Animal Spirit Totems

For some reason I had to go huh a lot these past few weeks. It’s like piles of coincides keep happening back to back. Some are super positive and others are slightly positive. However, the thing is, I am generally not a positive person. At all. Cynical realism is a nice way of describing me. Yet, all of these good things keep happening to me lately? Like the Universe is saying man you have been suffering a lot and your life is a mess, so let me give you a bunch of really time consuming positive things to occupy your time. Enjoy it~ Yea, uh, I’m happy for the boost in positivity and confidence I was needing, BUT WHY ARE YOU GIVING ME MORE PROJECTS.

The Universe seemed pretty chill about ignoring my questions. Then the strangest thing happened to me this week. The most unusual of coincidences happened to me. I know like two interesting people in my life. Neither of which I have talked to in about two years. Out of blue, I get a message from both of them, just a day apart from each other. Here’s the eerily same message they chose to deliver to me.

The first was a girl from the Seminole Tribe. Not that you would know about it if you met her. She was a completely Justin Bieber die hard and seemed to avoid everything about the politics of her heritage.

Strangely enough, that friend of mine sent me a message. She said you seem to be struggling lately. My grandma says the falcon is in conflict with the wolf. And that made me go like wtf you showed your grandma my blog. You know I have a blog! And she cracked up laughing and said not to pay attention to it. They were old tales and beliefs. But then I got to thinking of my new friend. The one who just told me we all get 5 totems in our lives. I sort of felt like it is a ridiculous standard, because most religious beliefs are old.

So I got to thinking. I was born in the time of the falcon. Maybe her grandmother knew, because she told her my birth date. Maybe it was just a sign of ironic fate. But I now had to think about the wolf totem first. I have always admired wolves. When we traveled my eyes would be drawn to the cheesy wood carvings, the cheesier short stories and the cheeseist post cards. They were lucky animals to me. They were able to run in the forest, which had always made me feel at peace, and they had a strong sense of family. Since I have been small I have always been conflicted about family. I wanted it so much. That strong traditional and emotional bond. It always seemed like something I didn’t get. I got warm beaches and time alone.

The falcon, on the other hand, represents a higher connection with a spiritual self. They are analytical and observing, but will travel hundreds of miles for what seems like a basic call to instinct. In history they have symbolized kings and wars. They are a blend of passion and intellectuality. When you are born in that sign it means you have a keen mind, a need for obsessive time management, an even bigger need for time alone, adventure, and being left to their own pace. When I read about it I thought about the few coincidences I’ve always had in life: representative animals. It is a HUGE joke in my family, that astronomy readings aside, we tend to always perfectly match up with whatever culture is assigning something to us. I am definitely an aries, and I am definitely a rat. And my mom is DEFINITELY a gemini and rooster. Don’t even get me started on our compatibility as mother and child… Here felt like another example of what feels like the base of my core. restless, impatient, introverted and craving. So when someone’s grandma tells you theres a conflict with the falcon and the wolf you stay and ask yourself about it.

What then are the heart of the characteristics of the wolf? If I have always been drawn to them and now someone was telling about my feelings of wolves. How can I argue with them? Belief is separate of fact, but there are apparently facts about the wolf. See right away you know the wolf is a complicated totem. There is a distinct duality to what it represents. On one hand they show deep commitment to family, decent communication skills and have a distinctive sense of intelligence. Here’s the thing. They also call to moments of trust needs to be earned before given. Because you can never distrust your instinctual sixth sense. They are the masters of challenges and discovering self worth in autonomy. You can have a moment of a need to be a lone wolf. See now I am thinking of my gradual need to separate from my family. How much I feel uncomfortable and how much I’d rather pursue my passions, or help others pursue theirs. When I am older I can return to that different sense of family.

