I consider myself a spiritual person.
Many years ago after my first partner died and before I'd met my ex-husband I came home and drew a bath to relax after a particularly difficult day. As soon as I lay back in the warm water and took a deep breath and let go, I was no longer in the tub.
I am walking across a meadow. It is a pleasant day; a gentle breeze is blowing, the flowers dancing; light, fluffy clouds drift lazily in the soft blue sky. A forest stands in the distance, it is inviting; there are mountains behind it and to my left. I walk towards the forest. I am calm, I am meant to be there. As I approach the forest, a brown she-bear comes out of the forest; she spies me. I keep walking, without fear. We acknowledge each other, she is meant to meet me. I know this, how I know this, I do not know, yet I do. She shows no menace, no fear, no aggression; she has been waiting for me. She stands on her hind legs, opens her front arms, as if to embrace, or welcome me. Mentally, I thank her, we are too far apart in the meadow, but I receive her embrace. She is not alone.
A young ferret accompanies her. He is quick, alert, and watchful. He also is here to greet me. I acknowledge him as he acknowledges me. I continue my walking. I have not stopped. As I enter the forest, the she-bear takes a position along my left side, the ferret on my right. We walk together the three of us into the forest.
We stop for a rest in the coolness of the forest, a stream babbles nearby, unseen yet heard. The she-bear is lying on all fours, I recline against her side. Her maternal warmth and strength flow through her into me, I know she is my friend, my companion. The ever attentive ferret scampers about, pauses to sit up, looks around, always our sentinel. He is also my friend, my companion.
It was then I returned to the tub.
I wondered what this meant, and why I had experienced it. I began some research and came to realize I'd had what many Native American tribes referred to as a vision that many of their young adults would have to mark their entry into adulthood. I even conferred with a Native Elder, who believed the Old Medicine had come to me, a white person.
I began to research what Bear and Ferret mean as spirit guides:
Bear is the gift of introspection, that in hibernation I will find the answers I seek. They are inside me. Hibernation can also be thought of as meditation, looking inward, learning to trust myself. Bear people are fearless defenders of their beliefs and often independent in nature.
Ferret is the message of observing silently, as they have keen eyesight and are ever alert. And with observing, and trusting my own instincts, I will achieve my goals. Ferret people are often loners, and often underestimated. And Ferret people are often keen witted and very playful.
As I shared this with a friend, she kept saying, "This is so you!" over and over.
And it all felt so right. It felt like me.
I now take a look at any animal that appears in my life, either via a dream, a meditation, a vision, or along a hike and see what it may mean. I don't look up everything, I mean, I have two bird feeders in my yard, and there are always sparrows, finches and some doves around; and just today I saw my first jay. Hummingbirds often visit their feeder or the Cape Honeysuckle I have planted. Crows and pigeons roost nearby, as I live across from a school and since crows and pigeons are opportunistic feeders, they take advantage of the trash around the school. I look up the animals that appear only sporadically, like the occasional red-tailed or Cooper's hawk looking for a pigeon for lunch. And sometimes I do find one whose message just doesn't seem to fit.
Some traditions believe there are five spirit guides; one for each of the four directions (North/forward, East/right, South/behind, and West/left) and one for Inside, your internal guide. Others believe in seven, the same as five but one for connecting you to Above (the heavens) and another for Below (the earth). These five, or seven, are with you for life, appearing as you need or call on them. Other guides may appear temporarily, as their message may be for the moment, as an answer to the question(s) you may have right then.
I now believe I have met five totems, either as a permanent spirit guide or a seemingly random, yet appropriate message for the place where I am on this journey.
While I met the Bear and Ferret on my own through the vision, I met the following three in guided meditation sessions. Sparrow appeared with Bear and Ferret, flitting between them so I believe he is one of my permanent guides. The others appeared singly, and therefore may only be bringing me a message for this moment in time.
The Sparrow is a small common bird, yet has flourished all over the planet. His message is even the small can triumph, and Sparrow knows his own self-worth as he sings his song proudly. And that is the message for me, I can triumph for I am worthy.
The Dolphin has a complex message, yet also a simple one; Balance. The Dolphin balances himself between two worlds, air and water. Psychologically, and often Spiritually, air and water have come to represent Intellect and Emotion, respectively. As the Dolphin balances life between these worlds, I must learn to balance myself between my head and my heart. Dolphins also work well as a group but also take time to play. Again, I must learn to balance Work and Play. And Dolphins are known to have sex just for fun without the need to procreate. No comment.
The latest animal to enter my life is a stag. I met the Stag during a meditation where I was guided to meet my spirit guide, and as I thought I would be meeting Bear, it was actually a Stag who appeared. I kept wanting to meet Bear, and the Stag kept forcing himself, so I relaxed and followed the Stag along with the rest of the meditation. The message from a Deer is one of gentleness and unconditional love. Does are very loving of their fawns, and very gentle creatures as a whole. And this message of gentleness in life, also applies to oneself; I am to be more gentle with myself! I don't need to be a perfectionist. Does also love their fawns unconditionally, as do many animal mothers; and while some of us may not have been born to an unconditionally loving mother, we must learn to love ourselves unconditionally, and honor that child within. A deer also signifies a new innocence is about to awaken. The Stag, in addition to the above, also brings a message of masculine energy and as his antlers regenerate themselves, he also brings the message of regeneration. His antlers also signify a connection to a higher energy, antennae if you will, to connect to the Universe.
So, in short, I have all the answers to my questions within, I just need to look inside myself. I must trust my instincts to fulfill my goals and dreams. I am worthy. I must balance my head and heart, work and play, and learn to enjoy sex. I must be gentle with myself and learn to love myself and others unconditionally. I must also honor my child within, as well as my masculine energy. And I need to remain connected to the Universe for I am worthy of the Gifts being given to me.
Sounds like good advice; like just living and being.
So, what's stopping me?
(For the record, my mother is very unconditionally loving!)