I’m just back from a five-day trip to Costa Rica, and what an otherworldly place it is. I met a talented reiki healer a few years back on a spiritual places of Ireland tour, and was happy to reacquaint for a visit to her healing arts studio for reiki training, the bonus of her expert massage skills, and a chance to see a part of the world I’ve been to.
After a 12-hour door-to-mountaintop-door trip from Maryland all the way up narrow, steep dirt roads, I finally arrived at the beautiful retreat setting and had a delicious meal prepared by my friend Karen. We caught up and upon turning in for the night, she assured me that my room had been cleared of scorpions and tarantulas. I laughed right up until I realized she wasn’t kidding.
Although glad I hadn’t forgotten sleeping pills, it seemed they’d be pretty useless since I’d never sleep again. I laid awake wondering what “clearing a room of scorpions and tarantulas” meant. I was sure her cleaning lady was a lovely local woman and very competent—the room was impeccable. But had she been in a hurry that day? Had a random scorpion or tarantula popped by after the clearing process? I resisted the urge to turn on my iPhone flashlight and search under the bed, behind the books on the shelves and inside the closet, the doors of which remained closed. She also explained that there was a meeting in the village the night before about a puma on the mountain killing local pets and livestock. A 10-foot boa constrictor had killed her farm’s baby lambs last year. This place is truly living in a real-life Jungle Book. I smiled thinking about the mouse at home we’d been trying to catch: our big home-invasion wildlife problem.
I told myself this was a rainforest, so I better just get a grip. Pura Vida, I whispered to myself, because it’s what everyone in Costa Rica says in a very cheerful way. It translates to “pure life” but had a looser translation to a “chill the fuck out” vibe, at least as chanted to myself in an impromptu zero-scorpion/tarantula meditation.
Since one of the elements of reiki is a theory that when animals cross your path they can bring a message, here’s a list of some of the beautiful and exotic creatures encountered on my trip, with the “animal spirit guide” interpretations of their meanings, which I was fascinated to look up upon my return, as I felt each creature held a special message on this incredible journey.
Monkey: (First wildlife encounter, seen swinging in the trees on the trip between the airport and the mountain).
Monkeys bring messages of intelligence, intensity, and problem-solving. They represent playfulness and entertainment which are good for the soul.
Dog: (Although I normally don’t like dogs, the local dog Annie became a pal while I laid in the hammock, reading reiki texts and writing).
The canine is a reminder to always be loyal and truthful to yourself and to make a point of being your own best friend. By having self respect and self-value you can love yourself first.
Roach: (Don’t Google “forest roach.” The one that climbed out of a Costa Rican toilet onto my naked ass was the size of a large mouse and immediately relieved me of my fear of scorpions and tarantulas).
The roach teaches you to develop high sense of adaptability necessary in order to develop heightened survival instinct. This creature is often able to survive from any attempt to end its life. They’re a symbol for long life, refreshment, rebirth and rejuvenation.
Sheep: (The mountain farm has two beautiful resident sheep, Rosa and Marguerita, both pregnant, and I loved being around their peaceful presence. When I tried to get a photo, they’d back away but when I turned to walk away they’d run toward me—a fun game resulting in some sneaky photos; some photos from my trip are above).
The sheep spirit animal has strong bonds to innocence. The presence of this power animal may express a longing to have more innocent, child-like qualities in our lives. The sheep can symbolize a desire to conform, to belong to a group or an environment; an alternative perspective sees the sheep as a representation of a part of you that does not want to follow the same path as the others.
Scorpion: (Day two: the much-feared scorpion makes an appearance outside my bedroom. My friend attempts to capture it with a glass jar but accidentally chops off its claw, expressing sadness. She gives me the claw as a souvenir. I make an effort not to think about the scorpion social event that the poisonous critter was in such a hurry to attend under my bed).
When a scorpion crosses your path, you are being asked to remove and cut out those things in your life that no longer serve you. Evaluate your surroundings with a critical eye to releasing old baggage, letting go of objects that are cluttering up your home, and purging the clinging energy of those that are co-dependent.
Lizard: (During reiki training the prettiest small lizard curled up on the ground beside me on the scenic porch overlooking the mountains).
Lizard is letting you know that it is time to take do an internal audit. Are you ruled by your ego or your heart? Ego is the master of deception and you often need to peel back many layers to find truth and discover what your heart is really telling you. This reptile reminds you not to be so caught up with day-to-day drudgery in life that you forget to dream.
Toucan: (Outside the reiki studio a group of birders was watching and photographing a particular bird. Although I could see him from a distance in the tree, they let me peek into their scopes and cameras for a better look at the beautiful Emerald Toucanet.)
This bird can help you believe in yourself that you have the capability to influence others with the sound of your voice. Although you have the ability to attract attention, you have a desire to be more confident and need to focus on your social life and being grateful.
Hummingbird: (At the local rainforest nature park I had the chance to see dozens of beautiful hummingbirds feeding.)
The hummingbird symbolizes the enjoyment of life and lightness of being, and an invitation to enjoy the sweetness of life, lift up negativity wherever it creeps in and express love more fully in daily endeavors.
Cow: (After a hike in the cloud rainforest we encountered a cow grazing on the side of the road with a rainbow behind him.)
New beginnings are an appropriate theme associated with cows in conjunction with their maternal auras. They signify patience, nourishment, abundance, feminine power and potential.
Crocodile: (We crossed a bridge under which reside dozens of crocodiles of every size. I took a video, focusing on not feeding them my iPhone, or, if I was extra klutzy on the bridge, myself.)
“The ancient one of the swamp” contains all the unbridled creative forces of the world and the fury and ferocity of primal energies. It is the keeper and protector of all knowledge. Know that this is the beginning of a new period of growth and regeneration. Give yourself time to integrate all of the changes you are making in your life.