WEEK TWO: Animal Medicine Work

HOW TO LEARN FROM YOUR POWER ANIMAL GUIDES

As we continue to develop our list of Power Animals, and feel secure in who those Power Guides are for us, the next step is to discover their unique teachings and medicines for us.
butterfly (1)
If you want to feel their medicine, and learn from it, and change from it, you need to visit with it in your thoughts consistently, which is why we are making a visually interesting/beautified Field Guide to our Power Animals.
But before we can make that Field Guide we need to figure out…

IMG_0896

Where can we find these animals’ messages and teachings?

 Any of the following methods work to discover your Power Animal’s medicine. I suggest using a combination of these methods.
It’s also helpful to have blank paper, or a blank notebook for scrawling ideas as they begin to arrive for you.
By Asking the Animal:

“One of the most useful and direct ways is to communicate with the spirit of the animal that you’ve sighted” says Stephen Farmer. If you see a Power Animal in real life (flying overhead, running across your path on a trail): Ask the animal spirit directly. What do you want me to know? What are you here to tell me? Close your eyes. Get quiet. Try to cease the script in your head and to open your mind to a response. Acknowledge and Ask. It doesn’t matter if the sighting was fleeting, or in your dream. Acknowledge, and ask (and then document the answers that come). 

By Observing and Researching the Animal 
Learn more about your Power Animals from a biological or zoological perspective! Every animal has unique and valuable characteristics. Take an interest in your Power Animal, not just in her spirit form. Her visits are harbingers, and often come at important times to give you guidance, but her medicine is eternal, and always teaches, whether she has appeared lately for you or not.
Google their behaviors and unique characteristics. Buy a book about the animal (from a science perspective). See what you can find online or in libraries (both free) by way of videos where you can observe the animal in her natural habitat.
Document the traits of your Power Animal to include in your Field Guide. Some animals are inventive. Some need massive amounts of sunlight. Some animals are nocturnal. Some animals are very solitary, some need constant company. The teachings of our Power Animals’ habits and traits tell us a lot about what medicine we need in our own lives!
Googling their Spirit Meanings online
Using Google is your best bet for finding free information. Keep in mind, you will find multiple websites for your Power Animal, and each of these will give you slightly, to vastly, different results and verbiage. They are, after all, written by human beings!
I recommend a series of “smart” google searches. Let’s say you want to find out about Cow, and if Cow Medicine is for you? Google “cow animal spirit guide” and then google “cow totem animal” and then “cow spirit meaning” and so forth. You will be given a number of different websites with answers. Then you can infer messages and applications to your own life!
Use Dedicated Books
Growing a library of books that you love does cost a little money, but it’s a wonderful support method for a strong, continued work with Animal Medicine.
One of the main reasons that I love owning books for my Power Animals (and for situational messengers as well!) is that I write in pen, inside the books, noting the date and a few details of the “visit” of the Animal.
IMG_0884

WEEK TWO: Animal Medicine Work

 

