From an everyday annoyance to meeting the Shadow Self
I love my cat, and sometimes I hate my cat. She is the cutest thing I have ever seen, but she also drives me up the walls. For the past couple of days Luna has been trespassing the only rule I have for her – not to jump on the kitchen counter. Even if on some logical level I understand that she is an animal and a kitten, therefore she merely looks for food and adventure, I still get angry at her and them immediately feel bad. She is also provoking some disgust in me, because even if she has one of her bowls full of food and another water-bowl fresh with cool water, when she jumps on the counter she usually falls behind it, in a space that is dirty, and then she starts nibbling on random bits of garbage. The counter is designed in such a way that I need to tear down the whole counter set in order to clean behind it; something which my landlord I’m sure would not appreciate – so I am left with the only option I have left, that of making Luna feel bad about getting on or behind the counter.
I don’t agree with corporal punishment, mostly due to my memories of experiencing it, so I had to get creative about disciplining her. Initially, I tried locking her for short periods in the bathroom, I tried spraying her with water, I tried playing with her until she is exhausted to distract her attention; but she still keeps doing it and eventually I got angry and the inevitable happened: I had to face my anger. It felt uncomfortable and sickening, mostly because I was taught from a young age that feelings are bad and should not be expressed, and especially anger as a girl is something taboo. But I am human and I get angry and I learned throughout time that there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling anger – the problem is what you choose to do with it.
Luna cannot help bypassing my training of her and I am trying not to project onto her the illusion that she is doing this behavior just to spite me/because she is spiteful and vindictive. She’s just a pet, and her intentions are pure (food and hunt), but my thoughts about her behaviour, especially when she is proverbially ‘bad’, portray something deeper about my own upbringing: how I was also guilt-tripped into thinking I was bad as an energetic and stubborn little girl. Needless to say, I am faced now with my own anger and my own reactions to it, which stirred up to the light of my consciousness the themes of control and obedience I experienced at the hands of my parents. So I became aware that the moments of anger I experience in relation to Luna, are parts of my Shadow Self, and our pet/pet owner relationship mirrors on some level the parent/child relationship within my own Psyche that is now asking to be seen and healed.
The Astrological Analysis
You see, this all fits so well astrologically. I am having Uranus (the energy of spontaneous awareness) travelling through that part of my astrological chart that deals with Love and the Shadow Self (the 7th house, ruled by balanced Libra). Not only that but my North Node (the uncomfortable process of learning something new in this lifetime) is in my 6th house (the seat of everyday administration, health and wellbeing, open enemies & pets, traditionally ruled by efficient Virgo) in Aries (ruled by Mars and dealing with aggression), and natally conjunct Jupiter (the energy of growth and abundance, of pets and the natural world). At the moment my North Node conjunct Jupiter has been for 6 months activated by rambunctious Mars, so I’ve been on a steep learning curve ever since Luna entered my life in the middle of this transit. The transit in about to end (just 4 more days left) and the lesson is emerging: Anger management 🙂
All this astro-speak means that it was fated for me to welcome Luna in my life (Jupiter) and that through relating with her I am faced with parts of my Shadow Self (7th house) such as repressed anger-issues (Aries) during the everyday task of organizing ourselves (6th house). Since I am also a Venus in Aquarius, it is my path in life to reach a higher awareness by relating with sentient beings of many different kinds (from pets, to Spirits, to human beings, both old and young, and of many different cultures, genders and races). So what a therapist might have taken months to make me become aware of, made instant sense to me when I resorted to astrology and took a deeper dive into the meaning of the current astrological transits – this is why I enjoy reading astrology so much, it just makes intuitive sense!
Luna arrived in my life during the autumn equinox in September of 2020. Her appearance in my life, ignited a massive healing process. At the beginning of our relationship, she was so frightened of everything and I also felt alone and tired. For 3 days I held her on my body, like a baby in a baby-sling and fed her intermitently with a spoon as I was writing birth-charts and occasionaly crying at how perfect she was. Then came the process of giving her the necessary medical check-ups and visiting vets, events which made me revisit old patterns of love, discipline and medical care from my own childhood. Memories re-emerged as projections in my relationship to my pet and sometimes they floored me with their emotional intensity. When she was discovered, Luna was a 4 months-old stray cat, found in the building of one of my friends. She was tiny, dirty and malnourished but highly affectionate and communicative. My friend took her in, fed her, washed her and took cute photos of her which she then uploaded on Instagram in the hope that someone might adopt her (she couldn’t keep Luna since she already owned 3 cats).
