I have always felt a deep connection with the natural world and would experience intense joy whenever I encountered animals. I believe that my connection explains my interest in Native American spirituality. Growing up in Arizona and Colorado exposed me to many Shamanic ceremonies (both public and private) in where I would watch the participants celebrate certain animals with dance, song and prayer. I was mesmerized! When I began studying with a shaman in my late 30's the first thing we did was find my power animal through my first "journey". When the shaman asked me what my power animal was I said very sarcastically and somewhat disappointed "It's a wolf." He laughed and said "Why are you so upset?" I told him that the wolf has always been my favorite animal. In other words, I didn't trust what I saw. I thought I was making it up. He smiled gently at me and said "Melissa, why do you think you've always felt connected to wolves?" Then he raised his eyebrow at me. After I did some research on the Native American view of wolves and their meaning, I realized why I have such a powerful connection with them! My belief in the power of animal totems increased when I quit my finance job to do healing work and teach full time. It was during one of my journey's right after quitting the corporate world when my wolf came to me and said that he would no longer be my power animal but that he would always remain with me. I became very upset and asked what I was going to do. Wolf said "She's going to take over as your power animal" then turned his head towards the beach on the edge of the forest. There was a beautiful black panther sunning herself on a large rock near the edge of the waves. When she noticed me looking she jumped down and slowly moved towards me as my wolf moved deeper into the forest. After the journey was over I thought to myself "That's odd. I'm not really into cats so I know I didn't make that up!" I was still doubting the practice at that time. When I read about Black Panther I couldn't believe what I was seeing! The website I had been drawn too indicated that the Black Panther was all about moving up to the next level. Of course there was a lot more amazing stuff I read that totally resonated to exactly where I was at that moment. A few years later when I got my wolf tattoo I was told in journey to create a Chakra Animal Totem class. At that time I did not know that there was an actual practice of finding your animal totem.
My personal experience with discovering my animal totem was more powerful than I could have ever imagined. It's not simply finding out which animal goes with which chakra. When we actively work with our animal totems they can provide healing, great insight and guidance along our journey. I was going to do a journey to find my root chakra spirit animal but it showed up before I even started. I said out loud "I wonder what my root chakra animal totem is?" and immediately had a vision of a black panther. I have learned over the years to not question what I see so I looked up Black Panther again but from a different source. Ted Andrews writes that the Black Panther is associated with the awakening of Kundalini energy (which resides in the root chakra) and stepping into your power! It also symbolizes a time of re-birth after a period of suffering and death on some level (I had been working to heal some very old stuff). Black Panther is also a symbol of awakening to a heroic quest! Mystery, passion and sensuality are also associated with Black Panther as well as mastery over all dimensions (shape-shifting). My guides had been teaching me about multiple dimensions for about a year. In order for animal medicine to work effectively we must honor our spirit animals with dance, prayer, communion, etc. For several days I called on Black Panther for help with healing. I honored her in the various ways mentioned above. I even imagined a long black tail emerge from my tailbone and walked around with it all day. That evening I had a very powerful dream that I was standing on a desert plateau. There were a large group of people standing in a circle with me. I heard a man say "Over a million animals have been killed in this very spot." I was completely heartbroken and felt anger towards humanity for not respecting all life. This is something that I have struggled with for most of my life. At that very moment I saw three animals approach the circle. One was a fox who locked eyes with me. I was screaming in my mind "Run away! You're in danger." The fox came to me and nuzzled up against my arm. I burst into tears because I could feel nothing but love and trust coming from this beautiful being. I woke up crying then immediately went to my Animal Speak book and this is the first line that jumped out at me. "A new world is opening up...The world is growing and shape-shifting itself into new patterns that will be beneficial." Fox also has similar messages to Black Panther such as shape-shifting and unlocking the Kundalini energy. By the way, I couldn't remember what the other two animals were and spirit said "They were for the others. The fox is for you."
I tell you this story as it shows the power of actually working with your Animal Totems, not just knowing who they are. Fox came to me in a dream to re-enforce Black Panther's message and to give me hope. Animals truly are great teachers and helpers. They are waiting for us to connect.
My name is Melissa Ameika and I am a Reiki Master Teacher, Shaman & Metaphysical Counselor living in the desert southwest.