Is my cat my spirit animal? Discover the spiritual connection between humans and pets. Photo of Stacey Couch's cat Rio.

Is My Cat My Spirit Animal?

Is my cat my spirit animal? Can pets be our spirit animals? Most of the time the answer is “no” and, in other instances, it is “yes”. Pets can serve as our soul companions and familiars, and once they cross into the spirit world they may become spirit animals. Let’s first explore these distinctions and then look at the symbolism of different pets as spirit animals such as cat spirit animal, dog spirit animal, and more.

Spirit animals are our guardian angels. They do not have attachments to this world and thus can offer us infinite healing and divine support. Spirit animals do not have wounds or egos or agendas. They give us guidance directly from source, unadulterated and full of cosmic Truth. Keep this definition in mind as we proceed.

Pets as Soul Companions

Pets are our companions, our support network, our friends, our family, our loved ones, our trusted advisors, our best friends, our confidants, and our mirrors.

Just like we have certain people in our lives that we rely on when times are tough and celebrate with when times are great, we have our pets to share the ups and downs of life. They are there for us when no one else is. Oftentimes our pets know more about our interior lives and feelings than the humans we are closest to. They have an excellent sense of empathy.

And, pets are their own unique selves. Each has his/her own set of desires, motivations, intentions, feelings, preferences, habits, flaws, blind spots, fears, patterns, wounds, gifts, talents, and experiences. In essence, when our pets are incarnate, they have their own agendas. They can’t always provide us with unbiased spiritual guidance and support like a spirit animal does because pets have their own little egos and lives going on.

My dog Diesel always has one eye on our chickens to safeguard them from the fox pair on our ranch. He’s always keeping track of where all his humans are and is constantly investigating errant noises. Not only is his attention dispersed, but he is also very concerned about what is going on in his physical world.

At the same time, he is a sensitive Piscean that feels the emotions of others. He responds by approaching with sympathy when I’m sad and steering clear when I need some space. His company can be reassuring and kind, a sweet comfort. I don’t consider Diesel a dog spirit animal, but rather a soul companion.

My cat Rio isn’t my cat spirit animal, but I love him all the same. He can be completely insensitive to whatever task I’m focused on and invade my space to get his need for affection met. And, he also always seems to show up with an air of concern when my son is crying. Rio is an excellent cuddler and is usually willing to oblige my need for snuggling and support during times when I feel down.

In this way, our pets have their own agendas while they also offer their comfort, support, and a healing presence. This makes them excellent soul companions.

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

Pets as Familiars

There is a special class of pets that are set apart in their ability to connect with the spirit world. These pets are called familiars.

I once had a black cat named Gretchen. She usually hung around when I was doing shamanic journeys for myself and others. She’d lay down and snuggle into my side or nest on top of my lap. I thought she was just taking advantage of the warmth and closeness until one particular day.

During a shamanic journey for a client, Gretchen nestled in for a nap against the crown of my head while I laid on my back. In the middle of the journey, I was talking with a black panther, and it dawned on me. “It’s you!” I exclaimed to the black panther. For months, maybe years, Gretchen had been joining my journeys in the form of the black panther. I heard her affirm with a resounding, “Of course it is,” loud and clear in my heart. She was a miraculous being that way.

Gretchen could walk between the worlds. She was connected with the spirit world in a special way.

Most pets help us through how grounded they are in the present moment and the physical plane. They help bring our fragmented minds and hearts to right here, right now. There is a peace in how connected to nature our pets are. They bring a unique form of support and healing. My horse Mable is very much of the earth. Just standing in her company eases the stress and busyness of the day away. When I’m with her I feel rooted and connected to the natural world around me. She helps bring me into my body, but I wouldn’t call her my familiar.

Familiars are different. They have the capacity and interest to leave this plane and go on soul flights with us. Familiars participate in our ceremonies and rituals. They gravitate towards meditation and speak with us on a soul level. Familiars have the ability to leave the physical plane AND the ability to ground us here. They can offer wise council on spiritual matters, and they also have their own egos and agendas.

Gretchen wouldn’t miss meal time for anything, and she had plenty of opinions about when I should be paying attention to her. She was still very much a cat and not a cat spirit animal. Familiars are somewhere in between soul companions and spirit animals.

Pets as Spirit Animals

As a recap: Spirit animals are our guardian angels. They do not have attachments to this world and thus can offer us infinite healing and divine support. Spirit animals do not have wounds or egos or agendas. They give us guidance directly from source, unadulterated and full of cosmic Truth.

Spirit animals carry the gifts, graces, and messages of their kind (i.e. all bears relate to turning inward to hibernate and all dragonflies bring messages about dreaming).

Spirit animals can show up in three forms. The first is as emissaries. For example, a person can bond with a particular bear spirit animal that has a unique personality. Their specific spirit bear is an emissary for the collective archetype of “bear”. This single spirit bear is that person’s connection to the larger collective of bear medicine.

The second form of a spirit animal is a broad connection to the collective of an animal species. A person may not know a specific personality of a dragonfly spirit, but instead commune with all dragonflies and the wider essence of dragonfly medicine. Every time they see any actual dragonfly or representation of one, the person is connecting with their spirit animal.

The third is through our pets who have passed away. When our pets cross over to the other side they may appear as a spirit animal for us. They are now in spirit form free of the attachments of their bodies and able to act as a channel to Source. They help us relate to the larger graces and gifts of their species (such as cat spirit animal or dog spirit animal), and they provide support and guidance that is particular to us.

Each of these forms are not exclusive. They merge and overlap. I had a close bond with an incarnate red-tailed hawk named Graccia that I trained in a raptor education program. Since she has passed away, I have connected with her as a spirit animal. Every time I see a wild red-tailed hawk, I think of Graccia and I also commune with the larger collective of red-tailed hawk spirit animals.

Meaning of Pet Spirit Animals

Here are descriptions of pet spirit animals with links to longer articles that are available…

Dog Spirit Animal

The meaning of dog spirit animal is first and foremost about loyalty. They are the companion archetype through and through, always there and willing to serve. They are nurturing in their affection and support. Beyond one-to-one loyalty, dogs are also loyal to their pack. They are willing to lend a hand and are invested in collaboration. Someone working with dog spirit animal may either inherently exhibit these qualities of loyalty and collaboration, or they are called to learn how to develop them further.

Dog spirit animal brings a keen sense of smell, helping us track the thoughts of others as well as sense where boundaries are. They are often fiercely protective and help us with learn how to establish our own boundaries and alert others when they are intruding. Obedience may come into play for those who connect with dog spirit animal. It is important to consider who you follow with little question, and be sure that your leaders are worth your loyalty.

Cat Spirit Animal

The meaning of cat spirit animal is independence. Cats are known for thinking for themselves and maintaining a wild streak in the midst of domesticity. The message of cat spirit animal is about knowing that we don’t always have to follow the crowd. No matter how tame we think we’ve become, we always have an untamed side to our nature. Cats help us connect with the part of us that is wild and, thus, with the wilderness.

Paradoxically, cat spirit animal also carries the message of indulgence and relaxation. The cat nap is famous for a reason. Cat spirt animal teaches us that it is okay to lounge in luxury, take the rest of the day off, and enjoy the creature comforts of home. More than any other domesticated animal, cats seem to effortlessly live the paradox of tame and wild. For them, the two sides aren’t opposed, but instead organic expressions of our own nature.

 

Here are links to extended articles on other animals that can be pet spirit animals:

Horse Spirit Animal
Rabbit Spirit Animal
Snake Spirit Animal
Turtle Spirit Animal

Don’t see a pet listed? Let me know in the comments which spirit animal you’d like to know more about.

 

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

 

Watch “Can Your Pet Be a Spirit Animal?” Video

Porcupine Spirit Animal

Intimacy in Porcupine Spirit Animal

Porcupine spirit animal speaks being carefree and careful. They are well defended by a coat of tens of thousands of quills that covers their bodies except for their faces and undersides. This lends to a relatively mellow and carefree life. They don’t have to run or hide from predators. However, this safety comes with a cost to intimacy.

Physical contact between porcupines is a delicate arrangement indeed. Get too snuggly or affectionate with your lover and risk getting quilled. Moms cradling a nursing baby brave quills unintentionally dispatched into their belly or teat – yikes!

