Gifts: Protection. Multi-tasking. Confusion/Deception. Showing emotion. Intelligence.
Challenges: Deceiving unnecessarily. Confusing yourself. Making yourself too vulnerable by wearing your heart on your sleeve. Overly sensitive.
Octopus is one of those spirit animals, like Grouse, Hyena, and Shark (no separate section in this book), that you may want to reject because of misunderstanding its “negative” gifts. I teach that Shark offers the gifts of intimidation and instilling fear in others, but I’ve had several people angrily tell me that intimidation is never a gift, that no good ever comes from being scary. Really? What if being intimidating and instilling fear in others prevents someone from attacking you? Are those not then worthy gifts? What if single-focused ruthlessness helps you achieves what you most want in life? Are those then not worthwhile gifts?
Like Grouse, Octopus offers the gifts of confusion and deception. You may think you don’t want the gift of deception or even view it as a gift. But when you’re in real danger—such as when a physical octopus is at risk of being eaten—employing deception isan excellent way to save yourself and get away. What does Octopus do when it is being threatened? It inks the threat, creating confusion and illusion, then darts quickly away.
In an attempt to avoid a threat in the first place—and as a tool for catching prey—Octopus camouflages itself to perfectly match its surroundings. You truly cannot detect an octopus that has made itself look like a rock, in color and in texture. I’ve even bumped into them, startling both them and me, when I’ve been SCUBA diving. They are a magnificent example of a flip on a common expression: “now you don’t see me, now you do.”
Octopus’s eight arms symbolize a spiral or whirlpool—great spinning energy. Think of the Whirling Dervishes. Octopus doesn’t get dizzy from this spinning energy, but others do. Sometimes things need to get stirred up when a change is in order. Of course, there may be the temptation to use Octopus for nefarious or selfish purposes. But creating confusion and illusion, making the enemy dizzy, will powerfully help you escape real danger.
That swirling energy can also clear the confusion and illusion. When mental clutter is swirling around you, use Octopus to clear it away. You get to choose how and when to use the swirling.
In contrast to creating spinning energy, Octopus can also be used to calm swirling, spinning emotions. The ocean in which Octopus lives is a symbol of emotions. When your emotions are making you confused, when you find yourself believing the illusion of fear, use Octopus to stop the whirlpool so you can get your bearings.
Octopus dramatically changes colors and textures, not just for camouflage, but also to show its emotions. You naturally use this gift of color-shifting and texture-shifting, readily showing your true colors and your true feelings. The challenge is feeling safe while wearing your heart on your eight sleeves. Being thatvulnerably emotional can make you feel like hiding. Yes, Octopus is a master of hiding. Just be careful that you don’t stay hidden forever.
To learn more about physical octopus, I highly recommend reading The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery. Better yet, listen to the audiobook narrated by the author herself. You will hear her non-fiction recounting of her time with octopuses as a gorgeous narrative that brings you as close to this intelligent, soulful creature as you can get without physically being with them.