I became interested in Shamanism, already as a young teenager, when I discovered old illustrations on my grandfather's wall, depicting battles between Cowboys and Indians, and one with a shaman. In 1995, at the same time I started practising Qigong and learning how to meditate, I also immersed myself in books about esoteric knowledge, especially by Lynn Andrews, since she was a woman, and thus brought with her this perspective. But today, I learned on her Facebook page, that she has passed on. So, I thought, I'd share something I learned from her.
Shamanism holds a belief that we are part of nature and can get help through animals, hosting spirits. This is also how the Hawaiian people has had as a belief for many years. Each animal is attributed with a certain aspect of power, for us to borrow in times of need, or simply to learn more about for our own personal growth.
Each direction symbolises an aspect, such as North - Spiritual, West - intellectual, South - Physical, and East - Emotional. And each direction can be helped by a power animal to a medicine wheel. One can also have a spirit animal, closer to one's own self. These animals are then painted onto either a piece of leather, or fabric, tied together with a circle made of wood. I used branches from willows, since they grow naturally where I lived, and are easy to bend without breaking. When I lived in Hawaii, I used a branch from a Ti-leaf. For the shamanic shield to be complete, you can also adorn it with feathers, teeth, beads and crystals. The shield now becomes your mirror, for you to live a life with one foot in the spiritual natural world, and one in the ordinary mundane society.
There is also something called "the white shield of protection", which is a calling forth of light, although only possible in moments of threats and if you have no karma in the situation.
My favorite animals to use as metaphors and messengers, have been the Owl, the Butterfly, the Turtle and the Deer. I also have been given the Elephant from my grandmother. And I like believing it's why a Snowy Owl showed up in Hawaii for Thanksgiving 2011, right by Honolulu Federal Detention Center, where I was held for an immigration violation. Which animals are your favorites, whether as to have as a pet or to learn about from a distance? What do they symbolise for you, and how can you develop and integrate this into your own personality and life?
You can find more about Lynn Andrews here.