Inner Michael » Part 5 of 8 Black or White: Stalking the Panther

Part 5 of 8 Black or White: Stalking the Panther

Michael Jackson was the consummate shape shifter. I have said this before but I want to explain what is meant by that. And I want to tell you about shape shifting from a shaman’s perspective.

In many Native American traditions, the medicine man or woman or tribal elder who holds the position of healer-priest-seer is able to use many kinds of medicine for constituents—the tribe. For example when I smudge (a ritual of cleansing the space by burning Cedar, Sweetgrass, Sage or other ingredients) it serves to “scrub spiritually, the molecules in the space,” or cleanse and bless the space, the people in it and the ceremony the space is being prepared for. The actual cut and dried cedar is placed in a shell-bowl and it is lit with a match while the wafting smoke is used to cleanse people and space by brushing it over the people and into the space with a feather or in my case—using a hawk’s wing.

In the Catholic Church, the censer (container for burning incense) is a thurible—the metal container on chains that priests swing a prescribed number of times, depending on the ceremonial event, to bless and consecrate the space. The Native peoples also use consecrated containers for this cleansing ritual—an Abalone shell is one such sacred container. This cleansing of spaces is medicine for the soul.

The ingredients- of sage or cedar or sweetgrass or incense is also considered medicine. The native people used many things from the natural world as medicines—plants, trees, animals and animal parts. You will often see the shamans and aboriginals of many traditions wearing a mask or headdress depicting some kind of animal. When the shaman or participants call upon the medicine or power of a particular animal, that animal is then considered their power animal or totem. Humans have, since ancient times, admired, called upon and incorporated the characteristics of animals in rituals, sacred rites and cultures. Many peoples all over the earth have used animal characteristics or likenesses for ceremony and living. A well known and culturally iconic animal symbol is the Egyptian Cobra that can be seen on the headdress of the royals.

One of the well known animal medicines is the coyote. Coyote is considered the trickster of the animal kingdom so when one is dealing with Coyote medicine in their life, things will not be as they seem. Coyote is a great teacher but the medicine of coyote will turn one’s life upside down. Native peoples read the landscape and chance meetings with animals as omens or portends of things now or things to come. They paid attention to what showed up in their path and if an animal showed up, they considered that a message and “read” the characteristics of that animal. It is said that if an animal shows up three times in a row, that is your power animal or totem and you may have more than one.

The panther is found in different parts of the world depending on whether it is a member of the leopard (Africa and Asia,) Jaguar (Central and South Americas) or cougar (North American) family. My power animal has been the panther for more than twenty years. It is also my familiar or magical animal helper.

When a shaman retrieves your power animal for you, she blows it into your body—the heart or head area, and the animal then becomes a part of you. It gets in your bones. And the first thing that an apprentice shaman learns to do with their totem is to dance the animal. He literally becomes the animal or familiar who is his power animal or spirit guide called their “totem.” The dance allows the shaman to feel and assimilate the animal and its characteristics.

There is a shape shifting to this ritual and more and more the shaman dances to the drumbeat in the body of the animal or with the animal in his bones. Some shamans actually bodily take on the characteristics of their totem—their faces begin to look like their spirit animal and their bodies mimic the energy and movement of the familiar. Michael’s Panther Dance is Michael dancing the animal. It is a shamanic and shapeshifting ritual.

 The late Ted Andrews, author and husband of Lynn Andrews, Native American author, put together a guidebook about the spiritual and magical powers of creatures. The book is titled Animal Speak and is considered the seminal collection and dictionary of totem animals. In it, Ted tells of Panther Medicine <paraphrased and excerpted: >

“The keynote of the Panther is the reclaiming of one’s power. [Think Black Panthers and racial inequality.] The cycle of this creature is the dark of the moon, the New Moon and winter. This is a representation of stealth, secret power, warrior medicine and it is definitely lunar having to do with the moon. It is mysterious and magical.

The panther is smaller and more fierce than other larger cats like the lion or tiger, and has 500 muscles it can use at will. They are loners or solitary and territorial animals. They are agile, graceful and move with ease. People with panther medicine respond to pressure and deadlines well.

They are seers with “inner vision” and the inner vision should be trusted. Some people when studying metaphysics and meditation have their inner lights “clicked on.” People with panthers as totems come into the world with their lights already on.

