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Posts Tagged ‘totem’

Today’s Affirmation:

“Life is sweet at its core.”

Maple tree symbolism: Balance, practicality, abundance, sweetness in life

May each breath you take today be infused with the sweetness of life. 🙂

Maple meditation 12-18-15

Trees are such spiritually sophisticated beings. I’m really grooving on them lately!

This piece started as a doodle. I had done some prayer work involving tree imagery for my friend Tanya English (a gifted healer, by the way, who does remote as well as in-person healings) a while back and she had an amazing connection with a golden Maple tree. She had asked me to do a piece of Maple art for her, but it didn’t come right away.

Then a short while back I started doodling on a long phone call, and this emerged. I hope to have time some day to use it as the basis for a watercolor. Tanya couldn’t wait, though, and printed it out as a coloring sheet!

Tanyas tree coloring

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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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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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Tiger Swallowtail copyright 2015 by Christie (Anne) Michelsen

Tiger Swallowtail

Tiger, tiger in the sky

Flashing gold, you soar and fly

Sudden flutter softly by

Sweet and fleeting butterfly!

Butterfly symbolic meanings: Inspiration, intuition, higher consciousness, transformation, resurrection, flashes of insight, power of beauty, strength in vulnerability.

Specific butterfly species may carry additional meanings. Here are my thoughts on the Tiger Swallowtail:

Tiger Swallowtail Totem: Integrating One’s Power

Did you know that the Tiger Swallowtail has two color morphs, black and yellow? I didn’t know until recently that all males are yellow – only the females sometimes appear in black form. Also, only the females (of both color morphs) sport the beautiful silvery blue crescents on the bottom edge of their back wings.

It speaks to me of the special connection women have with the moon. And whether you’re a man or a woman, the ability to balance and honor both the solar (masculine, proactive) and lunar (feminine, intuitive) aspects of your inner being.

Yellow. The color of the sun. Warmth, light, vitality, action! Yellow is also the color most associated with the Solar Plexus Chakra, the power center of the body.

Black. The color of night. Rest, dreams, that which is hidden. This is the realm of intuition, and regeneration.

With its vivid black and yellow stripes and dots, the Tiger Swallowtail speaks to us of integrating these two aspects of our selves. Black on yellow, yellow on black, rhythmically interspersed with each other.

This is the rhythm of the universe. Day, night. Inbreath, outbreath. Wake and sleep.

Traditional cultures honor this rhythm. They set aside time to rest, time to pray, time to heal.

Our society tends to put a premium on action, at the expense of rest. It’s a 24/7 world now, and many of us push ourselves ruthlessly to keep up.

Do you find yourself running on caffiene-laced fumes? Routinely pushing through to find your second wind?

It’s good to test our limits once in a while, but we weren’t made to do it day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. We think it’s a sign of strength. But sooner or later people who do this hit the wall. Burnout. Adrenal exhaustion.

Tiger Swallowtail reminds us to honor our natural rhythms.

Feeling blue, or in a black mood, is often just our body telling us to take it easy for a bit. If you find yourself feeling tired, cranky or sad, give yourself permission to let down for a while. Schedule “down time” into your calendar. Take an hour or a day or a week off if you need it.

No offense to men, but I think women have to be especially aware of our body’s need for rest at certain times. By honoring it, we honor ourselves.Yes, it means acknowledging that we are vulnerable.

But when we embrace that vulnerable side of ourselves, love it, and give it what it needs…

Wow! That’s allowing ourselves to tap deeply into our power to revitalize our lives…so we can take wing as the beautiful souls we truly are.

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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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Messenger Bee

A magical thing happened in the studio yesterday. And it had nothing to do with paint.

I was just wetting the crease of a folded piece of watercolor paper in preparation for tearing it in half, when I glanced down and saw something crawling across the studio floor. At first I thought it was a humongous spider, but on closer inspection, it turned out to be…

A bee!

A honeybee, I think. Of all the odd things to show up in January, in the middle of a big old building in the U.P. of Michgan.

