animals and shamanism
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Animals and Shamanism
Shaman (pronounced SHAH-maan) is a word from the language of the Tungus people
of Siberia. A Shaman is a man or woman who enters and altered state of
consciousness at will. The Shaman does this to contact and utilize an ordinarily
hidden reality to acquire knowledge, power, and to help others. The Shaman usually
has at least one or more spirits in his or her personal service.
The trance or "ecstatic" state of consciousness the Shaman enters can be termed as the
Samanistic State of Consciousness (SSC). The shaman does not enter this state for
play, but only for serious purposes. The Shaman must also know the basic methods of
accomplishing the work in the SSC before entering such a state. For example, if the
Shaman wishes to recover a patient's guardian animal, he must know the techniques
for reaching the Lowerworld, entering it, finding the spirit animal and bringing it
back safely. Subsequently, he must know what instructions to give the patient in the
ordinary State of Consciousness (OSC).
The Shaman is an accomplished seer who works in the dark, or at least with the eyes
covered in order to see clearly. For this reason, the Shaman usually engages in such
practices at night. Some kind of Shamanistic seeing can be done with the eyes open,
but that kind of perception is usually less profound. In darkness, the distractions of
ordinary reality are less, making it possible for the Shaman to concentrate on aspects
of non-ordinary reality essential for the Shaman's work. The SSC must also be entered
with the assistance of drumming, singing, dancing and the use of rattles.
Shamanistic Enlightenment is the literal ability to lighten the darkness and see what
others cannot perceive.
As humans, we each have one or more animal guardians that have come to us at the
time of our births to protect us, whether we are conscious of it or not. Generally,
these guardians, or power animals, are our spirit allies that have volunteered to do us
service. Their job is to keep us healthy-physically, emotionally, mentally and
spiritually. A person may have many different power animals during his or her life.
These animal beings may be any type of animal: of the Earth, of the Sea, of the Air,
extinct in this realm, seemingly "mythological" etc., though they generally are not
insects or domesticated animals. Though a power animal can have a distinct gender,
age and personality, it is representative of the entire genus or species. For example, if
your animal guardian happens to be Bear, the spiritual power and guidance comes not
only from that one specific bear, but from the entire genus or species of Bear. Also,
there is no hierarchy of power animals. No particular animal is more power-full or
more beneficial than another.
Power Animals are only helpful and never bring harm, no matter how fiercely they
may present themselves. They are here to help us. Though your animal ally is
available to help you in times of crisis, illness and/or danger, they can also offer
guidance and support in your day-to-day life. Power animals often awaken our
creativity as well as the ability to perceive the beauty and magic that surrounds us.
Shamans may call upon their power animal(s) for many reasons: in the diagnosis of an
illness, to assist the shaman in spiritual journeys through other realms of reality, to
bring power to a ceremony or to provide needed information and teaching.
Calling upon your animal can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. However, the
most important ingredient is your intent and focus. You can call out with your voice
or quietly in your heart. You can simply repeat its name or recite many beautiful
words of welcome. Whatever you do, be sincere and not frivolous in your request.
There is a story of a poor Tibetan man that spent much of his day turning the prayer
wheels of a monastery as he circled the complex repeating the prayers of a certain
female deity. From the monastery, the monks could see that as the man prayed, the
deity followed behind him. One day, a monk overheard the man's prayers. Realizing
the man had some of words wrong, he promptly corrected him. The next day, the
monks saw the man as usual but no longer did the deity follow behind.
Acknowledging the error, the monk returned to the man and instructed him to recite
his prayers as before. Because, though the man now said the correct words, his heart
was no longer in it.
In building a relationship with your power animal, it is also beneficial and important
to often honor your animal in some way. Once again, this can be as simple or
elaborate as you want. In general, gifting the animal with your attention is a way to
honor and respect it. The simple act of silently greeting your animal in the morning
as you wake and, for a few moments, opening yourself to being receptive to any
information your animal may have for you can be a transformative experience.
Giving thanks to the animal for Big Dreams you may have, drawing or creating
images of the animal as well as physically exercising your animal by inviting it into
your body as you hike or swim are also ways to honor your animal guardian. In this
way, the power animal has the pleasure of experiencing the material world. It is
important that the animal feel welcome and appreciated. Shamans often honor their
animal allies by singing of the animal and\or inviting the animal into their body and
dancing the animal. This is not mere imitation, but transformation.
So, how can you know if you have a power animal and what it may be? I invite you to
look about your home. Are there pictures or figures of a particular animal that occur
throughout your home that you feel an emotional connection to? Is there an animal
that comes to you in dreams or meditations that provides you with guidance or
answers to questions? These are valuable observations and worth investigating
further. All things are significant in some way. One way a shaman can discover
whether or not an individual currently has the help of a particular guardian animal is
to undertake a spiritual journey into non-ordinary reality, and ask the spirits.
How They Communicate With UsHow They Communicate With UsHow They Communicate With UsHow They Communicate With Us
In ancient times, there was unity between the animal beings and the human beings.
We conversed freely and easily with one another. Now, however, this unity is lost in
this physical world of limitation. Though the shaman is able to journey to realms
where this unity continues, it is important for all to be aware of when an animal ally
is communicating with us and what information they are bringing.
Power animals are not the only animals that can and do communicate with us. Any
animal can bring us a teaching at any time. An animal may come for an extended
period of time to help us with a particular issue, or it may appear only to bring a
timely message or teaching and then be gone. Most helpful in building relations with
the animal beings and opening yourself to their assistance, is to see them as sacred
beings worthy of your attention and respect, rather than viewing them as objects,
inferior, or stupid.
There are some practical steps you can take in learning to understand an animal's
message. Observe the animal. What does it look like? How is it moving? How is it
relating to its environment? Perhaps most importantly, how are you feeling as you
observe the animal? What thoughts or memories are you having? Where is your
attention drawn? Often, animals will attract our attention in some way before they
offer us the message. Be patient. Use all of your senses. Silently ask the animal what it
has for you and then be receptive to what comes to fill the space after your question.
Some people worry that they are 'making up' the information. It is possible that in
that moment you may fill the space with mind chatter rather than hearing any
message the animal has for you. Even so, this is also an important message to you.
Perhaps it is a teaching about the importance of truly listening to others, or perhaps
an awareness that your mental chatter is blocking you in some way. There is no
pretend, all things are significant and meaningful. Sometimes all that is needed is a
view from a different perspective.
There are books available that can help in deciphering the message or gifts of a
particular animal. Some of these books are quite insightful. Above all, pay attention to
how the visit from the animal felt to you. For example, if you were to search in a
book for the meaning of a visit by Bee, you may learn about the importance of
productivity or the value of community. However, Bee came to me with some
unexpected information, information that I'd not seen in any book. During a time
when I was doing research on the nature of prayer, I was approached by Bee during
one of my journeys. She told me that all Bees live their life as a prayer. She went on
to share with me much information about prayer and how to pray. Recently, during a
time of loss, I was again visited by Bee. She asked that I ask the Bees to pray for me
and also to go out into my gardens. Sitting beneath the Spring blooming trees, my
attention was drawn to a loud humming. I looked up to see a cloud of Bumble Bees
among the branches of the trees. I began to hum along with them and felt a peace
settle over me. For months after that day, I encountered Bees in the most unlikely
places. Reminders for me that they continued to pray, and also that I was not alone.
Neither are you.
