Beginner's Guide to Animal Magic

A Beginner’s Guide to Working with Animal Magic

How do you work with animal magic? This is a question I recently asked myself. The first step, for me, was connecting with animal spirits.  This is the story of the spirit of an animal appearing before me and how I figured out the message she wanted to share with me. If you’re like me and relatively new to the spiritual gifts of animals, scroll down further where I include a few suggestions on how to start working with animal magic.

Animal Spirits

I never gave much thought to the spirit of animals. I knew animals had spirits but growing up on a farm where animals were utilitarian and being raised in a religion that perceived animals as soulless and less important, my past conditioning prevented me from being spiritually open enough to connect with the spirits of animals in deep or meaningful ways.

I was emotionally connected to animals but not necessarily spiritually connected to them. It broke my heart to watch them die or suffer. I could feel the pain animals endure. I could love them and be loved by them but I wasn’t really open to connecting to them in a spiritual way. Yes, there are a couple significant moments sprinkled in my past where I felt the magic of animals but mostly, the closest I felt to them spiritually was when I used my animal themed oracle cards and this, for me, is a pretty shallow connection.

Recently I was visited by the spirit of an animal in such a way that my brain could not deny the fact that, yes, indeed, animals do have spirits and yes, these spirits want to help.

Beginner's Guide to Animal Magic

The visit happened one day as I was working on my computer. I had just finished giving a client an online Intuitive Therapy session. I was about to turn my camera off when I caught a glimpse of my eyes. They spooked me because I couldn’t see my eyes. Instead, I saw big cat eyes. I looked deeper into the eyes and everything else in my field of vision started to look as if it was being covered by a heavy fog. I could no longer see the room in my peripheral vision. I was locked onto those fierce cat eyes when all of a sudden my face disappeared and I saw the face of a spotted jaguar. I actually didn’t know what jaguars look like. I just heard the word “Jaguar” in my mind in the same moment I saw the face appear.

The jaguar’s spirit face disappeared as quickly as it had appeared and I was left feeling like one does when they realize they just experienced magic; grateful but a little unsettled.

I knew there was a message I was supposed to receive with the visit but I didn’t know what it was.

I live in southern Alberta, Canada. I have obviously never had a personal experience with a jaguar, nor do I have any real knowledge about the animal. For this reason, the first thing I did was look up the spiritual meaning other people have given to the animal and waited to feel a resonance with the words. I was waiting for that feeling I get when I know I’m on the right track. In the book “Medicine Cards” by Jamie Sams and David Carson, the following words struck a chord:

Since the death of Skygod, the god-like being who had come from the stars and led the Maya to prosperity and a golden era of spiritual understanding, his teachings of love, integrity, impeccability, and the power of a compassionate heart had been perverted. The distortion of her Jaguar teachings had degenerated to where the priests were sacrificing human beings, foolishly cutting out the victims’ hearts to reclaim the power of the golden days of the empire. 

Beginner's Guide to Animal Magic

Jaguar teachings? What could those be.

I wanted to know more but as a white woman of European descent I felt I wanted to develop a clearer picture of how white colonialism affected the Mayans before I researched their spiritual beliefs. I opted for a history lesson by John Leguizamo in his performance of “Latin History for Morons” on Netflix. The first time I watched it I was brought to tears. It is one of the best performances I’ve ever seen, so well-crafted, expertly thought-out and presented. A deeply moving personal story intertwined with 3000 years of Latin history.

I learned a few things.

  1. People of white European descent were responsible for wiping out 95% of the indigenous people in the Americas. Before Europeans arrived, the continent started with around 73 million people. Latin and Indigenous civilizations were these beautiful thriving cultures that European colonizers judged to be savage and worthless. Complete civilizations were wiped out to extinction. The crack their death sounded across the Universe can still be heard. Listen for it.
  2. There are still way too many white people who carry untrue ideas and destructive judgments about the people whose land and cultures they ‘conquered’ and these thoughts and beliefs are just as destructive, dangerous and false as they were the day Columbus set foot on Caribbean soil. 3000 years into the future and white colonial thinking continues to kill.
  3. Anti-immigration policies foster fear and are founded on white colonial thinking. Everyone who inhabited this land before Europeans came to claim it, including the Cherokee, Apache, Navajo, Aztec, Inca, Taino and Mayans, were, in John Leguizamo’s words, “a vast network of tribes that co-mingled, co-habitated and freely migrated north, south and central; Caribbean, Mexican and Indians…are all the same blood.” They are all so interconnected his modern DNA test could describe him only as “Native American”.

Beginner's Guide to Animal Magic

After going on the historic and emotional roller-coaster ride with John Leguizamo, I felt a little more prepared to look deeper into the message the Jaguar spirit wanted to share with me. I used the internet for the rest of my research. I knew I had to keep searching until something clicked. It felt like one of those quests where I would just know when it was time to stop searching even though I had no idea what exactly I was looking for.

I landed on a National Geographic article by Chip Brown called Inside the Hidden World of Jaguars. I learned that the Jaguar was sacred to most of the Latin cultures – the Incas, Mayan and Aztecs all built temples to the Jaguar. They placed Jaguar imagery on pots, thrones, temples, handles, spoons and shawls.

