There’s a new shrine at my home. It’s shrine to the Zebra. They are related to my donkeys, of course, and I’ve discovered, to me.
Some months ago I was introduced to a Shaman in Santa Fe who has a gift for discerning one’s spiritual health, wholeness or brokenness, and especially, identifying a person’s “power animal” or totem brother. Native Americans believe all life is part of a great circle, that we are connected to all life-forms, but that each individual has in life a particular spiritual affinity and kinship to a certain animal. They believe a key part of self-understanding, therefore, is knowing your personal totem animal as key to character and traits.
My session with the shaman was fascinating. Equally to the shaman, too. I say that because when the drumming and rattling called forth the animals in the shaman’s vision, the shaman was surprised to see African animals for the first time in any such prior vision: Wildebeests and Zebras. Startled, the shaman paused and uttered audibly, “Well, Joseph. That is a first!”
In the shaman’s vision, it was a single large Zebra who came out of the herd at the shaman’s call for my totem animal to reveal itself. So, I was told, this Joseph — the name of the Old Testament character with a coat of many colors — is a Joseph with a ‘coat’ of many stripes!
I’m taking it all good-naturedly, having fun recognizing the ‘zebra’ in my soul. Research tells me that Zebra stripes are like human finger prints: each animal’s stripes are unique; no two alike.
That drive to go my own way, to blaze my own path, to follow my own drum-beat has gotten me in trouble all my life, at least with They Who Know Best. Like my hard-headed Scotties, I’ve had my own way of seeing things … and doing them. I now see why, at least in this man’s case, donkeys and independent Scottish Terriers are important players in my life. We’re all Zebra-like in fierce individuality.
So, when this year’s Christmas gifts garnered a number of Zebra-related items I created a wee shrine in the Pass-Through Room outside my GSM office, to remind me as I pass from one end of the house to the other that my Zebra-striped uniqueness is a gift, not a flaw. And prominent in my Zebra shrine is a humorous Zebra wine bottle holder, on its back holding the bottle in its four up-right feet, guzzling the contents.
Zebra or Wildebeest, Raven or Lion, Scottie or Ally Cat, the gift to laugh at oneself, to puncture pretentiousness, to know with grace when to hold on and when to let go, to wear gravitas or whimsy authentically, is life worth living — and ’stripes’ worthy of honor.
Joseph Harvill, publisher Great Scots Magazine