To many it won’t come as a surprise that I regularly talk to trees. And that the trees talk to me, too. I love the forest spirits that are here to heal us, to talk to us and bring us back to the here and now while showing glimpses of the Other World at the same time. Yes, the trees are always checking in with us and that’s why I try to check in with them as often as possible too. Just saying ‘hi’ to a tree already elicits a response and has loneliness dissipate before you know it. Imagine starting a whole conversation with a tree or asking it questions.
While many people who start to work with nature spirits tend to turn towards animals first and only later discover the interactivity of the standing people and the plants, for me this hasn’t been the case. Probably because for me, animals are less predictable than plants and trees. I mean, they run around, make noises and yes, are just like us. I have never felt truly secure with any animal except for the Labrador retriever my parents owned when I was born, and that’s probably because I can’t predict them and feel ‘not in control’ when being around them.
And that’s exactly it, isn’t it? This fear of not being in control is definitely something I need to work on. Firstly, by being around animals more and trying to communicatie with them, I’m likely to become more used to them and relax around them. Secondly, by communicating with them and asking questions, animals are very likely to teach us a lot about ourselves and the medicine they have to offer us. So besides studying and observing animals in my own time, animals that will appear in my daily life or during a shamanic journey will tell me about their medicine and teach me about myself.
As of late I’ve been encountering a number of animals who seem to be my ally in this chapter of my life. The coyote, cobra, spider, fox, and deer have all been showing up and the butterfly has been pretty prominent as well. I believe Butterfly will stay with me for a while longer or maybe even my whole life, but the one animal that has been showing itself to me very stubbornly is the squirrel.
I’ve always had a fascination for squirrels. They look cute and the red brown fur of the Dutch squirrels is one of my favourite colours. Unfortunately, in this outer North-West spot of Europe squirrels are not very likely to show themselves. Once in a while one will cross the street or bike lane about ten metres in front of you, but they are always in a hurry and hide themselves again as soon as they have reached the roadside bushes. The reason I see squirrels so seldom over here probably adds to my fascination for squirrels. Seeing one is like finding a four-leaf clover.
A couple of weeks ago, before my big trip to the United States, I noticed that I had been encountering a lot of these furry four-leaf clovers. A lot being about three in two weeks. I didn’t think much of it and just assumed that it had something to do with the climate change, as everything has something to do with the climate change.
But during my first week in the United States, while staying in New Orleans, one of the many notorious NOLA tarot readers told me that animals would start to play a bigger part in my life, especially the squirrel. I thought it was weird she said this, as I’m not very big on animals. Again, I like them, but know nothing about them and in general am scared of them. I just nodded and said that yes, I had been seeing more squirrels than usual as of late.
Three weeks later I found myself in North-Carolina, being literally surrounded by squirrels. They were everywhere! Of course, the Carolina squirrels don’t have this neat red brown colour, but that doesn’t make them any less cute. It was during my time in North-Carolina that I drove up to Black Mountain to meet with a shaman who would guide me on a shamanic journey. She asked me to call in my spirit guides and indeed, there was Squirrel again. He gave me an acorn, of which I had no idea what to do with, but I thanked him anyway and tucked it away in a corner of my heart.
After that my encounters with squirrels seemed to increase even more and took an all-time high in the course of my stay in New York. While walking through Central Park with a friend who I’d met at a cacao ceremony back in North-Carolina, he randomly decided he wanted to feed one of the squirrelly inhabitants of this piece of heaven in the middle of the Concrete Jungle. To be honest, I was very cold and wasn’t interested in doing such a thing at all. But this friend, being an Aries, tried and tried again. But the squirrels wouldn’t have any of it!
I watched them curiously and wondered why these bold New York squirrels weren’t interested in an almond being offered by this very eager guy. Every once in a while one would stop about two metres away, stand up straight and put his little hands on his chest as if saying: “Me?! Is that for me?! Really?!”. But then it would run off again. We tried to seduce all kinds of them, fat squirrels, tiny squirrels, busy squirrels, and lazy squirrels. But none of them seemed to be interested in this organic almond they were offered.
It was only later that my friend told me he tried to send his energy into their minds and to manipulate them in coming over. To me, that explained everything. As someone who can’t be manipulated at all, not even a little bit, this sounded ridiculous to me. He asked me how I would have done it. “Well”, I said, “I would just have opened my heart and sent them love. To open up and invite them over if they’d be willing.” To me, this seems the one and only way to do it and is extremely logical, but it is only now I’m typing this that I realise the first piece of medicine Squirrel offered me: open up your heart (no wonder I tucked away the acorn in ‘a corner of my heart’).
Squirrel though wasn’t done talking to me. After having rushed around my AirBnB in Bed-Stuy, having promoted myself to professional suitcase-packer, I was outside with my luggage waiting for my Uber to drive me to the airport. Suddenly, a squirrel came running from the park across the street, straight for me. He stopped right in front of me, spread his little arms and started motioning very excitedly, as if he was trying to tell me something extremely urgent. As if knowing that I was going back to the European flatlands where the squirrel population is thin and I was not very likely to be found by one of his cousins to tell me this. The little guy was motioning, pointing, making noises, and all the while, I stared at him, my heart open, trying to find out what he was telling me. It was at that moment my Uber arrived and the squirrel left in a dash. I was astonished. I felt as if I’d gone down the rabbit hole and had taken on the part of Alice.
Although I’ve seriously no idea what Squirrel had been telling me, clear to me is that it has a lot of medicine for me to work with. Me and Squirrel will be journeying together a whole lot from now, as it clearly has a lot to say to me and I clearly have a lot to learn from Squirrel. First exercise: open up my heart.
Want to find out what your spirit animals are? In my Self-Healing Sessions I apply shamanic journeying techniques to help you find out what your spirit animals are and how they can help you heal!