The world we now live in may be vastly different from that of our ancestors’, however we have access to the same powerful guidance for healing and navigating difficult situations….
Nature often finds ways of reminding us we are not alone, and one of the more common ways it does this is through animal encounters.
Whether it’s the birds at your birdfeeder, a sighting in the wild, or a persistent image on a billboard, there are many “signs” that the universe is conspiring to support you.
And when you’re feeling frustrated, stuck or lost, consider the wisdom imparted by my teacher don Oscar Miro-Quesada through the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition (PMT), which features an evolving practice of inner and outer activities for restoring balance and harmony to our relationships with All That Is.
This Peruvian-based, cross-cultural path of “universal shamanism” reminds us we are in a sacred intimate relationship with the Great Web of Life, which includes a unique kinship with all animals.
don Oscar shares, “Identification with a particular animal as the source of one’s shamanic healing power is considered a deep honor and privilege, and it accounts for the widespread presence of totemic animal allies among shamanic peoples.”
“As a Pachakuti Mesa Tradition practitioner,” he continues, “the ritual invocation of the spirit assistance of any animal ally who corresponds to a direction on our altar ground, affords an extraordinary opportunity for healing of self and others.”
don Oscar gives an example of sustaining a clear, detailed image of a dolphin or whale (see below) in your consciousness when you’re feeling emotionally distraught, to rapidly shift your experience of anxiety to one of “open-hearted trust in the fluid beauty of these exquisite swimmers.”
The same principle applies to each shamanic power animal associated with a Pachakuti mesa (altar) direction...
And here are 6 such animal allies who are proven facilitators of body, heart, spirit, mind or soul healing and transformation in this tradition, and can help support you with challenges you may face:
Human Attribute: Physical Action, Hard Work
Medicine: Life Force Energy
Related Totems: Anaconda
Seeing snakes often triggers an emotional response, especially if we encounter one walking in the woods or by a river. The snake is one ambassador of the realm of Earth, of embodiment. The physical plane can sometimes feel burdensome and in need of a boost of life force. Let boa help you to bring what you dream to the physical plane, to transform, and to do the hard work it takes to reach your goals.
The Boa is a strong and powerful animal that obtains its prey and moves across the earth and through the forest canopy with the incredible strength of its physical body. For this reason, Boa is a powerful totem of the physical plane. A true representative of Life and transformation, Boa sheds what no longer serves in order to grow. Boa is also an ally found throughout the world where healers and masters of the earthly realm are found. This beautiful and powerful being brings you deep into your senses and reminds you that hard work is required to gain mastery.
Boa is a totem of the south direction and represents the element of earth. The earth grounds us to that which is tangible and is the source and end place of our bodies, the cradle and the grave. This polarity can invite a look into the polarities of the positive and the perceived negative aspects in yourself. The element of earth speaks to befriending those so-called “negative” aspects so you can stand confidently in truth in this dimension.
WHAT BOA CAN HELP:
Boa can be a great guide for you if you are suffering from physical imbalances such as fatigue, sluggishness, lack of motivation, laziness, or being out of physical shape. At the other end of physical polarity, boa may be highlighting that you are overly focused on the physical or being materialistic. Because Boa is a totem of transformation, it can also be a great ally if you are feeling stuck, resigned, or disconnected from your natural regenerative nature.
BOA MEDICINE FOR YOU:
Boa will illuminate a path of work, transformation, and healing. If Boa comes into your life you may want to look into how you are growing, transforming, and manifesting your work in the physical world. Are you working too much or too little? Do you need to be caring for your physical body better so that you can make your dreams a reality? Or perhaps you are too focused on work or the physical and need to find balance. What do you need to shed so you can grow?
If you are fearful of snakes, perhaps you might ask yourself if hard work or other physical elements of your world are dominating you or creating fear or blockages in your life. Sit with this fear and allow it to inform you.
