Spirit Animal Black Panther
Gifts: Seeing in the dark. Understanding and integrating the shadow. Deep personal power. Sensitivity and sensuality. Feminine energy. Mystical, esoteric power.
Challenges: Overly sensitive. Too empathic (confusing others’ emotions as your own). Getting stuck in the dark. Sexuality without true intimacy. Fear of intimacy.
Black Panther is one of a few spirit animals that does not bestow its powers upon you. It offers them and demands that you earn them. Black Panther’s powers are not gifts, as they come at a price. These powers are trials and challenges to be mastered. When you read the list of “gifts” and “challenges” above, read them as “strengths” and “stumbling blocks.” Payment for Black Panther powers involves journeying through at least one dark night of the soul.
In fact, journeying through shadows and darkness is both a test from and a power of Black Panther. When you have ventured into your own darkness—with Black Panther by your side—you may be ready to mentor with Black Panther.
Black Panther teaches you to see and feel your way through the darkness. Will you come out into the light? Not necessarily. Black Panther makes no such promises. Nor does life. Black Panther teaches that life makes no promises of love and light. All is chosen, and choosing to live in the dark is as valid a choice as choosing to live in the light.
When you choose to do so, Black Panther can help you integrate the dark with the light. Black Panther teaches that your shadow side is an essential part of your true self, of your personal power. In spite of platitudes to erase the dark by shining a light, Black Panther knows that erasing a part of you does not lead to wholeness. It leads to disintegration. Black Panther is a fearless guide and companion through the dark, the shit, and the sludge of life. This path does not have to destroy. Quite the contrary, with Black Panther’s help, it can strengthen you.
Black Panther does offer the gift of sensitivity. If Black Panther is your spirit animal, you are likely naturally highly sensitive and empathic—possibly to your detriment. You may experience moodiness without realizing that you’re actually picking up on other people’s emotional states. You may confuse other people’s emotions as your own. If you are not actively working with Black Panther, this gift of sensitivity can feel like a curse. But it is not meant to hurt you. It is meant to awaken you to the power that awaits you.
Another challenge comes from using Black Panther powers from a position of arrogance—as in, acting as if you have already mastered Black Panther gifts when you are still just an apprentice. You end up dismissing all of your moods as not your own. Sometimes, anger is your own. Sometimes, you are being irrational. Dismissing everything as “Oh, I’m just highly empathic” is actually rejecting your true power. Your true power comes from within andmanifests in part as your own emotions. Own this power—not necessarily with humility, but neither with arrogance. Black Panther is neither humble nor arrogant. Black Panther simply is.
Physically, black panthers are either melanistic (black) leopards or melanistic jaguars. While several of the big cats can be black, these are the most common two. If you can discern which one is your black panther, then you’ll also want to study the gifts and challenges of that spirit animal as Jaguar and Leopard have quite a few distinct differences. For example, Jaguar is an apex predator, while Leopard competes with Lion and Hyena. Jaguar lives in a dense rainforest, while Leopard lives on an open savanna. If you can’t discern which one is yours, then stick with these general Black Panther powers and challenges—as if they weren’t enough.