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There are countless ways to use your animal medicine cards, but one of my favorite ways is to just be aware of my own surroundings and look up the meaning later. Being in touch with nature around me is the most healing medicine. Period. I’ve always personally connected with animals and felt a special connection to spirit animals, so it’s only natural to have started using the medicine cards this way.
Here’s what we did. After a night in San Francisco, we drove out to Yosemite National Park and stayed in the Housekeeping Camp. It was the last two nights of the season; windy and cold, but absolutely gorgeous. We really had a magical time.
The first morning when we woke up, a little girl with her father informed us that a skunk crawled under the foundation of our tent. Most people would be totally grossed out by this, but when I encounter animals, I count that as a sign. One of my favorite card decks, Medicine Cards, usually has really apt readings. Instead of freaking out, I turned to the cards. I figured the little friend isn’t hurting anyone- as long as they didn’t get scared!
Among our skunk friend, we also encountered a lovely fox, a swarm of butterflies and a wild variety of birds. Not to mention, we also saw some graceful deer, adorable chipmunks and hungry squirrels. Our camp host warned us that there had been bear sightings on the premises within the last week, but we did not actually see any bears while we were there.
Below I’ve compiled a short summary for each animal that I encountered in Yosemite.
Here are some reflections from the Animal Medicine in Yosemite.
The skunk was our most pungent animal encounter in Yosemite. As mentioned above, there was one living under the foundation of our tent. When we woke up on the second day, we could smell it. Luckily, it was our last day and we just packed up and left so as to avoid steeping in stink-juice during our breakfast!
Skunk medicine is the medicine of respect. They understand the medicine of repelling and attracting. Did you know that skunks use each other’s scents to find each other? The skunk odor repels those who don’t want to be around it, but attracts those of its kind. I find that so fascinating!
We saw the fox on the last day when we were driving just north of the park. Google Maps noted that the road was closed, so there was hardly anyone out there. We found out that the road wasn’t closed at all, and I think the lack of cars coaxed a furry little fox from the forest.
We saw it run across the street and into the forest on the side of the road. It stopped on the median briefly and looked over its shoulder. I know it saw us! Its fur was mostly white at this point, getting ready for winter we suppose.
Fox medicine is very interesting. I felt really connected to this reading. Waiya, Great Spirit in the Choctaw tongue, honors Fox with the duty of keeping the family together and safe. The camouflage factor allows it to stay hidden in the background and observe without making anyone feel self-conscious.
When we went to visit Yosemite Falls, we walked the half-mile trail to the foot of Lower Falls and found a nearly dry creek bed with a trickling of a waterfall in the distance. I noticed some tourists back there and it looked perfectly safe to climb over the wall and get a little bit closer.
As we were scrambling over boulders in the creek bed, I couldn’t help but notice there were tons of butterflies (pictured above). They would flutter right in front of us and land on a rock and gently open and close their wings. There was no fear there at all. I loved it.
The medicine card meaning for the butterfly is the ability to transform. Butterfly medicine could be present to teach a variety of lessons. Depending on where we are in the life cycle, we could take a different lesson from the medicine of the butterfly. Butterfly medicine asks us to contemplate our place in the present. Knowing the present, it is easier to understand the next step.
2) Is this the larva stage: Do I need to make a decision?
3) Is this the cocoon stage: Am I developing and doing something to make my idea a reality?
4) Is this the birth stage: Am I sharing my completed idea?”
When I first saw the Blue Jay, I instantly thought of my brother. I asked his spirit to send me a blue feather. I looked out toward the water, a female blue jay flew just in my line of sight. I was satisfied. Moments later, I met up with Tom again and in his hand was a blue feather. If that isn’t a sign, I don’t know what is.
My brother is always with me! Whenever I see a bluejay, or find a blue feather, I think of him. This way of coping with grief and loss has really worked for me. The Medicine Cards don’t have an interpretation for the Blue Jay. But, all the decks come with a few blank cards so you have the ability to customize the deck. I’ll be adding a Blue Jay card into my deck after this trip.
We had a few interesting encounters with ravens on this trip! First, they were roosting on the tree outside of our tent, so when we were sleeping, we could hear their big swooping wings moving through the air. I made eye contact with one while walking out from my shower. It hopped toward me a couple of times, then cocked its head to the side and looked me straight in the eye. It sort of creeped me out, but also felt like a really special and intimate moment.
We also saw one outside the valley store. It was cawing incessantly until one of the workers came out to refill the vending machine. It sat right on top of the vending machine and taunted the worker into giving it some snacks. I thought it was hilarious! Hopefully, no one gave it snacks, but I could see how it would be a hotspot for beggars. Before we left, there were multiple raven feathers on and around our camp.
It’s black, iridescent coloring represents its status as the bringer of magic from the void. The raven is meant to help with healing by allowing you to approach darkness without fear. It carries the medicine of magic, allowing you to connect with the creative source.
Deer are everywhere! But, when you are with your friends or family in the car and you pass a deer, I bet at least one person points them out. They are timid creatures and seeing them is a treat! But, what does deer medicine mean, exactly?
We saw deer a few times on our journey and I’m always reminded of their sweet gentleness. In the animal medicine cards, it talks about a legend in which the deer approaches an ugly demon and charms it with her gentle heart. This is a reminder to live with compassion for all beings.
When we were walking on the Mist Trail, we came through a section lined with trees. Under them, we found an adorable squirrel stuffing his cheeks with as many acorns as he possibly could. It was so cute to watch him pop them into his tiny mouth and see the whole shape of his head shift. He was doing a good job stocking up for winter.
In animal medicine, the squirrel represents gathering. This little guy reminds us not to take more than we need and suggests storing energy for later use. This is great medicine for preparing for the future. There is great peace in having a little stockpile, but squirrel medicine could also be telling you that you have gathered too much! Which end of spectrum do you stand right now?
Although we didn’t actually see any bears while we were in Yosemite, the bear energy was very strong! When I think of Bear Medicine, the process of hibernation stands out. In the winter, this magnificent creature holes away and curls up to digest the year. When winter is over, Bear is reborn and able to seek the sweet honey of life.
To me, this is a great reminder that rest is vital to our wellbeing and emotional processing. Without moments of introspection, we cannot fully digest our life’s experiences. Thank you, Bear for showing us this very important lesson.
Overall, the animals in Yosemite were magnificent, entertaining, and truly special. From the foxes and bears to the butterflies and blue jays, each animal we encountered brought with it a tidbit of wisdom.
By tuning into our natural environment we were able to hear the swooping wingspan of the ravens and hear their wild caw. Were we assaulted by the odor of our skunk friend on the last day? Yes, but we didn’t take it personally.
We felt enchanted in getting to see a fox and blessed to see the squirrel stuffing his cheeks for the winter. We’re grateful we didn’t have any intimate bear experiences. And, I brought my Blue Jay feather back home with me and it’s sitting on the altar I have dedicated to my brother. It is the most special souvenir I could think of!
Tuning deeply into nature is some of the most healing medicine we have on this planet. May this post encourage you to be even more present in mindful as you take in the sites of your next destination.
I hope you enjoyed these reflections from the Animal Medicine in Yosemite. What other animals did you see in your travels to Yosemite National Park? Did I miss any animals that I should include in this list? Comment below!