Panthers hear well and each ear can, just like their eyes, turn independently toward the source of their stimulation. They hear and see beyond this dimension and are visionary. The touch faculty is sensitive especially body hair and the face. Panther people are very sensitive to touch and skin stimulation. They are sensual, passionate and it runs deep, mystical and mysterious.

The panther is a resurrection animal similarly to the phoenix bird that rises from its own ashes—symbolizing darkness death and rebirth. The panther is a totem of the mystical feminine in all her aspects—child, virgin, seductress, mother, warrioress, seeress, and old wise woman.

The panther is all about power or reclaiming one’s power. It can signal the awakening of Kundalini which is an energy that rises and runs from the groin area to the head when all the chakras are active or activated.

In mythology the panther is related to Argos of a Thousand Eyes whose eyes were transferred to the feathers of the peacock—which is another phoenix bird. It is also related to Jesus and is listed as the surname for the family of Joseph. It is said a healer called “Jesus ben Panther” healed a man from old wounds—yet another story of a resurrection. It is related to Bacchus or Dionysus whose chariot was pulled by panthers.

The story of the panther is one of awakening and unleashing powerful forces—one of which is Kundalini. The others are the awakening to the hero’s quest, to the divine feminine, to creative forces and unconscious urges. Dionysus had to overcome many years of wandering, plundering, madness, destruction and suffering before he could take his place in heaven. His story is that “we are gods and goddesses in the making.”

The panther will attract a guide or advisor to the heroic path, someone who is teacher and nurturer. The hero begins to see and dwell in alternate realities. These realities contain powerful sexual energies. And they are related to birth and rebirth and the dark feminine (not negative- just very potent) which means twice born. It portends a time of facing offending shadow characteristics within ourselves or the dweller on the threshold. That can mean suffering the loss of what we think we love the most.

The panther is also a protection symbol and power reclaimed from whatever is dark in our lives. Dionysus had a magical wand, a thyrsus which was entwined with vines and had a pine cone atop that bestows the ability to create delusion and illusion. There awakens within the person with a panther totem, the ability to cause people to think and see as you wish them to which is earned through self discipline. The panther blends into the surroundings with ease.

To the Native peoples, the Jaguar of the Americas was especially a symbol of mastery and power; its roar was the roar of thunder and it could swallow the sun during eclipses. To the Arawak Indians, everything has jaguar and the man-jaguar was the ultimate shapeshifting ritual. The Aztecs and Mayans considered the half human-half jaguar to be a cultural enigma. The panther is a great archetypal force. ”  <from Animal Speak: Ted Andrews>

The panther is a powerful ally. It is a yin figure or divine feminine having to do with procreation, gestation, life, death and rebirth. The panther represents a wild unleashed force that is mysterious, lunar, magical and heroic. When a man embraces and incorporates his feminine side (yin/anima) he becomes less polarized and more whole and thus, more powerful. A man who rejects his feminine side in favor of his masculine side (yang/animus) loses the ability to navigate the world with balance. Both aspects are present in both genders. It is not wise for either gender to reject their polar opposite but is better to embrace and integrate it.

The dark feminine powers are very potent and women who are “on their moon” or menstruating, for that very reason, are not allowed in Indian sweat lodge and ceremonies because their powers are so amplified at that time. Woman carries the seed of procreation and is powerful in all the cycles having to do with life, death and rebirth, healing, the earth, wounds, growth and the cosmic mother.

Sexuality is very closely related to spirituality and creativity and they are powerful forces that must be monitored and regulated. Tantra is one way to manage the sex drive which is one of the most powerful forces in the human and the universe. The drive toward physical union mimics the drive for union with the divine or what some call the ascending gesture. They mystics longed for this union of the physical with the divine or ecstatic state. It would be an orgasmic spiritual experience. In its human or animalistic form, this force is expressed in sexuality—again a force to be reckoned with and orgasmic. In its animalistic and human form it is a genesis or new beginning and in its spiritual form, and is closely related to genesis—another name for creativity. The panther is a mysterious, mystical, mythical magical midnight being.

Next: The Black Panthers

* The first photo is my altar and my power animal the panther. This replica is a 30 inch ceramic sculpture.

* The coyote woman is from artist Susan Seddon Boulet’s collection of Native and Shamanic paintings.

* The book is “Animal Speak” by the late Ted Andrews.


  1. souldreamer7 said . . .

    Love & Light

    Posted April 23, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink
  2. gertrude said . . .

