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On Animals and Alchemy

Welcome glorious sun! Today, it’s beaming a dazzling smile over our little pocket of the Pacific Northwest and charming the Vitamin D-deprived among us to step outside and savor its warm embrace. It’s good to see you, old friend.


For the past few days, I’ve been excavating darker spaces and keeping company with the interior depths. Imagine sitting in a pond and placing your hands in the mud. As you sift through the heavy, wet substrate, you sense encoded within it the very blueprint of life (nutrients, roots…promise and potential). And, in that same fistful of mud are the remnants of our physical mortality (waste, bark, decomposing animal matter…all journeying back into the earth). This is the sacred alchemical space in which life and death co-exist in perfect harmony.


We shamanic types, healers, and intuitives, know what it is to reside in this liminal space of potential, the one just between life and death.


For the past few days, I’ve had the honor of supporting a client who is preparing for her precious and wise goddess of a pug’s imminent transition into spirit. Our communication and healing work, all in the name of preparing for beloved Josie’s return to the world of spirit, has been exquisitely touching and tender.


A photo of Josie the pug.
Josie (iwonderphotography.smugmug.com)

When I encounter such exceptionally wise and gracious dogs, cats, horses, birds, rabbits, lizards…I’m deeply humbled by their generosity and their capacity for such deep love. In this case, this precious four-legged being is more akin to a high priestess than a dog. For a little while now, she has been gifting her human guardian time to adjust to her departure. And, when she crosses, Josie will resume her role as a spirit guide who will continue to play an integral role in her mother’s life, providing even greater love, protection, and guidance from her expanded seat of awareness.


In the future, Josie may well incarnate again. She and her human mom will make that decision together when the time is right. On a soul level, Josie’s wisdom extends beyond time, and her relationship with her human is eternal, which brings me back to the topic of life, death, and alchemy.


It's true that when our beloveds exit the physical world, they are not really leaving us – just the form we cherish and know so well. I know how excruciating it is to say goodbye to that form. My own pug mix, Max, transitioned during this week in April three years ago. I think of him every day. Thankfully, I also know when he visits, and take pleasure in his continuing adventures. (He has since reincarnated and died as a cougar. Max was always an adventurous soul.)


A photo of Max, my pug mix.
Max

Now, more than ever, with so many animals transitioning, I often see one of two things (though there are other scenarios as well): They are either eager to grab a new physical “suit” and return to their beloved humans (or to the planet for a new experience), or they wish to remain with their human caretakers by serving as spirit guides. In this later form, they join our “team” in spirit, and can help us navigate the trials and tribulations of the earth experience.


So, they neither die, nor do they leave us. They merely change form, transmuting themselves back into gold. And, if we invite them to do so, they will show us when they are beside us. We can ask them to leave signs when they visit. We can enlist them to help us feel their presence beside us or in our arms. We can connect with them in spirit to see how they are doing. We can also create beautiful altars to remember them, buy a crystal, or plant trees in their honor. When we do so, we create ways not only to honor our beloveds, but we invite them to continue to remind us of their presence and of their eternal nature.


And every time we look at the altar or visit their memorial, we use this as an opportunity to reconnect with them, thanking them for the gift of their presence, and inviting them to help us with problems, to bring blessings, and to share their wisdom so we may live richer, more beautiful lives.


In this way, they illuminate our lives like the sun, shining their brilliance and their love upon us, and reminding us that much like a celestial body, they never really disappear. When they die, they are just behind the clouds for a little while.


Once they re-emerge, they are brighter and more luminous than ever. Just in a whole new way.

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