How Working with Animal Totems (the Beasties!) Helped Me Navigate Big Change.
Transcript from a TED -style talk I was peer selected to give at The Martha Beck Coaches Summit in Phoenix in 2012.
BIG change can be scary. You want to talk about fear? Try explaining to your physician colleagues at the hospital that, ummm yes……you won’t be coming back from your sabbatical to practice medicine because – you have discovered that wild animals have helpful messages and that is what you are going to do from now on. Unfortunately , I had yet to meet the honey badger when I had that conversation. More on the honey badger in a moment.
What I want to share with you today is that I discovered that big change is much easier and much more FUN when you travel with great companions. I have found that the wild animals, or the beasties, make the most amazing companions. I am going to tell you about 4 special beasties that helped me move from out of that fear and into the light.
About 2 years ago, I was terrified. Looking at me from the outside you might not have known. Heck! I think I even kept my terror a secret from myself at times. I knew that I was yearning for a new life. I longed to be creative, to inspire people. I felt trapped. I was exhausted, confused and terribly unclear. About half way into my Martha Beck coach training…I stumbled into the idea that wild animals- or as I like to call them- the beasties might have helpful messages for humans. I learned that they might even confer some kind of power or energetic assistance to humans. As strange as this sounded…it oddly intrigued me—I figured it was quite possible that I had gone completely banana pancakes but at that time I was willing and open to try anything
One of the first helpful Beasties to darken my door was a Bear…this Bear happened to be a mothering sort of bear, with two cubs. I was struggling then, knowing I was not ready to go back to medicine and that I wanted to keep spending time in the woods and learn more about this ancient way of life called Shamanism . I didn’t know how I was going to do all that and pay the bills. What she told me was that where I wanted to go was not actually that far off..and all I need to do was simply enjoy the journey and stop every once in a while to dig around for some honey. As crazy as it sounds – this message helped me to relax a bit and think that maybe things would be ok. I also felt I now had a companion. I was no longer alone.
The very next Beastie to appear was a little less mothering. It was a Black Mamba snake. At the time, I was in South Africa with a friend visiting family for a Lobola ceremony. According to Wikipedia: The black mamba is of the most aggressive and highly venomous snakes on the planet. Seriously?? This snake appeared in a dream. I decided that the Black Mamba snake – message or not- was not welcome. I screamed and plugged my ears. I did not want to hear a message from a mamba.
What I have learned now from working with literally hundreds of people and thousands of animal encounters is that often the Beasties that show up and scare us the most hold some of the most powerful messages for us.
Finally, I decided that I was willing to sit down with this Mamba snake and listen to what it had to tell me……this snake was asking me to step up to the plate and dance —it wanted me to answer the call……..it wanted me to face my fears and step into my own power. Looking back , I realized how many times I had refused this call in my life. When I did finally accept this challenge from the snake -it was a wordless experience, as so many Beastie encounters are. I found myself feeling full of peaceful powerful energy and strangely read to face whatever happened next.
The third Beasties that showed up to assist me last year was the honey badger……remember…..you don’t have to be in the wild to receive messages from the beasties- although going outside is highly recommended…… sometimes they show up in youtube video. The honey badger has been described as one of the most fearless animals anywhere- and also it really just does not give a gosh darn what other animals think of it. The honey badger video which shows her fearlessly plunging into bee infested caves and biting the heads off dangerous vipers… has 30 million hits- my hunch is that the honey badger is here with a powerful message for all of us. For me, the message of the honey badger was to fearlessly plunge in after my dream. To move towards what lights me up and to do it with a reckless disregard for the opinions of others…
The fourth Beastie was an elephant…now elephants are amazingly patient and wondrous Beasties. I could go on for hours on how much I love elephants. Elephants don’t worry about obstacles in their path….if, for example, there is something they want in a high tree branch that is out of reach—-they simply pull the tree it out of the ground at the roots- to clear a path to their prize. Their process can be kind of messy but Elephants usually get what they want…..
This particular elephant, Alice is a very salty pachyderm and she like to tell it like it is…she reminded me that although not everybody “got” me- that I was born to FREAK….I was born to do and see things differently—I was born to be an agent of change….Alice taught me that STRANGE and eccentric was not only ok- it was AMAZING. You see, Alice gets extremely stoked when others express themselves in their own freaky way and She also likes to surf, a lot.
What I have learned from the Beasties is that we are all connected …animals, humans, the wind, the sun, the stars, the ocean….the earth….. we were all placed here to follow our own FEEL GOOD, to expand and express our uniqueness.
Each time we move towards what lights us up—the entire web of life is positively impacted. Just as when each Beastie does what it was born to do we all benefit. As Marianne Williamson says- we were all meant to SHINE its not just in some of us- it is in everyone- and as we let our own lights shine- we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same……
I invite you to NOTICE the Beasties that are showing up in your life so that you that you can move with courage and enthusiam towards what lights you up and in turn set the whole web of life ablaze.