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.
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.
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 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.
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…