Tuning into the Cosmos

How often have you heard you should live in the moment? What does that mean to you? Does it mean concentrating on your current project? Setting goals for the future? Pondering the lessons from the past? Clearly if any of those are your answer, you’ve missed the point.

The moment is NOW, this very instant.

Whether you’re working on a pet project or binge-watching Netflix, chances are you’re not really in tune to what’s really going on around you.

Maybe what comes to mind is “situational awareness.” Especially those who’ve been in the military or law enforcement. Maintaining that can mean survival. Watching your back.

No, that’s not it, either.

This is a deeper type of awareness. Where you realize you’re part of a larger whole. Something many cultures recognize as reality. Something of which I became more aware in researching my latest book, “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits,” for which I studied Native American beliefs.

It’s called animism. That everything is “animated,” albeit alive, and has a soul. People. Animals. Plants. Minerals. Earth herself. The entire cosmos. All connected. Much of that comes to bear in my story through Charlie Littlewolf, the main character, as he perceives messages from trees, birds, even roadkills.

Spirit animals have been more popular lately. In most cases, this is when a person feels connected with a specific animal. A bear. A cougar. An eagle. A fox. This is usually based on characteristics that animal displays to which you can relate. Fetishes can deliver a similar lesson. (More about them here.)

Another way of being in tune, however, is to take the time to absorb the world around you, most effectively, outdoors. What animals do you see? Even if you live in the city, there are usually plenty of birds. There’s a flock of sparrows at your bird feeder along with a single cardinal. What is that telling you? You look up and see an eagle, better yet, a pair, flying over your house. What does that mean?

If for whatever reason you’re stuck indoors, there are still messages to behold. The antique clock. Your favorite cooking vessel. Your cat sleeping in a sun puddle. If they could talk, what would they say?

Looking for answers? Pay better attention. Chances are they’re all around you, just waiting for you to listen.

I have a semi-feral cat who was born in my garage in 2013. Her mother and siblings disappeared years ago, but Taurie hung around. She lets me pet her and I suspect she would love to come inside. Unfortunately, I don’t think that would work very well with my two indoor cats.

When I see her out on the deck, which isn’t always on a set schedule, I go out and give her something to eat. The other day we had heavy rain that dissipated right around sunset. There she was, so I went out with some food. I noticed a neighbor looking up at the sky and holding her cell phone as if taking a picture. I looked up. And there was this spectacular double rainbow. Something I would have missed had I not gone out to feed my feral cat. I raced back inside to get my phone.

The next day, close to midnight, as I was about to retire for the night, I noticed the motion-sensor activated light on the deck was on. Was it Taurie? Or wildlife? Grey foxes, raccoons, possums, and skunks show up out there all the time. It was Taurie. Again, I grabbed a can of cat food and went outside.

This time I was greeted by the waning Moon, Mars right beside her in all his red glory. Again, I got my phone, though I knew it wouldn’t do it justice (and certainly doesn’t show up here). But there was something magical about it I wanted to preserve, however I could.

Later that night, in the early hours, I woke up. I looked outside to see if it was getting light. It wasn’t. Rather than the light of dawn, there was Venus staring at me in her celestial brilliance. You know, that show she puts on when people report her as a UFO. No picture this time, but I did go into the kitchen to check the time. 5:47 a.m.

The fact I’d had three beautiful sights in the sky grab my attention in as many days had to mean something. Fortunately, I’m an astrologer. I had the time for each event, the first two courtesy of the metadata of the photos. What I discovered was amazing. It brought wondrous insights for situations I’m currently wrestling with along with a sense of peace. As if the heavens were speaking to me. Even without the astrological interpretations, they already had.

Seeing yourself as a child of the cosmos may sound like a bunch of woo-woo stuff useful only to mystics, gurus, and retired old ladies who have nothing better to do.

On the other hand, maybe there isn’t anything better to do than pay attention to things around you and listen for what they may be trying to say.

What is Your “Spirit Animal”?

cougarpicture

I first learned about spirit animals while in Santa Fe, New Mexico for an astrology workshop a few years back. While we were there, a friend who was also a fellow attendee wanted to check out this little shop that sold Zuni fetishes. If you’re not familiar with fetishes, they are small, stone carvings of different animals that are then typically blessed by the tribe’s shaman. The shop was a pretty amazing place with a surprisingly reverent feel. To be honest, I’ve been in churches that felt less holy. Patrons within were examining these amazing works of art, seeking those with which they felt a spiritual connection.

