These popular cards have been the mainstay of people looking for Animal Teachers for over ten years. Jamie Sams and David Carson present New Age shamanistic teachings of North American animals with stories, poems, and advice. Because of the authors’ presentation and writing style, many readers have taken their teachings to be from Native American traditions. Since many Native American nations have their own particular traditions, to distill all those teachings into one is quite difficult. For example, according Jamie Sams and David Carson, Coyote is the trickster. However for several Indian peoples, Raven and Rabbit are tricksters as well.
The cards are lovely to look at. They reflect the animal in a characteristic pose, doing a typical activity. The animals are drawn as if they were shield emblems. Hanging from the shields are feathers, shells, rocks, and other fetishes. (The book does not explain which ones goes with what animal and why.)
A sample card is Hummingbird drinking nectar from a flower. Medicine Cards has a poem to explain the picture’s meaning. “Hummingbird...Joyful little sister, Nectar you crave!” To find out what Hummingbird’s teachings are, the reader need to look them up in the book. Hummingbird’s primary teaching is “Joy”. Also, “the song of Hummingbird awakens the medicine flowers. Hummer sings a vibration of pure joy.” Presented with each animal’s teachings is the “contrary” or upside down card. (A concept the authors derived from Tarot readings-–an upside down card has the opposite meaning.)
Fifty-two animals are discussed, with Ant, Butterfly, Dragonfly and Spider representing the Crawling Ones. Salmon is the only Finned and Water One. “Frog”, “Lizard”, “Snake”, and “Turtle” stand in for the Cold-Blooded Ones. (However, they do have Alligator's teaching.) If you want a more complete teaching of various Cold-Blooded Ones, this is not the book for you.
(For further explanation of Animal Card Systems, go to A Brief Note on Tarot and Animal Cards.)
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