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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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Question of the Week: 46 - 6/18/2001

Predator and Prey - What Beasts Live Within You?

The circle dance between predator and prey in Nature works to keep things in balance. If you follow a shamanic path, what totem/guardian animals do you hang out with? How did you find your totem/guardian animal? What do think the choice of a certain totem animal says about a person? What about yourself? If you are Pagan, but do not follow a shamanic path, what role or lessons can be learned from the predator/prey relationship? Do you use or were you taught about this concept in your spiritual training? If you are 'none of above', then in our best Barbara Walter's voice we would ask you, 'If you were an animal, what animal would you be?" (Just trying to be inclusive here!)

 Reponses:   There are 44 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

If You Follow A Shamanic Path, What Totem/guardian Animals Do You... Jun 18th. at 12:49:36 am EDT

Calliope (Oakville, Ontario CA) Age: 21 - Email

If you follow a shamanic path, what totem/guardian animals do you hang out with? How did you find your totem/guardian animal?

>>I don't really "follow" a shamanic path, but Native beliefs have indeed influenced me from a young age. My first totem was discovered when I first began studying Wicca, but had always been around. The Butterfly is my creative consort, my constant guide in writing, and a beautiful reminder of the Cycle day to day. She reminds me of change, growth and expression. I don't remember how I found the butterfly to be my totem, She was just always there.

>>My other totem is the Crow. I always felt that Crow was close to me, but never really thought about it. Since moving to a new apartment on an Estate, I have found many Crow feathers on my walk to work in the morning, and find Crows around me often. I have recently felt Hekate calling me, and the Crow is one of Her messengers. So at this point, adding the Crow to my totem is right.

What do think the choice of a certain totem animal says about a person?

>>I think that the totem chooses you, you don't choose the totem. Just as the gods lead you, and the element you work best with comes naturally, so does the totem. I believe the totem animal that is attracted to you says something about your inner self, likely exploring unknown sides of the person.

What about yourself?

>>The Butterfly is a direct representation of my artistic and creative side. As a writer, She shows inspiration. As a Crafter, She helps me think of and complete new projects. The Crow is more subtle, showing the destructive, aggressive side of me. The Crone side of my personality that people may not normally see.

If you were an animal, what animal would you be?

>>I've always said I would be a cat. Cats, mine is an indoor and I am basing all comments on her, get to lay about the house, rule it, have a human at their beck and call, and contort themselves into any position to sleep. That, I would say, is the life.

My Totem Animal Found Me. When I Was Young I Was Way... Jun 18th. at 1:08:09 am EDT

Skye (Dawson Creek, British Columbia CA) Age: 28 - Email

My totem animal found me. When I was young I was way too serious and hard, Magpie helped me to be myself and to enjoy life. Mother bear still comes out to run the show when life needs to slow down and get back on track though.

A few other animals *talk* to me on some level and are important in my life even though they are not my totem, but I still learn from them.

Brightest Blessings

Well, Being A Total Atheist, I Cannot Speak For Animal Totems And... Jun 18th. at 3:13:57 am EDT

Jason (Boston, Massachusetts US) Age: 19 - Email

Well, being a total atheist, I cannot speak for animal totems and the like. However, I have always identified myself with wolves. This is the loyalty that is displayed within the pack and the honor this implies within the structure. The fact that the pack becomes an extended family, that people are more than simply good friends, they are as important as those who are related by blood propper.

The degree of ferociousness when defending the pack and hunting has always stuck me as true to myself. The playfulness that one sees in a pack at rest has always struck me as the way that I relate to my friends. Lastly, their ability to survive and flurish, being the only other animal besides humans that has ever inhabited five continents, is something that I take pride in. That I never give up, never give in, never let my fellows be taken down.

Well, I Found My Guardian Animal To Be The Wolf. I Simply... Jun 18th. at 6:48:46 am EDT

Lara (Bologna, Italy) Age: 29

Well, I found my guardian animal to be the Wolf. I simply felt it one day and he came into a deep meditation I was having, coming out of the Woods, looking at me but remaining somewhat distance. I've always been a pagan since I was young, although not conscious of following a shamanic path instinctively. Someone told me I was a Thunder Shaman. It may be.

I Think I Have A Whole Ecosystem Of Animals And Plants Living... Jun 18th. at 7:14:47 am EDT

Jennifer (San Luis Obispo, California US) Age: 23 - Email

I think I have a whole ecosystem of animals AND plants living inside me, but I'll refrain from listing them all. :)
The Wolf came to me as a guardian and teacher when I was very young, about 3 or 4 I guess, when I was living in an extremely hostile environment. He has always guarded me and watched over my dreams. Cats have always been special to me although I don't know if they are my totem. Maybe it's because I'm a Leo, I don't know, I just always wanted to be a cat! I seem to be able to bond with even the most antisocial of them. Vulture, Hawk, Dragonfly, Mouse, and Raccoon also have special places in my life. Whether it be a warning from Vulture, a wake-up call from Hawk or Dragonfly, Mouse helping me through exams, or Raccoon telling me when I should (or shouldn't) be wearing a mask. They are all there for me, to learn from and love. Other than Wolf, I don't know if they are my totems or not, but I learn from them anyway.

