Category Archives: Animal Spirits

The Old Growth Forest

I walk along the sidewalks of my development. The well-manicured suburban lawns and topiaries pass by, lit by a full moon. It is a familiar course that I walk, I have done it hundreds of times in my waking life. I come to a favorite place, where the suburban lawns end and an empty, fenced off lot begins. The trees and plants here are not friendly and held back by lawnmowers and chain link fence. They live next to the highway and have to fight for survival, but I have made friends with them. I ask nothing of them except leave to sit beneath their branches. I pass by the lot until I get to the gate that divides the “pristine” suburban world from that patch of wild. I take one look back at the topiary across the street and wrinkle my nose, then turn back to the gate. I smile as I step through it.

Immediately, the world changes. The drone of traffic on the highway, the airplanes roaring overhead, the dogs barking among the houses all gone. The barren, poisoned patch of forest that is normally there is now gone completely. I stand in an old forest. Older than any I have ever been in in my life. The trees here make my King of the Forest look like a child. I turn behind me and found the same chain link gate. It is rusted and the hinges barely held the gate up, and the rest of the fence was nowhere to be seen, but that gate is still there. I step up to the nearest tree and held my hand out to it, run my fingers over the bark. It is so old and wise and strong. I have never met anything so old in all my life. I smile as my hands feel the rough bark beneath them. I turn my head to study the forest around me. The ground is coated in brown leaves and occasionally some pine needles. I can see oaks, beeches, sycamores, and even a hemlock or two. I can hear a small brook babbling over the rocks somewhere nearby, the wind through the ancient trees and some birdsong. I inhale deeply and take in all the scents of the forest.

Then, I am running, weaving in and out of trees and jumping brooks.  Not fleeing, just running for the sake of it.  My bare feet push me along faster than I have ever run before. They are hard and calloused, unaffected by the undergrowth or terrain. The knee that gives me so much trouble in waking life is not painful at all. The asthma that holds me back un waking life is nowhere to be felt. My lungs expand and contract unhindered and powerful. I can feel every muscle as they work in harmony to propel me along. I feel free. I marvel at this feeling to run like I never have before.

My attention returns to the old forest around me. I am not alone. As I crash through the undergrowth I can hear and feel something running with me. I catch a glimpse here and there through the trees of a tan blur. Curious of who I am running with, I stop, and so does my companion.  A pair of massive antlers push through the undergrowth, and there before me is Stag, noble and proud. His tan coat gleamed in the moonlight, and his deep brown eyes bored into mine.  The spirit that has helped me and guided me for some time now stands before me in all his kingly splendor.  He reaches out and touches my chest with his nose, a sad, apologetic look in his eyes.  My chest tingles where he touched, and I realize that I have the brand on my chest. It is now healed completely, leaving only the design in ghostly white scar tissue upon my pec.  I reach out and touch his face and antlers and then wrap my arms around his neck in a hug. I can smell the earthy, musky scent of him. He then turns away towards the forest, moving his head as if to follow.

Then we are running again. This time together. I try to show off and outrun him, and he allows it for a few strides before leaving me in the dust.  We run together like this for some time. Most of the time with me just keeping pace and following him along his trails through the forest.  When the moon was low in the sky, about to set, Stag slowed to a jog and then a stop in a familiar clearing.  He looks into my eyes again. His look said “We will meet again.”  I shake my head as I spot the gate through which I came to this forest. I do not want to leave. Why would I want to return to topiaries and asthma when I can have the freedom of this forest? He stamps his hoof, indicating no room for argument. I resignedly move towards the gate, happy that I can at least return.  I give Stag a last hug and he assures me without words that I am welcome here when I want to return. Happy in that knowledge, I walk back through the gate and into suburbia.  I turn to look back at the gate and see the sad trees that live there in waking life.  I whisper a thank you to them.

I open my eyes to look at the ceiling of my bedroom. The sky is just beginning to lighten, indicating sunrise. My covers are kicked off into a tangled mass at the foot of my bed. I stretch and then fix the comforter. I roll over and go back to sleep with a big smile on my face. I do need some proper sleep before starting my normal day.


