Well, my 9-year-old snoop has been reading my email over my shoulder again lately and got on the Internet and started looking up Animal Totems. She asked what they were and I told her that in the Native American tradition, they believe that everything has "spirit" and that if you talk with the spirit of something (a plant, a person, or an animal), you can learn from it. What follows is a recap of our conversation about Shamanic journeying. It was quite unexpected, unplanned, and interesting.
Chelsea: "So, you talk to them....like praying?"
Mom: "Not quite. I bet when you pray, you say stuff like, "Dear Lord, please give me "x", right?" (Don't most kids *grin*.)
Chelsea: "Well, yeah."
Mom: "Try this instead..."Dear (animal totem), please show we "x". This isn't a Christmas list of goodies you'd like, but a question--it's gotta start with "who", "what", "when", "where", "why" or "how". Then you've got to listen for the answer."
Chelsea: "How do you get the answer."
Mom: "You let the pictures play in your mind like a movie, and then you get to figure it out later."
Chelsea: "You mean you let your imagination make it up."
Mom: "That'll work too."
Chelsea: "So, how do you know what your animal totem is... can I just pick one."
Mom: "Maybe. There's a couple of ways. Answer this: "If you were an animal what would you be?"
Chelsea: "Can I eat my brother?"
Mom: "Nope, carnivorous sibling eaters aren't allowed."
Chelsea: "Okay, I'd be a panther. But a white one."
Mom: "Why white?"
Chelsea: "Because it's cool."
Mom: "Okay, white it is. If you close your eyes can you feel what it would be like to be a panther? Can you feel how the hair around it's whiskers twitch when it breathes? Can you feel how it sits on the ground? Can you see out of it's eyes?"
Chelsea: (Closes her eyes and begins to twitch her nose more than Samantha on Bewitched. Opens her eyes.) "Nope."
Mom: "Hmmm.... panther might not be your power animal at this point in time, but maybe later."
Chelsea: "What the other way?"
Mom: "You let your imagination take you to the lower realm and see who (what animal) is there and you ask them."
Chelsea: "You mean I gotta go in the basement?"
Mom: "The lower realm is not the basement. No spirit animal would be caught dead or alive in your sister's room--it's a mess. The world we live in is the middle realm--reality, real physical life. The upper realm is where you could go to meet people-type spirits like angels, Gramma Funk, etc. The lower realm is where you go to meet animal spirits."
Chelsea: "So, how do you get there?"
Mom: "First you find your favorite spot outside that you like to be and remember yourself there. Then if you want to go to the upper realm, you find something that you can climb. If you want to go to the lower realm, you find a way down into the Earth...like a rabbit hole."
Chelsea: "You make this up in your mind."
Chelsea: "Where do you stop?"
Mom: "You stop when you come to another place."
Chelsea: "What if you don't come to another place?"
Mom: "You give it up from boredom and go clean your room."
Chelsea: (Ignoring her mother now for about five minutes.) "So when you get to this place what do you do?"
Mom: "You look around for an animal and when you find one you talk to it and ask if it is YOUR animal?"
Chelsea: "And it answers you?"
Chelsea: "Aren't you just making up the answer?"
Mom: "Does it matter?"
Chelsea: "I don't know."
Mom: "Look at it this way.... if you aren't making up the answer, then you're journeying the way the Native Americans did and some still do... .an Indian way of praying. If you ARE making up the answers, you're asking yourself for guidance--it's no worse than talking to yourself. So what's the problem?"
Chelsea: (Long pause.) "You're kinda weird, Mom."
Mom: "Thank you."
Well, the little stinker fell asleep on the back porch later for about a half hour, and came out and asked me if I could look up a "dog" on the animal totem web site I had found earlier. So I did, and she read it.
Mom: "So what do you think?"
Chelsea: "I like dogs."
Mom: "So, did you make it up or did it come to you."
Chelsea: (said with a shrug) "So, what's your point?" (She is SO MUCH like her mother.)
Mom: (laughing) "So how come you didn't ask about the ferret that was playing by the tree stump? off to your left"
Chelsea: (surprised) "What's a ferret?"
Mom: (finding a picture of a ferret on the net to show her)
Chelsea: "Mom, you're not supposed to dream with people."
Mom: "So put up a "Do Not Disturb" sign next time."
Chelsea: (walking away) "You're REALLY weird."
Well, this wasn't exactly the way I anticipated exposing my children to my beliefs, but it was interesting. I've since asked Tohunkatah (one of my guides) to keep a peek on my little mischief maker and keep her in a safe circle when she tries this again, because I'm sure she will and she *won't* tell me, just to see if I know anyway. I've also asked Ferret Spirit to keep her safe in her journeys.
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