Animal Wisdom: Connecting People and Animals

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Using Animal Oracle Cards to Discover Your Animals

A popular method for finding your Animals of the Heart is with animal oracle cards. While there are many fine decks, they are all limited in both the types and number of animals that they feature. Moreover, most decks are mammal-centric. Birds are usually represented by “Crow (or Raven),” “Eagle,” “Hawk,” “Hummingbird,” and “Owl.” Reptiles are limited to “Lizard,” “Snake,” and “Turtle.” Insects (and related others) are “Bee,” “Dragonfly,” and “Spider.”

Therefore, I would recommend a world-oriented deck since they will feature a wider range of animals. The methods that I suggest can work with most decks. Many popular decks tend to be North American specific, with a sprinkling of world animals. There are special themed decks which focus on Australian animals, birds, pets and other related topics. If you feel strongly about a certain grouping, then use those specialty decks.

To use the deck, shuffle the cards and deal seven cards. Study the animals and note your reactions. For example, you draw “Lizard,” what does that mean? I have only one deck out of the fifty that I own which features Tuatara, a lizard-like reptile. Therefore if an uncommon animal is calling to you, be prepared for a deeper investigation.

Be calm and clear. Spend a few minutes and quietly center yourself. Meditate on the card to see if any reptile besides Lizard is reaching out to you. If not, then look at a book about lizards, and note your feelings about each one. Remember that the venomous Gila Monster is different from the flamboyant Australian Frilled Lizard in her teachings.

Use this method for all the cards that you draw. For example, Vulture or Emu may be using one of the bird cards. In a deep search, you would consider the type of bird. For example, colorful birds, or birds of the South America may be using “Hummingbird” to contact you. “Crow” could be more than Crow. The card could mean any black bird, corvid, or birds that are symbols of magic. To figure it out, look at a book about birds, with any similarities between the bird on the card and any other birds. Note your reactions to each one, as you sift through the pictures.

If you draw “Dolphin” or “Whale,” you will have to search through your feelings. “Dolphin” and “Whale” are stand-ins for multiple animals ranging from fish to sea mammals. Also, they may simply indicate that Dolphin or Whale is calling to you. Stare at a blank wall or piece of paper, and see what emerges. You can also doodle mindlessly, and see which water animal comes to you.

As for mammals, the cards you draw may indicate a particular species. For example, “Bear” could be Black Bear, Polar Bear, Panda, or a lesser known species such as Moon Bear. “Kangaroo” could be Grey Kangaroo, Red Kangaroo, or a species of Wallaby. Treat the animal on the card as the start of a journey to discover your Animals of the Heart. Remember the cards often act as indicators, and not final answers.

Another method using cards is to simply go through the deck. Note and record your reactions for each animal. Then put the cards aside and meditate. The animal who is calling to you, may come to you later in dreams. The object is to sort out which animal wants to contact you.

After you discover who your Animals of the Heart are, take a break. Allow yourself, some quiet time to ponder your feelings. Sort through any negative feelings about these animals, such as the ickiness factor. Focus on the positive aspects of each. Then discover how you and they relate and work together. When you stop to think, you will realize that your Animals of the Heart were waiting for you all the time.

In my case, Slug called to me using “Snake.” After getting over the “ick” factor, Slug and I settled into a warm friendship. Slug greets me on the sidewalk and in the grass. It teaches me that “slow motion gets you faster.” Slug may not be as romantic as Wolf, but It helps me to sort out what is important.


Note: Animal oracle cards include animal-themed Tarot as well.

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Virginia Carper, a Roman Polytheist, lives in the Washington D.C. area with her family. She navigates life with a traumatic brain injury which gives her a different view on life. An avid naturalist since childhood, she has a blog called “Nature’s Observations.” Having experienced the animals directly, she teaches on-line classes about the spiritual and natural aspect of animals. She has published articles on her brain injury, Roman polytheism, and working with extinct animals. In addition her writings on animals (including dragons and other mythic creatures) can be purchased her book site, Animal Teachers.  


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