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Author Topic: Survey: Animal-Shaped Gods/Guides  (Read 1075 times)

Faemon

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Survey: Animal-Shaped Gods/Guides
« on: November 11, 2012, 10:19:21 am »
Hi! I've been getting into a wilder metaphysical space lately. For those with animal spirit guides, or an animal identity, I'd love to read whatever you'd like to share. My questions:



0. To which spiritual tradition are you presently affiliated, if any? How did you come to recognize animal spirituality? Does it connect to your spiritual tradition?

1. Do you identify in any part as a non-human animal? Or are your animal energies perceived as external to your identity? If both apply, to what degree do both impact your spiritual life, in comparative balance with each other?

1A. If you do identify as a non-human animal, what is this animal's form? (If it's more than one possible at a given time, or if they've changed through the years, please do share that as well.)

1B. If the animal guide or guides are perceived as external entities, how do your interactions generally go? (Visions, signs, using physical animal parts in ritual, and/or energetic communication that is translated in so-and-so way?)

2. How defined would you say is an animal spirit form? For example, if your spirit animal is a bird of prey, would it matter to you if it's Aquila chrysaetos or Phalcoboenus australis? Do you relate them to physical animals? (If so, then how?)

3. What is your idea or experience, of the permanence or impermanence of an animal guide? What about the specificness versus generality of how animal energy takes effect?



I look forward to reading your replies! :D:
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Laveth

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Re: Survey: Animal-Shaped Gods/Guides
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2012, 01:09:15 pm »
Quote from: triple_entendre;80449
Hi! I've been getting into a wilder metaphysical space lately. For those with animal spirit guides, or an animal identity, I'd love to read whatever you'd like to share. My questions:

0. To which spiritual tradition are you presently affiliated, if any? How did you come to recognize animal spirituality? Does it connect to your spiritual tradition?

1. Do you identify in any part as a non-human animal? Or are your animal energies perceived as external to your identity? If both apply, to what degree do both impact your spiritual life, in comparative balance with each other?

1A. If you do identify as a non-human animal, what is this animal's form? (If it's more than one possible at a given time, or if they've changed through the years, please do share that as well.)

1B. If the animal guide or guides are perceived as external entities, how do your interactions generally go? (Visions, signs, using physical animal parts in ritual, and/or energetic communication that is translated in so-and-so way?)

2. How defined would you say is an animal spirit form? For example, if your spirit animal is a bird of prey, would it matter to you if it's Aquila chrysaetos or Phalcoboenus australis? Do you relate them to physical animals? (If so, then how?)

3. What is your idea or experience, of the permanence or impermanence of an animal guide? What about the specificness versus generality of how animal energy takes effect?


I look forward to reading your replies! :D:

 

0. I am a Slavic (hedge) Witch (in Slovene, a Witch is designated as  naturally being a hedge-witch). So I work with animals, herbs, scents, food, divination, other-realm entities, etc.... In Slavic lore, a witch is also usually born to it. She/he is born with the ability to 'trance.' To travel without their body, and is basically a natural seeress/mystic. The rest of the skills they learn are either from a grandmother or, in rarer cases, from the Fae when they are adopted by the other-realm creatures. I was born this way, struggled with it quite a bit growing up, and then a series of events unfolded that basically resulted in my inability to reject what was going on around me. And here I am, sounding like a freak... :p Anyway, animal guides are entwined into my belief system as well, but the primary basis is on other-realm creatures (Vila, Rusalka, Vodyanoi, Domovoi, etc...). Animals have always been regarded as creatures of strength and wisdom.

1. I have never identified as a non-animal, however I do shapeshift at times. One of my 'totem' animals I have been aware of and bound to since as long as I can remember, and I have learned to think as he does and to move as he does. But always, I know that we are separate and I am merely using what he has taught me to achieve an end or to understand something that eludes me.

