Spirit Animal Alligator
Gifts: Patience. Timing. Stealth. Integration of dualities. Primal energy.
Challenges: Hiding vulnerability. Desire for revenge.
When you think of Alligator, you probably picture it lying motionless in the water, eyes and nostrils just barely above the water line—appearing more like a fallen log than a fierce creature. Alligator waits silently, stealthily, and extremely patiently for prey to arrive in just the right place. Alligator does not make a single move until everything is just right—prey unaware and perfectly in reach. Then Alligator strikes with stunning accuracy and ferocity, dragging its prey from the water’s edge to underneath the water. There, Alligator stuns and drowns its prey by rolling over and over violently in the water. After making a kill, Alligator stores the carcass under a log in the water so that the meat becomes tender and easier to digest.
Some people consider Alligator too fierce and too primitive to be a power animal. In spite of (and because of) Alligator’s ruthlessness, it does have powers to teach you. One lesson from Alligator is to have patience in getting what you want in life. Other spirit animals teach you to decide-and-take-action so quickly that it’s virtually a one-word event. But Alligator reminds you that you may have to lie in wait before it is actually time to decide or to take action. Making a move too soon can scare off your quarry. For example, when you share an innovative idea too early, many people won’t understand it and will try to dissuade you from pursuing it. Alligator teaches you to let your ideas marinate as long as they need. Give yourself time to digest the options and possibilities before taking action.
Alligator is a symbol of integrating dualities. Alligator is what comes to mind when I think of the “reptilian brain.” People like to criticize the reptilian brain as being so primitive, placing more value on the neocortex, our “more evolved” human brain. And yet we would not be truly human without both brains. That reptilian brain serves functions that have enabled us to survive and to become human.
With Alligator, you may have a fear of vulnerability. Like Alligator, you may prefer to show only your tough exterior while hiding your soft underbelly. But notice that Alligator does expose its vulnerable underbelly while rolling over in the water to kill its prey. The lesson for you is that getting what you want requires exposing your vulnerability—even if that vulnerability is as simple as acknowledging what it is that you want. Keeping your vulnerability hidden restricts your movement, your options, and your ultimate success.
Alligators and crocodiles are physically two distinct species in two different families. But they have enough similarities that you can interpret these same gifts and challenges for Crocodile.