by Dr. Alberto Villoldo: This week you will learn how to journey to the invisible realm of the Lower World to call for a power animal to accompany you back…
Quite often, this will be one you haven’t foreseen, perhaps as simple as a swallow, or as rare as a crocodile. You must accept the power animal that comes to you, unless it’s an insect, which are associated with the Lower World and best left in their natural spiritual habitat.
Working with a power animal is about who you’re becoming, not about who you’d prefer to be. Your power animal will connect you to your natural, unspoiled state. It will ground you in your instinctual self, and you can embody its teachings by communicating with it and learning its rhythms, movements, and ways of perceiving the world. If you retrieve a power animal that you dislike, such as a serpent, remember that it represents an instinctual part of yourself that you may have become disconnected from and even find distasteful.
Sit comfortably, fix your gaze in front of you (or close your eyes), and take your hands into prayer pose at your heart. Voice your intention to get in touch with your power animal on this journey. Now, open sacred space, perform the little-death breathing exercise and journey to your garden in the Lower World.
Sit on a stone in the meadow in your garden, and sense the spirit animal approaching you from behind. Feel how the hair on the back of your neck begins to stand on end, and sense how the animal’s eyes are resting on you as it draws closer. Listen to its breathing behind you. Now turn around, and in your imagination open your eyes and look into those of your power animal. Reach out with your hand and touch its beak, fur, antlers, scales, or fins.
Gaze into its eyes, and ask: “What gifts do you bring to me?” “What is your medicine?” “What are your attributes?” “What are your strengths?” “What are your weaknesses?” “How will you assist me in my healing?” “How long have you been tracking me?” “How can I care for and feed you?” and “Why you and not another power animal?” Engage in this dialogue for as long as you need to.
When you’re ready, invite your power animal to come back with you. Take your leave from the gatekeeper, the Lord of Life and Death, and dive into the waters, calling on your spirit animal to return with you. Take a big stretch, rub your hands together, rub your face, and open your eyes. (Come back into the room and into your body.)
Next, reach out with your hands and feel the energy of your power animal, and then bring it toward you. Take it into whichever chakra it guides you to. Sense its energy infusing every cell in your body. Begin to move your shoulders, your hands, and your head like that animal might move. Sense how it merges into your body. Close sacred space.
The following exercise will lead you to find the unique gifts and secrets of your power animal and discover its voice. Remember, this creature often symbolizes a neglected or shadow part of yourself. It can represent parts that you’re not comfortable with, and it isn’t uncommon for someone who dislikes reptiles to receive one for a spirit animal. Once you begin your dialogue with your power animal, you’ll notice that it may begin to appear in dreams or meditations.
As before, start by opening sacred space and then draw a line down the center of a blank journal page. On one side, you’ll be asking questions; on the other, the voice of your power animal will answer. Begin by asking simple questions, such as “Who are you?” “Why have you come to me?” “What will we do together?” “How do I take care of you?” Allow enough time for a full dialogue to emerge.
During the next week or so, experiment with embodying your power animal and its qualities. You might get up in the morning and stretch the way it would, or reach for something the way it might. When you shake hands with someone, do so in the dynamic way your spirit animal might do it. Look at the world as your animal would, seeing things as it might. Use all the senses of the animal—with a snake power animal, for instance, you will feel your environment with your entire being. Become your power animal, cohabitate with it, and share its identity so that you no longer have a power animal—you are that power animal.
By embodying your power animal, you’ll learn how to rely more on your instincts to guide you than your rational mind. (Your animal’s instincts will also protect the soul part that has come home to you.)