This is a long, extensive story, but I've been looking all over to find a place to post it. Hopefully you guys can give me some insight and feedback
All of it is true, of course... Although at times, it seems far too surreal to be real. I personally feel it is so, but we'll see. I've only looked into Shamanism from a practical, amateur level, but it's very intriguing and inspiring. Maybe it actually is real, hmm...
I've always had encounters of the strangest kinds with animals. Living in the woods of western Pennsylvania, it's no shock to see misfortunate animals on the sides of roads, lives taken by furious steel enforced vehicles. Raccoons, chipmunks, skunks, you name it... But it's pretty standard around these parts.
One of the most feared animals to hit is the deer... And everyone has a deer story. "Oh, I totaled my car when I hit that deer," or..."A deer jumped in front of me, dented my hood in real bad"...it's just typical conversation where I live.
I've been driving for about 3 years now. I've never hit an animal that I can recall, and that includes the deer. I have, however, seen countless deer on my journeys wherever I need to go. They stand on the sides of the roads, walking casually or looking at me. Sometimes they stand in the road and don't move, watching me. They never look scared... Always just casually moving on their merry way, not fearing the fact that the road has a speed limit of 55 and could take them out easily. Those silly deer... Yet why does everyone say they senselessly run around like crazy when a car drives by? Over exaggeration... Or am I just special? Nah, a deer is a deer...
Anyway, that aside... I don't know what came over me, but I started to research animal spirits. To this day, I cannot remember for the life of me what inspired me to do so. It was the latter half of August, right before I went back to college, and I really didn't have anything better to do. "Whatever," I figured to myself, "what could it hurt?"
I had no clue who my animal spirits were. Reading up on it, I was very intrigued. A lot of sources recommended seeking animals that I had been attracted to, or those I had been fond of, encountered, etc. I've seen a lot of animals, and I love a lot of them too... Where do I begin?
I had never meditated at that level before. Taking it upon myself to see if this was really real or not, I set aside a few hours that evening to keep to myself and go into meditation. I had pine scented candles around me, but not having anything else to help, I simply sat on my bed and focused. It wasn't too hard... But I was having issues keeping other thoughts out of my head. It didn't take too long before I had finally calmed down enough to listen.
I was walking down a cobblestone road. The sky was blue with faint white clouds, the landscape was flat and extensive, and there were green maples on either side of me. A white picket fence lined the road and continued on ahead, further than my eyes could see. Down the road, on either sides of it, were pastures and fields of sorts... But I never got to see. I lost my focus and found myself conscious and in my room again. For a first try... I was pretty impressed. Still, I couldn't make much sense out of it.
While thinking up animals, I was always very connected to the horse. Seeing them run free, the power, the struggle... It reminded me of myself more than I could express. Perhaps that pasture had horses? I didn't see any... And I was sad to know I lost the vision then. If only I had hung on, maybe they were there? or maybe not?
The next evening was much more successful. I had fallen into a fascinating state of mediation, allowing my mind to play out as it would. I was walking through a forested area, down the rocky pathways, watching the wind blow the trees. I recall calling out then, that I wished to see one of my animal spirits and to get to know them, learn from them, and that I was accepting of all lessons. Nothing happened. But... I continued.
I hit a rather loose, rocky slope then. I tried to walk up it again with a lot of effort, but I ended up slipping and falling. It was extremely difficult for me, but someone next to me seemed to be having no problems at all. A large, lithe, graceful doe had pursued ahead of me, walking casually up the slope with no effort at all. I was startled but excited, too... I followed her as best as I could.
As soon as I caught up with her, I began to talk to her. She had a very light, feminine voice that soothed me to no extent. Her words were wise, but there was a lot I don't remember. I ended up asking her for some advice over a relationship problem I was having.
Although single... I still had been attracted to my past partner ever since we parted, and I wanted to know if it was right for me to feel this way, especially with all the things that would be bad if we did get back together. It would make for a horribly awkward pairing (our parents did not like the other), he was rather immature about important things, etc. But her wise words echoed then, ones I still remember: "Love is only of the heart."
I lost my trance then. Still... I felt excited all of a sudden. Was that real? Or was I just daydreaming? Confused, I slept on it, only to have a crazy day to come.
The following morning, I took it upon myself to go for a walk in the woods. My house is nestled within a rather extensive forest filled with weeds, leafy trees, and all kinds of other fun stuff. I usually walk up and down the road... But today, I actually went ahead and into the woods.
A rather rich man owns the property in front of my house. It's completely forested except for the unpaved dirt paths he's carved through it so he can connect to the road to his newly build palace beyond. It's private property and he does check up on it at times... But that didn't stop me. A forest is a forest, and I wanted to feel it.
