About ten years ago I took a short trip to see my friend Sean in Maine. While visiting the home of one of his family’s friends one night, we stayed overly long and found ourselves participating in a séance in which one of the women present channeled the spirit of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce tribe of Oregon. …Yep. What “Chief Joseph” had to say to me was this:
“Your spirit animal is the toad.”
I hadn’t really ever thought about having a spirit animal before, but a toad? Really? I mean, I like toads. They’re nice to hold, soft, warm, and dry, but I couldn’t really relate to a toad the way I could a kitten, say, or a velociraptor. After we got back, Sean and I spent some time on the internet researching the symbolism of our assigned spirit animals (Sean got a raccoon. Much more appropriate). A toad signifies transformation and rebirth, hidden treasure, inattentiveness, and the propensity to disguise poison. My sweet friend made the argument that the latter was not necessarily a bad characteristic. “It means that you can make bad things seem like good things. You know, like looking on the bright side…?” Maybe it would have been a better argument if it weren’t for my habit of frequently ending sentences with, “…but I guess it doesn’t really matter because we’re all going to die someday anyway.”
I still haven’t managed to make a connection between my spirit and the toad, probably for utter lack of trying. Maybe you’ll find your spirit animal here. I’m sure you don’t need to summon the spirit of a prominent Native American chief in order to find it. (I’m actually sure you can’t summon the spirit of a prominent Native American chief in order to find it.) Read on, and see if you meet your match.
The Carp: Determination, bravery, doggedness, prowess, manliness, perseverance. The carp’s ability to swim upstream (even up waterfalls!) has been an inspiration to students in Japan for ages. The salmon swims upstream too, but when it gets to where it’s going it spawns and gets eaten by a bear. When the carp crests the top of the waterfall it turns into a DRAGON! RAWR!
Beetle: The Egyptians believed that the beetle was a holy creature of the sun, as they viewed the way it toiled to push its ball of dung in front of it to be a parallel of the way the sun was “pushed” across the sky. You can also interpret the never-ending pushing of dung as the never-ending pushing of dung. If you have to deal with a lot of shit every day, this is the guy for you.
Cat: The cat is a magnificent creature. It is aloof and fuzzy. It goes in the box. It sleeps in sunbeams, on your stomach, and on the book you’re trying to read. It has expressive eyes and purrs. Sometimes it can scratch, but only when you deserve it. It is symbolic of rainy afternoons when you get to cuddle on the couch with grilled cheese and tomato soup and Harry Potter movies. It is the best animal. If you are the best kind of person, then the cat is your spirit animal.
Bunny: Rabbits are symbols of fertility, because they just. Never. Stop. Fucking. Hence, they are also symbols of playful sexuality. “Playful” because they’re also kind of dumb. Soft, fuzzy, quiet, horny little idiots. I know a few rabbits. They’re generally delightful.
Brontosaurus: The brontosaurus was the largest known land dinosaur until the discovery of the brachiosaurus, which is currently the largest known dinosaur. Here’s something interesting about the brachiosaurus: it was so large and had such a disproportionately small brain that it had a complicated nerve cluster at the base of its spine where it met the tail that acted as a second brain just to control its tail and back legs. That’s right. Its tiny, tiny brain was too far away from its hind legs to control them. It was so massively stupid that it laid eggs while it walked without bothering to stop. That’s not the brontosaurus, though. “Brontosaurus” is synonymous with “Apatosaurus”. In the scientific community, “Apatosaurus” is the correct name for the species and the use of “Brontosaurus” is discouraged. But the brontosaurus is beloved. Littlefoot, the protagonist in The land before Time, is a brontosaurus. Not an apatosaurus. Gertie the Dinosaur? Brontosaurus. The Sinclair Oil logo? Brontosaurus. The Brontosaurus has garnered enough popular love and media support that it doesn’t need to be the scientifically accurate name. And here’s something else: WordPress spell check is underlining “apatosaurus” in red as I write this. Brontosaurus is just fine. So if you’re not perfect and you’re not always right but you don’t care and everyone loves you anyway? You’re a brontosaurus.
Deer: A deer’s head is a symbol of what an excellent hunter you are.
Rocketship: The rocketship is sleek, fast, and efficient. If the rocketship is your spirit animal then you tend to run very hot and very cold and you have a hard exterior. Your tough shell protects your complicated insides, and you allow very few people inside. You tend to leave a lot of refuse in your wake, but it’s because you’re always moving ahead very fast. You’re ambitious. You reach for the stars.
