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P>Have you ever noticed that sometimes people seem to posses animal characteristics? We even
use animals to describe ourselves. "He roared like a lion," "she was certainly a shrew," or "kids, you sound like a herd of buffalo running through the house!" How often as children (and, admit it, as adults) have you wished you could be a different animal? In medicine path, we learn that all things are connected; all related. It is no mistake that we have these "yearnings;" these wishes to be able to do as the animals do.In essence, we are the same. And we do borrow their characteristics as we walk through the physical world. There are times when we must use the
sight of eagle, or the wisdom of owl or the bravery of lion in our dealings. By doing this, we are basically shapeshifting. We are melding our minds and spirits with those of the animals we imitate. Here is an exercise that will help you to shift the imagination so that for all intents and
purposes, you become the shape.



To be a good shapeshifter, you must master the art of observation. It is impossible to shapeshift into an animal's body, even in the mind, if you do not know how the body works. If you live in an area where you can observe animals in their natural habitat, you can start the process of learning to imitate them. Go to the zoo, or a nearby park or forest. Observe how the animal moves. The way it moves its ears. Watch the muscles flex as it walks. Observe the pattern of the wings moving. Take notes. Mimic the movements and sounds. Read up on the animals and learn their ways. Begin to think yourself in the part of the animal. Think how it is to be the animal.



1. Create the sacred space by dancing clockwise in a circle. This circle is made to allow you to experience the energies surrounding you.

2. After you have established the circle, begin to spiral slowly into the center. This will be the
point where the animal forces can be met.

3. Once you have reached the center, pause, and feel the sense of unformed energy around you.
This is the energy of the animal spirit. You should begin to make your movements and postures
that you have associated with your animal. As you do this, feel the energy of the animal becoming stronger within you and all around you.

4. Sit in the center of the circle. In your mind's eye, build the image of your animal. You shouldbe able to see it growing and taking form over the area of your solar plexus.

5. Once you are able to imagine the animal fully in front of you, allow it to enter. Visualize it
being absorbed into your body through the solar plexus region. Allow the full essence of the
animal to enter.

6. Starting at the feet or hands, feel them begin to change. See claws or talons or paws forming. Fur, scales or feathers where there was once skin. Let this change move slowly up your body. The last area should be the head. You do this to allow yourself control over the change. It is
important that you follow this step.

7. Visualize a door forming for you. Engraved on the door is the image of the animal you are
becoming. This is the door to the inner world; the shamanic state of consciousness. Since it is
easier to maintain the form on the inner levels of reality than the outer, see the door open and
pass through it as the animal.

8. Your first experiences will likely be taking place in the imagination, but as you become more experienced, it will become alive for you. It will feel like a very vivid dream. You will not just be observing yourself doing this, you will be experiencing it. You are now the animal. You may wish to explore its world. Use your animal form to travel to the inner levels of reality.



9. After a time, you should imagine yourself coming back through the door. It closes solidly
behind you. Allow the change to reverse, starting with the head. You should not be in a hurry to make the change back. The fur/feathers/scales become skin. Feel the form of the animal body
changing back to your own.

10. Once you have changed form back to yourself, allow the image of the animal to fully
withdraw, again, through the solar plexus region. See it completely outside of you.

11. Now let its image slowly dissipate until it becomes the unformed energy in the middle of
your circle. Open your eyes. Stand.

12. Now you must honor the spirit of the animal for allowing it to join with you. Perform some of the animal's moves. After you have honored your animal, reverse your dance circle, moving
counter-clockwise. Spiral out to the edge of the circle. Use the same number of revolutions as
you did when entering the circle. Finally, dissipate the sacred space, and feel yourself grounded and balanced. Massage your shoulders and limbs. Breathe deeply to cleanse the system.



If it feels like your mind is changed or scattered after a day or two, stop the activity. If you see,or others see changes in your demeanor, stop these activities immediately. Be flexible in this
exercise. Adapt and experiment. For it to become truly magical, you need to apply your own
creativity. ALWAYS USE THE DOOR. If you should become temporarily lost in the
transformation, you have already trained your mind to use the door to trigger the reversal.