Let me introduce you to my animals. They are the animals of my totem pole: they are my strength and protection, my love, my wisdom, my insight. I have met them only recently – well, some of them. They have already transformed me. I don’t know them all by name or figure yet.
My heart animal – I don’t yet know its name or figure; just that it is large, very large. It gives so much. Yet it can also be hurt. It has taken too much hurt. But it is strong now because of elephant.
Elephant is my power animal. She was shown me in a dream. She was enormous – almost too big to fit in the screen of my view. Sturdy and so very strong. And round her were an array of cars, in a jam, and the men had got out of their cars; one looked at the scratch-marks on the side – ‘You don’t want to bump into her’, he said. When my heart feels tender, or if I am anxious I focus on my elephant: her power becomes mine – I walk tall, with a swagger. No messing.
My stomach animal I don’t know how to name yet, or figure. It is my feeling. She has much release to come: she is rather buried and sedimented under etiquette and expectation. She is deep and strong, very strong, and I am a little afraid of how much she feels. Sometimes music is her key; I am afraid of the floodgate of feeling she is…
My forehead animal is a wolf – a she-wolf, instinctive, earthy, far-seeing, acute of hearing and smell. She goes before me. Quick as a flash her signals come to me. I am learning fast to discern them.
My grounding animal I do not yet know how to name or figure … it will be shown me in time.
But my crown animal – my spirit animal – is a kestrel, flying high, soaring, singularly, magnificently, exaltingly.
One is missing: I remember now – my throat animal, my voice. I don’t know how to name her yet or figure her. I know she has been shackled long; manners and propriety and womanliness have all muzzled her in part. I haven’t known my elephant long, but she is helping. Her strength gives my voice courage: courage against being timid; courage to say ‘No’ when that is right, and to say ‘Yes’ when right; courage to say ‘Don’t you dare’, ‘You cannot touch those who belong to me’, and courage to say ‘Welcome’, and ‘I honour your spirit’, and ‘Be blessed’.
I have since come to know my stomach animal – the one that feels. I had thought I did not know her, nor allowed her to be herself – keeping her in a kind of suspension so as not to feel too much – safer that way. But I know her now. She is a water creature. She can go deep and she can break the surface and leap high. When I weep, that is my dolphin swimming deep, and there were times when she really, really needed to. And now that she has, she can also leap high, leap for joy. And she does feel joy:- breath-taking, exuberant, brimming-to-the-top joy.
[I came across the idea of a Personal Totem Pole in Bill Plotkin’s book, Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche, where he mentioned the idea found in Eligio Stephen Gallegos’s book Personal Totem Pole Process: Animal Imagery, the Chakras and Psychotherapy, which shows how it can be put into practise.]