The Spirit In Our Stories!

Updated: October 7, 2019

First, I want to thank everyone who commented on last week’s blog. It meant so much to me to receive your kindness as I shared about my father in law’s crossing. It hasn’t been an easy week and so I’m grateful to know you care.

In my video this week you’ll see Marc and me took time out from all the grief, and hard work to have some fun. We went goat shmurgling!! (SHMURGLE Definition; snuggle, smooch, hug, cuddle ANY animal but particularly and with emphasis—a Nigerian Dwarf Goat.) I had the best time walking with a herd of goats, then enjoying some canoodling and kissing and getting head-butted by them. I love the significance of the spirit of this special animal. 

When I was 8 years old, my family lived in the West Indies on an island near Antigua called Dominica and there was a disabled woodcarver that lived and worked near us who also had a few goats. I would go over to play with them when I wasn’t collecting lizards. I loved the way the two babies smelled and would push their bony heads into my tummy or nuzzle my neck and bleat. My father taught me about the goat as a spirit animal—the goat represented the skill to navigate dangerous places. I thought how fitting for our times and how I wish I had included this animal in my Oracle Deck, but there wasn’t enough room for all of them! (I literally had too many, I could have created two whole decks!!)

My dad loved to sit us down and tell us stories. His wisdom about spirit animals was passed down through the verbal tradition of his Mongolian grandmother—a young midwife who escaped the harsh Chinese occupation in the 1800s by trekking from Western Mongolia through Kazakhstan. There she met a trading family who took her with them to Serbia. She married my grandfather, a farmer who was Serbian Orthodox Christian, but my dad told me that she never converted from her animistic roots. My grandmother was beautiful and feisty and would stand at the back of the Orthodox church where women and men were separated and she’d spit on the floor as a quiet rebellion. My dad loved her and was very proud that he could trace our family lineage to Genghis Khan (which my mom was not happy about at all, as she wished we could fit more naturally into Canadian society. It was hard enough for her to have her own connection to the Holocaust and fragmented family history). 

 Although the Slavic people also had their own original folklore around the spiritual significance of animals, it was my dad’s grandmother and his mother who taught him the meanings, and by the time they were passed down to me as my Dad taught me the skill of tasseomancy with Turkish coffee cups. I inherited a blend of two rich spiritual cultures. I never questioned where anything came from because I just knew it was part of my family history, and also included my nanny Mrs. Kelly who hailed from the highlands of Scotland. She had her versions too, but they were similar if not the same as what my dad taught me. The only time I heard there were differing ideas about spirit animals was in Dominica. 

My dad remarked to Lando (the woodcarver) that he wanted to give me a carving of a lizard to remind me “not to be lazy” and to use my imagination and follow my dreams, but Lando said, “No, that’s not what a lizard means here. Here they represent the spirits of our ancestors and we have a superstition that if a lizard comes into your room an ancestor is calling you.” My dad didn’t get the lizard carving but he did get me a “mountain chicken” (another name for the giant frogs on the island).  

It was the only conversation I remember with my dad differentiating the meanings of animals as he told me over and over that nature is universal and the stories and meanings of nature’s creatures individuate through different places and the imaginations of the people there. In my Spirit Animal Oracle Deck, I tried to find as many universal meanings as I could, while including animals from everywhere in the world. I honestly could have had twice as many cards in my deck. 

Being with these fun goats “shmurgling” at Haute Goat made me very wistful. Learning about spirit animals from my dad is one of my favorite memories of him. And of course, Mrs. Kelly who croaked like a frog sometimes when she swallowed and spoke about the magic in the world. It’s good to be inspired by fond memories and what can link you to your family’s stories, especially now for me as death has recently claimed another. I’m putting the puzzle together from the pieces that were left behind and I’m really amazed at everything my family has been through. Turns out I come from tough stock and I’m personally not interested in “fitting in”(sorry mom) anywhere! 

Anyway, I could go on and on, but I’d love to invite you to share a story that your parents told you about your ancestors and what they passed down to you too. Maybe it’s your favorite recipe, ritual or prayer!

Look forward to your share—all my love!



