Tucked inside my sleeping bag, my face was still exposed to the elements as the night air hosted sounds of nearby crickets, the crackling of burning wood and the occasional buzz of an insect. I had already moved closer to the fire so that it’s smoke could encircle me, protecting me from biting mosquitoes and I lay still thinking about the sweat lodge ceremony that had ended a few hours earlier. I was unable to fall asleep. I rolled over, my eyes almost disbelieving the large shadow that silently swooped down from a tree at the North edge of the medicine wheel. Flying toward me, it stopped directly over my body, hovering overhead for a few moments. Then as quietly as arriving, the Owl flew away, zig-zagging like a bat in between the branches of the thickly forested pines. “He must have mistaken me for dinner,” I thought, before finally drifting off to sleep.
When recounting the story to a friend days later, I was struck by surprise and his intrigue made me consider, “If that had happened in a dream, I would have accepted it to be bringing a message.” A fragment of my soul instantly returned—and from that moment on—I increased my conscious effort to become aware of the animal medicines trying to contact me.
Having grown more open to receive help from my spiritual allies, I was on the second day of a Vision Quest when shortly after dawn I decided to stand up and walk around in the immediate area of my site.
Pausing at a tree, I leaned against a low branch that stretched out horizontally and very near to the ground. Quietly resting my mind, I soon noticed the grass moving in the distance. It was a familiar site. Only an Armadillo moves about with such little regard for his surroundings.
Unaware of my presence, I remained still while watching him proceed closer. Moving at a very slowly rate, he was rooting up the ground in front of him, searching for food. He seemed quite content with himself, yet still unaware of my presence.
This wasn’t the first time I had been close to the Armadillo, but it was the first time I had been aware enough to receive the message that it’s vibration hoped to deliver. Waiting, I contemplated it’s meaning as he passed only inches from my foot.
After making his way through my aura, I wandered back to my circle to continue considering his visit. Already familiar with his medicine—maintaining personal boundaries and of holding your own space and vibration—I soon understood the purpose of his visit. I had already spent the majority of my life losing my beliefs and desires to other people in my life and the Armadillo was now speaking to me, trying to offer his protection. I needed to hold my own focus and to stay conscious of my own truth.
When accumulating personal power, among many allies, the essences of the Armadillo and Owl often offer their presence, as synchronicity finds its way into a seeker’s life.
Joanne walked up to my coffee table and picked up the single Owl feather that lay upon it.
“That’s a happy feather,” she told me, with the child like innocence of a nine year old. Then she started to walk into the other room.
“Whoa. Whooaa. Wait a second, come back here!” I insisted. “What are you talking about? Why is this a happy feather?”
Turning back to me, she again reached for the feather “Well, the Owl is very happy that half of his feathers went to metaphysical people,” she stated.
Looking toward her mother, my eyes wide in amazement, “I know the story of this Owl. It was badly decomposed when it was found—only half of the feathers were saved.”
Sharing a moment of silence, we acknowledged our gratitude for being gifted with the Owl’s thought.
As my spiritual growth continued to expand, my dreams becoming more vivid, at times as lucid as during the awake state, the animal medicines (a word to describe an energy’s feel or power) began to more deeply influence my life. Their vibration, their spiritual essences, were more deeply infusing me with their power, while enabling me to make more insightful life choices.
I found that each animal had a predominate characteristic, like the blue jay’s power of intuition, the snake’s vibration of change and healing, or the hawk’s ability to see from a higher perspective. And that the powers of all of the animals combined, have the ability to assist us in achieving wholeness. Each animal was a fraction of the God/Goddess energy and together—they made up the whole. So by being able to feel an animal’s power, we could restore, heal and embody the missing facets of the God energy within us.
Years later when feeling burdened by the challenges of my life, I again felt particularly drawn to the Owl. Finally reaching me in a dream, he was prepared to share his gifts. Accompanied by pines and junipers, the dirt path I followed wound through and alongside a shallow valley in the forest. Feeling the density of the air change as I passed beneath a large cedar bow, I realized that I had entered into an ethereal world, a gateway between the dimensions, and I looked down to the ground. At my feet were the feathers of an Owl—hundreds of them. Quickly gathering them in my arms, the relief within my body grew and taking in a deep breath, I felt a deep release as the Owl’s energy began to penetrate my being. Recently forced to endure difficult challenges in my physical world, the owl was gifting me with his vibration, ‘the ability to see in darkness,’ and my soul found the peace he brought to me, completely liberating. The Owl, with no spoken words, had given me the ability to navigate through this dark period of my life. I was grateful.
It is hard for me to remember a time before my perception included the interpretation of animal medicines. Many will resist conscious help from animals, but through my questing, I have had the fortune to remove many layers of numbness. And given the gift of waking in a dream, becoming completely conscious when asleep, I’ve had the opportunity to fully feel the power of a totem—A profoundly healing and empowering experience. So I offer my gratitude, appreciation and renewed hope in return, and send prayers asking that I may always walk delicately enough on the earth to feel the presence of animals.
John Stone, a native of Texas, teaches classes on vision questing, lucid dreaming and out of body travel; and has recently authored Daring to Dream, a guide to lucid dreaming and The King of Camelot, a book about the life of King Arthur.