Oh Midnight Jaguar ... Wash me with your courage

And steel me with your grace,

So I may know the value of

The void of time and space

Teach me all your lessons,

How to face the dark unknown.

Than let me bravely leap

Into the shadows all alone.



Animal Medicine

The Native American people believe that we all communicate through one creative force or Great Spirit that lives within the Great Mystery.  Native American medicine is anything that strengthens the connection to the Great Mystery and to all of life, healing the body, mind and spirit.  It is a way of life based on walking on the Earth Mother in perfect harmony and balance with the Universe.  Animals have the gift to teach us how to achieve this healing process.  Each animal has many lessons to share with us.  Every person has the potential to find an animal that speaks to his or her needs.  The creature you choose can carry special medicine for you, a species with which you have an important connection.   This animal becomes your guide or power ally, a mentor with whom you learn and grow.  The spirit of your power ally connects you with the Earth, the animals and the Great Mystery. 


In "Sorcerer's Apprentice," Sam meets her animal spirit guide. While working on a case in Arkansas on the Zaca Reservation, she encounters a Black Panther. The chief of the Zaca Tribe, Uncle Joe helps her discover that the Panther she sees is her spirit guide.


Uncle Joe: "I was in the purification lodge last night. The rocks told me you would come."

Sam: "There...there was a...a cat, a Panther."

Uncle Joe: "Black with yellow eyes."

Sam: "Yes. Is he yours?"

Uncle Joe: "Is *she* mine? She's your spirit, Miss Waters. A guide. You and her have chosen one another because you are connected in here (he places his hand over his heart)."

Sam: "It's funny. I wasn't...afraid. It's as if I knew she wouldn't do me any harm."

Uncle Joe: "You have great vision. You see into the spirits of men. Your vision troubles you. Sometimes you feel it is better not to know."

Sam: "A lot of what I see is very dark."

Uncle Joe: "You suffer too. Not from what you see but from a terrible loss. A shadow follows you. You will have to battle that shadow. You may fail."

Sam: "How do you know all of this?"

Uncle Joe: "We both search for the truth. You have your diplomas and your duties. I have thousands of years of history and the Great Mystery is with me."


In the Native American Culture, the Black Panther symbolizes "Embracing the Unknown." The Black Panther's medicine allows us to face our fears and darkest behaviors, exploring the hidden shadowy aspects of the human soul. In the homeland of the Caddo Tribe, the Black Panther's Clan was known as the Midnight or Black Jaguar. According to legend, most of the Panther's tribe had been killed by human beings who feared their own dark nature. These people were in need of the Panther's healing medicine. She waited patiently for them to come to her, to go beyond their fears and trust her. The color black is respected and honored by the red race. Darkness is a place to heal, to uncover the truth, to seek and find answers. Through dreams, the Black Panther teaches us to look inside of ourselves into those places that need healing, to embrace uncomfortable territory through self-discovery and courageously face the unknown.

Panthers are quiet and very sensitive. They have good vision and hearing and are very much at ease with being alone. This can signify inner knowledge for those that feel a connection with the Panther. Trusting your own thoughts and instincts, paying attention to the senses and using care are all part of the Panther's medicine.

The Legend of Nacasante

When Sam arrives at the Zaca Reservation and meets Carl, the Reservation Police Chief, she begins to learn about the Legend of Nacasante.

Carl: "Nacasante's getting real popular around here."

Sam: "Nacasante?"

Bailey: "It's the reclaimer, angel of death. It's a spirit, not a man. That's what the people are afraid of around here."

On the way to the crime scene, Carl explains why his people are afraid of Nacasante.

Sam: "What's the red paint?"

Carl: "Goat's blood. It's to keep Nacasante away... Nacasante gave our people ten times ten times ten years to make the earth green and the rivers flow. Doesn't look like we go to the head of the class."

John: "For that you die?"

Carl: "You're the afterlife. Dying isn't always death."

This is when Sam encounters her spirit guide for the first time. A Black Panther crosses the road in front of Carl's car.

Carl: "I haven't seen a cat this close to town in years."

The Panther stops by the side of the car and looks directly at Sam through the window.

Carl: "Looks like you made a friend."

As Sam begins to understand more about the Legend of Nacasante and the culture of the people on the Zaca Reservation, she forms a bond with Uncle Joe. He trusts her with his knowledge and his beliefs.

Uncle Joe: " come to find out how Nacasante makes himself invisible."

Sam: "Yes. Do you the Legend of Nacasante?"

Uncle Joe: "Of course. It's a powerful legend. Such deep beliefs come from hard experiences. Long, hard experiences."

Sam: "So you believe that...Nacasante can change into various forms, that he can make himself invisible."

Uncle Joe: " Of course...and I think you believe it too."


Flying with the Hawk



Hawk...Messenger of the sky,

Circle my dreams and teach me

The message as we fly.






Seeing through the eyes of the Hawk

Uncle Joe takes Sam on a dream to share his revelations with her. In the dream, they fly with the Hawk and Sam sees things that help her to solve the murders on the Zaca Reservation.

Uncle Joe: "I have many secrets, secrets I can only reveal to someone respectful. Do you mind if I chose you?"

Sam: "Why me?"

Uncle Joe: "Because you believe, you believe what you see and you don't let your mind get in the way. Besides, I'm the Chief of Chiefs and I can do what I damn well like. (Sam smiles) Now, come on. Come with me."

Sam: "Where? (Sam starts to look sleepy)"

Uncle Joe: "Let's go on a dream together."

Sam: "Oh, I can't. I have too much work to do. I can't think about sleep right now."

Uncle Joe: "Come on, just a little nap. (Sam's eyes start to close) Men who can only see the world...for other eyes that see what we cannot. Like the Hawk. If we are free ourselves and drift on view, perhaps more will become clear. Become the Hawk, Sam. See what the Hawk sees."

Sam: "It's dark."

Uncle Joe: "See it in the light. Fly with me. I am with you. You won't fall."

Sam: "What is it?"

Uncle Joe: "What the Hawk sees, he sees with heat. He sees into the heart. He sees the man living and dying."

Sam: "I see lines, heat under the earth."


Native Americans believe that the Hawk is the messenger of the gods or the Great Spirit. The teachings of the Hawk guide us to be observant, to be aware of our surroundings and recognize the obvious in everything because life is sending us signals. The Hawk's call breaks through the state of unawareness and asks us to seek the truth. The Hawk sees the overall picture and views life from a higher perspective with a keen eye and a bold heart.


At the end of "Socerer's Apprentice," Sam says goodbye to Uncle Joe.

Uncle Joe: "You know, you're a good person. You have a good heart. Don't neglect the Panther. (Sam nods and they hug)"

As Sam leaves Uncle Joe's house, she sees the Panther once more.

Sam (to the Panther): "Don't let me down."


To learn more about Native American Culture and Animal Spirit Guides, please visit these websites:

Books on Animal Spirits Guides:


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Illustrations by Angela Werneke. Animal photos courtesy of No copyright infringement intended.