People have desired the ability to transform themselves into other creatures or beings since the beginning of time. If you sit down in front of the television for any matter of time today, you find vampires and werewolves and shapeshifters in many of the popular shows.
I think that this obsession with making ourselves into something different comes from a past of seeing ourselves as ordinary, blah, and mundane. Thus, the name that many in the world of witchcraft have given non-magick folk. We have already begun to see ourselves as other-worldly and it is important for us to embody all the supernatural that world can hold. If we look at the magick of shapeshifting, the shifted creature normally holds our best qualities or those that have been buried and long to come forth. Shapeshifting is our excuse to bring those qualities forward.
If we look to one of my favorite movie series, Harry Potter, we see that as Sirius transforms from the black wolfhound back to human, he explains to Harry, “Normally, I have a very sweet disposition as a dog. In fact, more than once, James suggested that I make the change permanent. The tail I could live with. But the fleas? They’re murder.” The part of him that was brought out by his canine counterpart was a sweet disposition, but if you look at Sirius’ other qualities…fierce loyalty, bravery, selflessness. These are all qualities that dogs exhibit on a daily basis.
Also, with Minerva McGonagal, there are feline qualities that are very evident in her personality. There is the “I will show affection when it is warranted, but I will be aloof until then” way of acting. There is also that part of her who is an observer until time to act. Watch the way a cat observes what it considers prey. It will watch and watch and watch……then jump.
If you look at shapeshifting from a human standpoint, we shift every day of our lives. We adapt our bodies and emotions to work within any given situation. Ask any mother defending or protecting her child…..she becomes as fierce as any mama bear. A few weeks ago, a guy in our complex just about hit my partner head on in a car. I became the lion that has been hidden inside. I watched the fear rise inside the fellow and I did not back down. I am also as completely pack-oriented as a wolf. I will work as hard as I can to maintain the well-being of the pack. I will nurture the younger ones and push them to exercise their strengths. Trust me though, I will offer a harsh nip to remind them of their position.
Which animal shows itself in your personality? I have one friend who, to me, shows forth many of the personality traits of the owl. I see it in his abilities and his demeanor. I have one friend who shows herself to me as feline. I do get to see the lioness on occasion and I also get to see the lap cat. I have one friend who holds the bull dear to his heart…..and he does it well.
Every day is an opportunity to shapeshift. You can embody the qualities of whatever animal you hold close to you at any given time. The Native Americans incorporate spirit animals into their lives. These animals represent strength and powers that they desire in their lives. They also represent protection. At what time in our lives do we not need strength, power and protection?
As a witch, I believe in the abilities of the mind to take us into the reality of shapeshifting. I like to be able to move my mind into the place of shapeshifting every so often. I love to lie down on the grass or in the dirt. I can feel the deepest connection to the goddess when I do this. I close my eyes and visualize the animal that I desire to transform into. I feel my senses heighten. My breathing changes. I see things that I would never see as a human. It is good to get back to the animal nature. If I choose the form of a bird, the feeling of soaring above the clouds, the feeling of the wind on each feather……resonates in my being.
It is good to get out of the human shell. It is good to leave the weights of humanity behind. It is wonderful to take on the attributes of those that we see as unreachable. It shows me what I can be capable of in day to day life.
I continue to fly……each day I feel that wind against my face. Though my wings get tired at the end of the day, will fly again.