power animal

Power Animal Retrieval

Power Animal Retrieval By Jan Engels-Smith

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

Anatole France

Power Animal Retrieval By Jan Engels-Smith


In the Christian faith, people often speak of guardian angels as beings that are available to provide special assistance in the time of need. In the blending of faiths that I practice, I too believe in guardian angels, but in shamanism there is the belief that we are born with a power animal that serves as an ally throughout our lives, although we may not always be aware of this formidable supporter. As we grow into adulthood in the West, it is likely that we are not familiar with the concept of a power animal but these beings are always available if we decide to seek them out and call on them for support.

Children, in their divine innocence, are assigned a power animal at birth and this spiritual helper intervenes to buffer the child from the notorious bumps and bruises that each child is so subject to. Children’s resilience and adaptability is enabled by these divine spirits that keep them safe until they mature. We often lose contact with these divine spiritual beings as we grow up and unfortunately put away “childish things.” Our loss of imagination and dismissal of “magic” as a force in our lives causes us to sever our connections to the spiritual world and to our power animal. Power animal loss affects us in many of the same ways as soul loss, as they are closely connected. In shamanic practice, the restoration of lost parts of the soul is aided by the retrieval of one’s power animal and this spiritual helper sustains us in difficult situations.

The signs of power animal loss and/or soul loss may include:

  • Chronic fatigue, depression, misfortune, faulty or failed relationships, emotional problems or suicide tendencies;
  • The inability to overcome some emotional trauma from the past such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or distress in childhood;
  • Addictions to alcohol, drugs, gambling, or other debilitating dependencies;
  • Repetitive or major illnesses or a problem with recovery;
  • Shame, guilt, or a feeling of unworthiness;
  • A feeling of powerlessness.

In difficult situations, when we are in our greatest need, the absence of our power animal exposes us to greater danger and the opportunity to heal is lessened without this divine intervention. Fortunately, as we seek to recover from trauma, possibly by seeking out a soul retrieval from a shamanic practitioner, the retrieval of our power animal can help us to fully mend and this spiritual helper can remain with us to sustain our recovery. Our power animal does not cease to exist when he has left us because of our ceasing to believe in him; he has simply bided his time awaiting our decision to seek him out and bring him back to help us.

You may think of your power animal as having traveled from you (although it might be more accurate to understand that you have traveled far from him) or you might consider that he has been sleeping for many years. In either scenario, you have been exposed to debilitating and harmful conditions and have suffered the consequences of facing your suffering alone. If you have entered in a quest for personal enlightenment, healing, and reconnection to the universe, then you would be well served to retrieve your power animal and accept his willingness to aid and abet you in the restoration of your wellbeing, regaining your own personal power, and thriving in your spiritual development.

I would make one distinction in reference to power animals. If you engage with shamanic healing, you may be aware of the shaman calling on a diverse range of power animals to effect healing and to restore wellness in an individual. These power animals are allies of the shaman and assist the shaman both in healing sessions as well as everyday life. The power animals incorporated in shamanic practices often are assisting with tasks that you are involved with. These power animals can come and go without power loss to the individual. These are not the power animals to which I am referring when I speak of your retrieval of your personal power animal. Your unique connection to the spiritual world is shaped by your individual divinity and your power animal is specific to your birth, life, and person. In your life you may not have a full awareness of your power animal because you have created a distance between him and you, but you possess the capacity to recover this important ally in your life and the ability to reconnect and draw on his strength. Your personal power animal is important because he is specific to you and, once retrieved, can be one of your strongest allies.

The varieties of power animals that I access provide different support in different circumstances. You might have one power animal that you call on when you are feeling fear in a frightening experience. A powerful tiger might cause you to feel safer because of the fearlessness of your ally. In another circumstance, you might seek out a power animal that you identify with as providing peace and comfort when you are in need of gentle solace and a relief from tension. When I was writing my first book I asked for a power animal to come forth in the writing process.  A raccoon appeared.  I inquired from the raccoon what were his gifts that he could offer me during my writing.  He informed me that it was his dexterity with his hands.  He would help me with typing.

People often confuse power animals with totem animals. With totem animals there is a recognition of a particular animal that most characterizes a person’s own natures or their desired natures. I have a friend who is funny and playful in his everyday habits and he identifies readily with the coyote, which often reflects those same behaviors. An adventurous individual might find that his totem is an eagle that soars to great heights. An individual seeking confidence might discover that his totem is the brave lion. Again, totem and power animals are different.  Our power animal does not necessarily represent parts of our persona.  We do not invent our power animals; we discover them or they discover us. To find out their purpose in our lives it is best to ask the animal.  Many people will turn to books such as Animal Speaks by Ted Andrews or the Medicine Cards by Jamie Sands to find out why an animal came into their lives.  Turning to resources such as these can be helpful in understanding the basic qualities of the animal but your best source of information about its appearance as your “power animal” will always come from the animal itself.

There is no better or lesser power animal. The great elephant is not superior to the small prairie dog or even the earthworm. In the great design of the universe, each living being plays a significant role in existence and is equally valued. There is no hierarchy in the spirit world, which is where these allies exist. The earthworm, the honeybee, and the songbird are essential and make invaluable contributions to the continuing functioning of the universe. As you seek out the restoration of your power animal, stay open to all possibilities and you might be surprised by your discovery of this divine ally.

Journeying is of course the foremost method used to discover power animals. For those that are not familiar with journeying here is a process you might follow.

