By Morgana RavenTree
Holmes was acting out. He was running around like a maniac clawing at everything in sight, just being a little shit. I decided it was time to do more than just yell at him (which never does any good with a cat, anyway), so I figured it might be time to do a ritual for Bast, the Egyptian cat goddess. At the time, I was studying Egyptian magic. I set up a simple Egyptian altar with a representation of the Goddess and set up offerings of kibble and milk. I offered these to the Goddess and said Praises for Her. Suddenly, Holmes appeared in the bedroom doorway glaring at me, except he didn’t have the eyes of my beloved cat. No, his eyes glowed with an eerie light and I knew that he was manifesting the Goddess. He walked straight to the altar, stopping for a moment to look up at me. He then bent down and began to drink the milk. The thing is, Holmes never liked milk. He had never drunk it before, but I realized it had to be the Goddess who was consuming the milk through him. He drank all of the milk and then took some bites of the kibble, looking at me again and rubbing his cheek on my knee. He then turned around and walked out the door. After that, his behavior changed much for the better.
Several years earlier I went on a backpacking trip with the Sierra Club in the undeveloped backside of Catalina Island. It was summer, and I hadn’t brought a tent, because I like to look at the stars when I sleep outside. I woke up that night because I felt something touching my foot. I looked up over the edge of my sleeping bag and there at the foot of my sleeping bag stood a boar, one of the many that run wild on Catalina. She looked at me, I looked at her, and I felt an immediate connection to this animal. I didn’t feel any fear and we simply stared at each other for a while, before she made a little grunting noise, turned around and disappeared Into the night.
Not long after (this was in the 1980s), while I was living in an apartment building in Westwood, I heard the sound of a crow or raven cawing outside. This went on for several days and nights. I finally figured out that the bird was in a very tall tree growing outside my building. One night, the bird perched on the edge of my balcony. Again, we made eye contact and the bird “spoke” to me. It visited me for 3 nights, before disappearing. It was at this time I added “RavenTree” to my public magical name.
I do not believe that our Spirit Animals stay with us for our entire lifetime. In the 80s and early 90s my spirit animals were the boar and the raven but over time that seem to change. In the very late 90s and throughout the Aughts, I acquired a new spirit guide – the red panda. I first encountered her during a guided meditation. I saw a creature that looked very raccoon-like, but wasn’t a raccoon because its fur was red. I didn’t recognize the animal, but later I checked a book I had of all mammals of the word. I flipped through the book and found a picture of a Red Panda and knew that was my Spirit Animal. My Red Panda has guided me through my experience learning a new tradition, studying, teaching, setting up my own coven and continuing practice.
The fact she isn’t a flesh-and-blood animals is irrelevant. She continues to guide me. I encourage everyone to look back on your life and think about the animals, both “real” and “spirit” that have influenced your own life and growth on your pagan path.
Morgana RavenTree is the current President of Pagan Pride LA/OC and has practiced various magical paths over the past 38 years.