    I’m shocked. A long time ago (’70s, as a teen still )I became a cougar in the sense that I was struck with mad love for the animal, my friends called me Cougar, and later my first spouse had a First Nations artist make a fine silver ring for me with the face of a cougar on it. I knew nothing about all you have written here, I didn’t even know anything much about cougar-panthers, except that the minute I laid eyes on one the cat and I were joined. All you have conveyed about this Cat pulls forcefully at my insides. Its a wonder to come here. Michael certainly embodied the magic Panther in all its aspects and its not surprising to have it explained that men who incorporate their female side become powerful. I think Michael was so perfectly fused as male/female that it was a source of tremendous power for him and was as responsible for so many hating and fearing him as it was for so many others’ passionate love for him. Its amazing how exactly its’ mystical characteristics are his. Its amazing that your power animal has been the panther for so long. And yet its not amazing as well. It just makes perfect sense that someone who “sees” and “hears” Michael as completely as you do would be Panther-Powered. It is a delight to receive these revelations.

    Posted April 23, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Permalink
  3. Susan T said . . .

    Very, very interesting!

    I meant to add this book to my collection several years ago because of my lifelong love of and activism for animals. This is absolutely fascinating and explains so much about Michael, his love of mystery, his affinity for the moon, his passion and sensuality, and most of all, his willingness to embrace his feminine side. He was powerful and strong and able to deal with an often cruel and savage world in a loving, peaceful way.

    You said: {Quote} “The panther is a powerful ally. It is a yin figure or divine feminine having to do with procreation, gestation, life, death and rebirth. The panther represents a wild unleashed force that is mysterious, lunar, magical and heroic. When a man embraces and incorporates his feminine side (yin/anima) he becomes less polarized and more whole and thus, more powerful. A man who rejects his feminine side in favor of his masculine side (yang/animus) loses the ability to navigate the world with balance. Both aspects are present in both genders. It is not wise for either gender to reject their polar opposite but is better to embrace and integrate it.”

    I may be wrong, but I feel that men who reject their feminine side and consider those who embrace it to be sissies or “gay”, frequently are overly “macho” and would rather be cold and insensitive than cry or show emotion. There are many reasons that people have such strong feelings about Michael, but it was his obvious and deep sensitivity and fearlessness to show emotion that endears him to me. There is nothing more powerful than gentleness. You cannot help but love someone who is brave enough to be vulnerable.

    This series is a real eye-opener. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and being so skillful in articulating the magic that is Michael Jackson.

    Posted April 25, 2011 at 6:39 am | Permalink
  4. AnneUK said . . .

    Dear Rev Barbara,
    This series has been so enlightening,not only does it give real insight into Michaels “Black or White” but into all of Michaels work and how he saw the world.Why didn’t any of us perceive these messages as early as he was giving us them? It has taken you, with your wonderful way with words and a magnifying glass pointing straight onto Michaels heart that has done that.Thank you. With love Anne UK xx

    Posted April 26, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Permalink
  5. Gabhi Jaxx said . . .

    Loved it!!!

    Posted November 3, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Permalink
  6. caramarie said . . .

    I appreciate you all and the things you share and tell. It helps me understand things more. Cara

    Posted November 16, 2012 at 1:14 am | Permalink
  7. caramarie said . . .

    People are like diamonds, showing facets others can accept. My cousin believed we are from a race from the stars and that is why we are different. It is very alone and hard. Please write, but no mean things.

    Posted November 16, 2012 at 1:17 am | Permalink
  8. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    This breaks my heart. The person who wrote this wrote other things as well but they are too personal to share. What struck me about this comment is that she reaches out and then flinches at the same time perhaps expecting a mean spirited response. Is this what our culture, our world has come to? That a person is afraid to reach out or share something personal because they might be met with meanness? Really? That kind of world is unacceptable and in need of fixing.

    Your cousin is right about being a race from the stars. We are all “star children” for we are all made of star dust from the big bang. The atoms that make up your body are recycled from the beginning of time. There are also those who believe in a “star child” theory of specially gifted individuals who come to the planet to enlighten humankind. And there are those who study the “Indigo children” and other kinds of particularly gifted individuals who are born with advanced cognition that includes unusual empathy and insight. Welcome to Earth. All children should be welcomed to Earth and made to feel welcome here. Even children who grow up. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful world.

    Posted November 17, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

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