As humans, we are blessed with a wide selection of essences from our earth. In addition to the specific properties of individual essences, each group of essences offers a special gift. Plant and tree essences embody nature's cycles and the grace of receptivity. Mineral essences imbue a spirit of harmony and teach us to look for beauty in unexpected places.
Animal energies and essences help us to bridge the gap between ourselves and other life forms by enabling us to access the qualities of beings not so different from us. Because we can see these characteristics in action, whether we're watching playful squirrels or appreciating the soaring grace of an eagle, we can feel inspired to seek pleasure and freedom in the physical world.
My biggest spiritual moments come from the sight of a young fawn emerging from the shadows of the forest into my back yard, or that of a wild turkey carefully guiding her tiny chicks through the tall grass. Such scenes help me to be thankful that I, like the animals, am spirit in a physical body.
Choosing a Path
I've been working for several years with Wild Earth Animal Essences. The selection process, whether I use reason or intuition, often identifies and reconnects me with forgotten aspects of myself. I may remember my childhood love for dragonflies or the excitement of seeing the first robin in March.
Many people write to me because they want to discover their animal guides and/or choose the essences most appropriate for them. Here are some of the suggestions I give them:
Think about animals (including birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects) that have always attracted you. Did you collect owl images? Live for the sight of horses? Do you dream about certain animals regularly? If you could be an animal, what would you most want to be? What would you least want to be? (Sometimes the animal we resist has the most to teach us.)
Notice when certain animals appear in your life, as these could be signs. Someone sends you a card with a picture of a wolf. That night you turn on the TV to a program about the wolves in Yellowstone National Park on TV. Maybe Wolf is stalking you.
Living in an area where wildlife abounds, I often take my cue from what appears in the back yard. One summer morning, a hummingbird hovered above my head. I took this as a message to create more joy in my life.
This past winter, a great grey owl sat on a tree branch all afternoon. (Owls are more commonly nocturnal.) Among its other aspects, Owl represents seeing through the illusion that masks as truth. Taking the owl essence unraveled some of my well-hidden illusions and sharpened my inner vision.
You can also choose animal essences, as you would select other essences, on the basis of qualities you would like to have in your life. The Druid Animal Oracle, by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, (a book I highly recommend), has a chart listing the particular gifts of animals of the Celtic tradition. Adder, Boar, Dog, Frog, Ram and Raven, for example, relate to healing.
If you're feeling depressed, think of Hummingbird for joy. When details are slipping through your fingers, call on meticulous Mouse. If you're having a communication difficulty, ask for Dolphin's help. Butterfly helps all those who are going through important life changes.
When I take a particular essence, I like to meditate on deeper meanings for the animal's attributes. Squirrel, a favorite of mine, has the quality of Gathering, meaning gathering only that which is needed. For humans, this refers not only to material possessions but also to the ability to shed old sorrows, fixations and beliefs.
Squirrel is also an amazingly inventive and determined animal. The squirrel-proof bird feeder has not yet been invented, for this being doesn't know the meaning of defeat. When I'm feeling discouraged or hopeless, I often reach for Squirrel essence.
Long-time vs. Temporary Companions
Some animal guides visit us on a temporary basis, especially when taking the related essence releases a blockage. If you take Hawk in order to better hear the messages from your inner being or to better understand external signs, this bird may fly away, once you've resolved that issue.
Sometimes an animal represents powerful themes in your life that you want to develop. If part of your long-term path involves receiving and interpreting subtle messages, Hawk may perch permanently in your life.
This doesn't mean you need to take the Hawk essence forever. You can find other ways to be in communication with this bird. In meditation, you can ask for guidance. You can raise your eyes in appreciation when you hear a hawk cry or see it soaring the thermals. As you deepen your relationship, you may learn to see the world with Hawk's eyes.
Frog has been one of my long-time companions. I first realized a deep connection to frogs when I was expected to dissect one in college biology. Instead, I tucked the frog into my pocket and later released it by a stream.
By the time I discovered that frogs relate to healing (especially in terms of releasing blockages), I had begun my work with crystals and Bach Flower Remedies. I then began to call on Frog consciously as my ally in healing work and continued to do so as I practiced and taught Reiki. When I made a major transformation in my life (another quality related to Frog), moving from Manhattan to the deep woods, I ended up living on land surrounded by streams and abandoned quarries, where frog songs fill the night.
The Sacred Journey
When we open our hearts and our lives to the companionship -- whether actual or symbolic -- of animals our world becomes so much larger and richer. Our senses deepen; as we become aware of how naturally animals enjoy their bodies we become more comfortable with our own.
We find ourselves with access to unsuspected wisdom; we begin to let go of the burden of being "human," i.e. separate from nature. We are no longer the intruders in the world in which we live, and we come to care ever more deeply for its other inhabitants. And as we increasingly rejoice in our physicality we find that like Eagle, we bridge heaven and earth as creatures of flesh and spirit.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Connie Barrett does flower essence counseling for people and pets, including by email. She also teaches by email a course on the chakras, on prosperity, and on love, including the use of crystals and essences for realizing your dreams. She writes and publishes two free monthly email newsletters.