Fur and Fangs, or ‘A Lesson Unknowingly Learned’

Let me a tell you a story about a babby Witchy, young and naive in the ways of not being a douche.

A few years ago (more years than I’d thought) I was a high school senior, attending college classes in the evenings thanks to a scholarship program. The college I went to was well known for its very liberal and diverse student body, so of course I joined up with their Pagan student organization as soon as I heard it existed. At the time I was still trying to figure myself and my path out, as many are at 17, but this group was a very good influence, with members knowledgeable in many paths and understanding of my desire to distance myself from Neo-Wicca. I still have friends that I met in that group and in my classes there.

One night, this group held an event in one of the student houses, a sorority or something of the sort. It was a guided meditation, led by one of the Pagan org’s older members (though they didn’t have much of a hierarchy). This meditation, unbeknownst to me, was based off of a popular book called Animal Speak, which you might recognize immediately as a huge pile of appropriation, stereotyping and bastardization of certain First Nations beliefs (you can tell this just by looking at the cover, though the content is much more disappointing, I’ve come to find out).

In either way, I knew nothing of the book or of the idea of cultural theft and oppression at that time. I thought the idea of a guided meditation to find one’s “spirit guide” was a little hokey, but I went along with it because I had never done anything like it before, so I figured why not give it a try. The meditation began with a journey through natural landscapes, past bodies of water, mountains, and forests. The participants were guided into a clearing on a sort of precipice (or at least, this is how it appeared to me). We were told by the narrator that it is here that we would meet our “spirit guide” in the form of an animal (looking back on how fucking stereotypical and appropriative this is makes me cringe). I stood. I waited. I felt nothing. There were a few moments of silence in which the participants were supposed to converse with their guide and find out some things, etc. Still, I stood alone at the edge of this clearing, looking around and expecting something to come and find me. I began to suspect that this whole guided meditation thing just wasn’t working for me like it should. . .

And then I was hit with a flurry of fur and fangs. It wasn’t any identifiable creature, more like a cartoon “Tasmanian Devil” of ginger-brown fur and biting little teeth. I was scratched and bit all over, attacked by these tiny claws and jaws. It felt almost as if I had offended a colony of squirrels or something. I was not seriously harmed, but it was a definite shock. The meditation came to an end only a few minutes after that, and I slowly backed away and out of the clearing, re-tracing my path back to reality.

The bigger shock came to me at the end of the session, when I asked what that meant for me. No one had any answers for me, even the ‘leaders’ of the group and session. They couldn’t understand why I would have been attacked. Every other participant had <of course> met some fanciful creature that they “always knew” they were “connected with.” Wolves, cats, dragons, unicorns, it was like a bad fantasy novel. Now, of course there are those of us who do have guides in these forms, but I strongly suspect that this particular group was simply indulging their own desires and fanciful whims with the choice of these animals.

I had largely forgotten about this night until a few days ago, when it struck me as both a hilarious little foray into Fluffy Paganism and a very direct smack across the face for trying to stick my nose into something that was so obviously a mockery of certain cultural practices (and a very poor one at that). It is usually in retrospect that I understand these lessons learned, though I do hope that my younger self took something away from that experience, I honestly can’t remember what I attributed the experience to at the time.

Well I hope this little foray into the past has been entertaining, at least. I haven’t had much to blog about recently, but this has been on my mind for a while. Laters.

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