Power Animals for Letting Go
If someone were to ask you if you are the same person today that you were seven years ago, chances are that you would say no. I know that I’m certainly not; My interests have changed, my goals have changed, my needs and priorities have changed, the people in my life have changed, and my values have changed. Even on a physiological level, my body is made up of almost entirely new cells.
Of course, I am still me and my past is still very much my past, just as you are still you and your past is still very much yours. But as we grow and are faced with new sets of challenges and experiences — some good and some bad — it is only natural that we evolve; We learn more about ourselves, we discover more about the world around us, our perspective broadens, and inevitably we see things differently.
And, with new eyes looking outward and a deeper internal self awareness, we can’t help but rethink and reevaluate who we are and who we want to be, who we want to spend our time with, and how we want to live.
We may realize that we are working in a job or industry that is no longer meaningful to us. We may find that certain friends have become draining to be around or actually make us feel bad about ourselves, or we may have been holding on to a grudge that is keeping us from mending a friendship we care about. The romantic relationship we are in may no longer be fulfilling, or we may still be clinging to heartbreak from a previous relationship that is preventing us from meeting someone new. Maybe there is a class we want to take or a place we want to visit, but self doubt and fear have been holding us back.
In one way or another, we begin to recognize that there are things getting in our way of moving forward and embracing our potential — of pursuing our desires and living in alignment with our authentic selves — things we know that we need to let go of.
But even in recognizing our need for release, the process is nevertheless much easier said than done.
I will be the first to admit that when I invest my time and energy and emotion in someone or something, letting go is painful. We build up ideas around how we want things to turn out, and when they don’t turn out the way that we want, the weight of those ideas crashing down on us can truly be crushing. Beyond the given disappointment, we may feel like we have wasted time, we may feel angry or stupid, or even lost.
To make things worse, our brains are actually wired to seek consistency and familiarity, so even when what is consistent and familiar is making us miserable, our brains will still reward the predictable routine and resist change — at least, until we choose to interrupt those patterns and make the unfamiliar familiar.
This is true for negative self talk, too. After all, we are the stories that we tell ourselves, and when the message in the narrative that we repeat is that we are not good at this or will fail at that, being “not good enough” or “incapable” becomes woven into the thread of our identity. So when we start to tease out those ideas about ourselves, we are left asking one of the most humbling questions there is to ask — who am I?
If we want to find out, we need to give ourselves permission to let go of those restrictive parts of ourselves. We need to be willing to release that which is keeping us from pursuing what we want and create space to invite in that loving relationship, those supportive friends, inspiring work opportunities — even self-esteem and confidence.
In a previous post, I wrote about rituals for letting go, but if you have been following this blog for a while now you have probably gathered that I love working with animal spirits and look for ways to incorporate animal medicine in almost all of my spiritual work. Letting go is no exception, so I thought that I would share with you some of the best power animals to work with when letting go.
WHAT ARE ANIMAL SPIRITS
To recap, we all have guides in spirit form who are with us during the course of our lives, watching over us and supporting us in our journey. Simply put, spirits are energy, and to communicate with us, they present in different forms that we, in our human state, are able to recognize and understand. One of the most powerful ways a guide can make itself known and connect is to manifest in the archetypical essence of an animal.
Some — usually one or two — are with us from the moment we are born. These are our personal Spirit Animals, who work with us throughout our lives to help us learn more about ourselves in a deeper and broader sense — our strengths, our weaknesses, our aptitudes and our limitations. We typically share a similar energy with our Spirit Animals — similar dispositions and characteristics — so it is likely that you may have an affinity for or know intuitively who your Spirit Animal is even if you have not yet developed a conscious relationship with it.
Others come and go during specific phases or circumstances in our lives. These are called Power Animals, and can be called on (or sometimes appear to us on their own) as advocates in times of need or transition, offering their unique medicine as reminders, counsel, or simply in support.
To work with a power animal is to shape shift — to merge with its archetypal essence, step into its power and see through its eyes, feel through its body, and sense with its instincts. Or, you may simply carry a small totem of that animal with you as a reminder of their unique wisdom. With time and practice, you will find what works best for you depending on what you are going through.
POWER ANIMALS FOR LETTING GO
Here are four of my favorite power animals to call on for assistance when letting go.
The snake has long been a powerful symbol for transition and renewal, shedding old skin that can no longer support and protect its growing body. Snake reminds us that letting go is actually a necessary form of self preservation. Call on Snake when you need support with releasing that which you have outgrown.
Starfish are known to regenerate limbs that have been severed or broken, and remind us that we have the power to fill empty space where something has been lost. Call on Starfish when you need encouragement with opening yourself up to new possibilities.
Bats have adapted to navigate the night by tuning in to the frequencies of their surroundings, reminding us to trust our senses when we feel like we are in darkness. Call on Bat when you need guidance with finding your way through the unknown.
Emerging from a cocoon of goo that was once a caterpillar, the Butterfly is perhaps one of the most common symbols for transformation. Butterfly reminds us that when we surrender to change, we have the potential to transform in ways more beautiful than we could ever have imagined. Call on Butterfly when you need reassurance in embracing a new sense of self.
If you are interested in learning more about working with Animal Spirits, I highly recommend Animal Speak by Ted Andrews: