About what matters

Writing about what really matters

Tag: totem animal

Through a positive lens


Thought I’d share part of a recent SoulCollage card reading … my question was, Please tell me what I need to know most right now.

I am one who is gentle and loving. I see the world clearly, but I choose to view it through a positive lens.

What I have to say about your question is: Be more like me. That is all.

This is my SoulCollage card Opening the gate + 5th chakra totem Fawn.

SoulCollage® cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.



Don’t worry so much

Monkey corrected 2

This is the SoulCollage card I made yesterday to represent the last of my seven chakra totems, a monkey. This totem is associated with my third chakra, the solar plexus, seat of power and control. (The other totems are an elephant, leopard, bird, fawn, owl, and toad. You can see the complete totem pole here.)

During the guided meditation I used to identify my totem animals, one of the questions I was directed to ask the totem animal is what symbolic gift it had for me. In the case of the monkey, the answer was

A tail–another way to balance.

I assumed this meant that the tail provided balance by gripping something, and ever since, I’ve been looking for a picture of a monkey with a clearly-visible tail. (I am here to tell you they are hard to come by.) When I finally found the primary image I used here, I learned from the caption that some monkey species, such as this one, don’t grip anything with their tails (i.e., they don’t have prehensile tails), but instead use them purely for balance. How interesting.

I made this card during a SoulCollage gathering at my house, and as we finished collaging, I suggested that we read our cards. Some people draw them blind as you would tarot cards, but when I had a very small deck, I developed the habit of choosing them face up–and I still do. This is my reading from yesterday …

Monkey corrected 2

I am one who is agile; I move through the branches quickly. I look ahead to see what’s coming next. I see clearly, with compassion. I reach for what I need, and what I want.

The message I have for you is: Don’t worry so much. It’s not necessary. All you need is coming to you–all you need is within reach.

We [the fruit] are the blessings that are coming to you, that are ready for you.


You are so safe, so loved. You are held in the arms of the Universe, and always will be.

That is all.


Abundant blessings are coming to you quickly. You will see. Keep your hands wide open.

That is all.

New journeys

I am one who is ready for a new journey–really ready.

And it is coming to you quickly.

That is all.

What struck me the most about this reading was the phrase “Don’t worry so much.” This is a theme that has come up for me a number of times in various ways over recent months.

It’s a bit irritating, because I don’t really consider myself a worrier. And compared with some members of my extended family, I am indeed an amateur. When I was younger, listening to my relatives discover something new to worry about, and then congratulating themselves on the discovery, made me want to scream.

So I don’t want to be a worrier–and yet, I recognize the truth that I do experience–shall we say–persistent concern about the outcomes of key situations in my life.

I believe that things will work out, and that I live in a benevolent Universe, but I think it’s fair to say I am not continually relaxed in that belief, in my faith that, no matter what, all will be well in the end.

I began to think about making a SoulCollage card about faith, to anchor a way of being that is the opposite of worry. As I began to think about what this might look like, I realized I’d already made this card, quite recently–and that it was the one I’d chosen when prompted to add a fourth card to my reading–my card So safe, so loved.

This week, I want to relax in the knowledge that all will be well–and I hope you’ll join me.

SoulCollage® cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.

A winter’s quest

Follow clean 2

This time of year it seems we’re encouraged to either scurry about buying things rather frantically, or settle in for a long winter’s nap.

But perhaps something really important is happening in our lives as we approach the solstice. All seems quiet in nature now, as the last leaves fall, and tender, frostbitten plants collapse back into the earth–but perhaps much is really happening below the surface. The same could be said of us.

What if, instead of holiday bustling or napping, we were being called to set out on a winter’s quest? What might your quest be? If you followed your heart right now, where would it take you?

This post is illustrated by the SoulCollage card I made this week, Follow your heart + Winter’s quest. It was inspired by Cat Caracelo’s 12 Nights of Solstice meditations–and it’s not too late for you to join in.

SoulCollage® cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.

Walk up to Life’s feast


I woke this morning with a picture in my mind–I suppose it was the tail end of a dream. Another person had cooked for me, and laid out before me many different dishes–a feast. I was tasting one of them and saying, “Oh, that is so good!”

This reminded me of the advice I received during a guided meditation from my sacral chakra totem, a leopard

Don’t be timid–walk up to life’s feast.

To me, that’s an entirely accurate description of what life is meant to be. I feel frustrated sometimes by the focus on the aspect of life that is suffering, or a “vale of tears,” in some traditions.

On the one hand, I do believe that suffering, or the possibility of suffering, is a key aspect of why we come here, why we incarnate. There are lessons that can’t be learned in paradise, and they are the ones we come here to learn.

At the same time, I believe suffering is often a clue that we’re going about life in an unskillful way.

I suspect that the possibility of suffering heightens the joy and pleasure we experience here, just as bitter, sour, and umami flavors enhance and enrich sweetness. (I’m thinking here of dark chocolate, lemon bars, and a wonderful and memorable chocolate-foie gras soup I had while traveling last December.)

