Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Becoming Your Power Animal: Hypnosis in Native American Culture

is the hypnotic ability

to turn oneself into an animal.
Many imaginatively gifted people freely change the imagery and content of a hypnotic experience to suit themselves as they go along, in a style which often reflects their own needs and preferences. For example, I once had a client of Native American ancestry who was seeking a source of strength while she was going through a rough divorce. After I hypnotized her using imagery of relaxing on the beach, she told me, “The beach imagery was working, but I decided to change it. Instead of lying on the beach, I saw myself as a little girl, lying between the roots of a large tree that I used to play under.”

I asked her if she would like to feel herself becoming part of the tree and absorbing strength from the earth beneath her, instead of from her own untapped potential, and she agreed. She agreed, and suggestions were provided as follows:
Now I would like you to imagine yourself as a little girl again, playing beneath the roots of that large tree, If you accept each detail of the scene as you describe it to yourself, your imagination will be completely free to allow you to experience the situation just as if you were really there. So just allow all your awareness of the present to grow dim now, as you feel yourself transported backwards in time. You are drifting backwards now, all the way back to the time when you were a little girl, playing between the roots of that large tree.

Now, you are becoming fully aware of yourself as a little girl again, resting between the roots of that large tree. Imagine yourself beginning to cuddle up beneath the roots of the tree, and feel how pleasant it would be just to become part of the tree, feeling as safe and as secure if it was your mother. Feel yourself merging with the tree now, and drifting off to sleep beneath it. As you do, you can feel yourself becoming part of the tree, reaching down through the roots to draw into yourself feelings of peace and calm. Great waves of perfect, infinite, boundless peace and calm are flowing into you from the innermost depths of the Earth.
“That was better,” she told me later. “But while I was beneath the tree, and before I joined it, I turned into a series of animals first. There was a wolf, and a mouse, and a moose, and a crow, and I think there were one or two others.”

At the start of our next session, I asked her if she would like to use the tree imagery again, and she agreed. “Don’t go through all the animals, though. I’m not sure what I’m going to do.” She completed the induction procedure, after first mentally turning into a crow (which was her personal power animal) on her own before merging with the tree.

If hypnosis is viewed as a form of experiential theater, turning into a tree or an animal (transmogrification) need only be suggested  in order for sufficiently imaginative people to develop a sense of strength and empowerment as an eagle soaring over valleys and mountaintops, or to de-stress by cavorting among a school of dolphins as if they were one of them. Numerous other applications, using imagery derived from the animal kingdom or from other aspects of nature, are also possible.