So who then called me the next day and made my confusion worse? Another friend I haven’t spoken to in like 2 years. She was the archetype of a wealthy white christian family who, just wanted to explore things outside of her home town. She did so in spending some time traveling around with a Native American medicine women. Apparently, she had a dream about me a couple of nights ago. Then the medicine women she had used to travel with appeared back in North Carolina. To tell her that one of her friends was struggling a sort of conflict that required them to draw support from those around her, or those she has forgotten are around her. It’s not like being in your 20’s is a surprising time for spending effort to figure everything out. Especially things like spirituality and faith. And although I am proud of my Jewish faith and ascribe to it, the last few years I have realized I myself am more spiritual than anything else. In the first year of college I felt drawn to my family’s roots. The little stories of odin and the stories of Baba Yaga. How much I loved the two of them as a kid. I used to say to myself that I had to end up in Valhalla. I was simply important enough for that, but I was also 6 years old. My second year in University I felt myself being drawn to Asia, to Taiwan, to explore Buddhism. I lives in a Monastery and just… Just. It has become one of the most important experiences in my life. If I did something like this could I really judge her? Could I judge the weird messages the Universe was sending me?

However, here’s where the confusion really sets in. You have 5 totems in your life. 3 are said to be inherent and two are said to act as messengers? Would the Wolf be a messenger or an inherent? I only know like one actual person from native descent and I have come to realize the Seminoles have a much more distinctive view on their traditions. SO my answer wasn’t just being gifted to me.

I had to call my friend back and beg her to tell her grandmother that I needed to know what she was talking about. Before I heard back from her I got another weird reminder. A third friend, another traveler, brought up her own Spirit Animal. It was sudden with no prompt to the conversation. She said if she had to offer advice on what conflict I felt to explore what mine could be. How she told me to start with the Owl, or figuring out what sort of cat I am?

Owl totem seemed to add a whole other layer of complexity of it all. If you are talking about a higher self you are probably talking about owl totems. They weren’t just about being connected to death, but about seeing into the darkness. Was life reminding me I tend to be overly emotional at times? Or that maybe life wasn’t about the connection to fire, but the freedom of air and travel. My friend didn’t seem to buy that answer. Instead she wanted to tell me how owls naturally seek for the hidden answers. How they can’t be fooled by illusions or secrets. They will know who you are. They could also be trusted with secrets so that’s good. But the thing is it felt like it was getting weirder. I mean in greek mythology I have always loved Athena and she has an owl. In college  I joined Kappa Kappa Gamma. Which also had an owl as symbol. My recent life has literally been filled with owl. So why was my friend looking at me like DUH IT IS A SIGN. Owls say you need to look at things with new eyes, face your shadows and fears and move past it, so that you can find your happiness. It clears through all the bullshit coming from the people around you so you can hear the actual message you need to hear.  The parallels were uncanny. I mean isn’t it sort of a symbolization of what has been going on with the relationships around me? Familial and otherwise, isn’t the owl sort of representing the need to be a lone wolf in this time of my life? I don’t know. I’ve always liked crows.

When she felt tired of the owl subject she immediately switched to the cat. I was told an actual cat was not an animal totem. I laughed and said when I was younger I used to have dreams about lions and tigers, and then she asked me which ones happened more. well, I wasn’t thinking much about it, so I answered truthfully. A white tiger curled up by my feet. Always sleeping or with only one eye open. Never acknowledging whatever seemed to be happening around me. It was probably up to my middle school years that it was reoccurring. I mean what was she going to tell me? What sleeping tiger was she trying to wake. Life generally warned against that. Well, she told me not about the positives. Tigers are about reminding you to strike down an obstacle by reclaiming your sense of power. There is also a sense of patience in the ‘hunt’. You cannot procrastinate and you cannot plan things willy nilly. You must achieve the great leap forward. They appear when you are weary and need a burst of strength. And you will definitely yearn for adventure. You will also definitely be the type of person that thinks about raising children in the future. Which ironically the only thing I have ever felt confident about in my life would be raising children. I mean I had so many examples of what not to do, I could at least be average.  So here again was a totem reminding me of needing time alone and facing life challenges. But I told her, it really hasn’t been anything of thought of lately. Then it happened. I was organizing my old writing for moving and I looked at one of the books I had started : Finding Valhalla. It was supposed to be about life after Taiwan, readjusting to the fast pace world outside a monastery, and morphed into the struggles of dealing with an auto immune diagnosis. However, I never finished it, because I was still struggling. Here’s the funny thing. I found an entire chapter that seemed to have a lot of tiger references. I mean truly a lot. It was the central point of the chapter. Well, damn. Life was bringing me back to something. To a childhood of dreaming about being a warrior for something. About finding a sense of peace in the movement for others. I was good with pain for a reason. I enjoyed literally the act of hunting and of understanding how I conquered things around me. Whelp, I certainly was going through challenges that needed some extra sense of power to conquer.