But in addition to all we come here to learn, I believe we also come here to enjoy ourselves, to partake of Life’s feast.

Let’s dig in!

This post is illustrated with the SoulCollage card I made today, Life’s feast. I wish I had one of those gorgeous heirloom tomatoes to bite into right now!


Grounded in Mother Earth


In the days before my last visit to my energy medicine practitioner, I suddenly felt stuck and utterly unmotivated. My instinct was to rest. I also noticed while doing my usual chakra clearing meditation that I couldn’t visualize my root chakra.

When I told my practitioner about this, she immediately expressed concern that if I couldn’t contact my root chakra, I might not be grounded–and that turned out to be true. Yikes! (If you’re a little bit psychic, or a lot, the very last thing you need is to lose your grounding.) She later sent me a list of symptoms of not being grounded, and I was fascinated to see that feeling stuck was on the list. I’d never thought to associate the two. She also clarified for me that the root chakra feeds all the others (in the case of a woman–the crown chakra is the equivalent for a man), so being ungrounded (that is, disconnected from life-sustaining energy at the root chakra) starves a woman’s entire chakra system. Not good, right?

Here’s the list of symptoms she sent me. You might not be grounded if you’re feeling

  • Anxious
  • “Spacey” or lightheaded
  • General discomfort
  • Unable to relate to others or the environment
  • Stuck

Or if you’re having trouble with

  • Listening, learning, or focusing
  • Walking or balancing
  • Not feeling emotionally supported
  • “Picking up” too much energy from others

After my visit, it became clear to me that I need to be more proactive about making sure I’m grounded. I looked for some grounding meditations, and tried several, but many of them used imagery that didn’t make sense to me. For example, a couple had me imagining myself as a tree–so far, so good–but then had me eliminate negativity through my roots, which as far as I know is not the primary function of a tree’s roots. A tree draws nourishment from its roots, and breathes much like we do through its foliage, yes?

When I asked her what causes a person to lose grounding, one of the things she mentioned was wearing rubber-soled shoes. Hmm, like the garden clogs I typically wear outside in the garden …

I decided to get very literal with my grounding. I’ve been spending several minutes barefoot on my front lawn on a daily basis, feeling the blades of St. Augustine (and the ground) under my feet–sometimes cool, damp, and crisp, other times warm and soft. I imagine the energy of Mother Earth flowing up into my feet and legs, feeling that energy like a rhythmic electrical pulse. I feel gratitude for Mother Earth sharing her energy with us all, and me in particular, and ask for inspiration and guidance about additional ways I can return the favor.

This post is illustrated with the SoulCollage card I made today, Elephant + Root chakra totem. The jewels represent some of the colors of my root chakra. The elephant pictured drinking was 49-year-old Igor, slaughtered by poachers for his ivory in 2009, two years after this photograph was taken.

My intention today


I’ve been giving a bit of thought lately to my intention for this blog, and it is this … Today (and every day) I’d like to reach one person with a message of hope, some piece of useful information, a fresh approach, a new way of thinking about something, or a word of encouragement.

Perhaps today that person is you. In any case, welcome! Please feel free to ask any questions you like about anything you find here. I’m always happy to explore any topic in more depth, or share anything I know.

While pondering my intention, I made this SoulCollage card to represent my throat chakra totem, and what I want to do with my voice in the world. The fawn I’d envisioned was playful, graceful, sensitive. I’ve been looking for quite awhile for an image of a fawn that wasn’t just gangly, awkward, and vulnerable. I finally found this one in an art magazine at the bookstore. I don’t know if this fawn is playful, but her eye looks wise … she looks like she might have something to say that would be worth hearing, which is what I hope to do.

Here’s an excerpt from my reading of the card …

I am one who opens doors for others, so they can walk through. I am one who shines a beautiful, clear light on the pathway. I am one who expresses my true essence, as I came here to do.

May doors swing open for you today, and your path be brightly lit.

This post is illustrated with my SoulCollage card Opening the gate + Fawn (throat chakra totem).

The lovingkindness meditation


The limits of our goodwill form the ultimate boundaries of our peace of mind, for we cannot achieve peace while aversion is present. –Josh Korda

The lovingkindness meditation is a beautiful–and challenging–practice in which you offer lovingkindness first to yourself, and then to others … those who love you unconditionally, your loved ones, beloved pets, acquaintances, strangers, all sentient beings, relatives, and those who annoy you greatly. (These last two categories can overlap. OK, these last two categories do overlap.) I find it especially easy to offer lovingkindness to those who are now on the other side, as they are now even more purely loving than they were when they were here.

I’ve found in the past that serious resistance can arise to offering lovingkindness to those who seem to be doing their utmost to make my life difficult, or to those who’ve seemed to do so in the past. That’s why I’ve really enjoyed following Beth Terrence’s May is for Metta, which really eases into the lovingkindness practice, and helps build a strong foundation for it–to get in touch with your loving heart energy before you begin.

