Asbjorn Torval’s latest post on spirit animals brings up some good points regarding spirit animals, personal bias and what he terms ‘power play’ when considering why there are so many folks who choose wolves and bears as their spirit animals, and yet no one seems to choose cockroaches or rats.
Why indeed, and this post has given me much food for thought regarding my own experiences in that if I were to choose a spirit animal, I would likely choose the fox, the horse, or the raven
– and yet, if I were to be honest –
The reality seems to be that my spirit animals are
(L-R: Turkey vulture; Black vulture)
(L-R: angry possum; possum ‘playing dead’)
You see, ever since I began working with Loki – and then later (and at present) Odin – my life has become overrun with vultures and possums!
Did I expect the relentless presence of vultures and possums in my life?
Well, I cannot say that I did, and yet – much like the Gods Themselves – I find that my life is full of signs of their presence at every turn.
So what have all of these interactions with vultures and possums taught me?
As many long-time followers of this blog may recall that I have written of my mundane (and spiritual) experiences with vultures, I don’t think I have ever written about my interactions with possums.
I grew up in a rather rural town in Massachusetts. My father had quite a sizeable garden on the 1/2 acre property, and as you might imagine, I came across possums – both living and dead – quite often.
As a matter of fact, a dead possum was likely my first childhood experience with death – when, at the age of five or six years old – I found the very much dead body of a possum under an outdoor picnic table in the backyard. I remember my father explaining to me how sometimes possums would ‘play dead’ – just like I’d seen in cartoons – but that this one was really dead 😦
As well, my siblings and I would often come across live mama possums -with tiny babies – living in our root cellar, or trying to survive the winter by sneaking under the bulkhead stairs and into our basement. (I remember my older siblings and I learning to build a (humane) catch and release trap (courtesy of a Mark Trail book) for catching all the possums and other animals that snuck in, and how aggressively we competed with each other for the exciting and very honorable privilege of being the one who help our father carry the [occupied] trap into the woods to safely release whatever animal it had caught.)
But then, once I grew up and left home, I spent many years living in suburban areas and in bigger cities like Boston, Orlando, and Newark…and I didn’t see another possum for almost 25 years.
Fast forward to 2010, when my husband and I bought a house in a large Central Florida suburb…and I am telling you, I have never seen so many possums in all of my life.
In the month of July 2013 alone, I came across eight dead possums in my backyard; I swear that the vultures were bringing them – perhaps even dropping them – into my backyard, which is surrounded by a 6 foot privacy fence. Two of them were huge- larger than each of my three full grown house-cats – and even my 75 lb Labrador retriever was afraid to go near them. (They were very dead and very heavy – and the body of one of those particularly big ones would not fit on the scoop/blade of my largest shovel.)
And nowadays, I’ve seen a few (thankfully live) possums while walking my dogs at night, either trotting down the middle of my street, or perched on my next-door neighbor’s fence or in the tree overlooking their swimming pool.
My dogs go berserk and stand out there barking at them every time one of the possums show up- but I don’t think they even blink anymore
Most of those ‘What’s your Spirit Animal?’ websites (like this one) often portray Possum as a sort of trickster and problem solver:
- Possum comes up with alternative plans for difficult situations that don’t require fighting/violence. They have an effective strategy – either by putting on an impressive display of ferocity or by playing ‘dead’ – and both strategies are indicative of one who is a master of projecting an impressive image of what they want others to see.
- Possums are highly social with curious, inquisitive minds. They know when to run, when to hide, and when to move forward.
- Possums are short lived creatures associated with youth and vulnerability. As a spirit animal, Possum assists those who are either young in spirit – or those who need to reconnect with their own vulnerability (or their inner child).
- Possums are nocturnal creatures who are comfortable in the dark (in burrows underground) or in trees. Thus, Possum has strong element ties with the Earth and with trees. They have mastered navigating darkness and Possum serves as an excellent guide for those who seek to develop their navigation of darkness to uncover elusive truths, especially spiritual truths.
- When Possum shows up – ask yourself if you are taking the right path toward your goals or if you have wandered off track. If the latter, Possum might be saying: ‘Be still and play dead’ and take some time to reflect and assess your circumstances. But likewise, Possum symbolizes to expect the unexpected and always be on the lookout for deception and lies. You are being called to challenge the status quo and outsmart the people who may wish to trick or deceive you.
- Possum can indicate the need to be prepared for change – opportunity knocks! – but Possum’s message is one of caution: Not all is as it would seem. Some options will leave you exposed and vulnerable, while other options may divert you from your goals. Possums are creatures who look for the path of least resistance.
- Ultimately, Possum is a survivor and the possum is a reminder that you will survive whatever threatens to overtake you, including your fears, doubts, or emotional trauma. Stay guarded, listen, and bide your time.
So, considering best laid plans and all that…
Every time I see a vulture, I take it as a reminder that I need
- to rely on the tools given to me
- trust in the process
- look for opportunities to transform
- accept that what seems like an end is not the end of the world
And, oddly enough, when I see possums, I take it as a sign that I need to:
- Be resourceful
- Meditate on my options
- Learn to navigate the darkness and don’t be afraid of it
- Learn to accept that appearances can deceive
- Be cheerful
That being said, I think Vulture and Possum are my unexpected spirit animals
…and I imagine that they are here to stay.