AardvarkAardvarkAardvarkAardvark: Finding hidden things
AlligatorAlligatorAlligatorAlligator: Survival, stealth, initiation, power, patience, basic earth energy, hold
onto your money
AntAntAntAnt: Patience, industry, community, craftsmanship
AnteaterAnteaterAnteaterAnteater: Ability to find lost objects, connection to the insect world, ability to
smell out trouble before seeing it, understanding the value of rooting around to
AntelopeAntelopeAntelopeAntelope: Action, grace, speed, rapid advancement
ApesApesApesApes: Communication, group government
ArmadilloArmadilloArmadilloArmadillo: Boundaries, personal protection, empathy
BadgerBadgerBadgerBadger: Aggressiveness, courage, bold self-expression
BarracudaBarracudaBarracudaBarracuda: Making it your own
BatBatBatBat: Rebirth, vision, the souls journey
BearBearBearBear: Introspection, healing, solitude, charge, communication with spirit, death
and rebirth, transformation, astral travel, creature of dreams, shamans and mystics
visionaries, defense and revenge, wisdom, medical diagnosis, strength, power,
cycles, guardian energy, sacred to Odin and Artemis
BeaverBeaverBeaverBeaver: Building, shaping, structure
BeeBeeBeeBee: Community, clan, work, industry, organization, messages, communication,
luck, sacred to Venus
BlackbirdBlackbirdBlackbirdBlackbird: Enchantment, between-the-worlds work
Black Widow SpiderBlack Widow SpiderBlack Widow SpiderBlack Widow Spider: Weaving a new fate
Blue JayBlue JayBlue JayBlue Jay: Communication, magickal mimicry, guardian energy
BoarBoarBoarBoar: Strength, family protection, warrior spirit, leadership
BobcatBobcatBobcatBobcat: Solitary magick, psychic warning, secrets
BuffaloBuffaloBuffaloBuffalo: Prayer, abundance, healing, good fortune
BullBullBullBull: Wealth, creativity, ability to expand opportunities
ButterflyButterflyButterflyButterfly: Transformation, balance, grace, dance, artistic endeavors,
enlightenment, reincarnation, sacred to the Horae
CamelCamelCamelCamel: Survival during lean times
CaribouCaribouCaribouCaribou: Travel, mobility
CatCatCatCat: Magick, mystery, independence, psychic warning, grace, playfulness,
equilibrium, grace, sacred to Bast
ChameleonChameleonChameleonChameleon: Changing environment, camouflage
CheetahCheetahCheetahCheetah: Speed, flexibility
ChickenChickenChickenChicken: Divination, fertility, health
ChipmunkChipmunkChipmunkChipmunk: Finding treasures in the earth, working for the future
CicadaCicadaCicadaCicada: Happiness, joy
ClamClamClamClam: Closing ranks for protection
CobraCobraCobraCobra: Swift decisive action
CopperheadCopperheadCopperheadCopperhead: Aggressive healing, psychism
CougarCougarCougarCougar: Balance, majesty, power, agility
CoyoteCoyoteCoyoteCoyote: Humor, trickiness, reversal of fortune
CowCowCowCow: Prosperity, the goddess aspect, sacred to Hathor
CrabCrabCrabCrab: Good luck, protection, success
CraneCraneCraneCrane: Balance, majesty
CricketCricketCricketCricket: Luck, faith, intuition, happiness, abundance, blessings
CrocodileCrocodileCrocodileCrocodile: Primal strength, creation, patience, Great Mother, balance
CrowCrowCrowCrow: Council, wisdom, resourcefulness, law
Daddy Longlegs SpiderDaddy Longlegs SpiderDaddy Longlegs SpiderDaddy Longlegs Spider: Invisibility
DeerDeerDeerDeer: Gentleness, sensitivity, peace, nature, education (spiritual), security, sacred
to Artemis, Aphrodite, and Diana
DingoDingoDingoDingo: Relentless pursuit of goals
DogDogDogDog: Loyalty, guidance, protection, friendship, service, trust, devotion, psychic
DolphinDolphinDolphinDolphin: Joy, harmony, connection with self, intelligence, psychism, community,
protection, oracles, divine messages, the breath of life, sacred to Apollo
DragonflyDragonflyDragonflyDragonfly: Skill, refinement, relentlessness, dreams, psychism, artistry
EagleEagleEagleEagle: Potency, healing power, illumination, spirit, intelligence, courage, decision
making, carrier of prayers
EarthwormEarthwormEarthwormEarthworm: Reworking old projects, investigation
ElephantElephantElephantElephant: Prosperity, power, strength
ElkElkElkElk: Stamina, pride, power, majesty
FerretFerretFerretFerret: Stealth, agility, uncovering the truth
FireflyFireflyFireflyFirefly: Hope, inspiration, beginnings, ideas, creativity
FishFishFishFish: Fertility, perseverance, providence, sacred to Oannes and Vishnu
FoxFoxFoxFox: Camouflage, cleverness, subtlety, discretion, shapeshifting, transformation,
cunning, diplomacy, invisibility, half-truths, quick action, sacred to Bacchus and
FrogFrogFrogFrog: Cleansing, peace, emotional healing, new beginnings, abundance, medicine,
hidden beauty, fertility, health, honesty, sacred to Hekt
Garter SnakeGarter SnakeGarter SnakeGarter Snake: Activity, opportunity
GeckoGeckoGeckoGecko: Overcoming strife
GoatGoatGoatGoat: Tenacity, diligence, reaching success, confidence
GooseGooseGooseGoose: Safe return, love of home, protection, parenting, perseverance
GoldfishGoldfishGoldfishGoldfish: Peace, prosperity
Guinea PigGuinea PigGuinea PigGuinea Pig: Group mind
HareHareHareHare: The moon, fecundity, sacred to Aphrodite and Eros
HawkHawkHawkHawk: Awareness, truth, cleansing, nobility, remembering, clarity, spirit
HippopotamusHippopotamusHippopotamusHippopotamus: Transformation, initiation, creative power
HorseHorseHorseHorse: Freedom, power, safe movement, the Goddess, travel between the worlds,
rebirth, grace, fertility, divination, sacred to Mars and Kwannon
HummingbirdHummingbirdHummingbirdHummingbird: Beauty, wonder, agility, joy, repair relationship difficulties,
HyenaHyenaHyenaHyena: Family/clan life, group mind, heightened perception
JackalJackalJackalJackal: Protection from hidden dangers, guidance
JaguarJaguarJaguarJaguar: Reclaiming power, strength, speed, ability
JellyfishJellyfishJellyfishJellyfish: Sensitivity to water energy, emotions, understanding of the value of
floating rather than swimming through trying emotional times, proper use of
softness (not being rigid), ability to become untangled from the webs of peril in
KangarooKangarooKangarooKangaroo: Forward movement
KolaKolaKolaKola: Serenity, peace, removing sickness
Komodo DragonKomodo DragonKomodo DragonKomodo Dragon: Long life, survival
Lady BugLady BugLady BugLady Bug: Wish fulfillment, luck, protection, prosperity
LarkLarkLarkLark: Cheerfulness, solar magick
LemurLemurLemurLemur: Heralds ghosts
LeopardLeopardLeopardLeopard: Ghost buster, overcoming bad habits, destroying jealousy, intuition
LionLionLionLion: Courage, strength, loyalty
LizardLizardLizardLizard: Dreaming, letting go, elusiveness, patience
LoonLoonLoonLoon: Communication, serenity, creative inspiration, fidelity
LynxLynxLynxLynx: Secrets, vision questing, visionary work, cutting-edge mentality
MoleMoleMoleMole: Luck, revealing secret matters
MooseMooseMooseMoose: Self-esteem, unpredictability, spontaneity
MothMothMothMoth: Sending and receiving messages
Mountain LionMountain LionMountain LionMountain Lion: Leadership
MouseMouseMouseMouse: Attention to detail, economy, getting around barriers, sacred to Apollo
MuskratMuskratMuskratMuskrat: Navigating through tricky situations
MusselsMusselsMusselsMussels: Filtering information
NightingaleNightingaleNightingaleNightingale: Love, lightening burdens, sacred to Adonis and Attis
OctopusOctopusOctopusOctopus: Creative center, intelligence, power
OtterOtterOtterOtter: Medicine (woman), joy, laughter, lightness, sharing, playfulness, grace in
the water, learning to swim
OwlOwlOwlOwl: Wisdom, vision, insight, heightened perception, female magick, messages to
and from the dead, self-truth, sacred to Athena
PanPanPanPandadadada: Nourishment, finding the heart of a problem
PantherPantherPantherPanther: Regaining ones power, protection, finding information, Dark Mother
PigPigPigPig: Abundance, fertility, intelligence, renewal
PoPoPoPolar Bearlar Bearlar Bearlar Bear: Supernatural power, guides between worlds
PorcupinePorcupinePorcupinePorcupine: Innocence, humility
Praying MantisPraying MantisPraying MantisPraying Mantis: Finding solutions to problems, dreaming, using the higher mind
QuailQuailQuailQuail: Protectiveness group harmony
RabbitRabbitRabbitRabbit: Conquering fear, safety, innocence, balance, rebirth, intuition, messages
from the Spirit world
RaccoonRaccoonRaccoonRaccoon: Dexterity, glamouries, secrecy
RamRamRamRam: Achievement, strength, success
RatRatRatRat: Intelligence, socialization, success
RattlesnakeRattlesnakeRattlesnakeRattlesnake: Transformation, healing, cycle of life and death
RavenRavenRavenRaven: Mystery, exploration of the unknown, magick, healing, initiation,
protection, messages, wisdom, balance, prophesy, sacred to Hellios
RhinocerosRhinocerosRhinocerosRhinoceros: Ancient wisdom
RobinRobinRobinRobin: Harbinger of spring, the fire element, sacred to Thor
SalamanderSalamanderSalamanderSalamander: Inspiration, help, creativity
SalmonSalmonSalmonSalmon: Trust, strength, determination, persistence
SandpiperSandpiperSandpiperSandpiper: Quickness, foraging, scavenging
SSSScorpioncorpioncorpioncorpion: Transformation, success, cycle of life and death, protection, weather
Sea HorseSea HorseSea HorseSea Horse: Honor, codes of conduct, creativity
SeSeSeSeagullagullagullagull: Carefree attitude, versatility, freedom
SealSealSealSeal: Contentment, dreaming, the collective conscious, birth, imagination
SharkSharkSharkShark: Relentless ferocity, intuition
Siberian TigerSiberian TigerSiberian TigerSiberian Tiger: Creativity, power, passion, unpredictable