Recently I've Discovered That I'm A Black Panther. What Does That Mean... Jun 18th. at 8:51:50 am EDT

Artemis Moonshadow (Kfar Saba, Israel) Age: 16 - Email

Recently I've discovered that I'm a black Panther. What does that mean, basically it means that the soul of the (in my opinion) perfect predator lives inside me. Now not to sound vain, I'm not saying I'm a predator, but I'm in touch with my more basic intuitions. The panther isn't my totem animal, the Panther is my spirit/soul. My totem animals are the sanke and hawk, (as wren said, predator and pray balance). In my dreams, I always have to point of view of the panther and accasionaly I see a hawk swooping down on a snake. When I medidtate, I can hear I roar inside me and feel a hawk perched on my shoulder and snake slithering up my back. Sure on occasion there are a few squabbeles between my totems. But the Panther inside known that everything is as it should be.

PS if you noticed I have an animal of bird, mammel and reptile.

Blesses Be.

I'm Still Very Involved In Study, However, I Would Say That I... Jun 18th. at 11:19:28 am EDT

Kerry McGrath (Warren, New Jersey US) Age: 33 - Email

I'm still very involved in study, however, I would say that I have always felt a spiritual connection with my cats. The funniest thing is what other people that have known me for years say, "Kerr, what is it that you do to your cats; your cats are so strange, well, they are LIKE YOU." We also have a joke in our family about our surname's coat of arms -- "it explains a lot." Three red dragons, a small dagger, an axe, and a black stag -- need I say more! I really want to spend more time learning about my Celtic ancestry, and I must say, "thanks Wren, " for the great links! The role of the shaman has also intrigued me very much; I can see more book purchases now (from pagan merchants, of course!) The predator/prey relationship is truly facscinating, and indeed, necessary, as Wren writes, in the entire scheme of all of our lives!

In my best Baba Wawa voice, a la Gilda, "I'm a true Cancer - hard shell on the outside' softy on the inside!"

PS: I watched channel 13 last night. I missed seeing Patricia Kennealy-Morrison -- she's another person that inspires me to seek out more of my Celtic ancestry. (I also think of her husband as a modern day shaman -- gee, now all of those records I inherited from my older siblings make MORE sense now!)


I Think That All Pagans Are Somewhat Shamanic Regardless Of What Path... Jun 18th. at 1:43:13 pm EDT

Albiana (western 'burbs of Chicago, Illinois US) Age: 31 - Email

I think that all pagans are somewhat shamanic regardless of what path or tradition or folkway they choose to follow because of their inherent reverence of and respect for nature and the energies of the natural world.

Whether someone relates to and shares a special affinity for a specific creature (wolf, stag, salmon...) or to a whole species (birds, spiders, felines...), our interactions with these fellow earth creatures can be rewarding and illuminating. We can learn a great deal their hunting patterns, their social structures, their mating & nesting habits, their life cycles. And each animal give us different lessons. The hawk, the leopard and the spider are all hunters, but each have very different skills & methods they use to accomplish their task of catching & subduing their prey. These three, for example, all have a note of patience about their methodology, but used in a unique way.

The hawk patience is keyed along with the need for having clearly-defined goals. Watch as he endlessly circles above the field watching for the slightest movement of the mouse. Without his keen eyesight to pick out the merest ripple of grass blades, he would go hungry. (Know what you are seeking and then be diligent)

The leopard patience is in the art of learning to find the right moment to spring. His clever camoflage of spots hides him in the tall grass until he sees the prey in his sights and can easily bound after it. (Know when to make your move)

The spider patience lies in its beautifully designed, nearly imperceptible web -- the art of planning ahead. The unsuspecting wander clumsily into it, getting stuck and the spider wraps up her meal for later. (Plan ahead)

Each animal & species has some wisdom to impart if we are but smart enough to pay attention. Think of it as T.H. White's characterization of Merlin did by changing the boy Arthur into bird, beast & fish so he could gain their perspective and translate it back into a human lesson.

And for the sake of the Earth's ecology, we could all use a lesson from our feline friends about how to care for the planet....don't sh-- where you eat!!