A is for Antler

So I have decided to try my hand at this Pagan Blogging Project. In the past, I have not been very good at keeping up with my blog in the past. It is quite sad, because I really do enjoy blogging, I just tend to lose track of it with my life. I have come to really enjoy this blog and I like talking about pagan things in a vehicle that many people can see and comment on. I love getting feedback from other pagans.  So, I think that this project will force me to keep up with my blog.  I am starting a week late, but oh well. I will get two posts up before tomorrow so that I am caught up.  This project will help me out I think. So here goes

I am going to start with Antlers and the meanings and symbolism that goes along with them.  If you have read any of my blog recently, you know that I have been developing a relationship with the Horned God of late.  He has been calling to me, and I have gladly answered.  I did a devotional artwork for him, and I keep a section of my altar to him.  I look forward to further developing my relationship with Cernunnos as I continue down the winding way. This post will be about Antlers, but since the Horned God is important to me, he will be popping up throughout.

Antlers are a powerfully masculine symbol, hence why they are a symbol of the Horned God.  In nature, it is usually the male animals who have antlers for fighting and protecting their harem. This and the fact that horns are innately phallic are why they are such powerfully masculine symbols.  They also represent virility and fertility to the men.  Stag medicine is good for fertility in men.  Along with this thread, antlers are for masculine power.  They are both weapons as well as a crown to show off a male’s status.  The horns represent superior fitness because a male deer with a larger rack is usually one who has survived long enough to win many battles and breed with numerous females to pass on his genetics.

Antlers are also linked to the wheel of the year.  Many species shed theirs in the fall and early winter and regrow them in the spring.  Towards the end of the summer the antlers mature and shed their velvety covering.  This antler growth patterin another link to the Horned God and his life through the year.  He matures in time for the fall harvest, then dies at the beginning of winter, and is then reborn in the spring.

Antlers are also a connection to the divine.  Some would say that they are reaching towards the heavens and calling down spiritual energy.  They can help with journeying, if you know how to use the energy.  Try donning horns just once and meditating to see where it takes you.  Some say that stag energy can help psychic abilities because of their antlers and the connections there in.

To find a deer antler in the woods is a very special thing.  Once shed, they are often consumed by mice and other rodents as a source of calcium in the late fall and early winter, which makes them pretty difficult to find.  If you do find one and get the feeling that it is okay to take it, it is like a gift from the spirits of the forest and even from Cernunnos himself.


Animal Spirit 1 – The Boar

Last summer was a tough time for me. I could not find a job to save my life, despite applying everywhere within a 50 mile radius, and I hated being unable to provide money to help with school and all the expenses that I accumulate. My family was also going through a hard time and tensions were high. Not a day went by when the whole house were at each other’s throats. I had some issues with depression. I got some advice that I will never forget. “You need to fight. You cannot let yourself wallow. You have plans and dreams and people who love you. So you need to fight.” This advice helped me so very much. It is what started my uphill battle. I thought of myself as a warrior, fighting in battle. To help me do this, I channeled the energy of the animal that this post is about. The boar.

A pictish style boar that I drew while I worked through some troubles using the boar's energy.

The wild boar is the more ancient cousin of our modern domestic pigs.  There are several species ranging across the world, but the European wild boar is the one most commonly thought of.  Individuals can get as big as 200 pounds on average with much larger specimens recorded throughout the world.  Males have a pair of tusks that are lengthened canine teeth and can be used extremely effectively for defense.  The males tend to travel alone, while females travel in groups of other females and their young.

Eurasian Wild Boar

The boar is the classic warrior spirit. The survivor. It represents leadership, courage and strength to various cultures. The boar teaches you self-confidence and the value of hard work to reach your goals. I often meditate on the boar before a big test or if I know I have an impending conflict to deal with. I find that I am more confident and that I am able to more calmly deal with situations. I started looking at every test I take at school as like another battle in the fight to get to Vet School, so meditating on the boar is almost like putting on my war paint. While representing the warrior, the boar is also about choosing your fights wisely. A wild pig will often run if it is able to, but when it is cornered, watch out. He will fearlessly charge his opponent. Ancient warriors of the British Isles often wore talismans of wild pig to grant them extra ferocity and strength in battle.

Pigs are extremely intelligent creatures, and truly survivors. Domestic pigs, for some reason, have the pink and brown and black and white coloration that we all are familiar with. However, if a domestic pig became feral; their terminal hair would revert to the darker colors of their wild cousins. This is just a fun cocktail fact, but it shows how adaptable these animals can be. The pig is perfectly adapted to survive in almost any habitat, which is why they have taken so well and become invasive in so many places. America currently has a huge problem with feral pigs and wild boar that were brought from Europe. They are not native, but their ability to adapt to their environment has made them problematic for native species and farmers. If you have trouble with change, maybe the boar would be able to help you learn to adapt.


Blog Series Opening: Animal Energies

Disclaimer: This is what I feel and have come to learn about animal spirits, it may not apply to everyone and may not be what someone else believes or follows.

