Power animals are central to the practice of shamanism. They serve as guardians, guides and helping spirits. Each animal has its own wisdom and medicine. In shamanic practice, a person may have 2 or 3 primary power animals with whom he or she tends to work. However, other animals may show up to bring us their particular wisdom and medicine when needed. In my own shamanic work, several animals have shown up from time to time to assist me–jaguar, owl, rabbit, hawk, hummingbird, raccoon, bear and most recently elephant.
While on my morning walk a year ago this month, I am suddenly aware that a large elephant had joined me. I am no longer surprised by such occurrences, and I’ve learned to simply ask the animal why it has shown up in my life at this time. So as elephant walked beside me I asked him why he had showed up. He says “I’ve come to join the Shamans’ Circle.” I had recently organized a Shamans’ Circle where people interested in shamanism could meet to learn about shamanism, develop shamanic practices and share their experiences. We had met a couple of times and had talked about journeying to find an animal to serve as the guardian, guide and medicine for our group. I inquire why the elephant wishes to join the Shamans’ Circle. He says, “I am the guardian of the circle. I am its strength and its power.” I thanked the Elephant.
Later that day I journeyed to elephant to gather any additional information. Elephant tells me that he is bringing his medicine to the group; that he is its strength and he will hold it steadfast and secure its success. I thanked elephant.
A week later, in another journey, I go to the Under World to meet with Elephant to gather any additional information regarding his appearance into my life and the Shamans’ Circle. I do my typical journey to the underworld. Suddenly I feel myself going deeper and deeper. I end up in a level deeper than I have ever been before. I look around to see if I see any animals. I see the Shamans’ Circle in a meeting, sitting in a circle. I notice that underneath us, holding us up, supporting us is the elephant that supports the earth. I see elephant. We are on its back, being held and supported by it. Its feet are firmly in the earth.
A few days later I plan to journey to the upper world to drum with my shamanic tribe. As I sit on top of the Pachacuti ruins waiting for Pachacuti, my guide to the Upper World, the elephant that joined me on my walk shows up. I know that I am to get on him. I do and we start off through the sky. However, suddenly we are walking through forests and dark green foliage. We come to an opening and there is a herd of elephants. He tells me that we have come to the “place of the elephants” and this is where the “elephant people live.” I join their circle and drum. I am told “visit us often and inquire of us. We are the drum beat of the future.” At that point elephant motions for me and we leave and return.
A couple of weeks later (9-14-14), following up on the request of the elephants to travel to them often because “they are the drum beat of the future” I travel to the Under World where I meet my elephant. I mount him and he takes me once again through dense foliage to the place of the elephants. I tell them that I am here to spend time with them and to learn from them. They invite me to join them energetically, which I do. I am suddenly aware of their strength and also their gentleness. I experience how they can stand firm, holding their ground and also how they can stampede, trampling everything in their way. I also experience their gentleness with each other as a community. I also experience their energetic connection with everything–how everything is vibrating in them. They tell me that this is how they remember everything. I remember hearing the story of a woman who worked with an baby elephant who was injured. Finally she had to release it back to the wild. Many years later she visited that place and that elephant, now an adult, came up to her, having remembered her. The elephants tell me that when I am working with a client and I need to “remember” what is vibrating in their energetic body, to call upon and access the elephants because they have the memory of that person’s history and the elephant can impart that information to me.
I am then carried to India. I see a painting of the “elephant god.” I am told to read the story of the elephant god. I sit for a long time with the elephants. I feel the elephants vibrating in my own energetic body. They are downloading the wisdom and medicine of the elephants. Suddenly I am aware that this is finished and I am back in my room, sitting in my chair.
Following up on the instruction of this journey to read on the story of the elephant god of India, I discover that the Indian God Ganesha is referred to as the elephant god because he has the head of an elephant. Ganesha is associated with obstacles, knowledge and the first chakra. As the Lord of Obstacles the elephant is both the remover of obstacles but also places obstacles in our path as a means for spiritual growth. As knowledge, elephant is the god of wisdom and learning. With its association to the first chakra the elephant is the foundation that holds, supports and guides all other chakras and governs the forces that propel the wheel of life.