Showing 26 comments
  • Deborah Tibbetts-Tumiel

    (I wrote Marc, a personal message for both of you on his FB message page, hoping you both received it. If not my Deepest Condolences to your entire family)
    I don’t remember any great spiritual stories from my family, just one that I may have stirred up.
    As a teenager, I was having tooth dreams, whenever someone was about to pass. The larger or more forward the tooth, the closer the relative.
    When I woke one morning my Mama, said “you look tired” I said “ because I was dreaming of my teeth falling out all night “ She turned white as a sheet & said “ Omg, my grandmother (maternal) use to have those & someone, always passed. You’re just like her” and as I was walking away from her down the hall…I said “ How do you know I’m not her” ?
    It stopped me in my tracks & I said to myself Where did that come from ?
    I just blurted it out & it seemed so natural, so since I do believe in reincarnation, I just smiled & accept that I probably was her…which explained a lot since my Mama & I were so close & she has told me how much she had loved her & how hard it was when she passed away when she was just a young girl.
    I absolutely LOVED the goat farm visit !!!
    I have always loved goats & would like to own one, too. They are just so cute !!!
    Thanks, for taking us on your day trip !
    Love You To Pieces As Always 🤗💕

    • Linda

      My thoughts are with you and your family. My Great Grandma emigrated from Sweden when she was 17. Years later when she moved to San Francisco she became a member of a Spiritualist church there. I remember going to Grandma’s house every Sunday where over cookies and coffee the conversation would be who she reached in the seance that week. Specifically I remember her talking about how John F. Kennedy told her to “tell them to leave me alone” when they were moving his body all over the country after he was assassinated. She was also into the American Indian culture where she had her spirit guide. My Mother has Swedish and Scottish roots so I have embraced the beliefs of both cultures.

    • Colette Baron-Reid

      Thank you so so much – apparently goats make really wonderful pets and can be housetrained but you always have to have a pair of them 😉

      • Rose Romani

        I’ve just been to Italy Mount Etna and there was a local man with a lovely goat selling the volcanic rock with small ceramic ladybirds on as many found there, then I passed a green Lizard the following day, I thought,when home I will see the significance of them, so your post is a Cledon.😊hope the experience helped to ease some grief, even though we know they’ve moved on, hard for us feeling the loss.
        Love hugs and blessings🌹🙏

    • Tiziana Amagda Modotti

      You made me feel goosebumps

    • Anonymous

      Enjoy the cards thank u im cancer.

  • Leanne Newman

    Hey Colette
    Your lineage is amazing, its no wonder that you do what you do, how could you do anything else?!
    My family don’t really say much about things outside this reality, but I do know that my great grandmother was the local midwife and wise woman. She was known as a witch, and regularly read tea leaves. It turns out that my great grandmother and my husband’s grandmother used to go to each others houses and stir the cauldron together….do you think they knew our family lines would join in the end??!! I suspect they did.
    I find myself searching for knowledge and learning beyond the 5 senses because that kind of thing was never spoken about in my family, and since discovering your cards 2 and a half years ago my understanding has blossomed. I am still seen as the crazy one but I kind of like it!
    Anyway, I wish you peace and love on your journey through grief, I’m sure you are learning things from the pain that will only make you burn even brighter.
    Best wishes

    • Colette Baron-Reid

      Thanx for writing love this story!!

