Gifts: Vulnerability as a strength. Colorful. Charismatic. Charming. Willing to take risks. Confident.
Challenges: Arrogance. Blind confidence. Fear of vulnerability. Avoiding criticism or ridicule.
Unlike Porcupine who hides its vulnerabilities, Quetzal teaches you that power comes from flaunting your vulnerability. Quetzal is an Amazonian bird with very bright feathers and an extraordinarily long tail. From a survival perspective, the tail doesn’t seem to make sense because it makes the quetzal highly vulnerable to predators. It’s easy to catch that long, bright tail!
Evolutionarily speaking, the tail confers an advantage on the quetzals that survive long enough to successfully reproduce. Females will be more likely to select the males with the longest tails.
“Look at me with this extraordinarily long tail. Isn’t it sexy that no one’s eaten me yet? Don’t you want to mate with me?”
(Swoon.) “Why, yes. Yes, I do!”
And, thus, the genes for extraordinarily long tails and flaunting your vulnerability get passed on. Quetzal teaches releasing the fear of vulnerability through confidence, charisma, and a willingness to take risks. With a vulnerability that stands out as much as that tail does, Quetzal has to be confident—or feign confidence until it’s true.
Like kids who get bullied then grow up to be rock stars, famous actors, or billionaire CEOs, Quetzal’s charismatic exterior belies a secret insecurity. With Quetzal as your spirit animal, you may still feel vulnerable. But you have acquired (and are still acquiring) tools to transform what you once thought of as a weakness into a source of power.
Having a vulnerability that you can’t hide, you discover that the best way of mitigating danger is to actually take risks. Calculated risks, but still risks. When you take the risk, like Quetzal flying through the rainforest, you have more control within the potential for danger. You’re not a victim to bullies. You are the captain of your own ship, daring to sail through dangerous waters.
A challenge of Quetzal is being truly vulnerable without being arrogant or too controlling. You may think you’re being being open and raw, giving people a look at the Real You. But really you’re giving them a selective peek at what you don’t mind them seeing. When they open the curtain a bit too much, you withdraw, puff up, and push them back out. Quetzal isn’t saying you have to let them all the way in right away. Just let the curtains flutter as they will. Sit with the vulnerability. See how intimate you can let yourself truly get.