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Is the Dog Your Archetypal Symbol?

27/02/2015 11:33 | Updated 28 April 2015

Last week I joined a guided meditation where we would find the animal which represents our archetypal symbol. This animal stands for our soul keeper and guidance to our strength.

We imagined to be sitting next to the ocean, where we started to fly over the sea and from there to the peak of a mountain. On the way up there, we should look down and remember what we were observing. I saw clearly a pack of wolves running through a winter forest. Then we were guided through a meadow, and from the meadow to a cave. Finally, in the cave we were told, that somebody is waiting for us. We are lead there by an animal. Which animal do we see at the entrance of the cave? First I recognized a bear, but immediately afterwards Anubis. The Anubis was accompanied by a young dog with white and creamy fur. The dog was jumping around joyfully and running towards me, the candle lighter holding in his mouth. The meditation continued, but all I remember is the pack of wolves, the Anubis and the young dog.
As I opened my eyes, I looked at my painted portrait of a Husky, which is standing at my desktop for a longer period of time. So, my symbol accompanied me obviously already.

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The different roles of the dog in mythology

In Egyptian mythology, Anubis had the head of a jackal and played the role of leading the soul into the land of the dead. In Greek mythology, the three-headed hellhound Kerberos guarded the entrance to the underworld.

But there is also the black hound with his scary glittering eyes, mostly bigger than other dogs, roaming around on the countryside of British Isles. He approaches you just in nights with thunderstorms.

Many Indian tribes believe that they derive from a specific animal species. This species was a religious symbol, called Totem, a spirit being and a sacred object. The Totem was provided with supernatural powers. If the animal was treated with respect, so the Indians believe, this power is also transmitted to humans.
The positive gifts of the dog are telepathically, clairvoyantly, sincere, he provides guidance and protection. But the Totem also has a shadow side, where it could get malice and aggressive.

Barbara Hannah, associate of Carl Gustav Jung, describes in her book "the archetypal symbolism of animals" four main aspects how to telescope a dog. For her, the dog is a loyal friend and a betrayer, he is a symbol of the guide and hunter, a symbol of the watchdog and its opposite, the thief, and he is a symbol of the healer versus the dog as a devourer of corpses.

A different story exists in the Mexican mythology, where people transform themselves during the night into dogs or coyotes, and they visit other houses to eat the food in the kitchen. They are recognized by the fact that they walk the whole time erected.

What do dogs mean to us? Could we live without dogs?

They are an extension of ourselves that we give our love to. They are our friends, our children; their companionship provides us with a greater sense of vitality and represents our character. We adopt them because they need our care, and because we recognize their good intentions.

Research has found that the dog´s ancestry traces back to canis lupus, the gray wolf. Dogs have adapted to our way of living because we have made room for them in our lives.
But dogs have been our loyal companions for thousands of years. We fed leftovers to the wild beasts. Wolves accompanied us as we tore through our naturals surroundings and protected us from larger animals. Today, we no longer hunt together, but we continue to feed our dogs.

The Husky on my desktop is a dog, but when I look closer she has wings. She sits there in silence, and her eyes are closed. She is enjoying the sun. Her expression is tender and wise. She gives me the feeling of a loyal companion.

Despite our differences, we share a lot of similarities with canines, as you might know as a dog lover. Just as dogs can respect us, so we should also approach dogs in a respectful manner.