I guess you could call this the original “self-help” program, where you identify the animal that has the characteristics that reflect your situation, then meditate on that animal so you can acquire (or in some cases release) the traits represented, thus making that animal your “spirit animal”.  You won’t necessarily have the same spirit animal throughout your life, but rather turn to the one most relevant for your situation at the time.

cougarandravenI wound up buying two that I was drawn to, a cougar and a raven. Oddly enough, I already had a picture of a cougar on my wall (shown above) that I’d had for years. It was a notecard sent by a dear friend that I liked so much I framed it and put up in my office. I’d nearly forgotten about it until I got home and noticed how much my newly acquired fetish looked like the picture. Later, when I read about the fetishes’s meaning, they were spot-on.

Spirit animals are associated with the Native American Medicine Wheel, which includes the mountain lion (cougar), black bear, badger, white wolf, eagle and mole, which represent each of the six directions (four cardinal, i.e. north, south, east, and west, plus up and down). The meaning of each animal is based on the characteristics it displays.

The Mountain Lion or Cougar is Guardian of the North. She represents wisdom that comes from experience, our successes and failures, the recognition of life’s cycles and forces greater than ourselves.animal-276002_1920

The White Wolf is Guardian of the East. He represents our quest for higher knowledge. The East, where the Sun rises each day, is the place of new beginnings, and the direction from which great teachers arrive.white-wolf-1903107_1920

The Badger is Guardian of the South.  I remember seeing a documentary on badgers and being surprised at how aggressive they are. They represent the needs of the ego and physical body and how we may destroy or injure others as we pursue what we want when we’re obsessed with our basic human needs.badger-940509_1920

The Black Bear is Guardian of the West. She signifies personal strength and introspection that will lead to wisdom through spiritual understanding.black-bear-50293_1280

The Eagle, Guardian of the Upper Regions, represents pursuing the heights. This is taking time to view the big picture, forget the moment, no matter how difficult, and absorb the greatness around us.adler-2386314_1920

The Mole, Guardian of the Lower Regions, burrows within. Blind to all other than the perception of stark dark and light, the mole gathers information through the other senses–vibrations, smell, taste, sounds, touch. These heighten awareness of the Earth itself, plant life that nourishes us, aquifers, minerals.animal-1347755_1920

Ideally, you would have a fetish representing each of these animals and you would arrange them all in their respective directions in a circle, all facing inward to represent the proper integration of these principles. You could use a picture instead so as to have the visual image, though having the fetish, which you can hold and feel its energy, is more effective.

Ponder each of the above pictures individually and see if you react to any at a visceral level. If not, don’t worry, there are other options. Any animal that comes to mind can function as your spirit animal provided you understand its message for you.

medicine-wheel-444550_1920You can have more than one spirit animal and add them as needed. You don’t have to have an actual fetish carving to do so, but they serve as a visual aid or talisman. There’s a bit of a ritual that goes along with it, where you “feed” the fetish, usually consisting of ground blue corn, which they will give you when you buy a fetish. Each day you’re supposed to do so, which of course is a reminder to ponder the animal and whatever characteristic you wish to emulate from its example.

Other animals include the coyote, snake, raven, falcon, owl, rabbit, fox, armadillo, turtle, frog, deer (also bison), and horse. You can add these to the wheel as your intuition dictates. In my case, the raven represented a time of transformation. I had recently retired and was letting go of my previous life to start a new one. Transformations are a death of sorts. As an astrologer, this concept is represented by the planet Pluto and, at that time, I was in the midst of a “Pluto transit” as well.horse-2324584_1920

It seems no one is trouble-free these days. Even the Earth herself is unhappy, reflecting through this insidious heatwave and volcanic action the collective anger and abused power all around us. This is clearly a time when this Native American wisdom can benefit each of us and hopefully return our planet to peace and sanity.

The Southwest Indian Foundation has some fetishes for sale in their catalog. If you want to know more about spirit animals and use of the medicine wheel, a really good book on the subject is “Zuni Fetishes: Using Native American Objects for Meditation, Reflection, and Insight” by Hal Zina Bennett. Last I checked, they have it on Amazon.

[Animal pictures courtesy of Pixabay.]