A couple of examples of using the cooperation of power animals in healing. The first comes from a patient, Patrice, and was written after a treatment she had with me. The second is a description of a shamanic practice, a body part retrieval, done by Pam Harris on my behalf. Thanks to both Patrice and Pam for permission to use these stories.
Patrice and her friends, in her words:
I don’t remember where or when this occurred but I think it was in NYC. I also realize from what you described it was a pseudo-Michael Harner type process and not as he actually outlined but I had a shamanic journey to find my power animal. My power animal was a butterfly. I was so disappointed. I’d wanted a bear, eagle, wolf etc. It wasn’t until years later that I picked up Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams and read about what the butterfly signified—transformation—that I really appreciated the power animal that had come to me. I read more, loved and appreciated the butterfly more and at times my wings are flitting off to all sorts of new adventures that make me a better person. I’m not a big collector so I don’t have a room of butterfly stuff but I do have a butterfly pin and key chain, and I recently saw a pair of pants (in my size and my favorite color) with butterflies on them, so I wear and use these things a lot to honor my power animal.
I’d just broken up with someone I thought I truly cared for (he was a lie of his own creation) and was truly heartbroken. I asked the universe for a power animal to help me through this and if it would come to me in my dreams.
I had a dream about snakes coiled up on the jewelry cases in a jewelry store I had friends in and used to visit quite often. I didn’t remember I had dreamt it (several times) until my last dream. I was in the jewelry store, but this time one of the snakes started to slither off of the jewelry case and chase me and it bit me on my big toe hard enough to wake me up. I realized this was what I’d asked for, and recalled my other dreams and apologized to the snake for forgetting my previous dreams and thanked it for coming. I looked up the meaning for snake, and in short it refers to death, rebirth, resurrection, initiation and wisdom. Not too long after this I found a book on Aztec healing and in a chapter for “Acupuncture for the Back” it said:
Soon will come
the White Eagle puncturer
She will be everywhere—
inside the rocks
inside the trees
Whatever she finds
she will eat
she will destroy
So I put my snake in my spine where I really needed it. When you were telling me there was still stagnation in my stomach I got an image of my snake all curled up in my stomach. My mouth had a totally different thing to say. (Which shocked me more than you.) But, on my way home I realized I needed to find out why the snake was there and I came up with snakes don’t eat often and when they do, they take forever to digest what they’ve eaten. In one way that would be a good thing for me but I’m human, too and need to eat more often than a snake. I had a talk with my snake about this and we’ve come to an agreement and the snake did all sorts of happy snake dances in my stomach.
At the same time I’d asked for a power animal and was given the snake I had a dream about bats a few nights later. I was dreaming about bats flying a little above my head—not low enough to get caught in my hair—and I was enjoying the experience and one bat crawled under my hair on my back enough to wake my up to remember the dream (must have had a talk with snake). It didn’t hurt but was enough of a stimulus to make me aware the bat was there and enough to wake me up. My reaction was, “Cool.” Well, the bat’s wisdom includes death and rebirth, transition, initiation, reviewing past lives, understanding grief, and pollination of new ideas.
I got very sick soon after these dreams and found out I had fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. I found a natural way to get well and did after 4 months. I also moved, then moved to Albuquerque, became a Buddhist, and for the first time in my life actually wanted to be alive and see what the future brings. I want to be fully me and be a contribution and heal things that my brother didn’t get to heal before he died. (We are the same soul.)
On the table [during the treatment] I got to understand a past life I’d only had a glimpse of and I got in touch with the grief of it. So, the bat is still with me, still working with me 3 years after the dream. So is my snake and butterfly and I’m glad I got a chance to write this out and appreciate them even more. Today we all get to celebrate, really I’m going to have a party with my power animals.
P.S. I asked my snake what his name was and he said “Herman.” I said that was a silly name for a snake. Herman said that his name was very highly regarded in the snake kingdom. Her-man!! I get it!! She-he wo-man etc.
Body Part Retrieval 6/10/05 (mine), mediated by Pamela Harris:
I had a revelation that my chronic problems with my right foot symbolized a feeling that part of my body had been torn away with the loss of an important relationship. I asked my friend Pam Harris, an experienced shamanic practitioner, to try a body part retrieval for me. I had never experienced that procedure, nor had I ever attempted it myself
In preparation, Pam did a journey for diagnostic purposes. She found that there was a large intrusion in my foot, knee, hip, throat, and stomach area. It looked to her like a conglomeration of dark, spiderlike beings. She knew she would have to remove those and fill the area back up with light before she could go after the foot itself
Pam began by drumming for a while in my room. She had me lie down on the floor, and she shook a rattle over my whole body. Then she lay down next to me, touching at the shoulder, hip, and ankle, and turned on a drum tape.
