Animal Guides

September 6, 2010

A friend recently asked about animal guides. Following the instructions in Shamanic Experience by Kenneth Meadows, he had meditated and visualized meeting a deer-like animal. He then read the account for deer, reindeer and elk – and only elk seemed to fit. Here’s an edited version of my reply:

Books like Shamanic Experience are compilations based on the author’s research with Native American and other traditions. They can’t be regarded as having the precision or accuracy of a textbook in microbiology. Rather they are in a class with books on literature and art. You wouldn’t expect a discussion of “Hamlet” to have the precision of a scientific text. Rather you would judge it based on how it helped you understand and enjoy the play.

Concerning your animal spirit guide: I suggest you read about elk, read about their habitat, their history. See if anything speaks to you. You’re in an area referred to as “naturwissenschaft.” Many thinkers have found inspiration in the natural world that takes them far beyond the realms of hard science. Scientists find themselves becoming ecologists – ecologists become natural theists – and natural theists become mystics.

Get some pictures of elk – or draw some yourself. What do you feel as you look at or draw a picture of an elk?

Another thing to watch for is chance encounters with something related to elk. If you happen to be looking in the window of an art gallery and see a picture of an elk, make note of that. If a friend mentions elk, make note of that. These may be signs that as your understanding of elk grows, so will your understanding of your own life.

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