    • Tiziana Amagda Modotti

      Hi Colette, what a beautiful story! I have always had a kinship with Animals, especially Spirit Animals. My beloved pussycat Minnie (a Siamese Thai without tail) came in my dreams for years after she passed over for a bad illness. I cried all my tears, especially because I couldn’t even tell her goodbye. A morning I went to work, and when I came back in the evening Minnie was gone. Mum had brought her to vet in the afternoon without telling the rest of family. And she never wanted another pet, after. She had become her mom too, after 11 years together, and she still suffers, after 25 years. Weirdly, when I did my first shamanic voyage in 2001 or 2002 (I don’t remember) the Spirit Animal coming in the Underworld was the Tiger. And I found myself riding her into a tropical forest. When I heard about Goddess Durga some years ago, I thought about my experience with the Tiger. Then I did the Shamanic Quest with my Tarot Teacher (who had also a Native training) for finding my Totem Animals. And I got no Felix at all! Maybe the Tiger came because I needed in that moment… my Spirit Animal pack, besides the Fire Goat I am in Chinese Astrology, includes three birds: the Eagle, my Main Totem, following me from lives; the Blackbird, in Italian language Merlo, and my Master Guide is Merlin (and my Wiccan Name is Morgan Le Fay); the Falcon, or Hawk, and I am linked to Horus from my Egyptian lives, in the South, then I have the White Buffalo in the East, and when I started using the Goddess Power Oracle with the app, I had White Buffalo Calf Women for five times in a row; the Whale in the West, and the Armadile in the North. Then I have the Bear as Heart Animal (and Arthur means Bear…) and the Boar as Root Animal (and my family has mixed Celtic Roots) and a beautiful Fire Dragon called Drake as Sky Animal… and I was born scared by fire… and I nearly died by fire in 2002… but I am still here. I don’t know a lot about family traditions, because dad did only ancestor researches, but I know on his mother side they used to read cards and on his father side there could have been Gipsy Blood. As about Mum, I know nothing on grandda family, who were boat keepers on a lake (and he loved fishing), but grandma knew herbal remedies, and I think she was psychic and maybe medium, even if she never talked a lot about because she was very Catholic. But she was also linked to Padre Pio, she talked to in dreams, and to Mother Mary, my beloved Mum in Heaven.

  • Georgia Woodward

    Love this blog post, and video Colette and Mark. So very sorry for your recent loss.
    Most of my family is gone now. My Dad was German and Norwegian and told stories of his Mom( Norwegian,) making fish soup. He was grossed out by it because the eyeballs of the fish would be floating around in the soup/ heads and all. My grandfather I was told was very German and they lived in Brooklyn, NY. He was away a lot selling fire trucks. Would have loved to meet my grandparents but long gone before I arrived.

  • Dana Hauser

    Colette, my heart goes out to you and Marc in these days following your father in laws passing, your connection to all that is seen and unseen will surely show you signs that he is still with you- but it is oh so difficult to lose a loved one!! I am trying to remember all the lessons my mom taught me… one that sticks out is how she would always go into her room to pray, and what I now know is meditation. I used to think she was weak always needing to rest- but now I see it so differently. She was a Pisces (lightbulb!) and very intuitive….she needed this sacred time for herself so she could show up for us 4 kids…she taught me to always connect with God first – that was my most important relationship – and she read the Daily Word every morning…..( I took so much of her wisdom for granted and had to learn it all for myself- the hard way!) now I see how connected she was – how dedicated to her practice – and how it permeated her joyful 4 foot 11 being!! I am blessed she sends me signs through yellow butterflies, and hummingbirds and I can hear her voice saying, “Bloom Where You’re Planted- 🙂 “ she would have loved Oracle School and all we are experiencing here. Thank you for reminding me of her wisdom!

  • Honey Bee

    My family is from Yugoslavia, both Serbian and Croatian. And, on my mom’s side, all the British Isles. So, I am a mishmash too. My mom passed 8 days ago. Still waiting for a sign. None yet. Love to you in your deepest time of loss. I know it is so very hard. We know they go on, and they are whole and happy, but we are here in this physical realm without them. I am comforted to know that my mom passed on Michaelmas. When she was struggling, I asked Archangel Michael to come get her when it was time. So passing on the feast of St. Michael and the archangels is perfect. <3 🙁

