THE ANIMAL WORK – The Personal Totem Pole Proces, – P.T.P.P.:
How I got there and why I stayed with it.
From Ida Waage Nielsen, cand. psych., Psychologist with private practice in Vejle, Denmark.
A contribution to Steven Gallegos’ 80.th birthday 15.th of March 2014.
As a psychologist graduating in 1984 I had been exploring various schools of psycology and their methods in clinical work. So, I had lots of inspiration for my work and certainly also for my personal growth. Different aspects of Women´s Lib, yoga, biofeedback, meditation, cognitive therapy, existential therapy, dream analysis and art therapy, cybernetic psychology and more. I would not like to have missed any of it, and happily make use of whatever I find meaningful and useful in the various contexts and processes.
Somewhere in the 90-ties my curiosity expanded from deep relaxation to guided imagery and further on to the field of hypnosis.
Certainly I was inspired by and learnt a lot from plenty of clever teachers of clinical hypnosis work – no one mentioned, no one forgotten. And, presumably, I used some of it in my daily work.
BUT, THEN, one day in the beginning of 2002, I attended a workshop: Meeting The Animals of Your Emotions – Deep Imagery Work. The organizor was Kaare Claudewich, chairman of The Psychologist´s Society of Clinical Hypnosis in Denmark.
So I met this guy, The Professor, with the warmth, the insight and the catching laughter, with aliveness, gentleness, power and wisdom, and I immediately got hooked as he unfolded this method of his, explorative and healing, powerful and somehow elegant in its simplicity. This Man and This Method, – WOW!
In Gratefulness to Steve, E. S. Gallegos, the challenges and inspirations you have given to me over the years, enriching my personal life and my daily clinical work as a psychologist, I would like to share a few Stories.
Here comes the first Story – or sequence of Stories – that I would like to share:
Several times over the years I have been guided to meet the animals of my chakras. Some of the chakra animals have stayed the same over time, but for instance the anmal of my solar plexus have changed several times.
The very first time that I journeyed with that focus, I did not really meet an animal at all. It was impossible to “see” an animal, I only had a vague sense of a some small, dark shadow. Later on it turned out to be a kitten, small and black. A few years later it was a full grown cat. Fine. But that was not the end! Next time – to my great surprise – the animal I met was a black panther! Living its panther-life with energy and quiet awareness. Panther being powerful and strong, and very often lying on the branches of its favourite tree. I found out it had a cub, and in some of my Journeys it was my task to play with the cub and take care of it.
Last year I found that the old panther had died, and she was buried under her favourite tree. And what was alive? The cub that had developed into an energetic male teenager-panther was very much alive!
– Curious as to what might happen next? I certainly am.
The second sequence of Stories that I would like to share is from my professional work, what I think of as my real beginning as Guide. (I do have the permission of the client to share this Story).
Over a periode of several years I had the privelege of being the deep imagery guide for a woman, deeply wounded physically and emotionally. The Deep Imagery Work seemed to fascilitate the turningpoint in her recovery, and made a great impression on me.
– She had tried several other kinds of treatment, and after she had contacted me I had used my “normal” skills, – and she was still suffering, frustrated and most of all: hopeless. She asked me: “Haven´t you got some other way that we can try . . . ?”
I took a deep breath and made my decision. Yes. Let us try Animal Work.
Soon after I guided her to focus deep inside of her self, and ask if there was an animal there that would come and meet with her?
She met a giraffe. It was lying in a dessert. It was so sick and so weak that it could not stand on its legs. Its legs were actually deteriorating and drying out in the scorching heat of the sun. I encouraged her to communicate with the giraffe. To ask it what it wanted to show her and also what it needed from her.
It was a challenge to stay with this suffering, to witness, and accept the desperate hopelessness and atmosphere and sense of being completely stuck. For both of us, client and psychologist. And we stayed with it. – And then my client tells that something is happening, it is difficult really to make out what it is. But it turns out to be a long,long row of humid jelly-fish, marching from the ocean far away, – coming nearer, – and then laying down on the wounded legs of the giraffe, giving humidity and cover. An army of ants turned up, too, with an energetic general leading the troops, ordering the numerous ants “to invade” the space under the legs of the giraffe and to keep moving. In this way the giraffe got a softer surface to lie on and a surface that supported bloodcirculation and helped the wounds to heal. The third animal turning up was rather scaring at first sight: a huge rhinoceros running at full speed! My client reported great fear, that the rhinoceros would be too powerfull and violent and might create even greater damage and pain for the suffering giraffe. . . When it came closer the big animal slowed down and my client saw that the animal was carrying a huge bucket of water hanging over its horn. The water was then gently poured out over the giraffe to moisten and to cool – and this action was repeated several times. . .
Several sessions later my client met with the giraffe again. Three of its four legs had healed and it was able to move around.
– The Journeys continued and the healing process of this client proceeded.
– After these events I think I stopped having expectations and have not easily been surprised. The processes of Deep Imagery and the possibilities of healing aliveness still amazes me, though.
The third Story that I would like to share is one that I will also dedicate too all and everybody that is an only child.
The background, in short, is like this:
When I grew up I was an only child. I received a lot of love from my parents. My two parents were very, very different in almost every way imaginable. There was no space for the girls´ expression of anger.
One of the dynamics of this triangle, as experienced by me as a child, came up in one of my Journeys.
The imagery was like “a Pinocchio-mouse” with gloves, a red top hat and a red baton, busy and living on a knife´s edge. It had to keep moving in order not to cut its feet.
In the journey an alternative turns up: The big knife with a wooden handle is laid down flat, so that the mouse can stand on its flat side. The shiny, slippery steel is slanting a bit. As this is an unfamiliar surface and position for the mouse, it slips and falls on its bum. – It gets red boots to wear and moves down. Carefully and slowly. The knife lies on a wooden surface, that turns out to be a kitchen table. Then the mouse starts going down, moving like a mouse, now, – the Pinocchio-outfit, – the “theatre-likeness” – is gone. The mouse is moving on all four paws.
I am asked to ask if there is anything that I can do for the mouse? Mouse tells me that it was going to go looking for some cheese, – but given the chance, it really would like to get out. So it would like me to open the door, a kitchen door, out in the open. I do just that, – and the mouse darts off, over the threshold, down the stone-step and out. Out in the in the woods. It is such a relief for the mouse!!!!! It is out in the wood, it is all spring, where busy mice can be heard by the rustling of the dry leaves from the previous summer.
In the following Journey the mouse meets with all the other wellknown animals from previous Journeyes.
In a later Journey some of the important animals decide what needs to happen with the knife:
The handle and the metal blade is separated, the metal is melted in the fire in a cave. The metal is re-melted into a ball. May be it can be of some use later, or simply stay there on a shelf in the cave as an exhibit.
– And so ended one of the Journeys in 2013. – And like often before, my words are like this: If this can happen, then anything can happen . . .
With love to Steve,
Ida Waage Nielsen