wanted to say. This was written before I published it, I have several done before their release date, in case timing to you sounds off. I had the most amazing dream, a dream that gave me so much love and encouragement. In my dream I was discussing why the peacock I paint is both male and female. There are so many details, so if you want to hear the whole thing let me know and I will tell it to you. And then I was woken by a Barn Owl. I sat awake just listening to it’s call for about 5 minutes and then went back to a restful slumber.