Monday, March 24, 2014

My Magnificent Seven

I have said seven is a powerful cosmic number. For me anyway. We hear of the seven deadly sins, the seven wonders of the Ancient World. I could go on but this post would be seven pages long.

I have always loved animals. As a young boy I would read about them, study them, want all kinds of them as pets, from orcas to tigers. We usually ended up with dogs, cats, plus the occasional aquarium or parakeet. Nothing exotic.

In third grade in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, I first studied the Native American cultures, focusing on the Great Plains, the Southwest, and the Pacific Northwest. I was intrigued by their life, their culture, and their Spirituality.

About twenty years ago, I had a vision where a bear and a ferret appeared to me. Upon further investigation/meditation I felt this was a pull towards Shamanism, the indigenous art of tuning in to Nature to heal oneself and others. As I began my investigation into Shamanism, I believed it was the right path for me, as I felt I had outgrown religion, it was no longer serving me any purpose. I consulted a Native American elder who gave me instructions on how to begin to open up to the Ancent Ways. He confirmed that Bear and Ferret were indeed here to help guide me on my path. Each had a lesson for me: Bear teaches me to find the answers to my questions within myself. I have the answers, I must hibernate, go within myself to find them; Ferret teaches me to be observant to the world and situations around me. Ferrets are cunning and have acute senses reminding me to be open to all of mine, including intuition to better understand myself and the world around me.

Life, marriage and divorce got in the way and I didn't keep to my studies. 

Lately, I have become more and more convinced that Shamanism is exactly the path for me.

According to some Native American traditions, you may have seven Spirit Guides, or totems, walking with you: one for each of the four directions -North, East, South, West; and one each for Above, Below, and Within. 

Some traditions say you may have nine, the seven I mentioned above and one on the left side, the other on the right.
In a counseling session using guided meditation, I noticed a male sparrow flitting back and forth between Bear, walking on my left, and Ferret, scampering around on my right. Sparrow became my third totem (Within) and teaches me to sing my song, to be myself, to honor my self-worth and that I am a survivor.  

In a workshop I took on Shamanic journeys, I shared my vision with the leader who said he saw a swan around me. I was open to the idea and later had an experience where I connected with Swan. Swan teaches me to honor the grace and inner beauty of all around me including my own, and to honor and accept the healing, evolution and transformation going on in my life. Swan also is a totem to honor one's own self-esteem. (Does the story of the Ugly Ducking sound familiar?) And on an interesting side note, Swans mate for life.

Following the workshop, I enrolled in a class on the foundations of Shamanism the leader was teaching and one session would be where we would get a Spirit Guide. Since I now had four, I wasn't sure what to expect: would I continue to bond with the four I had, or strengthen my bond with Swan, my newest? Or, knowing I could possibly have seven, would I meet another? 

I was not expecting what happened.

After a brief discussion on Spirit Guides, the teacher began the ceremony for the calling of the Guides. First, he secured the room, cleansing it of negative energy, while getting us into a relaxed meditative state. I went to the meadow where I first met Bear and Ferret in my original vision. They were there off in the distance, Sparrow flitting between them. A stag was walking around the meadow. I had met a stag in another guided meditation, but as he didn't appear with Bear and Ferret, I took it as a one time lesson, rather than another Guide: be gentle with myself, because I am learning as I walk along my path, I am bound to make a mistake or two. No big deal. Stop punishing myself. And being that it is a stag, I am to honor my masculine energies; as Deer, in general, teaches us to be gentle and compassionate toward others, it does not lessen me as a man to be gentle and compassionate. 

In the second part of the ceremony, the calling of the protection and Guardians, I suddenly felt warm and protected and had the sensation of being wrapped in wings made of white feathers. I looked up and saw Swan taking her place Above.  A small sensation in my back told me Stag had taken up his position Behind me. 

The teacher started the actual calling of the Guides, so more could still happen.

As I focused on a closed door in my mind, I felt peaceful. It opened and a male lion walked through. He walked toward me and began nuzzling me as a cat would. He turned around and took up a position in Front of me. As the teacher began to close the ceremony, my feet began to tingle and I looked down to see an anaconda Below me.
 Lion teaches me to trust my feminine energies of creativity, intuition and imagination. As lions spend time relaxing, and work when they need to, I need to take more time to relax and work when necessary. In ancient Egypt, a lion cub represented the rising sun, the dawn of a new day or era: the rising of a new me, my true self is rising to the surface. Lions can also represent courage, perhaps I need courage to be myself? My true self? And as lions are the only cat that has lives in social groups, perhaps that is part of Lion's message; I need to socialize more.

Snakes shed their skin to slough off the old to start anew. I am shedding old habits and behavior patterns to start my new life. Snakes are often misunderstood today. In ancient cultures, they were often revered. Isn't a snake or two on the Caduceus, the ancient symbol for medicine and healing? As an anaconda is a type of constrictor, I am being constricted by something and need to uncover what it is. Perhaps I am constricting myself by not being as open and honest with my emotions, and what I truly want in life. Or, my internalized homophobia is constricting me from truly accepting, enjoying and appreciating my authentic gay self.

Every one of these messages has so deeply resonated with me, I am more convinced I need to further my practice and studies.

And to honor and strengthen my bond with my Guides.

My very own Magnificent Seven.


  1. Magnificent seven – what an interesting study. And in my opinion, it’s really meant for you to further this study. This is also a great way for you to divert your mind to your divorce and make it somehow easier to move on. I hope you’re feeling better now.

    Bill @ Sherrill & Cameron

    1. Bill, thank you so much for taking the time to read and leave a comment. I am feeling so much better, and I believe Shamanism and my Magnificent Seven have had a lot to do with it. I also agree, it is indeed meant for me to further this path, and I will. If you haven't already, please check out my post, Seven Become Nine, posted shortly after this one.

      Thanks again, and blessings....