Gifts: Opportunistic. Resourceful (hunting and scavenging). Group strategy. Cunning. Matriarchy.
Challenges: Focusing on status. Believing the ends justify the means. Aggression. Breaching boundaries. Biting through others’ defenses.
At first, I resisted including Hyena in my spirit animal series because, well, I didn’t personally love hyenas. Like so many people, I have held hyenas in contempt for being creepy scavengers, for being underhanded sneaks, for being master manipulators. But Hyena insisted on being included, and I am so happy that it did. Working with spirit animal Hyena and communing with physical hyenas on safari in Kenya and Tanzania, I now love and respect Hyena deeply.
Hyena is a rare spirit animal and a very difficult spirit animal to have—not so much because Hyena itself is inherently challenging, but rather because we are so judgmental of Hyena. If you’ve gotten Hyena as your spirit animal, I urge you to have an open mind and a willingness to change your perspective—unless you already love hyenas. In that case, carry on! Hyena offers the gifts of opportunism, resourcefulness, and group strategy. Hyenas are not purely scavengers, as they were often portrayed in nature documentaries. Yes, even nature documentarians had a bias against hyenas, and their selective filming and clever editing prejudiced us against hyenas.
Hyenas are masterful hunters and powerful adversaries of lions. Hyenas can successfully challenge lions—if not defeating them, certainly giving them a run for their money. When you feel as if you have limited resources, call in Hyena to help you make the absolute most of what you do have. Hyena can show you how to find opportunities and gifts where you thought there were none and stand up to powers you thought you couldn’t overcome.
These are powerful gifts that most people would reject simply because they come from Hyena. And that itself is another gift from Hyena: Learning to accept gifts, no matter where they come from. Hyena will scavenge or hunt, whichever works better in that moment. Hyena will accept the gift of food that another has killed or that she herself has killed. Hyena is a survivor above all us.
No matter how Hyena acquires food, it comes from working strategically with the group. Physical hyenas show planning, cunning, and communication. The lesson for you is to think strategically and bring in the full power of the group.
While Hyena is still misunderstood and rejected, the greatest challenge is to accept and own your power and stop seeing yourself as the downtrodden underdog. People with spirit animal Hyena tend to underestimate their own abilities. They tend to believe that nobody likes or respects them. Then, instead of commanding respect through noble action, they play the part of underhanded sneak and live down to people’s expectations. It does not have to be this way! You choose your essence and your actions. No more, no less than Lion, you choose what you portray to the world.