How an imaginary sheep taught me unconditional love

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14th February 2023


written by: Thomas Holgate

Tommy Holgate is a former tabloid journalist, politician and stand-up comedian. Since retraining in multiple holistic therapies his writing focuses on health, wellbeing, spirituality and positive psychology. 

I had the pleasure of ‘meeting’ mine during an all-day consciousness gathering at Elland Road Stadium, home of Leeds United Football Club [of all the places!]. It was a spirituality conference, one of those healing events where you get psychics, reflexologists, reiki healers and so on. Usually there is a schedule of live talks where practitioners promote their services through a variety of taster sessions. The ‘Shamanic Journeying Meditation’ listing caught my eye, so I signed up for it along with my Mum, who is always up for trying new things in this area. The Shaman, a seemingly regular lady from the north of England, explained to us that today, we may be lucky enough to meet our spirit guide, also known as spirit animal. These animals could be something we feel we may have been in a past life, or merely harbour energy that we resonate with. It could be that we possess qualities of such an animal, or even that we lack those qualities and the animal in question is here to bring those qualities more into our existence. Each time you encounter an animal in this visualisation you ask the question, “Are you my spirit guide?”. If the answer is no, then you are taken to the next animal. When you finally hear “yes” you then ask what you can do for the animal. The advice received is likely to be what your subconscious mind really wants.

All very exciting! Although the idea that I/we have an external creature floating around the clouds whose sole responsibility is to give us advice seemed a bit far-fetched.

Thankfully, this scepticism was addressed early on and it was explained to us that these guides are more like representations or totems of our subconscious mind. To go on a ‘journey’ to meet them is like a guided visualisation exercise that assists us in accessing subconscious desires. The eyes-closed technique involves listening to a constantly banging drum, where you envisage an area of nature that you’re familiar with from childhood, typically water but could also be forestry or open green areas. You visualise tunnelling down into an ‘underworld’ that represents the subconscious mind. 

So I went down to an outdoor area, familiar from when I was a child, into a lake, through a tunnel, into an underworld of my subconscious mind.

Much like a sunny jungle. 

The first animal I came across was a hawk. 'A hawk', I thought, 'could be me? The all seeing eye etc, I like to think I'm quite observant.

"No," said the hawk, "Follow me."

So we floated down to a branch of a tree, round which swung a monkey.

'Ooh a monkey!' I thought, 'I like to think I’m quite playful, cheeky monkey and all that, maybe I was a monkey in a past life’?

“No,” said the monkey, “Follow me.”

So we dropped down, further into the jungle of my subconscious, where we happened across a bear.

‘A bear,’ I thought, ‘Of course, strong, dependable, there to carry others in times of need, I was almost certainly a bear in a past life’.

“No,” said the bear, “Follow me.”

Onwards we trudged, the hawk, monkey, bear and I, in search of the spirit guide.

Next we bumped into a lion.

‘At last,’ I thought, ‘A lion! It must be me. Ready to roar at injustice and all that’

“Are you my spirit guide?” I asked.

It was getting humid in the jungle of my subconscious at this point.

“No,” said the lion. “Watch this.”

So we all, in a line, turned to the side to observe a parting opening between the large leaves of a nearby bush, out of which walked a SHEEP wearing a gold crown.

“Nice crown,” I said.

“Thanks,” came the reply, “But don’t forget, underneath the crown, I’m still just a sheep.”

Very wise all this, occurring in the jungle of my subconscious. It dawned on me that such meek livestock would surely perish in this hostile environment, at the hands of many a predator.

“Hang on a minute,” I said to the lion, “Wouldn’t a sheep get eaten, in the jungle?”

“Not this sheep,” said the lion, “Because this sheep looks at all the other animals with eyes full of nothing but unconditional love, and they daren’t eat it.”

“Are you my spirit guide?” I asked.

The sheep calmly nodded.

“What can I do for you?” I added.

He replied, “Be. The sheep. In the jungle.”

So ever since then, I’ve looked at all the other humans I see with eyes full of nothing but unconditional love.

And nobody’s dared to eat me.


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