Many of the native tribes of America believe that people have spirit animals or totem animals. Of course the way they define a spirit or totem animal differs. And so, from a more universal perspective, I’m going to simplify the concept in this way… All animals have a specific vibration, which is what sets them apart from other animals. They have specific characteristics, strengths and weaknesses. Some of these animals “resonate” with us. We feel a special kinship with them. We identify with them. A spirit animal is an animal whose vibration is the closest to your own. This is why some native tribes believe that you possess the “medicine” of this animal. You possess its strengths and weaknesses. They believe this would be the animal you would shape shift into if you practiced the magic of shape shifting. We have the tendency as a human race to favor certain animals and look down on other animals. This makes it hard for people to genuinely open up to their true spirit animal, especially if they have low self esteem. For example, it’s tempting to want your spirit animal to be a lion, because you assign respectable qualities to that animal. This is how you want to see yourself. But your spirit animal may very well be a grasshopper. A totem animal on the other hand is like a protector or friend. It is the animal that balances your energy out or compliments it. You can think of your totem animals like your “posse”. Usually people are completely unaware of the animal that is their spirit animal and the animal they identify with as their favorite, is their totem animal.
What most people don’t know is that they also have a shadow totem animal. This animal possesses qualities within you that are suppressed. It represents your subconscious self. Although not always the case, many people know what their shadow totem is because it is often the animal they fear or resist the very most. In shamanic ceremony, we work just as much with the energies of the shadow totem as we do with the energies of the spirit animal. As some of you know, the red fox is my spirit animal. The horse is my main totem animal and my shadow totem animal is a whale. I love all animals. But of all animals, I am the most uneasy about whales. They grace my nightmares on a regular basis. They represent the dark and infinitely deep magnitude of the pain I suffered in isolation.
I had a shamanic dream last night. I was in a tropical location in a hurricane but I was indoors at a public aquarium. The place was deserted, having been closed down by the storm. I was walking tentatively along the side of a pool with a very aggravated, male humpback whale inside of it. The large door to the side of the building he was kept in was open. The whale had the energy of vengeance. Similar to the energy of a dog that has been caged and tortured and who is about to attack at the slightest movement. The gale force winds drove the sleet rain and palm leaves through the open doorway and blew me into the pool with the whale. I felt nearly paralyzed by terror. But I heard my own voice talking inside my head as if I was presenting on stage. I was saying “Dive down into the depths with the whale. When you feel negative emotion, you dive towards it, not away from it. And if you do it over and over, negative emotion will not affect you anymore. You will have a positive feeling for it. You will fall in love with the shadow and the deep.” That kept repeating and repeating in my head through the entire rest of the dream. So I dove like my life depended on it. The minute I did that, the pool turned into the open ocean. I dove down under the belly of the whale. Each time he came after me, I dove down underneath him again. This threw him off guard as he was expecting me to swim towards the surface. He seemed confused and after a time, he stopped and turned upside down in a roll and realized he was free.
Eventually, I floated slowly to the surface and as I surfaced, the ocean turned into the pool once more. I floated over to one side of the pool and it was shallow enough that I could stand. The whale was at the other end of the pool and when he realized where I was, he charged me. Instead of scrambling to get out of the pool, I held out my arms towards him as if to block him. But as he charged me, he kept shrinking and shrinking and slowing down and slowing down until he was floating towards me, the size of a large bath toy. I reached towards him and picked him up. He felt cold in my hands. The feeling of his skin is so clear to me. I lifted him to my mouth and put him face first into my mouth and bit him in half. Then swallowed all of him. It didn’t feel literal. It felt symbolic. I felt like by eating him, I was expanding wide enough to encompass and assimilate him into myself. It was like the ultimate form of integration. And he felt safer inside me. I could feel him diffusing out into my body like a kind of merger. I was staring out at an empty pool, feeling relief that he was no longer in captivity. It was at that point that I woke up. I have felt effected by that dream all day long. It is one of the most powerful affirmations I’ve ever received in dreamtime.
I am in Atlanta, Georgia today. I was happy to come here, expecting the same friendliness and southern hospitality that I have experienced in past trips here. But I must confess that this trip has been somewhat different. The emotional tension in the city is at an all time high. The “crab in the bucket” dynamic is the dominant negative social aspect of this city. And it too has increased in intensity since my last visit. Overall, people are feeling really helpless and defensive against each other because of that helplessness. There is also an increase of homelessness. I have been getting leftovers when I go out to eat so I can offer food to select individuals on the side of the road. I went to a raw restaurant yesterday and gave the leftovers to a young man with diabetes who was sitting near a traffic light. He asked me what it was when he sat down to eat it. I think it was his first interaction with ‘real’ food as opposed to junk food. The way his body reacted to the food was like I had handed him medicine instead of food. I must confess that I still can’t believe in the year 2016 we haven’t found a solution to homelessness collectively on this earth.