“Don’t tell anyone I’m a lama — I want to blend in.”

Since I started this blog, I’ve devoted several posts to discussing dreams I’ve had that focused on various animals.  Yesterday, I was reminded of an incident that involved an encounter I had a long time ago with a real animal, out here in the physical world…

But first, I should veer off to touch on somebody else’s similar incident.  Last year, during a conversation about spirit animals, a woman I know — a self-styled witch — was telling me how she’d once been bitten by a wolf.  She’d been at the home of people who kept a wolf as a “pet,” and as wolves can really only be so domesticated, this one got a bit aggressive, and decided to fire up and sink its fangs into this woman’s arm.  It apparently took her a minute to shake it off, and she’d been left with twin small, white scars, kind of faint, and maybe half an inch long each, on the inside of one elbow, ever since.

This might happen if you get up close and personal with a wolf...but maybe don't bet your face on it...
This might happen if you get up close and personal with a wolf…but maybe don’t bet your face on it…

And then immediately after relating this story, she lamented that she had no clue as to whether she might have a personal spirit animal guide, or if so, what it might be…

I suggested that maybe — just maybe — the wolf might have some personal significance for her in this area.  “You were marked.  By a wolf.  That might mean something.”

It seemed obvious to me — it still seems obvious to me — that the wolf is at least one of this woman’s personal spirit animals, if not her primary one.  How many of us have been marked by wolves, and lived to tell the tale?

But now having established the whole “Animal marks you = animal is a spirit guide for you” equation, let me now relate a conclusion that will seem utterly contrary to it (but which I’ll hold to…more as we go along below…)…

When I was really young — no more than five years old — my class at school went on a field trip to a petting zoo.

A typical petting zoo.
A typical petting zoo.

Petting zoos, as you’re probably aware, are usually not stocked with your more carnivorous creatures — less wolves, and more sheep, that kind of thing.  Bunny rabbits, little donkeys, sleepy goats…you get the idea.

They often also feature llamas.  Do you know the llama?  This is a llama:

They don't *look* dangerous, right...?
They don’t *look* dangerous, right…?

They seem pretty unassuming — certainly larger than your average five-year old, sure, but they’re hardly savage meat-eating terrors or anything.  Llamas are probably more likely to contribute fur toward a human’s wardrobe than to feast on that human’s flesh.  So imagine my surprise when I felt at first a gentle but increasingly insistent rustling just below my shoulder (I still remember very vividly that I was wearing a reversible rain slicker on that day, as it was overcast and threatening showers — the coat was green on one side and yellow on the other, and I was sporting the green side out on that fateful morning…)…and then I turned just in time to see this rather innocent-looking llama open its mouth wide, and for no reason I could fathom, then or now, chomp down on my upper arm, closing its jaws tight like the giant vise-clamp that my dad kept on his workshop table in the basement.

Behold the jaw-clenching capacity of the mighty llama!!
Behold the jaw-clenching capacity of the mighty llama!!

I remember my initial brief moment of delight at finding the big beast so close to me turning to fear, and then pain.  I won’t lie: someone there may have started crying, and that someone may or may not have been me…  Then I think the petting zoo’s emergency personnel arrived (probably some volunteer who was almost as alarmed by this development as I was), and my teacher jumped in as well, and somehow, through the magic of cooperation (and probably some hysterical screeching), we all managed to remove the llama from my arm.

Now thankfully, unlike the wolf, the llama is not equipped with a fearsome array of sharp fangs.  This one didn’t even manage to pierce through the outer layer of my cool, reversible rain slicker.  All it really did was scare me, and leave a bruise for a couple of days afterwards, and not even a really impressive one.  No permanent mementos of the encounter, though, and aside from any emotional fallout, I don’t believe I was truly “marked” by the llama — not in the way that I believe that self-styled witch-woman had been marked by that “domesticated” wolf.  I don’t believe the llama is one of my own spirit animals, and I very, very rarely even think about that incident.

It did, however, occur to me recently — and not for the first time — that “llama” sounds amazingly similar to “lama.”  As per Wikipedia, a lama would be a “venerated spiritual master.”

So if we decide to approach this old encounter of mine with very wide-open interpretive lenses, and we squint really, really hard at it, we might even say that I was being singled out as a young lama-to-be, right there in a seemingly nondescript petting zoo in upstate New York!  So, maybe not a personal spirit animal for me, but a personal harbinger of ascension to lama-hood!

It’s a weekend, anyway, and for now…that’s how I’ve decided to look at it…

4 comments

  1. Hi Steve:) Enjoying your blog!
    I was thinking if, maybe, on the other hand, that woman was seen as something a wolf would generally like to bite. Wolves do not usually draw blood of each other as much as of their prey animals. So maybe the wolf saw that woman as a deer or a moose? Or perhaps an irritating dog? (I´ve heard wolves often dislike yappy dogs…) -Especially if the woman didn´t feel a connection to the wolf even after the incident.
    Following this theory -what does the lama like to bite? Blades of grass? Hmm, Maybe my theory is not yet watertight 🙂

    • Hi, Hemera — thanks for stopping by, and for posting your thoughts here!

      You raise some very interesting possibilities, too. Unless I get the opportunity to interview that particular wolf, I won’t really know for sure what was going through its mind when it decided to fang up that woman…but your theory does merit some real consideration!

      And if a llama (the four-legged animal) likes biting blades of grass… Well, I *was* wearing that green raincoat (are llamas colorblind…?), and maybe I managed to somehow achieve the kind of stillness and/or naturalism that only something like a true blade of grass could put forth. But you know who might be able to manage something like that? A lama! The spiritually elevated kind, I mean. So we could be arriving at the same conclusion by way of a different path…? 😉

  2. Okay, we will have to work on this 🙂
    That photo of the wolf kissing the man is awesome. Do you personally know that man or the wolf? That photo reminds me of those excellent books by Lois Crisler called Arctic Wild (1958) and Captive Wild. Once she was lying on the floor in the company of her wolf Lady with her eyes closed. “Suddenly I felt fine pricks on my eyelids, like a row of needles. Lady was picking up the merest skin of my eyelids with her teeth, giving me grooming nibbles.” I guess here, too, love and trust is the key?

    • I know neither the man nor the wolf in that photo — I’ve been trying to use as many of my own personally snapped photos as I can here, but I just found that one on the ‘net. I agree that it’s pretty great! It reminded me of this video that made the rounds on Facebook a few months ago, in which a man is reunited with a lion he’d helped raise but then had to release into the wild — the lion remembers him, and greets him the way a happy puppy would greet its humans when they come back home after being away (assuming you can picture a puppy that’s much larger than its humans…).

      Wow, letting a wolf nip at your eyes is definitely some love and trust! But those do make the world go ’round, don’t they…? I’ve never heard of those books before, either — will have to investigate…

      We can talk more about the llama/lama thing…;)

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