From elephant gods to fairy tale characters and totem poles to animal tattoos, our human experience is inextricably linked to animals.
Shamans believe that animals are here as teachers and guides to help us on our journey. That each animal possesses a unique essence or teaching. The most exciting part is that you (yes you!) already have animal spirit guides eagerly awaiting to work with you right now.
Read on to learn:
- What an Animal Spirit Guide is
- Why we work with Animal Spirit Guides
- How Shamans work with Animal Sprit Guides
- How to find your Animal Spirit Guide
- How to develop a connection with your Spirit Animal
Get ready for a wild ride through the animal kingdom!
Shamanic beliefs about animals
Shamans believe that everything is alive and that everything is infused with Spirit. Each animal possesses a unique essence that she contributes to this planet. If love is like a multifaceted jewel, then every animal represents a “face” of this jewel. Each offers a distinct and unique way of seeing and perceiving love. By connecting with various animals, we can learn more about love and begin to see the world through Spirit’s eyes, rather than our limited human vision. These animal spirits become like lifelong friends, they are there in moments of need and also in moments of celebration.
If this seems far fetched to you – don’t worry! It only takes an open heart and a sense of curiosity to begin connecting with these wonderful creatures. Keep reading..
How Shamans work with Spirit Animal Guides
In ancient times, Shamans would embody the spirit of animals in ceremony and while performing healing. They wore the headdresses, masks, feathers and bones of animals to “call in” their spirits, inviting them to join their human counterparts in momentous occasions. These animals weren’t only present in ceremony, however. They made up the foundational wisdom teachings that wove an entire community together. Each animal represented a specific archetype, and communities bonded over the powerful attributes of the animals that ruled their domains. For instance, the Peruvian Shamans worked closely with the animal archetypes of the serpent, jaguar, hummingbird and condor. Serpent taught the people how to let go of the past, shedding the past like she sheds her skin. Hummingbird taught her people how to drink the nectar of only the sweetest flowers, passing by the flowers that weren’t fully nourishing. Just like we have foundational legislation and documents upholding our society, animals offered foundational wisdom teachings that maintained the harmony of a community.
Rather than viewing the animals as individuals, Shamans viewed a species as the physical manifestation of a particular thought-stream of consciousness. This belief carries through to today and the consciousness of an animal spirit is often called her “medicine.” For instance, when you watch an eagle soar you can observe how she so effortlessly glides along the currents in the wind, observing the land and the valleys below. Thus, “eagle medicine” represents the consciousness of perspective and surrender to spirit.
What is an Animal Spirit Guide?
In a Shaman’s eyes our human journey is an epic story of awakening. We live through different chapters, with each chapter containing lessons we must learn in order to enter a deeper state of understanding and love. In each chapter an animal spirit guide appears to help us with the lessons we are learning. The animal spirit guide shows us the qualities which we can embody in order to learn from our current life circumstances. She also passes along ancient wisdom through her habits and behavioural patterns, inviting us to view the cycle of life from her perspective.
For instance, the shark is an animal spirit guide that recently appeared in my life when I was learning how to enforce boundaries and stand in my personal power. Shark medicine taught me that it was finally time to embody confidence and swim through the waters of life with a little more ferocity and courage than I had before.
Don’t let the size or shape of the animal fool you! One of my dearest animal spirit guides was the mouse. She taught me how to be resourceful and how to see the abundance that was scattered throughout my life. Through watching her quickly scurry through the forest, I knew that there were many “nuts” and “seeds” present in my life that I could harvest, if I only took action.
How I work with Animal Spirit Guides
As a Shamanic Practitioner, animals and plants are the foundation of my spiritual practice both personally and with clients, and therefore my life.
I typically spend time outdoors, noticing the animals that repeatedly appear in my path. I’ll observe their behaviour and their energy, noticing the subtleties of their movement and their pattern. As much as possible, I draw my awareness to my heart space and cultivate an intimate connection between the animal and I. Rather than simply receiving the animal’s wisdom, I aim to form a connection with the animal and spend time with her as I would with a friend. Once I’ve spent enough time learning from an animal, I carry the animal’s “medicine,” or her special healing gifts. I ask these animals to help in healing sessions on behalf of my clients and invite them to join my community for ceremony.
In return, I create altars and perform ceremonies of gratitude for an animal. Because Shamanism is based on living in synergy with the land, there is always an equal exchange of give and receive. The animal spirit guide offers me so much wisdom, friendship and beauty; and in return I honour her habitat and spirit through protecting and care-taking of the land.
