Gifts: Discernment. Individuality within the herd. Harmony of opposites. Cutting through illusions.
Challenges: Losing your Self in the herd. Rejecting nuances of life. Prejudice.
To our human eyes, zebras all look alike. But our eyes are easily fooled. We like to believe illusions. In reality, each zebra in a herd is a totally unique individual. Zebras‘ stripes are as unique as our fingerprints. From the perspective of a predator, zebras blend together when they are in a herd. There are a few lessons here for you. Yes, there is safety in the herd. Seeming to blend in provides protection. But the other part of the lesson is that you do not have to give up your individuality when you appear to blend in.
Physical zebras benefit from losing themselves in the herd. If a predator can’t see you, the predator can’t catch you. You, on the other hand, do not want to lose yourself in the herd. (That’s the shadow side of Zebra.) For you, blending in with the herd means finding a tribe that really fits you. You’re not giving yourself up in order to fit in. That’s an essential difference to remember!Zebras are the eyes of the savanna. Their eyesight is excellent, and other prey animals respond when zebras warn of predators. Wildebeest, for example, has poor eyesight. It senses predators by smell and by listening to Zebra’s warning calls.
A challenge here is that Zebra trusts its vision so much that it doesn’t always listen to its gut—or to the intuition of others. I watched a lioness stalk a herd of wildebeest in Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. The wildebeest couldn't see the lioness, but they sensed her presence. They didn’t panic and set off in a stampede. But they did alert each other and move away to safety. The zebras, however, didn’t see anything, and so they didn’t leave. They didn’t sense the lioness, and they didn’t heed the wildebeest warnings. What happened? The lioness caught a zebra.
You can discern with more than just your eyes—with more than just any single sense. The lesson for you is to “see” with all of your senses.
Zebra’s discernment reminds me of the lines from Antoine de St. Exupéry’s The Little Prince:
“On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible aux yeux.”
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Physical zebras do not always remember this lesson. But spirit animal Zebra is the embodiment of the lesson. Zebra’s discernment cuts through illusion and reconnects you with inner wisdom. It transcends eyes and ears and even intuition. It relies on nothing and integrates everything.