I stooped down and set my finger down in front of her. She climbed on readily.

bee on finger

Up close, I could see each joint of her six legs, shiny black like her oval eyes. Two sets of transparent wings jutted sleekly from her fuzzy thorax. Her segmented abdomen throbbed rhythmically as she paused, tasting my skin, then ceased as she continued her slow march along my finger. She looked weary, emaciated.

I suddenly needed reassurance that I could get her off if need be, so I placed the bristle end of my Chinese brush in her path.  It was still wet. I thought she might not like that, but she climbed on obligingly. Then, delicately, she lowered her proboscis to the wet bristles and began to drink.

fuzzy bee photo

This photo is as fuzzy as the bee herself, but you should be able to make out my little bee on the brush bristles.

 

Who knows how long it had been since she had had water? She drank and drank, and I began to wonder if she might be hungry, too. I carried her slowly to the kitchen, fetched a chopstick from the drawer and extracted a drop of honey from the jar on the shelf. Yes, she was hungry. She ate purposefully.

While she ate and drank, I tried to capture her image. My phone camera rebelled against focusing on such a small object, but alas, the other camera’s battery was dead. I shifted the brush to my left hand and drew a series of quick sketches from multiple angles.

bee sketches

As I drew, I realized that this bee brought the answer to a question I had recently sent out to the universe. In fact, she was the answer!

I am working on the idea of creating a series of seven power animal paintings, one for each of the seven major chakras, or body/mind energy centers. The animals for some of the chakras came to me right away. Others are taking their sweet time to show themselves. Not surprisingly, I’d been struggling with finding an animal to represent the third chakra, the Power Center. This is an area I’ve definitely had issues with for a long time – lifetimes – and which I’ve recently started working on unblocking. In fact, that very morning I had spent 40 minutes in a power center-clearing exercise before getting to work…

As I drew my little friend, I suddenly realized – of course! – that the bee’s yellow color, her confidence and her disciplined devotion to purpose are all perfectly suited to represent 3rd chakra energy.  She had come to volunteer as the Power Center animal for my painting. 🙂

When the bee had had her fill she retreated to the end of the bristles and washed her face and legs. Wanting to get back to my task, I set her, brush and all, amongst the leaves of my plant.

bee on plant

A single bee in the middle of winter is not likely to live long. I figured she would probably never fly again, but she might enjoy feeling living leaves under her little feet.

I finished halving the sheet, but instead of starting the painting I’m planning to use it for, I was drawn again to check on the bee. I watched her struggle up a slippery leaf. She slipped back, regained her footing, then slipped again, tumbling to the windowsill below.

bee on windowsill

Once again, I placed my finger in front of her and she climbed on. She stayed there a while, gathering her strength…

Then, in a moment, she launched into flight.

Bee in flight sketch

My bee circled once about my head, then, suddenly, she was gone. But what a gift she had brought!

And I wonder…how many other spirit messengers have come into my life, and I never knew it, because I didn’t take the time to listen?

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Animal totem art reading: Bear goddessSo I have been doing these drawings lately. I hold a person in my mind, and close my eyes, and before long images will appear to me, and I get them down on paper.

I think I’ve been doing this kind of thing for most of my life. It’s called art. 🙂

Seriously, though, after several many years of painting and drawing things out of my head it dawned on me that hey, I think these images have meaning. About two years or so after doing a painting I’d look back and realize what it signified.

After even more years it started getting easier to interpret the symbols and images that appeared to me. It’s a lot like dreaming on paper. After a while you learn to interpret your ‘dreams’, and if you pay attention, you will find that your dreams (or in my case, my drawings) become a series of guideposts to help in navigating through life.

Anyway, as I mentioned, lately I’ve started doing these for people I know. One day I just sat down and held my dad in my thoughts, and this is what came out.

I won’t go into what it might mean for him, because that is his business, but I can tell a bit about the general symbols involved, in case they resonate with anyone else out there.

