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Posted: Nov. 17, 2002
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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.
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| My Totem Animal Is The Raven, The Totem Animal Of My Goddess... ||Jun 19th. at 10:16:06 am EDT|
|Emerald (Fort Lauderdale, Florida US) ||Age: 19 |
My totem animal is the Raven, the totem animal of my goddess Morrigan, the Great Queen. I met her during one of my first shamanic journeys, but I didn't know who she was until I told my Elder about the strange woman I had met in the otherworlds. The scavenger nature of the Raven sets me apart in all conflicts, so that I may function in any situation as an intermediary between the predator/prey energies. The Raven is an excellent guide, but also an excellent trickster and a creature of vengance, and through the eyes of my Raven guide Morrigan can always watch over me. Never, ever ever, ever, mess with a Raven, don't even look at one cross-eyed, and be careful mimicking their bird call. Raven guides demand respect and a sense of humor, but they can be your greatest ally and will be of much assistance in your quest for higher knowledge.
| I Find It Amazing How Many Parallels There Are Between The Practices... ||Jun 19th. at 9:27:11 am EDT|
|Sarah Boyes (Guisborough, England UK) ||Age: 16 - Email |
I find it amazing how many parallels there are between the practices and beliefs of different people.
Recently I have been visiting a chatroom called 'Spirit Guides'. When i began to question the concept of spirit guides, i found out that they are seen in two different ways; either as spirits in themselves who come from the spiritual plane and spend their lives helping others and others close to them or as parts of the subconscious that manifest themselves as 'voices' or 'presences'.
Imagine my surprise when i came to Witch Vox to find that the weekly question was about totem animals! I think i believe these are parts of the subconscious that always know the answer. It seems that the subconscious finds many ways to communicate and that totem animals and spirit guides are but two.
As for my totem animal(s), i don't know yet. I am still searching for something that feels right.
And as a footnote, is Jiminy Cricket a totem animal in disguise??
| I Have Shamanic Tendencies, But Not The Luxury Of Time To Pursue... ||Jun 19th. at 1:48:30 am EDT|
|Laurie E. Smith (Winnipeg, Manitoba CA) ||Age: 37 - Email |
I have shamanic tendencies, but not the luxury of time to pursue them as they deserve (and perhaps not the bravery, either, since the ordeal of initiation is a terrible one). What I do have are two guardians who have been with me all my life: Crow and Prairie Dog.
Crow kept me alive through a hellish childhood. He (sometimes she, Crow is of mutable sex) is my tenacity, my courage, and my ability to laugh in the face of disaster. When I'm suicidal (which happens fairly often on the healing journey I'm on), Crow is the part of me that refuses to give up and slip away. Crow is gallows humor and the unquenchable spark of life itself.
I've always loved crows. I drew pictures of them, wrote poetry about them, studied them. When I came to Wicca they presented themselves to me as companions to one of my patron deities, the Morrigan. In the winter I put out offerings to the local mob, and silently greet them when I meet them in the street. Once I had them follow me through a large cemetary, circling me widdershins until I was almost at the gates. Although they were probably just seeing me out of their territory, I thought it was a magickal experience.
Prairie Dog, though always present, didn't emerge until later in my life, and is the animal I associate with Brigid, my other patron deity. She (always she) is the other side of the coin from Crow: settled instead of transient, nurturing instead of surviving, the strength of community versus the power of the individual. Crows can work together, and often do, but they are self-suffient creatures -- and who has ever seen a happy lone Prairie Dog?
Prairie Dog knows the secrets hidden deep in the cool earth, through complex tunnels that she has made herself. Her wisdom is different from raucous Crow's: quiet, stable, patient.
Crow has little patience. He is always ready to pick things apart to see how they work. He asks awkward questions, pokes and prods, pisses people off. Prairie Dog sits and smiles quietly, and listens. People usually like her better than Crow, who won't let them get a word in edgewise sometimes.
So, I have a scavenger and a prey animal. Where is my predator? I don't know; I haven't seen it yet. I suppose I'll meet it one day if it's meant to be. Hawk, perhaps? Something to think about, anyway.
| I Am Not Sure What My Totem Is, But, I Am Connected... ||Jun 19th. at 12:06:53 am EDT|
|Ember (Salisbury, Maryland US) ||Age: 23 - Email |
I am not sure what my totem is, but, I am connected to many reptiles. I am born year of the snake, and snakes are very much connected to the Goddess. I have also had dream about snakes and turtles. In my youth I realy like fish and dolphins, I think I have grown out of that though. I also like dragons, which goes along with the reptile thing... On the other hand, I am a Leo, and I love my kitties, Shadow the Grey Gargoyle pretending to be a cat, and Blimpie, the Goddessmother ("godfather") of my home :) Though I am not particularly "turned on" by Lions. I collect feathers, and love finding toads, though I don't take them home! LOL I enjoyed the article about totems and never before considered the predator/prey connection in reference to animal totems, but I have heard that an animal that you fear is also a posible "shadow" totem. I don't realy have any particular fear of any animal.... So I duno... I did a meditation and saw a tiger.... I have a BS in biology and well I just love them all! Oh and I am also into Cryptozoology, the search for animals that may or may not exist.... from bigfoot, to finding living examples of animals thought to be extinct.... so hey maybe the tassmanian devil is realy my totem..... bet ya I won't find a book including that one! LOL
| My Totem Animal Is The Bat. I've Long Been Drawn Towards Flight... ||Jun 18th. at 9:30:04 pm EDT|
|Stormwind (London, Ontario CA) ||Age: 23 |
My totem animal is the bat. I've long been drawn towards flight, so much so that I became a private pilot, but for some reason "choosing a bird" as a totem always felt wrong and forced, and besides, your totem picks you... As a child I developed a fascination with these flying mammals that so many people find loathsome and hideous. They're no more unpleasant than any other animal, but they are very misunderstood. Still, they go about their business by night, helping people by keeping the mosquito population down. The biggest lesson I have from the bat is to keep trying to do your best for people and the world even if it misunderstands you, fears you, and/or hates you. I'm also almost wholly nocturnal....maybe I can blame the bat for that ;)
Other cultures consider the bat a symbol of luck and creativity, a far more positive image...
I'd never considered that predator and prey dynamic before. I guess that means my other totem animal is the mosquito...and I don't know /what/ to think of that. ;)
| Hey All, Its Me Again, Whitefeather. Despite My Pagan Name, I Don't... ||Jun 18th. at 4:26:40 pm EDT|
|Jen R. Whitefeather (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario CA) ||Age: 17 - Email |
Hey all, its me again, Whitefeather. Despite my Pagan name, I don't really feel any affinity to birds at all. I envy them, sure, but I'm almost positive it's not my spirit animal. I believe, when the time comes to find my totem animal, it will either be a wolf or a tiger. I have had many wolf dreams, chasing and being chased by, so to me, that's a sign. As for tigers, I'm obsessed. :) I can't help it! They are so magestic, and regal and oh... you know what I mean! Wolves represent to me loyalty, family, protectiveness, territoryalness (is that a word?) the wild and FREEDOM. Tigers, solitary, proud, fierce, beautiful, quiet, and most of all precious. They are such an endangered species!! sigh... :(
But, as for a prey animal, that would have to be the Gazelle and the rabbit, or deer. Quiet, shy, quick to flee, terrified and frozen in the face of danger. That's happened a few times, after I've fought and gotten in too deep. lol So, that's that. When I seek my totem animal, I hope that I find it.
May Iris guard your dreams, Whitefeather
P.s if this posts twice, SoRrY!!! :D
| 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.
| 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.
| 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.
| 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??)
| 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!!
| 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!)
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