How do we know things? By education? By reading? By thinking? Yes, but that is a limited picture.

We’ve all had the experi-ence of knowing, deeply and surely, that this was the house we were going to buy or that this is a person I definitely need to avoid.

            I recently read a book by E. S. Gallegos called, Animals of the Four Windows. It explores our ways of knowing. Gallegos maintains we have four ways of knowing: thinking, feeling (emotions, physical reactions in the body), sensing (through our five senses) and imaging.

Western society has all but restricted knowing to limited forms of thinking and sensing.  We actually train ourselves to tune out or disparage feeling and imagery.

The author says that he always felt called to help people. He pursued advanced degrees in psychology in an effort to under-stand the human condition and to learn how to make people whole.  One day while jogging, he had a vision of his chakra animals. 

(Chakras are generally described as energy centers, spinning wheels of energy, along the cen-tral line of the body from the groin to the top of the head.  They act as focal points to trans-mit and receive energy.)

Gallegos “saw” that each energy center had an associated animal.  Each window of know-ing also has an associated animal (often, these animals are the same as one’s chakra animals).  He invited the animals to meet with him — he called it “holding a counsel.” All animals were welcome.  All were encouraged by each other to speak. 

            Ever since that revelation, Gallegos has been using similar images in his professional prac-tice. (I say practicebecause Gallegos seems much more of a shaman than a shrink.) Inviting the animals to meet with you and with each other leads to integra-tion and to balance. He re-counted many instances where his patients experienced deep healing from such meetings.

In dreams and in real life hikes, I’ve run into bears — big, male, brown bears. I know that this is my power animal. Its lumbering strength (and implied threats — teeth, claws, muscles, growl) has gotten me through tough times.

In contrast, I think my grounding animal is a rickety, unsteady fawn. On a hike last spring, I saw just such a young female deer. “Oh, dear,” I thought, “that’s me.”  I guess I was secretly hoping to relate to a majestic bald eagle or a sleek gazelle gliding along effortlessly.

I am enjoying getting to know my spiritual animals.


KarenLousie (Mar. ‘12) adds, “Interestingly enough, Gallegos’ first book was called, The Personal Totem Pole: Animal Imagery, Chakras, and Psychotherapy.

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