Apparently porcupines know how to pull out the quills using their incisors and front feet [1], but for anyone who’s plucked quills from a dog’s snout, you know how arduous and painful this process can be. Even with the ability to remove quills, there’s still motivation to avoid them.

Porcupine quills have barbs on the end that make them difficult to remove. If the quills are not removed the barbs embed deeper and deeper into the flesh. This can prove lethal.

Porcupine spirit animal reminds us that when expose our soft places to someone we love, it is all too easy to catch a barb and be hurt. The meaning of porcupine spirit animal brings the wisdom of approaching intimacy delicately. Here a carefree nature must also be careful.

Handling a Delicate Situation

Sometimes in relationships it feels like no matter what we say, the other person is going to take it the wrong way and get hurt.

Porcupine spirit animal helps us handle delicate situations. They are a perfect ally for learning new levels of closeness. With their great sense of smell, porcupine spirit animal helps us discern when our loved one is feeling sensitive. There are times for approaching with caution. There is wisdom in choosing our words carefully out of care for another and ourselves. For hurting another with a misplaced barb could result in a barb in return. Now everyone is wounded.

If we’re not careful we can get too focused on the quills. These cycles of wounding in love cause melancholy and loneliness. Attempts to reach out and make things right seem futile. We become so afraid of making things worse that we stay away all together. Now we are the porcupines wandering alone, everyone giving us a wide berth.

Porcupine spirit animal is closely related to the outsider or outcast archetype.

Porcupines also occasionally stick themselves with their own quills [2]. This is a sharp reminder that sometimes the most harmful barbs come from our own inner critic. Porcupine spirit animal reminds us of the importance of being cautious and gentle in relating to ourselves as well.

Porcupines have a strong craving for salt. In alchemy, salt relates to the grief of tears and bitterness of loss. Porcupine spirit animal is no stranger to either. If you find yourself in a lonely place estranged from the person or people with whom you should be closest, it’s time to turn to porcupine for further instruction.

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

Giving Warnings in Phases

Porcupine spirit animal teaches us how to give warnings in phases. This helps us back off sooner to avoid dangerous barbs.

Many porcupines use the following warnings when threatened. They first raise their quills and turn their backs. Then they shiver their quills and chatter their teeth. Next, they emit a strong foul odor much like a skunk, and, lastly, they attack by backing up towards the threat and whipping their tails at it.

An interesting side note: Prehensile-tailed porcupines from Central and South America live in trees and don’t have spines on their tails, so their warnings look a bit different.

When working with porcupine spirit animal, it’s important to remember to watch for the subtle signals that someone is asking you to back off or move away. You will also be better off if you are able to offer warning signs of your own and if you use them deliberately and consistently. This is how we stay safe from most barbs in relationships.

Beyond the Five Senses – Proprioception

Porcupine spirit animal is associated with a special hidden sensory system in our bodies – the proprioceptive sensory system. Proprioception is how we sense pressure. Proprioception receptors are located in our muscles and joints. Our coordination and body awareness depends on them. When proprioception receptors sense pressure, we get information about where our bodies are in relation to the ground and other objects as well as about where to place our limbs and how to move our bodies.

The sense of proprioception can be under- or over-responsive. Someone who has an under-responsive sense of proprioception tends to play too rough, apply too much pressure, intrude into other people’s space, and run into things.

To have over-responsive proprioception is to shy away from physical touch, avoid closeness, and be claustrophobic in crowds or small spaces.

Given that the consequences of touching a porcupine’s quills are so high, porcupine spirit animal reminds us to pay extra attention to where our bodies (both physical and energetic) are in space. It’s time to learn more about your proprioceptive system and how it is responding.

If your proprioceptive system is under-responsive, some helpful things are to use a weighted blanket, to do some heavy labor or lifting, or to ask for a big hug or cuddle. Find a way to safely lean into your relationships and experience the pressure of an embrace.

For those of you with over-responsive (or more sensitive) systems, make sure to speak up when someone is getting too close, request that others ask for your consent before touching you, and give consent for them to approach only when closeness feels safe. Make sure you’re getting the physical and energetic space you need.

The article on the “8 Senses of the Body: the Hidden Sensory Systems” by Dr. Neff explains proprioception well [3]

Awareness of Danger Embedded in DNA

Many spirit animal guides equate porcupine spirit animal with innocence. They absolutely do have a sweetness them, a childlike face and gentleness.

And… It’s a lot more complicated than that. Innocence is equated with being “defenseless” and “naive”. Porcupines are neither. They are born with quills that harden within an hour to a couple of days (depending on the species). This means that they come into the world with tools to defend themselves and the ability to wield them.

Far from naive, their bodies innately know how to flex the muscles that raise the quills, roll into a ball to protect their face, and swat their tails at threats. Their bodies are not innocent to what it means to have to defend themselves. They come into the world armored, which means that porcupines have an awareness of danger embedded in their DNA.

Porcupine spirit animal relates to generational trauma and how it is passed down through our DNA. If you feel like you were born into a hostile world that required you be on alert from the beginning, call on porcupine spirit animal to remind you that you have the defenses you need to stay safe. Carrying an energetic coat of quills can help you relax. Move more slowly and intentionally through life like the ambling porcupine who knows nothing can shake them.

The meaning of porcupine spirit animal speaks to an ability to stave off bad characters either early in life or early in a project. Is someone trying to overpower you or find your weak spot? Porcupine spirit animal reminds us to safeguard our space and creations early and consistently.

Feeling Pestered?

The North American porcupine is the second largest rodent in North America. Rodents in general have a reputation for being pest species. Porcupines, unfortunately, are no exception. Like beavers, porcupines have two large front teeth that grow continuously throughout their lives. Porcupines gnaw on the hard, outer bark of trees to grind down their teeth and gain access to the soft, edible inner bark.

They have a bad rap with people because of their destructive habits with trees. Porcupines chew large rings of bark off around the base of a tree trunk – called “girdling”. This leaves the trees susceptible to disease and potentially death. This is especially problematic in commercial orchards and forests where trees are grown to produce goods for sale.

Where I live in the Rocky Mountains, porcupines climb ponderosa pine trees, strip bark off of limbs and gobble up the fresh shoots and branches. This causes the trunks of pine trees to split, sometimes upwards of twenty times. This disrupts the singular, straight trunks that people prize for lumber production, and causes what many people see as “ugly” and unhealthy crowns in trees. Hunting porcupines is unregulated in the United States. Some land owners shoot and kill porcupines to protect trees, but, in saving a few trees from a natural death, the overall health of the forest and the species in it are compromised.

Porcupine Spirit Animal Allowing for Imperfection

Porcupines are ecosystem engineers. The deformed, dead, and dying trees they make when gnawing creates diverse habitats for all kinds of animals from woodpeckers and bats, to insects and bears. Humans value living, straight and homogenous trees in a forest, but ecosystems require atypical shapes, heterogeneity, and dead or dying wood. This variation creates critical habitats.

To learn more about the North American porcupine’s ecosystem engineering, read this fact sheet (pdf download) [4]

Porcupine spirit animal reminds us that whatever destruction or deformity might be pestering us, that variation is critical to the overall health of our interior ecosystem. Not everything can be straight, perfect, and healthy in our lives all of the time, nor should it be. We need to allow for decay and imperfection, and maybe even help it along when we see the opportunity. Whatever is gnawing at you may turn into an opening for new life.

Porcupine Spirit Animal’s Affinity for Trees

New World porcupines across the South, Central, and North America have a close relationship with trees, relying on trees as a food source as well as a means to climb to safety. New World porcupines have very strong climbing skills.

All of these things ties the medicine of porcupine spirit animal to the world axis. The world axis is an archetypal symbol for the pillar that connects heaven and earth. Porcupines dig to find roots and climb to the top of tall trees to eat shoots. This shows an ability to navigate the full spectrum of experience, from the earthly to the heavenly.

When working with porcupine spirit animal, you have a chance to firmly grasp the channel between the spirit and material planes.

Ground Dwelling Porcupines

There are two main groups of porcupines around the world. The first is the New World porcupines of the Americas that we’ve already discussed. The second is the Old World porcupines that live in Africa, Asia, and Italy. Old World porcupines are strictly ground dwellers. Another main difference is that some species live in colonies in underground tunnel systems.

