I have always loved butterflies. Their beauty and the gentle fluttering of their wings; they’re so easy going and free. And they were everywhere. I collected and received as gifts (because my family and friends knew how much I loved butterflies) almost everything with this beautiful insect on it: journals, note cards, jewelry, home décor and clothing. And they could be seen nearly everywhere: outside, in magazines and in the Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. I was in heaven – there were hundreds of butterflies flying free.
I recall when my love for butterflies began as a young adult. Around that time I remember hearing an older song on the radio by Elton John whose song had the line, ‘…You’re a butterfly and butterflies are free to fly.’ I remember thinking that it was a message for me. It was. The butterfly was my totem animal for many years.
Not only do we have guardian angels and spirit guides (loved ones who have passed on and have chosen to help us with our journey from the other side), we also have spirit animal guides or totem animals. They are messengers that come in and out of our lives depending on the need for them and where we are on our journey. We can have more than one spirit animal at any given time during our journey here. We don’t choose the animals to be our guide, they choose us. These messengers can be a favorite animal. How can we explain why they are our favorite animal? If the animal chooses us, then we must know this consciously via our subconscious that we really love dogs or horses or butterflies. Totem animals can also be our pet; they can be animals that appear to randomly cross paths with us; and they can visit us in our dreams.
In my book, “Last Night I Dreamt…a guide to dreams and dream recall”, I talk about a young woman who told me of her dream involving a tiger. It walked up to her and got her attention; it wanted her to follow it somewhere. The tiger was leading her to where she should be going on her journey; it was helping her move forward. While I was interpreting her dream it came to me that the tiger was not a symbol, but rather her totem animal. I had asked her if the tiger was her favorite animal and she confirmed that it was.
There have been a few random animals that have made contact with me. Recently, a rather tall turkey (a symbol of sacrifice and abundance) stood next to my car for almost half an hour; I waited until it left before I got into my car. And, a few years ago I had stopped to write something down in my journal while I was hiking and with my peripheral vision I noticed something walking next to me. It was a coyote (relaxation, have fun, be present) going about its business, but close enough to get my attention. It all seemed random until I read their meaning on spirit-animals.com and interpreted the messages. (*FYI- I have found this website to be an excellent source of information for interpreting not only your totem or random animal but dream interpretations for animal visitations as well.) Spirit-animals.com says that animals that we feel a strong connection with are influential to us and will teach us something about ourselves. My cats Zippy, Mimi and Max have taught me much and I’m still learning from them.
My butterfly totem of twenty years fluttered away a few years ago (I still see them occasionally). The butterfly symbolizes transformation – think about the butterfly emerging from the chrysalis – and accepting change. Having accomplished that, a new totem flew into my life a few years ago. The dragonflies come to see me every day on my veranda. They’re here to help me on the next wing of my journey.
**All photos by Leslie Sheridan