And butterflies, ducks, pigeons, snakes, squirrels, dogs and a hedgehog. What do they all have in common? In the past two years they have visited me in my dreams and in my daily life in so many ways that I couldn’t possibly deny their significance. What were they trying to tell me? I knew a bit about animal spirit guides and how they show up to help us along our path. Synchronistically, I found myself in a class studying spirit guides with my energy medicine teacher, Deborah King. Fortunately, there was a segment devoted to animal guides so I was able to gain clarity around all of my visitors.
According to Deborah, “Never ever discount when you’re out walking and you see an animal. We don’t choose them, they choose us. The animal chooses to come to us with its medicine to remedy a problem, heal, and to help us see the world with more understanding. Animal guides are our teachers, friends and part of the circle of life.”
*Here are the four different types of animal guides that will visit us during our lifetime:
Messenger Guide–This animal comes in quickly and leaves once you’ve got the message. It could be a spiritual message, a warning or a wake-up call. It delivers a single message and then departs.
Shadow Guide–This animal spirit comes to teach you a lesson that you’ve not yet absorbed, like pride, greed, anger, etc. It will keep coming over and over, bringing feelings of fear to you until you make the change you need to make. A shadow guide really brings truth and should never be ignored.
Journey Guide–Shows up when you’re at a fork in the road and can’t decide which path to take. It’s like a friendly traveling companion. They can lead you back if you’re lost and they stay at your side until that cycle changes and you are no longer at a fork.
Life Animal Guide–A spirit guide that stays with you your whole life and reflects your inner spiritual self. It serves as a constant reminder of your oneness with nature and your inner power. Communicate with them daily. The more importance you give to them, the more they will do for you.
I have always had a special relationship with turtles, so it was easy for me to recognize turtle as my life animal guide. As a young child I would row across a lake and watch them with fascination sunning themselves on a log. They often showed up in my dreams and once, after doing a shamanic journeying workshop in which I had connected with my turtle guide, I kayaked out onto a lake and came face to face with a turtle sitting on a lily pad. I sat and talked to that turtle for half an hour before he finally slid into the water. Turtle teaches me to slow down, that life is not a race, and that I can retreat into my shell when life overwhelms me and I need inner protection. A couple of days ago, while pondering this article, I turned on my Netflix to find a recommendation for me. It was “Turtle: The Incredible Journey“. Seriously–you can’t make this stuff up. I watched with bated breath as the baby loggerhead clawed her way out of the sand and made her perilous journey from the beach to the water’s edge. It seemed sacred to me, watching this documentary and learning about these magnificent creatures who have taught me so many lessons. Today, a friend kindly reminded me how strong turtles are and that they carry their homes along with them – something I might want to embrace as I make my transition from NYC to Asheville. To the Native Americans the turtle symbolized Mother Earth and how she provides all that we need. I believe that my deep love of nature has been instilled in me by my life animal guide.
About two years ago, I started seeing dragonflies around me. Once one landed on the oar of my boat and stared at me for what seemed like an eternity (probably more like a minute or two, but it definitely caught my attention). Another time a huge dragonfly flew around me inside a hotel conference room. I started seeing images of them. Eventually I looked up the meaning in Ted Andrew’s book “Animal Speak”. “If a dragonfly has shown up in your life, you may need some fresh air in regard to something emotional. You may need to gain a new perspective or make a change. It may even indicate that you are neglecting your emotions. It may reflect that you are coming into a two-year period of transformation. Dragonflies remind us that we are light and can reflect the light in powerful ways if we choose to do so. “Let there be light” is the divine prompting to use the creative imagination as a force within your life.” All true.
The day after Deborah’s lesson on animal guides, I was feeling a little overwhelmed and emotional. I went for a bike ride down by the Hudson River and stopped at my favorite tree. No sooner had I sat down than two ducks, one male and one female came waddling over and just hung out by me until I had to leave. Duck medicine, according to Ted Andrews, is all about emotional comfort and protection. Ducks remind us to drink of the waters of life as well as to nurture our own emotional natures. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Mallard!
And then there was the rat. Remember, we can’t choose them–they choose us. The day after my duck visit I went for another bike ride and sat on a bench by my favorite secluded spot along the river. It was still afternoon–broad daylight, and all of a sudden a rat darted in front of me. Yikes! I went into full-on Lucy Ricardo mode. Yes, I stood on the bench, I’m ashamed to say. The tourists were quite amused. As a New Yorker, I’m used to seeing rats, but not usually during the day. My uneasiness led me to leave sooner than planned but the next day I found myself there again at the same time. Not long after I had settled on the bench, again, a rat darted in front of me, looking suspiciously like the one I had seen the day before. This time however, I notice that he is peering out from under a boulder and staring directly at me! Okay, time to consult Ted Andrews again. “Although not well liked, rats are tremendously adaptable and have the ability to survive in most environments.” I decided to try to alter my perception of this least-liked creature of God and give him a name –Hudson. I know, not too original, but it was my first thought. My friend suggested I leave an offering of food to thank Hudson for his message and my first reaction was “Are you crazy??? You can get arrested in NYC for feeding the rats!” But the next day I went back and covertly left a couple of bites from my lunch, some goji berries and sunflower seeds. No comments from my NY friends, please!
I will leave my pigeon surgery dream for another time. Suffice it to say that I now look at pigeons in a whole different light!
What animals have shown up in your dreams or when you’re awake? Do you know their significance? I would love to hear some of your stories and how your animal guides have impacted your life.
*Excerpt from Deborah King’s Spirit Guide Course
Turtle: The Incredible Journey