Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dreaming Totems.

For as long as I can remember I’ve dreamt in Wolf form. In my early twenties I suddenly started dreaming in Raven form and finally when I reached my late thirties I was able to dream as an Snowy Owl. When I was six years old I used to draw these pictures of a woman half human and half wolf. I can still picture her face and have strong impression of her personality. My father would always ask me: “Who is this woman?” I’d look up at him surprised and state: “Me!” I’ve often wondered after having two children of my own if my parents ever asked themselves any questions about my childhood development. Were they like most other parents out there and thought that most of my childhood experiences were imaginary creations? Did they worry when my eccentric behaviours stretched beyond 10 years old? What did they think of the stories I told and did they believe in any of them?

Like I’ve shared before dreaming has always been an important part of my life. So much so that I remember dreams as far back as six months old. I’ve always seen and been able to communicate with spirit, as well as consciously believed in something bigger than me as early on as four years old. When I compare myself to the norm I can say that I’m definitely different. Yet, I’ve been lucky enough to have met other traditional dreamers and master dreamer-teachers who also remember some infancy dreams and who consider dreaming as crucial to their daily survival. Like most of you know my children were also born with the same dreaming abilities and also chat with the ancestors. In my World none of this metaphysical or paranormal talk is out of the ordinary. My entourage actually experiences life from a completely different perspective than what you find in Western living.

When we go out to the restaurant our conversations usually get people interested in eavesdropping. LOL

For the new comers, I give conferences and workshops on dreaming.

It never fails at every circle there’s always someone who asks the question:

“I often dream that I’m flying. What does that mean?”

For three out of five people it usually implies that you’re kin to some kind of bird. We (as humans) know that our DNA connects us to pretty much every thing in Creation but we don’t understand what that connection means to our humanity. Is it possible that many of us unconsciously behave like our totems and that many of our difficulties in relationships and in life in general stems from this ancestral totemic memory?

Yes! I would tend to agree.

I once met with a couple who were having marital issues. The woman admitted that she often felt like a rabbit in the clutches of a hawk when dealing with her husband. She explained that it was an unconscious reaction that she couldn’t control most of the time. When I sent them to research these animals they both returned claiming without a shred of a doubt that they were indeed both Hawk and Rabbit. They both exhibited behaviours and attitudes that were identical to these animals. For a while I tried to get them to shape shift out of these animals in order to find a way to save their marriage. Eventually, they amicably got divorced choosing their totems over the spouse. In less than a few years they were both remarried to new partners with compatible totemic identities.

After a few years of doing this kind of work I realized that most people feel incredibly attached to their totems once they know what they are and they have a strong impression and connection to them. It’s almost easier to end a relationship than to let go of a piece of the soul is what most people will tell me. Indeed Australian Aboriginal Dreamers will explain that the soul is made of three different parts: Ego (moons), Totems, and Ancestral. If you compare this philosophy to Carl Jung’s understanding of the psyche you’ll notice that there isn’t much of a difference. Carl Jung also separated the soul (so to speak) into three: Ego, superego and the collective unconscious. He also described the superego or the id as being connected to the animal-self (totems). The collective unconscious is easily synonymous to ancestral memory.

Just last week, I was discussing this topic with RP who has been exploring her totems for over six years and recently noticed that she hasn’t yet found her real totems (so to speak). I explained to her that in many cases people artistically explore the idea of totems. For many individuals the idea of being connected to all of creation is almost a novelty. Exploring one animal over another as a tool for self-discovery is often the way people understand totems. Most westerners will play around with the idea of totems because it’s fun, it’s inspiring, and it feels wonderful. If it empowers you – then, plunge! Yet, it’s important to remember that in old Shamanism and for indigenous people the concept of totems isn’t so much about self-discovery as it is about survival. First Nation elders or traditional teachers or medicine people will tell you stories where totems were used to access wisdom, protect loved ones, win battles, find food, and heal.

I know that I’ve always connected to Wolf. I was born Wolf. I was two years old and I was already dreaming that I was running on all fours with a pack. My dreams were so lucid and vivid that I would wake up screaming, in tears and often incapable of translating the experience. Where my parents chose to tell me that it was just a dream and to forget about it; in return and almost 20 years later, I chose a completely different approach with my children when they went through the exact same process. By guiding my children back into the dream and supporting them as they learnt about courage and facing their fears, they suddenly were able to describes and put into words every little detail of their journey. Through dreams, my son could actually feel the muscle spasms of the cheetah after it lunged for a prey. He could feel the whiskers and actually describes their necessity. My daughter understood the way of the bee so well that she could actually invite bees into trances and catch them easily into her hands. It was amazing to relive this process with my children. I believe it brought resolution to my own personal totemic childhood journey.

