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Archive for the ‘Totems’ Category

Usually when spirit animals come in for me, they are ones that are native to North America where I live. Or at least domestic animals I’m familiar with. However, the other day I did a spirit animal art reading for a person living in another country. I found it interesting that the animal that came through for her was not one I was even very familiar with.

I thought I’d share the reading as it will apply to anyone who is drawn to Red Panda energy.

 

About Red Pandas:

Red Pandas are native to the Himalayas. About the size of a large house cat, they are much smaller than the better-known Giant Panda, and are probably not closely related to them. However, just like Giant Pandas, they base their diet on bamboo. (They also eat other things including acorns, flowers, eggs, insects, and small animals.) They have a special adaptation on their thumb that helps them grip bamboo, but it also makes their front paws nearly as useful as hands. A Red Panda’s beautiful red coat and striking facial and tail markings make it an exceptionally beautiful creature.

Red Pandas also resemble the North American raccoon with their ringed tails and their habit of washing their paws in water before eating. In fact, they are quite clean animals and spend a lot of time grooming themselves all over like a cat.

Female Red Pandas are only fertile one or two days in a year. Once mating has occurred, the fertilized eggs don’t implant right away. Scientists think this helps to ensure the cubs are born at the time that will be best for their survival. Males don’t help raise the cubs, so the female must take care to hide her young safely in a den – usually in a hollow tree or rock crevice.

Red Pandas are nocturnal and mostly solitary. They are great climbers and spend much of their time in trees. Unfortunately they have become endangered because of habitat loss.

Red Panda spirit animal meaning:

Gentle Red Panda carries the message that you don’t need to be aggressive or loud to succeed or make a difference.

You are most likely a very sensitive person and although you may have one primary talent, you are most likely able to learn quickly and pick up easily on new ideas and new tasks. You are probably an independent thinker and self-directed worker, but able to also get along with and work well with others. You can enjoy being part of a team – as long as you are respected for your contributions and can retreat from the crowd when you need to.

It is important for you to find a place for yourself to connect with your inner world. Like the Red Panda, you may find that the outer world and modern society encroaches so much on your life that it limits your ability to thrive. You will need to insist on protecting the time and space you need in order to nourish your soul through whatever activities you are drawn to – perhaps yoga, meditation, quiet reading, walking in nature, or just plain sitting and daydreaming. These activities are important not just for recreation but in order to “fill your cup” so you can be highly productive when you need to.

This is especially true for your creative projects (whether it’s creative expression through the arts or through a business or social endeavor). You may find that once you get an idea for a project you may need to let it “gestate” for a while in your mind before the time is right to bring it out into the world. Be careful who you speak to about it during this time. You will need to protect your ideas from negative people while they are developing.

Early morning and/or nighttime are power times for you. These times are likely to be very productive times for you- either for your work or for spiritual activities.

Finally, Red Panda signifies the ability to develop your spirituality to a high level while remaining grounded in practical life. If you find yourself feeling ungrounded, head for the trees. Remember how a tree reaches for the light at the same time as it clings to and receives nourishment from the earth. If you are feeling stressed, going and spending some time in a wooded area or even just hugging a single tree will help you feel better and come back to center.

Yes, I do custom Spirit Animal and Angel art readings. 

They include an original painting or drawing based on your personal energy, as well as a written and/or recorded interpretation of its message for you. Great for personal growth or as a gift for an adult or child. Message me for details! 

 

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Just had to share something that came through the other day during the Spirit Animal class I just finished teaching.

We were doing an exercise on shapeshifting and one of my students experienced herself as a butterfly. She found herself noticing that butterflies don’t see the way we do.
Butterflies are insects, so of course they have compound eyes. That means, in effect, that they see in all directions at once – indeed an animal super power!
You are probably already familiar with the Butterfly as a symbol of transformation. But if you resonate with Butterfly energy, you might also want to explore this animal totem as it relates to vision.
Butterfly can remind us to look at things from multiple angles to get a higher perspective. Or it can be a symbol of the unity of life – how all things, and all experiences – past, present and future (represented by the butterfly being able to see forwards, backwards and sideways all at the same time) – are ultimately one.
I’ve never seen this Butterfly spirit insight written anywhere, but it feels right. Just one example of how working with your spirit animal directly can deepen your understanding of your totem.
I’m gearing up to start another session of my online class sometime in early to mid October. Details forthcoming! If you’re interested in learning more about how to work with spirit animals, shoot me a reply, and I’ll be sure to notify you directly.