SkunkSkunkSkunkSkunk: Caution, warning, respect, reputation
SnailSnailSnailSnail: Perseverance, determination, birth, luck, divination, sacred to Tecciztecatl
SnakSnakSnakSnakeeee: Transmutation, power, life force, sexual potency, initiation, wisdom,
health, sacred to Hermes, Ra, and Hygeia
SparrowSparrowSparrowSparrow: Desire, fertility, manifesting new love in ones life, understanding the
aspects of race, ability to use the power of music, all aspects of color
SpiderSpiderSpiderSpider: Web of life, interconnectedness, industrious, weaving strong magick, fate,
spiral energy, destiny, networks, sacred to Holda, the Norns, Spider Woman, and
SquirrelSquirrelSquirrelSquirrel: Trust, thrift, gathering, preparation, saving money, collecting, storage,
sacred to Medb
* StagStagStagStag: The God, independence, purification, protection of forests
StarfishStarfishStarfishStarfish: Working towards your desires, regeneration
Stick Bug Stick Bug Stick Bug Stick Bug (Walkingstick)(Walkingstick)(Walkingstick)(Walkingstick): Camouflage, focus
SwanSwanSwanSwan: Grace, elegance, nurturing together, relationship, oneness
TigerTigerTigerTiger: Strength, power, new adventures, family magick
ToadToadToadToad: Inner strength, protection
TurkeyTurkeyTurkeyTurkey: Giveaway, increase material abundance, charity, self sacrifice
Turtle/TortoiseTurtle/TortoiseTurtle/TortoiseTurtle/Tortoise: Symbol of the earth, connection with the center, navigation
skills, patience, self-boundaries, associated with the feminine, power to heal
female diseases, respecting the boundaries of others, developing new ideas,
psychically protecting oneself, self-reliance, tenacity, non-violent defense, faith,
patience, rewards, wisdom, creation, creativity, regeneration, sacred to Vishnu,
Hsi Wang-Mu, and Ea-Oannes
WhaleWhaleWhaleWhale: Record keeper, creativity and intuition, the water element, rejuvenation,
sacred to many oceanic deities
WolfWolfWolfWolf: Facing the end of ones cycle with dignity and courage, death and rebirth,
spirit teaching, guidance in dreams and meditations, instinct linked with
intelligence, social and familial values, outwitting enemies, ability to pass unseen,
steadfastness, skill in protection of self and family, taking advantage of chance,
family, clan, teaching, protection, intuition, strength
WolverinWolverinWolverinWolverineeee: Boldness, ferocity
ZebraZebraZebraZebra: Agility, finding individuality within a group
Animals in Witchcraft
Witches and CatsWitches and CatsWitches and CatsWitches and Cats
"The rise of Christianity in Europe heralded a fundamental shift in attitudes to cats.
During the Middle Ages, the cat's links with the ancient, pagan cult of the mother
goddess inspired a wave of persecution that lasted several hundred years. Branded as
agents of the Devil, and the chosen companions of witches and necromancers, cats,
especially black ones, were enthusiastically tortured and executed during Christian
festivals all over Europe. It was also believed that witches disguised themselves as cats
as a means of traveling around incognito, so anyone encountering a stray cat at night
felt obliged to try and kill or maim the animal. By teaching people to associate cats
with the Devil and bad luck, it appears that the Church provided the underprivileged
and superstitious masses with a sort of universal scapegoat, something to blame for all
of the many hardships and misfortunes of life. Fortunately for cats, such attitudes
began to disappear gradually during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with
the dawn of the so-called Age of Enlightenment. However, not until the middle of
the nineteenth century did cats eventually begin to regain the popularity they once
enjoyed in Ancient Egypt."
Locust on TrialLocust on TrialLocust on TrialLocust on Trial
The discussion so far has put me in mind of a terrific book I once read on European
animal trials, which were conducted up until I think the 17th century. One example
especially pertinent to the topic at hand: if a plague of caterpillars or locusts or
whatever infested an area, the local legal community would put the swarm on trial. A
locust would be captured and taken to the courthouse. It would become the
"defendant", and would in effect stand-in for the whole swarm. The trial would be
conducted with all pomp and circumstance, with a lawyer appointed to represent the
swarm and etc. There were a number of standard defensive strategies, and sometimes
the swarm was even judged innocent if their lawyer was especially able. If judged
guilty, however, the locusts were ordered to get out of town. If the infestation abated,
the trial was given credit. If the infestation continued, this does not appear to have
been seen as an argument against conducting animal trials in the future. I trust the
resemblance to the rain dance ceremony is fairly clear here.
The author of the book (I cannot recall the title or author; I remember that it was
published in the early 1900s and the cover shows a reproduction of an old print,
portraying the public execution of a pig by hanging) argues that such trials are an
attempt by the human community to intervene in the natural order, to exert its will
over the world. I think this is a pretty insightful comment.
"Exerting human will over the world" could serve as a definition of the goal of
science. Bacon sometimes describes science as the human "conquest" of nature, and
certainly many modern critiques of science (feminist, for example) have taken this to
be the self-defined goal of scientific inquiry. I'm not arguing for the ultimate truth of
this particular position, but on the other hand if you look at things along these lines
than certain aspects of religious and scientific thought seem to be closely related, at
least in their purpose. Bacon's studies of heat are supposed to yield a (universal)
process for making heat, the shaman leading a rain dance is trying to make it rain, the
animal trial is an attempt to bring the plague to an end etc.
Note that the various rituals used for bringing about these interventions don't have to
work very well in each case for the ritual to be accepted within the community. The
community may simply accept that human powers are limited in what they can
accomplish. I believe that within alchemical studies this was a common view; even if
all the processes were carried out correctly, you might still not create gold from lead
or whatever, and in fact usually would not. Note also that the ritual might have
multiple functions within the community. The rain-dance both be used for bringing
rain and bringing about group solidarity. These are not mutually exclusive. Again, I
have read something similar with respect to alchemical procedures; that the alchemist
"purifying" metals with his various tools is also going through a process of spiritual
purification. And certainly the animal trial, even if it does not drive out the
infestation, makes the community feel better. The community is "doing something"
about its situation, even if its acts are ineffective.
I also like the animal trial example because it muddies the waters here in interesting
ways. The conversation to date has concerned itself with comparing/contrasting
religious/scientific thought. Yet here we see legal institutions using their procedures
in a way that suggests a religious ritual. Conversations on the distinctions/similarities
between legal and religious thought, and legal and scientific thought, would also be
good to have.
The Animals of SalemThe Animals of SalemThe Animals of SalemThe Animals of Salem
Salem Story: Reading the Witch Trials of 1692 by Bernard Rosenthal Cambridge
University Press 1993
p.18 John Hughes, while testifying about seeing beast transform into Sarah Good,
Sarah Osborne, and Tituba, also mentions that on March 2 "a great white dog
followed him and then disappeared, and then that night in bed he saw a great light
and a cat at the foot of his bed." (from Narratives of the WC Cases 1648-1706 ed. G.
p.21 Tituba's testimony included many animals...black dog/hog/man/yellow bird told
her to serve him; yellow bird was accompanying Sarah Good (who had already given
accusers legitimacy); also said she saw a cat with Good on other occasions
p.22 T. saw 2 cats, black and red. "What did the cats do? Tituba did not know. Had
the cats hurt or threatened her? They had scratched her. What had they wanted of
her? They had wanted her to hurt the children. They had forced her to pinch the
children. Did the cats suck Tituba? No, she would not let them."
p.82 Bridget Bishop (owner of shuffle-board and cider teenage hangout) was testified
against by Wonn, slave of John Ingerson. He "told a story of frightened horses, the
vanishing shape of B.B. (at the time B. Oliver), the appearance of an unknown cat,
and mysterious pinching and pain."
p.124 Martha Carrier: 7 yr. old daughter Sarah was induced to confess that "a cat,
identifying itself as M. C., had carried Sarah along to afflict people when her mother
was in prison."
The Animals of Finnish WitchtrialsThe Animals of Finnish WitchtrialsThe Animals of Finnish WitchtrialsThe Animals of Finnish Witchtrials
I have studied over 1200 finish witch trials 1520-1700 (with PD Marko Nenonen) and
there is a certain role of animals. "Para" was a small "cat-like" animal, used to steal
milk and a butter called cow lucky especially in Swedish speaking west coast in
Finland. The "Para" was not found out by judges, but it had a long folk tradition.
