GIFTS: Peacefulness. Agression. Thoughtfulness. Wisdom. Respect. Experience. Aging. Community, group. Defending the group. Hierarchy.
CHALLENGES: Giving unearned credence to age. Chewing too long on an idea rather than bringing it to fruition. Arrogance. Caring too much about status. Too much aggression.
The silverback gorilla is the wise elder of the group—leading and protecting the group from his deep store of experience. The lesson from spirit animal Gorilla is the wisdom that comes from age and experience. This does not mean that you are wiser than everyone younger than you and less wise than everyone older than you. No, Gorilla does not teach a blind submission to age. Rather, Gorilla teaches you to accept the power and the wisdom of your own experience, to find your place in the community, to be open to learning, and to step up to lead—all in its own time. This is a growing into wisdom, learning from your elders, and accepting the silver mantle at the right time.
Spirit Animal Gorilla’s leadership style is first and foremost gentle. Even male silverbacks let baby gorillas crawl all over them, pulling their hair, tugging on them to play. But that gentleness is balanced by right aggression. What I mean by “right aggression” is being fierce or intimidating when the situation calls for it. Like Bear, Gorilla is not aggressive unless actively threatened. Otherwise, Gorilla spends most of its time peacefully resting and eating with the other members of the group.
Gorilla’s thoughtfulness is literally the power of thinking, mulling things over, chewing on an idea. Gorillas spend hours every day chewing their food to facilitate digestion. The gift to you is giving yourself time to think about a problem before jumping into a solution.
Gorilla teaches leadership that is earned from experience and wisdom. In the physical world, gorillas raise their young to honor and respect elders, and they take care of elders as valuable members of the community. The silverback male leader of the group is known as such because he has experienced so much that his coat has started to turn silver.
Gorilla medicine can be difficult to work with since Gorilla reflects characteristics and behaviors that we may prefer to deny and ignore in ourselves. Gorilla mirrors our human foibles and our animal nobility, reminding us that we are One with all beings—neither above nor below any.