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Power Animals (Sacred Cows)

By Nimue Brown

When choosing an animal ally, spirit guide or totem, it’s odd how often we Pagans find ourselves picked by glamorous top end predators, and how rarely someone admits to being guided by skunks, jellyfish, worms and other, less romantic life forms. You’d imagine, if the animal spirits were doing all the choosing, a few more people might have been called by slow worms and sparrows than seems to be the case. I dare to suggest that all too often we pick our animal guides based largely on how we want to be seen and what qualities interest us.

It’s worth considering the difference between a power animal, and an animal we happen to like and feel fond of, or wish to emulate. I happen to be very fond of owls. I know a lot about owls, and hearing their calls gives me goosebumps. Once, in a piece of deep visualisation work I was eaten by an owl, which led to a few very strange days. It’s not an easy thing to have to handle in your normal life. Actual spirit creatures, I assume, cannot be relied upon to fit neatly round the day job and family commitments. I have no idea how owls feel about me, really, and that tells me there is no magical special thing going on here.

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