I believe that all life on this planet carries its own unique energy.  Each life has its own wisdom to impart and we can tap into that if we know how.  In this blog series, I am going to focus on what we can learn from Animals.  I will focus on one animal with each post as I learn about them myself.  I have always had a connection with animals as long as I can remember and wanted to become a veterinarian.  I want to be an advocate for those who don’t have a voice (not that animals don’t have a voice, most people just cannot hear it).

As a kid, I was always reading animal books and learning as much as I possibly could.  My parents refused to spend money at the zoo for the tours because I could not only tell more information about the animals, but I could point out where the zoo people had their facts wrong.  Since I found my pagan path, my attraction and love of animals has stayed with me.  Channeling the energy and wisdom of the animal kingdom has always come easily to me.  I want to share this talent with people (even though I have next to nobody reading my blog).  I am going to put what I have learned out there and in the process I will learn more and receive feedback.

Animals can be used in many ways.  Spirit guides, healing, or in an energy channeling sort of way.  Each animal can be a teacher to us, can hold an important lesson that we should learn, or can just be a friend when we need one.  I have made use of animal energies much throughout my life, even as a kid when I did not even realize I was doing it.  I would imagine I was an animal or think of an animal to help me get through tough times or just to get my mind off bad things

Different animals give us different lessons, energies and medicine, and not everyone will get the same thing from an animal.  I am a biology and animal science student, and I also have a love for animal behavior.  I base a lot of my animal energies off of not only their mythological and historical significance, but also their natural behaviors and biology.  I often use an animal statue as a fetish to help channel the energy.  Or quite often, since I am artistically inclined, I will do a symbolic drawing of the animal that I am working on at the time, and I find that very effective.

Now that we have background information behind us, I can start some individual animals. The next post will be an animal that helped me a lot over the past two years, the Boar.


Iolair

I have always had an attraction to Eagles.  My best friend and I used to play with her Druid Animal Oracle all the time when we were young(er) witchlings and my card was always the eagle.  Iolair.  That card came up in nearly every reading we did for me and ever since, Iolair has held a special place in my heart.  He is a spirit guide of mine (hence the name By Stag and Eagle).   As of late, I have been so entrenched in my studies for school that I have had very little time to be witchy.  I have tried to incorporate small things such as meditation into my daily routine, and I even managed to get a batch of holy water brewing.  I have really lost touch with witchiness since I started this year at Findlay, but it is coming back, and I am being welcomed with open arms (er wings)

I have always had some trouble meditating. Often times conditions need to be just right for me to successfully meditate and get a good calm out of it.  With this and my lack of spare time, I find it difficult to be motivated to meditate.  So I tell myself that it is good for me to commune and ground, and I do it because I feel like I have to.  Last week, I woke up with this hard to describe feeling. It was an urge to meditate, it was a feeling that it was very necessary for me to find time in my life even if it was a few minutes a day.  I couldn’t explain where the feeling was coming from, but I didn’t really question.  I started meditating almost daily.  Nothing much came of it at first, other than being a little less stressed because I was able to ground out a lot of the excess negativity.  Meditating outside works even better, but there really isn’t anywhere on campus that I can do that and I don’t have time or money to drive to the park just for meditation.

Last night, I put some drumming on my iPod and turned it up like I do most times when I meditate.  I sat on the floor and extinguished all the lights.  I opened my window and pulled out the screen to welcome in any visitors.  This is my normal routine when meditating in my room. I sat and allowed myself to sink within myself. I grounded well then just relaxed, very content.  Then I felt something. I wasn’t sure what but it felt welcoming, familiar and warm towards me.  I tried to stay focused on my meditation and was rewarded.  I felt a weight on my shoulder, and great power in the room.  I asked aloud “Who are you.”  There was silence for bit in which I patiently waited, completely unaware of my physical surroundings (apparently there was a big party next door last night that I did even notice until I came out of meditation).  After waiting and holding my focus, the weight lifted from my shoulder and the word “Iolair” reverberated inside my head.  I smiled and felt myself being pulled on. It felt as if my weight was lifted from where I was sitting. I actually felt wind on my face.  I felt comfortable, at home content in the talons of my spirit guide.  It was such a good feeling.  When I came out of it I was exhausted but more at ease than I have felt in quite some time.  It feels good to know that I  have Iolair watching over me.

Now I know that I should continue on with my meditation, and why I felt compelled to do so.  I will continue with my regimen in hopes that I get to know my guides better and that it continued to improve my life and spirituality.