  • Find a quiet place beyond outside attractions. This may be indoors but a peaceful outdoor environment is also conducive to communing with the spirits.
  • Relax in a meditative mode. Breathe deeply to begin and then gently and rhythmically. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods.”
  • Empty your mind of any preconceived images and open yourself to discovery.
  • Ask the spirits to assist you.
  • Allow various animals to approach you as they occur to you in your thoughts or imagination.
  • Speak to them and ask questions as needed.
  • Listen carefully. Remember that our spiritual allies do not always communicate in words but often connect to our different senses and our intuitive receptors.
  • Consider the feeling that the animal engenders in your physical, emotional, and spiritual being.
  • Do not force a decision but accept the responses that your inner self provides.
  • If you do not succeed in the restoration of your power animal on your first effort, do not despair. Your power animal will come when you and he are ready.
  • Thank the spirits when you conclude whether successful or not.

*You may choose to be assisted in this effort with a trained shamanic practitioner.

Spiritual allies are part of the universe’s great plan. All things are connected and exist for the mutual benefit of all. When life presents challenges, it is not because the universe is indifferent to us, but that we have lost our connection with the strength that exists in the unity of all things. Power animals are spiritual beings that reestablish our connections and offer to guide and advise us. They stand with us in adversity and strengthen our sense of self-worth and empower us to act wisely and with confidence. Your power animal will be there when you need him. Rediscover, restore, and use him.

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The Mystery and Magic of Power Animals

Power Animals

The Mystery and Magic of Power Animals

The shamanic journey is filled with mystery and despite its ancient history, is little understood in Western culture. The journey is one of the most effective ways to make contact with the spirits. The altered state of consciousness in a non-ordinary reality achieved in a journey allows you to transcend the limitations of the rational world with which we are so familiar. The shamanic journey is common to all cultures and the nature of the journey is remarkably similar in cultures widely separated by era and geography. In the spirit world, both time and place are illusionary constrains only to 3D reality and the lessons the other worlds provide are universally true. The similarities in journey practices in widely diverse cultures demonstrate this.

We have much to learn about the spiritual realm. The journey provides a format for gathering information concerning your own intention and also for listening openly for what the spirits may want to express to you. I have found the shamanic journey to be one of the most profound ways of connecting with the spirits and one of the richest sources of understanding and awareness.

Working with power animals or guardian spirits is a basic part of the shamanic journey. Shamans or medicine people, those that were the healers of the tribe, believed that their powers came from the animals, the plants, the stones, the elements, or the stars. Communing with these life forms was natural and necessary. These life forms held the secrets of the universe and these secrets could be accessed through the shamanic journey.

In non-ordinary reality, it is common to find healing remedies and to move energy in and out of the body during the shamanic journey. This healing or alteration of one’s being includes extraction of negative energy and soul retrieval. The journey involves travel to other worlds or realities to obtain information. When venturing into these other realities, it is usually done with the protection and guidance of your power animal.

There is usually one power animal that you are born with that should stay with you always. This is your main power animal and, if it should leave you, you would feel a loss of personal power. Its absence can be felt energetically. A power animal is extremely important to your well being and health. The effects of power animal loss and soul loss are very similar. In both cases, people will display symptoms of chronic problems such as; colds, flus, viruses, chronic depression, chronic misfortune, chronic emotional problems, chronic dysfunctional relationships, and lack of confidence, fear, vulnerability, and low self esteem. Power animal retrievals can have a profound healing for the person reconnecting with his/her spiritual ally.

Receiving a power animal in a shamanic journey is a gift from the spirit world. These animals are assigned to individuals; the individual does not choose the animal. They are usually wild, not domesticated, animals. And they are magical—tigers can fly, elephants can swim, and anything is possible. There is no hierarchal system. An eagle isn’t better than a mouse. They are just different and bring different energy to the individual.

Every animal has its own talents and gifts that it is offering to its human counterpart. A study of its talents will reveal the kind of medicine, magic, and power it can help you develop within your own life. Sometimes certain power animals emerge for particular periods of your life. You may need the playful energy of the otter, or the dutiful work ethics of the beaver to get you through a certain situation. These power animals come and go but even if the relationship is short the impact from this profound relationship will remain a lifetime.

Building a relationship with your power animal is a necessity; it takes time and energy. I spend many journeys just being with my power animals. With each journey a trust is developed, insights are gained, and a relationship is built. I suggest that you buy pictures or little figurines of your power animal and display them some place in your home. This honors them and reminds you of their presence in your life. I have found that power animals love to be honored and that they are much more available to you if you develop this practice of consciously honoring them. As this intimate relationship with your power animal grows, you will eventually realize that they are real, in the literal sense, and the protection that they provide you is also real.

I have known of animals actually appearing in Ordinary Reality when its human was in danger. A client of mine was at home late at night and a burglar tried to enter her house. She instantly asked her panther to protect her. Hiding in her hall closet, she heard the loud, aggressive growl of a huge cat emanating outside the house by the door where the burglar was trying to get in. In moments, she heard the burglar scream and run off. She called the police. After their arrival and their usual questions, she went outside with them. One of the policemen pointed out that her very dusty and dirty car had huge paw prints that started from the hood and went to the trunk. Stunned, she realized that her panther spirit guide had chased the burglar away and left its tracks on her car to prove it! Power animals are the greatest protectors in the spirit world.

I believe that learning how to journey and identifying your power animal will help restore your own personal power and health. Even though shamanism is ancient, its healing qualities remain effective during this modern age. It is through the rediscovery of these ancient ways that many people are experiencing feelings of wholeness, connection and empowerment. If we apply the teachings of shamanism to contemporary life, the results can be beneficial to the individual and to the world community in which we live.

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