Indigenous cultures occasionally focus on spirit animals who help guide and direct them during times of trouble. It’s not just the native cultures, but modern day fiction too.
In J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World of Magic, Harry Potter’s Patronus charm takes the shape of a stag, just like his father. Wizards use the spell as protection in extreme cases of danger against Dementors.
The wizard holds out his or her was and says, “Expecto Patronum,” and a silvery-white guardian spews out of the wand taking the form of an animal. The Patronus is a kind of positive force, a projection of the very things that the Dementor feeds upon – hope, happiness, the desire to survive. When Albus Dumbledores casts the spell, his Patronus takes the form of a Phoenix, while Hermione’s and Ron’s are an Otter and a Jack Russell Terrier respectively.
I’ve been thinking what my spirit animal or even my Patronus charm might be. While I would love something strong and powerful like a Lion, Tiger or Bear, I think my spirit animal might actually be something altogether different.
In fact, I’m thinking lately that the minute I shout out “Expecto Patronum,” the best animal to represent me would be a normal, run of the mill Mallard Duck.
Yes, yes, the duck isn’t all that intimidating or powerful. They lack talons and strong wings like an eagle or a vulture. They don’t have the presence of the lion or tiger. Horses and deer have a grace and a stride that the duck could never mimic.
You don’t find a lot of angry ducks in literature or the names of sports teams, outside of the Anaheim Ducks and they were only called the Mighty Ducks because Disney was looking to make a few bucks off of a movie.
No, I’m sure my Patronus would be something like a duck because of everything you don’t see. The duck is mild mannered on the surface, but underneath its legs and webbed feet are moving a mile a minute.
When ducks swim, they push out their feet back in a kicking motion so that the webbing catches the water and pushes it behind the duck. In addition, all ducks have a special gland, near the base of the tail, that secretes a special oily substance that the duck spreads over his entire body and makes them water-resistant. Without it, the feathers would absorb water, making them significantly heavier. This water resistance also allows ducks to stay warm in frigid waters, as the feathers repel cold water and keep it away from the skin.
Lately anyway, that describes me to a T, calm or stoic on the top, running for my life underneath. For example, one minute, I’m at my desk working hard on a project, the next I’m racing out the door to pick my son up from some after school activity.
Calm on the outside, fire drill on the inside. I could think of worse spirit animals. Go Mighty Ducks.