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Tiger miniature painting

“Tiger,” miniature watercolor. This painting is available for sale – contact me below for details.

Did you know that on average, a Tiger only succeeds in bringing down prey once every 10 to 20 hunting attempts?

A 5 to 10 percent success rate may seem like a pretty poor track record. But for all that, the Tiger owns the jungle.

Being a winner doesn’t mean you never lose. It simply means you don’t let it stop you. Actually, there’s gold in your mistakes. They can definitely show you what NOT to do next! 🙂

Anyway, whenever it feels like the odds are against you, think about Tiger and be glad you don’t have to take down a water buffalo any time you want a meal. Chances are your odds of success are a bit better than that. So go for it!

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turkey vulture feather Somebody handed me a feather the other day. A very long, dark brown flight feather. Neither of us knew what sort of bird had dropped it. But I took it home and looked it up on the Feather Atlas (one of the better things our taxpayer dollars have been spent on.)

Turns out it is from a turkey vulture. I had to chuckle, as for me it was a timely coincidence.

I’m in the midst of a big transition, and as part of the process I”m cleaning and organizing my entire house – closets, attic, the whole nine yards.

Despite Vulture’s sordid looks and its diet of decaying flesh, its symbolic meaning has to do with purification and transformation. One of the stories I love about Vulture came from the native people of Costa Rica, who believed that the Vulture is responsible for carrying the souls of the dead up to heaven.

Fall is nearly here – the season of decline and decay. But it is also a season of beauty when seeds are being sown for new growth and new life.

Cleaning house is lots of hard work – especially when you’re digging through 20 years of accumulated stuff. But I’m already feeling clearer and lighter, and look forward to renewed energy and time for exciting new projects once the process is complete.

Whatever is happening in your life right now, take some time today to give thanks for the cycle of life and honor the way it is manifesting for you right now. Give it time – whatever is happening, this too shall pass! 🙂

(I don’t think I’ve introduced my spirit animal affirmation posters here yet. I’ll do it more formally in the next post, but for now just have to include the Vulture one!):

Spirit Animal affirmation poster - vulture

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New painting: Skunk!

Skunk watercolor painting by Christie MichelsenSpiritual significance of Skunk: Self-confidence, protection, non-combative power, sex appeal, social authority
Shadow side: Malodorous, repulsive, obnoxious, passive aggressive

A Sunday Evening Skunk Story

“According to that online article,” my daughter Aster said matter-of-factly, “our house could smell like this for weeks.”

It all started when we ran out of dental floss.

Or rather, my husband went out of town taking the last roll with him. So my son Isaac ran up to Buck’s, the corner store, for an emergency floss run.

Now, we live in an upper apartment and have not one but three doors between us and the street. One at the top of the stairs, and two at the bottom, making a kind of airlock. Which is a very good thing, because we recently adopted a young coonhound named Melvin. If you know hounds you know why I appreciate this door arrangement. It usually keeps him in.

However, Isaac had only been gone about 45 seconds when here comes Melvin belting down the hallway, snorting and coughing like he’d eaten a ghost pepper.

And then I caught a whiff.

Now, I’ve smelled skunk before, plenty of times, but never like this.

“What the…?”

I started towards the stairs. The door at the top was open. I ventured through. So were the ones at the bottom. Both of them.

And there was something funny about the air. It looked…hazy.

All of a sudden it struck. A great chemical cloud rolled up the stairs and punched me in the nose. It smelled like the resulting explosion when a skunk-bearing guided missile hits a petrochemical plant.

Feeling a bit light headed, I ran up the stairs – too late. The cloud had become a choking olfactory tsunami, mercilessly invading the house. You could practically see it rolling through the hallway, crashing into the bedrooms, and lazily lapping into the living room.

