A few years ago, I went on a trip to Sedona, Arizona. We went for the hiking, but the location attracts many people in search of spiritual guidance and is a beacon of “New Age” trends. As a result, we encountered many brochures about spiritual journeys. One of those was a promise to help one find one’s spirit animal.
I didn’t take advantage of the offer, but I wondered: what is my spirit animal? Everything I’d read (assuming we have a spirit animal, of course) suggested that this was something we would “just know.” When we encountered it, we would know it. I ruminated, and I concluded that my spirit animal must be a dragonfly. After all, I constantly wear a dragonfly necklace—or at least I did until my baby broke it—and my husband and I have a cool story about a blue dragonfly that anchors our relationship.
But I didn’t feel an epiphany about it. I shrugged off the matter and forgot about it in the grand scheme of life.
Until a dream a couple of weeks back.
In my dream, I was in the house I grew up in as a child, though I remained the full-grown adult that I am now. I looked out the window to see that it was snowing. “Just as I feared,” I muttered.
(Anyone who knows me or knows the story of my daughter’s blizzard arrival knows just how passionately I dislike snow.)
For some reason, I went outside in the snow. I wasn’t dressed for it, and even as I was walking outside I feared I would be cold, especially when I touched the snow with my hands, as I knew I would. I walked to a tree—one of my favorite trees from childhood, one I used to climb and examine for caterpillars and the like. Under the tree was a snow drift, and I bent down to put my hand in it.
It was then that I saw—it wasn’t snow at all, but flower petals, the kind that fall in the cherry blossom festival. But these were snow-white in color, like pear tree flowers. I assumed they were falling from the trees, but like so many of my dreams, I was not allowed to see the whole portion of the landscape. In so many dreams I have, most of the scene is hidden from me like a darkened studio, and the things I’m “supposed” to see are highlighted almost by spotlight. So the sky and the tops of the trees were dark. I could see only the snow—rather, flower petals—and the tree trunks.
My joy at the discovery of anti-snow was stifled by the fact that it wasn’t actually a snow drift I was putting my hand into. It was a snow leopard hiding underneath the flower petals. In my dream, I pulled my hand back.
A voice—or several, the same voices that always talk to me in dreams—told me to keep petting the leopard.
“It’s going to kill me,” I said.
The voices responded. “It won’t. It’s your spirit animal.”
I took their word as truth and reached closer to the leopard, stroking its muzzle. It was comforted by my touch, and I kept at it. Then I looked down and saw that my footprints had ruined the soft blanket of petals on the ground. The leopard told me—not in words, but just through its glance—that I was to cover it back up in petals because it was hiding for now. I did so, and I replaced the petals so that it looked pristine, once again like freshly-fallen snow. I carefully backed my way through the yard, covering my tracks until I reached the porch to my family’s old house.
It was then that I giggled. I realized that I was hiding a secret—that the world would wake up and think that snow had fallen, but really, it was petals. Instead of the cold of winter, they would experience the warmth of spring.
I don’t know how the leopard figures in, or why it was hiding. But the feeling was comforting nonetheless.
A quick search on the Internet revealed several sites that claim the snow leopard as a spirit animal is a symbol of silence and intuition. This is interesting to me because I embrace both. I’ve always been silent, preferring to watch and observe, making calculated actions only after considering possibilities. But at the same time, I’ve relied on intuition in addition to that calculation to lead my decisions. “Gut feelings” for me have always been right. In fact, the research reminded me of the life-changing dream I had in which I was told (by those same voices in the dream) that I should trust my intuition to do my job and continue my career as a writer.
I’m not sure how to interpret the message of the threat of snow turning out to be a beautiful blessing of spring. “The Internets” tell me that in the spirit of a snow leopard, I should trust in what cannot be seen and have confidence that silence and patience will eventually reveal the eternal truth. In the dream, that truth was positive, if elusive, and I look forward to discovering what it is.