I started at some point thinking more seriously about animals and symbolism.
When I was in New York City, I met this amazing group of older women who met weekly to meditate and write and chat about religious and spiritual stuff. Also we had wine, and I brought a chickpea salad from the deli across the street. That stuff was delicious.
We would meditate, then write. Then you could talk about what you had “seen.” I had never deliberately opened up my mind and then written and then analyzed like this. It made me take my spiritual growth and milestones and symbols more seriously. The women would volunteer ideas, connections. It was like when people share their dreams and analyze them, except we were awake.
I often thought of, or saw, or imagined, animals.
I’m not going to say “spirit animal,” that’s not my religious background or understanding or anything.
I started weekly letting the idea of an animal come into my mind. Then the animal might have some meaning to me that week.
Maybe this is sounding really weird, or like hippie nonsense. Our meditation and writing was through an Episcopal church. So it wasn’t exactly a downtown underground thing.
Before that, I had fretted more about what was my imagination talking, what was my ego, what was my subconscious. Once I had practiced regularly with them, I realized it didn’t matter. My thinking brain is so busy and so quick to judge and analyze, it’s really vital that I find ways around it. That definitely includes closing my eyes and just seeing what show up.
I miss that group, and our practice. I saw trees with silver leaves. I saw Martin Luther and he apologized to me.
Last week I thought of Fala, FDR’s dog.
This week, at Ash Wednesday, I got a swan. I think it was from two things, as dreams are, echoes of other ideas. I could partly see the pelican that is on the altar, and I had read something about the Ugly Duckling story earlier that day. The pelican stabs herself to feed her children her blood. It’s one of our weirder symbols in churches. And it isn’t true. Pelicans don’t do this. The Ugly Duckling, did it matter, becoming more “beautiful”? I love ducks. The flight of a swan is much bigger. And for me, certainly rarer.
Swans: angels, changeable, loyal. Adaptable: water/air/land.
When I say that I “see” these things, I do not physically see them, or think they are real in any way. Just imagination? The same way I can close my eyes and walk through my childhood home, and feel the carpeted steps tumble me down them.