If you’re relating to an Old World porcupine spirit animal, you may need to practice handling delicate situations more often and make an effort to get out and find some much needed space. Community and physical day-to-day life can take up more of your focus.

Playfulness in Porcupine Spirit Animal

A common narrative about porcupine spirit animal is that they are playful. Porcupines don’t frolic like fawns. They don’t romp like kittens or wrestle like puppies. Their motions are slow and deliberate, quiet and reserved.

While a porcupine shuffling along is an adorable sight, it is not akin to the wild, expressive freedom of movement we associate with play.

However, play can also mean experimentation. This is the kind of playfulness that porcupine spirit animal embodies, especially when it comes to food. They are generalist herbivores, which means that they eat a wide variety of plant foods. For example, North American porcupines forage on evergreen needles and the inner bark of trees in the winter. In the other three seasons, they dine on berries, seeds, nuts, grasses, leaves, twigs, bushes, and roots.

If you are looking to align with the power of porcupine spirit animal, an intentional foray into culinary experimentation with different vegetable flavors and combinations utilizing all the parts of plants – roots, shoots, and leaves – can be a fun way to do this.

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

References

[1] https://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/gotpests/othercritters/factsheets/porcupine-vt.pdf

[2] https://safarisafricana.com/animals/porcupine/

[3] https://neurodivergentinsights.com/blog/8-senses/

[4] https://www.oregon.gov/odf/Documents/forestbenefits/fact-sheet-porcupines.pdf

[5] https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/north-american-porcupine

 

Snow leopard spirit animal pictured in deep snow.

SNOW LEOPARD Spirit Animal

Snow Leopard Spirit Animal
Ghosting and Going Unseen

Known as the “Ghost of the Mountains”, snow leopard spirit animal teaches us how to be elusive. Her camouflaged coat, quiet movement, wary habits, and vast, inaccessible home range make snow leopard sightings extremely rare.

Snow leopard spirit animal carries the ghost archetype. She’s an expert at ghosting.

Challenges come with inhabiting the ghost. You can feel in between worlds. Be apart from the world. This is isolating and lonely, like haunting your own life. Snow leopard most active at dawn and dusk. These are the in between times with low visibility.

When working with snow leopard symbolism, you may be tempted to avoid vulnerability by ghosting others. Slipping away. Hoping they’ll forget you.

Snow leopard comes to help you manage your conflicting attraction and aversion to people not seeing you. She helps you decide when you’re noticed and when you’re not. Choosing solitude in a healthy way. Rather than avoiding intimacy.

You may also experience other people ghosting you by causing physical or emotional distance. Snow leopard spirit animal provides much needed companionship and guidance during periods of estrangement.

Snow Leopard Spirit Animal
and the Exorcist Archetype

There was a poet-saint that lived in the 11th Century in Tibet named Milarepa. He entered the “Great Cave of Conquering Demons” to meditate and devote himself to spiritual practice. A long winter storm came and trapped him in the mountains for six months. The nearby villagers thought him dead and held a funeral. In the spring, they went to look for his body. During their trek through a mountain pass, they saw a snow leopard sitting on a rock, watching them. 

Later, they found Milarepa at the cave, singing and well. He asked them why they were so slow to arrive. He’d seen them hiking through the pass a long while ago. The villagers said they didn’t see him but a snow leopard. He responded, “I was the leopard.” [1]

Milarepa shows us that snow leopard spirit animal is connected with the exorcist archetype. In the Great Cave of Conquering Demons, Milarepa faced fears of loneliness, isolation, starvation, and death. Conquering his own demons, he paved the way for his community to do the same. 

The exorcist and ghost archetype have a close kinship. Embodying both, snow leopard spirit animal helps you walk hidden realms. Clear out what haunts you and find our own skin.

A Guide into Solitude

Snow leopard symbolism relates to solitude. These big cats live a lot of their nomadic lives alone, traveling across vast territories. 

In working with snow leopard spirit animal, you can overcome the perils of solitude and embrace the gifts it brings. If circumstances force you into solitude, snow leopard helps you cross the barren snow fields of abandonment and leap over the chasms of loneliness. Snow leopard hunts down nourishment on the other side of discomfort. Solitude brings you to new heights. You meet the Divine in the sacred mountains the snow leopard inhabits. 

If you choose solitude voluntarily, snow leopard spirit animal shows you how to blend into the mystery and discard escapism. I share a good deal about the intricacy of solitude in an article called “The Seriousness of Solitude“.

Western scientists say the snow leopard is a solitary species that lives alone. This “fact” comes from a male point of view. Male scientists started the narrative focused on male snow leopards. Male snow leopards do live the vast majority of their lives alone. The exceptions are the first two years of their life when they are with their mother, and a couple days a year when they join with a female for mating.

The Feminine Side of Snow Leopard

Female snow leopards are a completely different story. Single mothers, they bear and raise cubs entirely on their own. They reach sexual maturity at 2-3 years old, spend two years raising a litter of cubs, and go into estrus every other year. The typical lifespan of a snow leopard in the wild is 10-12 years. If she only has two litters in her life, she’ll spend four years rearing offspring. That combined with the two years she spends with her own mother means that she could spend around half or more of her life living with family.

Once she regains solitude, it can still be interrupted. A mother snow leopard may meet up with her young after the initial separation. Then there’s mating season every other year. During this time, male and female snow leopards may hunt in pairs.

When viewed from the female snow leopard’s point of view, we see that solitude isn’t king here. Her life is one of ebbs and flows of solitude and intense intimacy. Nursing blind, helpless cubs for months and then teaching the adolescents how to hunt in a vast landscape is no easy task. It requires closeness and attentiveness. “Me time” isn’t happening often when the little ones need their best shot at survival.

Intimacy of Snow Leopard Spirit Animal

Snow leopard spirit animal brings us the wisdom of mixing intimacy with solitude and the ability to flow between the two with grace. She guides us into embracing the holiness of aloneness and togetherness. We are present with and grateful for what is, not hungering for one while with the other. Always the pendulum will swing to the opposite.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with solitude, snow leopard spirit animal reminds you that the season for intimacy will cycle around again. The same is true for those of you feeling a bit smothered by those close to you. The time for solitude will come.

During times of physical distance from others, snow leopard reminds us that we can still communicate. Snow leopards regularly scent mark trails as a way to stay in touch. 

Snow Leopard Spirit Animal’s Agility

If you find yourself out on a ledge, snow leopard spirit animal guides you to safe footing. She can jump six times the length of her body to carry you across great divides. Her ability to navigate unsteady mountainsides during high speed pursuits of prey brings the gift of grasping nourishment in times of uncertainty. She is an apex predator, a queen residing over the realm of rocks and ice. Like many of the big cats including mountain lion, she guides us into sovereignty over our own lives. 

Exposure to a Cosmic Perspective

The snow leopard lives in a very specific habitat above tree-line but below the oxygen deprivation zone. This is a barren landscape, largely inaccessible to humans and most wildlife. Snow leopard spirit animal speaks of resourcefulness in scarce, harsh environments.

Snow leopard spirit animal thrives in climates with high exposure to cold and aridity. With her thick coat, tail full of stored fat, and big feet like snowshoes, she endures harsh freezing temperatures and long winters. You don’t need to move to a colder climate or buy a thick parka to appreciate what it takes to endure exposure to the cold.

During cold-snaps in life where you can’t find warm feelings or your loved ones ice you out, she is there. She wraps around your heart when you feel cold inside, stripped bare. Snow leopard spirit animal keeps you warm when you are given the cold shoulder or shunned.

When she breathes, her large nostrils take in big quantities of air and warm and humidify it. More air and easier breathing equals more oxygen. The ability to think straight at high altitude is critical. If you are struggling with understanding the higher purpose of your life, snow leopard spirit animal can help.

Climb to the heights, clear your head, and find the cosmic perspective that will sustain you in sparse times. Mythologically speaking, mountains are abodes of the gods. Think Mount Meru in the Himalayas and Mount Sinai in the Bible. 

Snow leopard spirit animal helps you inhabit heavenly spaces to get a clear picture of the divine design. Her magic brings you into communion with Divine magic. Breathe in the fresh, thin air and thrive.

