Shamanism isn’t a religion as such because it is a Universal practice that involves connecting your spiritual sub conscious with your conscious state to see and interact with the spirit world and channel energies into this world. A Shaman usually enters into a trance state during a personal or public ritual, and practices divination and healing. The word “shaman” probably originates from the Tungusic Evenki language of North Asia.
A Shaman usually has guides to help them and sometimes these are spirit and power animals. The awenyddion of Wales are evidence of a native tradition of Celtic shamanism. The awenyddion were Celtic prophets and soothsayers who, when asked a question by those seeking divinatory guidance, would fall into a deep trance and utter the answers in their trance like state. On awakening, many would not even recall what they had uttered.
Finn MacCumhal is a shamanic figure in Irish Celtic mythology. From an early age, Finn undergoes training to become a fennid, being raised in exile in the wilderness by two mysterious foster mothers, one known as a druid, who train him in the arts of hunting and fighting. A fennid lives and functioning outside or on the margins of the tribes territory and community. A group of fennid combine to form a fian, or war band. Their leader is the rifennid, usually one known for his exceptional prowess.
Finn became adept in the arts of fennidecht (the hunting and martial arts of the fennidi), and eventually becomes rifennid of his own fian. Finn stands out from other fennidi as a fili, or poet/seer. Fili is one of the highest roles in Celtic Ireland and fili were hailed before kings, in contrast to Finn’s other role as outlaw mercenary. Finn lives both within and outside of the physical world and society. Finn’s gains liminal knowledge and power from the Otherworld sources, documented in the many tales of his journeys into the realms of the Otherworld.
In Celtic literature, Otherworld realms are not described as mysterious ephereal dim places, but as definitive, unique physical worlds, each vivid and unique. Some are filled with magical forests, with animals who act as guides, women of unearthly beauty, and sparkling, crystal seas. In this respect, the Celtic tradition corresponds with universal accounts of shamans, who describe the alternate worlds of their voyaging in specific and vivid terms.
One of the common features of Shamanism is connecting with power and spirit animals. Power Animals are strongly associated with the Native American Indian belief in Animism that is a belief based on the spiritual idea that the universe, and all natural objects within the universe, have souls or spirits. Nwyfre (pronounced “NOOiv-ruh”) is old Welsh meaning “sky” or “heaven.” As an element, nwyfre is the source of life and consciousness, and many refer to it simply as the life force. In most languages, air, breath and spirit have common roots; eg. the English word spirit itself comes from the Latin word “spiritus” meaning breath. All physical objects contain nwyfre and we are united by the spirit that brings all physical things into existence. We are all products of the same energy that created the Universe nearly 14 billion years ago. We also all have the ability to connect in various degrees to the spirit realm. For some, it is a natural ability. Others can develop it over time. So connecting with Power and Spirit Animals is well within our abilities.
Power animals are a supernatural power that embodies, attaches or conveys influence empowering a person with the powerful traits and characteristics of the animal. They represent a person’s connection to all life, qualities of character, and their individual power. Power Animals are guides who appear in dreams or guided meditations or Shamanic trances in the form of an animal. Power Animals walk through different stages of life with each of us, teaching and guiding and protecting us.
Over your lifetime you may unknowingly or knowingly have the help of several different Power Animals. Power Animals can come and go unexpectedly, especially after a few years. According to the beliefs of Shamanism all people have power animals, or tutelary spirits, that empower and protect them from harm, like a guardian spirit or angel.
Each Native American tribe had a group of Power Animals that are most prevalent among its people referred to as Tribe Totems. The Power Animals of a tribe usually live in the area inhabited by the tribe and have great medicine power. These tribal Power Animals are important in the life of the tribe, as guides to sources of food and other essential items or as guides to the changing seasons. The Egyptians ascribed animal powers to their deities, even using pictures to show their different animalistic attributes, even though they did not view them as animals, but used this symbolically.
A lot of Celtic tribes had their own tribal deities, such as the Brigantes, named after Brigantia (many of whom consider as a form of Brigid). Each tribal deity also has characteristics of a Power animal.
For members of the Order of Celtic Wolves our totem is the wolf. What then are the Power and Spiritual attributes of our adopted Power Animal?
Wolf Power Animal
The Wolf is the Pathfinder, symbolising intelligence and leadership. Dreaming of a wolf symbolises beauty, solitude, mystery, self-confidence and pride. As a social animal, you are able to keep your composure in a variety of social situations and can blend in with any situation with ease and grace. Some wolves leave their pack and become a lone wolf by choice. The negative aspects to be aware of are hostility and aggression within the pack. Vying for power and control because of our independent spirit. There is a primal force in a wolf, though, and although loving, we have to be aware of the double nature within us.
Discover your power animal by: –
1. Paying attention to the animals you see in your dreams. Think about the people or situations they may represent, and ask yourself how they make you feel. Our dreams are intimately connected to our waking lives, so do some research into dream symbolism.
2. Think about your past connections. Your power animal may have been your favorite animal from growing up, a pet, or animal you have had repeated sightings of or have dreamed of. Pay close attention to the animals in your life, as this may well be the way your guides try to connect with, protect, and lead you through trouble.
3. Include Shamanic journeying or meditations in your personal or group rituals. Connect with the Otherworld to whatever degree you are able to.
4. Listen to what these animals are telling you. Once you discover your power animal, think about what you can learn from it. Apply its wisdom and nature in your day-to-day life.
After the exercise, make notes and share your experiences with others.