I believe in just about everything, which makes me a bit more gullible than most. (This also makes me really fun at parties. Go ahead, tell Bailey a completely fake story and see how long it takes her to realize Big Foot doesn’t invite hikers to his bonfires.)
Believing in everything is sometimes hard, though. When you know deep in your heart that fairies, mermaids, angels, gnomes, elves, psychics, miracles, spirits, and demons exist, and then you are told that you’re being “crazy” or “childish,” when you express these opinions, well, it can really ruin things. Especially when you are trying to set up a tea party for all of your magical friends when you are six…and then again when you are in your twenties.
But in all seriousness, it’s not a secret that I’m a bit more trusting (and a bit more superstitious) than most. I don’t cross black cats or my fork and knife, just to name a few. But you have to remember, I am also an English major. We are trained and wired to believe that the curtains in our favorite stories really represent repression and that the snide comment made by a side character will actually foreshadow the entire twist ending. You may call it “book paranoia,” but an English major will call it “interpreting a text.”
Speaking of English major things, I also own a lot of books, particularly about things that I believe in. I have never regretted buying any of them, but I have bought one in particular that has been worth every penny. It is called Animal Speak by Ted Andrews. From cover to cover, it covers every animal in the animal kingdom, great to small. It is similar to a reference book in that you can look at it when you cross paths with a specific creature, and it provides the “meaning” of your encounter but also daily “animal magic” practices.
I don’t usually use it for the normal animals I see: spiders, squirrels, and sparrows. But tonight was, for lack of a better word, unusual. On a walk, I saw a fox, a deer, a baby bunny, and a large skunk. Being a believer of signs and premonitions, I had to take a look in my book. So, I’m taking you along with me.
From Animal Speak:
The Fox-Of course, its obvious meaning is one of cunning and stealth. But foxes also represent feminine energy. Much of fox folklore in some Native American cultures tell of a man’s surprise when he discovers his wife is actually a fox. Strangely enough, my mother and sister are not foxes, but they did join me on the walk. Perhaps the fox’s feminine energy was acknowledging the same within us.
The Deer-As you would expect, the deer represents gentleness and innocence. But also maternity. Andrews talks extensively about a deer mother’s loyalty to her children, nurturing and teaching her fawns to eat and run from danger. This is truly applicable because my sister and I still live with our mother. Perhaps, again, the deer was acknowledging our bond.
A Baby Bunny-(Or “Rabbits” to people who have no soul) quite obviously represent new life and fertility. But I don’t think that this meaning is supposed to be taken literally. I think it is supposed to mean good tidings of new beginnings ahead. (And that’s the thing about belief, you can twist it to fit anything you want.) The book goes on to say that mother bunnies leave their nest in the daytime as to not attract predators. However, the little one we found was out on its own. Perhaps this little guy was saying that it’s time to explore the world and extend past our comfort zones.
The Skunk-We can all recognize that distinguished (and putrid) skunk smell, even though we may not want to. What we don’t readily recognize is how much skunks command our respect. Andrews points out that we give them wide berths, yet they are peaceful and ambling animals. The skunk, according to my book, represents self-esteem. I am told that when I see a skunk, I should be mindful of my self-image and how people perceive me. Perhaps I will be able to control how the world sees me, once I step outside of my comfort zone.
In the end, we can find meaning all around us. But it is up to us to seek it out and apply it. Who knows what you may find in the animal kingdom and elsewhere. But I have found that if we can piece together some meaning in our lives, then we don’t feel so small and the big questions, like why do I exist, don’t feel so daunting. So, the next time the world or a few animals speak, make sure you are listening.