 

Want to know more about your Spirit Animal?
Schedule a Spiritual Direction Session
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Resources

[1] https://snowleopardconservancy.org/text/myth/tibmyths.htm

https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/snow-leopard

https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/snow-leopard

 

Spirit Animals: LION SYMBOLISM

Lion Symbolism

The king of the jungle, lion symbolism represents royalty and supreme authority. Most people think that having lion as a spirit animal means they get to be the king or queen and boss other people around, but ultimately this is about ruling your emotions and actions. Forget needing to be in charge of the world. Be in charge of yourself. Having the true heart of a lion is being the master over yourself, acting from your values, and staying in integrity.

Lion spirit animal symbolizes strength, bravery and courage. The root for courage is “cor” which is the latin word for heart. To have courage is to have heart. Too many people mix lion symbolism with pride. At a surface level, people who are the astrological sign of Leo (the lion) are said to like attention and being on stage. They shine like the sun. Lion spirit animal is so much more than popularity and admiration.

Lion symbolism carries a deep courage that manifests as an ability to bravely speak what is in one’s heart and to follow one’s heart. More than being popular, lion symbolism teaches us how to shine our light and our creativity in the world to bring joy to others.

Lioness Symbolism

Lion prides are a majority female. The lionesses do the lion’s share of the work, raising the young and hunting cooperatively for food. Some of the first cave drawings from thousands of years ago depict cave lionesses hunting prey together. Lioness symbolism carries the power of the feminine to work together rather than compete, to share the prize rather than compete for it. Even though male lions are fierce and impressive, true lion power resides in the feminine.

When asking yourself “What does lion symbolize?” look at where in your life you can you embrace the qualities of cooperation versus competition. Working together and sharing with others open can you up to the power of the divine feminine allowing you to love and live more courageously.

 

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

 

What Does Lion Symbolize?

The male lions are the figurehead, but they do help by guarding territory. Protection is a common theme in lion symbolism. The glorious manes of male lions mimic the sun’s rays. Lion spirit animal is associated with the heat of the sun and its life giving power.

Lions typically rest during the day and hunt at night, so there is debate as to whether they are associated with the conscious power of daylight or mysterious energy of night. Both are likely true. Ultimately, lions are open territory beasts, found in the sweeping landscapes of the African savanna. This speaks of one’s actions being visible or out in the open.

Lion spirit animal can help you gather your courage to be seen and manage the responsibility of having all eyes on you.

Lion Headed Goddesses

Many deities from all over the world have a lion head and human body. They carry the associations of wisdom and protection. The carnal traits of the lion, a wild beast, are elevated for supreme good helping humans progress along the spiritual path.

Among the Egyptian pantheon, Sekhmet is the most famous lion headed goddess. Sekhmet is known as the “One before whom evil trembles” and is a goddess of solar rays, hot dry wind, healing, and protection of pharaohs [1]. Sekhmet and Tefnut (another lion headed goddess) are both associated with the red lion, which is a symbol of purifying alchemical fire.

Narasimha is an avatar (manifestation) of the Hindu god Vishnu. In this incarnation, Vishnu has the head of a lion. He is the ‘Great Protector’ that guards his followers from evil. Vishnu himself is one of the supreme deities of Hinduism, known as the “Preserver.” This again reflects the themes of royalty and ultimate authority in concert with lion symbolism [2].

Simhamukha – Lion as Spiritual Guide

Simhamukha is a lion-headed female Buddha who transforms anger into wisdom, helps clear harmful patterns that obstruct the way to enlightenment, and symbolizes playfulness and bliss to to followers of the Dharma (Buddhists).[3] She protects from the evils within such as lust, rage, and fear. She is often depicted as lion headed with blue skin, but, like Sekhmet, can be depicted as a red lion.

Simhamukha is a wisdom dakini (goddess) that resides in supreme bliss that is eternal, immortal, and  unaffected by the external world. Followers of Tantric Buddhism best suited for Simhamukha’s teachings are people with excessive passion, especially anger. Simhamukha teaches that taking things personally, grabs for power, and other base expressions of hate and rage lead to suffering. She ferociously guides her empassioned followers through anger rather than around it, using this raw power as a means to cut off attachment and craving at its root.

Lion spirit animal is like the gods and goddesses that bear her face, she hasn’t come into your life to simply help you become more important or more powerful than other people. At the deepest level, she’s come to transform your heart. True courage is not about controlling or forcing others to your will. True courage is the ability to overcome your own fears, to master your own emotions, and find equanimity within. This leads to true and lasting peace.

The Lion’s Roar

Buddha was born into a royal family that had the lion as its sigil and the symbolism of lion shows up repeatedly throughout his life. Buddha consistently likened himself to a lion.[3] Buddhists say that Buddha’s teachings are the “lion’s roar” for his words sound louder than any other. His teachings carry ultimate spiritual truth and are “bold and thunderous.” [4]

Some people mistake lion power as an excuse to drown out other voices, to push one’s opinion on others. Lion does not go around roaring all day. His voice is a rare interruption to the cacophony. Choose and use your words wisely. Think before you speak. Are you acting out of personal selfish agendas, or is what you’re sharing for the good of the whole?

Be mindful. Proving someone wrong, lashing out, and acting defensively are misuses of the lion’s roar. Wait until you have a quiet mind and heart before speaking. Ask for the help of the angels, god, Creator, the universe, or even a lion headed goddess to purify your heart. Then the roar can come from full lungs and a clear intention.

Seeing Lion in a Dream

Seeing lion in a dream speaks of the blessings of the power of lion spirit animal, bravery and strength. You may just now notice the need for courage in a situation or relationship in your life. This is especially true if you are fearful in the dream. Or, lion spirit animal may be coming to affirm that you have overcome a great obstacle within yourself.

Either way, don’t forget that you are not alone. Courage comes from the heart, the same place through which cosmic love flows. Just as the angels can fill your heart with love, so too can they fill it with courage. Lion spirit animal is one of the angels most skilled at doing so.

References

The book titles in bold are books on my recommended reading list:
[1] Goddesses for Every Day: Exploring the Wisdom and Power of the Divine Feminine around the World by Julie Loar
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narasimha
[3] Buddhist Goddesses of India by Miranda Shaw
[4] https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanamoli/wheel390.html

NOTE: There is a separate article for Mountain Lion spirit animal. Click here to read.

 

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

 

 

horse symbolism

Spirit Animals: HORSE SYMBOLISM

Horse Symbolism

Horse symbolism, like a band of wild horses, could be explained in 1,000,000 words yet never be described. We try to capture horse spirit animal in our imaginations, yet fail. Our kinship with horses runs deep in the veins of our ancestry. Shrouded in mystery, subjugation, and liberation no quantification of the power of horses suffices. We always come up wanting for more.

Rather than finding frustration when looking at what does a horse symbolize, turn this cart around and go back to where you came from. Are you able to say what you symbolize? Like your own vast soul, horse spirit animal cannot be fenced in.

Knowing this is knowing that your discovery of the power of horse symbolism will never end. These horses will run to the ends of the earth and back. So, here I endeavor to give you a few precious gems I’ve found in my years of exploration. May these bits of wisdom at least in small part contribute to your ever expanding communion with these mythic beasts.

Horses as Senses

“Know the Atman (soul) as Lord of a chariot; and the body as the chariot itself. Know that reason is the charioteer; and the mind indeed is the reins. 

The horses, they say, are the senses; and their paths are the objects of sense. When the soul becomes one with the mind and the senses he is called ‘one who has joys and sorrows.’

He who has not right understanding and whose mind is never steady is not the ruler of his life, like a bad driver with wild horses.

But he who has right understanding and whose mind is ever steady is the ruler of his life, like a good driver with well trained horses,” – from Part 3 of the Katha Upanishad

The Good Driver

Many horse trainers proclaim that becoming a good horseman is about learning to control emotions. This is because horses frequently mirror our feelings immediately and without a filter. Like the bad driver with wild horses, a nervous rider finds herself unable to calm an anxious horse. The energy between the two spirals out of control, and the horse and rider run headlong into a major wreck.

However, this is an oversimplified version of the feedback loop that happens between horse and human. Horse symbolism is not about reining in our fear. It is about dropping the need to hide the fear. The problem is not the fear itself, which is a healthy informative emotion. The issue is the shame, humiliation, and low confidence the fear triggers.