I felt something tubelike projecting out the top of my head and searching the space around my body. It seemed like I was doing that myself. Then I felt something similar in the opposite direction, diving in through the top of my head and searching through the inside of my body. From what she said later, that part was Pam. I wasn’t sure if I should be trying to assist in any way or to observe what she was doing, and I had neglected to ask for her opinion about that. I decided to remain as neutral and quiet as possible.
I’ve heard of clients following along with such journeys and experiencing everything the practitioner experiences. Not me, I’m afraid. I had only a few physical sensations while Pam did her work, and those only in relation to the extraction of the “spiders.” I couldn’t have told you anything about what was going on with the journeys themselves, and I certainly didn’t perceive any of the power animals that got involved.
After a while, Pam got up and started pulling at the field around various parts of me, starting at my throat. It took quite a while; she seemed to be struggling a bit. She spent a lot of time around my knee and foot, and a fair amount around my abdomen and hip as well, but I felt the pulling most strongly at my throat. Pam lay down and communed with her power animal again for a while, then continued the extraction. When she felt that she had cleared everything, she began to pour light into the areas she had worked on. I could feel quite a bit of energy.
Pam took a break and described what she had seen. She had found the spider things rather frightening; they seemed to be threatening to bite her. Her (unspecified) power animal came through, though, and batted them away with its paws, then carried them off and released them into the light. She said the biggest one, the “mother,” was hard to dislodge, but then the others came along with it. She found tendrils of these creatures all through my right leg, foot, and hip, as well as in my throat. My feeling was that the spiders were not actual beings, separate from me, but more just manifestations of my own junk. As I explained to Pam, I had had a small entity attached to that foot before, and the experience had been quite different then. That entity, which appeared to me rather like a starfish, seemed to be simply an animal of some kind that had found a food source, not a malevolent being.
As if we didn’t have enough entities involved, Fryderyk stuck his nose in. I guess I should not have been surprised at that, since we were calling upon helpful spirits. However, I had been trying and trying to find him for a couple of weeks at that point, almost entirely without success, and then there he was, unbidden, at a time and place where he wasn’t needed and wasn’t really wanted either. I was a tiny bit miffed, though for no good reason.
Oh, well. Pam lay down on my right side again, which was a bit strange since Fryderyk was occupying the same space. I suggested to him that he should move, because perceiving both of them at once was just too weird for me. He obligingly moved around to my left side, where he appeared to sit down on the floor a few inches away from me. It felt like he took my hand and held it gently and steadily. I had to admit that his presence was comforting. I tried to explain what Pam was attempting to accomplish, and told him that I was just lying there quietly and trying not to interfere, and that he probably shouldn’t interfere either. I don’t know what he may have perceived of the procedure, or whether he had anything in mind to accomplish himself, but as far as I could tell he did nothing but sit there with his hand on mine.
The actual body part retrieval was brief by comparison to the extraction, but much more enjoyable for Pam. She told me afterward that Horse, Seal, and Condor had appeared to help. Very convenient, since they could search by land, sea, and air! At first Pam rode the Condor and Seal the Horse, but Pam didn’t feel comfortable that way and they switched. I was amused by the thought of the seal wrapping its flippers around the huge bird, trying to hold on, as they all flew through the air together. This part was a lot of fun from Pam’s point of view. She described covering a great distance over mountains and all sorts of terrain, only to find that their quarry had been close by all along. The whole trip seemed almost instantaneous.
Pam said that it wasn’t usual to talk to a body part under these circumstances; usually one just grabs it and brings it back. In this case, however, she felt that the foot was reluctant to return, and so she reassured it that I would take good care of it. She said that it let her know it would like lots of attention, including chanting, stroking, and being flooded with light as much as possible. Apparently the foot felt all right about its future at that point, and Pam was able to bring it along.
Seal took the foot into the ocean to cleanse it, and then it was ready to be reattached to the rest of me. Pam blew it back into my physical foot. I didn’t feel anything especially dramatic, although I did have a sense of greater solidity in that area.
Fryderyk stuck around throughout our post-journey discussion. I wondered aloud what a 19th-century Parisian gentleman would make of shamanic practice—though he had been exposed to such things before, of course. Pam looked toward him and said he seemed to be amused. After a while he faded out.
I had some hope of a definite physical improvement after this procedure, but unfortunately I can’t say that my symptoms really changed. I did have a change in my attitude toward my foot, though. I was able to accept and nurture it rather than being angry at it and simply wanting it to go away. So I felt that the procedure had been a success overall.