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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Animals as Sacred Companions, Guides and Teachers

Mar 02, 2015 01:37AM ● By Deana Paqua

Andrea and Cheech, their final portrait together by Andrea M. Ouellette

Pets have been sacred human companions for thousands of years and animals have long been revered as guides and helpers to medicine men and shamans. It may not seem obvious, but research is showing that paying closer attention to your pets and animals can give you more joy in life, improve your health and provide insights about how to feel happier and healthier on a daily basis.

In certain ancient cultures, humans did not have separate names for animals; they were just known as “other people.” Animals deserve honor and respect; they bring so much to our lives and typically ask for so little in return. Who else shows you such unconditional love every day no matter what you have done or what you have accomplished?

Animals do not judge your report cards, raises or athletic prowess (except maybe when it comes to throwing a ball or Frisbee), or whether anyone else likes you or finds you interesting. They are loyal, caring guardians, companions, cheerleaders and, at times, entertainers when your spirits are low. They teach you how to love and celebrate the little joys in life – like chasing a ball through the yard or a stuffed toy across the kitchen floor – with complete focus, joy and attention.

Animals are great teachers of mindfulness. When are they not in the present moment? From the minute they wake up in the morning, the day is a clean slate. For dog owners, there are joyful tail thwacks, barks and howls to warn that neighbors are walking down the street. They enjoy runs through the yard or forest, ball or toy squeaking, and greeting their owners at the door with complete adoration, no matter what kind of day their person had.

For cat owners, there are long, languorous stretches, paw grooming, and chasing of toys through the house. There is hunting for special “gifts” of unfortunate small critters in the yard, to give Mommy or Daddy as a way to say “thank you” in their own way.

Animals have something to teach. Study their unique characteristics, behaviors and personalities. Dogs often remind us to be joyful and loyal, cats to be independent and take time some for ourselves, horses to enjoy our freedom, and birds to sing our own songs without caring who hears it. Taking time to enjoy play with your pets is important for their well-being as well as your own. Research shows that pet owners often have less stress and tension, sleep better and have better fitness levels.

Honoring the unique needs of your particular pet helps to make the relationship balanced and reciprocal. From searching out their favorite toys and treats, to giving them a healthy diet and adequate exercise, pets deserve the same care as people.

Various tribes and cultures revere animals as spirit guides and totems, representing qualities and values of the particular tribe. In modern culture, an increasing number of animal lovers and spiritual seekers are interested in finding out their own animal totem or “spirit animal,” who is like a guardian angel in animal form. Individuals can seek out a course or a practitioner who offers instruction in shamanic journeying, which is a spiritual meditation technique to connect with your guardian angels, power animals, ancestors and spirit guides for guidance, support, wisdom and healing.

Connecting with one’s personal power animal can be a very uplifting and empowering experience, especially if the person seeks to understand their power animal’s strengths, gifts and abilities, and honors the relationship with gratitude, honor and respect. With their strong connection to nature, power animals can support your own sacred relationship with the earth and show us ways to live more spiritual, balanced, healthy, sustainable lives.

Deana Paqua, MA, LMT, is a shamanic healer, Reiki master and spiritual teacher offering private sessions and classes in the Ridgefield and Danbury areas. Her website is See ad, page 24.

Andrea M. Ouellette, freelance photographer, specializing in photographs of people; documentary, and conceptual photo shoots. If you are a “fur parent” to a sick animal please
contact Andrea and she would be honored to travel to you, to make one last final portrait of your loving “fur baby” before they pass on to the rainbow bridge. Andrea is based in Carmel, NY in neighboring Putnam County. Connect with her at A M Ouellette Photography by phone 478-390-0555, email [email protected] or