There are many examples where a neighbor was accusing another by stealing "butter
lucky" with "para".
"Para" is just the same "trollcat" as it was in Sweden and Norway. You can find "Para"
in court protocols in western part (Swedish speaking part) in Finland (1520-1600), but
not in Finnish speaking parts on the country. So "Para" can't be shamanistic (Lapland)
phenomenon, but it surely is known all parts of Scandinavia.
As time goes, You could find "Para" in Finnish speaking areas too, but in in 1500-
1700. So we have learned it from Swedish speaking people.
But, as we are dealing with animals, you can find other animals than "trollcat" too.
We have cases with "trolldog" which I mean the Devil with a shape of a dog. Some of
our accused had meet the devil with a shape of a dog (and a coat).
We have at least one case with a "metamorphose", where people have been accused of
being "werewolves". In Estonia the tradition of those being wolves in night time was
strong. There were many cases like that.
I think, the idea of "trollcats" is not shamanistic, it is surely Scandinavian!
There is quite a lot of articles about "Para" (Trollcat) but only few of them would be
available in English.
But, there is one point we have to keep in mind. People were accused of having
"Para" and they were convicted to using witchcraft, but they were never convicted to
having para! The matter of trial was not, is there really animal shaped "butter
stealing" para, but it was a question of practicing witchcraft or superstition!
In Scandinavia we have very old "lore", written by one historian about 1200-1300,
were a man was killed by "Mara" (bad dream animal?) because he had not kept his
promise to his Finnish wife.
Another instance of using "para", other than trying have luck in stealing butter, was a
"Finnish way" to use a bear as a helper for killing someone's cattle. People believed
that some (almost always a man) people had ability to force bears to kill enemy's
horse or cattle. But I have no idea, if the bear wanted some price of it's doings
(nourishment or protection).
Even in the oldest witch trials (before people had any idea about satanic pact with
devil) witches were believed to use some animals as a helper of their maleficium. So,
this belief must be older than the Christian theory of pact.
The bear cases seems to be common way to do harm among Finnish speaking people.
In some rare cases the helper was a wolf. In some cases (1670s) the helper was a dog,
but it seems that the dog was not really an animal, but it was a Devil with a shape of a
Some ladies used cows (or even a pig) to ride to "Bl=E5kulla" (the Sabbath), but those
animals were usually "borrowed" for some neighbor and they were not acting like a
helper - they were forced to do so.
Laplanders who had long shaman traditions used to use "animal spirit helpers" to do
things, but they were not accused of forcing real animals to do any harm, as far as I
There is one big difference between using a "Para" and a bear. "Para" was supernatural
familiar, but bears were really acting animals whom could be seen. Damage made by
para was a loss of butter or milk lucky, but a damage made by bear was real. Anyone
could see the damage.
In some cases there was so called "tonttu" (tomptegubben or rgubbe in Swedish).
They were not used as helpers, but You should give them some presents for getting
rid of harms they could do. People believed, that "tonttu" was living in particular
place and people living in same area were disturbing the tonttu. So You had to do
something to keep tonttu in good mood. Tonttu was spiritual, because no one had
never catch one. Tonttu was not an animal, but small human kind of creature.
Then there was "Nekki" or "Nacken". It was a creature living in lakes and killing
people by taking them under the water. Nekki was not a real animal and it did not
acted like a helper for anyone it did what it wanted to do.
First little more about "para". The belief of "para" helping to steal cows must be very
old, because in one Finnish church there is a painting of para. The painting is older
than the belief that a Witch have a pact with the devil, the devil then giving a
"spiritum" to a helper for the witch (This belief was not known in Finland until
Secondly, I think too, that a witch-hare (para)is common in Sweden. Probably
Finnish speaking people have borrowed in from Sweden, because there are no witch-
hares in our oldest mythology as far as I know. The witch-hare (para) was mentioned
in trials some times in the Swedish speaking area of Finland (west coast), but not in
Finnish speaking Karelia, suggesting it is borrowed.
Thirdly, I have to check my papers to find out is there any "pet connection" in
Finnish witch trials, but without doing so I can't remember any cases where pet
animals had some part of being helpers and neither did PhD Marko Nenonen as we
But I could find at least one case where a man was killed by his own dog. The victim,
Antti Yrjonpoika Paivikainen, was a customer of famous witch Antti Lieroinen who
did all kinds of maleficium for salary. After their contact Paivikainen was found dead
and the cause for that was his own dog. So Lieroinen was thought to cause the death
by using victim's own dog to kill him. This was not proved, but Lieroinen was
executed for other witchcraft he had done. This happened in 1643.
Fourthly, 27.3.1641 witch Erkki Juhonpoika Puujumala ("Tree god") was convicted in
Turku Supreme Court. He was sentenced to death for many reasons - for killing
people with witchcraft etc. He has had an argument with other people and he had
said that he was going change those people into wolves with his maleficium. This was
not proved to happen, but it was one prosecution among many. By the way, Tree god
said that he was 120 years old.
Fifthly, we have some cases where a witch has used a snake to do some crime. One
witch argued with his wife and then separated. Later that ex-wife got pregnant from a
snake, and later gave birth to some snakes. In one another case the snake had gone
inside of a woman (and they used a Lappish healer to try to get it out).
Snakes had also a strong part of shamanism, but I don't know what really was the
function of shamans snake-shape belongings(??instruments??). Finnish folkloristics
seem to believe that the snake was for the shamans protection.
We had few cases where a snake's head was used by magical meanings.
Sixthly, in 1732 court was dealing with a case, where Lauri Heikinpoika Tervo
accused his neighbor "of sending a bird with fire on its head (nose)" to burn his house,
which burned. Due to losses of protocols, we don't know how the case was handled,
but I'm sure the court did not find neighbor guilty. Birds have been known to used to
carry fire in saami tradition (says Finnish folklorist Aune Nystrom).
Seventhly, we have found one case where a woman gave birth to some frogs, and one
case where a frog was put in a box and buried inside of a church. The box was just
like those boxes they used with human bodies.
Eighth, we have a case where they used a fish to heal sick person. The idea was that
the "Grande mal" (falling sickness) would be moved from people to fish. So they did
it, but unfortunately one innocent person touched the fish and got himself sick. And
of course the sickness was grande mal.
Ninth, I have a strong feeling, that Finnish courts did not tried to found out if the
accused had animal helper or not. The law mentioned nothing about animal imps or
spirituals, so they were not needed as evidence. Maleficium was maleficium and it
could be proofed without any animal helpers or spirits.
10th According the old folk tradition the bear will not harm the cattle if one takes a
blind puppy dog and buries it with some rites in the land on area, where the bear
lives. But I have no evidence that this has ever been done.
11th In Finland was believed, that milking others cow, would steal not only the milk
but the further milk lucky too. I think this believe is common in whole Scandinavia.
12th A bear could be sent to harm neighbor's cattle. But at least in one case (1746)
shows, that it could also to sent back to harm the original witch.
13th I have no reason to believe that the animal (except the bear or wolf sent to do
harm) were real ones. If it was so that the helpers were real pets, why they did not
execute the pets too?
I think that the judges has sent the animals to death as they did with cases where
humans had sexual intercourse with animal. They executed both! One reason to not
to do so could be, that the animal was not "guilty" for anything because it could not
differ the right and the wrong from each other. But so did the raped animal neither.
14th The worms. At least in one case the witch used worms to destroy a pig. He used
some magical technique and the victims pig get "full of worms" as they found out
when they slaughtered the sick pig. Worms could be sent to a human being too.
15th The lycanthropy. Werewolves had no part of Finnish trials, but they had one in
Estonia. Why? The Finnish people have common roots with Estonian people and our
languages are still quite similar. Our oldest pre-Christian religion is common, and
there is no werewolves in that tradition, as far as I know. So, where the Estonians got
the idea about werewolves? I think that they have adopted it from Germans. Estonia
has been under strong German influence, but Finland hasn't. So, I believe, that they
must have copied the idea from German "Werewolffe".
According Maia Madar (Estonia I: Werewolves and prisoners, in Early Modern
European Witchcraft ed. Bengt Ankarloo and Gustav Henningsen, Clarendon Press,
"Belief in werewolves was widespread. At eighteen trials, eighteen women and
thirteen men were accused of causing damage while werewolves. At Meremoisa 1623,
the defendant Ann testified that she had been a werewolf for four years, and had
killed a horse as well as some smaller animals. She had later hidden the wolf skin
under a stone in the fields." (page 270)
Maia Madar tells other examples, too. And in one case where 18-year old Hans had
confessed that he had hunted as a werewolf for two years, "when asked by the judges
if his body took part in the hunt, or if only his soul was transmuted, Hans confirmed
that he had found a dog's teeth-marks on his own leg, which he had received while a
werewolf. Further asked whether he felt himself to be a man or a beast while
transmuted, he told that he felt himself to be beast." (page 271)
Madar writes: "It was acknowledged that people could be transmuted not only into
werewolves, but also into bears."
