I’m sure you’ve heard someone refer to their “spirit animal”. It’s an ancient idea that has continued through modern spirituality. In Norse mythology, the concept of the fylgja, or “follower,” was a powerful and enduring one.
A fylgja was a spirit animal that was believed to be closely associated with an individual and could take on various forms, including that of a wolf, a bear, or a boar. The fylgja was thought to be a manifestation of an individual’s spiritual essence, and it was believed to be able to shape shift and appear in the physical world.
The fylgja was thought to be able to protect and guide its associated individual. The fylgja was also believed to be able to reveal important information or provide guidance through dreams and other forms of spiritual communication.
In Norse society, the fylgja was an important aspect of an individual’s spiritual identity, and it was thought to be a reflection of their inner self.
The idea that the fylgja is a reflection of an individual’s inner self is based on the belief that it is closely connected to an individual’s spiritual essence and is able to reflect their inner nature and characteristics. This belief is rooted in the idea that the fylgja is a manifestation of an individual’s spiritual energy and is able to reveal important aspects of their inner self through its actions and behavior.
One of the poems from the Poetic Edda in which the fylgja is mentioned is the “Hávamál,” or “Sayings of the High One,” which is a collection of Norse wisdom poetry. In the “Hávamál,” the fylgja is described as a spirit animal that is closely associated with an individual and is believed to be a manifestation of their spiritual essence. It is also described as being able to shape shift and appear in the physical world, and as being able to provide guidance and support to its associated individual.
The fylgja is also mentioned in the “Völuspá,” or “Prophecy of the Seeress,” which is a poem that tells the story of Norse mythology and the eventual end of the world. In the “Völuspá,” the fylgja is described as a powerful and influential force that is able to protect and guide its associated individual.
My interpretation of this is that the fylgja, or spirit animal, is not necessarily an animal. It can take the form of whatever our minds choose to understand it as.
Another interesting thing about a fylgja is its tie-in to the were-creature mythology. The fylgja was also closely associated with the concept of the “werewolf,” or “vargr,” in Norse mythology. A vargr was a person who was believed to have the ability to transform into a wolf, either voluntarily or as a result of being cursed. The vargr was seen as a powerful and formidable being, and it was often depicted as a symbol of primal, animalistic nature.
The fylgja is a spirit being that is closely attuned to a human. So much so, that it is able to be a type of mirror to their host’s own inner self. The fylgja are able to use their human’s own spirital essence to physically manifest in the shape of the human’s choice.
The human shapeshifter’s body is not literally changing shape, they are in a trance. Their fylgja assists them in externalizing their primal consciousness in the form of a wolf, or boar, or any creature they know.
The spirit creature, using some of the energy of the human “shapeshifter”, creates a physical manifestation which becomes a vehicle for the shifter’s consciousness. Others could perceive this as a mist, or as the form decided upon by the shifter.
While I write about this from a northern shamanic perspective, the idea of shapeshifting is a trait of shamanic cultures worldwide. This is possibly related to tales of werewolves and other human-like beasts from many mythologies.