  • Kate

    Hi Colette — it is easy to see why the animal spirit deck feels so powerful and connected to your spirit! What a wonderful gift from your father & nanny to know animals in a spiritual way.
    My mother was tuned to Spirit in ways that influenced me a lot. We were raised Roman Catholic and my father was more traditional in following the letter of the church law. My mom, however, was a bit of a spiritual rebel. Her mother, an Irish Catholic, left the church after her husband ran off leaving her with two small babies in the 1920s. Her mother converted to Christian Science & was fervent about it, always trying to convert my mom. My mom wasn’t interested, but she was open to Edgar Cayce writings, charismatic prayer, openly honoring saints, and avidly listening to people of all faiths.
    One day my mom told me about a vision she’d received from the Virgin Mary after my oldest brother had been drafted into the U.S. army during the Vietnam War. The morning he left to check-in with the army, she stood at the kitchen sink washing dishes while crying and praying for his safety. She said Mary suddenly appeared and told her my brother was going to be ok, not to worry, and to trust God. A few hours later the front door opened and my brother walked in. He’d been classified 4A because of a back problem we had not been aware of and it kept him out of the army & Vietnam.
    She shared other such spiritual experiences she’d had which helped open me up beyond the church’s ideas of what was legit in the world of spiritual possibilities.
    A final note: My dad, who was not in tune with this stuff, passed away & when I went to a medium a few years ago the medium said, “Your father is here but he’s saying he’s not sure he should be because he never thought this was something he’d ever do.” Ha! So true. But then he began to open up thru the medium revealing just how much he’s evolved positively in spirit and happier in a place where church rules don’t matter anymore 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Each one of these stories is a treasure! My thanks to each one of you for sharing such inspiration through the ages!

  • Martina

    Hi Colette, a strange thing happened today…and now, as I read your blog, I realize that it wasn’t strange at all. A pretty little story I like to share.
    After more than 9 years that my mother died, I decided to go back to my parents house. This morning, when I went down to the basement, there was a black lizard sitting there next to the stairs. A lizard in the house is strange enough, but in Oktober, in Germany….
    Its a nice idea, that the ancestors came around to say hello….
    …and by the way: I love goats!

  • Kathryn

    Love your stories Colette! I have a friend who has 2 miniature goats. They are so cute & they do go in their house. I love working with her horses using Jin Shin Jyutsu hands on work. I just love the smell of horses. She also has chickens & we collect eggs that are so yummy. As far as I remember my Dad always said I was Amish because I did things when the Spirit moved me (haha). My Mom’s family was from Lebanon. They were always in the kitchen cooking & speaking Arabic. It was very boring for me. I wanted to be running & playing outside not dressed up, not able to touch anything or do anything but just sit. I did learn how to cook Lebanese food but my daughter is the one who spent a lot of time with her grandmother & learned how to cook. That was a great bonding experience for both of them. And I still do things when the Spirit moves me!

  • Renee Sugar

    Dear Colette;
    How lovely to have nurtured those connections with your parents and grandparents. They provide very special memories and moments to weave into the tapestry of your life.
    I never knew my grandparents but know that they came from from Poland on my fathers’ side, and Russia on my mothers’. My mothers’ family came from an artisan town, which I wonder if that is a genetic link to why I am such a multi-faceted creative soul. My dad loved to sing and I have so many lyrics stored in my mental database that I remember my father would sing. ” Fly me to the moon ” . ” Moon River.” ” KKKKKKatie.”
    I began my musical journey studying classical piano at age 7. The Royal Conservatory exams followed and a private teacher that I studied with for nearly 14 years. Still a very integral part of my life, musically speaking. Probably I am not like anyone in my family, often wondered why I felt like such an outsider, and believe that the creative genes are a part of that individuation process and way of life. I have had the honor and privilege to meet such interesting people throughout my life. The entire Hay House family from whom I have inherited a wealth of wisdom, insight, and guidance that could only have come from individuals who didn’t fit the mold. Visionaries, and groundbreaking teachers who have walked the walk, and have become examples of potential that we all have within. My father’s alcoholism took his life very early; nonetheless it led me to embark on a journey that has left an indelible mark on my soul. ” We are a part of everything we have met ” Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Faith Oglesby

    My heartfelt condolences to you and Marc on the passing on to the other side of Marc’s feather. Thank you for sharing your day trip to Haute Goat and I so love goats! I dont really have any excitung stories to share from my families heritage in regards to mystical happening but a couple of my adult daughters and I are into the mystic side of life. My grandoarents on both sides came from Europe. Dad’s parents both came to America from Germany. Mom’s dad came from England and her mom came from Denmark so we had an interesting cultural tradition on various holidays and reunions.
    Here’s to my making memoria with my adult children and grandchildren as I listen and learn from you, Colette and those individuals I learn from visiting your page/website.
    Thank you again for sharing what you have learned on your life’s your key and helping to encourage your followers to follow their life’s path. Namaste

