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Animal Guide Therapy

Historical Perspective

Most people think of “animal guides” as reaching back several centuries to the native American Indians. Actually, it stretches back for thousands of years. The concept emerged from the ancient worship of animals and the belief that the spirit of the animal left the dead carcass, rose into the sky, then reincarnated as another animal.

When we consider smoke rising from a fire, it is not unusual to imagine the spirit of the animal leaving its body and rising into the sky as the animal is cooked over an open fire. Taking this a step further, early man observed that the earth seemed to replenish itself of plant life after observing those same plants die the previous winter. In the same manner, man observed the great herds of animals being reborn and returning each year to the hunting grounds. Many disappeared in the dead of winter, no longer visible to man. Even the birds seemed to disappear as the earth died each winter.

Today we recognize that some plants go dormant, while others die in the frozen winter; many animals hibernate in the winter, then awaken in the spring; most species of birds fly south in the winter and return in the spring. But for early man, the plants, the animals, and the birds had spirits which rose into the sky at death or in winter and reincarnated to feed man in the new year. This helps us to understand why man would worship the plants, animals and birds which fed man, gave him clothing, and provided blankets, shelter and other forms of protection from the cold death of winter.

In more recent centuries, young men used the “totem” as a means of passage into manhood. As they approached puberty, the young men were either sent out alone or taken in the night into the forests and left as lone groups to transform themselves into warriors. This involved killing and eating the animals, acting out the personalities of the animals they killed, and often carving images of the animals in trees or logs. Each young warrior created his own “totem pole” consisting of the animals he felt most closely associated with, thereby identifying and defining the driving forces in their own personalities.

Discovering Your Animal Guides

Today the connection between personality traits and animal traits has evolved into a very effective form of therapy. The major components of an individual’s personality are easily associated with the traits of various animals, and the individual can be guided through a fairly simple meditative or hypnotic state to visualize those specific animals. These are referred to as the individual’s “animal guides,” including birds, with the predominant guide representing the individual’s predominant personality traits. Typically, each individual will have from seven to nine animal guides in his or her totem, and the combination of these guides represents the personal “totem.”

For example, some of the strong personality traits of the eagle include pride, perseverance and vision, including the ability to see life’s challenges with unusual clarity and from an unlimited height. Key traits of an otter include sensibility, faithfulness and psychic wisdom; the wolf is exceptionally skilled at outwitting enemies and has strong social and family values; and the key traits of a horse include a desire for travel (including astral travel), power, freedom, endurance, and warning of danger. If you think about your own family members and friends, you may recognize some of these personality traits suggesting the possibility that one or more of these animal guides are included in their personal totem. (Note: many animals have some common traits, such as endurance and vision.)

There is a wonderful internet website which provides extensive information on a very large number of Animal Spirits. Just visiting the site, seeing the photos, and listening to the animal sounds is both pleasant and relaxing. I would also highly recommend the book Animal-Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small by well-known spiritual writer Ted Andrews, which provides an extraordinary, in-depth discussions on the personality relationships between individuals and their animal guides.

The Practice of Animal Guide Therapy

It can be interesting and intriguing to identify your animal guides, as they point to specific personality traits — both positive and challenging — and indicate certain spiritual proclivities. However, animal guide therapy is quite different from discovering your animal guides.

Many people have difficulty discussing their innermost fears or personality issues even with a therapist. Although no one believes he or she is perfect, it also is true that most people are slow to recognize their undesirable personality traits or the adverse impact they have on others. In contrast, people are almost always comfortable discussing their impressions of the animal guides which come forth to communicate with them while in an altered (hypnotic) state of consciousness.

For the therapist, the personality traits of animal guides reflect or mirror the personality traits of the client, assisting the client to see through the animal guide what other people like or dislike about the client. This allows the skilled therapist to assist the client into a healthier and happy life by modifying behavior patterns to reflect the more desirable qualities of their animal guides.

In its most basic form, the hypnotherapist will typically guide the client into a very comfortable, deep alpha or light theta level of trance, sufficient for the client to retain awareness of what is happening during the session. The therapist will then guide the client to imagine or visualize a comfortable setting, such as a large field, meadow or opening in the forest. After ensuring that the client is comfortable with the setting, the therapist introduces an animal guide to be present in the imagined or visualized setting.

Next the therapist asks the client to describe the animal’s physical features; next the animal’s personality traits; and then describe how they feel about the animal (e.g., I love this animal; I am afraid of this animal; etc.).

Now it gets interesting: the therapist advises that she will count to 3, at which point the consciousness of animal and client will exchange places, such that the client will view themselves from the animal’s perspective — 1,2,3; be there now! Next the therapist asks the client to describe, from the animal’s perspective, how the animal feels about the client. This will almost always elicit deep-rooted concerns which the client has about themselves, including concerns and perspectives which they hide from others: imperfections, fears, perceived personality disorders, disliked physical attributes, etc.

So we see that animal guide therapy can be a very powerful tool for the soul therapist to unravel the hidden mysteries of a troubled individual by allowing their animal guide to speak for them. I will also take this opportunity to recommend one of the best animal guide therapists in the Phoenix, Arizona, area: N. Tracy Childers, PhD, CHt. Tracy may also be able to suggest other animal guide therapists in a city near you.
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