So as a lawyer I must ask why they were confessing that they were hunting as
werewolves in Estonia. The answer must be torture. Torture was widely used in
Estonia ecen it was under the Swedish jurisdiction, where torture was forbidden.
16th The devil in a shape of a dog. All over the Scandinavia we had trials where the
accused said, that the devil they've met had a shape of a dog. Why the dog? Danish
witchhistorian Jens Christian V. Johanssen writes (in book mentioned above), that
the popular culture (peoples believes) borrowed ideas for wall-paintings in the
"In Ejsing church, Christ is tempted in the desert by the devil in the shape of a
ferocious-looking dog! Popular imagination was so vivid that on given occasions the
devil came to take his form". (Johansen: Denmark: The Sociology of Accusations in
Early Modern European Witchcraft.. page 363-364).
Well, so and so. But surely the popular culture appointed ideas from elite's culture.
17th The shamanism. I have not specialized about shamanism, so I'll now follow the
ideas that Finnish shamanism expert Anna-Leena Siikala writes in her book
"Suomalainen samanismi" (Finnish Shamanism), Hameenlinna 1992.
Siikala writes about moving the demon from someone to another. In Finnish folklore
it is usual to remove a disease from patient to an animal or some idol, like wooden
puppet. This is common between Middle- and East-Siperia shaman too. She remind,
that even Jesus removed demon from a man to some pigs. (page 187)
There is information about this kind of "removing" in German and Estonia too. In
Finland this was usually done by soothsaying, but this was not common in Middle-
Europe or Scandinavia.
Siikala guesses, that this habit has very old shamanistic roots and that the churches
middle-age tradition has forced this old religion. (pages 188-189)
In these cases animals are shamans helpers and they carry the evil demon away.
Shamans (spiritual) animal helpers are also spies, Shaman can send them far away to
collect information what is happening. Helpers also carry the information from here
to the "heaven". "Because shamans helper animal do not only to take the disease to
themselves, but carry it to "heaven" (or "to the other side" as shamans say), they are
not usual (real) animals" (page 191).
Siikkala says, that middle age church adopted these old ideas and they used the idea
to their rituals (to carry out demons).
Shamans used to call their helpers for instance by singing (and using the drum). In
my opinion it is surely understandable that shaman was all the time demonstrating to
the audience, that he has very important helpers.
The shaman uses his helpers to fight against other shamans helpers, too. So when
shaman is healing a patent, he first finds out where the disease has become, and then
force it to go back. If the disease is caused by demon, you have to fight against demon.
If it is caused by other shaman with his helpers, so the helpers must fight together. (as
Carlo Ginzburg's "benandati" did).
The idea about shamans fighting together is old and it is common in Northern-Asia,
too. In Siperia tradition the fighting shamans could take a shape of animals.
But I could not find any reason to believe that the helper animals were real animals in
Siikalas book either.
According to Joan's Witch Pages they executed a dog in Salem Witch trials. This is
something I had not pointed out earlier. If they really executed the dog, so I'll have to
reuse my argument: why they did not executed other suspected "pets" too (if the "pet
theory" is right)?
The Trials of FamiliarsThe Trials of FamiliarsThe Trials of FamiliarsThe Trials of Familiars
One reason why they may not have executed pets is because the law assumed that
these creatures were supernatural beings - by definition. If the animals had been
captured, brought to court, examined by authorities, etc., it would have been difficult
to avoid the conclusion that the witch's cat or dog was, in fact, no different from any
other cat or dog. In addition, according to folklore, these animals could not be killed
by ordinary means because they were spirits. We have found one account, for
example, of a suspected familiar (a poodle dog called Boye, belonging to Prince
Rupert) being killed by a silver bullet fired by a 'soldier skilled in necromancy' at the
battle of Marston Moor in 1642. Also, perhaps it was assumed that the familiars would
perish as soon as the witch was executed, since they were assumed to depend on
her/him for nourishment (coincidentally, of course, the animals probably didn't
survive for long once their owners were incarcerated and executed). However, I agree
with you that the fate of these animals is somewhat mysterious. My guess would be
that the witch's neighbors dealt with them swiftly and discretely, but I have no
evidence either way. I wasn't aware of the Salem dog execution but will now look
into this. In the bestiality trials, the animals were not generally executed as criminals.
Rather they seem to have been regarded as polluted creatures which might have a
corrupting influence on public morality if allowed to remain alive. Thus, there was a
particular incentive to identify these (real) animals and kill them.
Badger (Guardian of the South)
Zuni name: Black Mark face
Wide, bulky, compact body, spread out along the ground, legs and tail barely
suggested. Narrow, blunt face, prominent nose. (Describing the fetish itself)
As Talisman:As Talisman:As Talisman:As Talisman:
This fetish helps you focus your attention and deepen your passion. It is an antidote
to passivity and 'victimized' feelings. It helps you become more tenacious and
grounded, for achieving any goal.
Personality Type:Personality Type:Personality Type:Personality Type:
If you are a Badger person, you are aggressive, highly goal oriented, able to
concentrate on a single task or mission for long periods; and a good provider.
I looked through all my information, but as far as the Seminoles go I couldn't find any
reference to the Badger. I'm not saying that it doesn't exist, I just couldn't find any.
Here is something from one of my books that I thought you might find interesting:
"Badgers are 2-3 feet long and are about 12 inches high. Family members mark each
other with scent for recognition since their sight is poor. Their senses of smell and
hearing, however, are excellent. Their diet includes a wide variety of roots, herbs,
plant, and many small animals. They dig with remarkable speed to catch burrowing
prey and when they need to get underground quickly. Badgers live in simple but
extremely clean, well kept dens. They pay close attention to details within their
home environments. They change their bedding often, backing carefully into their
dens with straw, so as not to make a mess in the process.
Badgers bring us gifts of tidiness and organization. They are fastidious about their
surroundings and will correct any disorder quickly. If Badger has come to you in
some way, it may be saying that you need to concentrate on maintaining an orderly
environment to better facilitate your day to day living. Badger can also be helpful to
call upon for aid in managing your time. This can be useful for those of us who are
trying to satisfy our need to devote time to ceremonies and the spirit realm and still
work a job.
Badger will fight to the death if cornered. While this may be a useful trait in the wild,
men used this quality of Badger to exploit it in the so-called sport of Badger-baiting.
Captured Badgers were put into small enclosed areas with a dog or dogs, and bets
were placed on the outcome of the fight. Are you stuck in a pattern that served you
well once, but is now damaging? Badger could be warning you that a change of
behavior is in order if you don't want to be cornered or used."
Bats Shouldn't Be Pests
Over the last few decades, much has been learned about bats and how they help to
keep our environment healthy. Many species of bats, such as those known as flying
foxes, are also surprisingly appealing and intelligent. Ironically, though, bats continue
to be among the most misunderstood and feared of all our wildlife. This fear and
ignorance have contributed to the almost total destruction of sever bat species and
threatened the existence of many others. Such loses can seriously harm ecosystems
and reduce the quality of life for more living things. Including humans. But with our
help, bats can continue to function as one of nature's most beneficial creatures.
Bats are mammals, and like all other mammals, the females possess mammary glands
where milk is produced and fed to the young. Baby bats, called pups, are born alive
and have to be taken care of for an extended period of time. The body of a bat is
covered by hair, as is true of other mammals.
Bats fly, which does make them different from most mammals. Bats belong to the
Chiropterea, which means "hand-wing". Species in this order are divided into two
suborders. Megchiroptera, which includes the various species of flying foxes, and
Microchiroptera. Flying foxes use echolocation, a kind of natural sonar for locating
prey and other objects. Megachiropteran bats are found only in Europe, Asia, etc.
Microchiropteran bats do echo locate and are a much more diverse and widely
Bats are indeed beneficial to people. In many cultures, bats are a symbol of good luck
and fortune. In our own western culture, this for the most part is not so. Many view
bats as unclean, disease carrying, symbols of evil. In reality, bats are actually very
gentle, and will only bite if attacked or threatened or improperly handled. They are
no more likely to carry disease then a bird. Rabies, as with any other wild animal is a
valid concern. Use caution if you must handle them, wearing gloves, and even better,
have a rabies vaccination prior to handling. Fortunately, there is no reason to handle
As predators of nocturnal insects, pollinators of flowers, and distributors of seeds of
many plants, bats are a crucial to ecosystems. Consuming volumes of insects, they are
worth their weight in gold, in many areas where humans are finally learning of the
benefits. Fortunately for the bat, many humans are learning just how valuable they
Sometimes there may be a problem with bats getting in where they are not wanted. A
safe solution to keeping bats out of your attic or garage, is to see where bats leave the
building at dusk to feed. Then identify the specific holes or cracks during the day by
looking for brownish stains at the exit sites. These sites will frequently be found
where a wall meets a roof or a chimney, behind a loose board or in holes made by
other animals. Wait until the young can fly or the bats migrate, then hang bird
netting over the exit points, allowing it to hang at least two feet below the nesting
site exit. Wait three more days after the netting has been in place, and close over the
holes with screening, caulking or boards. Please refrain from using chemical or
ultrasonic device techniques or repellents.