Human Attribute: Compassion
Medicine: Heart Medicine
Related Totems: Whale
A dolphin encounter inspires awe, magic and an expansive sense of joy and playfulness. Your heart is at the core of your being and the center of your life. Heart connections with others bring your greatest joy and deepest pain. Let Dolphin be your guide as you journey into your heart so you can feel the joy, connection, compassion and freedom which is your birthright.
Dolphins are social, communicative, with a deep connection to the emotional body. Your companions of the sea are here to remind you to be playful, to speak with an open heart, and to connect with your family, friends and community so that you, and they, receive deep blessings.
The dolphin is your messenger and speaks to you through the emotional element water. Water is the source of all life and the home of munay — unlimited and unconditional love. Let your dolphin support you in touching the depth of your feelings so that you can help face, embrace, and compassionately navigate the complex and beautiful world of emotions to the benefit of yourself and others.
HOW DOLPHIN CAN HELP:
The dophin can be a particularly good ally for you in areas of your life and your relationships where you feel disharmony or stress between you and others. If you are feeling depressed, numb, broken-hearted, isolated, disconnected or alone, dolphin medicine can help you align with what you need to help guide you back home.
DOLPHIN MEDICINE FOR YOU:
Dolphin medicine can also illuminate the higher knowing of your emotions. When you invite the presence of Dolphin, you will be given support to seek out the company of loved ones and become more present to the company you keep.
The dolphin invites you to ask:
Are you in need of a reconnection or more time with friends or family members?
Have you been shutting someone out of your life that you should be letting in?
Are you keeping company which frazzles, devalues or drains you?
Dolphin will guide you to trust what you are feeling emotionally to find the harmony you seek.
Dolphin as a guide can also be reminding you to play, dance, have child-like fun, and take the events of your life just a little less seriously. Water could also be powerful healing medicine to you now. Perhaps a playful swim in a river, lake, the ocean or a hot bath is just what you need!
Human Attribute: Wholeness (Huñuy)
Medicine: Uniter, bridger, unifier
Catalyst for Soul Evolution
A hummingbird encounter is like seeing a fairy. Freedom, beauty and loving kindness are ignited all around. Let hummingbird be your guide as you journey on the path of your soul’s greatest mission to live in the rainbow light of connection and compassion, and to become a source of nectar for the world.
Hummingbird has always been a reminder of pure beauty and simple awe. Swift, still, mesmerizing, beautiful and sweet, the hummingbird calls us into right relationship with the world around us. Unlike other birds, humans don’t want to capture and cage the hummingbird, they want to feed it. The pre-columbian peoples of the Andes, like the Moche and the Chavin, recognized her as an emissary of Light. She carried the first imprint of human kind into creation. Strongly associated with the rainbow, she is a conveyor of illumination of mystical elation, a psychopomp (guide of souls), a communicator. She awakens the rainbow body.
The hummingbird’s abode is the Kusi Chaka. Kusi means happiness, bliss, joy. Chaka is bridge. In physical form, the home of the royal hummingbird was the Kusi Temple of Gold, and from this pure heart of light she would go to the gardens to cross pollinate the flowers which give rise to life. She can be present in all pachas, or levels of existence. Hummingbird prefered to hangout in the temple of the sun in cusco. She is associated with all manifestations of light in the world.
WHAT HUMMINGBIRD CAN HELP:
Hummingbird represents the power to heal/harmonize disturbances in our relationship to our soul’s evolution. For those who seek to truly be of service, the hummingbird can remind us of the profound joy available in simply being the "hollow bone," the empty vessel for spirit to kindle light in the world.
HUMMINGBIRD MEDICINE FOR YOU:
Through your encounter with the royal hummingbird, your shamanic awareness shall receive an influx of beauty and healing power. Cross pollinating your own beauty and love in the world. You become a source of sweetness and nectar in the world.
