KEYWORDS: respect and honor the animals animal totem overview animal totems spirit guide animal guardian
Many of you are familiar with the concept of American Indians living in balance with nature before the invasion of Europeans and forced confinement on reservations. Most acknowledge they had superior powers to white men when it came to maintaining balance and harmony with their surroundings, in understanding the animals and natural phenomenons in their world, and yes, even in their healing abilities.
The same could be said for African Americans or the people who often live to be 140 in Chile. What most don’t seem to realize is these abilities were not wiped out with forced assimilation into white society or modern society. Nor are these powers limited to men and women of color or people of third world countries.
It’s not just that some people have forgotten things their ancestors knew. It is that they deny they ever existed. They do not have an open mind. They do not try to understand. They do not make any effort to remember. Many of these lessons are already embedded in the intricate workings of our brains, in the very core of our genetic makeup.
We are born with this knowledge. We know it as young children. Not all “imaginary” playmates are imagined. As we grow and begin to ask questions, adults question our understanding. They tell us we are wrong. Things are not as they appear. We are taught adults are wiser, so we listen. We believe. We learn their misconceptions. We unlearn things we knew were true. We form bad habits. We become closed to the world around us. In not so ancient times we knew we were only a part of the Earth. We knew we were no more important than the animals, the trees, the streams. We knew we were not superior to any other life form. We showed respect for Mother Earth. We did not waste her resources. We took what we needed but we remembered to be thankful it was there for the taking and to give thanks for what we took and to honor those who gave.
We made sure there would be more to take in the future by limiting ourselves to only what we needed. We ate what we killed, made clothing and shelter only from what was needed to kill to eat. We honored the spirits of the animals that gave us their lives by offering prayers and blessings. We showed that honor in our art, our ceremonies, our songs, our reverence of nature.
By keeping those animals alive in memory, by emulating their wisdom, we showed our respect and kindred spirits. In return those spirits lingered to give us new wisdom, new teachings of the obvious that was no longer within our physical vision. We were not too blind or too stubborn or too closed to the world outside ourselves to receive those teachings.
Today, most of us think we are the only creature that matters. We are filled with our own self-importance and blinded to our shortcomings. We no longer care. We no longer respect. We no longer honor those animals and other living things that give us life. We have become accustomed to taking it all for granted. We hunt for sport and kill because an animal or insect is annoying to us. We don’t respect their lives. We expect it to be our right to keep taking and taking and taking some more. Many of us no longer pray. We no longer give thanks. We no longer observe beyond our own auras. We question if animals have spirits, yet take it for granted that we are mammals with spirits.
We no longer paint animal symbols on the caves we live in or create personal adornments to honor them. We bury our dead in coffins to keep them separate from the Earth. Most of us no longer practice rituals which strengthen our beliefs and resolve. Most important, most of us do not look to Great Spirit to guide us in our daily undertakings. We do not recognize our brothers and sisters, the animals, or the power they offer us in the lessons they have to teach. We consider many animals a nuisance, something to be swept from our path, to be ignored, isolated, anhilated. We have taken more than a few steps backward in our so called evolution.
Wake up, people! If you are willing to acknowledge these things are true, then the hard part is over, and the healing can begin. The balance and harmony can be restored. The Earth as we once knew it, less than two hundred and fifty years ago, can be recovered. Open your ears and eyes, but most importantly, open your conscious mind. Open your heart to the many lessons you have left to learn.
The Animals Index