I had always loved nature. I grew up here, so the sounds of cicadas and the warm breeze were welcoming and soothing to me. I paid special attention to my surroundings, noting the yellow colors of the light on the greens of the leaves, the dappled sunlight, the soft soil... I paid so much attention that I found a treasure!
Looking down, I found a turkey feather crumbled into the soil from one of the man's tires. I retrieved it, dusted off the dirt, and was sad to find it broken. Still, the top part (the black and green part) was still perfect and intact... So I kept it. A feather! I never find feathers... But I loved them. I always draw feathers on things, especially when I feel the childish desire to fly away. I shuffled off back to my house, careful not to slip and fall. The path had steep and rocky slopes, ones I really wasn't graceful enough for... Silly me.
Wait, this looked familiar.
I hopped in my car the next morning to head to work. I barely left my house when I encountered 3 deers on the road, all of them casually strolling along out of the woods and into my path. Two does and a fawn both seemed completely unalarmed with me idling 7 feet away from them... But they eventually cleared a way for me. I could only stop and stare at them. Gorgeous!
The next morning, I wasn't expecting to see them again... But heaven forbid, there they were, the same three, in the same spot, doing the same thing. This was the most startling, as the does left the fawn behind in my path. It looked at me and stared, with me staring right back at it. The innocence... My goodness it softened me up to no end. I'm usually a very rigid, cynical, unsympathetic person... But that was just too cute.
Oh, and to make things even more crazy, my mother informed me that she saw two bucks out in the front yard the morning before. She had taken pictures to show me (it was too early, no way I would've been awake)... but seriously, why all the deer showing themselves? We have a lot of deer here, but they never ever show themselves this frequently. Huh.
I took another swing at the trespassing again, going back into that forested area for another stroll. Surely this time I would not find any feathers... But how about that, I did! But it wasn't anything I could've done alone.
A grasshopper had leapt out of the grass a few yards away and flew right towards me. It flew so close that I could feel its wings clip off my cheek. Startled, I watched it retreat and fall into the grass in another direction. Now... normally, I wouldn't follow a silly grasshopper... But by god this had been a strange enough week as it was, so why not?
He landed right next to a gorgeous, perfect turkey feather. Ah, the surprise!
Another morning had me finding a dove feather as well as a couple small turkey feathers. I had been picking blackberries along my path, but I had a couple left. Sitting on a small piece of shale, perfectly poised in the center, was a beautiful, gray dove feather. I took the feather and replaced it with a berry, telling the world around me that it was for the dove who had so kindly left me the treasure. I don't know if she ever got it... But I really hope she did!
The very last time I went through this woodland path was frightening for me. I was nervous, feeling a creeping, eerie feeling that I wasn't alone. I kept my ears open for traffic, listening to see if I could hear the man's tractor come up the path. I then heard something strange, distant, unrecognizable... And I felt a sudden rush of "run, run, run!" Strange as it was, I stood picture still, listening to every pin drop around me. I felt as if I were the deer, her large ears picking up every note around her, and the urge to flee was so strong, it could only be their cautious nature. I ran home, fortunately without conflict from any rich man, but I was so worked up from it that I never went back.
So by now I was pretty much set with this idea that animal spirits were real and that I had somehow tapped into some kind of spiritual awakening that was leading my life into my return to college. When I go home on weekends, I take my dog for walks up and down the road. Sometimes we find feathers, and sometimes not... But I've kept them all in a box in my room. So far I have quite a few, most of them turkey, but I cherish them. They are signs!
Still, I'm unsure of exactly WHO my life animal spirits are. I love deer, always have and always will, but I have meditated and seen other animals as well.
Once, I had envisioned the wolf saving me from a rapid river I had fallen into, his golden eyes and cold, wet nose touching mine, telling me sternly that only I can decide what is right for me, and no one else.
I have seen the penguin, his belly serving as his slide up and down icy slopes, his cheerful voice telling me to release my inhibitions and to talk to those I wish to speak to, or else I never will.
I have met a black jaguar rather unexpectedly. He leapt upon me, pushing me into the soft jungle soils, only to laugh at me and guide me through an ancient, plant covered ruin. He explained that things built with care and purpose will last forever, but things thrown together in a whirlwind will collapse. I related this directly to relationships... And he was so very right.
I'm more or less caught on who I should seek and for what. I'm very convinced that the deer has me under her caring eyes, but the others... it's hard to say if they are ones that are with me forever, or simply journey guides, or whatever you wish to call them. Lately, I've been having a hard time connecting with them, so now I'm beginning to speculate if it was just my imagination running haywire.
Still, coincidence can only extend so far. My box of feathers says otherwise.
Just sharing some stories of my spiritual encounters as well as addressing my problem... If you have been attentive enough to read this whole thing (Almost 11000 words, oh my goodness!), then I thank you kindly. I appreciate it so much!
Thus ends my story... Thank you, friends.