I couldn’t tell what kind of animal it was. I knew it belonged to the cat family, but was too big to be a domestic cat, and not big enough to be a lion. Its head was strange to me— oversized, with tufts of hair sticking out of its large ears, its paws thick with fur, housing retractable claws.
“What kind of cat are you?” I asked. With a roguish grin, and piercing eyes, it simply answered, “let’s play.”
It was April 22, 2019, Earth Day. I was visiting M’Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island, attending an Ojibwe celebration for Mother Earth.
They were twenty of us inside a 22-foot tipi, seated in the traditional circle around the firepit. We could see the night sky overhead through the opened flap at the top.
The sacred drummers held a steady pulse as four women sang to Ni Mama Akii (My Mother Earth). The magical sound of a single flute, wind-like and graceful, whispered to the waning moon.
During the ceremony an elder invited us to join him in a visioning exercise to meet our spirit animal. He explained that visioning is a transformational process that taps into our inner intuition to reveal images — the opposite of visualization, which is a conscious process to control images.
This would be my first spiritual journey inward using visioning, and I was curious, and a little sceptical. What the heck was a spirit animal, and did I have one?
But I had come to the Island to reconnect with something that was gone inside me, and what was gone was my music.
A little background. Since childhood I’ve been attracted to music; whether singing, or playing an instrument, or just listening to records, there was always music in my head, until there was not. On that day on the Island, I had not heard my music for a very long time.
So, I closed my eyes, listened to the quiet directions from the elder, and made my way into the Earth’s core.I went down deep into the core on a phantom slide and met a few animals along the way – mostly snakes, then a couple of rabbits. Travelling deeper, I came face-to-face with a cobra. It loomed large over me, and I wondered, with some trepidation, if this was my spirit animal.
Then out of nowhere, a cat-like animal jumped at the cobra, bit its head off, then slid down to the core with me.
It took me a minute to get clear as to what had just happened, and I could see this animal was urging me to play. I hesitated at first, but it kept pawing at me, playfully, until we ended up rolling around the ground together, laughing and playing. Yes, we were laughing.
Some time passed, then the elder started bringing us back up to the surface. This cat creature told me that it will always be by my side and not to forget to play. Then it slowly faded out of sight.
Later, I learned that the cat creature was a lynx. And learned that the appearance of the lynx is a reminder that life is short — so be playful and affectionate to those I love. And to go deep to find the strength and determination already resident inside me.
It was a few days after that brief encounter I sensed a change, subtle at first, but something was happening to me. I was more open and willing to listen to the whisperings of that inner voice. It became clear to me what I had lost – trust in my inner voice. I had lost my muse-ic.
Then one morning it happened. A marching band startled me awake. I sat up in bed — where was the music coming from? I lie back on my pillow and smiled. It was coming from inside my head – my music was back. And with that an awakened desire to write again, to write stories, to find my voice as a fiction writer.
It has taken me a few years of more digging, but I’m ready now. Connecting with my spirit animal led me here, just where I’m supposed to be.
If you’re interested…