  • Michèle

    Hi Colette! I love your stories about your family. To be honest, I am still curious about a post you wrote a while back about family stories and DNA and things not being the way they were told? You mentioned you were still discovering more about that and I am looking forward to more of your stories. As for ancestors – well, as a kid, my mom could see and hear poltergeists and my great grandmother did as well. My mother apparently always knows in advance when people close to her are going to pass, especially family (there are a lot of aunts, uncles, cousins). She just has that feeling of knowing. As for my grandmother, she was the most eccentric person, believing in past lives, UFOs, things disappearing into other dimensions and lots of other stories. I remember as kids my brother and I used to make fun of her as she was a little too “way out there”, with her feet not quite on the ground. She joined many sects but thankfully for us, never stayed very long in any (as she always knew better than the current guru). Yet now the joke is on me, as I ended up becoming a hypnotherapist and having past life experiences, learning animal communication and having a horse “haunt my mind” until I connected to her and told her story to her owner, as well as experiencing “shamanic”/sangoma kind of dreams. I have ended up being fascinated with energy healing etc. even though I was brought up by my father and brother to be extremely scientifically minded and cartesian about life. My mother’s side of the family, however, living with spirits and pendulums and reincarnation was always more fascinating to me. It seems you cannot disown your ancestors after all 🙂

  • Poetry Witch aka Lisa Jane

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your father in law, we have to take comfort that they have moved on as you know to a better place, but it still doesn’t take away
    that empty void and how much we miss them in our lives, so yes hugs to you and yours.

    As to what story to share well:-

    I never knew my grandparents as my mother had me quite late in life
    She was 32 when she had my brother and 37 when she had me.

    I used to question about my grandparents being as they all had passed
    before I was born, to which my mom didn’t really say much about her
    mother only that she died from an illness:-

    It wasn’t until I was in my early thirties, that I felt that my mother wasn’t
    telling me the truth about my grandmother, it just didn’t sit right with me.

    One day my aunt came to visit, being mom’s older sister, so I asked her about my grandmother.

    My aunt looked at my mother and said “haven’t you told her what happened?” my mom just said “no”and walked out the room. It transpires that my grandmother suffered post natal depression, my grandmother was 39 at the time and her baby daughter was only 3 weeks old.

    My mother came from a big family my mom being 14 years of age,
    there were twins 18 months old a boy and a girl, the 3 week old baby, then there
    was a three and four year old (girls) and then older siblings who were 18 and 19 years of age but they had left home, the family was made up of 9 children in total spanning as I said all different ages.

    Money in those times was tight and my grandmother was struggling
    to cope having postnatal depression which then wasn’t really understood back then.

    My mom being 14 had told my grandmother that she had found a little
    part time job to help bring in some extra money, but my grandmother
    said she could have done with her help in the house that morning, the two younger girls were at school, so that left the 18month old twins and the 3 week old baby in the house.

    My mom was due to start a morning job just for a few hours in a local grocery shop and she said she would help later when she came back home, plus the extra money would help towards the bills. So off my mom went to work.

    My grandfather used to work at his father’s coal yard and used to deliver coal on the old barges along the canal pulled by horses back then, he would be out really early in a morning and not get back home till late, so I can understand why my grandmother was feeling the way she was just too many mouths to feed, feeling tired and just struggling mentally with everything.

    So once my mom had left the house an hour later my grandmother put the two 18 month old twins and the 3 week old baby into a pram and pushed them down to the canal to which she pushed the pram into the water and then jumped in herself, someone saw it happen and tried desperately to save them but they all sadly drowned:-

    My mom being 14 years of age suddenly had the responsibility of being mom
    to her two younger sisters, not an easy task, I can’t even imagine how my mom must have felt at that time, the guilt must have weighed heavy on her heart, blaming herself the old if only I hadn’t of started that job that morning.

