By Ina Woolcott
“When you call upon the power of an animal, you are asking to be drawn into complete harmony with the strength of that creature’s essence. Gaining understanding from these brothers and sisters of the animal kingdom is a healing process, and must be approached with humility and intuitiveness. Certain aspects of the lessons given by these brothers and sisters have been chosen to reflect the lessons each spirit needs to learn on the Good Red Road. These are the lessons of being human, being vulnerable, and seeking wholeness with all that is. They are a part of the pathway to power. The power lies in the wisdom and understanding of one’s role in the Great Mystery, and in honouring every living thing as a teacher.” Jamie Sams and David Carson (Medicine Cards)
The shamanic belief system holds that EVERY-thing is alive, the rocks, the earth, the sky, the waters, the plants, the animals – in short everything in the universe – carrying with them power and wisdom. Power Animals are an inherent element within shamanic practises adding to the power and medicine of the shaman. These are helping spirits present in everyday life, and can be likened to guardian angels. They are important for favourable outcomes in any venture carried out by the shaman.
A power animal is an energy-pattern-or energy-system- appearing in animal form, possessing sensation and the power of voluntary movement to carry out its inherent ability to perform the specific work it characterizes. According to shamanic understanding they are patterns of natural abilities and potentials that are inherent within all of us. The power animal of prime
position is the one that is most prominent.
The more power animals, the more power you have, warding off negative energy and illness, as well as bestowing you with the wisdom of its species. Potential Shaman’s must first learn to travel in the other worlds/realities and to discover their Totem or Power Animal. This is needed in order to start the long quest of learning.
The concept of a Power Animal is universal to all cultures and tribes, but the gifts thought to be given by a particular animal varies depending on the culture, though there are some consistencies for various animals. Tribal cultures will recognize a Totem for the tribe, one for the clan an individual belongs to, and one for the family one is born into. In the USA
and other countries, Tribal and Clan Totem’s are still around, although thought of in a slightly different manner.
Medicine men/shaman’s believe EVERY-ONE has one or more power animals, whether they realise it or not. A power animal may leave a person at any time, depending on their life path. They are often drawn in by the emotional requirements of a person, coming to protect, empower and help overcome fears. If feeling low, a persons power animal is far away from them and needs to be brought back, or a replacement found. Power animals most often come to individuals in meditations, dreams, visions and initiations. If non replaces it, the shaman considers them disempowered, and this is meant to spell bad luck, leaving the individual open to negative forces and illness.
Power Animals are often a reflection of the deepest self and also symbolise the traits needed in this world, but which are often concealed. People often make the error of being discontent upon discovering their Power Animal is a tame, innocent, non-violent animal such as a mouse. Mice are generally not considered powerful, but timid and meek. It is forgotten that spirits are not confined to physical reality. Size is inapplicable here. A power animal may be a tiny mouse, but when needed the mouse will change its size and conduct to suit the happening. It is important not to place animals into a category. You must be receptive and open to the gifts they may share with you. Honour your power animal(s) this may be as easy as saying thanks inside yourself, or getting a symbolic object. You could even keep it in your pocket. Or leave it on your work desk. This forms a deeper kinship with them and also tells them their aid is cherished, for they are giving up their mobility to dedicate their time to you.
All birds and mammals, reptiles, sea creatures and insects are potential Power Animals. ANY living creature can act as a Power Animal, although plants and trees can serve as plant spirit guides. A Power Animal could also be a mythical animal, such as a faun, unicorn or Pegasus, or even one which doesn’t existence in myth or legend – unique to the beholder. Domesticated
animals as a rule are usually not deemed power animals because they are already in service to human beings.