6 spirit animal guides to help you get through a New York subway commute

A spirit guide for every occasion.
A spirit guide for every occasion.

The subway can turn even the most tranquil soul into a raging beast. MTA ridership is clocking in at nearly six million daily riders, and sometimes it feels like all six mil are going out of their way to make your commute miserable. As George Costanza would admonish, “You know we’re living in a society!” For real: it’s wild out there. And in order to make it from point A to point B in this crush of savage mammals, you need a little help. You need to be feisty, fierce, instinctual, calm, and compassionate. You need to channel your animal spirit guide.

Traditional thinking on spirit animals is that you don’t choose your animal; it chooses you. But this is the rush-hour NYC subway we’re talking about, and you don’t have time to wait for your unconscious mind to discover things (unless you’re waiting for the G to arrive, in which case you’ve got all the time in the world). Take the bull by the horns (see below) with these six spirit animals that can help you navigate your subway ride peacefully. We’ve provided a guide on how to channel each one. Here’s hoping that summoning these creatures can help you tame the beast within.

What’s a spirit animal, you ask? Spirit or “power” animals have played an important role in a myriad of ancient cultures, including Native Americans, Greco-Roman citizens and South Asians. In many of these traditions, man was one with nature, and tapping into the primordial power of the spirit animal realm was fundamental to their lives. Even if your daily journey is less-than-shamanic, establishing a connection with a spirit animal just might lend you the wisdom you need to endure the soul crushing grind that you pay $2.75 each way to enjoy. You can learn a lot more about how cool spirit animals are from other sources. This little beautifully-illustrated book is my favorite.


Slow and steady wins the ride. via flickr user Jazminator
Slow and steady wins the ride. via flickr user Jazminator


When you need it: When there are train delays. It can be absolutely maddening to never have any real idea of how long it’s going to take you to get somewhere. Subway delays are long and getting longer. The turtle is calm, cool, and collected in every situation. The turtle moves slowly, and encourages you to pace yourself and stay grounded, even in moments of chaos. The turtle teaches you to cultivate a peaceful relationship with your environment.

How to channel the Turtle: Channeling the turtle is easiest in the winter months when you can shove your entire face into your scarf, like a turtle in its shell, and make your home there while you wait it out. But you can reach turtle tranquility no matter the season. Just remember what the turtle says: slow and steady wins the race. Slow it down and make peace with the situation. You’ll get there. Eventually.


You don't have to be a Wall Street bro to call on the bull. via Flickr user lohit
You don’t have to be a Wall Street bro to call on the bull. via Flickr user lohvit


When you need it: When someone is manspreading. It’s an official in-car PSA, the subject of countless memes and thought-pieces, and yet it persists. This might not be pleasant, but those powerful thighs spreading out next to yours are BULL THIGHS, and it’s hard to get a bull to move. You are going to have to call on your own inner bull to lock horns and close the spread. The bull is strong, virile, and powerful. They are defiant lovers, known for their own self-indulgence. Left to his own devices the bull will chill in a meadow all day, eat grass, and mate.

How to channel the Bull: Invite the bull’s traits of determination, perseverance, and hard-work into your soul and your quads, and push back (or just address your fellow bull politely). Stick with it until you’ve gained a couple precious inches of personal space.


The kangaroo may occasionally despair, but he bounces right back from it . via flickr user Centophobia
The kangaroo may occasionally despair, but he bounces right back from it . via flickr user Centophobia


When you need it: When you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders (or even just a backpack). Got a touch of the blues? Kangaroo’s medicine includes strength, stamina and balance to help you power through. They show us how to have faith, take risks, and leap forward into life. If you’re feeling impoverished, whether spiritually, emotionally, or financially, this bouncy beast can help you move forward, trust in abundance, and believe that the universe will provide.

How to channel the Kangaroo: Pretend for a minute that the only weight you’re lugging around today is your backpack, and focus on the act of being attentive to it. Kangaroos are known for keeping their babies safe and warm in their pouches. If you have pack, make like a kangaroo and put that nerdy baby on your front when you’re on the subway. It will improve your physical balance, which will positively influence your mental balance. Keep moving forward like the kangaroo, you got this.


via Flickr user Victor
Feeling crabby? Channel the animal that does it better than you. via Flickr user Victor


When you need it: When you need to get off this *$@!!# train. You did the right thing and moved to the center of the car when you boarded! But now you’re approaching your stop and there’s no clear way out. You look left, you look right, you look left again. It is a wall of humanity every way you turn. Channel the crab when you’re in need of self-preservation. Crabs have tough exteriors to protect their gooey, vulnerable insides. They pull out fierce tactics in self-defense when they need to. Crabs move by intuition, walking sideways and using all of their senses to protect themselves.

How to channel the Crab: Call on the crab and do some sideways scuttling to get yourself out of this hellhole without it becoming a full-contact sport. The crab will help you “excuse me, sorry, pardon me, excuse me, sorry” your way out of the car and into the light.


Keep your eyes on the prize. via flickr user Bill Gracey
Bat your wings enough, and you might fan off the smell. via flickr user Bill Gracey


When you need it: When you’re riding in the poop carIt’s a rookie mistake. You’re on a jam-packed platform and every car in the approaching train is a sardine tin, except for the one that just stopped right in front of you! For a second you think the fates have smiled, but it only takes one step inside to realize that this car is empty for a reason. This car smells like poo. Call on the hummingbird to lift your spirits and make this stinky situation sweet again. The hummingbird is a link to pure happiness. It is super adaptable and can fly backward, forward, up, or down. Its wings beat at fifty-five times per second! The hummingbird symbolizes a lightness of being and helps you enjoy the sweetness of life.

How to channel the Hummingbird: Call on the hummingbird to help you look on the bright side. This foul situation is only temporary. Two more stops and you’ll fly away to your next adventure. After you get off the car, find yourself something nectar-like and sip until the stink is a distant memory.


Be like this Prospect Park swan. Stand tall. via Flickr user Carol Vizant
Be like this Prospect Park swan. Stand tall (ish). via Flickr user Carol Vizant


When you need it: When you realize New York is running you ragged. Picture it: you’re strap-hanging in front of a window as your train passes through a tunnel, and you catch a glimpse of yourself in the reflection. For the love of. . . who is that apocalypse survivor staring back at you? What happened between the time you left your apartment looking fly and now? That wrinkle was not there 10 minutes ago. It’s just the lighting, right? RIGHT? Call on the swan to get in touch with your inner beauty. Swans are graceful beauties. They embody poise, dignity, and charm. They don’t mind being observed, and they bring joy to voyeurs. Call on the swan when your self-image is shrouded in dark shadows.

How to channel the Swan: Lengthen your neck, raise your chin to the sky, and repeat as many times as it takes: “I’m a swan. I’m a swan. I’m a total fucking swan.”

Still need a spirit guide? Channel Bridget on Twitter: @toobridget2quit

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