Anyone who has followed me and my music for any length of time, knows I have a long-standing spiritual and practical relationship with animals - domestic and wild. Long before I began composing the Animal Totems CD series, the 4 leggers, winged ones, creepy crawlers and more had significance in my life, but it took me years of self-discovery to listen and understand what the significance was.
The funny thing is when your mind is running wild, creating new chatter or thoughts or making judgments about an experience, you aren't receiving benefit of the message. I credit music with my innate ability to focus on one idea, project or song exclusively, so that when I meditate, journey, or do ceremony I can focus on the question at hand, asking silently (or aloud) "What message do you have for me?" The thing that is weighing heavily on my mind will become clearer, so then I can observe and listen. I love that part.
Have you ever felt that God, the Universe, the One, Allah, Jehovah speaks to you in prayer? Or maybe you get a "feeling" in response to a question you've asked quietly or out loud? Have you ever had a stranger in a restaurant say just the one thing you needed to hear in that moment. Or you see a bumper sticker or a post on Facebook that gave you pause to consider something going on in your life. That's all very good and necessary, but it's very passive.
In my blog, I'd like to help you be more deliberate in seeing the answers and messages. When you do this, you might be changing the course of a situation or question and yes, even your future, before the issue becomes overwhelming and you have to start doing "damage control".
By studying your Animal Totems you are taking a pro-active approach to creating your life, breaking long standing beliefs, creating change in your life, or to just show appreciation for the Creator's beasts on a regular basis. It doesn't take any special training, you already have everything it takes to receive messages from anywhere you see them. You just have to pay attention.
There are universal truths (or laws) such as gravity, cardinal directions, seasons, etc. and once I began paying attention, I realized that each animal encounter was in fact improving my life in some way, large and small. Not all are "power" or "birth" totems, but make no mistake, ALL animals have a message.
I mean, using our totems isn't exactly a new concept. In the early days, when I would see an animal out of context or one repeatedly crossing my path, my thoughts were "well, that was cool . . . but so what?"
In facilitating the many animal totems workshops for the last few years to share the work I and many others before me have done, I found one question consistent throughout new students: “How does knowing my totem animals make my life better?”
With that in mind, I decided to start my "On the Road with Arvel Bird and Other Animal Totems" blog and share the animal totems that are coming to me through physical contact, sightings, dreams, and my own journeys.
Being in Florida for the past four weeks has made it possible for me to observe many animals and birds; in the wild, in sanctuaries, and encounters in the spiritual realm from shamanic journeys.
Squirrel, bear, hawk, eagle, osprey, great blue heron, cardinal, mockingbird, crow, snake, lizard, frog, fiddler crab, dolphin, coyote, butterfly, dragonfly, ant, turkey, white egret, tiger, leopard, monkey, lion, deer, wolf, horse, cougar, grouse, and otter.
Each week I’m going to share how these encounters are making my life better, filling my life with magic and wonderment. I've gone through periods in my life when I saw the wonder in NOTHING. I felt so disconnected from not only the animals and mother earth, but from others and I don't like that feeling.
This week I want to focus on Bear. In this case, the Florida Black Bear. My long association with the bear spirit has given me my inner power. So that when I journey I usually envision him as a large, giant black bear that I can ride. I mean, who is gonna challenge my power when I'm riding on the back of a huge black bear, right?
In early March, when I had the opportunity to re-visit a rescue facility that I've become fond of, I took it. I was with a tour group lead by Sue, a most loyal supporter of animals; and Gayle, the one time circus lion-tamer, turned big cat protector and giver of sanctuary to all animals, at Endangered Animals Rescue Sanctuary (EARS) in Citra, FL.
Once inside, three of the four Florida Black Bears-in-residence came to the fence to check us out. The two brothers and another full grown male were healthy, well fed and cared for. I would guess their average weight to be around 400 lbs. Since Florida Bears don’t hibernate, they didn’t seem to mind us interrupting their naps in the cool shade and soon begin playing like cubs, romping, running, obviously quite content with their home.
By contrast, the four wild Florida Black Bears consisted of a mama bear and her three cubs, which looked to be about a year old. It was about 11pm on a Tuesday night when I saw them wander out of the woods towards our motorhome, all four intent on checking out our garbage to see what they could eat. It didn’t take long for them to have everything laid out like a huge smorgasbord.
After dinner, it was time to play and explore around our car and motorhome while Mama bear rested in the cool sand nearby. One by one they sauntered back to the strewn garbage and had another go at it before disappearing into the woods.
Experiencing the bears both in captivity and in nature increased my love for them and their family characteristics. In nature, animals are truly experiencing freedom to the fullest. Though they may not be getting a full meal everyday, they still made time to have fun and to rest before continuing their journey.
Although I wouldn't have missed that opportunity to see them up close and personal (20 feet from garbage and about 3 feet at our motorhome door), in the future I will make sure not to leave garbage so readily available.
The next morning while I re-bagged the garbage, I smiled to myself thinking it was the price of admission to their world.
I recorded a story about the Bear Totem on my Storyteller CD. You can also listen to and share the music of my Bear Totem “Mato” on the CAMA awarded “Best Instrumental” Animal Totems CD.
I’m in a transitional period in my life and sometimes I get very stressed not knowing where the transition is going to take me. But the bears reminded me that even though I don’t have all the answers right now, I don’t know how everything’s going to work out, but I just know it IS going to work out in divine timing. I’ve set the wheels in motion for my future, so now I can relax and have fun.
Thank you. I'd appreciate it if you would share my blog with your friends or family whom you feel would be interested in the animals, my music or my stories.
I’ll see you next week for more stories of Animal Totems. Arvel