Using Animal Totems to Support You on Your Fertility or Adoption Journey
Today I am going to share some powerful stories around using the healing presence of animals, but not in the form that we’re used to encountering them. I will be sharing stories of animals from a non-physical sense. Also known as animal totems, or spirit beings, which can be recognized as extra support along the path to your child. Native American tradition suggests that each person has 9 different animal symbols accompanying them throughout life. 1
These animal totems may be present in your life in real time; as in a pet frog, cat or dog, or as symbols like when you continue to see butterfly images in magazine ads or billboards. Animal totems may also present themselves in your dreams. One way to connect to your animal totem is to pay attention to what comes up while you’re dreaming and then jot down any memories immediately upon waking (or right after you take your temperature, if you’re checking your basal body temperature or BBT). Once you’re awake spend a few minutes online googling your specific animal totem and its meaning (the credit below shows such a website).
I thought about writing this blog post after several clients had either dreams of animals or they discovered them on guided vision quests I led them through. A frog, a horse, bats, a fox, and doves all made their appearance last week alone. These animals have been additional support to women as they move forward on their journey. One of my clients found that when her anxiety piqued the image of the horse was wild. She then would picture herself petting it’s nose and her anxiety would start to lessen. For another client, she asked a bat what it needed on a guided imagery exercise and it said, “A safe place to go and rest.” I asked her if she felt that need within herself as well, and indeed she did feel that was necessary right now. She was able to find some information by tapping into the emotions of this bat more easily than within herself.
If you don’t have dreams or any pets at home, I would recommend reading _Power Animals: How to Connect with Your Animal Spirit Guide_ by Steven Farmer. This book includes a CD which has a guided visualization practice to put you in touch with your animal totem. It’s really fun.
What can you do once you discover who your animal totem is?
Once you discover who your totem(s) is you can be playful about it and recognize it out in the world through things you may read, see, or hear. Maybe you’ll grow so fond of your totem that you will use some of the images in your baby’s future nursery. You can think of your animal as a guide and extra support, like Lassie, leading you through the wilderness that is infertility or adoption. Farmer’s book gives some playful and thoughtful exercises to try when you discover your particular spirit guide.
The thought of an animal guiding us can bring comfort. Since most animals don’t talk back (unless yours is a parrot) it’s sometimes easier to love an animal over a human. You can journal to your animal, ask for strength and even imagine that you have the energy of that animal first thing in the morning. Sometimes you will receive an animal that is associated with fertility or families and sometimes not, I wouldn’t worry about that. Your journey to your baby is a short part of who you are. Although it may sometimes feel like it’s all of who you are, it is just a part of who you are. We can feel so heavily identified with our infertility or adoption that we forget that we had a whole other life before it. You will also have an entire life afterward as well. This is a chapter of your life, not your whole book. There will be an end to this chapter.
While I was on my personal journey I kept getting this angel named Sephora who was holding a cat and I wanted the one holding a baby. I can’t tell you how many times I got the cat. You have to look really close to see the cat as it could be mistaken for a baby by the way the angel is holding it, which is the same way as another angel card holds a newborn baby. I share this story to remind you that your animal totem is bigger than your path to your baby.
When I did the guided imagery exercise I discovered my animal was a dolphin. I know, I know. If you know me, this is a perfect fit. My husband thinks I just made up my totem since I love dolphins so much, so maybe I did…but that’s what image came to me. I even have gone swimming with the dolphins in the wild in Hawaii and I recall one time a mother and baby dolphin swam right by me. It was so amazing. So, I discovered in Farmer's book that if the dolphin is my power animal that I'm the type of person who uses my intuitive instincts to lead and inspire others. That's spot on. I also learned that when I’m happy everyone around me is too (The phrase, "If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy" is true in my house). The book also shared that people with a dolphin animal totem are playful. This is so true of who I am inside and out. When I get too serious I get very stressed and rigid. On the other hand, when I have a lot of freedom and space to express myself I really soar.
So how can you utilize the information about your animal totem(s)? See what qualities they are known for and how they resonate with you. For example, if you discover that your animal totem is a moose you will find out that you have the strength to make your own decisions in life.
Finally, use the courage and wisdom of the animal kingdom to lead you through the jungle of this very primitive desire in us to nurture, to mother and to love another human being.
Reflection questions...In what ways are you connected to animals? How do they help you with your levels of stress? How can you see yourself connecting more to nature and animals on your way to your baby?