Gifts: Curiosity. Playfulness. Cleverness. Group living. Protecting and warning the group. Being deeply human.
Challenges: Being “too clever for your own good.” Losing your individuality. Not taking things seriously. Being deeply human.
Like Gorilla, Monkey can be a difficult spirit animal to work with because it reminds us of our own humanity. Monkey brings out more of what makes you human. This can be tough if you prefer to think of yourself as a soul in a human body. Yes, you are a soul having a human experience. But the point is actually having that human bodily experience, not transcending the body to hurry back to the soul! Monkey won’t let you transcend. It keeps you here, in this world, in this body—full of beauty and filth, divine and profane, sublime and mundane. You’re not here to choose one; you’re here to experience them all.
We may not always like to admit it, but Monkey behaviors very closely resemble our own. Receiving a message from Monkey is a sign to accentuate more of your own innate gifts, rather than borrowing a genius that’s not really yours. Monkey is also telling you to be more You. Monkey never holds back on being itself. Monkey is unabashedly self-expressive—shameless in its attitude of “This is me. Take it or leave it, doesn’t matter to me.”
Monkey reminds you to be curious—always. Curiosity and interest in the world are character strengths that are highly correlated with happiness. Want to be happier? Then get curiouser! Explore, investigate, dig through the shit, taste every fruit.
Monkey is extremely social and totally committed to group living. Monkey doesn’t just live with a group, it finds its unique place within the group. Your place in the group isn’t as strict as Bee or Ant. But Monkey reminds you that you do have a place of value, regardless of what that position is.
You already know how clever Monkey is. With only slight genetic differences from us, it’s not surprising that monkeys are known to use tools and exhibit signs of complex language. When you receive a message from Monkey, look at where you would benefit from employing a new tool, remembering your own cleverness, speaking your mind.
There are numerous distinct species of monkeys—Old World and New World—each with their own unique gifts. I summarize them here into one archetype because, frankly, I could dedicate an entire book just to spirit animal monkeys. (Maybe next time!) Contemplate these archetypal gifts, then add in whatever special gifts come from the specific monkey you see in your head or meet in your journeys. For example, Howler Monkey adds the gift of voice, of speaking up—loudly. Howler monkeys are the loudest land animals. Rhesus Monkey adds the gifts of ranging far and wide and the ability to live in both the trees and on the ground. Spider Monkey adds the gift of effective use of body language. Go exploring with your Monkey to uncover its specific gifts for you.