Human Attribute: Intuition/Spiritual Intelligence
Medicine: Universal Light
Related Totems: Eagle
To see a bird as magnificent as the great condor is a moment one does not easily forget. In fact an encounter with any large raptor makes us draw breath deep into our bodies and wonder about what’s possible. There is a Truth beyond all truths that we hold inside of each of us. Let Condor’s clear vision and presence of spirit draw you into a deeper alignment with your intuition.
Condors fly high over the sky with vast perspective across the land. They have always been known as important messengers of spirit and gatekeepers between humans and the the world of mystery. In fact, it is believed that the white collars donned by priests were originally inspired by the white collar of the spiritually-aligned condor.
Our winged relatives connect us to Spirit, to our intuition and to the Big Picture. When your earthwork can be guided by the presence of spirit and the clear vision of condor, you will naturally be drawn into a deeper alignment with your intuition, or spiritual intelligence, which will be available to serve not only you, but all beings. From this, it will be easy to live in the awareness that we are one human family descended from stardust.
Condor speaks to you through the element of air. Air is birthplace of the great originating mystery and the element of spiritual remembering, intuition, and pure possibility. It is also the place where communication is born and highlights the importance of the things that you say and how you listen and dialogue with others.
WHAT CONDOR CAN HELP:
The condor can be a particularly good ally for you if you are suffering from disharmony in the spiritual or transcendental realm. Perhaps you are feeling lost or disconnected, or maybe a vague dis-ease or aimlessness is eating at you. Or you have an inability to to trust your intuition or a fear of taking the leap towards what you know you must do.
CONDOR MEDICINE FOR YOU:
Condor medicine will illuminate the divine knowing within you so that you may learn to trust it once again. When inviting the presence of condor you will be given support to follow the subtle (and not-so-subtle) invitations from spirit so that you can be of best service. Is your gut telling you something that you have been ignoring? Have you been checking in with your intuition at all? Or, if you have, have you been unable to take the next step into what you know you must do? Perhaps condor is telling you to leap, lest the net shall appear.
If Condor has come into your life, consider the impact of communication in your life. Have you been communicating clearly and authentically from your heart in the ways you should be? Have you been listening and offering those important to you the opportunity for dialogue?
Air medicine can be a powerful force for those who are inviting in condor. You may want to look for ways to reap its benefits. Maybe a visit to a beach or hilltop where you can feel the breeze, or a breathwork practice, such as pranayama, would be of service to you. Condor reminds you that you are a palate for the divine impulse of creation. The more you open the channels to that impulse in your life, the more beauty truth and goodness is possible in the world.
Human Attribute: Wisdom
Medicine: Medicine of The Higher Mind
Related Totems: Jaguar
If I encounter a puma or other large cat, a sense of regal reverence invites the body into a poised and relaxed state. The order and direction of your life can be so much bigger than you dare to dream. Let Puma be your guide as you journey into your higher mind to discover the universal awareness and wisdom that is the key to your true purpose and destiny.
The graceful, strong, and elusive big cats are powerful totems and Puma is no exception. Pumas have a powerful presence of respect and surrender and, beyond all else, a razor sharp insight and awareness. That is why Puma is an ally of the mind and the psychic plane and is a messenger that can awaken you to the awareness of the vast and incredible power of the great universal wisdom.
As the adage goes, “The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master,” and Puma is the guide that reminds you of this. Because of the puma’s ability to see beyond ordinary perception, Puma has a knack for illuminating right order in your life and reminding you that your thoughts are destined to become tangible things in this world.
Puma is a totem of the east, the direction of sun (Inti), and Puma as a guide may speak to you through the sun or fire. In its highest form the Puma represents the brilliant and illuminating servant of creation.
WHAT PUMA CAN HELP:
The Puma can be a particularly good ally for you if you are experiencing disharmony in your mind and thoughts. If you are suffering from anxiety, over-judgement, confusion, control issues, or are feeling like you are overanalyzing and stuck in the cogs of your own mind, Puma medicine may be just what you need to detach yourself and remember a higher truth.