There are now organizations to assist in protecting bats, and in fact, more and more
people are becoming concerned with the conservation of bats, through private as well
as governmental organizations. The increased awareness is most certainly die to the
efforts of the Bat Conservation International, and numerous other organizations that
emphasize education, which is ultimately the key to conserving our bat friends.
You can invite bats to your own backyard and become active in bat conservation by
using an artificial roost to attract bats. Bat houses are enjoyed by a variety of bat
species that also use natural crevices and tree hollows. Even if the house is not used
by bats, its presence causes visitors to ask about the house which provides the owner
an excellent opportunity to educate friends about bats.
Bat houses are inexpensive and easy to build. You can buy these at garden centers,
order them from conservation groups, or build your own.
Dreams from a Shamanistic point of view are of two types, 'ordinary' and 'non-
ordinary' or 'Big Dreams'.
Big Dreams are ones that occur several times, or ones that are so vivid that they
almost seem real. Big Dreams are considered to be communication from your
Guardian. These are not symbolic, but are literal.
Should you have a Big Dream that has negative connotations, e.g. an automobile
accident, you should immediately enact the dream once you are awake. The dream is
not symbolic, but your enacting of it is. Just go through the notions of the incident in
a simple way and get it over with.
Calling Your Power Animal
There are different names for this exercise in different cultures. It is a way for a
person to get in touch with their animal aspects through dance. Keep in mind that a
Guardian Spirit can appear in animal or human form.
Undertake this exercise in a quiet, half darkened room which is free from furniture
that can hamper your movements. It is helpful if you have the use of one or two
rattles, but these are not necessary.
There are two parts to this exercise, 1 The Starting Dance, and 2 Dancing your animal.
In both dances, you loudly shake a rattle in each hand and dance in time to the rattle.
In all dancing, you keep your eyes half closed. This allows you to cut down on the
light and at the same time enables you to know where you are in the room.
The Starting DanceThe Starting DanceThe Starting DanceThe Starting Dance
Standing still and erect, face east and shake one rattle very rapidly four times. This is
the signal that you are starting, ending or making an important transition in serious
shamanistic work. Think of the rising Sun and the power it brings to all living things.
Still standing in place, start shaking one rattle at a steady pace of about 50 beats per
second. Do this for about half a minute in each cardinal direction while thinking of
the element or power animals of that direction. For example, you can think of an
Eagle in the East, a Lion in the South, a Serpent or Dolphin in the West, and a Bull in
the North. Move clockwise.
Return to the East and shake the rattle above your head at the same rate for about half
a minute. Think of the sun, moon, starts and the entire universe above. Now shake
the rattle towards the ground and think of the earth, our home and the gifts she gives
Still facing the East, begin shaking both rattles at the same rate and dancing along
with the beat as if you were jogging in place. In this starting dance, you are giving
proof of your sincerity to the power animals wherever they may be, by making a
sacrifice to them of your own energy in the form of dance. Dancing is a form of
praying and evoking the sympathy of the Guardian Spirit.
Stop dancing and stand still. Shake one rattle four times to signal that you are about to
make an important transition.
Start shaking your tattles loudly, but in a slow tempo of about 60 beats per minute.
Start dancing around the room in time to the rattle. Move slowly and in a free form.
Try to pick up the feeling of some kind of mammal, bird, fish, reptile or a
combination of these. Once you feel the sense of something, concentrate on it and
slowly move your body in accordance with the creature. Be open to the experience
and emotion of the creature.
Don't hesitate to make noises or cries. By keeping your eyes half closed, you might be
able to see the non-ordinary environment in which the animal is living. You may
even be able to see the animal. Do this for about 5 minutes. Without pausing, shift to
a higher state of rattle shaking and movement. Do this for about 4 minutes. Another
shift to a still faster pace of rattle and body movements. Do this for about 4 minutes.
Stop dancing and mentally welcome the animal into your body. To do this, shake the
rattle four times and draw it and the animal towards your solar plexes.
Face the East and shake the rattle four times, while standing still. This is the signal
that your work has ended.
Once you have successfully gained your power animal, make it content enough to say
with you. This is done through exercising your animal through dancing and singing
songs of the animal.
Guardian animals usually only stay with a person for a few years, and then depart. So
in the course of a life long shamanistic practice, a person will have a number of
For thousands of years, cats have been regarded as mysterious creatures with
supernatural powers. These beliefs certainly did not disappear during the European
witch-craze. The witch trials started in the 13th century. People began to believe that
witches had the ability to turn into an animal, usually a hare or a cat, in order to
transport themselves to a sabbat (a midnight meeting) presided over by the Devil. The
idea of familiar spirits soon developed. These were imps or minor demons who took
the form of any small animal, from a hedgehog to a toad. A familiar acted as an
intermediary for the witch, carrying out her orders so that she wouldn't have to be at
the scene of the crime when the evil deed was done. A witch's cat came to be called a
"grimalkin". The Scottish goddess of witches was called "Mither o' the Mawkins", a
mawkin or malkin being either a cat or a hare. Originally a gremalkin was a gray cat.
Later the term came to refer to the "pussies" or "catkins" on a pussy willow, as well as
to the witch's cat.
* Some of the above info from John Richard Stephens, author of "The Enchanted Cat"
Cat Folklore and MagiCat Folklore and MagiCat Folklore and MagiCat Folklore and Magicccc
Cats have been sacred to more than one religion, and at different times and places
have been considered both good and bad luck-bringers. The Egyptian goddess Bast
was both lion-headed and cat-headed and attended by cats and therefore cats were
sacred and revered in Egypt; killing one was a heinous crime, and when a household
cat died mourning rites were performed for it. Cats were often found in temples and
were ritually fed; stray cats were treated with honor and fed, and the household cat
was allowed to share the family's food. Cat amulets were produced and elaborate cat-
sized sarcophagi crafted for cats who had died, who were often embalmed as humans
were. Followers of the goddess Diana also considered the cat sacred because she once
assumed the form of a cat, and cats were under her special protection. In Scandinavia,
Freya's chariot was drawn by cats. The Celtic goddess Cerridwen was also attended by
white cats, who carried out her orders on earth.
Cat Dream InterpretationsCat Dream InterpretationsCat Dream InterpretationsCat Dream Interpretations
To dream of a black cat is lucky.
To dream of a tortoiseshell cat means luck in love.
To dream of a ginger cat means luck in money and business.
To dream of a white cat means luck in, spiritual matters, divination and spell-craft.
To dream of a black-and-white cat means luck with children; or the birth of a child.
To dream of a tabby cat means luck for the home and all who live there.
To dream of a gray cat means to be guided by your dreams.
To dream of a calico or multi-colored cat means luck with new friends and old ones.
A dream of two cats fighting means illness or a quarrel.
Cats in Witchcraft: A History
A familiar is a spirit contained in the form of an animal that lives as a faithful friend
would do, and is sometimes said to be attracted by an unnatural force to its owner. In
many cultures, this familiar has been said to do the bidding of the owner, and often
for harmful purposes. This is portrayed in the media by the use of an old hag with her
cat or bat, or the wizard who keeps a lizard or a snake by his altar. Sometimes, spiders
or toads are also used. However, the familiar is simply an animal that is linked to the
witch in order to share the magical energies of nature.
The notion of a familiar has been around for many years, and has its roots in
Shamanism and Native American cultures. These wise people had a different kind of
familiar that they could use for guidance, who came to them in times of need, and
protected them from harm. For the Native Americans, they believed that your
familiar comes to you in the dream world. They appear before you as you sleep, and
offer their services as a faithful guardian, often allowing you to change your physical
shape and run as they do. Upon waking, the animal is then carved out in wood or
painted on stone so that the familiar is with you at all times. The Native Americans
also use other animals depending on the nature of the power needed, but the personal
familiar will always be present when the crossing over to the astral world happens.
For a western witch, finding a familiar works in a similar way, although it is most
likely that a physical animal will be found rather than a totem animal. That's not to
say that totem animals aren't use is western witchcraft, but the instances are less
often. The witch will often find themselves drawn to a particular animal, and will
have a deep affinity to an animal they consider a pet of theirs. Again, there are many
different animals that have been named as familiars, such as cats, rats, horses, spiders,
lizards, and even pigs have found themselves safely in their owners houses.
