I am a snow leopard. I've always been fascinated with snow leopards but never really spirit-shifted until I met SabR and Kazi, who are very conscious of their own spirit-shapes (using my own terminology for their experience because it is how I see it, but they don't necessarily agree with my thoughts on spirit-shapes). I was awed by their freedom and they encouraged me to explore myself in a similar way. I realized that I had been aware of my snow leopard self for many years, but had repressed it. When I first began to realize it, I had a friend who was a puma and took a lot of zir identity from that, so I felt like I would be stepping on zir toes if I also shifted into a big cat. Once I realized this and changed that old mindset, I began to feel my snow leopard self much more clearly. I created quite a few snow leopard icons (which is a big deal to me, as an icon is the face I wear online), added a snow leopard image to my sanctuary, and really embraced this aspect of myself. I have yet to meet a snow leopard in person -- it is something I very much long for, to be in the presence of like spirit-shapes.
In addition to an innate sensing, I resonate with most of the physical habits/qualities of the snow leopard. Snow leopards are active beginning in late evening to early morning (and I assume they sleep during the day), as am I. They hunt by watching, stalking, then making powerful leaps of four to twelve times their body length (usually from above, but still!). I feel like that is how I live my life -- observing, learning, then making sudden and powerful leaps of growth. Snow leopards are very unique in that they aren't really big cats and aren't really small cats (neither fish nor fowl, heh), which is something that I strongly resonate with as I fit into no easy category. The one thing that really puzzles me is the habitat, as I abhor the cold (but perhaps I wouldn't if I wore such a heavy coat?).
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The rest of these photos are of Shynghyz, a snow leopard who lives in the Tama Zoological Park in Tokyo, Japan. I felt an instant and very strong connection with this particular being, and it's a very deep wish of mine to meet zir in this lifetime... I feel like that would be such a life-altering experience for me. I've rarely (only once other than this) felt such a strong connection with any other non-human, and certainly never felt that through simply seeing a photo. The first time I saw one of zir photos, my breath just stopped and I stared and stared... seeing more photos made my heart trip and my eyes well up. Ze and I have a bond that makes me think, wonder... I always thought it was a different sort of spirit inside an animal, but maybe it's not. Maybe it's just expressed differently because we have different brains, and can't communicate easily. What does that mean? Just now, writing this, I felt a huge shift in my perception of the world...
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I am also an egyptian cobra (not in its natural size or color). This actually came as a surprise to me as I had never thought much about cobras or been especially drawn to them until I had a vision of myself as a huge, magnificent, shimmering white cobra (while in a trance-like state of prayer). Since then I have felt myself shift into cobra shape quite a few times -- usually when I feel the need to protect myself or someone else. Shifting into snow leopard shape is usually voluntary, whereas shifting into cobra shape happens when I need it. Both the snow leopard and the cobra are predators, but I feel very different in each shape. Snow leopard is usually a quiet, observing, sensing experience, and the occasional anger feels like a loud call to fight, blood rushing and claws out -- but cobra is always a silent knowing of power. When in cobra spirit-shape, I don't feel fury -- I feel a coiling within, an absolutely invulnerable state where I simply wait, knowing how it will end. The only emotion I feel in cobra shape is a strange kind of peaceful power (power is not exactly the right word but it is the closest I can think of) -- as though anyone attempting to damage me will fail so utterly that it's not even worth a twinge of worry or any effort to protect myself.
I'm also a north american river otter. (the species is important because I only shift into otter form when in fresh or brackish water) Otter was probably my first experience with shifting spirit-shape -- my first memory was from when I was about six years old. I so clearly remember the feeling of wildness that overcame me, this sudden breaking-away from everything, and a whole new sense of strength and agility. However I haven't really shifted or explored this since I was a child, so I feel I still have a lot to learn from/about it.
I think that I may also have a unicorn shape, but I have only flitted into it for seconds, so I'm not sure. Not the modern kind that's just a horse with a horn, but the old kind that in shape and size looks like a deer, with the beard of a goat, the tail of a lion, and cloven hooves.
(((totems in another post, as this is insanely long)))