It’s just so happened that I woke up one day from a nap and the first online thing I saw was Luna’s melancholic face and I instantly messaged my friend about adopting her (Aries North Node-style). What was a pretty important decision, came to me quickly and easily, as most karmic things in life. Karmic relationships always carry with them a sense of instant recognition and familiarity and they develop into relationships of responsibility. The soft start of the relationship is usually followed by the necessary effort to balance an equal give-and-take, to keep the relationship healthy and working.
It’s been 4 months now, and while I briefly visited my estranged parents’ house on Christmas Day, it struck me that people speak through their pets. My parents also own a cat, who is often sick. I noticed that often family members are better able to show their feelings to their pets rather than to their significant others. It’s funny as well how the old saying goes that some people end up resembling their pets and vice versa. So on some level my cat’s disobedient and stubborn nature reflects my own disobedient and stubborn nature – we’re two peas in a pod. And by loving and accepting my cat for who she is, I also practice a deeper sense of self-love (I love and accept the misunderstood child I was). And it logically follows then, that by reacting to her differently than how my own parents’ have treated me in childhood, I can now empower myself and heal my memories of abuse, in the hope I can make my cat happier than I was, while growing up.
I’m also learning that pets heal toxic family patterns by simply existing within them. In this way, any built up resentment in a family can be transmuted through cuddly words for the pet. Family members can say to their pets what they can’t say facing each other. The pet becomes the receiver of the family’s unacknowledged pain, now transformed into manageable cuteness. Sometimes pets also suffer at the hands of their owners’ incomplete and unacknowledged patterns of pain and suffering, such as when you see reports of tortured pets on the evening news. An abused person who remains unconscious will abuse a pet, while abused owners who work on their own healing, might feel the impulse but catch themselves mid-act; they re-coordinate the thought and understand that you don’t need to act on the pain, that reactions can be controlled. People can and do change, we just need some courage and determination.
Anger as a Signal for Inner Growth
It’s ultimately an act of power and vulnerability how we choose to react to situations: whether we give in to our lower impulses, or rather we allow reflections and insights to mediate our behavior on bad days (this to me is the Heaven and Hell dynamic, metaphorically present in religious texts). Ultimately, everything happens for our growth, so I am seeing how Luna is helping trigger my anger so I learn to face it and cope with it. In this way, I become a complete person, no longer allowing anger to work in my relationships in unconscious ways, but allowing it to rise up and then finding creative ways of dealing with it. Anger is taboo in the spiritual community of which I am part of, but I believe it’s dangerous to repress feelings – it’s braver still to face our feelings and then figure out how we can flow with them and extract wisdom from them (we have them for a siginificant reason, after all).
One strategy of handling anger is cooling off by placing both my cat and myself in separate rooms for a while or I’m usually leaving to take a walk. Another is making fun of the situation, not taking myself nor the cat too seriously: “Shit just happens. It’s a bad day. So relax – tomorrow will be better”. In this way, I learn to not make a big deal about anger, and to take it all in my stride, the moments of love and harmony and those of anger, the melancholic sadness of some days (such as when one of us is sick) and the joy at being together (when we are playing). We argue and we then get along. In this way I am learning to kill the idea that nurturing and caring should be ‘angelic’ and ‘perfect’, and in turn I’m realizing that nurturing is an intense and real process, like most memorable things in life and I want to be emotionally plugged in to it, rather than sedated and detached from it. I believe your mental closet should be light and aired on a constant basis, rather than filled with cobwebs and skeletons, due to year of repression.
I feel that Luna is preparing me for parenting, and I’ve witnessed a lot of my coupled-up friends get pets to see if they can keep them alive and happy. After a while of successful relating to the pet, they usually get pregnant. So pets are these ‘buffers’ between how we remember being nurtured by our own parents, and how we consciously work at developing a healthier and happier nurturing pattern of our own, as carers. The harder the childhood, the more effort it takes to be aware of your own nurturing pattern. But we are not victims, rather we can be grateful that we have things such as astrology and psychology and You Tubers who love cats, to give us the tools to increase our own awareness.
