Is Godzilla Your Power Animal?
Reclaiming the Strength of Your So-Called Monsters
Within that which you fear, there is spiritual potential. Reclaim your monsters and awaken to the presence of God in Godzilla.
“When I catch myself saying ‘God’ in vain, I finish it with ‘zilla!’” my friend Jen confessed. I immediately thought, “Jen is infinitely brilliant. I’m stealing this.” For context, we were sharing our challenges around cursing―and the tendency to use Divine names in non-divine ways.
Embedded in the cleverness of Jen’s practice there was a powerful spiritual lesson. The word God is nestled right there within the monster’s name. Admittedly, it’s unintentional. Godzilla is an Anglicized version of the Japanese terms for gorilla (ゴリラ, gorira) and whale (鯨クジラ, kujira).
This coincidence creates a useful metaphor: Within that which we fear, there is spiritual potential.
Reclaim Your Monsters
Continued yelling of “God ... zilla!” brought his qualities more fully into my consciousness: Do I ever radiate atomic energy that is hazardous to the people around me? Do I stomp on people to get my way? How do I deal with anger? The more I pondered what I had in common with Godzilla, the more he appeared—from movie ads to casual references in conversations. It was as if he was cosmically stalking me.
Then last week the significance was revealed. I was interviewing Power Animals author Steven D. Farmer, who noted that spirit guides “collaborate with you, even though you may not be aware of it.” He suggested people should watch out for any unusual appearance or repetition of a being within a short period of time.
Farmer included mythological creatures, advising, “The reason a spirit animal can be Pegasus, Phoenix, Dragon, or Unicorn is that they are in our consciousness. It’s an image that is shared by a vast number of human beings, and so it exists in that similar realm as Elephant or Crow.” He then chuckled, “Although I’ve yet to see anybody have Godzilla as a spirit animal.”
To which I responded, “I’m taking that on as a challenge, Steven.”
Monster as a spirit guide? Well, Tibetan Buddhists believe Yeti can practice religion. And there’s a bit of biblical precedence in Behemoth―which my Oxford commentary defines as “a large animal, exact identity unknown.” In the Bible, he’s described as an early creation of God and a grass-eater who lives under lotus plants. (#VeganBuddhamoth?) Paradoxically, this big guy seems quite spiritual and admirable rather than scary. The book of Job describes:
For the mountains yield food for him
where all the wild beasts play.
Under the lotus plants, he lies,
in the shelter of the reeds and in the marsh.
For his shade, the lotus trees cover him;
the willows of the brook surround him.
Behold, if the river is turbulent, he is not frightened;
he is confident though Jordan rushes against his mouth.
Beyond Behemoth, the Jewish tradition describes other massive beings: Leviathan, the giant sea creature, and Ziz, a griffin-like bird. Sacred texts note people feared these larger-than-life beings that could not be controlled or subdued—in similar ways to how we might view Spielberg’s Jaws or Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons.
[Also read: “10 Powerful Affirmations Based on the Phoenix.”]
But what might we learn by reclaiming those we label monster? To notice their innate qualities of strength, fortitude, and unshakeable presence? How can we model Behemoth’s confidence when facing turbulence or Godzilla’s willingness to protect someone he loves? Taking these beings on as our Power Animals, we can listen intently for the messages they might whisper to us or the metaphors they might inspire.
We may even awaken to the presence of God in Godzilla.
Resist the Urge to “Monster” Others
This insight can also extend beyond mythological creatures. Because, sadly, we don’t just create monsters out of other species. We do it to people, too. In fact, the etymological root monste means “malformed animal or human, creature afflicted with a birth defect.”
As children, we are inundated with images of disfigured humans cast in a negative light. Anti-ableism advocate Amanda Leduc explores the long heritage of this practice in her book Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space. Leduc reveals that beauties are rewarded with handsome cisgender, heteronormative princes―while injured, aging, or differently-abled bodies represent evil, corruption, misery, and immorality. Hunched backs, disfigured limbs, and scarred faces shape human monsters.
To live happily ever after, we must resist the urge to “monster” others and stop equating different with less than. Instead, we must become aware of the strength in bodies that are cast as broken, and see their God-ness and goodness. “Life in a disabled body has its own particular joys. Being disabled puts us on a level of intimacy with our bodies that in some ways remains, ironically, inaccessible to the able-bodied. We do not have to be happy in spite of disability. We can be happy because of it,” suggests Leduc. “In a world such as this, the disabled body can be a hero. And there needn’t even be a quest for them to prove it.”
To live happily ever after, we must resist the urge to “monster” others and stop equating different with less than. Instead, we must become aware of the strength in bodies that are cast as broken, and see their God-ness and goodness.
Super-Size Your Practices
- Start a divine language detox practice: “God ... zilla!”
- Learn more about Behemoth by meditating on the words of Job 40:15-24 or 2 Esdras 6:38-54.
- Curl up with a cup of dragon fruit tea and get lost in Shaun Hamill’s quirky novel A Cosmology of Monsters. This winding story explores the relationship between humans and monsters―and the tension in how we define each.
- Listen to Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space to learn more about how fairy tales influence how we view “disability” and “difference.” Or check out the Disability Pride Reading List.
- Meditate on the beautiful mythical beings in Mythopedia: An Encyclopedia of Mythical Beasts and Their Magical Tales, created by award-winning Scottish artists Becky Bolton and Louise Chappell.
Read more on faith, spirituality, and your furry and feathered friends from animal chaplain Sarah Bowen.