Jaguar

Jaguar

Second version of a blurb on Jaguar I had written in 2004 as “some thoughts concerning my affinities with jaguars”. Since then I’ve learned more on the nature of this bond and figured the original essay needed an update. Beware, upper case abuses aplenty.

I am not pack-oriented but I can relate to other felines, whether they are wild animals or trapped in a human body. As a child, while I had favourite feline species, I was attracted to jaguars for no reason. There was something special about them, something different, deep, familiar, almost visceral; in French especially, the word is used both for anatomy and for its figurative meaning. I find that it fits perfectly, as the connection I have to jaguars is there, deep in my heart, almost in my flesh.

I haven’t really considered jaguar as an animalside. I did consider it a possibility at some point, but it simply couldn’t fit. It can’t. Jaguar isn’t me. Jaguar is too large, powerful, calm and raging at the same time. I would say it seems similar to clouded leopard in many ways, but cloudypard is more nervous, shy and tense. Unlike most other felines, which I have appreciated after I learned more about them, something deep instantaneously clicked about jaguars. As a child, although I couldn’t tell what type of cat I was, I felt so drawn towards jaguars that I’d almost have sworn I was one. At this age when I drew my animal self I would picture myself as a winged feline with jaguar-like spots. Later I understood I was something else – something smaller – so I thought of myself as an ocelot (seems like I have something for the Amazon) while I started considering jaguar more like a sort of “elder brother”, something I had to respect, and perhaps an ideal I had to reach. In my teens I denied my animal-self entierely, however “something jaguar” has still remained. Everything jaguar – from how it feels to its symbolism – seems to find a sort of echo in me and is meaningful.

I think the fact my totems are corvine and feline, just like me, is not coincidental, and it reinforces our ties. I guess part of the reason Jaguar seems more distant isn’t just about his feline nature, but also about the fact I can’t comprehend Him as well, as a clouded leopard. I’m a raven and I’m quite close to Raven, who messes with me and my life whenever He can – generally in a good, protective and playful way – and He also appears to me in lucid dreams and visions. Jaguar, however, rarely shows his coat, but His presence when he wants to make himself known is rather overwhelming. I also suspect that instead of directly interacting with me, He may be one of the reason of the presence of certain other animal spirits in my life such as Shark and possibly Scimitar Cat. I have to explore more in depth the relationship between my totems and the animal spirits who seem to be around.

I need to go back about how Jaguar can be so overwhelming at times – clearly moreso than Raven. Through this mean He shares His strength and helps keeping things going. He is a guardian or parent and elder, kicking your butt when you have something to achieve and giving you the power to move on no matter what. He is the Rage, the fire that keeps you alive and tense – something that clouded leopard shares too. Jaguar also is Earth in a very deep, core/soul-related way. Instinctually I’d say He’s more related to the “underground” as in “Underworld” than the ground itself. It’s funny now that I think about, because it roots down again to being chtonian and psychopomp, conductor of souls in the after/underworld, while clouded leopard would be the conductor of living people and dreamers – travellers, oneironauts.

In different South American tribes, Jaguar holds the qualities admired in the adult male – such as strength, courage or aggressiveness – most of which are also part of my own set of values, dating back from as far as childhood, when I already clicked with the animal. It’s also at that age that I identified as a tomboy and related the most strongly with the hunter and amazon archetypes (such as in the Greek goddess Artemis). I think in some ways Clouded Leopard and Jaguar are very close, and Jaguar/Warrior can be a source of inspiration from which I can draw what Clouded Leopard/Traveler lacks, leaving out the traits I don’t want to develop such as aggressiveness. Now as I am firmly engaged in physical transition and as it affects different areas of my life, and even before that, as I was working on this writing for the first time and emancipating slowly from adolescence, I noticed how Jaguar made His presence known again, kicking my butt or lending Strength, and how I was clicking hard again with the symbolism and archetypes around it.

And the more I think about it, the more I feel it is very connected to my transition towards a transmasculine adult individual, similarly to what can be seen about certain cultures where Jaguar in myths is, among other things, an ambivalent mediator for young men who “attacks their outmoded child identity as much as it fosters the acquisition of more adult attributes”, so to speak. Under this approach I can understand much more thoroughly my relationship with Jaguar, although it only is an aspect of it, albeit an important one.