Horse spirit animal, just like actual horses, teaches us how to be with our emotions without judgement. This means not taking how we feel personally. Horse people are notoriously critical of each other, but this is just a microcosm of the greater whole. We encounter disapproving stares everywhere.

Since horses are such giant and potentially dangerous creatures, we have to drop our self-consciousness to stay safe. It is a matter of life and death. When we learn to truly let go of what other people think, we can see our fear and engage with it in a way that leads to a safe and healthy resolution.

Horse symbolism teaches you to be a good driver who doesn’t freeze in fear or run wild with it, but to move in a way that expresses and discharges the tension. This movement invokes changes of speed and changes of direction that paradoxically carry you right back to the ever steady center.

Prey Animal Horse Wisdom

Horses are prey animals, big prey animals, but prey animals none the less. Their wiring is much different than ours because, regardless if we eat meat or not, our make-up is that of a predator. For example, we think in direct lines and like to go after a target. Horses think in circles and meander from place to place. We are more competitive and independent. Horses are more cooperative and bonding. We strategize with our minds. Horses sense with their entire beings.

Horse energy is more sensing and intuitive by nature. Horse spirit animal teaches us to drop the need for reason and release our dependence on planning. In the presence of horse symbolism we let go of the incessant craving for instant gratification that so terribly pervades our technology addicted culture in this day and age.

With the help of horse wisdom, we stand at a distance and take in the situation before cautiously approaching at an angle. We wait for a new herd mate to ask us to approach her. We sense with our whole bodies before analyzing with our minds. Patience is ours. Circle around and come back again.

Horse Dream Meaning

Seeing a horse in dream, shamanic journey, or vision state has many meanings. If it is a wild horse or a loose horse, then contemplate the irrational, unbridled, wild aspect of yourself.

Historically, a man’s status and power were determined by how many horses he owned. A horse in a dream or vision tells us to assess our own power. Are you feeling powerful right now? Or, are you praying for a boost in strength? Horse spirit animal is coming to your rescue. Remember, the power horse brings is interwoven with the herd. A brute display of force using your energy or words may encourage the others to leave you in the dust. Ultimately, you need the safety of the herd, so release the temptation to get pushy. Sure prance around a bit, but quickly settle back to quiet grazing with your tribe.

Just like elephant spirit animal, horses have a long history as slaves and servants of the human race. Spend some time looking at your own relationship to servitude. What might need to change? Is this a healthy exchange of power for service?

Now we ride horses for fun, but we used to do so out of necessity, for transportation. A horse dream meaning may have to do with how you are carried into a new area of your life. Do you feel like you’re going places? Was the horse frozen still or moving freely?

The Mares that Carry Me…

“The mares that carry me as far as longing can reach
rode on, once they had come and fetched me onto the legendary
road of the divinity that carries the man who knows 
through the vast and dark unknown. And on I was carried
as the mares, aware just where to go, kept carrying me 
straining at the chariot.”
– from the ancient Greek poem by Parmenides
in the book In the Dark Places of Wisdom by Peter Kingsley

what is my spirit animal?

About Author, Stacey L. L. Couch

Stacey Couch shamanic practitionerStacey L. L. Couch, Certified Shamanic Practitioner, works as a publicist and journalist for Mother Nature and is the author of Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks. She empowers people with the ability to explore life’s big questions by calling on nature, story and synchronicity as a source for guidance and healing. With her deeply rooted experience in the field of shamanism and passion for working with wildlife and rescue animals, Stacey has a unique blend of rational and mystical perspective that makes the world of shamanism easily accessible to others. She values mindfulness, wonder, and compassion in her daily spiritual practice. Learn More about Stacey.

dolphin symbolism

Spirit Animals: DOLPHIN SYMBOLISM

Dolphin Symbolism

The medicine of dolphin symbolism is often expressed in simple, light-hearted associations of peace, joy, harmony and playfulness. Writers highlight how dolphin spirit animal teaches us to use our breath and work with Mana, or life force. All of these things apply, but dolphin symbolizes so much more.

Of all the animals of the sea, it is likely that dolphin is the most trusted of human companions. ( with the exception of a really good surf board or the best stand up paddle boards, :))

BUT,  dolphin is also the one we’ve regarded with the most paradoxical treatment. Humanity once revered dolphin as a God and now imprisons him in pools for amusement. Viewing the way we treat dolphins gives a window into how we address the light-side of our own nature.

Dolphin Buoys Us Up

In both myth and reality, dolphins throughout time have rescued drowning sailors and guided wayward vessels. From Catholic saints to Greek gods and Chinese explorers to African exporters, every culture has stories of the beneficence of dolphin. Dolphin spirit animal literally lifts us up to the surface in our time of most immediate need. He arises from the depths without notice and grants us a life-saving breath of air.

Whatever goodness in you that is about to die has the opportunity to be saved by dolphin spirit animal.

I’ve often wondered how one animal can have such varied associations in people’s minds – healer, guide, helper, lover, champion, clown, angel, child, playmate, friend, and so forth. What I’ve realized is that dolphin brings exactly what is needed. In one instance a healing is in order and in another a simple snippet of guidance suffices. The life-saving power of dolphin spirit animal is the same throughout, but our our definition of him is based on what we receive.

The buoyant feeling of being lifted up and saved from impending doom is linked to dolphin. The rush of happy endorphins and the giddiness of making it out alive are intricately connected with dolphin symbolism. Think of the times you’ve escaped sudden danger. Remember the laughter that follows. That is what dolphin energy feels like. Dolphin becomes larger than life in our eyes because of the way we feel when we cheat death.

Dolphin spirit animal also lifts up our emotions with his wide grin and high-spirited antics. Whenever you’re feeling down, call on dolphin medicine to help.

Not Favoring Light Over Shadow

Dolphin is an incredibly convivial and happy bloke with a taste for anything that induces laughter and light-heartedness, but we must remember that dolphin plumbs the depths of the Mother’s waters. The ocean, full of gigantic terrors and holding a vast abyss unknown to man, is dolphin’s home.

We tend to favor fun and light over serious and dark, but dolphin is not so blind. He uses keen vision and hearing to navigate his way through enormous expanses of black water. Cutting through the darkness with sharp, piercing clicks, dolphin waits for his noises to bounce off objects and return. This is a form of sensing is called echolocation. It allows dolphin to accurately gauge the distance to the next object as well as the size and movement of the object. It could be his next meal or an approaching shark.

A sophisticated form of listening, echolocation is also used by bats and whales. With dolphin symbolism, we are reminded that we must actively survey our surroundings and listen to our environment to stay safe and make our way in the world. If we get too caught up surfing the waves and performing mid-air acrobatics we’ll lose sight of what lies below.

Dolphin is not afraid of what is under the surface. He can help you develop the same courage. By diving into your subconscious and outwitting your own inner fears and demons, you can save yourself from an uncertain fate.

Dolphin Smarts

Countless studies have tried to quantify the intelligence of dolphins. Many scientists agree that dolphins have self-awareness and empathy. Dolphins teach, learn and cooperate. Their neocortex contains spindle neurons that are “involved in social conduct, emotions, judgment, and theory of mind.” [1] Some scientists have seriously considered that dolphins philosophize, or think about thinking. In essence, we’re discovering that the make-up of a dolphin’s brain is strikingly similar to our own.

Researchers know that dolphins give each other names, called “signature whistles”, at birth. Dolphins respond when their names are called and carry their names throughout the whole of their lives.  Eventually the lines between human intelligence and animal intelligence become so blurry that there is no use in trying to say one form of intelligence is greater than the other.Dolphins blur this line. Soon enough we’re simply comparing apples and oranges.

Light Reasserts Itself

Given this understanding of the great cognitive ability of dolphin, why would we favor the one-sided view of dolphin spirit animal as all innocence and fun? Dolphins live complex lives full of intimidation and fear, grief and loss. They compete and collaborate, antagonize and console. Dolphins have attacked trainers in captivity, lashing out against oppression. Gangs of male dolphins chase and push females into submission. Mother dolphins care for their young with the utmost sincerity.

In the end, light does not exist without darkness. In spite of that, the light always reasserts itself over the dark. Life always overcomes death. Dolphin always carries us back up to the surface.

