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Challenging Fear With Courage

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When We Find Ourselves In the Company of Wolves

I ran across a unique website the week I spent visiting my parents in Colorado. I clicked on a Facebook ad titled Company of Wolves, and found myself staring directly into the huge eyes of a hungry wolf at the water’s edge, marveling at a curious, wide-eyed little owl in the forest, and gazing fondly at a dog caressed by the sunshine and an afternoon breeze. The website belongs to a German freelance artist and illustrator named Marie Beschorner, and I found her illustrations and artwork fascinating. I’ve always been interested in wolves, and I spent quite a bit of time studying and writing about them in college. I feel it’s hard for artists to capture their real beauty, and I look forward to the day when I can take my own pictures of wolves in the wild.

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Centuries ago, wolves were merely a terrifying wild animal to be afraid of. Wolves were completely eradicated in the lower 48 states during the 19th Century – poisoned with strychnine and shot by ranchers who were afraid of losing their cattle and sheep to marauding wolf packs. Now wolves are thriving again in the wilderness areas surrounding Yellowstone in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana thanks to a wolf reintroduction program sponsored by the U.S. government.

To me, wolves represent the wild. They are the wilderness itself and possess a wild spirit. Wolves are also shy, elusive animals, and they seem to inhabit the part of our imagination we rarely visit: our wild nature. Although I don’t strongly believe in or practice Native American spirituality, I do believe that my life has an invisible connection to wolves. The Native American idea of an animal spirit guide or spirit totem teaches that when an individual sees or dreams of a particular animal, there is a specific meaning attached or a lesson to be learned. For example:

Wolf power or spirit animals point to an appetite for freedom and living life powerfully, guided by instincts. When a wolf manifests its presence as a guide in your life, it could be a call to live your life more freely, to bring the intensity of passion in your everyday endeavors.

Wolves are wild animals that are not easily domesticated and when they appear as spirit guides, they could be an invitation to look at what supports your authentic self and the true expression of yourself. The wolf totem is a reminder to keep your spirit alive and trust your instincts to find the way that will best suit you.

Spirit Animals & Animal Totems

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Lately, I have really been praying to challenge my fear of talking to other people and my dislike of spending time in public places. In addition to chanting about this problem, one idea I’ve had to help me challenge my fear is to tap into my wolf spirit. I feel that if I can tap into my wolf-like nature, the part of myself that is strong, fierce and totally unafraid, then I will be able to overcome my fear. I like this idea because I’ve always enjoyed wolves, and I like thinking of myself as part wolf. It’s as if I’ve found a way to protect myself from whatever criticism or ill will I might face during my daily interactions with other people – a way of dealing with other people’s negativity so that I don’t take it personally or get down on myself. As long as I am a wolf, I can growl, snarl, snap or even bite back if the need arises – figuratively speaking that is.

When I finished grad school and moved to Washington, DC to look for a job, my sister-in-law told me I needed to be “thick-skinned,” so as not to get discouraged by rejection from potential employers. I knew she was right, but I have never been that type of person. Now, I think my wolf spirit guide will help me.

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