1b. Generally speaking, I can almost always feel them around at some point. Sometimes I can see them, sometimes I can only feel them. It depends on the day, the situation, my current status, etc... If I don't listen to them for whatever reason, my physical environment tends to shift in ways where I see signs of their presence or of what they're trying to tell me. They aren't usually very subtle. Communication is based on feeling and visual cues, not words.

2. Here, it varies. One of my guides is most definitely of a specific species and no other. Others tend to appear as a generalized image of that 'type' of animal (fish, bird, whatever) and when I've asked, they've always stated that it doesn't matter because the ambiguity allows them to teach all lessons of that generalized species when necessary. I don't quite understand the second part of this question... I feel they are animal spirits who are guardians/guides, and not something else that is taking on the form of an animal in order to connect easier with the human mind. If that's what you're asking....?

3. Most of the spirits I encounter are passing. They come for an hour, a day, maybe two, then they leave once I've gotten the hint. Others last a lifetime (so far anyway). I have three that have been with me for as long as I can remember, and I don't feel there will ever be a time where they are not there. I can't say for sure, but as far as my understanding allows. :)

Sharysa

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Re: Survey: Animal-Shaped Gods/Guides
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2012, 10:37:18 pm »
Quote from: triple_entendre;80449


Question 0. Celtic Reconstructionist Bard, North American-influenced medicine, and indigenous Filipino traditions (although I'm rather more busy with the first two right now).

I've always semi-consciously recognized animal spirituality, since the bardic lore extensively mentions shape-shifting and there is a loooooong tradition of animal symbolism throughout mythology and folklore. But it was only recently that I've been able to move past the spiritual blocks that kept me from tapping into the ability to transform into animals myself.

Seeing as shapeshifting and animal symbolism is a very old spiritual practice, it's quite relevant to all three of my paths. None of the gods/ancestors find it odd that some of them transform into animals, and they tend to refer to each other AS the animals (ie: I'm an albatross, one of my past-mothers is a boar, and one past-brother is a stag). Generally it means that I/they can transform INTO the animal, but there is some degree of overlap since the animal forms strongly reflect their personalities.

There's also some implicit importance in the gender of the animal--during a drum-circle, my past-brother turned me into a STAG, not a doe, because the former is generally associated with dance and assertiveness while the latter is associated with gentleness and grace--same animal, completely different meaning.

Question 1. So far, I consider myself an albatross and a fish because I strongly identify with both. I have turned into a stag and a bear as well, but those two are my ancestor's totems (see 1A). And I've also received messages from spiritual animal guides as well (see 1B).

1a. My "main" form is the albatross, since that was the name given to me by one of the ancestors, I identify with albatross medicine, and the albatross was the form I took when I managed to get through my spiritual blocks. My "secondary" form is a fish, since I identify quite a bit with my zodiac sign (Pisces) and the sea-gods of the Tuatha De feel a very strong kinship towards me.

I was turned into a stag by an ancestor during a drum circle, turned into a cobra when another drum-circle went wrong and I needed to defend myself, and turned into a grizzly bear during an emergency. I identify as an albatross and a fish and am currently uncertain/neutral about the cobra, but not the stag or bear. The difference is because I transformed freely into the first two; but the stag form was pretty much for fun (and also to emphasize a point), the cobra wasn't specifically intended, and the bear form was given/borrowed from an ancestor.

1b. Animal guides mostly appear to me in visions. They tend to use actions and vibes/emotions as opposed to spoken messages; I got attacked by leeches and ticks earlier and needed to pick them all off, and then an earwig has been hanging around me since last month. After the initial ICK reaction, I realized it was actually pretty chill and not particularly urgent. So I'm just letting it hang around on the spiritual plane, I guess.

Question 2. Some forms are very defined, but at the same time they resonate with animals that have similar cultural connotations. I'm just an albatross and not any particular species, but my ancestors' grizzly bear and turtledove forms are extremely specific. The former calls black bears "wimps" (at least, the American black bear) because the American black bear has extremely different connotations from the grizzly. The latter insists that she is a TURTLE-dove, not a "dove" (ie, the white peace-dove) because the turtledove is associated with love/nurturing and the peace-dove is associated very strongly with Christianity.