Quickly, Aster and I sprang into action. Eyes watering, we got Melvin crated and sprinted through the building, throwing open doors and wrestling with windows. I ran up to the attic and opened the roof hatch. Then it was Melvin’s turn.

Ever give a skunky 70-pound coonhound a baking soda bath? It was lots of fun. Especially when I looked down to see my brand new cell phone that I had forgotten to take out of my pocket lying face down in the bottom of the tub. We fished it out, and dried Melvin off.

He still smells terrible.

My phone turned itself on and proceeded to go into electronic convulsions.

Then Isaac appeared, looking nonplussed.

“Buck’s is out of floss,” he said. “By the way, what’s that awful smell?”

Happy Monday. When a week starts like this, you know it can only get better! :-)

Love & blessings,

Christie (Anne)

P.S. I’ve been doing a LOT of housecleaning lately – both literally and figuratively. We’re talking attic, closets, junk drawers, the works. It often happens when doing any kind of healing work that things get worse for a time before they get radically better. Those negative energies like to put up a fight! In the spirit animal sense, Skunk can actually have some pretty positive meanings. I’ll write about them sometime. But in this case, it feels to me like that ‘ol skunk is just symbolic of releasing all sorts of old stinky stuff. If something like this happens to you, just smile and keep letting the fresh air in!

P.S. Got any good skunk stories? I’d love to hear them!

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Another new painting in the Chakra Power Animal series:

Root chakra meditation painting

This Root Chakra Meditation Painting is next in the Power Animal Chakra Meditation Series after my Bee Power Center painting. (No, I’m not doing them in order.) It’s intended to help balance and open up your root chakra. Root chakra issues include anxiety, fear, & lack of confidence; feeling ungrounded, spacey or disconnected; and feeling insecure in your wealth/prosperity space.

The root, in its position at the base of the body, supports all the other chakras. When they are all in balance, there is a direct open line of energy from your Root all the way up to your Crown chakra (connection to the Divine) and even further, to your Higher Self. So you can see how important it is to nurture your root!

This connection is symbolized in this painting by the snake’s reaching upwards and by the white stripe running from the tip of the badger’s nose all the way down his back to his tail. Both animals hug the ground and are wonderful carriers of Root/Grounding energy. Badger especially is very secure and confident in his being. If you are unsure of yourself, it is good medicine to imagine yourself as a Badger!

Badger is also a good totem for those who live a nomadic life or who have moved a lot. Badgers keep many burrows, and unless they are raising a litter they typically spend only a night or two in any one before moving on to the next. Moving can be very ungrounding, so look to Badger to learn how to stay in your grounded space no matter where life takes you.

You might try using this image as a meditation aid along with African or Native American drumming or drum music. Imagine yourself sending your roots deep into the ground, and drawing the nourishing energy of Mother Earth back up through them. Lift your arms and let that energy flow up and through your fingertips and the crown of your head. THen imagine it falling again as rain, seeping back into the earth for you to soak up some more. Doesn’t that feel grounding and refreshing?

(Be sure to nosh on something red afterwards – beet chips or pomegranate juice would be perfect!) 🙂

What have you done to ground yourself today?

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New painting…

Bee Heart Honeycomb Because our  new hound dog, Melvin, has not come howling up with a stinger in his nose, I am guessing that my recent bee visitor is gone for good.  However, she did bring an invigorating infusion of Bee energy into the studio. It’s quite the buzz!

I’ve been playing with the idea of the Bee as symbol for the Power Center, or solar plexus chakra, and have been wanting to get it down as a painting. Today seemed like the day to do it.

So I grabbed a little watercolor board and got to work. (This painting is quite small – just 4″x4″. It seemed about right for a bee.)

The Power Center grooves on yellow and gold – fitting, because gold also represents money, power in its abstract. This is probably why so many spiritually conscious people have issues with their Power Center. It’s easy to look at the way power is abused in the world and not want a thing to do with it.

But really, that’s kind of a backwards way to look at it. Abuse of power – whether you are the abuser or the abused – is simply a symptom of imbalance of personal power. NOT claiming your true inner power will not fix it.

Of course, money is optional where true power is concerned. It’s just one way in which power expresses itself. It also happens to be extremely convenient, so why not be open to manifesting it when appropriate? Being well funded can certainly help you live your dreams.