To make it all even more complex two of them told me you only get 5 real animal totems. 3 inherent and 2 as true life long messengers.

So the 5 were: falcon, wolf, owl and tiger. Oh wait. that’s only four. I made a joke to her and asked her when the 5th one was coming. Would it be inherent or a messenger. and looked me in the eyes and said I thought you knew the answer. I shook my head no. This was not an intuitive thing for me. At all. sS she brought up the stories we had talked about when it came to our childhood and horses. She grew up with her neighbor’s horses and I grew up riding them. How I needed the time away from it all to just be with my horse. There was never fear or distrust there. There was a strange bond with an animal or a solid point I didn’t seem to have in the chaos around me. I generally just looked at her confused. She simply patted my shoulder and said don’t worry this isn’t like your fear of butterflies and your jokes about how it is my totem. She said the horse was one of hers and she could explain it all, so she did.

The horse was definitely a different type of totem in a way. Horses were representative of a childish spirit, and I couldn’t really argue with that. I tend to flip flop a lot between overly serious and overly childish. Horses also had a flip side. They were about energy and motivation. Hmm motivation was definitely hard for me to actually keep up. But it was interesting to know about the two different types or struggles a horse can go through. First, there was the tamed horse. It is about the parts of our personality we hide, confine. It is also about hiding the sexual like urges. Whelp, way to hit the nail on the head. I definitely liked to squash down as far as possible my kind, open, trusting, naive, and childish side of me. The world felt too cruel for me to be open about it. Since going through an unhealthy relationship with my entire transition of puberty into an university student and being thrown a bunch of challenges I like to pretend I am now asexual and happy with just my cat… But hey on the flip side life was telling me about service and those I do trust in relationships. However, a wild horse was a little different. There was vitality and freedom. Nothing could hold back a wild horse. You could be who you are and just move through the crowd around you. Social circles weren’t a problem for them. Some even said horses were about personal power. There exists natural gifts that cause us to actually suceed with whatever goal we had in mind. The jist of it all is they show up when something is holding you back. You are having low energy levels lately and you need to pay attention to your physical resources. Sounds like family issues and an auto-immune disease problems to me. Thinking back on the two, I kind of realized there was an irony of feeling like a tamed horse wanting to be wild. I was probably somewhere in side as similar to Spirit as my mother was to the color pink. I even remembered two horses in particular from my childhood. A white stallion and a black one. They had been bought by the barn to be broken in and made usable for riding. In a literal sense, they were taming them. I remember feeding the black horse hay. It was the only time that glutton allowed people near him. And I remember the white one’s complete obstinacy to everyone. Food or no food. She would rise on her hind legs if you got close to her. What an old memory to come back to me. It’s not like I ever rode either horse. I had the nice and easy pony that I used to jump. Maybe my brain was like WAKE UP. You are crying out to be freed here. Get the message already.

And finally, after all of this, the grandma messaged me back. Only to tell me that I had to figure it out by myself, and if I tried to reach her I would have no luck. She was apparently heading to some convention where they had bad cell reception. Thanks Grandma.

In all honesty, a part of me still feels like this utter bullshit and can apply to anyone. There is also a part of me that is confused, intrigued, slightly nervous and wondering. Could a person actually have 5 totems, and if so could these actually be mine? It’s not hard to connect the dots from one idea to another. If things have ironically always been so perfectly statistical shouldn’t this be?

I really wish my friend’s grandmother wasn’t like I need to figure this out myself. That a strong discovery of a spiritual foundation will get me through my recent struggles. Can’t she just be a bad movie stereotype and journey to give me some peyote and hallucinate the answers. I mean, honestly. Life has been throwing me a lot of chaotic coincidences lately and I am definitely in chaos about it all.

Trying to understand growing pains here,

I.L. Knight

**This is such a messy post. So Sorry**


Run With The Wolf – Rainbow

Dirty Birds Fly – Atlanta Falcons (Moe Tre)


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