Dolphins in Danger

But who carries dolphin to a life-giving breath when he is in danger? I want you to be mindful when frolicking in the buoyancy and giddiness of dolphin symbolism to not forget the incarnate dolphins on this planet today struggling to survive. There are many threats from humans that face dolphin populations all over the world. As for the populations that aren’t in danger of extinction, individual dolphins are still suffering enormous hardship, suffering and death at our hands.

DOLPHIN SAFE TUNA
In the 1980’s awareness arose about the inadvertent capture and killing of tens of thousands of dolphins in tuna nets. A tuna boycott lead to the creation of a dolphin safe tuna label that is still in existence today. As a result, dolphin deaths in tuna nets have dropped by 99 percent! http://savedolphins.eii.org/campaigns/dsf/

RELEASING CAPTIVE WHALES & DOLPHINS BACK INTO THE WILD
The next wave of consciousness about the mistreatment of dolphins happened in the 1990’s with the fame of Keiko the killer whale (a toothed whale in the dolphin family) who stared in the movie Free Willy. It turns out that Keiko was not free. He was miserable and ill. The International Marine Mammal Project underwent a huge endeavor to reintroduce Keiko to the wild. Keiko was able to fish and roam the open seas on and off for a number of years. Although opinions about his retirement and release vary, the project surrounding his return to the wild raised the question: Can or should we release captive whales and dolphins back into the wild? http://savedolphins.eii.org/campaigns/kwr/

SONAR TESTING
Also rising in the spotlight during this time was mounting evidence linking dolphin and whale deaths to U.S. Navy sonar testing. Proof was eventually found linking mass dolphin and whale beaching events and die-offs to this testing. Efforts are ongoing still today to curb this testing in critical habitats and modify the testing procedures to minimize effects on whale and dolphin populations. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/09/us-navy-limit-sonar-testing-protect-whales

KILLING AND CAPTURING WILD DOLPHINS
In the 2000’s a great outcry arose in response to the film The Cove which documented the mass slaughter of dolphins in Japan for the meat industry. The way that dolphins are still killed for meat and captured for amusement parks in this fishing industry is a brutal reminder of how far humanity still has to go towards the humane treatment of animals. http://www.takepart.com/cove

THE PLIGHT OF DOLPHINS & WHALES IN CAPTIVITY
And the most recent wave of awareness surrounds the question – Should we keep these animals captive at all? Spawned by the documentary Blackfish which portrayed the anger and frustration of the killer whale named Tilikum, this movement is gathering steam. Sea World just announced that they will no longer breed killer whales and will soon retire them from shows, but this says nothing of the smaller dolphins and whales in their care. It also says nothing about the decades left that many of the captive whales and dolphins have left to live. http://savedolphins.eii.org/campaigns/fwd/

We still have a long way to go to lift up the beautiful dolphins that have risen our souls up for centuries. Click on any of the links above to learn more, sign petitions and donate to causes to help make this a safer and better world for dolphins.

what is my spirit animal?

About Author, Stacey L. L. Couch

Stacey Couch shamanic practitionerStacey L. L. Couch, Certified Shamanic Practitioner, works as a publicist and journalist for Mother Nature and is the author of Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks. She empowers people with the ability to explore life’s big questions by calling on nature, story and synchronicity as a source for guidance and healing. With her deeply rooted experience in the field of shamanism and passion for working with wildlife and rescue animals, Stacey has a unique blend of rational and mystical perspective that makes the world of shamanism easily accessible to others. She values mindfulness, wonder, and compassion in her daily spiritual practice. Learn More about Stacey.

References
[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolphin#Intelligence
Myths about dolphins: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/whales/man/myth.html
Dolphins have names: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/07/130722-dolphins-whistle-names-identity-animals-science/

tiger spirit animal meaning

Spirit Animal: INDUBITABLE TIGER

Courage, Strength & Tiger Spirit Animal

The most common associations with tiger spirit animal are courage and strength, which are very easy to understand. Tiger has a fierce reputation known for preying on humans and taking down prey twice his own weight. The tiger is rivaled in size only by lions. There is no definitive evidence that tigers are, on average, bigger than lions, but, no matter, they are very, very big cats. Tigers can weigh upwards of 600 pounds and be over 9 feet long.

When we see someone overcome with ambition, drive or obsession, we often say “Whoa! Tiger!” to indicate they are getting out of control. This may trivialize the ferocity associated with symbolism of tiger, but it also serves as a reminder of tiger spirit animal’s intensity.

Spirit Animal Tiger Cutting to the Chase

The orange/gold and black stripes of tiger spirit animal are a key into lesser-known aspects of the tiger spiritual meaning. Morphologically, the stripes provide excellent camouflage in the dense forests and grasslands that tiger calls home. The broken pattern, different on every tiger, blends in with twigs, leaves, shadows and light.

The difference between the symbolic meanings of a tiger’s stripes versus a leopard’s spots is great. The leopard’s spots imply a softness and indirect nature with things coming around full circle.

The tiger’s stripes demonstrate a sharp directness, slicing through the darkness, and cutting to the chase. In the shamanic journeywork I do, I often find that the spirit animal tiger is great at slicing through chaos and confusion allowing for new levels of healing and transformation to breakthrough.

Tiger is not a long distance runner, so he must silently prowl for miles over his territory to stalk prey and pounce on them unsuspecting. There is commitment and passion in the focus of tiger spirit animal meaning. When it comes down to getting a job done, tiger spirit animal cuts straight to the chase.

Where in your life can you act swiftly and cut through the underbrush in your way? Ask tiger spirit animal for assistance.

what is my spirit animal?

Doubt and Conviction of the
Symbolism of Tiger

The light and dark stripes of tiger relate to pronounced opposites. In tiger’s case, the contrast has to do with the struggle between doubt and conviction.

The Buddha taught that “having killed a tiger the Brahmin, undisturbed, moves on.
This comes from verse 295 in The Dhammapada and a Brahmin is translated as an “awakened one” or a spiritual guru or teacher.

In his translation of this important Buddhist text, Gil Fronsdal shares that this teaching about killing a tiger is not meant to be taken literally. Fronsdal says that to the Buddha, the tiger is symbolic of one of the five hindrances – doubt.

Overcoming doubt is attaining conviction. Therefore, in looking at the shadow and light attributes of tiger spirit animal meaning, we see that tiger can represent both sides. He can slice through doubt with conviction or degrade conviction with doubt.

Our struggles with doubt are intense, challenging and shattering. There is nothing soft and cuddly about what doubt can do to our own wellbeing and what we must do to doubt. We must be fierce in taking down indecision and hesitation. Tiger spirit animal is here to help.

Like the tattered fabric that tiger’s coat imitates, tiger spirit animal will tear our illusions to shreds allowing us to see the fault in our ways and find the conviction to move ahead.

When considering the tiger spirit animal meaning in your life, where are you struggling with doubt? The breakthrough from doubt to conviction is not meant to be pleasurable. Where can you let go of the need for things to be comfortable and embrace the call to be ruthless?

What Does a Tiger Represent –
Good Fortune

The Chinese God Tsai Shen Yeh is often depicted sitting on a tiger relaxed and smiling. Tsai Shen Yeh is a supreme god of wealth ruling over abundance and good fortune. His position atop the tiger is meant to show his mastery over the fierce tiger.

When considering what does a tiger represent, it could be the unruly or unpredictable nature of fortune. Tiger is known for his wild nature and unpredictability. It is said that in good times Tsai Shen Yeh offers great prosperity and in bad times he protects against poverty, riding out whatever unexpected events life brings.

This takes on a different meaning all together when we think of the tiger as a dual symbol of doubt and conviction.

Doubt undermines our stability, especially when it comes to good fortune. So often, I have people come to me thinking they’ve seen a bad omen and fearing that bad luck will follow. Their fear steals from their good fortune.

The doubt that we won’t be able to ride out whatever twists and turns life sends degrades our peace. Fear of bad luck begets tension and unhappiness, the opposite image of Tsai Shen Yeh content on his tiger.

What omens are you trying to interpret to find confidence? Align with the medicine of tiger, stop watching omens, and turn your attention to dismantling the uncertainty that plagues your tranquility.