What An Interesting Question This Week, Especially Given The Latest Changes In... Jun 18th. at 2:28:51 pm EDT

ƒowyn Forestchilde (Western, Massachusetts US) Age: 28 - Email

What an interesting question this week, especially given the latest changes in my life.
Long ago and far away, I walked with Turtle. At the time, I believed her to be my "totem animal". I realize now that she was a companion and nothing more. Turtle is a teacher of grounding and patience...I have neither. She is also a representative of the Mother and it was easier to identify with Her and to have Her close in that form. Turtle has recently walked out of my life, as I no longer need her as a spirit companion.
About the same time that I walked with Turtle, I was dating a man who said he had a wolf spirit. This did not jive with me and I was often reviled by the bear fetishes that I saw. I came to understand that which he did not; that he was not a wolf spirit, but a bear spirit É and a particularly nasty one at that.
It seemed that all the Bear spirits that I encountered set me ill at ease. They were usually gruff, grumpy, overwhelming, and just generally unpleasant to be around. Then I met my friend Serena. What a wonderful change. And the more I got to know her, the more that Bear made itself a presence. It got so bad that I had several friends beat me about the head and shoulders, because I flat refused to accept that I was one of BearÕs children.
I have come to terms with Bear. I do not believe that I work with Bear as a male or female, but as simply a spirit, guide, protector, and friend. I have begun to listen to Bear and the wisdom that is imparted. I am learning.
I had no say in this. Honestly, if I had a choice, I would have gone with panther or some other big cat. Or maybe a dolphin. Or be happy being human, since we are animals after all. Still, there is peace and comfort in walking with the right animal. Does this mean that I have become gruff, grumpy and generally unpleasant to be around? No, and neither are the other Bears that I know. (Well, ok, sometimesÉ arenÕt we all sometimes??)

Squirrels Follow Me Around. Everywhere I Have Ever Moved To There Was... Jun 18th. at 3:04:40 pm EDT

Kari Tauring (Minneapolis, Minnesota US) Age: 35 - Email

Squirrels follow me around. Everywhere I have ever moved to there was an albino squirrel living there too. I find nuts on my doorstep. It has always been this way. They have been a steady presence in my life since the blood curdling scream that sent my family running to my aid when, at three years old - alone in the sand box, "A Squirrel Looked At Me!" (still a joke at family gatherings...). The squirrels have always had a steady relationship with me, but my relationship with them over the last 32 years has fluctuated from "Bushy Tailed Rodents Looking At Me" to "Please let me use the medicine you bring to prepare for this trying time."

I have found, over the last 10 years or so, that it is better to offer food and thanks and take in their medicine than to fight them and ask them to leave me alone. When I try to ignore them I will be literally pelted with nuts, they will chew their way into my attic, they will tip over my bird feeders, people will send me 3-d christmas cards with squirrel looking right at me. They offer a medicine that is about planting trees for future generations, storing what we need and giving away what we don't, taking good care of our babies and families or eating the babies we birth which we are unable to care for, learning to fly by listening to Great Spirit, burrowing into the world tree for protection, and perhaps for me - trusting that our needs will be met now and in future generations, and trusting that people are basically good.

They have, as their predator and another of my totems, the Eagle.

When I Took A Creative Writing Course About 20 Years Ago, We... Jun 18th. at 3:47:52 pm EDT

Mar-Garet (Morgantown, West Virginia US) Age: 51 - Email

When I took a creative writing course about 20 years ago, we were asked to try an exercise where we would do a Journal Dialogue with a "wisdom figure." We could just think about wisdom and then just sit with our notebook and see "who" showed up. My "wisdom figure" was named "Rosa, " and after I spoke with her for a short time (in the Journal Dialogue), I found out that she was a PORPOISE!!!

Later, while doing more Journal work, as well as meditations and vision quests and hypnosis sessions (given by my creative writing teacher!), my dear Porpoise friend taught me so much. She is definitely related to (an aspect of?) my Faerie Guide, a shapeshifter extraordinaire.

A wonderful book about Animal Wisdom is _The Medicine Cards_ by Jamie Sams and David Carson. It includes a deck of cards with which you can do readings. The wisdom in this book are derived from Native American teachings about the powers of certain animals, but it has blank cards with which you can add animals from other cultures!

I have used this Native American wisdom as a bridge to help me understand my own (Slavic, Celtic, Gypsy, Norse) ancestral path. The wisdom in this book can get you started, but once you start opening yourself to communicating with the Animals, you can't help but learn more "from the horse's mouth" so to speak!
They really have SO MUCH to teach us at this time on the Earth.


Three Days After I Met My Husband, We Both Knew That We... Jun 18th. at 3:49:13 pm EDT

Bridgette (Gresham, Oregon US) Age: 25 - Email

Three days after I met my husband, we both knew that we were meant to be together. This says a lot from someone who was previously married and divorced by the age of 21 (me) who had become very cautious. Early in our relationship, he shared this story - our story - with me.

He had a dream when he was young that stuck with him. In the dream, he was a black dragon who had a white dragon companion. The two dragons travelled together through many lifetimes.

So it is, that we have found each other again. We have had numerous discussions about dragons and their origin - whether they are a symbol, an archetype, a myth, a beast in an alternate universe. We find it fascinating that many cultures created images of dragons.

What is there to be learned from dragons? They are magnificent, mysterious, protective, collectors who appreciate items for other reasons than financial return, and I believe they can be gentle and compassionate about causes.

The other animal I am close to is the cat. My cat and I communicate extremely well, but we're also both stubborn. It struck me to see her looking out the back door at the birds on the patio as I was reading some of the other postings. There is so much to observe and so much to be learned on this subject alone.

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