Animals have always held a significant role in human society, whether domesticated, wild, or as symbols in our mythologies, stories, and belief systems. Forming bonds with animals or observing their unique qualities can both enrich our lives and deepen our spiritual understandings. In this post we will be looking at a few unique ways to understand the spiritual significance of animals, how we can connect with them energetically, and how we can perceive them as signs, symbols, and teachers for growth.
The term “spirit animal” is often used humorously in contemporary media and social circles, but what is an actual “spirit animal” metaphysically? A spirit animal can be most simply described as an animal whose energy, qualities, or symbolic connotation an individual feels connected to. This connection can come from the fact that the person embodies similar qualities or energy to the animal, or because they have a lesson to learn from this animal. Examples might be a cat serving as a teacher for independence and boundaries, or a bee as a teacher for work ethic and community. If you believe in reincarnation and past lives, you may also feel a connection to a particular type of animal because you have previously been incarnated in that form.
Adjacent to spirit animals are animal spirits, or rather the spirits of animals who were previously alive on earth. Also included in this could be spirits who just chose to take the form of animals. While spirit animals can be thought of as teachers and greater energetic symbols, animal spirits are more so individual beings you form a bond with. One obvious example of this would be pets who have passed away but continue to be around you in spirit. However, not all animal spirits have to be pets, you may very well have random animal spirits who found you, liked your energy, and has decided to hang around you.
Animal Messengers, Signs, and Symbols
Looking at animals more symbolically, it’s interesting to examine the different mythological, religious, and cultural associations. If you already work with certain deities or within a particular spiritual tradition, you may want to research what animals are sacred to that deity or practice. Understanding how animal energy is significant in this way can strengthen your practice, and you will likely start to notice these animals being sent to you as signs. For instance, people who work with the druidic deity Morrigan may encounter a lot of crows, as these are a sacred symbol associated with her.
Being sent animals (or images of animals) as signs is not exclusive to deities though, as loved ones, ancestors, and spirit guides can send them to you as well. In some places, cardinals are a common bird associated with passed on loved ones. While sometimes these animal signs can be sent to convey a very important message, other times their presence can just be a reminder of the spiritual support around you. The way to determine this is simply to pay attention to when you see these animal messengers: are you about to make a big decision? Were you thinking of a passed loved one? Did you ask for a sign from your guides or deity? The context and the animal itself can be used to determine the importance of the message. And, of course, use your intuition! You will likely have an intuitive response to seeing an animal sign, so trust your initial gut instinct about what this means.
Practical Ways to Build Connection
If you are looking for ways to strengthen your spiritual connection with animals, here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Spend time with your pets. This is especially helpful for those seeking to step into more loving, playful, and nurturing energy.
2. Observe animals out in nature. Seeing animals in their natural habitats can be a great way to build your appreciation for nature as well as gain a deeper understanding of different animals’ energy and qualities.
3. Volunteer at animal rescues or contribute toward a conservation efffort. Especially if you feel called to help animals on a wider scale, seek out projects and communities that are dedicated to preserving the well-being of animals and their environments.
4. Meditate and ask to meet spirit animals and guides. Pay attention to anything you feel, see, hear, smell, or think during this process. Incorporating journaling or drawing might also be a really good way to intuitively learn what animal spirits are around you.
5. Divination with animal-centered tools. Use tools like oracle cars that are animal themed or even ethically sourced animal bones for casting. In your divination practice you may want to seek out advice specifically from animal spirits who will share their wisdom with you.
These are just a few ideas, but there are endless ways to strengthen your spiritual connection to animals, so be creative and follow your intuition!
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