Home > motherhood, spirituality > Theological condundrum

Theological condundrum

I got a book on meditations for children the other day. Many people roll their eyes when I say this, but bugger them. Meditation has been used for millennia to help order the mind and I think it’s important for someone as …. well…. chaotic as I am to learn to order her mind. The Child has shown every propensity for my levels of chaos (though that could just be a factor of her being two!) so I figure starting her out early is good.

There aren’t any studies on this, but the studies on massage and yoga and other hippy dippy things have some really promising results.

Anyway, reading this book, the woman suggests that you describe to your child her very own guardian angel, allow her to imagine him wrapping her in his big soft white wings and make her feel safe and warm and protected as the opening part of the meditation.


I’m not a monotheist. My husband is a militant agnostic (He doesn’t know and neither do you, damnit!). Neither of us are into guardian angels — especially not big strong male angels with white fluffy wings. So that’s clearly out.

The Husband has some Native American not too far back in his genetic tree and I’m strongly animistic, so we thought that instead of giving her a guardian angel, we’d describe a totem animal. Having a special animal that you identify with and believe protects you is a tradition that spans almost every culture in the history of the world> What’s more, it is still pretty widely accepted today — how many people do you know who collect pictures and figurines and stuffed versions of their favorite animals, be they cats, dogs, wolves, penguins, elephants, whatnot?

But here we come to the sticking point — we’d be giving her a totem animal. Totems are deeply personal and highly influential. What if she turns out to need a bear (strength, centered-ness, power) and I give her a fox? Or a raven?

What’s more, different animals mean different things depending on which culture you adopt them from. Raven is a trickster in some mythologies, a creator god in others, a bird of wisdom in others, and a bird of death and war in others! Salmon is almost always hidden wisdom, but a fish for a spirit guide ain’t all that, you know?

I spend a lot of my time NOT projecting onto The Child. Making this decision for her seems like a huge imposition of my will on to her personality. She’s pretty damned verbal, but I’m not sure she’s cerebral enough to make this decision on her own, but I don’t want to wait too much longer to begin her on meditation.

Categories: motherhood, spirituality
  1. May 6, 2008 at 12:17 am

    People can have multiple power animals, one might have prominence, and a power animal may change over time. It might not be out of the question to seek a shaman to determine the animal rather than just selecting one at random or because it sounds good. The other option is to try and guide her to learn what it currently is on her own.

    You could also attempt to determine your family totem, which wouldn’t change and you could search for yourself and introduce to her.

  2. Westlin Wind
    May 6, 2008 at 12:30 am

    Why don’t you make a game out of it and trust the universe to guide her? Set up a bunch of stuffed animals or a selection of pices and ask her which she’d like to be her special friend?

    Personally, I’d go with her fondness for owls, but I have my own fondness for owls, so I’d be projecting…

  3. elcynae
    May 6, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    I’ve always used a big strong tree behind me. That doesn’t wrap so well though.

    What if you don’t tell her who it is? There’s someone behind you, big and warm and loving, wrapping around you in a big hug… That might not work, and it might get into verbal gymnastics, I’m not sure.

    Me, I couldn’t encourage an animal at all. It seems I have a big issue with reliance on other personalities, even if they are entirely constructs of one’s own mind. And I didn’t even know! 😉 I guess I’m lucky that mine very much lacks the chaos factor. I probably won’t try talking about meditation with her until after she can approach it in an abstract fashion.

    But for the record, I think this is an excellent response on your part, and I totally didn’t roll my eyes. 🙂

    Oh, and another thought is that you could pick an animal to be a child guide, and explain that this animal would help her until she was able to choose one. Because I don’t think it’s unlikely that she’d need something different now than later, just like she needs different things from her parents now than she will later.

    I shouldn’t respond to these things when I’m still half asleep. 😉

  4. aguane
    May 6, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    There are so many different types and forms of meditation. You aren’t limited by the one that you’ve found with a guardian angel / totem animal. I love the idea of the totem animal, but you might be better off starting with some relaxation exercises and mindfulness and then once she’s gotten used to the basics, introducing a totem guide (I love what elcynae said about picking a guide that will be with her until she is able to choose one). Also since she’s 2, I would recommend not expecting it to last longer than 5 or so minutes the first few times … I’ve had clients in their 20s that couldn’t meditate for 10 minutes at first.


    Also, for the record, I didn’t roll my eyes either. I use a variation of progressive muscle relaxation / guided meditation with my son when he can’t calm himself down on his own. He’s 5 now, but I’m sure I started it around 2.5 or so.

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