Are Animals Mirrors to the Soul?
By Allen and Linda Anderson
How often have you seen people with pets who resemble them? Some pretty funny photographs show this phenomenon. If youíve lived with an animal for awhile, you may have noticed that animals also reflect your qualities, characteristics, and personality traits. A depressed person has a sad-eyed dog. A chatty guy has a talkative parrot. The animal companion of a gentle woman is a kind and affectionate cat.
When we take our dog, Taylor, for walks around a nearby lake, we often pass a mild-mannered man with a timid gait who always averts his eyes. A little dog runs alongside him, growling and showing her teeth to everyone. This dog could be a mirror for the manís excessive fears. As people tell us about significant animals in their lives, weíve observed how the animals often serve as spiritual report cards. More often than not, memorable spiritual experiences with animals chart a personís progress toward or away from having more love, peace, and fulfillment.
Animals as Reflections
Websites these days are devoted to helping you select the right animal or breed for your personality and lifestyle. Depending on whether youíre friendly, protective, independent, self-assured, consistent, steady, or clever, youíll be advised that a certain animal is more likely to be compatible with you. Marketers already know a lot about you by the kind of animal companion youíve chosen. The University of Oregon conducted research on people who live with dogs, cats, birds, fish, mice, rabbits, or reptiles. Those who shared their homes with dogs believed in honesty and were more religious and duty-bound. Cat lovers tended to be loners just like their pets. People with fish were less pessimistic and cynical than others.
By analyzing these kinds of profiles, advertisers prepare strategies for how to get you to buy those fancy dog or cat dishes and gourmet pet foods. Obviously itís not the animal buying the product. By knowing what pet you prefer, manufacturers can use your personality traits to sell products in ways that will appeal to you.
Spiritual Blind Spots
In our workshops and classes after someone has shared a story about their spiritual connection with a special animal, we often ask what was going on in the personís life at the time. This is when the awareness dawns that a memorable experience with a pet or animal in nature has reflected the personís spiritual lessons, challenges, or attitudes. We call these your ďspiritual blind spots.Ē And it seems that nothing reveals them quite as well as animals.
Animals reflect what youíre all about ó your values, your interests, but most of all, your personality. What you may not realize is that animals are spiritual barometers for whatever youíre hiding from the world and yourself. They manifest your state of consciousness ó fleas and all.
Animals, as souls, are spiritually engineered to give service. So are humans, but people tend to carry more mental and emotional baggage, making it more complex for them to be pure and loving vehicles for Godís love. As a service, animals reflect aspects of your personality and spiritual makeup that may be keeping you from becoming your most evolved, loving, enlightened self.
Spiritual blind spots are the needs and desires you donít, canít, or wonít admit you harbor. Recognizing and accepting them fosters spiritual growth because the first step toward loving God and others is to love yourself ócompletely.
Animals often show what you donít want to or canít see about yourself. They are black and white scenes of your deepest secrets brought to the big screen in living Technicolor by an animal actor. The spiritual blind spots animals bring to your attention show what is inside of you, not allowing you to be who and all you were meant to be.
A Deer Becomes a Mirror
Because souls, whether theyíre wearing animal and human bodies, are connected by the Life Force, even wild animals can become mirrors for your spiritual growth.
When we put out a request on the Internet for mystical wildlife stories, we received an example of an animal in nature who performed a mirroring service for a man named Jim Beam in North Island, New Zealand.
As a schoolboy, Jim says that he stalked deer in rugged bush country. After he graduated, he got a job with the forest service as a professional hunter, working in the beautiful mountainous bush country. The following is Jimís story in his own words.
ďAfter a couple of seasons, I became pretty good at hunting animals and thought nothing of shooting them. The killing didnít disturb me. I became immune to it, hardened against the pain I caused.
ďOne day, I shot a deer who was on a ridge track. The deer stumbled and rolled into thick brush, where she came to rest, tangled in the vegetation. I sauntered down to her and discovered I had done serious, even hideous damage to the deerís forequarter.
ďThe animal watched me approach. I looked at her, and she seemed to speak to me. This was an uncanny experience, because I have no way of describing it, except to say that it felt like the deer was asking me why I had done this. What on earth was I thinking?
ďThe deer chastised me in the way some wise person would have scolded a vandal, caught committing a stupid, foolish act. The animal actually had total control of the situation. She was dying as a result of my action but invaded my mind in such a way that I became almost physically sick.
ďI felt terrible shame and total worthlessness. I had no option but to agree with this animalís questioning of my motives and intelligence. After this experience, I quit hunting and found employment in the city.
ďFor years after the incident, I had a recurring dream. In the dream, Iím shooting a deer. When I go to finish her off, she turns into someone I know and love, like one of my mentors, a lover, or a child. I wake up in a cold sweat.
ďOver the years, Iíve become a lover of life. I have huge regret for the hunting career I once chose. Today, where I live, Iím surrounded by wild flora and fauna. Because of the greater respect for nature that I gained from the deer, I find that Iím reluctant to interfere with life in any way, even to the extent of pruning trees.
ďFor the last thirteen years, Iíve been working with wild dolphins and advocating the protection of their habitats. Iíve discovered that Natureís harmony is real, and itís far better to be her partner than an enemy.
ďTo this day, I can still clearly see the deer and feel her message. The recurring dreams have stopped now. But Iíve never forgotten the deerís wisdom, even though I met her thirty-three years ago.Ē
Are animals in your life to bring out an aspect of your personality where you need a spiritual perspective? Are they helping you recognize wisdom of the heart that has been hidden inside you all along?
Allen and Linda Anderson are co-editors of ďAngel Animals: Exploring Our Spiritual Connection with AnimalsĒ available in local and Internet bookstores. Angel Animals plush toys are now available at www.incrediblecreatures.com or call (305) 532-3111. Get their free online newsletter at www.angelanimals.org . Story submissions are gratefully accepted at P.O. Box 26354, Minneapolis, MN 55426 or by e-mail at AngelAnimals@aol.com . For more information call (952) 925-3309.
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