The cat has been the animal linked to those practicing witchcraft for many years.
During the Middle Ages, and up to the late 18th century, people who kept black cats
were more likely to be targeted as being a witch, due to a fear that the cat was
inhabited by the spirit of the Devil, and would harm them while they slept. In some
countries, cats were considered to be witches in disguise, and so sadly suffered the
same fate as the people who were convicted of witchcraft due to their nocturnal
habits. Today, most witches feel attuned to the cat, as they are solitary creatures and
are able to pick up on the emotions of their owner without needed to be too close.
This enables the witch to complete his or her rituals as and when they arise.
Celtic Animal Birth Signs
Date of Birth: Date of Birth: Date of Birth: Date of Birth: December 24 - January 20
Animal: Animal: Animal: Animal: Stag
Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Damh (Approximate pronunciation: Dav)
Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: The Sun
Key Words: Key Words: Key Words: Key Words: Independence, Majesty, Integrity, Pride
Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Sensitivity to other worlds, shape shifting, initiation,
Birthstone: Birthstone: Birthstone: Birthstone: Crystal
Compatibility: Compatibility: Compatibility: Compatibility: Harmonious relations with the signs of adder and salmon. Will also
relate well to the signs of seal, otter & goose. Difficulties may be expected in relation
to all other signs.
Animal: Animal: Animal: Animal: Crane
Gaelic Name:Gaelic Name:Gaelic Name:Gaelic Name: Corr (Approximate pronunciation: Corr)
Ruling Planet:Ruling Planet:Ruling Planet:Ruling Planet: Uranus
Key Words: Key Words: Key Words: Key Words: Secret Knowledge, Eccentric, Patient
Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Crane people are unusually clever people with specialized
skills and talents, with a progressive outlook on life. Sense of the evolving spirit.
Sensitivity to the other world, journeying, magick.
Birthstone: Birthstone: Birthstone: Birthstone: Peridot
CompatCompatCompatCompatibility:ibility:ibility:ibility: Harmonious relations with the signs of bee and swan. Will also relate
well to the signs of bear, owl and cat. Difficulties may be expected in relation to all
Date of Birth: Date of Birth: Date of Birth: Date of Birth: February 18 - March 17
Animal: Animal: Animal: Animal: Seal
Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Ron (Approximate pronunciation: Ron)
Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: Neptune
Key Words: Key Words: Key Words: Key Words: Spiritual, Loving, Super-sensitive.
Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Seal people tend to have great compassion and are highly
adaptable folk. They are also the romantics and dreamers of life. Artistic and
emotional. Sensitivity to the other world. Shape changing and connection with the
Compatibility:Compatibility:Compatibility:Compatibility: Harmonious relations with the signs of otter and goose. Will also
relate well to the signs of salmon, stag, and adder. Difficulties maybe expected in
relation to all other signs.
Date of Birth: Date of Birth: Date of Birth: Date of Birth: March 18 - April 14
Animal: Animal: Animal: Animal: Bear
Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Art (Approximate pronunciation: A as in cat, R as in English, T as in
English Chin. AiRCH)
Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: Mars
Key Words: Key Words: Key Words: Key Words: Achieving, Primal Power, Instinct.
Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Bear people are very connected to their ancestral roots. Filled
with courage and a sense of adventure. Extremely physical, extroverts. Protection,
journeying, and sensitivity to the other world.
Birthstone: Birthstone: Birthstone: Birthstone: Ruby
Compatibility: Compatibility: Compatibility: Compatibility: Harmonious relations with the signs of cat and owl. Will also relate
well to the signs of crane, bee and swan. Difficulties may be expected in relation to all
Date of Birth: Date of Birth: Date of Birth: Date of Birth: April 15 - May 12
Animal: Animal: Animal: Animal: Adder
Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Nathair (Approximate pronunciation: na-CHair. N, a in cat, T as in
Chin, h - silent, air.)
Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: Moon
Key Words: Key Words: Key Words: Key Words: Transformation, Healing, Life Energy.
Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Adder people have a virtue of resourcefulness, that is one of
their greatest strengths. Strong interest in family. Excellent memory. Drawn to
natural methods of healing. Healing, magick, shape shifting and initiation.
Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Moonstone
Compatibility: Compatibility: Compatibility: Compatibility: Harmonious relations with the signs of stag and salmon. Will also
relate well to the signs of seal, otter and goose. Difficulties may be expected in
relation to all other signs.
Date of Birth: Date of Birth: Date of Birth: Date of Birth: May 13 - June 9
Animal: Animal: Animal: Animal: Bee
Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Beach (Approximate pronunciation: beh-ach. B, E as in gEt, A as in cAt,
CH as in German iCH.)
Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: Vulcan
Key Words:Key Words:Key Words:Key Words: Organization, Community, Analytical.
Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Bee people are very charismatic and full of new ideas. Lively
spontaneity and the ability to communicate on every level. Influential and very
social. Fertility and creativity.
Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Topaz
Compatibility:Compatibility:Compatibility:Compatibility: Harmonious relations with the signs of crane and swan. Will also
relate well to the signs of bear, cat and owl. Difficulties may be expected in relation to
all other signs.
Date of Birth:Date of Birth:Date of Birth:Date of Birth: June 10 - July 7
Animal: Animal: Animal: Animal: Otter
Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Dobhran (Approximate pronunciation: dav-rhan.)
Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: Jupiter
Key Words: Key Words: Key Words: Key Words: Family, Helpfulness, Intuitive.
Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Otter people are enterprising with a wide breadth of vision.
Very optimistic with a personal magnetism. Protection, shape shifting, and
Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Diamond
Compatibility:Compatibility:Compatibility:Compatibility: Harmonious relations with the signs of goose and seal. Will also relate
well to the signs of salmon, adder, and stag. Difficulties may be expected in relation to
all other signs.
Date of Birth: Date of Birth: Date of Birth: Date of Birth: July 8 - August 4
Animal: Animal: Animal: Animal: Cat
Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Kati (Approximate pronunciation: ka-Chi.)
Ruling Planet:Ruling Planet:Ruling Planet:Ruling Planet: Earth
Key Words: Key Words: Key Words: Key Words: Creative, Sensual, Nobility
Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Cat people have a strong sense of personal integrity and a
firm set of values. Loyal and trustworthy. Deep devotion to family. Affectionate.
Protection, shape shifting and sensitivity to the other world.
Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Red Carnelian
Compatibility: Compatibility: Compatibility: Compatibility: Harmonious relations with the signs of owl and bear. Will also relate
well to the signs of the crane, bee, and swan. Difficulties may be expected in relation
to all other signs.
Date of Birth:Date of Birth:Date of Birth:Date of Birth: August 5 - September 1
Animal: Animal: Animal: Animal: Salmon
Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Bradan (Approximate pronunciation: bra-TAN.)
Ruling Planet:Ruling Planet:Ruling Planet:Ruling Planet: Mercury
Key Words: Key Words: Key Words: Key Words: Wisdom, Inspiration, Rejuvenation
Gift Quality or Ability:Gift Quality or Ability:Gift Quality or Ability:Gift Quality or Ability: Salmon people have knowledge of the arts and science as well
as good reasoning powers. Perceptive and clever. Keen observers. Initiation, shape
shifting, connection with Faerie.
Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Amethyst
Compatibility: Compatibility: Compatibility: Compatibility: Harmonious relations with the signs of adder and stag. Will also relate
well to the signs of otter, seal and goose. Difficulties may be expected in relation to all
Date of Birth:Date of Birth:Date of Birth:Date of Birth: September 2 - September 29
Animal: Animal: Animal: Animal: Swan
Gaelic Name:Gaelic Name:Gaelic Name:Gaelic Name: Eala (Approximate pronunciation: ellah.)
RuliRuliRuliRuling Planet:ng Planet:ng Planet:ng Planet: Venus
Key Words: Key Words: Key Words: Key Words: Beauty, Love and Soul.
Gift Quality or Ability:Gift Quality or Ability:Gift Quality or Ability:Gift Quality or Ability: Swan people are kind and gentle, adept in love and the social
arts. Calm and serene with a strong domestic sense. Connection with faerie, shape
shifting, and creativity.
Birth StonBirth StonBirth StonBirth Stone: e: e: e: Emerald
Compatibility: Compatibility: Compatibility: Compatibility: Harmonious relations with the signs of crane and bee. Will also relate
well to the owl, cat and bear. Difficulties may be expected in relation to all other
Date of Birth: Date of Birth: Date of Birth: Date of Birth: September 30 - October 27
Gaelic NameGaelic NameGaelic NameGaelic Name: : : : Geadh (Approximate pronunciation: Gia-gh.)
