I have been in a place of deep reflection and examination for the last few months. After 5 years of running at super-squirrel speed (I refer to my dark-totem as a ‘squirrel on crack’), I have decided that I need to dial in my focus, move away from ‘collecting every nut I see, to thoughtfully planning my next steps to best serve my community, while giving myself the time I need for personal growth and happiness.
This was not something I came to lightly, but more something that attacked me with flailing arms, & steam coming out of its ears.
By the end of January, I was exhausted, short-tempered and emotionally drained. At first, I didn’t really understand where it was coming from, for my life did not feel or look any different than it normally did; my kids & grandkids were doing well, my home life & personal relationships were good, my businesses were running well. Despite the outer vestige of my life, I was finding it hard to keep my temper in keel, and felt a building desire to just say ‘fuck it, I don’t care what you do’, to most inquiries. Now, this does not mean I was showing my cards to the public, after all, I am a trained professional and I know how to put my stuff away while taking care of business. But, as time went on, I found it harder and harder to ignore the fact that I was short-circuiting. So I did what any good healer would do, I started to investigate the problem.
The answer came quickly; like a poke in the eye, and was not surprising at all…I was simply doing too much, running too fast for too long, and I needed to slow down. This realization brought to mind the old adage ‘Healer, heal thyself’; which speaks to the need for those who care for others to practice self-care. So I made an appointment with my apprentice Vanessa; who runs the Reiki clinic @ my wellness center and began to contemplate how I would cut back on the doing part of my life.
Now the problem with being me, is I invest in everything I take up. Everything I do is important to me. Which means selecting what to let go of, or pass on to others, were difficult questions for me. I generally do not spend much time on things I don’t believe in or value. I knew this was not going to be an easy switch, and that as much as I may want to put the squirrel in a cage it was going to take some time and planning to do so.
I began my transition while visiting family in Florida this last February. Normally when I take my winter jaunt south, I plan on working part-time while there; doing private Seances, and Readings or workshops at stores in the area, weaving my sacred work with my sacred travel together. But this year, I just kept hesitating to book any work, and the closer it came to my departure date the more I started limiting what my work would look like until it finally looked like “I am not working while in Florida this year.”
I have always seen travel as a time to initiate change, as we are away from our paterns, things, and the way others see us. So instead of working for others, I spent the time in the sun working on myself…simply being; taking deep breaths, walking in the green parks, soaking up the sun and enjoying the magic of the water that Tampa Bay had to offer.
Simply embracing each day as it presented itself…swimming in the Ocean and walking along the bayou’s of public parks was truly the medicine I needed. I received guidance in many forms…I watched a dolphin hunt & play, was lucky enough to hold a lovely snake, I even visited the shrine of the Arch Angel Micheal, while in a Greek fishing village (Tarpon Springs, FL). I was looking for answers, or better yet I was waiting for answers. Answers to how I was supposed to move forward, what I should focus on and what energy I should ask to help guide me. I even stayed in an Airbnb house filled with wyrdly, intriguing mirrors (note the picture at the start of the post), that I imagine would be great for deep scrying. Instead, I fell asleep early while staying there; my body deciding I needed rest more than a spiritual deep dive into the world of mirrors. In this stillness, answers slowly came.
The first step of my transformation was to choose another power animal to work with. For as much as I have joked over the last few years about Squirrel on Crack being my dark totem, Squirrel has truly been the sacred animal ally calling the shots for the last few years. To call something my dark-totem, means the qualities of that animal are ones that I have to be cautious of in my life. They are the parts of our personality/behavior that have short term benefits, but often overwhelm us when we play with them too long. I am truly squirrelish in my behavior, I gather from everywhere, often creating treasure caches of knowledge, learning, and cool stuff when working with this energy. But when I play with it too long, I just keep collecting…more jobs, more classes, more travel, more businesses, more, more, more…until I wonder why I am even doing it, what I am collecting for and where the free time I use to have has gone.
We all have a dark-totem, an animal whose behaviors resemble ours, behaviors which we need to keep in check!
It may seem strange to say I needed to choose a power animal to work with, as in most cases our totem animals present themselves to us. But I have many animals I have worked with over the years, some of them staying with me a lifetime (Crow) while others are active for only a few years, long enough to share their lessons with me. It is from the latter variety that I was looking to choose.
From my slow-down time in Florida, I knew what qualities I was looking for, I wanted to keep moving forward, while focusing my intent, choosing to be more selective and purposeful in my movement. I needed to learn to stalk the prey/goal I am after and to rest when I had downtime. I needed the teachings of Cat. For me, these lessons come in the form of ‘Big Cat’…Lion, Lynx, and most of all Panther. This was not a new relationship so to speak, simply the re-emergence of an old alliance.
Creating a bond with a new Spirit Animal or rekindling an old relationship takes time. It helps to remember that the lessons are being offered, which means if we are sincere and open, the teachings will come. It is also beneficial to create space on your altar for honoring the ‘Spirit’ (animal, plant, ancestor, otherworldly being) relationship you are building. You can do this by placing items that remind you of the ‘Being’ on your altar and studying their ways through observation (if you’re so lucky), books and websites. One of my favorite books for Animal symbolism is ‘Animal Speak’ by Ted Andrews.
It is normal and perfectly alright to be working with more than one Animal Spirit Ally at a time. Personally, when asked the question “How many Spirit Allies should you have at once?”, my answer is “How many living friends and colleagues do you have?” If your a person who likes to have only a few good friends, your most likely going to be the same way in Spirit-work. But if you’re like me; a very social Gemini, your likely to have a whole slew of Spirit companions, teachers and guides.
With my mind clearly set on changing my speed & focus, and the aid of ‘Big Cat’ magic I was ready to return home & put my changes to the test of real life. Something that was not without its challenges. Thankfully, I have a great partner; my husband, who offers his support in a very practical way. Knowing that I need/want to slow down when I start squirreling up he reminds me of my intentions, by simply saying things like “Really Sali, you need to do that now?”
At first, this reminder triggered me, but I quickly staunched that voice by reminding myself that making changes in our life is easier when you have a practical support team.
My journey continues in part 2. COSM/the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors. Look for it Wednesday, the 3rd.