The Way of the Jaguar
Embracing death to live life fully
Jaguars live in the Southwestern United States, Mesoamerica and South America. I have lived in the United States and spent time in both Mexico and South America. I was always aware of the big cats in these parts of the world, among them the jaguar. I studied it, and it began to teach me.
The indigenous people consider the jaguars to be perfect stalkers and hunters. They move silently through the jungle, and with their keen sense of smell, hearing and sight, they know what goes on in the forest. They will stand motionless in the shadows, blending with the foilage, and observe you, while you are unaware of their presence. They study your habits, and soon they know you better than you know yourself.
The jaguar teaches self-awareness. It guides you to observe yourself, and to know your own patterns, behaviours, feelings, traits. Then you begin to get insights, and you understand things about yourself: why you feel and behave in certain ways. This understanding in turn gives you the power and freedom to let go of the old ways that don’t serve you anymore. This is the kill of the jaguar. The great spotted cat brings you the message: know yourself! The path through the jungle begins with awareness, and the jaguar is the master teacher.
The jaguar kills what it needs, and by keeping prey populations down, it keeps the forest in balance. The jaguar teaches us that death is part of life, and that we can be comfortable with death.
When not hunting, the jaguar finds a suitable branch in a large tree, and rests there for hours, watching the world below. In my own training I saw how jaguar medicine manifests in indigenous, traditional shamans, people who were trained to master their mind. They could sit for hours in silence, observing. They saw beyond the surface. They saw the great mystery manifest in all there is, trees, animals, clouds, grasses, insects, the wind. They became the big cat, and they could SEE. Hence the word from the Tungus people in Siberia: shaman – the one who sees/knows.
The secret to the jaguar’s ability to find inner peace and calm is that she is fearless. When there is no fear, including no fear of death, your heart can be at rest.
In Mexico amongst the Maya Indians the jaguar represents death in a specific sense: you must come to terms with your own mortality before you can live your life fully. When you embrace the fact that you will die one day, you can begin to live with appreciation for life.
The jaguar teaches us that when we live without fear, and find our own spirit, our essence, we may realise our own immortality, and so move beyond death. The jaguar shows us the path to knowing that our spirit doesn’t die.
One of the things indigenous people say about the jaguar is that it goes into the places where others don’t want to go. There are areas in the jungle that people and animals generally avoid. Such regions have an aura of unknown danger and can feel sinister, giving all creatures a sense that it’s best to go elsewhere. Not for the jaguar. Without hesitation she quietly steps into such places, explores them and gets to know their secrets. The jaguar crosses into the underworld and investigates the realm where others tend not to tread: the land of shadows, the realms of the subconscious.
Thus, the jaguar teaches you to face your fears, and to venture into those places that you hide even from yourself. This is where your power resides, and where your full potential can be awakened. This is where deep healing happens, in the undiscovered territory of the deepest layers of your soul. The roar of the jaguar in the darkness of night is the call from your soul to find your power, and return to your true self. Take the leap from the safety of the branch, and trust your journey into the mystery. Leave behind your opinions and beliefs, and step into the unknown where deeper truth can be found. The jaguar as your guide will teach you to live fearlessly.
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