Ruling Planet:Ruling Planet:Ruling Planet:Ruling Planet: Moon
Keywords: Keywords: Keywords: Keywords: Veiling, Direction, Vigilance, Stamina
Gift Quality Gift Quality Gift Quality Gift Quality or Ability:or Ability:or Ability:or Ability: Goose people are generous providers but also thrifty savers
and investors regarding their future security. They have a sharp intellect as well as a
wit. Artistic. Protection, fertility, and creativity.
Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Opal
Compatibility:Compatibility:Compatibility:Compatibility: Harmonious relations with the signs of seal and otter. Will also relate
well to the signs of adder, stag and salmon. Difficulties may be expected in relation to
all other signs.
Date of Birth: Date of Birth: Date of Birth: Date of Birth: October 28 - November 24
Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Gaelic Name: Cailleach-oidhche (Approximate pronunciation: Kall-eeck Oheeche.)
Ruling Planet:Ruling Planet:Ruling Planet:Ruling Planet: Pluto
Keywords: Keywords: Keywords: Keywords: Wisdom, Change, Detachment.
Gift Quality or AbilityGift Quality or AbilityGift Quality or AbilityGift Quality or Ability:::: Owl people have a powerful presence and personal
magnetism that can both attract and overpower sensitive people. Highly imaginative
and passionate. Initiation, sensitivity to the other world, magick.
Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Jasper
Compatibility: Compatibility: Compatibility: Compatibility: Harmonious relations with the signs of cat and bear. Will also relate
well to the signs of bee, swan and crane. Difficulties may be expected in relation to all
Date of Birth: Date of Birth: Date of Birth: Date of Birth: November 25 - December 22
Animal: Animal: Animal: Animal: Raven
Gaelic Name:Gaelic Name:Gaelic Name:Gaelic Name: Bran (Approximate pronunciation: Bran.)
Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: Ruling Planet: Saturn
Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Birth Stone: Lapis Lazuli
Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Gift Quality or Ability: Raven people have a constructive approach to life. They will
continue a struggle that would defeat most people. They are very self-disciplined and
patient. Shape shifting, sensitivity to the other world, connection to the Faerie.
Code of Ethics for Spiritual Guides
People have long sought to enrich their lives and to awaken to their full natures
through spiritual practices including prayer, meditation, mind-body disciplines,
service, ritual, community liturgy, holy-day and seasonal observances, and rites of
passage. "Primary religious practices" are those intended, or especially likely, to bring
about exceptional states of consciousness such as the direct experience of divinity or
of cosmic unity.
In any community, there are some who feel called to assist others along spiritual
paths, and who are known as ministers, rabbis, pastors, curanderas, shamans, priests,
or other titles. We call such people 'guides': those experienced in some practice,
familiar with the terrain, and who act to facilitate the spiritual practices of others. A
guide need not claim exclusive or definitive knowledge of the terrain.
Spiritual practices, and especially primary religious practices, carry risks. Therefore,
when an individual chooses to practice with the assistance of a guide, both take on
special responsibilities. The Council on Spiritual Practices proposes the following
Code of Ethics for those who serve as spiritual guides.
1. IntentionIntentionIntentionIntention Spiritual guides are to practice and serve in ways that cultivate
awareness, empathy, and wisdom.
2. Serving SocietyServing SocietyServing SocietyServing Society Spiritual practices are to be designed and conducted in ways that
respect the common good, with due regard for public safety, health, and order.
Because the increased awareness gained from spiritual practices can catalyze desire
for personal and social change, guides shall use special care to help direct the energies
of those they serve, as well as their own, in responsible ways that reflect a loving
regard for all life.
3. Serving IndividServing IndividServing IndividServing Individualsualsualsuals Spiritual guides shall respect and seek to preserve the
autonomy and dignity of each person. Participation in any primary religious practice
must be voluntary and based on prior disclosure and consent given individually by
each participant while in an ordinary state of consciousness. Disclosure shall include,
at a minimum, discussion of any elements of the practice that could reasonably be
seen as presenting physical or psychological risks. In particular, participants must be
warned that primary religious experience can be difficult and dramatically
Guides shall make reasonable preparations to protect each participant's health and
safety during spiritual practices and in the vulnerable periods that may follow. Limits
on the behaviors of participants and facilitators are to be made clear and agreed upon
in advance of any session. Appropriate customs of confidentiality are to be established
4. CompetenceCompetenceCompetenceCompetence Spiritual guides shall assist with only those practices for which they
are qualified by personal experience and by training or education.
5. IntegrityIntegrityIntegrityIntegrity Spiritual guides shall strive to be aware of how their own belief systems,
values, needs, and limitations affect their work. During primary religious practices,
participants may be especially vulnerable to suggestion, manipulation, and
exploitation; therefore, guides pledge to protect participants and not to allow anyone
to use that vulnerability in ways that harm participants or others.
6. Quiet PresenceQuiet PresenceQuiet PresenceQuiet Presence To help safeguard against the harmful consequences of personal
and organizational ambition, spiritual communities are usually better allowed to grow
through attraction rather than active promotion.
7. Not for Not for Not for Not for ProfitProfitProfitProfit Spiritual practices are to be conducted in the spirit of service.
Spiritual guides shall strive to accommodate participants without regard to their
ability to pay or make donations.
8. ToleranceToleranceToleranceTolerance Spiritual guides shall practice openness and respect towards people
whose beliefs are in apparent contradiction to their own.
9. Peer ReviewPeer ReviewPeer ReviewPeer Review Each guide shall seek the counsel of other guides to help ensure the
wholesomeness of his or her practices and shall offer counsel when there is need.
Concerning the Heyokah
This article is excerpted from the Rocky Mountain Pagan Journal. Each issue of the
Rocky Mountain Pagan Journal is published by High Plains Arts and Sciences; P.O.
Box 620604, Littleton Co., 80123, a Colorado Non-Profit Corporation, under a Public
Domain Copyright, which entitles any person or group of persons to reproduce, in
any form whatsoever, any material contained therein without restriction, so long as
articles are not condensed or abbreviated in any fashion, and credit is given the
Hello, people! Before I get to the subject of this little piece, let me give you a bit of
information as to its roots.
Recently I have been doing a lot of writing, horror stories for the most part, and this
article grew out of that. It is also derived from a dream that I had not too long ago and
something that has puzzled me until recently. Now, with all that out of the way, let's
get to it.
Those of you who are familiar with Native American beliefs already have an idea of
what a heyokah is. For the benefit of those who aren't, I'll try to briefly describe him
for you. Who knows? There may well be a counterpart in your own tradition.
The word heyokah comes from the Lakotah (Sioux) and is used in reference to a
particular type of shaman. According to tradition, the heyokah is one who has
"dreamed of the Thunder Spirits." This dream bestows great powers upon the
medicine man/medicine woman, one of which is reputed to be an ability to influence
storms. However, these powers have their price in that the shaman becomes a
"contrary." If you've seen the movie Little Big Man, then you have seen a sample of
the heyokah's antics. Of course, this was a parody of the real thing, but our subject
does do a lot of clowning around in reverse.
Now I've read quite a bit on the subject (there's a lot out there, too), but still couldn't
put it together. There seemed to be something missing! It's only in the last month or
so that it's become clear to me and I'd like to share my insights with you.
Probably the greatest barrier to my understanding was the one created by language.
Not being able to speak Lakotah, and additionally not knowing the culture, I lost
something in the translation. Here's the whole picture, as I see it anyway.
In his vision, the heyokah comes into direct contact with the life-force itself. This is
symbolized by the Thunder Spirits that he dreams of. When this occurs, a
death/rebirth sequence is begun, which gives the shaman the capacity to control some
of the manifestations of life-force. This would include an ability to influence storms
and, as is typical of the shamanic experience, the power to heal. He also becomes a
very potent teacher. This last is where the "contrariness" comes into focus, in two
ways. The first is that the heyokah is teaching us about our selves. By "mirroring" all
of our doubts, fears, hatreds, weaknesses, etc. he forces us to examine what we really
are. For example, if you have any self-hatred (a common malady in our society) this
sacred teacher will make you look at it. The second aspect of his mirroring is that, as
we are taught, the heyokah heals us of our hurts. This is the most important and
remarkable part of the holy man's clowning. For this wonderful shaman takes our
pain and transforms it into laughter. And what can heal a human beings faster than to
laugh at ourselves?
As you can see, these "sacred clowns" had a very important role in traditional
societies. And personally, I think we could use a few more of them in today's world.
Suggested ReadingSuggested ReadingSuggested ReadingSuggested Reading
Seven Arrows, Hyemeyosts Storm
Song of Heyokah, Hyemeyosts Storm
Lame Deer: Seeker of Visions, Richard Erdoes and Lame Deer
Shamanic Voices, Joan Halifax
Consulting Your Animal
The Power Animal can be consulted in order to obtain advise on problems. This is
commonly called "divination". To do this, simply journey to the Lowerworld to see
your animal. Yo