Which, if your Power Center is well-balanced, shouldn’t lead to abuse. And, if your heart is in the right place, it will likely bring good fortune to others as well.

Speaking of hearts…

Somewhere in the middle of painting this piece I began to feel something else was needed. The bee was taking form nicely atop the cells of golden honeycomb, but it just seemed…ungrounded. It seemed like it needed something to tie it together.

Perhaps an oval shape framing the bee? No, that wasn’t quite it. Then I held my hands in a heart shape over the bee. Ahhh. That felt right. And a bit of pinky purple was just right to balance out all that yellow.

Once the heart was in place the meaning was clear…

True power is centered in the heart!

 

For more information about Bee in your Heart, click here.

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Here’s my latest! (If you’d like to know its messages as I received them, see below.)

Buffalo and crows

Spirit Painting: Buffalo and Crows – Mixed water media on paper, 28″x22″

The Buffalo (actually the American Bison) is a sacred symbol amongst Native Americans. I don’t pretend to know much about Native American spirituality, but I can certainly see why the Buffalo is considered sacred in this tradition. It has incredible strength, solidity, and presence. Here are some of the qualities associated with this majestic beast:

  • Strength
  • Abundance
  • Prosperity
  • Stability
  • Gratitude

(If you are of Native ancestry and/or familiar with this tradition please feel free to add to or correct this list.)

This Buffalo confronts us head-on. It doesn’t seem aggressive, but you can’t ignore its assertive presence. Perhaps it is challenging us to face our fears and live up to our dreams. This is primarily a Yellow buffalo, with hints of Red. Yellow brings to mind the 3rd chakra, or Power Center, and Red is the color of the 1st, or Root chakra. These are both warm colors, contrasting sharply with the wintery landscape. This creature is grounded, powerful, and very much alive.

Although it is still at the moment, the Buffalo’s Breath is visible, jetting forcefully from its nostrils. Breath represents Life and Spirit. It evokes all 4 elements: it is made up of water and air, emanates from the physical body (earth), and contains the heat (fire) that living things generate and carry within them. The breath coming out could represent creative energy, or one’s life force in action.

This Buffalo’s environment is significant. You can see the roundness of the earth in the exaggerated horizon. In fact, the earth seems rather small compared to the size of the animal. To me this is an indication of how significant one’s presence and actions on the earth really are. (You are more powerful than you know!) It is winter, which is a time of rest between cycles. A large animal like the buffalo must eat a lot; because food is scarce in winter it must rely on fat stores from summer to carry it through. Therefore it must trust that when the snows come and the earth chills and darkens, this is a temporary condition and a part of the natural cycle. The Buffalo knows that Spring will come again, and does not panic!

A row of Trees rings the horizon. Trees connect heaven and earth, and are highly spiritual beings. These trees are bare and dormant, but the ghostly flower pattern showing in the snow indicates that under the frigid ice life stirs, ready to spring forth in abundance with the first warm breaths of Spring.

This pending event is hinted at by the wintery Sun in the painting. It struggles to break through the clouds with a cold, watery light, but as the days grow longer it will gain in strength and warmth, providing the energy to nourish all life on Earth through another yearly cycle.

Is this Sun rising or setting? It could be either, representing either new beginnings or the end of a phase or cycle. (Remember, though, that in every ending lies the seed of a new beginning.) The lighting and shadows reveal no set direction, allowing for whatever interpretation feels right at the moment. The buffalo, too, sometimes appears red, sometimes yellow. Either way, it indicates a period of transition, or a pause between periods of growth – underscoring the theme of winter. If you would like to meditate on this image to help you through a transitional period, you might want to imagine it as a setting sun at first, and change to a rising sun as you begin to feel your energies rise again.

Finally, a mob of seven Crows accompanies this Bison. The number Seven is, of course, regarded as having great significance in any number of traditions. It’s frequently associated with magic and spiritual awareness, along with the ability to manifest results in our lives. (Seven black birds appear in another painting of mine as well, an art reading for the daughter of a friend. You can view and read about it here.)

