In Western culture, we value the mind for making sense of the world and our experiences. But while we might think we possess our mind, our mind can possess us. The challenge of jaguar in the wisdom wheel does not require you to cut your brain out of your head or make it your enemy. It requires you to optimize your brain, detoxifying it and upgrading it so that you can attain the wisdom gift of jaguar: the conquering of your primal and existential fears, especially your fear of death and your fear of being hurt by love. It’s fear that keeps you attached to things you need to let die. It’s fear that keeps you from moving forward into unfamiliar territory with the ease of a jaguar exploring the unknown. It’s fear that causes you to focus on the power to dominate others and get them to follow your will when it’s the power to collaborate and co-create that you’ve been missing—the power of the divine feminine.
The Tibetan female deities, known as the dakinis, are often depicted holding a moon-shaped knife in one hand and a cup made from a skull in the other. I always found these images intriguing and wondered why they were so prevalent in the Himalayan region. When I began to learn the way of the jaguar medicine with Amazon shamans who employed ayahuasca—the vine of death—to facilitate their journeying, I started looking into the dakinis. Dakinis represent the union of wisdom, which is represented by the skull, and skillful means, represented by the knife. These deities also represent separating from worldly attachments—what the brain perceives and desires—to achieve enlightenment.
In the world of science, we identify with the mind and with the brain, the seat of consciousness. I wondered: Did the dakinis suggest that you had to do away with your brain altogether to attain enlightenment? I remembered reading how the ancient Egyptians mummified every organ in the body so the deceased pharaoh could gain use of them in the afterlife—except for the brain. They unceremoniously drained the brain out of the skull by sticking two straws up the mummy’s nostrils.
The brain and the mind can get in the way of where you want to go. It’s the jaguar that gives us the power and courage to take the leap out of our need to feel safe and secure in the world and trust in the unseen. And it’s the jaguar that is our ally and companion as we descend into the darkness of Mother Earth, entering the belly of the divine feminine, to heal those parts of us that are encased in pain.
Here in the dark womb, we discover the love of the eternal mother, the one who will never leave us, who will hold us until the end of our days and offer us resources and allies if we surrender our fear and trust in her loving, healing ways. She will offer us the seeds for growth and limitless possibilities for finding and generating love. When these seeds germinate, we will be able to stop expecting the people we love to love us back exactly as we want them to. Then we will become love itself.
Jaguar’s gift to us is this: our fear of disconnection through romantic breakups, estrangements, or even death will be soothed by a faith that love will find ways to renew itself in myriad forms. As humans, we are social creatures who need others—who need to feel we can be fully ourselves, vulnerable yet safe, with another human being. I’ll never forget the intense feeling of connection I had after coming out of isolation with Marcela during the pandemic when I saw an old friend and hugged him. Before, it would have been an ordinary greeting. Now I felt its power and was reminded of jaguar’s lesson: love is everywhere, expressing itself over and over again. There’s no need to fear that it will disappear.
Are you ready to experience fearless, endlessly espressing love?