    The irony is my mom suffered postnatal depression after I was born, she didn’t want any more children after my brother, but it was my father who said we can’t just have one child and persuaded her to have another i.e. me:-

    Yet I went through my childhood having that detachment and being told
    on many occasions that I wasn’t wanted, I didn’t feel any love from my
    mother growing up and it was a hard thing to understand and accept, but
    then the penny dropped when I found out what happened to my grandmother.

    How could my mother give love to her own children when she had never been
    loved herself and robbed of her teenage years to play mom to other siblings.

    It wasn’t until later in my mother’s life when her health really went down hill
    and she was totally disabled from the age of 80 and also suffered dementia,
    for those 7 years I cared for her as I would never have put her in a home,
    she didn’t deserve that and as hard as it was for me to hear the words of
    I love you, I don’t know what I would of done without you , cut deep, but it was her way of expressing her love towards me after all these years.

    I was a lot was closer to my father, he always made time to spend with us as kids and into our adult lives, but he sadly passed away when he was only 62 and I was 26, my son was only a month old 🙁 his only grandchild, so that was painful for him to miss out on being a grandfather.

    So what I learned from my mother was she made me tough, she never sugar
    coated anything, she would always say to me no one is your friend in this life,
    you come in on your own and you leave on your own:- You have to learn
    to stand on your own two feet, never depend on anyone but yourself:- My mom
    was very psychic and could predict things, she also used to read the tea leaves which is something I grew up watching her do when her friends popped round to visit, so her spiritual gifts have passed on to me along with all her old wives tales.

    She also told me always believe in yourself, never let people walk over you
    speak your mind, please or offend but the main lesson was it’s never too late
    to learn to love, sadly it took my mom to her 80’s to show her affection and love
    to me but I forgave her for that, that is why I try to love everyone and everything around me.

    My mother also taught me that life is tough and no matter what it throws at you, you just have to get on with it and have faith it will all come right in the end.

    AMEN x

  • Kirsty

    Hi Colette and Marc, my heartfelt condolences on your loss. I lost my mother last year, and at the ripe ole age of 50 something I suddenly realised My siblings and I were orphans. Yikes, I didn’t think that would bother me at my age, But I have had a hard time coming to terms that both parents are now in spirit. it was made easier when I realised I could still have an amazing relationship with them, it is amazing how many of my questions get answered, seemingly from nowhere. I am of Scottish and English heritage, and the Scottish side is very spiritual and “Fey” it was just accepted in our family that weird things happened or were seen or felt and it was just the norm. it was outsiders, friends and school chums that had a harder time dealing with our normal, unless they too were of Scottish heritage, then they understood.
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful stories, and the card readings. I look forward to Tuesday morning (I am in Australia) to catch up with you every week.

    • Poetry Witch

      A reply to Kirsty’s post:-

      I know what you mean about feeling like an orphan when you lose both of your parents, it’s the strangest feeling ever, such a emptiness in one’s soul, my mom passed over aged 87 on 20th December 2017, my father passed at 62 on 27th December 1992 both parents passed just before or just after the Christmas period. It was had due to the long wait to sort out the funerals, so it drags it out even more, but yes i miss my parents deeply but know it’s a fact of life, I still talk to them if I need help or guidance hoping they are listening to me somewhere. But yes it’s a hard thing to move on from but we all have to do it. I am slowly trying to write a journal to leave behind for my son when anything happens to me, something he can reference to when he finds himself in times of sadness or grief, leaving positive things for him to focus on life, to help him accept the orphan stage. It’s one thing to have memories in your head but to hold something left by you parent or parents offers more comfort I feel, so yes that’s my plan, he has no idea i’m writing it but one day he will, just hope not for many years yet …smiles xxx

    • Colette Baron-Reid

      me too I lost both my parents at 33 and 35 so I was an “orphan” early and really felt it. No matter that I am a medium I felt the deep loss in surprisingly intense way. Love your “fey” normal.

  • Moira

    Such an amazing story Colette, thanks for sharing. My heart goes out to you and Marc at this very sad time, I hope your little time outs are helping you both through your grief. My sweet mum passed over in June, she was from London, England, a very kind, loving and giving person with a beautiful soul. She didn’t have a spiritual life here……but she does now, 😇 I can feel her loving presence.
    Big hugs to you both.

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