By mastering the battle with doubt, bad omens no longer carry significance. When we are riding the back of the tiger, we are prepared for whatever life brings. We know, in our heart of hearts, that we have the strength to do what it takes to absorb the abundance of life.

bat symbolism

Spirit Animals: BAT BRAVERY

The mere mention of a bat sends many people into a panic. Conservationists have been working for decades to dispel the terrifying myths about bats and to bring humans into a greater appreciation of these flying mammals. Bats work wonders for an ecosystem keeping pest insects in check and producing fertilizer in the form of guano. Still, despite the best public relations campaigns, many shy away from bat symbolism.

Coming to Terms with Bat Symbolism

We often want our spirit animals to bring good tidings, but it’s hard to feel optimistic about bat spirit animal. When we draw a bat card from an animal totem deck, we tense up, brace for impact, and begin furiously trying to figure out how to spin this in a positive light.

At the core, bat symbolism carries an archetypal association with fear. Our gut reaction to seeing a picture of a bat speaks of this. There is really no good way to turn fear on its head so that we can feel better. Fear is unnerving, and bat spirit animal seats us firmly outside our comfort zone. If you find yourself already holding your breath, it is likely that bat is bringing to the surface the fear you’ve stored up inside.

Move into the fear and know that you have one of the best guides along for the journey in the form of a flying, furry mammal. You have an opportunity to inherit gratitude, which will be one comforting emotion during this very trying time.

Bat Spirit Animal’s Foreboding

When helping others interpret their encounters with spirit animals, I often find a nail-biting listener on the other end of the conversation. Many people fear that the message from the animal is bad news. I always want to bolster the listener’s faith in the universe by creating an uplifting reading about an animal encounter, but this can be tough to do when faced with bat symbolism. The truth is, it’s scary.

Bat spirit animal carries messages of fear, suffering, trial, initiation, and challenge. At the same time, this tenacious, outstandingly brave little creature could not be a stronger ally to have in times of uncertainty.

On the spiritual path we hope to find great rewards and even bigger favors, but coming into connection with the Divine is not a way to guarantee comfort, safety, peace, joy, or abundance. It is a way to gain fortitude and presence. To become a generous being that moves grace and love into the world.

Death & Initiation

To become clear channels for grace we have to release our egos, identity and attachments. Release is a poetic word for death. Shamanic teachers are much more candid about what this process of releasing looks and feels like. It feels like dying. Even though the physical body comes through the process, we are not the same person on the other side. Who we were has passed away.

Just like the seasons, bat symbolism reminds us that our lives move in cycles. There are times when all the old must be sloughed off so that we can move our gifts into the world without distractions or obstacles.

Traditionally, shamans understood the necessity and periodicity of these “small” deaths in our lives. They created ritual and ceremony to facilitate and support this critical component of the spiritual path. Initiates were buried up to their necks, locked in caves, left in the woods, and abandoned in their own graves. We now affectionately call these ancient and painful rituals “vision quests” which can disguise the severity of the experiences.

Today, we don’t have such rituals for better or worse, but this does not mean that many people aren’t experiencing what is known as the shamanic death or initiation. These initiations are happening in the midst of life, cloaked in the mundane, but they are no less painful.

Bat spirit animal appears during these initiations when the world seems to be falling down around us. The loss of a job, a health crisis, death of loved ones, floods, fires, lawsuits, and so forth can be the outward manifestations of an inward crisis.

Upside Down and Clinging

Bat hangs upside down from the ceiling of the cave, clinging to the rough surface. This inverted posture could be seen as everything going wrong, but I see it as a defiance of gravity. Symbolically, gravity is the past. Gravity is what weighs us down and  keeps us from moving forward into grace.

Bat spirit animal says, “I’m not going to let that bring me down. I’m climbing as high as I can and riding this one out.” There is an intense tenacity in bat symbolism, more so than you will find almost anywhere else. Even when things are at their very, very worst and it seems like we won’t be able to go on, bat is the voice deep inside us that tells us to keep hanging in there. Bat symbolism is about not giving up, not matter how hard it gets.

Is this Ever Going to End?

In the Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams and David Carson, they warn against stagnation and preventing the death-rebirth cycle from progressing, but there is an important component of bat biology that we must evaluate. Female bat has three ways to prolong her pregnancy. She can prevent the sperm from fertilizing the egg, she can keep the fertilized egg floating free awaiting implantation, or she can keep the very young embryo in a sort of stasis where it is not allowed to grow. She forestalls the development and birth of her pup until environmental conditions are more favorable.

Forbearance is another key component of bat symbolism. When everyone else is saying to get on with it, let go of the past, and start a new life, we don’t have to listen. We know when the right time is and we know when there is still more that must die. When we deny these truths it is no use. The cosmos provides more obstacles to slow us down anyways. Trust your instincts about the timing of your emergence from the cave.

Rebirth & Resurrection

Bats give birth to their young while hanging upside down. The babies come out feet, rather than head, first. This again speaks of the enormous strength and effort that is at the heart of bat medicine. Born against the pull of gravity, the force of the universe that pulls everything down, your new self is coming. It is a tremendous, heroic effort not to be taken lightly and worth every ounce of power you put into it.

At dusk every day, bats are born anew into the darkness flying out from the cave. That is why so many cultures associate bat with resurrection. We think being reborn into our new selves means we will come out into the light and have everything revealed to us. The trick of bat spirit animal is to remember that we are being born into the mystery. So much will be uncertain, but with bat spirit animal as your faithful companion you’ll be able to fly to new heights, hear the voice of the cosmos with great precision and have more freedom that you ever could have imagined.

 

Want to learn more about spirit animals?
Visit the Spirit Animal Guide

 

 

spirit animal squirrel meaning

Spirit Animals: SECURE SQUIRREL

Squirrels are members of the family Sciuridae and are characterized by slender bodies, longer back legs, and a long, expressive bushy tail. The name squirrel is derived from the Ancient Greek world skiouros meaning “shadow-tailed”. There are over 265 species of squirrel worldwide, with the Eastern Gray Squirrel being the most commonly seen mammal in the United States. The family of squirrels includes not only tree squirrels but also ground squirrels, flying squirrels and chipmunks.

Squirrel Meaning and Preparedness

In four-season climates, squirrel meaning relates to being prepared. Squirrel practices what is called “caching” or hoarding. He “squirrels away” nuts and seeds by burying the food as it ripens throughout the late summer and fall, then relying on this stashed food through the winter and spring. Squirrel cannot digest cellulose (the fibrous tissue of leaves) like deer or elk can, so he must rely on food rich in protein, carbohydrates and fats. His primary food source is nuts, seeds and pinecones but he will eat fruit, fungi, insects and meat when faced with food scarcity.

Boom and Bust

The season of fall is when squirrel is at the height of his power. His main food source is abundant and he has time to gorge as well as cache. In the spring, food is more scarce because his buried stores sprout and there aren’t new seeds available to eat yet. When working with squirrel spirit animal, you may experience boom and bust periods in regards to your finances and/or resources. Questions of whether to set money aside and how much are directly related to squirrel meaning.

Saving Up

First ask, “What do I value as a resource?” then explore how you either cling to and burn through these resources. Squirrel symbolism teaches you to be mindful of how much you consume as well as how much of a miser you are. If you spend all of your time earning money and none spending it, you will find your life is full of money but nothing else, no friends, no love, no meaning.

Many see saving money as giving in to the fear of scarcity. Saving money takes us out of the present and into the future, but this is not always a bad thing. Squirrel spirit animal teaches us that scarcity is a reality and that a calculated, rational approach to preparedness has its place. Notice that squirrel only buries seeds protected by the hard shell of nature’s packaging so they don’t rot. This teaches us the wisdom of putting our resources away out of sight and in a safe place.

Squirrel has an incredible ability to remember where he buries the majority of his food. The 25% of the nuts he forgets contribute to the next generation of trees and plants to populate the forest. He also creates bogus caches out in the open, tricking other squirrels, birds and animals into thinking his storage is somewhere it’s not. The lessons of squirrel spirit animal are to save a little more than you need as well as not share what you are doing with the world.

Agility and the Meaning of Squirrel

All squirrels are incredibly quick on their feet, lightening fast in fact. They dodge and weave to avoid the best of predators. It is when we try to catch, chase or follow a squirrel that we gain a deep appreciation for this.

