We are into the Season of Thanksgiving and gratitude. Rather than wax poetic on all of the human things we can and should be grateful for, like family, health, wealth and prosperity, I would like to take this opportunity to focus our gratitude on our connection to the world around us – to Nature.
One way in which Pagans and Nature-spirituality practitioners connect to the Divine, is by focusing on the directions and their elemental associations. It’s my observation that this is one shared practice we have with indigenous people from all across the world. This practice may vary with a tribal community or tradition and geographical location. For instance, in the Wiccan tradition I was trained in, the elements and directions begin with the Eastern ward and the spirits of Air, we move to the southern ward from there, clockwise and connect with the South and the spirits of Fire, next we turn towards the direction of the setting sun, the direction of Water and connect with Water elementals. Finally, in the fourth ward, in the North, from the direction of the snows and cold, we connect with the element of manifestation, with Earth.
I recently enjoyed a weekend with Peruvian Shamans and Anthropologist and Shamanic Practitioner Dr. Alberto Villoldo and the Four Winds School at the Omega Institute where I was grateful to take part in their ceremony of the Great Initiation. It was interesting to me that the Peruvian Shamans, a term they referred to themselves as, also began each ceremony with honoring and drawing in each direction, a corresponding element and a particular spirit animal associated with each direction. I enjoyed how their corresponding elements were opposite to my own which makes sense considering they are based in the Southern Hemisphere. They also have traditional spirit animals that they identify with each of the directions and elementals. Each spirit animal is called to lend it’s qualities, gifts and way of knowing to the Shaman and as the Shaman develops these relationships, can then call forward those qualities and gifts and knowing when working in the Other realms and for their people. The Shamans of Peru connect with the Snake Spirit, the Jaguar, the Hummingbird and the Condor. As we connected with each of these Animal Spirits, we identified how that particular spirit could help us in our work as healers and in our journeys. When we completed the ceremony, I felt very grounded, grateful and connected to the animal and spirit world. I would like to share a meditation with you and invite you to also take a moment to connect and center yourself in the Universe and within a circle of elemental spirits.
Take a moment to center yourself in your home in a way that you will not be disturbed. If you are able, sit comfortably on the floor or in a chair before your altar or a lit candle. Allow yourself some deep breaths to center yourself and ground your energy down into the earth, connecting with Mother Earth, and then out through the top of your head up into the sky, connecting with Great Spirit, God or Father Sky, whichever works for you. After some more deep breathing, imagine yourself to be seated in the center of a bright orb of light that surrounds your body tightly, and the orb is filled with stars as you yourself are filled with a universe of stars.
When this image is clear, imagine the circle is surrounding you snugly and burning away any attachments, worries, mundane stressors, and you are in a very safe and holy balance of earth, sky and stars. Now let the circle’s glow move slightly away from your body. As you do this, the circle expands so that it surrounds you about three feet away and is glowing and strong.
Begin to connect with the Direction of the East. In the East, allow your mind to associate with Air – with thoughts, ideas, words, expression. With the spirits and animals that inhabit the Air. Now notice one of them comes forward. Who is your Eastern Animal Spirit? Do not judge or question who comes forth. But in your mind’s eye, see this animal clearly. Think about this animal: What does it eat? How does it live? What quality does it wish to share with you? What medicine gift does it have to share with you in your journeys, in your life and in your work? Name this gift and claim it as your own. Thank this Animal Spirit.
Return your energy to the center, reconnecting with the darkness and the starlight. When you are centered again, turn your attention to the South and connect with the element of Fire. The energy of Fire represents warmth, light, passion, will, desire, and also clearing and cleansing energy. Focus on the feeling of fire and then allow yourself to connect with an Animal Spirit of this direction and element. Notice which appears without judgement or second guessing. Who is your Southern Animal Spirit? in your mind’s eye, see this animal clearly. Think about this animal: What does it eat? How does it live? What quality does it wish to share with you? What medicine gift does it have to share with you in your journeys, in your life and in your work? Name this gift and claim it as your own. Thank this Animal Spirit.
When you are complete, return your energy to your starry center. When you are ready, turn your attention once again to the Western Ward, to the element of Water. Allow yourself to hear, touch, smell and observe with all your senses this element. Then pay attention to what Animal Spirit now comes forth from the Western Waters. See this animal clearly. What does it eat? How does it live? What quality does it wish to share with you? What medicine gift does it have to share with you in your journeys, in your life and in your work? Name this gift and claim it as your own. Thank this Animal Spirit.
Return once again to the center, feeling the presence of each Animal Guardian and the energies of the three directions you have connected with. Now turn to the final direction North. From this direction, connect with the elementals of Earth. Here we have the four-legged and green nations, the Stone people and the powers of abundance, manifestation and physical form. In this direction, now see who steps forward. Who is your Northern Animal Spirit? Do not judge or question who comes forth. Clearly note all you can about the animal. Think about this animal’s presence. What does it eat? How does it live? What quality does it wish to share with you? What medicine gift does it have to share with you in your journeys, in your life and in your work? Name this gift and claim it as your own. Thank this Animal Spirit.
Now return to the center, to the stars and feel yourself surrounded by the power of your animal spirits, the directions, the elements and your connection to Mother Earth and Father Sky. Embrace this sense of unified consciousness, of oneness, of the Universe and take note of any other sensations or wisdom that comes especially to you. From this space, allow yourself to feel deep gratitude and Thanksgiving for All. When you are ready, return to ordinary consciousness.
I hope you enjoy this meditation and experience the deep gratitude that welled within me when it came to me. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Soul Blossom Center.