The Power of Animal Spirits


In a culture where people believe that they are entitled to destroy the environment, and squander its resources, we have lost our love for our Great Mother; we have become alienated from our nurturing Mother Earth. My reading over this last year repeatedly reveals that this destruction began 10,000 years ago when our ancestors moved from being hunter and gatherers to agriculturists. In the words of Felicitas Goodman, “In a very real way, the hunters and gatherers open the first chapter of our human history. And fittingly, this dawning was as close to paradise as humans have ever been able to achieve. The men did the hunting and scavenging, working for about three hours a week, and the women took care of daily sustenance by gathering vegetal food and small animals. It was such a harmonious existence, such a successful adaptation, that it did not materially alter for many thousands of years. This view is not romanticizing matters. Those hunter-gatherer societies that have survived into the present still pursue the same lifestyle, and we are quite familiar with it from contemporary anthropological observation. Despite the unavoidable privations of human existence, despite occasional hunger, illness, and other trials, what makes their lifeway so enviable is the fact that knowing every nook and cranny of their home territory and all that grows and lives in it, the bands make their regular rounds and take only what they need. By modern calculations, that amounts to only about 10% of the yield, easily recoverable under undisturbed conditions. They live a life of total balance, because they do not aspire to controlling their habitat, they are part of it.” Marshall Sahlins, Daniel Quinn, Richard Tarnas, Jim Mason and many other writers come to the same conclusion, that the fall from paradise happened at this time when we placed ourselves above all other flora and fauna, where we placed ourselves beyond the end of or final stage of evolution, when we placed ourselves above the gods at the time when we ate of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, and when the first agriculturists, Cane, began killing the herders of animals, Abel. Since then we have continued to kill Abel with the expansion of our agricultural fields and drain the earth in our hording and greed.

Many of us are recognizing this destruction that may bring our evolution to an end, and we are seeking ways to return to venerating the Great Mother. Hopefully our numbers reached a critical mass at the end of the Mayan calendar. Over the last few years through using the ecstatic trance postures I have followed a number of animal spirit guides, the bear, eagle, mouse, buffalo, deer, snake and coyote, among others, and I expect that this list will continue to expand. But besides these guides offering me healing, and spiritual growth, th ey have totally changed the way I relate to them. I can no longer place them beneath me as something to control, but I have learned to value them highly as equals to me by valuing what they have taught me. I venerate and respect them. They become most personal to me and I seek to be with and protect them. – Nick Brink