The New Psychotherapy
The time came when my life was disrupted by soul longing for wholeness, manifesting as serious depression. Through grace, I found my way to a workshop on healing into wholeness. There I met Linda Star Wolf who taught us how to discover our power animal.
“Close your eyes and take long, slow breaths,” Star Wolf instructed.
“You are going on a journey to meet your power animal.”
Native Americans teach that we all come into this incarnation energetically tethered to a particular animal--a protector, guide, and soul friend. Often we dream of or have a fondness for a particular creature. This may be our power animal.
Being a “good girl” was my goal; I went to the workshop to find out how to be nicer and sweeter so that I would be happy. As I lay on the floor, I hoped my power animal would be a bunny or a hummingbird--yet I knew it was unlikely.
“Let the drumming take you,” Star Wolf encouraged, as the music started and the energy began to build. “You will begin to see or sense an animal presence. It may or may not be your power animal. Ask it--and if it isn’t, let it go.” Star Wolf ’s voice guided us as we all let go into the trance of altered reality.
I quickly began to encounter animals in my expanded state of consciousness. First, I saw a bunny hopping through a beautiful field. I asked, “Are you my power animal?”
“No, silly, I am just a bunny,” it quipped.
Next, I found myself flying high above the fields with a gaggle of geese. Again I inquired, hopefully, “Are you my power animals?”
“We are your guides to the land where you will find your power animal.”
The geese flew with me until I was plopped down in the middle of a jungle. Running toward me was a magnificent tiger. My heart pounded out of my chest, not for fear that it would hurt me, but rather knowing the tiger was my power animal. I didn’t have to ask her. It was evident that she was mine. I wanted a nice animal; instead I got a ferocious one. I feared I would cause destruction. Despite my trepidation, I reluctantly surrendered.
“Slowly, find yourself returning to ordinary reality,” Star Wolf ’s voice faded into my consciousness.
Accepting my fate, I listened to Star Wolf ’s next instructions: “Go for a walk in the woods and open yourself to seeing your power animal or to having an experience with it in some way.”
“Right,” I thought. “That will work for people whose animal is a bunny; clearly, I’m not going to see a tiger in the woods of rural Georgia.” Nonetheless, I dutifully set out on my walk. Rather quickly, I heard what sounded like a tiger roar, and I looked over and saw cows grazing. They looked quite frightened. It immediately occurred to me that I was still altered and had heard what I thought was a roar because I was tuned in to my imaginal tiger. I felt quite pleased with myself; I had conjured up a tiger! “Aren’t I the shamanic one?” I said out loud to the cows.
That evening we had a sharing circle led by therapist Jackie Small. As I eagerly awaited my turn, another woman shared her experience. “My power animal is a bear. I was sitting in the woods, hoping to see a bear, when a group of horseback riders passed by. The leader stopped and said, ‘You shouldn’t be sitting out here. A circus was passing through and a tiger escaped and is roaming these woods.’” The group gasped and Jackie said, “Yes, I heard that happened.”
At that moment, the room seemed to turn dark. I felt a seismic shift, and I was consumed by fear. In my panicked state, I yelled, “I’m out of here! You people are involved in black magic! I imagined a tiger, and now it has become real, and it is going to kill someone.”
Normally quite rational, I found myself in a fugue-like state of panic and rage. I was going to be the cause of someone’s death. I was determined to leave, but Jackie said, “Nita, I see you are terrified, and I want you to listen to me. What you are experiencing is deep synchronicity. You did not cause that tiger to escape.” She reached out and took my hand.
Her touch along with her calm and compassionate attention dropped me out of my panic. Jackie was whispering to my soul. I stared at her for a moment and then fully grasped that, of course, it was simply synchronicity.
Why did I have such a deep reaction of fear? I sensed that something was up for healing--something was trying to break through to my conscious mind--and this synchronicity was the catalyst. Rather than dismissing it as happenstance, I sat with a receptive heart and mind, allowing spirit to show me what it was trying to heal.
Held in safety and guided by soul whisperers, a remarkable thing occurred: It was as though the ceiling opened to the night sky and out of the darkness, starry words began to form. You did not conjure the tiger. And here is the real truth: You did not kill your mother. She died, and it was a synchronicity that your father always told you that you were killing her.
These were simple, profound, healing words that my soul needed. Held by the group energy, I cried, releasing years of grief.
A piece of my soul came back that night and has stayed with me. I let go of feeling depressed and embraced my grief. The power animal brought that piece home to me, healing the layers of fear and shame--and all because of a synchronicity.
Pay attention. Spirit is waiting to whisper to us at every moment.