Working with Animal Spirit Guides

This will not be a post on how to find your personal spirit guide, but more of a personal account. A story of how my own spirit animal continued to present itself to me, despite all my efforts to dismiss it…

I may work with gods, do divination, talk to trees, …, but despite all of that I am not at all into ‘woo’. And especially I tend to be very, very critical of everything that has an odour of commercialization or ‘plastic shamanism’ around it. And for that reason, for a very long time I avoided working with animal spirits. Because it seemed like something that was the topic of almost every single ‘introduction to shamanism workshop’ (but.. if this is for real, you shouldn’t treat this as a bit of spiritual entertainment, right?). Or all these oracles around ‘learn from the wisdom of the animals’ (is this real spirituality, or are they mostly put on the market because it sells?). And I am not even going to mention issues like cultural appropriation (but really, having a ‘spirit animal’ that doesn’t even live on your continent, how real can that be?). Justified criticism or unreasonable prejudice? I’ll let you make up your own might on that…

Anyhow, because of this I was very critical when at some point within the course of Druidry I am taking myself (with OBOD), it was suggested that we do some shamanic journeying to figure out what our spirit animal would be. I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to do it. As I told myself: I am perfectly happy working with trees. They are my guides. What do I even need a spirit animal for?

And so I decided to do a bit of divination on the topic. Try to connect with the animal spirits, and ask them what their opinion is. What about all the commercialization? Isn’t all of this just plain wrong? That divination session did not yield any of the answers I was expecting to get. I had expected to be confirmed in my opinions. Instead, I was called out. Below is an attempt to paraphrase the message I received:

We are seeking to reach out to humanity. What you see as petty commercialism may, for some people, well be the first time they are touched by the otherworld. The first time they truly get face to face with a non-human animal in an environment where the animal is not only considered as an equal, but rather as a teacher, on that has wisdom that is worth listening to.

We use the channels that are available to us. Many of them are not perfect. And yes, unfortunately some people take personal advantage of this to enrich themselves. But that should not concern you. The point is that this allows us to reach people we would otherwise never be able to reach. And once the spark is planted, who knows what might be possible in the future?

What to say to that but bow my head and acknowledge that I had been at least somewhat wrong in my views? And so I consented to take the journey for myself as well: I did the meditation, and at some point on the journey found myself standing in front of ‘the council of animals’, where Hare came forward to be my guide on the spiritual path.

Soon after that I found myself in the middle of a heap of real-life issues to deal with first, and so that experience with hare quickly faded into the background. And when things went finally back to normal, I reverted to the parts of my practice that were familiar¬† from before. When questioned on the topic of animal guides, I’d tend to say that I was a tree person, and that I didn’t really do animals.

Only, it seems that someone is not quite as ready to abandon me as I was to abandon her…

She’s made a point of showing up at during some of the most crucial points in my spiritual journey:

I’ve only ever seen a wild hare once. This happened when I was heading towards the place in the woods where I was going to perform a Ritual of Dedication to Cernunnos, one of my patron deities. When I arrived at the spot, there she sat, waiting for me. In retrospect, that ritual turned out to be a pivotal point on my spiritual path.

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Then, exactly one year later, I was sitting in meditation, mentally preparing for my Initiation into the OBOD Druid grade. They made me wait for quite some time. Then, suddenly, a white hare jumps into my Inner Sacred Grove, and leads me off onto a path into the forest, its pawprints leaving little sparks of light on the path for me to follow. I hear her whisper ‘Of you go, then.’ Then she’s gone. Some thirty seconds later, I hear a knock on the door. I am being fetched to start with the initiation.

After all that, I feel that it just won’t do to ignore her any longer. And I find that now she’s beginning to turn up in my meditations more regularly. I was just about to write that despite all, I still didn’t really know what this was all about, when she almost jumped at me, insisting on whispering this message to me:

See me as the voice of your intuition. I will be there when the path seems obscured, and when you need guidance in taking important life decisions. My territory is that of the night. The light that guides me is that of the moon. And aren’t you a moon-creature as well? Let us take that journey together then…

Yes I am a creature of the moon. The moon is quite a dominant force in my personal astrology, and the main goddess I am dedicated to is Artemis, a moon goddess. But those are all things that I only figured out long after hare had appeared for the first time. Guess I’d better start paying attention, right?

As a sign that I’m intending to listen this time round, I’ve honoured her by putting her on my drum…

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