 WAYS TO ENCOURAGE YOUR POWER ANIMALS TO SHOW UP FOR YOU

When we begin this work – of connecting with our Animal Spirit Guides – it can at times feel frustrating. We don’t always have animals visit us in dreams ( some of us do not remember our dreams period!). Some of us will have many animals, and feel our lists are too lengthy, and have trouble discerning who is actually showing up as a Power Guide, versus animals they like…while others will have trouble coming up with more than two Animals they even like!
Whether you are still working on solidifying your list, or you have already done so, you’ll want to begin encouraging your spirit guides, your Power Animals, to visit, both more frequently, and more strongly. There are multiple ways to do so.
Calf at Ballenberg 2
To begin with,  start by encouraging your Power Animals to show themselves to you. The Native Americans, or “aboriginals” of the United States of America, believe that you do not choose your own Spirit Guide – the animal chooses you. When you ask this Animal to show itself more strongly for you, it will hear and heed your call.
According to Animal Spirit Guru Stephen Farmer: “Calling on an animal spirit guide requires only a sincere intention and openness to receiving their help and guidance. It’s very simple to do so, whether through prayer, meditation, contemplation, or through doing a shamanic journey. You may not get instant results (although this does sometimes happen), but observe what happens for some time after you’ve made your appeal. When you invoke an animal spirit guide for help or guidance, the assistance often comes in unexpected ways from surprising sources.” 
Realize that if you have not done this kind of work before, or if you have been far removed from nature and a connection with animals for some time, this can take time. Your connection with your Spiritual side, and your Animal Spirit Guides, is a muscle, that will take consistent use, and patience, to grow stronger (like any muscle). This course has a time limit, but this work does not! So, be patient, and continue to ask your Power Animals to come forward for you, in any of the following ways. All of these are encouraging to your Animal Spirit Guides.
Wear, Decorate or Tattoo
IMG_1547
If you have scarves, clothing items, or jewelry that showcase an image of your Power Animal, this is a lovely way to remind yourself, and to honor your animals. This tells your Power Animal that you feel proud to hold your connection with this animal.
Tattoos are obviously the most permanent and symbolic way to say this. Check out our class Pinterest Board for more fun ideas along these lines.
Decorating your personal space with art, figurines or any type of decor is another way to honor your Spirit Animal Guide, and to send it the message that you are open to its teachings.
Carry or Display Figurines
IMG_1120
This is a traditional way to carry the energy of your spirit Power Animals with you. I keep a small figurine in my car, one in my wallet (in addition to decor around the house), and I have a medicine bag of figurines that I will rotate in my home altars. There is no “right” place to keep them – place or keep them where it feels right for you. If you have an Altar Space, this is a great place, because it is infused with intention and your best energy, but also put figurines anywhere where your line of vision falls often – like on the window sill above your kitchen sink, for a good example!
Additionally, you can place small figurines at work. A small figurine on your work desk is innocuous but holds a lot of meaning for you personally. If there is an attitude or medicine of a specific animal that you want help from at work, then it’s very helpful to display a figurine in your work place to remind you of this internal work.
I particularly like to create Vignettes to represent an honor one animal. These vignettes can include small figurines, associated pieces (feathers to represent bird; pieces of a shell I found to represent crab; a scrap of leather to remind me of Horse…whatever!). I add words, either purchased or written on a lovely piece of paper. These vignettes evolve over time, and do take time to create. I don’t think going out to buy a bunch of items all at once carries authentic energy (which, by the way, applies to how I decorate my home as well). I let these items come to me (and showing up in some random flea market and finding one on a shelf, definitely counts!) and I collect them over time. This feels intentional to me.
IMG_1020
Meditate, Pray, Ask
This method is perhaps the most common, can be done anywhere and at any time. Consider that your Spirit Animal is communicating with you; this work is about communication and connection! You can communicate with your Animals by Praying (if that terminology fits for you), asking (either silently in your mind, or out loud – perhaps at your personal Altar space) or meditating. I have prepared this meditation for you to follow in order to ask your Spirit Animal Guides to come forth for you.
 Neuchatel_25
If meditating or mentally “conversing” feels unreachable at the moment, here’s a fun exercise: Try writing a letter to your Spirit Animal Guide. Perhaps place it on your Altar for some time after.

Paint, Draw or Sculpt

This is the method we are using to strengthen our connection to Animal Guides in this course, but you don’t have to limit it to this class, or this Field Guide. Drawing your Animal Guides can look like quick sketches done in the car while waiting on your little one to finish practice.

You could also play with cheap, polymer clay. If you have kiddos, pull them into the mess and create Playdough Animal Guides!

1969322_10152252291017579_1630786436_n

Your creative options are endless, and they don’t have to be precious, or permanent.

All of these methods help to strengthen the connection you are building with your Power Animals. According to Animals as Divine, “You can learn from animals by becoming more aware of their presence in your daily life, in both your waking state and dream state. Even if you do not encounter animals on a daily basis, they are not intangible. They are ever-present in the depths of your soul. They are ready to speak to you if you allow yourself to be open to what they have to say.” So, it’s time to open up, to explore, and to invite them in.

 

WEEK TWO: Supplies

weektwosupplies

Click here for a Printable Supply List

This week you can use any combination of the following: Acrylic Paints, Spray Ink Paints and Liquid Acrylic Paints

Choose colors you love and are drawn to. You can start with two or three bottles and use the colors that you buy…or experiment with mixing! I like to buy colors I like, already made for me. Color mixing can be an exciting, or frustrating process, depending on your experience with color theory.

paints

Go with your budget for pricing. More expensive brands (such as Golden) are better quality, but cheaper brands work for art journaling. Experiment and find what works for you. I use a collection of acrylic paints that range from .50 cents a bottle to $25 a bottle!

liquidacrylics

Spray Inks and Liquid Acrylics have a different effect. They are great for dripping, spraying over lace, doilies or stencils. They are fun to “splatter” paint easily across your spread, if you like the splatter effects. They can also be used as a “glaze” over the whole page.

