ANIMAL SPIRIT GUARDIANS

animal familiarsFolklore and fairy tales are full of stories about mysterious animals. Shamans all over the world have always called on power animals to guide them through the other realms. Witches and cunning folk were said to have helpful familiars such as cats or toads. Many traditions speak of both humans and deities who shape-shift into animals.

So it’s not entirely surprising to hear about people’s strange animal encounters. Although sometimes startling, these experiences are generally positive. They may happen for all kinds of different reasons. The following three accounts show how animals have acted as unexpected guardians.   

MEG: A load of timber I had delivered brought two rats into the house. They were huge, and they scared me. I lay awake for four nights listening to them bashing about in the kitchen. In the end, I reluctantly set a trap. Next morning, one of them was dead in it. I cried, and couldn’t do the same for the other one. Instead, I prayed, pleading for it to leave.

Suddenly, a cat from my childhood appeared at the window, which was quite high off the ground. Ignoring me, it quietly walked past me into the kitchen. After a scuffle in there, the cat walked back past me and out the window. I never saw the cat or the rat again.

LIBBY: I once rescued an Alsatian dog, and called him King. He’s gone to spirit now – Spirit-Animal-guidebut whenever things are against me, he comes back and sleeps on my bed. I know it’s him because he always slept on my bed, and would turn round three times before flopping down. 

When my boss at work was trying to sack me, King stayed with me every night. Eventually that boss left because he didn’t like the new company that took over. So I kept my job. It was a difficult time, and I’m sure my dog came back to see me through it.                          

JOE: I once worked with a band in Beirut. Near the end of that contract, we still had no idea where our agent had booked us next. I asked spirit for a sign. Then every time I meditated, all I got was a huge dog, looking up at me and wagging its tail. Next thing we heard that we’d been booked into Tehran. 

The first evening, I went on to the balcony of our first floor flat, and looked down into the street. There, smiling up at me was a huge dog. It was identical to the one in my meditations. I went down to pet it. It put its feet on my shoulders and welcomed me with big licks.

Next morning, the dog brought the rest of the desert pack with it – about a dozen dogs, all huge, and spirit animalsjust as welcoming. At the time the Shah still ruled. The people hated westerners and sometimes attacked them, so the streets were dangerous for us. The club where we worked was ten minutes’ walk away. But every evening, this pack of wild dogs escorted us there. People were afraid of them, and crossed the road to avoid us. I think that dog came in answer to my uncertainty about what was coming next.                  

Many people have felt a psychic connection to animals. You’re most welcome to share your own experiences in the comments section, or more privately via my website contact page: www.pastlivesglastonbury.co.uk

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THE PANTHER ON GLASTONBURY TOR

At least three people have recently seen a panther on Glastonbury Tor.Glastonbury_Tor_at_dawn_Somerset by Robert Harvey.jpg

‘Again!’ comes the usual sighing response. The issue is, while panthers have been popping up here for years, these sightings still lack the official stamp of reality. Some think it might be a shape-shifting creature from the spirit world. Perhaps it sparks ancestral memories of Grendel-type monsters lurking in the dark.

Personally, I think it’s both physical and otherworldly. First, the arguments for it being real:

  • ‘Credible’ people like farmers have reported seeing it. A few years ago, a farmer said something that left large feline footprints in the mud had taken one of his lambs.
  • Elusive doesn’t mean unreal. Wild animals habitually avoid us, so it’s a special treat ever to see any of them. Panthers are especially hard to spot because they are black.  
  • Cats are one of the most adaptable animals on earth. This is why there are more wild varieties of them than any other animal – they adjust to where they find themselves. It would make sense for a large cat to lurk around human settlements because of the greater chance of grub.
  • Unexpected anihippofotocloseupmals are now popping up in odd places all over the world. These are often ex-exotic pets, escapees from zoos and even stowaways from ships.
  • African hippos now live in Columbia. A drug baron once imported them to show off in his pool. When he was murdered, his estate fell into disrepair, and the hippos wandered off. They are now thriving, as Columbia’s lush greenery suits them better than the harsh African climate.
  • A South African man has recently decided to move a group of rhinos to Australia to save them from extinction by poachers for their horns.Raccoon1
  • American racoons escaped from a German zoo when it was bombed in World War Two. Prolific breeders, they have since spread through Europe. Sweden has decided to cull them because they threaten local wildlife. Interloping species that turn out to be destructive like this are now called Judas animals.
  • After all the rumours about pumas living near Los Angeles, they were eventually tracked down. Since 2012, they have been filmed and satellite tagged.  steve-winter-cougar-hollywood

The Glastonbury panther may one day go the same way – tagged, filmed and somehow reduced. I can understand why Australian Aborigines say that photographs steal the soul. While it’s still a mystery, our panther has a numinous quality, which would be a pity to lose.

Many years ago, at the start of my spiritual path, I had a dramatic dream. A panther was trying to come into the house. I was terrified. I tried to barricade the doors – but then it got in by the bathroom window. I gave up, and said ‘OK, let’s talk’. We went outside, where it turned into a jungle boy, and we shared a bag of crisps.

In this dream, the panther represented the power of the spirit world. I think this is likely to be a universal symbol, meaning much the same to most people.  panther spirit animal

When somebody finally tracks down the Glastonbury panther, it will feel like the conquest of a mystery – and a little candle of magic will go out. However, it doesn’t have to be like that. So much of life is both physical and symbolic at the same time. I hope that for many of us the panther on the Tor can be both real and magical – like a shamanic guide animal, and a true bridge between the worlds.

If you’ve ever seen an animal in an unexpected place, drop me a line – I’d love to hear from you!

First published in Glastonbury’s Oracle Magazine

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