Ghost Squid: The ghost squid, unlike its living brethren, lives in a perpetual state of terror, confusion, and astonishment. It remembers a little bit of its former life, with all the fish and the water and the bioluminescence and the bizarre mating habits, and it can’t let them go. Clinging to the past, it is unable get a grip on its new reality. It can’t fathom how it came into its new existence or why it shouldn’t be allowed to die. The ghost squid represents confusion, indecisiveness, and a lack of commitment. If you think the ghost squid might be your spirit animal, I’m sorry but I just don’t have time for you. Please don’t talk to me, or hoot, or whatever it is you’re doing with your mouth.
Sperm Whale: The sperm whale is the only known predator of the giant squid and colossal squid. This is because it is the only predatory animal that is both large enough to contend with a giant squid or colossal squid and also able to descend to the depths (9,800 feet!) that the giant squid and colossal squid inhabit. It is able to go this deep because it has a collapsible ribcage and because the spermaceti chamber in its head– a head that accounts for a full 1/3 of the whale’s body mass– acts like a decompression chamber. The spermaceti chamber is one of this whale’s most remarkable characteristics. The oily substance contained within it can fluctuate between a liquid and a solid depending on temperature and the whale’s buoyancy needs. The whale also uses the spermaceti in communication and hunting. The liquid is extremely resonant and helps the whale’s vocalizations travel for miles, allowing the whale to communicate with other whales across vast distances and to locate prey and other objects via echolocation, a radar-like system used by many aquatic animals for hunting and navigation. The whale emits a series of vocalizations and can tell where and how far away an animal or object is by the reflection of his sounds as they meet and bounce off of things. The clicking vocalizations of the sperm whale are the loudest sound produced by any animal on earth. Scientists have hypothesized that the whale may sometimes use short, extremely loud bursts of sound to stun nearby prey, then swim around at its leisure and gobble them up. The decibel level of these bursts is akin to standing five feet from a Lockheed-Martin F-22 Raptor as it goes by at top speed. The true top speed of an F-22 is actually unknown to the public. We do know that an F-22, among other fighter aircraft, can travel at supersonic speeds. That means it travels faster than the speed of sound. That means that it breaks the sound barrier. When it does this it creates a ridiculously loud “thunderclap” as the air it tore apart slams shut in its wake. Supersonic flight isn’t exactly new, the first supersonic aircraft was built in 1947, but it never stops being cool. The sperm whale has cone-shaped teeth on the lower jaw; the top jaw is lined with sockets to receive the teeth. It has the largest brain of any known animal both modern and extinct. Once hunted for their oil, blubber and ivory, sperm whales were once critically endangered but are now classified as “vulnerable”.
Flying Strawberry: The flying strawberry is a shy and elusive creature, but when raised in captivity they make excellent pets and are valued for their loyalty, affectionate natures, and beautiful contralto singing voices. Breeding them for pets is discouraged, however, as they are endangered in the wild and have an average lifespan of 120 years. Tragically, most domestic flying strawberries outlive their owners but, owing to their gentle and loving natures, die shortly after the death of their owner but long before their natural life expectancy has run its course. The flying strawberry is reputed to possess a most succulent, tender and delicate flesh but the capture or killing of the flying strawberry is strictly prohibited. Poaching remains a problem in certain areas where the flesh of the flying strawberry is believed to contain magical healing properties. If you are shy, affectionate, and just precious, the flying strawberry could be your spirit animal.
Baby cowboy squirrel: The baby cowboy squirrel is a deceptive creature. Be not seduced by his snuggly fur, bushy tail, bright eyes, cheerful demeanor, adorable hat, and diminutive stature. The baby cowboy squirrel is a killer. Look closely. That’s not a nut he’s nibbling, it’s a slurpee made out of HUMAN BLOOD. It’s a most fearsome predator in the guise of a harmless little nutkins. When you see him you just can’t help but want to pet him! Tickle him! Squeeze him, hold him, pet him, love him! Forever and ever and ever! Then you get close, you tenderly pick him up, you nuzzle your face into his soft belly and coo, and then he RIPS YOUR FACE OFF WITH RAZOR SHARP CLAWS! Before the curtain of blood covers your eyes, you see the last thing you ever will: the baby cowboy squirrel’s true visage, a mask of writhing hatred and suffering, his cracked lips peeling back from fetid gray fangs, his greedy wet snout burrowing into the soft flesh of your neck, breathing in the stink of your terror before he rips the life from your body. He symbolizes seduction, deception, and wanton cruelty. If you’re a dude in a band then you’re probably a baby cowboy squirrel.
Unless you’re Andrew W.K. Then you’re perfect.