Bear Animal Totem

The bear is a powerful animal, and carries powerful symbolism as well. Bears have a reputation for being unpredictable. People with bear energy may be a bit (or a lot) eccentric, and may have diverse interests. The latter is reflected as well by the bear’s diet. Bears are omnivores and will eat nearly anything. They are equally willing to forage, scavenge or hunt, depending on the situation. Keeping a positive, resourceful attitude and taking what life offers is a wonderful lesson Bear can bring.

Another important lesson we can learn from Bear is to respect one’s natural cycles of rest and activity. Bears don’t experience true hibernation in the winter (their body temperatures don’t go low enough and they can be awakened), but they do hole up in their dens and experience a sort of “hibernation light.” Incredibly, they can go more than 3 months without food, water, or bathroom breaks. People with a Bear totem may experience cycles of ups and downs, or periods of intense creativity or activity interspersed with unproductive periods. This is normal for them, and being aware of their natural creative cycles and learning to honor and respect them can help Bear people overcome the pressure society sometimes puts on people to go, go, go. Everyone needs a break, and sometimes a deep rest is needed in order to prepare oneself for high accomplishments.

Bears are excellent mothers and bears are often associated with protective nurturing. Another interesting quality of bears that relates to creativity is delayed implantation. Bears mate in summer, but the embryos don’t implant in the female’s womb until late fall before she dens. If she hasn’t gained enough fat over the summer, they won’t implant and she won’t have cubs that year. Bear people may experience delays between initial inspiration and actually taking creative action. They may also need to pay special attention to “putting their own oxygen mask on first.” Taking care of oneself first ensures that you will have enough energy to meet everyone’s needs.

Bears aren’t pack animals like wolves, but they do interact with each other, and they do develop social hierarchies. Attitude seems to be the determining factor when it comes to bear dominance. They prefer to use posturing and intimidation to make their point rather than resorting to a fight. However, if a bear does get pushed to its limit, watch out!

Bear Goddess

The Bear has had special spiritual significance since Neolithic times. It is the sacred animal of Artio, the Celtic goddess of wildlife, who is thought to be the precursor to the Greek goddess Artemis (or Diana in the Roman tradition), also associated with the Bear. Artemis is best known as the goddess of the hunt, but was also goddess of wild things and protector of young women. She was supposed to have asked her father, Zeus, to allow her to remain always a maiden, a request which he granted.

A Bear person may not find it easy to stay in a conventional relationship. However, Bear energy is wonderful for connecting with one’s true (wild) nature, or nurturing one’s inner child.

Moon Symbolism

When I first drew this image, I saw the orb in the figure’s hand as glowing with light. It struck me as being connected with the light of knowledge. I think it may be a moon image as well. The moon is another symbol of the goddess Diana. Like the bear, the moon goes through cycles, waxing and waning in power and influence. It is also closely connected with feminine power. I think in this image the moon serves to amplify the energies of the bear and the goddess. In general, the moon is associated with emotions and intuition. The message I got for this particular one, however, is one of a strong intellect – perhaps giving power and focus to intuition. (An example of how an individual’s symbols can sometimes over-ride, underscore or vary from universal symbolism.)

 

I hope you have enjoyed this interpretation, and if you are working with any of these symbols in your own life, I hope it was helpful! Keep in mind that any particular symbol can have multiple meanings, so if my interpretation doesn’t quite resonate with you, it doesn’t mean the symbol isn’t relevant to you. Keep searching! Some sources that may be helpful include:

  • Avia’s What’s Your Sign website – one of my favorite resources for looking up the meanings of all kinds of animal totems and other symbols
  • Ted’s Andrews’ excellent book Animal Speak

Or, you might want to study up on bears and their behavior and come to your own conclusions. Here are some good links to start with:

Thanks also to Granny Moon’s Goddess School for information on the Bear Goddess Artio!

 

Have you worked with bear energy? Please feel free to share your insights!

 

(P.S. I have a bunch more of these I’ve done for various people, and will post them as I find the time. I’m also planning to do a painting based on this particular drawing, so stay tuned!)

 

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