How to find your Animal Spirit Guide
In terms of how to find out your true spirit animal… You don’t need to live in the middle of the jungle to begin noticing the animal spirit guide that is meant to work with you. Often an animal spirit guide will show up synchronistically as a repeated symbol in your daily life. For instance, you may notice that a particular animal shows up on your social media newsfeed, or is present in your dreams. Alternatively, you may find that you are drawn to learn more about an animal and that you’ve been collecting figurines or stickers of an animal for some time now.
Rather than seeking the exotic animals of faraway lands, I’d encourage you to study and fall in love with the animals that are close to home. We often think of powerful animals as the stereotypical ones associated with spirituality – bear, wolf, eagle – forgetting that our own backyard has the critters and creatures that are so eager to teach us! That being said, if you find that a distant animal is calling to you, trust your intuition. Always, always allow your heart to lead the way – this is how you will find your true spirit animal.
If your animal spirit guide is in close proximity, I encourage you to spend time in her presence and simply notice how your body feels around her. Here are some prompts:
- What do you notice about the animal?
- How does she relate to her surroundings?
- What character traits does she embody?
All of these clues are part of the wisdom teachings that she is passing along to you!
How to build connection with your Animal Spirit Guide
When your Animal Spirit Guide is clear to you, a beautiful way to engage with her is through meditation. Here’s how:
- Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths
- Begin to imagine that your animal spirit guide is beside you.
- Spend a few breaths simply enjoying the presence of this animal with you. How do you feel around her?
- If you feel adventurous, have a conversation with your Animal Spirit Guide. Ask her what she is here to show you, then listen with a sense of imagination and curiosity!
Feel free to get creative as you develop a relationship with your Animal Spirit Guide. You can draw your animal friend, create a personal altar for your animal spirit guide, or simply print out a picture of the animal to place beside your bed.
It’s important to note that the more that you honour the animal, the more she will bless you with her love and wisdom. It is a reciprocal relationship, not one of take-take-take.
Spirit animal meanings
What does each animal represent? When you notice an Animal Spirit Guide appear in your life, it can be SO tempting to hop on the internet and begin to research the meaning of your animal. I’d encourage you to hold off and take the time to develop a personal relationship first. Shamanism is the path of inward discovery, meaning that the answers you are seeking already rest inside of your heart; not in the definitions and beliefs of the outside world. Animal guides help you unlock and connect to a deeper sense of consciousness.
There’s lots of fantastic literature on animal symbolism but I’d only recommend them as a reference after you’ve developed a relationship with your Animal Spirit Guide. Remember that your relationship to an Animal Spirit Guide will look different than someone else’s. For instance, to me wolf medicine signifies loyalty and honour, while to someone else it may symboliSe pride and individuality.
Not only do these meanings vary from person to person, but they change from time to time. For instance, I’ve been learning from the serpent archetype for several years now. In the past the serpent was a teacher of letting go, of releasing pain in the past. Our relationship has morphed over the years. Currently, the serpent is passing along the medicine of sensuality and grounding. Just as your human relationships evolve over time, allow your relationship with your animal spirit guide the freedom to change as your life changes. Allow the journey to unfold naturally and effortlessly.
A final note
You may be wondering why animals are so eager to gift us their friendship. Especially after we’ve caused so much destruction and pain on the planet. Rather than viewing humanity through the lens of shame, Shamans believe that we still live in the Garden of Eden. We’ve simply forgotten that we can speak to animals and that our true nature is love.
Realising that animals have so much love to offer us is a practice of receiving unconditional love, of viewing ourselves as worthy and linked to nature. No matter where you come from or what your life looks like, you have the opportunity to begin connecting to nature and to animals deeply in this very moment. Have fun and enjoy your journey of befriending the animal kingdom and your spirit guides!
Lastly, if you enjoyed this guide and would like to learn more about better understanding and practising Shamanism, this podcast episode is a must-listen.
Now it’s your turn – Leave a comment below to share your animal spirit guide journey. Which animals are showing up in your life? Which animal have you been attracted to for a while? Myself and the thousands of souls that visit here each month would love to hear the details!
P.S. If you’re feeling called to dive deeper into the realm of animal spirits with an experienced Shamanic Practitioner, I’d love to help facilitate & guide you on that sacred journey. To book your 1-1 Spirit Animal Session simply email me at [email protected]