It may sound hokey, but I do put some stock into animal medicine. I actually have a deck of medicine cards and I sometimes read my cards or other people's cards, and I like to occasionally pull a daily card, just to see what's what in my life. It works a little like Tarot, or even like reading one's daily devotionals which I also do. Some may argue that I can't follow Bible teachings and read animal medicine cards, but I find comfort in spirituality, not religion. I follow Jesus' teachings, and I believe that animals and Native American medicine have some place as well. The Earth, after all, is our home in a vast universe, so how can it not have some kind of magic and lessons to teach?
My medicine cards have several different spreads I read based on certain specific or even general questions. One spread is reading one's nine Totem Animals, and I've only done that for one other person. I've never read my own totem, probably because they are to be read only once and maybe I'm a little nervous about what I might pull. Also, I'm not exactly an experienced medicine card reader, so I want to make sure I know exactly what I'm doing before I go messing around with that kind of medicine. The totem spread involves seven animals in each of the seven directions - east, west, north, south, above, below, and within - and the lessons they teach in those directions. The other two animals are the ones that walk by a person's side at all times, their spirit guides. An interesting point about reading one's totem, or even finding their spirit animals, is to not let one's personal opinions get in the way of the spread. My two favorite animals are horses and wolves, but neither one of them are my spirit guides. I fought for years against the Spider being one of my spirit animals because I didn't like spiders, but after I pulled the medicine card more than a few times during my own readings, to say nothing of the fact that they follow me around my house and I dream of them often, I finally accepted the Spider as one of my guides. My other guide is the Fox. Foxes, like spiders, have haunted me and followed me all my life. The Spider symbolizes creativity and feminine energy. The Fox symbolizes camouflage. That may not make sense to people who know me, or think they know me, but Fox medicine makes complete sense to me and it's very appropriate.
The other day I read my Pathway Spread, mostly because I probably already know my path, I'm just afraid to get started on it and perhaps I want some reassurance. The Pathway Spread consists of a past; present; future; the pattern or set of life lessons that is moving through your life; a challenge or lesson you have completed or learned; what's working for you; and what is working against you.
My path laid out like this:
Past - I pulled the Rabbit which symbolizes fear, and the lesson is to stop worrying about horrible things that might happen and stop "what-iffing."
Present - the Buffalo. The Buffalo is the energy of prayer and the lesson is that nothing is achieved without the aid of the Great Spirit or God.
Future - The Snake. I pulled the Snake upside down, which means it's a contrary card. The Contrary Snake is a fear of change and the lesson is to glide beyond a place that has become safe and nonproductive. Funny how that one keeps popping up in my life.
The pattern or set of life lessons moving through my life - The Eagle. The lesson is to look higher and follow your heart's desire. Again, funny how that one keeps popping up.
A challenge that has been conquered or a lesson that has just been completed - The Hummingbird. The Hummingbird teaches a renewal of the magic of living.
What is working for me - The Antelope. I pulled the Contrary Antelope which is a signal that I am not listening and not acting on the will of the Great Spirit (or God). Contrary Antelope could also be telling me that a decision to start is now necessary. Have the desire to do something, make a firm decision to take action, and then do it! I'm not sure exactly if that's working for me, or I should be allowing the Antelope to work for me, but boy, is that ever the truth.
What is working against me - The Badger. The Badger symbolizes aggressiveness, something I do not have, in spades or otherwise. The Badger is telling me that I am too meek and the lesson is to get angry in a creative way and declare that I'm not going to take it anymore.
Three of my daily cards in the last few days intrigued me as well. The first one I pulled was the Raven. The Raven symbolizes magic. Raven tells me that magic is in the air and something special is about to happen. Boy, I sure do hope so. The second card I pulled was the Contrary Lizard. Lizard symbolizes dreaming, but in the contrary position it could mean a nightmare or simply be telling me to confront my fears and that I don't need to experience nightmarish events in my day-to-day life. Contrary Lizard can also be teaching me to look to my imagination for new ideas when life becomes dull or boring. Life is not always as it seems. I've already dabbled with that, thought I wonder about the nightmare thing, and I wasn't completely thrilled with the dream I had last night. It disturbed me. The third card I pulled was the Contrary Lynx. Lynx symbolizes secrets, but in the contrary position could be telling me to shut my big fat mouth. I think I liked that one the best, because I sure have been talking a lot, and I'm going to get myself into big trouble if I keep talking.
I've found all of my card readings in the last couple of weeks rather interesting because they all seem to be pointing in the same direction - a direction I am aware of even if I don't want to admit it, a direction that I know is coming even though I'm scared of it, and a direction that I'm going to have to acknowledge soon because the signs are becoming too persistent.
It's time to move on, in every sense of the phrase.
I use the book Medicine Cards, the revised, expanded edition by Jamie Sams and David Carson.
Cited - Sams, J., Carson, D. (1999). Medicine Cards. New York: St. Martin's Press.