Patterns can be healed and changed, and even if our own parents mistreated us and wired us incorrectly, on some level they did the best they could. We can also ‘prune’ those neural pathways and re-learn how to love and care in a healthy and complete way. The brain has a degree of plasticity and our hearts as well can shut down but also open up. It takes effort but it’s worth it. At the end of the day, you get a creature that loves you unconditionally and also helps you grow into a more authentic and healed version of yourself. Someone who loves to nap with you and to randomly lick your face 🙂 And I guess that’s worth all of the crazy kitchen-counter meows.
The spiritual meaning of pets
For those of you that own different pets, I thought it would be interesting to share some of the reflections found in Collette Baron-Reid’s Oracle deck the ‘Animal Spirit Oracle’, on the spiritual significance of pets (I’m focusing mostly on apartment-friendly pets since these are the most common):
Cat Spirit: When Cat Spirit meows, she is calling you to claim your independence and allow for some space between you and others in your life. The only way you can grow in all your relationships now is to have a healthy sense of self-respect and self-worth. When you walk with dignity, knowing who you are, self-aware and willing to grow, trusting the value your bring, the world will mirror all this back to you in kind. When you say no to co-dependency and enmeshment, live and let live, and practice taking risks as you wander into new territory for you, the Cat Spirit rejoices. She is here to urge you to let your independent spirit roam free.
Dog Spirit: The Dog Spirit appears to remind you that although change is part of life and all of us are meant to evolve, our love and commitments are strong. You are loved now and can trust that this higher love is true. Spirit loves you, and love has arrived in many forms now, manifesting in the people you surround yourself with, expressed uniquely through them. Dog Spirit also says be true to that which you love for now is a time of good fortune. Be steady as you recognize that people and things are always transforming. Your heart is loving and true, and Dog Spirit wants you to know that your steadfast commitment to experiencing and expressing love will attract and manifest more love. You deserve all of it. Have faith in Spirit’s plan for you.
Parrot Spirit: What are you saying to yourself? What message are your repeating? Is it something that makes you feel good about yourself and reminds you of your strengths and potential? Parrots mimic the sounds around them, and when Parrot Spirit appears, it is time to be more mindful of your self-talk and its qualities. What do you say to others? Are you repeating what you truly believe? Remembering to speak with light and love can become a habit. Be generous with compliments and thanks, affirming all that is good so that your loving, healing words would be heard throughout the jungle, cutting through the noise and inspiring others. Listen for the words that remind you of all the strengths, abundance and joy in your life and in the world around you, and then repeat them, affirming what is real, true and nurturing to the soul. The universe will reflect back to you the story you tell.
Mouse Spirit: The humble mouse pays attention to the smallest details, and Mouse Spirit calls on you to notice the nuances and the fine print at this time. In your eagerness to meet your goals and pursue your dreams, it is easy to forget the importance of clear communication and tending to the little things, including people’s subtle signs that they are unhappy as well as the small voice inside of you that says “This doesn’t feel right”. Take your time to sniff out what you need to know. Is there some detail or nuance about how you engage others and operate in the world that is key to your success but you’ve too readily dismissed as nothing big or nothing special? Mouse Spirit reminds you that what seems small may be more important and powerful than what you think so look again. You can co-create something amazing when you pay attention to the details!
(Koi) Fish Spirit: Outer conditions will come to reflect your inner prosperity, so begin to become the self who is comfortable with wealth in all forms. Even if at the moment it feels as if riches are not yours, they soon will be. Start to envision the plenty that Spirit wants you to experience, knowing that the moment you begin to commit to conscious and deliberate co-creating, Spirit will joyfully start bringing you what you need. You have so much to offer and so much of value to express to the world. In your little pond there is much you can create and much you can attract. Do not underestimate what you have and who you are, for the Fish Spirit wants you to know that you are exquisite, loved and deeply cherished. Trust that outer conditions are changing to reflect that truth.
Rabbit Spirit: A sunny meadow calls and Rabbit Spirit appears to lead you out of your dark warren and into the light so that you can participate in a fertile and beautiful experience. It may seem safe below ground but the magic happens when you come out and take the risk of being vulnerable and co-creating something new. You are being invited into a new life that you have no experience with. But have no fear! Today is also a time to be fruitful and productive as you enjoy Rabbit Spirit’s sunny and prolific energy. At this time, whatever you intend to bring to life will find fertile ground. There are no mistakes really when you are co-creating with Spirit, so let new ideas emerge to the surface, knowing that now is a luck time of tremendous possibility.
With universal love,