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Thoughts on Cultural and Spiritual Appropriation
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Embracing my Inner Goddess through Belly Dance
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Helping Pets and Healing Hands
Article ID: 13584
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: December 13th. 2009
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There is a lot to be said about pets – or animals in general – and how they can help us branch out on our spirituality. You probably all know about familiars and totem animals, and perhaps the significance of animals in some types of mythology. But I assure you, that is just the beginning.
Animals are special in that no matter how mundane their lives seem. they are much attuned to energy. This is the reason why shows like ‘The Dog Whisperer’ are so successful. If you can project and energy at an animal, they have the capacity to receive that energy – it speaks to them in their language, much louder than words.
For this reason, animals play a role in our spiritual work. They can sense things we can’t. More than once, my dogs have noticed how down I was feelings and they all hopped up gently on my bed to comfort me. My altar intrigues them, but they never went near it, because they picked up on the fact that it is my special space (and trust me – normally my dogs get into everything!) .
Animals are extremely empathetic and fine-tuned to their surroundings. I work with a greyhound adoption organization, the owners of which have several dogs living in their home. Inevitably, many of their dogs have passed on throughout the years, and it seems that every time a dog is in the final stages of an illness, they all seem to come together and gently say their goodbyes. They can often tell when we’re upset, and sometimes (whether they know it or not) the fact that they demand to be fed in the mornings is the only thing that gets us self-centered and stressed humans out of bed.
No matter how mundane they appear, they do all they can for us. They are very spiritual beings. More than once I have doubted if those lazy lumps of fur on the couch really are that fine-tuned, but they continue to show me time and time again how much they are.
Specifically, I notice dogs, cats, horses, and other such domesticated mammals do a good job of this (though I’m sure other animals can as well) . That’s why you have to be confident when you ride a horse, and why you have to be assertive when you train your dog. However, because these animals make their homes here with humans, they take up human qualities.
This includes but isn’t limited to:
1) Depressions and Anxiety
2) Trouble Grieving
3) Obsessive habits
And many others. The problem with our pets is often the problem with us. I, for example, own three dogs. I have always felt something was missing in the few short periods in my life when we didn’t have dogs in our house. At one point, we were grieving the loss of our beloved greyhound, Ben, who died of bone Cancer. Our other greyhound, Lila, was heartbroken.
In the natural world, dogs spend a short time grieving and then try to move on, for the good of the family or group of animals. In our house, it didn’t work that way. There was crying and missing weeks of school and refusing to get out of bed from everyone in the house for months. I think it was the first time I saw my dad cry. Lila didn’t have the same playful bounce in her for a long time. She can tell when any one of us in the house remembers Ben, and you can tell by looking at her that sometimes she’s still hurting, too.
Thus, working with pets is the same as working in a coven. To make sure there is perfect love and perfect trust, you have to be willing to work towards making yourself a better person for the benefit of others.
But onto the second half of this article, “healing hands”…
As I have pointed out, the problems with our pets and usually rooted with the problems in us. Being in a sect of Neo-Pagan culture, most of us have tried one sort of alternative medicine at some point. I myself actively use herbal remedies to cure illnesses and pain for myself. I’m in the process of learning aromatherapy and crystal massage, and within the past few months I have begun learning Reiki.
And I have never been so selfish. I want to use healing practices to heal myself, my close friends and family, those around me. And until a few weeks ago, I have never thought of healing my pets.
For many practices, especially ones that use energy (rather than materials like crystal massage or aromatherapy) pets are the best clients you can ask for. They are more receptive then humans, animals don’t categorize things like “scientific” and “metaphysical” – they know only what works and that you intend to help them.
Domesticated animals are usually passive, and they want to trust humans – they experience problems with trust when they have been mistreated or never socialized. However, most veterinary practices only want to treat the symptoms of a hurting animal, just the injuries. But it is important that we look at the animal as a whole.
Yet they are as dynamic as humans. All animals want to be healthy and happy, just like us. But they all have their boundaries. Some animals don’t want to be touched and only like distant prayers and healings, others need to be held and stroked.
All living things are both a channel and a source of energy. My pets loved to be exposed to Reiki; it has benefitted them well. They are instantly calmed by the practice and I can feel myself channeling the energy towards them, and my dogs being as loving as they are they accept it, and allow it to do the most that it can. Thus far I have only practiced healing on my dogs and the greyhounds of a friend, and I wouldn’t trade the experiences for the world
First, my young greyhound, Flash. He was injured in race training and was put up for adoption at a very young age, and with his injured leg (that race track vets were not required to fix) he would have been put down had we not fallen in love with him. We spent thousands of dollars on the only known surgery that could help his leg, fusing the ankle joint to mend the tendon. He was in a cast for several months, but even after the operation he was experiencing daily pain and still limped or refused to put weight on his leg. He has gained some strength in time, but we were sure he wouldn’t be able to have a good run for the rest of his life.
After the first Reiki session with him, I noticed he was very relaxed. Skeptics could say that this was because I let him sit on my bed and stroked him as I worked, but I still believe he picked up on the fact that I was trying to help. After the third session, he has started putting more weight on his leg and can now happily go on daily walks with no adverse effects. He has a long life ahead of him, of running in our yard and playing in the house. Even if it wasn’t the Reiki energy that helped him, it surely gave him hope and emotional strength.
Second, my other greyhound Lila. She’s getting old, and starting to get snappy with the other dogs. We suspect from arthritis. I only give her short Reiki treatments, as that seems to be all she wants. I can’t say for sure if they have lessened her pain. I try to just let my intuition guide me here.
With Lila I have found that Reiki is not always the most effective method. Sometime I venture off the beaten path and use other energy cultivation techniques. I can say though, that what I do does truly brighten her day. One of the distinct things about her is that she has a smile, a really human-like happy face grin. Whenever I sit down for a healing session, she looks at me bright eyed with her smile and then puts her head on my lap, gently closing her eyes and waiting.
My dogs mean the world to me, and I don’t know what I would do without them. I know other pet owners feel the same way about their dogs, cats, hamsters, horses, or what have you. Pets eat the same food everyday and are always grateful that we are here to feed them. They treat poor people with the same respect as rich people. They have no intolerance for people of certain races, religion, sex, politics, background, spirituality, and so on. And they genuinely love when we come home every day.
They don’t care if you got fired at work or if you flunked school. They don’t care what kind of car you drive or what clothes you wear. They love us unconditionally.
I believe it’s time we showed them how much we appreciate them, with something much more powerful than new squeaky-toys or blankets. They know our feelings and our energy, so it is through this language that we should repay them.
Love and Light,
The names of my pets have been changed for privacy reasons.
And I suggest if you use healing practices on your pets that you also ensure they have proper veterinary care as well.
Reiki and Animals, by Angela McLean: http://reikievolution.co.uk/reiki-articles-mclean-01.htm
Reiki and Animals, by Aileen D'Angelo: http://reikievolution.co.uk/reiki-articles-dangelo-01.htm
Energy work on Horses, by Sarah Berris: http://reikievolution.co.uk/reiki-articles-berrisford-01.htm
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