Animals Mirrors to the Soul?
By Allen and Linda Anderson
How often have you seen people
with pets who resemble them? Some pretty funny photographs show
this phenomenon. If you've lived with an animal for awhile,
you may have noticed that animals also reflect your qualities,
characteristics, and personality traits. A depressed person
has a sad-eyed dog. A chatty guy has a talkative parrot. The
animal companion of a gentle woman is a kind and affectionate
When we take our dog, Taylor,
for walks around a nearby lake, we often pass a mild-mannered
man with a timid gait who always averts his eyes. A little dog
runs alongside him, growling and showing her teeth to everyone.
This dog could be a mirror for the man's excessive fears.
As people tell us about significant
animals in their lives, we've observed how the animals often
serve as spiritual report cards. More often than not, memorable
spiritual experiences with animals chart a person's progress
toward or away from having more love, peace, and fulfillment.
Animals as Reflections
Websites these days are devoted
to helping you select the right animal or breed for your personality
and lifestyle. Depending on whether you're friendly, protective,
independent, self-assured, consistent, steady, or clever, you'll
be advised that a certain animal is more likely to be compatible
Marketers already know a lot
about you by the kind of animal companion you've chosen. The
University of Oregon conducted research on people who live with
dogs, cats, birds, fish, mice, rabbits, or reptiles. Those who
shared their homes with dogs believed in honesty and were more
religious and duty-bound. Cat lovers tended to be loners just
like their pets. People with fish were less pessimistic and
cynical than others.
By analyzing these kinds of
profiles, advertisers prepare strategies for how to get you
to buy those fancy dog or cat dishes and gourmet pet foods.
Obviously it's not the animal buying the product. By knowing
what pet you prefer, manufacturers can use your personality
traits to sell products in ways that will appeal to you.
Spiritual Blind Spots
In our workshops and classes
after someone has shared a story about their spiritual connection
with a special animal, we often ask what was going on in the
person's life at the time. This is when the awareness dawns
that a memorable experience with a pet or animal in nature has
reflected the person's spiritual lessons, challenges, or attitudes.
We call these your "spiritual blind spots." And it
seems that nothing reveals them quite as well animals.
Animals reflect what you're
all about-your values, your interests, but most of all, your
personality. What you may not realize is that animals are spiritual
barometers for whatever you're hiding from the world and yourself.
They manifest your state of consciousness-fleas and all.
Animals, as souls, are spiritually
engineered to give service. So are humans, but people tend to
carry more mental and emotional baggage, making it more complex
for them to be pure and loving vehicles for God's love. As a
service, animals reflect aspects of your personality and spiritual
makeup that may be keeping you from becoming your most evolved,
loving, enlightened self.
Spiritual blind spots are the
needs and desires you don't, can't, or won't admit you harbor.
Recognizing and accepting them fosters spiritual growth because
the first step toward loving God and others is to love yourself--completely.
Animals often show what you
don't want to or can't see about yourself. They are black and
white scenes of your deepest secrets brought to the big screen
in living Technicolor by an animal actor. The spiritual blind
spots animals bring to your attention show what is inside of
you, not allowing you to be who and all you were meant to be.
A Deer Becomes a Mirror
Because souls, whether they're
wearing animal and human bodies, are connected by the Life Force,
even wild animals can become mirrors for your spiritual growth.
When we put out a request on
the Internet for mystical wildlife stories, we received an example
of an animal in nature who performed a mirroring service for
a man named Jim Beam in North Island, New Zealand.
As a schoolboy, Jim says that
he stalked deer in rugged bush country. After he graduated,
he got a job with the forest service as a professional hunter,
working in the beautiful mountainous bush country. The following
is Jim's story in his own words.
"After a couple of seasons,
I became pretty good at hunting animals and thought nothing
of shooting them. The killing didn't disturb me. I became immune
to it, hardened against the pain I caused.
"One day, I shot a deer
who was on a ridge track. The deer stumbled and rolled into
thick brush, where she came to rest, tangled in the vegetation.
I sauntered down to her and discovered I had done serious, even
hideous damage to the deer's forequarter.
"The animal watched me
approach. I looked at her, and she seemed to speak to me. This
was an uncanny experience, because I have no way of describing
it, except to say that it felt like the deer was asking me why
I had done this. What on earth was I thinking?
"The deer chastised me
in the way some wise person would have scolded a vandal, caught
committing a stupid, foolish act. The animal actually had total
control of the situation. She was dying as a result of my action
but invaded my mind in such a way that I became almost physically
"I felt terrible shame
and total worthlessness. I had no option but to agree with this
animal's questioning of my motives and intelligence. After this
experience, I quit hunting and found employment in the city.
"For years after the incident,
I had a recurring dream. In the dream, I'm shooting a deer.
When I go to finish her off, she turns into someone I know and
love, like one of my mentors, a lover, or a child. I wake up
in a cold sweat.
"Over the years, I've
become a lover of life. I have huge regret for the hunting career
I once chose. Today, where I live, I'm surrounded by wild flora
and fauna. Because of the greater respect for nature that I
gained from the deer, I find that I'm reluctant to interfere
with life in any way, even to the extent of pruning trees.
"For the last thirteen
years, I've been working with wild dolphins and advocating the
protection of their habitats. I've discovered that Nature's
harmony is real, and it's far better to be her partner than
"To this day, I can still
clearly see the deer and feel her message. The recurring dreams
have stopped now. But I've never forgotten the deer's wisdom,
even though I met her thirty-three years ago."
Are animals in your life to
bring out an aspect of your personality where you need a spiritual
perspective? Are they helping you recognize wisdom of the heart
that has been hidden inside you all along?