Wednesday, June 29, 2011

spirit animals

Chakras are great. Little spinning wheels -- or blooming flowers -- of energy at key points in our bodies keeping us connected to ourselves and the greater universe. My mind is a ping pong ball (or a jar FULL of ping pong balls), so I suck at meditating, and envisioning the chakras, one at a time, is pretty much the only way I can focus myself. Recently, a dear friend suggested a new meditation technique she'd tried in which you associate a different animal with each chakra as you meditate. You don't choose the animals, of course, you let them choose you. Just open your mind, focus on your chakras, and see which creatures present themselves. I love animals, and I love contemplating and exploring our many and varied relationships with them, so this sounded perfect for me. I've only done it once so far, while sitting in the sun near the La Brea tar pits. I suppose you could/would receive different animals each time you do it, but here's who came to me during my first attempt:

The lion represents the confident creator. He/she teaches you about self love, how not to be so hard on yourself, and how to relax and let go. The lion encourages you to pamper yourself, and to acknowledge that you're worth pampering. When you're feeling stressed out, listen to the lion when he/she tells you to take a break instead of drowning in angst and neurosis. The base chakra is associated with our personal foundation and sense of being grounded. The confident and self indulgent lion seems like a good "base" to build on. (Portrait by Gericault, ca. 1820)

The pig uproots the soil, turning it over in preparation for new growth. The pig helps us become fertile ground for new ideas as we rid ourselves of the old. Listen to your soul (via the pig), and plow up some time in your life for the new ideas you're receiving. The sacral chakra is associated with our ability to accept others and new experiences. So I'm rooting around and perhaps opening myself up to new relationships -- or new dimensions to existing relationships -- particularly in the face of the loss of very important "old" relationships. And of course your relationships with the dead continue to evolve even after they've departed. (Piglet from Herculaneum, ca. 1st century A.D.)

The crab represents the fierce feminine (not the first thing that comes to mind, but okay). She stands for self protection and sensitivity, but can be moody and emotional. She will help you with self preservation through challenging times, and will help you to heal your relationship with your mother (of all people). When you listen to the crab, you listen to your gut and your intuition. The belly chakra is associated with our ability to be confident and in control of our lives. Interesting. The complexities of the mother/daughter relationship are often some of the trickiest things to navigate when trying to gain/retain "control" in one's life. My belly is the root of most of my problems, so I feel this is one of the most important chakras/animals to listen to, but I hate crabs! They creep me out to the extreme! This all makes sense somehow . . . (Vintage scientific illustration)

The deer is the sensitive listener. You can call upon the deer when you need to be heard and nurtured. She gives you the courage to speak your mind. A sense of calm and centeredness comes when the deer is invited into your life. The heart chakra is associated with our ability to love (duh). I think I need to love myself more, so perhaps I can interpret this as learning to listen to and nurture myself. For this chakra, the deer came in clearly, but there was a dove lurking nearby. Both creatures are often associated with purity and innocence, and that's very much the feeling I had from their presence. Is my heart somehow pure and innocent? And if so, is that a good thing? (Scythian gold deer, 7th century B.C.)


The butterfly is the delic
ate transformer. Of course butterflies have the classic cocoon metaphor of rebirth, emergence, and metamorphosis. They also live very short lives, so represent the fleeting nature of life. The butterfly guides you through change and transition, and encourages creative indwelling. She will help you find the power of change within yourself. The throat chakra is associated with our ability to communicate. Second to my belly, my throat is my other primary problem area. Interesting that both of these manifested as insect or insect-like creatures. Heebie-jeebies! Although of course butterflies are quite beautiful and full of all kinds of powerful symbolism (unlike the CRAB). I think I'm a good communicator in general, but I often suppress my own emotions and thoughts, so there's definitely a blockage there. The image that came to mind during meditation was the moth-over-the-mouth from "The Silence of the Lambs." Maybe this should be a moth instead of a butterfly, but they're not that different really, are they? (Maria Sibylla Merian, 17th century)

The whale is the cosmic record keeper, and embodies ancient wisdom. The whale will help you tap in to your intuition and tune in to your inner voice (even if that voice is buried in the ocean depths). The whale is also associated with spiritual rebirth, as in the story of Jonah and the Whale. And of course there's Moby Dick. The third eye chakra is associated with our ability to focus and see the big picture. Whales are damn powerful creatures, and damn powerful symbols. Of course it's ridiculous that my third eye chakra evoked a creature with a giant ivory tooth piercing its forehead. Maybe that's telling me that there's something very obvious about this chakra that I'm overlooking? (Inuit carving)

The eagle lives in both the ea
rthly and spiritual realms, and can teach you how to live in balance with your earthly reality and your celestial spirit. The eagle can ease you into a state of grace, and reconnect you with your personal power. The crown chakra is associated with our ability to be fully connected spiritually. I suppose the eagle is almost a cliche for this chakra, but there was definitely a sense of a golden eagle (specifically) with its wings outstretched over my head, in a protective way. Whatever you think about chakras and spirit animals, it's comforting to think of a majestic eagle watching over you as make your way through life, especially during the difficult times. (John James Audubon, 1833)

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