The tree dwelling or “arboreal” squirrel has an additional advantage. He has a mobile ankle that allows him to turn his foot backward and run down a tree face-first. This is a rare trait in the animal kingdom.

Flying squirrel has special skin flaps between his front and back legs that makes it possible for him to leap and take great glides from one tree to another. He doesn’t actually fly like a bird, but he glides like a parachutist. This demonstrates a willingness to take giant leaps and trust that you have a parachute to dampen your fall.

Looking at both tree and flying squirrel shows us that squirrel meaning brings not only great mental agility that can help us reach great heights, but also the courage and audacity to plunge head-long into endeavors.

Shadow-Tail

The origin of squirrel’s name, meaning “shadow-tail”, is a brilliant window into the meaning of squirrel. The tail and the shadow are both symbolic of what follows us, namely our past. The shadow represents our unconscious and the things we don’t always see. Now would be a good time to check and see what shadows are following you about especially in regards to your fears, old wounds and ingrained patterns regarding money and security. Squirrel spirit animal can help you come into a more balanced relationship with your resources by addressing and clearing your past.

The Chatty Sentry

Squirrel is the sentry of the forest constantly calling the alarm with his bushy tail flagging down danger and his piercing chirps keeping everyone alert. Birds and other prey animals always keep an ear open for squirrel and heed his warnings most of the time. But, some squirrels are more talkative and nervous than others, sounding the alarm too often. Then the other creatures of the forest stop listening to him. Pay attention to how you play the whistleblower at work or at home and make sure your worrying out loud isn’t turning off those around you. Being the sentry comes with responsibility. Use it wisely.

Busyness and Rest

Squirrel meaning is closely linked with the way he scurries about to and fro, up and down, in and out. Squirrel is known for being busy, really busy. There is a lot to do to prepare for winter. If you find yourself in the midst of squirrel medicine and busier than you think you should be, check in. Do you have enough energy to be so busy? Does now feel like a good time to get a lot done? Once winter comes, squirrel does slow down and spend time lazying about in his nest, called a “drey”. He waits out the storms and comes out during breaks in the weather to dig up and eat his caches of nuts. Squirrel does not hibernate like bear, so expect some level of activity in yourself no matter what the season when working with squirrel spirit animal.

 

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About Author, Stacey L. L. Couch

Stacey Couch shamanic practitionerStacey L. L. Couch, Certified Shamanic Practitioner, works as a publicist and journalist for Mother Nature and is the author of Gracious Wild: A Shamanic Journey with Hawks. She empowers people with the ability to explore life’s big questions by calling on nature, story and synchronicity as a source for guidance and healing. With her deeply rooted experience in the field of shamanism and passion for working with wildlife and rescue animals, Stacey has a unique blend of rational and mystical perspective that makes the world of shamanism easily accessible to others. She values mindfulness, wonder, and compassion in her daily spiritual practice. Learn More about Stacey.

black panther symbolism black panther spirit animal

Spirit Animals: BLACK PANTHER POWER

Typically, I like to stick to explaining species (such as the red-tailed hawk or barn owl) or a general group of species (such as turtle or eagle) when writing spirit animal articles, but in this case, I am making an exception. Black Panther spirit animal looms so large in our psyche and mythologies that she warrants unique treatment when considering interpretation.

Is Black Panther a Jaguar or a Leopard?

She can be either! Black panthers are not a distinct species, nor are they a group of species. Some black panthers are leopards, but not all leopards are black panthers. Some black panthers are jaguars, but most jaguars are not black panthers.

Black panther is a blanket term to describe an uncommon, specific color variation, known as “melanistic”, of either leopards or jaguars. Melanin is the black pigment found in excess in the coats of these large cats. Leopards live in Africa and Asia. Jaguars are found in Central and South America. Jaguars are larger, stockier and more muscular with broad, boxy heads and a shorter tail. Both species inhabit a wide variety of habitats from savanna to swamp to dense jungle.

This begs the question – Do you need to know the species of the black panther you’ve encountered (in dreams, journeys or waking reality)? Not necessarily, but it will help you understand the nuances of this spirit animal more clearly. The mythology of jaguars and leopards is as different as Hindu and Aztec cultures.

Fitting in with the Family

Interestingly enough, the melanistic gene (that causes the black coloration) in jaguars is dominant and in leopards is recessive. This means that a black jaguar must have at least one black coated parent, but a black leopard can be born from two spotted parents. In a given litter of either species, both spotted and black panthers can emerge.

All of this points to the idea of the “black sheep” and feeling like you don’t necessarily fit into your family. Someone with a black jaguar spirit animal may feel a stronger association to one parent than another, where a person with the black leopard spirit animal may wonder whether she was switched at birth. Black panther spirit animal in general causes us to sit with the question of how we fit in with our parents and siblings. What have you inherited from them? What has skipped a generation?

Black panther symbolism relates to comfort in the mystery of where you came from and how you fit in, bringing the wisdom that not everything needs to fall in line and fit perfectly.

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.

Creature of the Dark

The black panther is most obviously associated with darkness. We are inclined to believe that being solid black would mean a distinct advantage for a hunter, but according to experts on the Shooting authority website, a solid color means a solid outline which is much more visible to prey than an outline broken up by spots. It is believed that for this reason, black panthers are more likely to succeed in darker habitats. To match this theory, most black panthers are found in dense habitats such as jungles.

Jungles are wet, messy, jumbled places and they mirror the unkept and unknown part of our unconscious. Black panther spirit animal is adept at navigating the unconscious, hidden parts of ourselves. She ventures into the unknown, comfortable with the darkness. Black panther spirit animal understands that the jungle is fraught with danger and rich with resources. The shadow is both good and bad.

Black panther symbolism is not only about traveling into our own darkness, but also the mystery of the universe. Both jaguars and leopards are solitary animals, and black panther spirit animal lends us the courage to venture into the unknown alone.

The mystery of the universe is called the “void”. This is the darkness of the womb, the place of pure potential creation, and both the end and beginning of all things. The void is a place beyond the five senses where we must venture on faith alone. Black panther animal totem is our guide along the way.

In the book Medicine Cards, black panther symbolism is explained as “embracing the unknown”. This is an excellent hallmark to remember.

New Moon & The Feminine

Black panther symbolism is associated with the new moon in particular. Her energy is strongest when we face the dark side of the moon during the day and have no moon at night. The absence of moonlight makes black panther less visible and a superior huntress. The new moon is a time of both death and rebirth, when we stand at the threshold looking back at what was and looking ahead at what’s come. Neither are certain for this brief window in time. What was is no more and what’s to be is not yet born. Faith is a hallmark of black panther symbolism.

The moon is strongly associated with the feminine as is the jungle and darkness, thus the black panther is said to carry the energy of the feminine principles of receptivity and intuition. Now is not the time for figuring things out or striking out, but for both turning inward to your soul and opening up to the Divine.

Solar Eclipse Power

In Ted Andrews’s Animal Speak, he shares that “To the Tucano Indians of the Amazon… the black panther was the god of darkness and could cause eclipses by swallowing the sun”. The brilliance of this teaching is that solar eclipses only occur during a new moon and  black panther spirit animal’s height of power occurs during the new moon. New moons are often seen as new beginnings, a rebirth. Most astrologers highlight the point that solar eclipses are amplified new moons, setting the stage for what’s to come for the next six months.

However, in leaping forward, we miss the medicine of black panther which is aligned with the moment of the new moon more than what’s to come. Nights of entire darkness during any new moon and also that moment when the moon and sun are dark during a solar eclipse are chilling experiences for us. We like the light and fear the darkness, but if we could manage to stay with the fear long enough much would be revealed to us.

A Glimpse of the One

Even though the sun is mostly covered by the moon during a solar eclipse we still cannot look at it without risking eye damage. If we look at a bright light we go blind and see darkness. Many mystics teach that most of us could not bear to look directly at God. Great saints and gurus spent decades preparing to handle just a glimpse of The One.

Black panther meaning is an opportunity to encounter the Divine through the mysteries of God. We fear the dark side of the moon, but we are merely looking at the other side of the same celestial body. Life emerges from death and death from life. They are opposite sides of the same coin. Black panther leads us into the untapped creative potential of this truth.

 

Find your spirit animal workshop. Painting of red-tailed hawk.