Mark-Making and Texture-Making Tools

– stamps

– sponges

– stencils

– lace or doilies combined with spray inks

– gesso or regular acrylic combined with texture tools

I advocate first looking around your house for things that you have that can create unique and interesting textures when you use them with acrylic paint.

You can also look to your local home goods or hardware store.

Craft Stores also sell mark making tools.

markmakingtools

I have also created a Pinterest Board full of Background Making tutorials and ideas for you here! 

WEEK TWO: Art Methods

weektwoart

Task:  Making Base Layers of Color and preparing “Backgrounds” on your Spreads

Before we delve into the videos, there are a few key points that I want to make sure we keep in mind while we create. These are all elements that I think of instinctively now, as I have been creating for some years now, and have learned these through doing. You will too, but for those of us who need a reminder, or who could use this support for the first time, these are important facets to a Creative Practice, and to Mixed Media, in my opinion!

COLOR

Use colors that you LOVE. Use colors that you are drawn to. Don’t worry about what is trendy, or second-guess your own natural inclinations. If you have a very favorite color, buy multiples. Also, you could buy different versions, from different brands and price points, to see the differences.

QUANTITY and AMOUNT OF PAINT

Start with less. It’s like hair cutting. You can always add more! Of course you can remove Acrylic, while it’s still wet, but it’s easier to add. Plus, we will be adding details in the last two weeks, and these are meant to show up! If you do go crazy, and have too much, just wipe it off with a paper towel and some water. If it’s dried and you think it’s too much color, you can always add Gesso over the top!

EXPERIMENTATION AND PLAY

Think about experimenting with a different method, or technique, or play, on each spread. Think about making a diversity of different marks. This is what makes Art Journals so compelling to look at – it’s the variety! Plus, when you do this, you stumble upon some techniques, usually by accident, that become “favorites” or “go to” techniques for future creating and art journaling.

MISTAKES

I know plenty of people who really struggle with art making, because they loathe making “mistakes.” Mistakes are a part of life, but only in art do our mistakes have the potential to be our best moves. I can’t stop you from making things you don’t like, or even hate. I can’t give you enough instructions to make sure there are no surprises on your end. I must fore-warn you, I can’t, and I don’t want to. This creative process is ABOUT play and stumbling, and figuring out what you do and don’t like to look at.
(*FYI, I made a “mistake” or accident that you will see in Week Three’s Art Methods videos, and it turned out to be beautiful so I kept rolling and video’d that process)

FORETHOUGHT OR FREEDOM?

Different people have different approaches. Since we know beforehand that you are going to want to put images of your animals in, you might want to think about leaving flat space for this (i.e. where the image will lay down flat). Or, you can go with a wild abandon approach. If you do that, and your page has crazy amounts of texture, DON’T WORRY! I’ll show you a work-around to include images anyway. Personally, I do a mixture. On some spreads I like to know where I’m going to put the image, and I see it as I create the base. On others, I have no idea until I’ve got the image and glue in my hand.

TRUST

Be open. As much as you are able to at this point in your creative practice, TRUST THE PROCESS. This cliche phrase is actually very helpful and meaningful, as a reminder, but it does take some time spent to fully realize what it means. When you’re just getting started, you won’t have gone through the process enough times to feel it, but you can begin to, almost immediately. Let the scary happen. Don’t control every move, every mark. Let “stuff” happen. Let it be potentially awful or ugly (you can fix this, I sure do!). Let it happen, and let it surprise you.

Now, time for the Videos! In the following videos I will show you a few simple methods for making backgrounds that have texture. I have also prepared a Pinterest Board full of Background Technique ideas!

METHOD ONE: Using one paint color over your Gesso, or on your non-gessoed page. 

If you used Gesso to create texture, applying paint will show how interesting the marks are.

If you did not make texture using the Gesso – or did not use Gesso at all – you can use the mark-making tools with the PAINT instead, to make that texture on the page. You’ll need to use the regular acrylic paint for this, not fluid or liquid paints!

If you don’t want texture, you can simply paint the page.

METHOD TWO: Using two colors together.

You can opt to mix your colors to create a new color.

I like to choose two colors and use some sort of blending tool (my fingers, usually, or a paper towel or a brush) to bring them together on the page.

METHOD THREE: Using Spray Ink and Liquid Acrylics

METHOD FOUR: Playing with your Mark-Making Tools