I know it sounds terribly strange and new age-y, and I used to be as logical as they come until I tried it myself, so keep an open mind.
Exhibit A: My husband of 22 years and I were locking horns the other day. We had a decision to make. I was dying to dive in and take action and he wanted to wait and to put off the discussion. Argh! Relationships can be challenging when our operating styles are different. Just then, I remembered his favorite animal: the snowy owl. It helped me tremendously in that moment of angst. How could a feathered raptor help me, you ask?
I'm not talking about some kind of kinky shape shifting here. I'm talking about tapping into the ancient concept of Animal Totems. You don't have to drink ayuasca, be a shaman dwelling in the rain forest or a character on Arrested Development to play with these ideas. If you and your partner are nature lovers already, this process will seem like play!
What's an animal totem, anyway? A totem is an animal (insect, reptile, bird, mammal, or extinct or even mythical Beastie like dragon) that bears a special significance for an individual. A totem is a source of strength and insight that the person would not have without it. Another way of saying this is that a totem's vibrational energy is aligned with the person using that totem. I know I just said vibrational energy—hang in here with me.
How can this possibly help you in your human relationships? If you ask your partner to tell you what their favorite wild animal is you'll have discovered something really significant about them. Sometimes you don't even need to ask, there is already tremedous evidence: their office (or screen saver or t-shirt collection) is full of images of orcas or wolves, or in my guy's case, snowy owls.
Learning a bit more about this wild animal that they admire can give you some deep insight into how your lover might thrive, take action, work, create and enjoy life. We can become aware of our own unique way of being in the world (and their's) and look for ways to honor those differences. When we know more about each other, we can understand each other on a deeper level and stop taking things personally.
Each person and what they love and admire about a wild animal is different. You might do a quick Wikipedia search on the animal and read up.
Here are some ideas to consider:
A tiger or bear lover may need healthy chunks of alone time as these particular beasts' favor their solitude.
A butterfly lover may need room to flit from idea to idea or project to project. It's in that that they find the sweetness in life.
A horse lover might need lots of room to roam and ramble and kick up their heels.
A wolf lover might use a combo of body language, tone and voice to convey complex things to you.
A Scarlet Macaws lover might value physical affection. Parrots love to give and receive snuggling.
A Dragon lover might favor collecting lots of glittering treasure to pad his or her lair.
A giraffe lover might have a need to get babysitters often so they can go to the nearest water hole (sans kids!) because literally that's what giraffes do and metaphorically it might be what your partner needs.
You can ask your partner, "What is it that you love about hummingbirds, my sweet?" Then listen carefully for what they say and see if you can find a way to give them some room to be more hummingbird like. Does this all sound crazy? Ok, back to the snowy owl.
One things I learned about snowy owls is that their predominant hunting techniques is to watch and wait. They don't move a muscle until they are very sure that what they want is worth going after, and then (and only then) do they move in for the kill. This helped me to understand why my husband never wants to leap into big decisions without first taking some time to watch and wait. I have learned that if I want harmony, I need to give him a bit more time.
If your partner doesn't want to play along yet try this with yourself or a friend. If you can't think of a wild animal favorite, but you love your pets, try this: If you like dogs try looking at wolves. If you're a cat lover, choose a wild cat to study.
What does this animal do? How do they behave or act that lights you up? The more you allow yourself to play that way in the world (literally and metaphorically) to embody those traits you admire and love and accept yourself, the better your relationships will get.
Sometimes it can be awkward with the snowy owl and me. I'm an elephant loving person: often emotional, sometimes impulsive, prone to messiness and bumbling awkwardness. But, the more I love and accept my elephantness and my husbands snowy owlness, the better it gets.
Would you like more ideas to play with Beasties and your relationships? Check out What the Walrus Knows: An Eccentric’s Field Guide to Working with Beastie Energies. Or the app What the Walrus at iTunes.
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