I connect this idea of “governing the forces that propel the wheel of life” with the elephants telling me to visit them often for they “are the drumbeat of the future.” The elephants’ message to the Shamans’ Circle is that we can call upon them to remove obstacles that are in our paths. But we must also be aware that elephants may put obstacles in our paths for spiritual purposes and growth. When an obstacle appears we must ask the elephants, seek their counsel on what is the purpose of the obstacle and how best to remove the obstacle or learn its lesson.
Four months after the above journey I journey to the Underworld. I journey per protocol and meet Huascar. He accompanies me into the chamber of wounds. I see a little boy still held in fear. We move to the Chamber of Contracts. I don’t see any contract so I send Shiny Black Coat, my tracking cat, in to seek and retrieve any contracts. He brings out a contract that says I’ve committed to “sing my song.” We then move to the Chamber of Grace I suddenly remember a little boy in a recent dream. Huascar goes in and brings this boy and returns him to me. This is my joy, my spontaneity, my love for life, my connection to the turtle dove, the wind, the earth, the swamps. We then journey to the Chamber of Gift. I see pencils, the symbol of my self expression, my creativity and phallic energy. Suddenly elephants appear. They are pushing to return with me. Then a whole herd of elephants start following me. They return with me.
While it is most important to first travel to the power animal and speak directly to it regarding its reason for showing up in your life–what wisdom, gifts, and medicine it brings, you can then read the more universal meaning or what others have learned from various animals. Ted Andrews says that elephant is also ancient wisdom. It is associated with smell and helps one discern what “smells good” and what “smells bad” and brings the gift and medicine of discernment. The elephant is associated with strong family and societal ideals, mutual caring, respect for the elderly and the sick and being strong in your own self. Andrews suggests that if elephant has come to a person, that person will have the opportunity to work toward establishing this in his or her life or the lives of others. Be prepared to draw upon the most ancient wisdom and power. You will have the opportunity to help yourself or others reclaim our most primordial royalty (Ted Andrews, Animal-Speak, pp. 267-269)
According to Ina Woolcott, elephant’s medicine includes strength, royalty, connection to ancient wisdom, removal of obstacles and barriers, confidence, patience, using education opportunities, gentleness, communicating in relationships, discernment, intelligence, and compassion. Elephants are able to communicate telepathically and can teach us how to truly listen to others and understand them in ways that transcend speech. Elephant helps us draw from the power of ancient wisdom. They have an inborn knowledge of plants and roots. The elephant’s hearing, smell, touch and taste are very keen and sensitive. They respond from a deep place of inner knowing. Elephants can uncover the hidden memories and bring them to the fore for evaluation, healing and releasing (Ina Woolcott, http://www.shamanicjourney.com/article/5985/ power-animals…spiritual-journey).
It has been almost a year since elephant first showed up on my walk. As I prepared to meditate yesterday (8-22-15), a large bull elephant came to me. He was somewhat agitated and impatient at getting my attention. Once I gave him my attention, he said “follow me.” He took off running very fast, almost madly through the thick vegetation of the jungle. I followed. We came to a clearing, where I had been led once before by a African guide on a previous journey to meet elephant. The elephant stops, breathing quite loudly. He calms and softens. I am then aware of another elephant, a female. She is the matriarch of his tribe. She stands off to the side watching. The bull elephant tells me that his time has come to leave his earthly form. He tells me he is dying. He tells me that the reason that he summoned me was that in his dying he will give me the gift of the elephant spirit, his spirit. He says that this spirit will guide me. This spirit carries the ancient wisdom of the elephants and of the indigenous world. It is the spirit that we must know. The elephant sort of falls or kneels, and then lays on the ground. I am aware that the entire herd is now standing at watch, watching the death. As the elephant dies, his spirit enters me, like enveloping me. I lay over on the elephant, embracing him, taking in the spirit wisdom of the elephant. It comes time to leave. I get up and bow to the ancient one, thanking him for his gift and pledging to do my best to bring his gift to the world. Slowly the others turn and walk back into the jungle. The guide comes and motions for me to follow. It is time to leave. I journey back into the room. I am reminded of the book, The Elephant Whisperer, that was given to me recently. Perhaps it is now time to read it. I remember a painting that is on my easel. This painting was started many, many months ago. On the canvas is the beginning of the head of an elephant. It is now time to finish the painting. My paintings are my way of honoring and interacting with the spirits and archetypal forces that stand behind all manifestation. Here is the painting: “Elephant: The Drumbeat of the Future.
The Drumbeat of the Future