Through a Jungian Lens

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Animals in Nature as Guides and Totems

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Totem or guide? Meeting with life in nature.

I have been spending time in the hills when the weather permits, not often as the weather has been quite uncooperative in terms of heavy winds, dark skies, rain or very cool temperatures.  On Tuesday I finally was able to get back into the hills to enjoy moments of sunshine, warmth and an intimate relationship with the earth and life.

It is interesting that each time I visit these hills which provide a sanctuary from the noise and the crowds, I am gifted with the presence of animals.  I don’t always take their photos, but I go get to see them and they get to see me; this Mule doe for example.  Of course, I am alone at these times, no distracting noises from other people or dogs which would break whatever bond exists.  When others are present, the animals are seen, but only in passing as they run off quickly.  When I am alone, the running stops.  And finally, when they do move away, it is not in a fear response.  I wonder why this deer stopped long enough to engage me, eye to eye over a short distance?  What was she thinking?  What was she trying to tell me?  Did she want me to follow?

In searching for answers, I came upon the following:

Just as the deer has an uncanny sense of where to find the green freshness earth provides, we can ask the deer within ourselves to seek out our inner treasures. In meditation or day dream, go on a spiritual hike with the deer. See yourself walking in the woods with the deer leading you into amazing depths within your soul. Each step you and the deer take will lead you deeper into your spiritual knowing, and to limitless treasure within.

The deer (particularly the doe, females) has the capacity for infinite generosity. Their heart rhythms pulse in soft waves of kindness. Match that graciousness by offering your trust to her. She will reward you by leading you to the most powerful spiritual medicine you can fathom. (Avia Venefica, Behind the Signs: Animal Symbolism)

Ah, that resonates even if it isn’t a Jungian who has written the words.  One of the things that I have learned is not to question the source of the words or images that resonate, but to look at the resonance itself which is tapping into one’s own psyche giving us the opportunity to discover something long hidden, something new-to-us as conscious beings.

Is she my guide or my totem?  I have to say that she is a guide for me at this moment in time, one of many guides that have made an appearance in my life, guides that have been both animal and human.


6 Responses

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  1. so many cultures throughout time have been in touch with a Totem animal. When did Western man loose this? You made me think – if we returned to this would we be better?
    Being part of the “Bear” culture helps; I am very fond of Raven myself.


    July 24, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    • A good question: would we be better? I somehow know that we can’t go back but we can find our way to a new way of relationship with nature and totems, a way that allows the collective consciousness to go forward rather than spin its wheels and even go backwards as we deny how we got to be “modern.”


      July 26, 2011 at 1:17 pm

  2. Those rare moments when we truly connect with animals are soul touching ones. I enjoyed both text and it’s outstanding illustration. Wow, you raise plenty of topics to contemplate and I look forward to exploring your site. Thanks for dropping by to visit my spot on the web.

    Anita Jesse

    July 24, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    • Thanks for your words Jesse. Your site is well worth visiting, thank you for bringing your self to the world at your site. 🙂


      July 26, 2011 at 1:19 pm

  3. Your work here continues to move me, Robert, as I and my life are still in a state of flux, a condition that won’t likely settle for quite some time given the recent changes that we have made in occupation and the locale of our “home.” Thank you, again, for your sage reflections and thought-provoking insights and perspectives. It is such a joy to visit here.


    July 26, 2011 at 8:19 am

    • Thank you 🙂 I continue to read your posts that get sent to me and find much there that makes me pause and reflect. 🙂


      July 26, 2011 at 1:20 pm

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