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 Soul is Immortal

The Soul Is Immortal by Jan Engels-Smith

In the shamanic belief the soul is immortal. This belief is common to several of the religious and spiritual doctrines of the world. What does immortal mean to you? It can be difficult for the human mind to conceive of the concept of immortality – especially for the left brain. Being left-brain dominant in Western culture, most of us tend to think in linear time; that there is a beginning and an end to every event. Immortality says that this is not true; instead, the soul is eternal, existing forever. It always was, always is, and always will be. The soul stays in the constant state of Now, which encompasses all of time. The right brain has no concept of past or future and also exists in the constant world of Now. Shamanism is more easily understood from the right brain domain.

Shamanism sees the soul as a shape-shifter. You can be any shape – an animal or a tree or a cloud or a ray of sunshine. You could be the Earth. You can be an intergalactic being; maybe someone from a different star system. All of these expressions of the soul are a part of the richness of wisdom inside you. You can be anything and you are everything. You have forever to experiment and try different experiences. You will choose where to focus your consciousness in any given moment, and then that moment will change and you will move your focus. Time is everlasting.

Our left brain likes to see in a linear way. We like repetitive patterns and ways to compartmentalize, so that life makes sense to our rational mind and gives us some kind of structure that we can understand. The soul, the spirit, exists in a nonlinear universe where all is one and time and place are not the defining conditions of life. If you wanted to put it in scientific terms, our mind wants to perceive the world in Newtonian constructs, where all things are compartmentalized and fragmented. But the soul is actually in the Quantum field where it is omnipresent, can shape shift and change form, and where existence is defined in non-rational ways. The soul merely exists without rational definition; it simply is.

Your form is continually changing shapes in order to experience different realities. It is a free Spirit that can choose to be human or any other form of matter. It is free flowing, moving from one identity to another. I am wood, I am eagle, I am sunshine, I am a string on a harp, or I am a letter on a page in a book. In shamanism everything is alive and has intelligence. Everything that exists can be and is a part of your soul’s experience. And with immortality, you will experience it all at some time, at the same time. Actually you are experiencing all of your existences simultaneously. However, that concept takes a while to get used to!

There is an awareness of all that exists inside of you. Your different life expressions become what we call your signature, or your imprint. When you tap into these other lifetimes, you can recall or find out about those experiences of what you were or who you were. And these experiences are all happening at the same time; they are all happening now. Your right brain knows this. Since journeying is a right brain function we can experience this truth more easily while we are journeying.

The vastness of the world is often greater than what our mind can comprehend. Our left brain wants to contain, describe, and limit things. In this limited reality, the question of “Who am I?” stays in a small, restricted container based on this Earth experience. I am female, this is my profession, and this is what I look like.

Shamanism says something different and inspires a person to discover the vastness that is actually inside of you – what you have access to if you would step out of the box and realize that you have these attributes and incredible parts of your being that are magical and profound.

Many people that are positively disposed to this kind work are drawn to the topic because they have done this in different lifetimes. You might have been a healer, a shaman, a medicine person, or somebody that sees the future. So you have a propensity and a desire to continue with that learning as you experience this lifetime. You are drawn to certain essences and natures because it is in your soul; it is in your cells. Your love of nature may indicate that you were a part of nature at one time: a deva, faery or an elf. Let’s say you see a piece of art and feel a deep, connecting love. Who knows, you may have been the artist in another lifetime. Why do you love and commune with crystals? Maybe you were a crystal.

Try to conceptualize this wisdom that we carry inside of us. Who are we? A bat, grass in a meadow, a leaf on an oak tree, a mountain, or perhaps a stone or a wisdom keeper that has been around for millions of years. A million years is but a moment in immortality. You keep incarnating. You might be on the planet Earth for a while, and then you might be on a different planet. You could be a star! There are endless possibilities.

So as we take our awareness out of that little box, we can indeed sense the vastness of the life force that beats within us. It is not just about this life. There is a vastness to you that is far beyond this particular lifetime. This is where our focused attention is, right here and now, but let us not just limit ourselves to that. As you become unlimited in your awareness of space and time, you open yourself up to a much greater understanding of what life actually is – not just human life, but all life, even in the landscape, or a drop of water, or the ocean, or any of the various objects you might imagine yourself to be.

In shamanism there is no linear time. Therefore, there can be no “past” life because other lives and other lifetimes are all happening simultaneously. Your soul is vast, and all of these other lifetimes are happening in other dimensions of time and space. You are consciously focused in this reality, which creates a sense of realism. However, you can alter that focus and transport your consciousness into a different reality. Therefore, journeying can create unlimited possibilities. At more advanced levels of shamanic practice, you can travel into another person’s lifetime and create modifications designed to bring healing. Yes, you can affect the past; you can heal it and give it a new ending. It is all possible. Because, in this understanding there is no past, there is only Now.

In a journey, as we move through space and time, we transport to any time dimension or timeframe and explore that particular landscape and the events connected to it and heal what needs to be healed. That is what makes shamanic healing so powerful. The point that is causing you so much trouble in this lifetime may not have started here. It may have started in some other lifetime. We do not need to fix this life; we need to fix the previous life and heal the source of the problem. In fixing that life, this life automatically adjusts. So our ability to do healing is vast; there is nothing that cannot be healed. Everything is possible in this realm; it is only hindered by the limited thinking process of the individual. If you cannot envision in your thoughts or you cannot imagine it or are not willing to have it as a possibility, you cannot create it. Energy follows intention.

You can travel to what we call the future and see what is potentially going to happen. If you do not like what is happening in that future, you can change it. There is a probability of a future occurrence that is in motion that was predetermined by your past thinking and your previous actions. But probabilities can be changed. If you do not like what you see coming, you can change the matrix of energy that is holding it in that pattern of probability.

In shamanism there is an understanding that small adjustments in our current existence create a rippling effect through the future that can result in dramatic alterations – the “butterfly effect” – where a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can ultimately effect the actions of a hurricane at a future time and a distant place. Such is the nature of an alteration in our thoughts today shifting the energy that forms our future. That is what I love about shamanism. There is nothing that is impossible to do energetically. You can change DNA and create different outcomes. You can change propensities of illnesses that are supposedly genetic. Our belief system is the determinant of our future.

What the practitioner is able to envision for the client and what the client is able to envision for himself or herself provides the energy for potential change and allows us to be the active agent in creating our future. Far from helpless and hopeless, we have the power to be that which we desire and fulfill the destiny that the universe has created for us. But we need to make the choice to do that.

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