Encountering Your Animal Guide
Meeting an Animal Energy – Visualisation
It’s all well and good to talk about animal energies, but how do you actually go about encountering them? Well, there are the obvious ways such as going to the zoo, or into your backyard (if you have one) or any area where you might find a bit of nature lurking. However, one of the easiest ways to encounter an animal energy is through visualisation techniques. After all, while we can learn a lot from observing an animal in real life, we can also learn a great deal from the animal’s spirit or energy in visualisation.
Visualisation, or the act of visualising scenes and sensations that aren’t really ‘around’ us at the time (such as invoking the feel of a warm blanket on a cold day) are a way for us to get in contact with our deeper subconscious spirituality and in turn our connection to the divine. While it is a journey within, it also enables us to touch something greater than ourselves, an inner sacredness if you will, or an external divinity.
Visualisation is especially convenient as it can be done almost anywhere as your skills grow, and it can be done to maintain regular contact with animal energies. It is a technique that is handy in all forms of magic, if we have the concentration to sustain a visualisation, then we also have the ability to concentrate towards a goal, to improve ourselves and to grow as people.
If you have any problems encountering an animal in the visualisation, do not panic. You can do this as many times as you like, it is still a healing and relaxing practice, and the more you learn to quieten your thoughts and your body, the more likely you are to encounter an animal energy. Be patient and keep at it, the results will come in time.
Visualisation 1 – Basic Method
1. Find a quiet space. It can be in nature or in your house. Sit down (since it’s very easy to fall asleep while lying down!) in a chair and let yourself fall into a natural position. Try to keep your spine as straight as is comfortable for you. Consider having a thin blanket over you for extra warmth, since keeping the body still can lower the body temperature. A notepad by your side can also be very handy for any notes you might want to make.
2. While keeping as still as possible (small shifts are okay as you continue to relax), focus on your breathing. Slow it down over time, and as you slow it down, imagine that your muscles are relaxing further with each exhale. With each inhale, feel a healing, gentle energy come into your body and help with the relaxing of your muscles. Remember to focus a little on areas that take a bit longer to relax, like the shoulders, back, feet, hands and the face and neck.
3. As you continue to focus on your breathing, imagine that you are sitting down in a dark space. This space is quiet also, the loudest thing you can hear is your own breathing. The darkness is comforting and gentle around you, there is nothing to fear, and you are aware that you are safe and able to leave this space whenever you like.
4. After a while, you stand up and notice a path light up in front of you. This path can be made of anything, gravel, glass, wood, sawdust, leaves etc. As you follow it, you focus on how the path feels under your feet.
5. You reach a doorway. It has your name across it, so that you know that this doorway is intended for you. You place your hand on the door and open it.
6. Once you move through the door, you become aware that you are in a new landscape. This landscape feels natural to you, even though you may not have visited something like it in real life. It could be a desert, a forest, under the ocean, or anywhere at all. Let the details come to you. Become aware of any sounds like water or birdsong, any feelings like cold or hot. Are there any smells around you? What do you feel under your feet, what can you see around you?
7. Take a few more steps into this landscape, and then find a place to sit down that is comfortable. Close your eyes and say, ‘I respectfully ask for an animal that is helping me at the moment to come forward so that I can meet you.’ It doesn’t matter if you don’t get the words right, as long as what you say is said respectfully.
8. Keep your eyes closed and focus on your breathing for a few breaths, and then open your eyes. You notice that there is an animal nearby. It might be right in front of you, or it might be hiding somewhere. As it begins to approach you, notice how it makes you feel, and take note of how it approaches and what it looks like. It might be an animal that you’re familiar with, or it might be one that you’ve never seen before, that you might have to research later.
9. Thank the animal for showing itself to you. Take the time to talk with it, and wait patiently for any answers it might have. It might speak to you in your language, or it might watch you quietly, or perform certain behaviours. If you are able to converse with it, do so. Ask it questions, if it likes to be called by a name, if there are certain things that it might enjoy as offerings, if you are able to visit it more often to learn its wisdom. Most animals are very forthcoming, especially in a first visualisation. Monitor your physical reactions at the same time, are you excited? Scared? Happy?
10. After some time, say thank you to the animal for coming forward and offer it something, even if the only thing you can think to give in the moment is your respect and humbleness. Over time you will get to know more appropriate offerings. Wait for the animal to leave, and then stand up and walk back the way you came. Eventually you will find the door that you came through.
11. Walk back through the door and close it gently behind you. As you walk back along the lit path, to the chair in the dark space, focus on your breathing and the animal encounter itself. When you sit down again, remember that you are safe and comfortable, and that your body is calm and relaxed.
12. Continue to be aware of your breathing, and as you do so, become aware of your physical surroundings, how the chair feels against your body, how your feet feel against the ground. Wiggle your fingers and toes gently and become aware of your body once more. Open your eyes when you are ready.
13. If you have a notepad, consider writing down notes of your experience. What was the animal you encountered? If you don’t know what it was, then write down or sketch what it looked like. Make notes of offerings it may like, and messages it had to give you.
When you have the time, research the animal on the internet or in books. Learn about its behaviours and its habits. Even if it doesn’t have any mythological lore associated with it, we can learn a lot from an animal from the way it behaves. Animals that partner for life can teach us how to be more committed to our partners, friends and projects. Animals that are very social teach us how to better enhance our social standing and understand social structure. Animals that primarily hunt meat know how to teach us opportunism, and getting what we want through risk-taking. Research is a very important part of getting to know the animal that visited you.
Once you have done this the first time, it becomes easier and easier to do it in the future. You can walk along the same path and visit the same animal again, or you can even try and visit another animal guide, though it’s not recommended that you encounter more than two or three animal energies at the same time. If it is a water animal, you can even try contacting the animal in the bath, or in a swimming pool, to see if that changes your encounter. Likewise if your animal lives in a forest, you can try visiting a forest one day and contacting it there! Experiment with how you contact the animal, through a process of trial and error you will find methods and techniques that really suit that particular animal energy.