When you connect empirically to your totems the kinship takes a very tangible form. Whatever animal you are related to will eventually appear and claim you as one of the family. For example, I was lucky enough in my life time to come across wolves both in the wild and through people who actively protect the animal. Each time I was re-confirmed that there’s no doubt that I’m wolf. On one occasion one of the male wolves in a small pack of young protected wolves decided that I was his mate. I was told that this had never been seen before where suddenly a human was perceived as a female wolf. Right off the bat, the male wolf started growling at the other wolves when they approached me. He urinated on my pants and boots every 20 mins as a way to show that I was his. Male wolves are very possessive. The female is more than a partner. She’s almost a territory. This gray wolf was huge. On all fours, he reached my upper thigh and 5 feet 4 inches. He was easily 200 pounds. Big Gray kept bumping me to show me that he was the boss and that I needed to follow as well as take a very particular spot in the group. He didn’t take no for an answer. If I didn’t listen he quickly reprimanded and didn’t mind using tactics to submit me. I had to tell the people who cared for the wolves and protected the visitors that I could handle Big Gray and didn’t mind the unusual and potentially dangerous experience or else they would have removed him from the group. I had bruises for weeks after the encounter. To be perfectly honest, it was a memorable experience but it was not a pleasant one. I learnt that alpha male wolves are all business. They are extremely sexual, aggressive and competitive. It was because of this encounter that I learnt that I needed to make a few changes to my personality if I wanted to be functional and healthy with my own inner wolf.

When my children were babies I very quickly understood the messages they conveyed just through simple sound and body language. My mother-in-law found it quite incredible at times and would ask me how I did that? It was almost second nature to me. It wasn’t an ability that I had only with children. I was always good with interpreting human body language or even predicting weather with the help of natural movements in nature. After spending time with wolves I realized that my ability to hear messages through sound and movement was actually totemic. Wolves actually talk to each other through this intricate dance of body movements and whines, yelps and howls. Where some people think that I’m psychic others have come to know me as someone with an acute sense of observation. From my perspective I’ve slowly but surely integrated wolf in my life and use the animal’s medicine in my human daily living.

With time, I’ve added raven and owl to my repertoire of inner community fragments. I find it incredible that each creature has its own way of seeing life and inter-acting with it. I enjoy the fact that I’m surrounded by people who have different totems to mine and can share their experience with the animals in their life. My husband of example is kin to the orca. G’s totem is the shark and we have people in the house who connect to coyote, and cougar. Getting to know these animals first hand through human counter parts is extraordinary. There’s no doubt in my mind that we could all benefit from exploring more our inner community and letting it tangibly touch our lives.

P.S. Picture was taken on a cruise ship. These beautiful stain glass murals were all over the Serenade of the Sea.


Michelle said...

I have found it beautiful to have my children telling me what they beleive their totems to be. My daughter Brianna can list five of what she believes are her totems and a few I look at her in surprize but she is certain she has Mamoth, a whale, a bee and a couple others. She is 7 and is very sure of her find its great. It is great seeing all my kids explore their animals and seeing the sychrnicities in their characteristics. I love learning about totems and knowing how each effects the other. I am also noticeing how my totems somtimes do not work together lol....Makes for interesting days lol

4cougar said...

I agree that connecting to our totems is an incredibly enriching experience, it helps me to make sense of how I am and how I interrelate with others. In times when I find myself lacking vitality or stuck in my head, worrying about past hurts...moon issues that still affect me from time to time I find it especially helpful to be able to shift into a more totemic relation, through moving my body in certain ways, becoming aware of instinctual responses...which doesn't mean that I can't also learn and heal...I don't find that it means that I avoid what has come up for me, but that I approach it from a different perspective. Hau

Hardrock said...

I really injoyed your post when my kids are stuck in a dream I usually talk my way into there dream and protect them. They usually smile and are happy that I am there to impower them. But what I like is that you guide them. I would like to try this to see what it is that they are going through. Great blog thanks Chris...

Lulu said...

I loved your account here Lisa.My eldest son has a hard time atm dreaming. He says he is scared of dreaming. I need to guide him and yet wasn't sure how until now. i shall talk to him about his totems and see how we get on.
Thank You