From a deck of Medicine Cards, I pulled a snake as my totem animal. The snake represents transmutation.
Now, I need to figure out what that means.
I’m at Silver Willow Farms, not far from my home, participating in the ‘Medicine Cards and Merlot’ painting workshop. (Yes, with wine). Silver Willow Farms is a private farm in Haldimand County, Ontario, Canada. Thirteen horses roam 80 acres – many rescues including club-footed Dante, melanoma stricken Ginny, 35-year-old mini Carla, and former police horse Lady.
No surprise, new filly Dana (born April 11, 2016) garners most of the attention while mom stands upright though relaxed. It’s Lady who serves and protects hovering near the new herd member.
Owner Taylor Beckett hosts events like this including painting workshops (like today), Reiki training for use on both people and animals and some FEEL seminars by appointment. (See previous post about FEEL therapy).
The farm is all about the horse: providing them safe haven to live out their lives from whatever circumstances they have come from, or finding them good homes to continue doing the work they’re conditioned to do.
But today, it’s about painting our totem animal.
Medicine Cards are similar to Tarot cards but based on traditional native beliefs. Shuffle the deck and the card you draw is your animal totem, selected for a reason. Here’s the description of my Snake:
“The power of snake medicine is the power of creation, for it embodies sexuality, psychic energy, alchemy, reproduction, and ascension. The transmutation of the life-death-rebirth cycle is exemplified by the shedding of Snake’s skin. It is the energy of wholeness … and the ability to experience anything willingly and without resistance.” (source: Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams).
Why I drew this card is up to me to figure out. Maybe it’s because I’m moving through lost love, or because I’m on the verge of an even greater loss: my cat and soulmate of 17 years is terminally ill. Whatever the reason, it’s not a stretch to find a real-life parallel.
Eight women participate today. With card drawn, we then paint our animal on the template page provided. Below the dream-catcher circle in the centre, we are to add three to five items that we spotted on our initial stroll around the farm. Of course, much of our pre-painting nature walk was spent admiring the new filly. She basks under the watchful eye of her mother, other mares and even her stallion father roaming with the herd.
Dana the 12-day old foul is a registered Rocky Mountain/Kentucky Saddle Horse whose parents are Hawenwood’s J.B. Roe and Havenwood’s Rosetta. According to Taylor, she’ll likely be black and make a quiet riding horse. She’s for sale, and another foul like her is on its way from another mare.
True, I want to see the horses, but painting is what we’re here to do. Let the sketching and watercolour begin.
Characteristically, I’ve over-reached choosing a page with five dangling items instead of three, so I end up drawing poop as one item, because I saw more of that than anything on the farm. While fraternizing with the horses on our walk, I was also very drawn to the sea blue eyes of Lemmy, a miniature pony who stands his ground in the field like a lone centaur engulfed by an unruly white mane.
That weird blue eye appears in my painting.
Here’s the reason we add items to our painting: Not only is the totem animal we selected representative of our journey now, the things we choose to add apparently represent unconscious issues or concerns we’re dealing with – or need to deal with. At the end of the painting session, Taylor explains what some of these items represent. It’s a bit like reading a horoscope.
For instance, shells, or anything from the sea, represent birth or creation. Feathers (easily found on a farm of strolling chickens) mean different things depending on the bird. Seagulls for example are scavengers but resilient, able to prosper in any environment.
And Lemmy’s eye?
Little Lemmy, according to Taylor, is the embodiment of misdirected and untamed masculine energy. When he first came to the farm as a stallion, a miniature stallion, he’d been isolated from other horses for three years and fed poorly. He raced around the farm, attempting to dominate, mate and create havoc among the other herd members much, much bigger than him. Lady the Clydesdale flipped him on his back. For his own safety, he’s now a gelding and has found his place, somewhat, within the acres of fields he now roams with 12 other horses (and one other a miniature).
What does this mean for me? Maybe I have untamed masculine energy in need of releasing. Couple that with my snake totem insisting I’m in need of transmutation, and I guess I got some shedding to do.
I await my transformation.
But not before I visit Lemmy once more before I leave, and remove some burrs trapped in his Lady Godiva-like mane that wraps around his little round frame, shielding his crazy blue eyes.
Read more about Medicine Cards in Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through the Ways of Animals by Jamie Sams available from Amazon.