Surprisingly, My Spirit Animal Explains My Approach to Interspirituality

Surprisingly, My Spirit Animal Explains My Approach to Interspirituality September 19, 2022

I am a trans-rational skeptic by nature. That means most things need to meet a rational threshold before I can think about transcending them. Still, I cannot deny that a spirit animal offered to me by a shaman in my early twenties explains the essence of my spiritual approach.

New Age vs. Teenage

At sixteen, I went to Australia for a year as an exchange student. When I returned, my parents were knee-deep in the New Age community and quickly rose to leadership positions. They put on yearly gatherings of spiritual teachers, healers, mystics, astrologers, and mediums to share their gifts and ideas.

As you might imagine, I was torn. My red hot chili peppered rebellious teenage side wrote the whole thing off as nonsense. My compassionate, parent-loving, and hopeful side was intrigued. For several years, I rode the seesaw, being enamored with New Age spirituality one minute, rejecting it the next.

Read more about this struggle in my memoir Spiritual in My Own Way

Honoring My Need for Rationality

Early on in my explorations, I noticed that I had a deep need for rationality. This meant that instead of dismissing rationality altogether and succumbing to magical and mythical thought patterns, I tried to exhaust my analytical capabilities and only allowed myself to go beyond that when reason no longer served me.

Big Picture Thinking

I became what might be labeled a philosophical spiritual seeker. While I did meditate and participate in other kinds of rituals, reading became central to my approach.

An interest in interspirituality developed early on—although I did not know what to call it then. I was always looking for puzzle pieces and thinking about how they fit into the bigger picture. I had already read the New Testament countless times, so I turned my gaze to Eastern scriptures and authors who sought to bring out the essence of teachings rather than dwell in imaginary realms or quote ancient masters endlessly.

Led to Integral and Interspirituality

The need for a bigger picture became thematic in my life. I pushed rationality to the limits in my search and allowed myself to sit with the outcome. That often resulted in epiphanies and feelings of awe. It gave me spiritual highs that are hard to explain. As a result, I was naturally drawn to integral theory and anything else that helped me attain a more expansive and inclusive view of the universe and my role in it.

What About the Spirit Animal?

I recently reminisced about the good times we had at many New Age gatherings in Iceland. In addition to the Icelandic contributors, we often had visitors from abroad, everything from Tai Chi masters and faith healers to acupuncturists and Native American shamans. One such shaman offered me a spirit animal after a sweat lodge. It was an eagle. For the next few years, I wore a wood carving of an eagle’s head around my neck.

Making the Connection

It’s funny how the mind works. Even though I’ve been obsessed with the larger picture most of my life, I never made the connection as clearly as I did a few months ago. It took nearly thirty years for me to notice that the shaman tapped into something in me that I could not see in myself. The eagle represented the ability to observe things from a high altitude and see the bigger picture; needs that became predominant in my life from that moment on.

The Paradox I Live With

I share this story to illustrate a paradox. As I’ve stated numerous times, I am very rational. I don’t walk around touting my spirit animal to just anyone. But I cannot deny that the shaman’s insight was spot on, something I cannot explain rationally. My spiritual life is about allowing both to be true at the same time.

Gudjon Bergmann
Author and Mindfulness Teacher
Amazon Author Profile

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