Animal Other

In the ways of the shadow witch, there is the belief that our souls, while whole and singular, can be perceived as parts for our use.

One of these parts is the animal other.

The Hedgewitch - Marc Potts

Like many esoteric concepts, words take away from the deeper mystery. The analogies and examples I offer are to be taken as mere tools for understanding; the mystery is always deeper.

Many cultures and indeed psychology, believe that the human creature has an instinctive ‘side’. This side is primal and animalistic. It’s almost as if we have an animal side of our soul.

In astrology, many sun signs are depicted as animals: Leo, Aries, Taurus, and so on. A person falling under the sun sign or ascendant of Leo might have the appearance of majesty and grandeur. A person under Taurus often has broad shoulders. The animal part of them seems to hint just under the surface.

In Native American communities, several tribal cultures, as well now as many Neo-Pagan ones, there is the belief in totems. These are the animal spirits that work with us: guides, helpers, protects, and soul supplements. Tribal elders have explained this to me as a spirit guide that is for the tribe, but I know many people believe that ‘totem’ is a personal spirit.

The animal other is not the primal or instinctual side, but it is similar only in that it is an animal part of us. It’s also not our appearance or basic characteristics, although it can peek out in this way. The animal other is also not a totem. It is not a separate animal spirit that comes to us. It is similar in that the wholeness of spirit of the animal is perceived – Ant spirit, rather than the spirit of a single ant. It is about essence rather than personality.

The animal other comes from within. It is entirely part of us. It’s a part of our soul. It’s a form of consciousness. Similar in the way the Ego and Id are not separate things – just parts of the whole.

The animal other is an expression of what is within that is manifested in the natural form of animal.

The animal manifestation cannot be chosen; you are born with one. It can change though. Just as you change. However, some traditions believe there is one main animal other that is with you from birth to death and then beyond – you return to the world as part of that animal (part of, not reincarnated as that animal).

What function, purpose or use does the animal other serve?

For the wind walker, it is the shape of travel across the realms. It’s the style of personal abilities and spiritual characteristics. It’s the natural choice for shape shifting. It’s also the closest animal link in nature.

Different cultures have different terms for this belief, or similar: Animal Fetch (specifically ‘animal’, as other fetch’s have different forms and purposes), Fetch Beast, puckril, bid, fylgja, El Animal, El Carro, El portador, daemon, vordr.

John De-Stefano

 The animal other is highly unlikely to be an animal with which you would never have contact. If you were born and live in England, it’s unlikely you will have a lion animal other. While you absolutely don’t have to live near the animal other’s habitat, you will likely want to visit the actual animals whenever you can. The connection is very deep and they will help you as they would their own.


~ by sandra on August 8, 2006.

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