“In mythology, folklore and speculative fiction, shapeshifting (or metamorphosis)is the ability of a being or creature to completely transform its physical form or shape. This is usually achieved through an inherent ability of a mythological creature, divine intervention, or the use of magic.” (Wikipedia)
In shamanic societies, shapeshifting is widely accepted as truth, and stories passed through the generations often feature people who can transform at will into animals or other creatures. Most of us remember tales that included humans turning into animals (or the reverse) from children’s literature and may have read such stories to our own children. For those amongst us who enjoy fantasy and/or magical realism, shapeshifters continue into our adult reading. While authors incorporate shapeshifting characters to achieve any number of results, one thing is certain: Once a shapeshifter performs their magic, nothing will be quite as it was before.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t morph into a wolf, snake, boar, or any other creature. Morning, noon, and night I’m just me, a middle-aged (if I live to be 110) American woman with a few extra pounds, a mop of unruly curls, and a persistent and serious jones for cheeseburgers and carrot cake. But my regularness doesn’t mean I’m not powerful or that I don’t possess my own brand of magic. I most certainly am and do. And like any good shapeshifter, when I perform my magic, nothing is quite as it was before.
Let me ask you this: Have you ever been in a tense, angry, or uncomfortable situation and though part of you would like to look outside of yourself and place blame, you are fully aware that your attitude and/or behavior is at least partially responsible? No? Yeah, me neither. You and I, perfect beings that we are, would never stoop so low. We bring goodness and light to our every endeavor. We’re never gruff and we never jump to conclusions. We’re far too evolved for that sort of nonsense. Right?
So what does this have to do with shapeshifting? Everything. You and I, with our well-intended imperfections, have the ability to step into uncomfortable situations and work a little practical magic. When we do, everything that happens after is different than it might have been. I’ll explain.
Let’s say you’re in the grocery store and for the third time in just this aisle, you’ve been bumped into by the cart of whomever is behind you. This time, it didn’t just get your hiney, but the back of your ankle and it hurt like a sonofabitch. Furious, you turn around. There’s a woman standing there, turned to pluck a box of cereal from the shelf. She’s wearing an infant in a baby-sling, has a toddler in her cart, and a kid who looks to be about seven appears to be the one steering the cart. Lovely. You glare at him, then at his mother.
From here, this can go one of two ways, and the choice is yours. You can admonish the mother and the under-aged driver, reminding both that you are made of flesh and blood and as such, are no competition for an out of control metal cart. You can look at her with disdain and comment that maybe people who can’t control their kids might want to think before popping them out in rapid fire succession.
You certainly could react that way and I’m sure many in that situation have. And I suppose from a nuts and bolts perspective, you wouldn’t be terribly wrong. After all, the kid obviously isn’t ready to handle the cart, your ankle is skinned and painful, and parents are responsible for keeping a handle on their kids. You’re the victim here.
But then again, what would reacting that way serve? Either way, she’s got three little ones and needs to bring home some food. Your words may or may not make her more attentive and they may or may not spark an argument. They’d almost certainly make her feel lousy, and then instead of just you being hurt, she would be, too.
Enter shapeshifting you. You and your skinned ankle turn around, furious. You see the mother and her children, and you’re about to lash out. But then something happens. There’s a change. You change. Instead of seeing her as an irresponsible over-breeder and her firstborn as wild demon-spawn, you see a perfectly wonderful young family. You remember being the parent of little ones—beautiful children, just as hers are. Your heart softens toward them; you can actually feel the change within you. You rub your ankle and look at the oldest child. “Careful there, buddy. I think you went over the speed limit.”
Because your face and voice express only kindness, the mother likely apologizes. You graciously accept. You tell her how beautiful her children are and add that you sometimes miss those early parenting years, as hectic and crazy as they were. She feels anything but lousy and you feel pretty good, too. Even your ankle stings less than it did. You worked your magic and as promised, nothing is quite as it was before.
We’re all just people, living each day in the best way we know how. And though we may sometimes feel like we can’t seem to get anything quite right, one small shift can change everything. I have magic. You have magic. Let’s use it wisely.
~*~ Today’s image courtesy of pixabay ~ Free and fabulous. ~*~