Many traditions associate Crows with magic, sometimes black magic. While Crows are certainly Black, I don’t feel them to be a bad omen. Rather, their color signifies a deeply Feminine energy and access to the unseen spiritual world. Crows have wonderful, strong (some say harsh, but I think they’re beautiful!) voices that carry a long way, and they are great at warning each other of approaching danger. They are a reminder to listen to and heed the warnings of one’s intuition.

Crows are, in many traditions, a Trickster animal. They are also opportunists, and great at not just surviving but adapting and thriving – which is why you are just as likely to meet up with a Crow in the city as in deep wilderness. These particular crows appear a little impish, irreverently perching on and around the majestic Buffalo. They tell us it’s ok to have fun and be bold when pursuing our dreams and goals.

The fun thing about symbols is that they mean different things to different people. I’m always interested to hear what other people take away from the images I create. What does this painting say to you?

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Mama bear and cubs watercolorLast summer on a car trip through northern Wisconsin I happened to look out the window in time to see a mother black bear with her three cubs. What a thrill!

The ones I saw were actually black, or nearly so, but black bears come in many different colors, from black to all shades of brown, even creamy white. Non-albino white black bears are found almost exclusively in British Columbia and are also known as “Spirit Bears.” In Native American legend, the white color of these bears is said to be a reminder of past ice ages. The white bears are also said to stand for harmony and peace.

We don’t have spirit bears where I live in the U.P. of Michigan, but somehow the little cub in the center just wanted to be white. Its playful expression is perhaps a reminder that we need a little fun in our lives now and then in order to maintain harmony and peace in our lives!

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Here is another totem animal/power symbol reading. This one is for the child of a gifted empathic healer. The feeling I got from the reading is that the child is probably gifted in this area as well. (The young woman in the painting is not a physical portrait of the child. I think it represents her soul or some aspect of her spirit.)

The reading below is edited slightly to protect the privacy of the people involved.

7 blackbirds power symbol art reading“The impression I get is of someone who is extremely sensitive, and who has a special need to connect with the natural world.

“I’m feeling that music is very important, and sound in general. Natural sounds would be good for her, like birdsong and the breeze in the treetops and the sound of water. One of those little indoor waterfalls might be something she would find delightful and relaxing. However if she was told it was there because it was good for her she would probably not like it so much.

Power symbol drawing: blackbirds, tree and nature spirit

This is the original drawing. I added a few elements to the final painting based on some of the impressions I got, which didn’t come through until a bit later.

“There are seven birds. Birds are often associated with spirit. I get the feeling the number of birds here is important. Seven is a number associated with spiritual awareness, introversion, an analytical mind, non-conformity, and natural healing.

“It feels like she’s very thirsty for the presence of nature. It might be good to take her to (a nearby botanical garden) some weekend. But don’t force it on her, and if you do, take her just one on one, don’t try to turn it into an educational field trip, just focus entirely on her and her relationship with the environment, and let her just experience it. And if she resists it, just let it go and do something else with her.
“Listening is important. She needs time and space to listen, and be listened to. I think she has need for un-structured time in her life.

“Oh, one more thing: something about hands, and smooth pebbles, and maybe water and soil. She might enjoy gardening or flower arranging. She needs to experience nature at the physical, tactile level.”

(The child’s mother told me later that the number seven is highly significant in their religious tradition (Orthodox Judaism.) It is associated with the Sabbath, amongst other things. The Sabbath being a day of rest devoted to Spirit, I believe this does relate very much to the message.)

Additional notes: Blackbirds are often associated with the creative forces of nature, mysticism and spirituality. They are also quite territorial during their breeding season, so it may be important for this individual (or her parents while she is still young) to set boundaries protecting her need for space, in order for her to fulfill her creative potential.

Spirals appear in this painting as well. Spiral imagery is symbolic of creative growth and expanding spiritual consciousness.

The tree in the painting is a young sapling, and the energy of the piece is that of Springtime – reflections of this child’s stage of life.

Most of the readings I do come through as animal symbols. Every once in a while human imagery comes in. This happens especially when I am doing a general reading (for the planet and/or humanity.) Are they nature spirits? Angels? Do they just signify higher consciousness? I’m not sure at this point. If you have any insight into this please comment!

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