Gifts: Peacefulness. Thoughtfulness. Wisdom. Experience. Aging.
Challenges: Giving unearned credence to age. Chewing too long on an idea rather than bringing it to fruition. Arrogance. Caring too much about status.
The silverback gorilla is the wise elder of the group—leading and protecting the group from his deep store of experience. The lesson from spirit animal Gorilla is the wisdom that comes from age and experience. This does not mean that you are wiser than everyone younger than you and less wise than everyone older than you. No, Gorilla does not teach a blind submission to age. Rather, Gorilla teaches you to accept the power and the wisdom of your own experience, to find your place in the community, to be open to learning, and to step up to lead—all in its own time. This is a growing into wisdom, learning from your elders, and accepting the silver mantle at the right time.
Gorilla’s leadership style is first and foremost gentle. Even male silverbacks let baby gorillas crawl all over them, pulling their hair, tugging on them to play. But that gentleness is balanced by right aggression. What I mean by “right aggression” is being fierce or intimidating when the situation calls for it. Gorilla is not aggressive unless actively threatened. Otherwise, Gorilla spends most of its time peacefully resting and eating with the rest of the group.
Gorilla’s thoughtfulness is literally the power of thinking, mulling things over, chewing on an idea. Gorillas spend hours every day chewing their food to facilitate digestion. The gift to you is giving yourself time to think about a problem before jumping into a solution. Be careful that chewing over an idea doesn’t turn into indecision. If it does, call in a bit of Gorilla’s aggression to spark yourself into action.
Gorilla is a very grounded creature with abundant earth energy. The gift to you is a sense of peace and calmness, feeling at home in your body. You will have a need to connect frequently with nature—going outside, moving your body, gardening or growing houseplants, communing with animals—so that you don’t lose your sense of groundedness. Ungrounded, you feel wobbly as a leader, you mistrust your instincts, and you dismiss the experiences that earned you your wisdom.
Gorilla’s respect for age and experience may make you stay too long with someone older or more experienced than you. Gorilla never advocates blind submission. The old silverback gets pushed out when a younger one challenges him and wins. There will come a point for you when it is time to challenge your leader, teacher, or mentor. Maybe that time is already here. This doesn’t have to mean violently overthrowing your leader and taking over their position. It more often means that they have guided you as far as they can, taught you all you can learn from them. It is time to step away from them and into your own power.