GIFTS: Digging deep. Groundedness. Hibernation. Dreamtime. Altered states of consciousness.
CHALLENGES: Emerging from hibernation too soon or too late. Lack of vision. Difficulty being fully present in the now.
Spirit Animal Groundhog teaches you to listen to your dreams, to build your power through hibernation and to stay grounded. Groundhog is a symbol of dreamtime and altered states of consciousness. You can imagine groundhogs sleeping away during their winter hibernation, going in and out of dream after dream after dream. For you, this dreamtime represents deep imagination, creative intuition, journeying into different consciousness.
What is real, if it’s happening in my dreams, in my head, you may ask. “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real,” Dumbledore says to Harry in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
(By the way, I’m amazed to discover how many adults have not read or watched the Harry Potter books and/or movies. If that is you, or if you read/watched one of the first three books/movies and thought they were “just for kids,” please, I urge you to try again. If you reading my blog or book, and you enjoy working with spirit animals, you must enjoy archetypes and mythology. Harry Potter is full of them. And I reference the books and films often—because referring to pop culture can help a mainstream audience understand new and/or esoteric concepts more easily, but also because the books and films are simply very good. So, please, go read them. Go watch them. Go on. Seriously.)
Just like when you take a guided journey to meet your spirit animal, the fact that the meeting happens behind closed eyes does not make it any less real.
I am asked that question in every workshop I conduct and by almost every one of my students and clients. It is normal to doubt ourselves and our experiences when we have nothing physical touch, no photographic evidence to show others. I friend told me that she randomly met Bryan Ferry having brunch in a hotel. She went over to say “hello,” and he was very gracious. She asked if she could have a photo with him. He started to decline, but she insisted that no one would believe that she had met him if she didn’t have a photo to prove it. At that, he agreed to a quick photo.
As a side note, it is so interesting, in our modern world of technology and distrust of our fellow human beings, how we have come to rely more and more on physical proof of our experiences. Too many of us act as if, “If I have no proof of the experience, then it didn’t really happen.” Spirit animals urge us to accept them on faith and on our non-physical experience of them.
Groundhog teaches that your power comes from within you. There are many realities, and exploring more than “normal reality” gives you a groundedness and a strength that you cannot acquire from one-dimensional thinking.
Groundhog is telling you to spend some time digging in the dirt. If this jumps out at you as meaning physical dirt (maybe you garden and it’s time to be doing something in the garden before winter?), then it’s fine to read the message that way. For most people, the message is to dig in the metaphorical dirt—and not other people’s dirt! Your own dirt.
Groundhog is not giving you permission to dig up dirt on other people. This is not invitation to make yourself appear “better” by making other people appear worse. This is an invitation to know yourself better by looking at all parts of you, even the parts you don’t particularly like.
Think of Peter Gabriel’s song “Digging in the Dirt”:
Something in me, dark and sticky
All the time it’s getting strong
No way of dealing with this feeling
Can’t go on like this too long. . . .
Digging in the dirt
To find the places I got hurt
Open up the places I got hurt
It’s difficult and painful to look at the places we got hurt and to look at the feelings that came out of that hurt. Acknowledging and exploring your shadow is scary. You worry about what you might do if you acknowledge your shadow (become a Walter White?). You worry that you might be a “bad” person.
But look at Groundhog. He hasn’t turned into some raving fiend. He hasn’t lost his humanity (er, groundhogness?). You *can* go digging in your own dirt and, like Andy Dufresne in “The Shawshank Redemption,” “[crawl] through a river of shit and [come] out clean on the other side.”
Of course, I can’t write about Groundhog without mentioning the movie “Groundhog Day.” Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors must go digging into his shadow side in order to discover his true power and break the spell of living the same day on infinite loop. Before he taps into his true power, he first goes deeper into the shadow, gets bored, gives up, and finally accepts the truth of who he really is—the side of himself that he had hidden away from both himself and the world.
That’s the digging that Groundhog is teaching.