Dan Weil, CPCC
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Eagle’s medicine includes swiftness, strength, courage, wisdom, keen sight, illumination of Spirit, healing, creation, knowledge of magic, ability to see hidden spiritual truths, rising above the material to see the spiritual, ability to see the overall pattern and big picture, connection to spirit guides and teachers and higher truths, great power and balance, dignity with grace, intuitive and creative spirit, respect for the boundaries of the regions, grace achieved through knowledge and hard work.
– Rebekah J Simpson
Finding the “Invisible One”
Not for the first time, I found myself lying down on the ground, in public, in Santa Fe. This time, I was inside the workshop space lying on a yoga mat at Thunderbird Ridge and not lying down on the arena sand among the horses outside.
It was evening, the lights were turned down low, and around the ceremonial circle were the rest of the EQUUS Faculty and Staff. We had just spent a thorough day working on a workshop with a client group of 31 people. This was now a chance for us to experience one of the partnership offerings at EQUUS.
What we were doing now was something very special — a gift and a blessing. Niccole Toral – Shaman, Ceremonialist, and Pipe Carrier and Tod DiCecco Ceremonialist and Pipe Carrier, guided us through this animal spirit ceremony. This ceremony honored the indigenous people’s traditions that teach us that we all are marked and are born with a spirit animal. Our spirit animal is with us for our entire lifetime. Never leaving us.
As is its way, life’s path sometimes distracts us from ALL that we have within us to be and to do. Through the spirit animal ceremony, our ceremonial facilitators leverage ancient indigenous wisdom from the highlands of the Peruvian Andes, North American First Nations, and Mexico. They guide each of us through a meditative process that reconnects us with our own spirit animal, who we may have become disconnected from as we moved through our life’s path.
Ceremonial sacred sage is used to cleanse the space we’re in and a peaceful, accessible story and teaching calms us all. I felt as if a warm blanket was being wrapped over my shoulders. We were guided into lying positions – shoes off, on our backs, on the Yoga mats – heads toward the carefully curated alter, feet outward. The alter held sacred ceremonial animal fetishes, a small bowl of water to absorb our energy flow, and small candles.
Closing our eyes we followed Niccole’s voice into guided meditation as she and Tod beat out a very specific drum beat. Soon, Niccole set us free into our own journeys as we lay there. The drum beat continued. I was terribly distracted by an annoying muscle spasm in my back, “oy!” and I was really having difficulty dropping into this experience. Eyes closed, I persisted though, just as the drumming persisted along.
Something began happening. I’ll admit…at first the experience was not what I wanted it to be. I’m a creative person who thrives on visualizing stories and enjoys vivid dreams. While I wasn’t sure what to expect and my mind was open to an experience, that dang muscle spasm was distracting. The more I allowed the distraction in, the longer this was taking for me. I had almost given up on this working for me at all. I was able to relax just enough to get a glimpse into the world of the “Invisibles,” where spirit animals exist.
When I let go of the need to control the experience — and when I let go of my expectations of what this “should” be like — I finally got to have a powerful experience.
The drum beat changed noticeably, taking us out of the meditation. One at a time, we took turns describing what we experienced. For some, it was very much, “What the heck?!” For others it was, “I had no idea — and of course that makes sense!” A few were quite emotional — so powerfully, emotionally moved that speaking and sharing their experience took a huge amount of strength and bravery. As with other wisdom and healing modalities not everything is obvious all at once. What’s experienced during this ceremony may need to percolate for a while to register and to sink in. For me, it’s still cooking.
Sitting up and joining the circle I found that I was frustrated and full of questions. I was embarrassed somehow. I typically don’t wait to be the last person to speak in a small group like this but this time I most definitely was not speaking up. I was trying to make sense of my spirit animal ceremony experience. Could this be right? Am I trying to make this be something? Why wasn’t this as clear and as vivid as I’m hearing others describe? Why am I feeling so emotional and what is this mix of emotion?
I was called forward and finally, I began to share. I started explaining my frustration and the resistance I was feeling. Then, I began the part about the actual experience. I didn’t want to reveal what showed up first because I was having difficulty wrapping my head around it. I found myself choked up. I was not sure I was finding language around this; and I was trying to hold on to some kind of composure. I’m not entirely certain what I said in the moment, but it was along the lines of this:
“Something showed up for me…. and there were others too. Something showed up and then there was a big wolf’s glowing-yellow-eyed face… it was wise, knowing and conveyed an expression like, “No – I’m not your spirit animal.”
Wolf was almost looking over his shoulder toward who had showed up first. The gaze intense and strong. Wolf was also conveying something of respect and honor in the way that people do when they make way for another by holding a door open for someone else. Wolf was also saying, “Come on. He was it.”
With each animal that showed up, I asked, “Like, okay… are you my spirit animal?” Before moving on I offered my thank you’s to these spirit animals. Next up was a dog that kind of went trotting happily through and past. And then I went back to what first showed up. I began doubting myself again.
My first contact here was a vision of a flat, carved animal fetish – like a carved tile – that was clearly a bald eagle. When I asked the question, “Hello. Are you my spirit animal?” The fetish carving was instantly changed to an eagle in flight, flying above a valley and in clouds. Huge wings were outstretched above me with wingtip feathers distinctly visible. Over the shoulders the eagle’s head was down. Looking past the shoulders I could see details of glimmering twinkly lights far below of a small village.
This was glimpse…. just a glimpse into a different place. While the doubts try to persist… the vision of those wings stretched in a “v” shape above me persist as well, just as powerfully…if not more so.
We closed our spirit animal ceremony and I was still struggling. Still quite a bit, “I mean, Really?!” And then Tod very pointedly said to me, “You are worthy of this. You are worthy.” My confusion was definitely part of this too. How could I be worthy of this? It made no sense to me that someone of my heritage would carry this sacred spirit animal. Am I too caught up in what others might think or say about this? Is this some form of appropriation? Had I found my invisible one?
It’s now a couple of weeks later and I’m back in L.A. County. Each day I’m finding new ways that my experience of this powerful spirit animal ceremony relates to me; with meaning and with a growing understanding of self. There’s a sense of building wholeness that wasn’t previously accessible to me.
Moving forward, the questions I ask myself will forever be shaped differently. I’ll listen differently when I engage my own curiosity. I’ll look forward differently. And without a doubt I’ll move forward holding this intensely personal experience with respect, gentle care and presence.
My gratitude column is filling up so very nicely and I am so very appreciative.