In the book Job KJV 12:7 to 12:13 it states:
7) But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: 8) Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. 9) Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? 10) In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind. 12) With the ancient is wisdom; and in length in days understanding. 13) With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding.
For thousands of years, Man has sought understanding and power. Their most immediate point of reference has been Nature. And its most visible mirrors have been the lives and behavior of animals.
As cousins in the great web of life, all animals share with human beings the same DNA molecules just differing in combination and variation. This scientific fact points to the realization that all life on Earth is connected. Human beings represent the most complex arrangement and produce the highest capacity output in terms of behavior and affect upon the rest of the food chain. And like no other we affect the balance of Nature itself.
Featured in our human personality, we can witness some of the same temperament imbued in various species of animals in ourselves. Indeed, as a culmination of all the aspects of Evolution, it is possible to project ourselves onto Nature and see our reflection in it. Taking this as the primary assumption, we might consider that animals hold for us a rich tapestry from which we can divine threads of our own unique being’s. Even in the shape of our bodies, characteristics and habits, we often analogize ourselves: moves like a cat; eats like a horse or like a bird, cold as a reptile, cunning as a fox; stubborn as a mule; strong as an ox; quiet as a mouse, wise like an owl, loyal as a dog; fast as a cheetah, busy as a beaver; eyes like an eagle; memory like an elephant; waddles like a duck, swims like a fish; big as a whale or elephant; etc. Then as qualities we say cowards are chickens, followers like sheep, and the ruthless or evil as a snake; and so on. Mythic animals are referenced as well. Delicate or beautiful as a unicorn, mischievous like a nymph, rising from the flames of destruction like a phoenix, and when struggling with internal emotional or psychological wounds, we label them our dragons or gremlins.
Comparisons like these are dismissed by rationalists as personification or anthropomorphizing. And it is true that projection of our thoughts is quite a pervasive human activity, yet it is not always misguided romanticism or the act of a simpleton. However one learns about themselves is useful. But in the greater scheme of our psyche, animals can lend a real world metaphor to an individual’s narrative about themselves and why they may appear and how they may act, in the world.
Shaman’s of antiquity and of aboriginal lineage, have been charged with assessing and announcing these archetypes in children from a very early age. Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series, presents of picture of the Neanderthal holy man Kreb, making these assignments in his tribe; bestowing an animal name or a power animal totem to each child as the designation of their character. For students of modern personality trait systems like The Michael Teaching, one can recognize this as an ancient form of channeling Overleaves. But in today’s world, since access to people of this awareness is extremely rare, then tapping into this instinctive knowledge must come from deep within us. The modern zoologist is now the one who chronicles and catalogs for us.
Animals teach by example. Keen observation of every facet of their behavior and under what conditions or circumstances it is called to into action, paints a picture of the many latent or passive qualities which operate within us. Mimicry of animal traits was a key to human evolution and survival. And when learned, Man was transformed from the hunted to the hunter; using what he learned from his neighbors and essentially employing it for himself and against them. Never will you have a “conversation” with a living animal. But within meditation it is possible that the spirit being of that species may make itself available to you and through thought transmission appear as if you are speaking with them. Imagination is the vehicle which allows the possibility of a connection to your power animal(s) to manifest. If closed, by religious or scientific rationale’s which declare such experiences as blasphemy or evil and irrational or psychotic, then the doorway to these experiences may remain shut. Yet, Spirit will not be denied when it’s directive are to pierce the veil’s of your mind. Revelation of an may take the form of nightmares, visions, hallucinations, or in the animal encounters of both the delightful and extremely dangerous kind.
Learning about the temperament and behavior of an animal may yield a rich harvest of insight but also offer guidelines or patterns which one can utilize proactively. For example, when I learned my primary energy being was of Bear Clan, (I use the term clan because there might be several species within a genus to which you might relate to all or just one), that my tendency for solitary endeavor and wandering felt like a revelation. Not denying that this is an extraction of a metaphoric comparison, nonetheless, the rightness of similarity of those survival strategies, I could not deny. Again, it resides deep within my psyche. Thus, pragmatically, it works for me as a framework for self understanding that I need not justify nor deny. In fact, because we have the human right and the spiritual free will to choose, using whatever mechanism to gain greater awareness and mastery of ourselves is not only useful, it is vital to our individual survival.
Live animals, particularly when they draw and hold your attention in a given moment, whether from being awed or startled or confronted, that is the moment to bring full awareness to bear for maximum gain. Notice, where your mind goes or immediately preceding the event what was dominating your consciousness. What were you thinking? Where was your attention? Were there any emotions or physical sensations present but perhaps not acknowledged? What do you associate with that animal which might apply to you in that moment or broader period of life situation? Assessing the message the animal may be bringing may be embedded in the animals action at the moment you noticed them. If you see a bird of prey for instance, is it in flight? Is it sitting on a branch? Is it facing away or toward you? Perhaps the citing witnesses them just pouncing on some prey? What would that decisive action imply? Let the first thing that comes to your mind be something to contemplate and not dismiss. Apply it to yourself metaphorically then pay attention to how it makes you feels. Is it encouragement, an instruction, a warning, offering a commentary about your situation? Yes, it can be dismissed as a meaningless encounter or you may use it as a potent Rorschach test, revealing to you the unconscious or unseen elements at play.
Employing the Power Animal approach as personal archetypal is self-validating only for those whose perspective does not need to mechanically construct the mind as a series of neurons firing in a bath of so many hormonal and chemical receptors. While I fully accept this scientifically assessed architecture of the brain, it is the mind, and particularly an open mind, that willingly draws input from any source. To appreciate and learn from animals; belief is not required. But attention to feedback from Nature most certainly is! Your relationship to this as a tool for self understanding may be reverent or ridiculous.
But that too is a choice. What more in your life to you believe irrelevant and then ignore?