Puma medicine can illuminate the importance of universal remembrance and support you in surrendering yourself to a higher order. When inviting the presence of Puma, you will be given support to head in the right direction and take the steps needed to move towards your highest destiny. Are you seeing the big picture in your life? Is there any way for you to pan out and connect with the greater order? What is the next step you need to take to pursue the highest order of things? These are the kinds of questions Puma can support you with.
If Puma has come into your life, the sun or element of fire may also be powerful medicine to you. In what ways can you honor the energies or gifts of the sun? Perhaps some time spent sunbathing, hiking on a sunny afternoon, or sitting by the fire could assist you in receiving the blessings you need.
Human Attribute: Union/Integration
Medicine: Divine Cosmic Force
Related Totems: Alpaca
If you see a llama, you may find a sense of easy joy and comfort starts to become more accessible. Part of that is because they embody the truth that we are all a part of one fabric, the great whole, common in our own uniqueness. Let Llama be your guide on the journey to remembering your wholeness and to integrating with the great cosmic force that is everything.
Llama has always been a beautiful and dependable helper of humanity and without llama many cultures would surely have failed long before they made it into history books. Agile, loving, supportive, trustworthy, and in-tune, llamas call you to your highest level of integration.
The llama is a guardian of the 5th element, or the sacred rainbow. The sacred rainbow represents our common uniqueness and our integration as one with the universe — it reminds us that we are a woven rainbow sewn in the fabric of everything.
HOW LLAMA CAN HELP:
Llama represents the power to heal/harmonize disturbances of the soul/etheric plane. Llama is an excellent ally if you are feeling divided, compartmentalized, or like you can’t really be yourself. A common issue that llama helps to address is the feeling that you have to keep your spiritual life separate from your professional or personal lives. Division in this way damages soul expression in all areas of life.
LLAMA MEDICINE FOR YOU:
Lamma as guide illuminates your wholeness and reminds you that you are already beautiful and whole. It can be helpful to think about this message in your life as existing inside the center of a wheel. If you stray out from the center onto any spoke in the wheel, the ride will become increasingly bumpy and chaotic. Any part of your life in which you may become separated from wholeness will have a similar effect.
If Llama comes into your life, this ally may be telling you to pull back from anything you may be over-invested in at the cost of wholeness. Are you throwing away the baby with the bathwater? Is the ride of your life feeling bumpy and chaotic? Perhaps you must find a way down the spoke and back to the center of the wheel to ground in the truth of who you are.
If llama comes into your life you may want to connect to the sacred rainbow element by eliciting joyfulness. Perhaps just watching a funny movie, doing something playful, and not taking yourself so seriously will be the right medicine for you to come back to your center. Llama wants you to remember that we live in a benevolent universe, willing and waiting to serve should we choose to allow it. You are already a part of it.
A "spirit animal" can also serve as a personal totem of sorts — a powerful presence which is both a protector and guide for you. It will change throughout your life and be unique to your current circumstances....
It's a healing force, the "medicine" you need most to support you on your soul's journey to living your full potention right now.
However, ALL totems remind us of essential aspects of ourselves. We are all works in process towards "re-membering" our wholeness, and while traditions all over the world have different ways of understanding the gifts or medicine of various animals, the Andean traditions of Peru open-heartedly offer this perspective to guide you home.
When an animal gets your attention, it has intentionally turned its volume up, switched its lights on, and is calling to you. Whether you answer the call is up to you.
I leave you with these final wise words from don Oscar on working with these powerful allies:
“The key is to dream like a child, living the magical bond between yourself and these sacred animal relations within our Great Web of Life. Dream freely my beloveds....”
PS - Do you want to know how shamanism could change your life? Check out this free virtual event, Puma Medicine: Transforming Your Awareness with Shamanic Power, where don Oscar shares powerful wisdom for living with greater connection, wholeness and vitality.