These are my favorite phrases to use during the meditation …

May I be safe.

May I be happy.

May I be at ease.

May I be peaceful.

May I be healthy and strong.

May I have a calm, clear mind, and a peaceful, loving heart.

May I experience love, joy, and wonder in this life just as it is.

And today may you experience love, joy, and wonder in this life–just as it is.

This post is illustrated with the SoulCollage card I made to represent my 4th chakra companion, a joyful bird, and also to celebrate Hope, that thing with feathers.

Planting elfin thyme


Today, after the storm had passed, the weather was utterly perfect for gardening. Neither too cold nor too warm, not a mosquito marred the air.

The harsh, icy, on-again-off-again winter took out all but one of the lavenders in my front flower bed. The mint, of course, survived. Mint would probably survive an apocalypse. I’m not sure whether to be comforted by the thought that anyone else who survives can be assured of minty fresh breath!

Today I replanted the vacated half of the bed. Bowing to Mother Nature, I planted more mint–peppermint this time. Defying Mother Nature, and the original (heavy clay) character of the soil, I planted more lavender, which prefers excellent drainage. It’s Munstead lavender, which smells absolutely delicious. Perhaps because I’d just read about its medicinal properties, I planted rosemary, for remembrance–apparently it improves memory. And for whimsy, I planted elfin thyme, which I hope will spread into a lovely little carpet.

Gardening is excellent exercise, and I feel limber, muscles–including unfamiliar ones–stretched but not sore.

I can’t wait to do this again!

This post is illustrated with my SoulCollage card Crown chakra + Toad totem.

The wisdom of many lifetimes


This is a SoulCollage card I’ve been wanting to make ever since I made my first Soul Essence card, which represents the essence of your soul that’s consistent from lifetime to lifetime, regardless of your current personality, gender, ethnicity, occupation, and so on. When I thought about what the lives I’ve lived that I know about have in common, there honestly wasn’t much. But one of the things that stood out to me was the idea of mastery–something that’s important to me in this life, and seems to be a recurring theme in other lives as well. I wanted to represent this on my first Soul Essence card, but there just wasn’t room for it. Most Soul Essence cards are quite simple, and the first one I made was no exception. Soon after I made that card, I read my 6th-chakra owl totem card, and that reading expanded on what I’d been thinking:

I am one who is wise–like you. Many different kinds of wisdom is what you’re developing over many lifetimes. The wisdom of nature, the wisdom of technology, the wisdom of writing.

I found this last bit very intriguing, as I hadn’t thought of what I do for a living in terms of gathering the wisdom of technology before. This new Soul Essence card is about that ongoing gathering of wisdom across lifetimes.

As I was finishing this card, I noticed its colors are mostly dull, making it unique in my deck in that it doesn’t feature the vibrant color (or else black and white) that I typically use. I realized that’s because this card is about a larger, broader ‘me’ than the me of this lifetime who passionately loves color. I considered adding a reference to the “wisdom of technology,” but couldn’t find any images that worked. Technology–even a sleek laptop like my new HP Envy– is, I’m sorry to say, just so ugly in comparison with nature and beautiful hand-crafted objects! I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Here’s an excerpt from my reading of this new card (I’ve rearranged the sentences a bit so that it flows perhaps better than the original) …

The wisdom of many lifetimes is with you. All is well.

I am one who has lived many times, and learned something from each one of them.

I am one who loves the water. I am one who loves soaring cathedrals. I am one who builds them. I love the little lambs–so tender, so sweet. I am one who loves to write, who has much to share with the world. [You will share it.]

I am one who is wise beyond my years. It is always there for me to tap into–the wisdom of many lifetimes.

I am one who is developing–slowly, over time, like a pearl.

The waters are still, all is well. That is all.

Have you done any exploration of your past lives, and if so, what do you think are recurring themes for you?

A time to act


This is the SoulCollage card I made last year to represent my sixth-chakra (third eye) companion, an owl.

During the guided meditation I used to identify my totem animals, I envisioned a British barn owl, which I think is particularly beautiful. But images of rare British owls are tough to come by in American magazines, which are the primary source of my images.

One day while standing in line at the grocery store, a misfiled wildlife magazine caught my eye. I opened it and found several large, beautiful images of snow owls. This is one of those images.

The key feature of my owl totem seemed to be a face in which its eyes were very prominent–except for a small beak, seemingly the only feature.

Here’s a new reading of my card from last night. I found it most interesting … hope you do too.

I am one who is wise–like you. Many different kinds of wisdom is what you’re developing over many lifetimes. The wisdom of nature, the wisdom of technology, the wisdom of writing.

I see and observe many things–so do you. I am still. When the time is right, I swoop and pounce. This is a lesson for you. You have been coming into this lately. A time to act, and a time not to act.

What I have to say to you about your current situation is: This advice will come in handy soon. Soon it will be time to act, and there will be no turning back. This is a good thing–you’ll see. That is all.


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