‘Man was born free, and everywhere he is in chains’- Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract)
I am sure many of you have experienced this feeling-one of being drawn to certain types of animals, certain wild and ancient places and the yearning to return to a simpler way of life.
I have experienced this ever since I was a very young child. Growing up in big bustling cities where one is surrounded by throngs of nameless and faceless city dwellers, one yearns for simplicity, sincerity, and most of all peace.
In this connected world- we remain disconnected. In a city of millions- the heart is forlorn. We remain clueless and lack inner joy, even though we have it all, we remain ‘poor’. We have reached the pinnacle of success, yet we feel ‘empty’. Something is missing- yet we cannot identify it.
The yearning begins- an ancient calling to connect to the wilderness within and the one that lies beyond.
If you let yourself become calmer, listen to the tiny voice within, you will soon realize that the REAL you has never really emerged. It is dormant, like a seed waiting to germinate. It takes a lot to know your ‘self’. Often a lifetime of searching is required until your reach that sincere spot of self-realization where the REAL you resides.
However, the moment of realization can either be spontaneous, like a flash flood, or one that slowly advances, like a patient glacier. Time is of no relevance, since the soul does not know time. Curiosity is the fuel that keeps the mind wondering and the heart alight. Slowly the soul emerges and starts to walk beside you, like an honest friend, guiding you to connect to your true self.
Native peoples and tribes around the world have never doubted this power- The Power of Nature & Animals. It is the only truthful source of life and learning. It is a pre-historic guide, predating religion, culture and civilization itself. It is one that we fail to accept or recognize either because we cannot understand it, or, we are too immersed in the drudgery of daily life. Often, to learn something, we must first unlearn, only then can true knowledge be attainted.
Perhaps some of you have noticed that when you sit alone by yourself, mind uncluttered and senses released, you start ‘seeing’, ‘feeling’, and ‘absorbing’ more acutely. The same backyard becomes a magical place where anything can happen. When you free your mind of useless clutter, you will attune yourself to the sounds that really matter.
I’m sure many of you will relate to this incident, one of many that I have experienced. An experience no book can ever teach me-one that is pristine, inspiring and mysteriously revealing.
I remember that day vividly. It was a cool September afternoon, as I was sipping herbal tea on my porch, that I heard a swooshing sound behind me.
I did not move, yet my thoughts raced. I could not decipher the nature or source of this sudden shuffling swooshing sound.
Few minutes lapsed.
There in front of me, proudly perched on the branch of a Pine tree, was a majestic Hawk. It eyed me carefully. It wanted to show me something, I did not know what, but it just sat there, looking at me intently. An hour passed and the glorious Hawk just sat there, watching over me and my mountain side house.
A spirit guardian?
The watchful one?
It was an inspiring moment. I felt an instant connection to my wild and beautiful feathered friend. It was as if it had come to spend the afternoon with me- comforting me in my quietest hour. A sign to the weary mind that ‘you are not alone’.
Animal totems are an important aspect of our spiritual life and this is where we really start connecting to our REAL selves. ‘Anima’, from which the word Animal is derived, literally means ‘The Breath of Life’ or ‘The Soul’. Therefore connecting to our animal side is pertinent to spiritual progression.
These days one can goggle anything, but I speak from a highly personal perspective. It is these personal experiences that create real time awareness. Every experience is worthy of respect and recognition since every experience is unique.
There are many known types of Animal Totems. Some help you balance your daily life and provide practical answers to more mundane dilemmas. Other Totems are spiritual and mental guides- adding richness and wisdom to your spiritual self.
There are numerous books on Animal Totems- find one which you feel is right for you.
I have complied these questions, see if you are connected to your animal side:
- Do you feel drawn to a certain animal?
- Are there times that you feel you are living an empty and disconnected life and as soon as your pet comes and lays in your lap- these feelings vanish and you feel calm and relaxed?
- You have vivid dreams of jungles, green pastures, and see creatures and animals congregating around you and providing counsel.
- You have felt that animals are your friends, or even your mystic teachers.
- You respect, honor and love wildlife.
- You feel sad when you see harm come to an animal.
- There is always a part of you that connects to various animal traits; you can identify yourself with certain animals.
- You abhor animal cruelty and feel that harming an animal is the greatest sin of all.
- You revere animals and all life is sacred to you.
- Wildlife inspires you more than anything else and the allure does not fade.
Have you discovered your animal totem yet?