I learned the Mayan word balam means both Jaguar and priest or sorcerer.

I learned their bite is so strong it can instantly kill as the bite sinks into the skull and punctures the brain. I actually found this fact fascinating because although it sounds fierce, it also seems kind…a relatively clean and quick death in the world of predator and prey.

I learned Latin medicine people believe Jaguar spirits work to protect the forests and waters.

I learned deforestation and poaching threatens present day Jaguar populations.

I learned a lot of super interesting facts but I knew I still hadn’t received the message the Jaguar spirit that visited me wanted to share with me.

I kept reading.

At the end of the article was a story of a healer’s apprentice who had a dream where he saw the bones of a Jaguar skeleton lying by the side of the river. The bones were perfectly laid out from head to paw. The healer and his apprentice both took the dream to mean the spirit of Jaguar was communicating with them that Jaguar spirit can no longer protect the forest. Chip Brown closes his article with explaining how it’s now up to the healer and conservationists everywhere to tap into the Jaguar’s power and grace to keep the forests alive.


That was it.

That was my message; we must become like the Jaguar spirit and fiercely protect the forests and waters.

I don’t know yet how I’m going to do this but I know what my first step is; to deepen my connection with nature. I will be walking towards my learning with the spirit of Jaguar as my teacher.

In celebration of this animal magic and in hopes that you embark on your own journey to connect more deeply with nature and the spirits of animals, I outline below a few tips to help you start working with animal magic. I’ve also created a few hand-drawn journal pages to help you document your experiences. You can scroll past the tips to learn how to access those.

Tip #1: Release Past Conditioning and Beliefs Blocking You From Connecting to Animal Spirits

I know part of what allowed the visit from Jaguar spirit to happen is my commitment to clear past conditioning and subconscious beliefs I held around nature and humanity’s relationship to it. Some of the beliefs and/or conditioning you may want to check in and see if you still hold include the belief that:

  • …humans are superior to animals
  • …animals are here to serve humans
  • …animals are without souls or spirits
  • …humans are at the top of some evolution pyramid.
  • …the natural world is disconnected from us.
  • …the natural world is inferior to the spiritual world.
  • …the main purpose of the spiritual world is to supply our human needs.

Beliefs and/or conditioning you may want to adopt or strengthen include the beliefs that:

  • …animals can communicate with humans.
  • …animals have spirits and/or souls.
  • …animal spirits are as important and precious as human spirits.
  • …animal spirits can communicate with me.
  • …animal spirits want to support, teach and guide me.
  • …I have the ability to connect with animal spirits.
  • …learning more about their physical attributes and behaviors and acquiring knowledge about them helps me to understand the guidance, messages or support their spirits want to share with me.
  • …approaching nature with reverence, gratitude and respect helps me connect with the spiritual wisdom of animals.
  • …an emotional and spiritual connection with nature is possible (and critical to our well-being as a species, in my opinion).

Tip #2: Explore Your Childhood Relationship with Animals

There’s a lot of spiritual wisdom you can access from your inner child and her relationship with animals. Journal or reflect on the following questions.

Which animals played a role in your childhood?

Which animals were you fascinated with as a child?

Which animals were part of your family?

How did you feel about how animals were treated in your family or community?

Which animals scared you?

Which animals comforted you?

Tip #3 Witness Their Suffering

There are so many animals suffering because of climate change and other destructive challenges. Research and become familiar with the species that are struggling near where you live and learn what the cause of their struggles are.

Tip #4 Express Gratitude to the Spirits of Animals by Making an Offering

Learn what the animals living around you need and make offerings of food or drink to them, if appropriate.

Grow plants you know that animals living around you enjoy.

Allow native plants to grow in your yard.

Pray, meditate or send healing energy to a struggling species.

Stand up for and protect their natural territories or support people and organizations who do.

Donate to organizations that support wildlife.

Hand-Drawn Animal Magic Journal Pages

In celebration of the Jaguar spirit that visited me, I created a few journal pages for you to enjoy.

If you resonate with the message  Jaguar shared with me about humans stepping up to protect the forest and waters, you may want to print the drawing I made of a Jaguar, color it then hang it somewhere as a reminder.

I also created a page where you can draw an animal whose spirit you would like to connect to. You can color the background, add your own patterns to the leaves and draw your animal then place the page on your altar. You might want to regularly leave offerings to the spirit of your animal to strengthen your connection.

For a limited time, these pages are available by joining my mailing list. To access them, all you have to do is visit my home page and enter your email address. When you do, you will be emailed directions on how to download my hand-drawn Animal Magic journal pages. You will also be added to my online community where I will continue to send you free journal pages every month to help you harness the magic of nature and the moon.

If you do complete the journal pages or share photos of them or perform the activity with a group, please respect the work of this artist and creator by mentioning the source and/or providing a link back to this original post. Also, if you end up completing the journal pages, I’d love to see what you created. You can even post the finished piece on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #danasartrituals or email me at and share with me how it went for you.

with love,

Dana da Ponte




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Beginner's guide to animal magic

Beginner's Guide to Animal Magic

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This is a space where art and spirit come together. On the blog, I share art rituals for working with the magic of the moon. I also work with the subconscious mind to lighten your emotional load and follow your creative dreams.


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