The Rise of the Phoenix

Peacock Medicine by Imke Rust (Ink on paper, 20x20cm)

Peacock Medicine by Imke Rust (Ink on paper, 20x20cm)

Many old traditions believed that a person is guided and protected by specific animals throughout their lives. Not only the American Indians had totem traditions, but all over the world people believed in the power of spirit animals.

Some of you might already know from my last blog post, I have been doing an online Totemic Arts Apprenticeship course with the wonderful guide-ess and teacher Emelie Archer Pickett, discovering my totem animals and how to work with their lessons and ‘medicine’ in our lives. We cannot choose which animal will be our totem animal, they choose us, according to our life lessons which we need to learn.

Believe in totem animals or not, I really think that at least considering them and their messages in our lives can help us find alternative insights and solutions to problems and added wisdom. Long before I have heard about totem animals, I often looked at my cats and thought: what would they do in this situation? (Usually their advice was to lie in the sun, stretch and roll over occasionally, watch the birds and most importantly: stay calm – unless you are hungry, in which case you go eat and then return to the sunny spot – a huge life lesson for me!)

Ok, now I have found out that we have a foundational or main animal as totem, supported by a whole gang of 11 other animals. There are many different views about this, so just stick with me on this one.

I call these animals my gang or circle, and the leader is a rather shy, sometimes grumpy black leopard…

During the course I found out that the peacock is a possible member of my gang, too. Sometimes we have resistance towards certain animals, or we wish for other animals that are not part of our totem make-up, ’cause they seem so impressive. So even though some of the teachings about the peacock resonated with me, I was not really convinced. Resonance to anything is usually a good sign that you are on the right path and to start further investigations.

Or you can just ignore it totally. Which is what I did.

Some weeks ago, I felt stuck in a certain situation in my life and I looked to my black leopard for help, but as usual the shy lady was withdrawing into her cave instead of coming out and being fierce (which is what I hoped for from my totem or power animal). But I learned that black leopards are pretty elusive and misunderstood… and well, they are the smallest of the large cats, so they might sometimes really be safer off in the cave or on a tree. (You can see a picture of her snoozing in her cave here)

Ok, I could not tempt her out of that cave and I had to go my own way. Which lead me past the communal rubbish yard. In the corner of these eyes I noticed a large frame in between the bins.

I just looooove old, discarded stuff like that. Cool stuff which one can possible re-use or recycle, and so I went for a closer look. It was an original oil painting of a peacock. The painting was in a perfect condition, just the frame was damaged on one corner. (At least it seemed that the leopard has lend me her eyes to easily spot the prey.)

A peacock… well, well – animals have strange ways to make themselves noticed in your life. And as an artist, I could never ignore a painting like this!

Found Peacock Painting by S (or V?) Wolters. Undated

Found Peacock Painting by S (or V?) Wolters. Undated

So I rescued the peacock and painting from the dumpsters and took it home, knowing I will now have no excuse to not look deeper into this totem animal. I also wanted to share my findings and excitement with the fellow tribe of people who are doing the course with me.

When I opened up our Facebook group’s page, the first thing I saw, was a picture of a peacock with the person who posted it saying: I just found out that my totem animal is a peacock – any other peacocks out there? And while I was writing about my experience, another person also shared that she found out the peacock is one of her totems. Three peacocks in one day… not bad. I just love considering this to be signs from the universe.

What is a peacock’s medicine you might want to know?

Here are some teachings: For one the peacock most resembles the descriptions of the phoenix, so it is considered a symbol of death and resurrection. The Peacock can also help you on your spiritual Path, and breath new life into your walk of faith and they can increase your self-esteem levels.

The bird is a symbol of integrity and the beauty we can achieve when we endeavor to show our true colours.

(Showing my true colours is the reason, why you suddenly get to read so much about totem animals and other magical stuff, visions or fun ideas from me.)

Because of the many ‘eyes’ on its tail it is connected to wisdom and vision – i.e. ‘seeing with a thousand eyes’.

Totem fun: Phoenix or the Peacock Eyes. (Ink on paper, 20x20cm. By Imke Rust)

Totem fun: Phoenix or the Peacock Eyes. Not exactly a thousand eyes here, but a start… (Ink on paper, 20x20cm. By Imke Rust)

You can connect to or use this animal medicine through meditating on the specific animal, wearing or surrounding yourself with images or objects of the animal or its colours, paint them or alternatively incorporate their lessons in whatever way makes you happy and feels right to you. There are no rules.

Even though most of the peacock lessons resonate with me, one stood out: the rebirth or phoenix aspect. Why? Since this bird (painting) got rescued from certain destruction, risen from the death and now has started a second life in our kitchen. A real phoenix!

Now he is playing with the other members of the gang, adding its strength and beauty to the mix. 😉

Totem Fun (Imke Rust, Ink & watercolours on paper, 20x20cm)

More totem fun (Imke Rust, Ink & watercolours on paper, 20x20cm)

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3 thoughts on “The Rise of the Phoenix

  1. Indigo Spider

    I love animals and the idea of having a gang of animal totems makes sense to me somehow. I’ve never studied totems but I believe we, as humans, have moved too far from our natural ways and really need to connect with animals and nature again. Not only to heal the planet but for our own souls to survive, heal and thrive as well (individually and collectively). Not sure if any of that makes sense. I’m really enjoying reading about your spiritual explorations and animal totems!

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  2. CosmicDrBii

    Lovely post and beautiful drawings/paintings. I’ve wondered if my totem animal, or at least one of them, is the mosquito.

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    1. Imke Rust Post author

      Thank you for the compliment. So nice to read from you! You had a very intense experience with te mosquito god, so it could very well be. Personally I think anything that holds a personal importance or wisdom can be seen as a kind of totem or animal medicine.

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