This is the first in a planned three-part series.
Animal Symbolism or Spirit Animals
I have three favorite animals, whose likeness I try to keep around me at all times. They are:
If you’re into animal symbolism at all, or even if you’re not, you probably already can think of some of the associations these animals draw.
Horse– steadfast, loyal, brave, strong, noble
Fox– clever, quick, smart
Hedgehog– resourceful, intelligent
Going a little bit deeper, we can begin to flesh out some of these qualities. There is tons and tons of literature about the cultural weight certain animals carry. Though these sometimes differ from culture to culture, interestingly enough, most cultures often agree enough to reach a certain consensus on an animal. This is how when we think of an animal, we can often draw an association that is rather humanoid.
It’s interesting to consider your favorite animal(s) and think about what they represent both culturally and to yourself. The “yourself” is the more important part. What do they represent and how can you harness that to your creative work?
When I think of these three animals, I think of them as all sharing some rather important characteristics, traits which are important to me as a person. All three of these animals I think of as being smart, resourceful, brave, and a little mysterious. They’re all rather shy creatures by nature who can rise to the occasion when called upon. A horse running into battle or to defend its herd; a fox hunting prey by night; a hedgehog rolling itself into a tight, spiked ball.
Alright, so you’ve identified your animals and identified what they meant to you. So what’s next?
We often hear of animal spirits being used in the form of “totems” as a way to surround ourselves with the likeness of the image and harness the energies associated with that animal. Whether you believe this can actually be done or not, I believe that surrounding yourself with images of these creatures can help inspire and motivate you. Writers are a rather solitary lot and let’s face it, sometimes it gets boring. We get writer’s block, we can’t concentrate, our eyes wander. So if your writing space features effigies of animals whose traits inspire you to work, but also remind you of the traits you want to cultivate as a human being, so much the better.
I for one can never looked at an image of a horse, a fox, or a hedgehog, without feeling a stirring, some level of connection. These animals call to me in one way or another, which leads me to conclude in turn, that what I’m being drawn to is what they represent for me.
Whether or not keeping images of my favorite animals around helps me be a better writer or human being, at least I get something nice to look at.