However, the bear is fine with the idea of turning into a sun-bear (which is technically a black bear) because the Asiatic black bear is far more aggressive than the American one. My fox-ancestor also identifies with the mongoose, since they have very similar connotations.

Question 3. Animal guides tend to show up while I'm meditating, "say" their message, and then leave. Not sure if it's because they just have very brief messages or I learn them pretty quickly. I'm not sure whether I have a spirit-guide/totem/guardian yet, or if it's just waiting for me to learn everything else so I don't get overloaded with information.

After invoking animal medicine, I tend to get physically affected somehow. Turning into a fish made me thirsty. Turning into an albatross made me giddy and prone to unfocused fidgeting. Turning into a stag made me act more spontaneous (and fidgety, but in the "too much energy" way). Turning into a bear was extremely overwhelming/draining, and I didn't even transform all the way--I only changed just enough to have a bear's head and paws so I could swipe at someone to make them leave.

It was partly because the shape was only "borrowed," and partly because I'm only just used to shape-shifting at all. I also get the feeling that the method/purpose of the transformation was what overwhelmed me as well. It was a whole bear-pelt complete with the head and paws, and my ancestor called it a bear-sark.

Yeah, everyone who knows SOMETHING of Nordic practices will probably know what a bear-sark means. (One of the Tuatha De indeed went, "Ha, someone learned a trick from the North!")

The bear-sark he gave me was both for protection and defense, but my intention at the time was just to wear it for protection before I lost control, went into fight-or-flight mode, and ended up screaming and swiping someone across the face. Seeing as I turned into a snake for defense and didn't get overwhelmed by the form, intentions definitely matter when you're working with animals. If I'd intended to use the bear-sark for attack or actively defending someone, I definitely wouldn't have been so drained.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2012, 10:39:56 pm by Sharysa »
On hiatus, but might pop in now and then. Just making it official.

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Wintersong

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Re: Survey: Animal-Shaped Gods/Guides
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2012, 12:26:01 am »
0. I have incorporated animals into my spiritual simply because I can see them, and can learn from them.  I believe that gods are man-made in the sense that we are personifying energies/emotions so as to better relate to them.  If we lived more like the animals, we probably wouldn't need much religion to help us figure everything out.    

1. Humans are animals, we just have a massive ego and think the world began with us and will end with us.  The truth is, nature gives us everything we need to make earth a paradise for all, but to us, its just not good enough.  Honestly, I am as guilty as anyone else.  I feel a connection with bears because they are many things I wish I could be; strong, free from politics and religion, natural, and always outdoors living by mother natures good graces.  They just seem more worthy of MY respect than any gods ever have.

1A. Any animal will do, really...Animals live life, humans over complicate life!

1B. I simply meditate on it.  I use animals as a compass.  Winter is my favorite season, so I just picture a snowy landscape and try to see the world from a bears perspective.  I try to see humans as the more worthy (and honest) foe they would have been in the paleolithic period, and simply try to observe through the minds eye a time when we all lived within the bounds of natures love/brutality and outside of the realm of air conditioning and indoor heating and readily available grocery stores.  This can be something of a humbling experience to be honest.  Kinda makes you realize how awesome the world is and how weak we are as individuals.

2. Couldn't tell you.  I kinda hate limitations, as I tend to go through wild swings of interest and usually end up grasping at anything that makes me think a little deeper.

3. I don't know why exactly, but this made me think of a Buddhist quote about how neither life nor death is enduring.  If this is true, I have been many things and will become many more things and permanence is never permanent.  I hold this to be true with matters of the spirit, mind and body  But its late and I could just be getting abstract!
 
Hope this came out right...I'm about ready for some hibernation
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― Denis Diderot

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