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Spiritual Teaching Article:

Animal Totems

What Is An Animal Totem?
An Animal Totem is an important symbol and energy that a person uses to get in touch with specific qualities found within the animal which the person needs. Animals come to us because they have a lesson we need to learn or a power they are willing to share. An Animal Totem that comes to you brings power and wisdom if you will learn to communicate with it, give it respect, trust, and understanding. Animal totems tell us of lessons that we need to learn. They are powerful spiritual friends.

Each animal has its own unique power and message. They help to empower and protect us. They can assist us with spiritual growth, inspiration, creativity and healing. They help us learn about ourselves.

You can have several animal guides through out your life. Sometimes an animal guide will come into your life for a short period of time, and then be replaced by another depending on your lifepath. Your guide will instruct and protect you as you learn how to navigate through your spiritual and physical life.

Animal Spirits choose a person, not the other way around. You cannot think, "Gee, I like the qualities that dolphin represents, so dolphin will be my totem." Instead, the animal will choose you and make itself known to you.

In his book Animal Speak, Ted Andrews gives a wonderful description of the basic teachings and beliefs about Animal Totems/Power Animals:

  1. Every animal has a powerful spirit.
  2. This spirit may be its own, or that of a being who uses the animal image to communicate messages of the world to humans.
  3. Every animal has its own talents. Studying these talents can reveal the type of medicine, magic and power the animal can help you to develop in your own life. Every animal has a specialty.
  4. Lifelong power animals are usually wild, not domesticated, animals. There are a few exceptions, but even these are often just links to the true power animal. For many, beginning with the domesticated form of the totem is a way of laying a foundation so that some day they will be able to handle and work more effectively with its true power form.
  5. The animal chooses the person, not the other way around. Some believe they can just choose an animal and start communicating with it. Usually ego gets in the way and the individual chooses the animal he or she believes to be most glamorous and powerful, rather than what is harmonious to the individual.
  6. You must develop a relationship with your animal spirit. You must learn their point of view. Animals won't just warm up to you immediately. They must learn to trust you and your limitations, and you must learn to trust them and their limitations. This takes time, patience and practice.
  7. You must honor your totem for its medicine to be effective in your life. The more you honor them, the more significance you give them within your life, the more powerful and effective they become. (Drawing pictures, hanging pictures, buying figurines and images, donating to wildlife organizations with time and/or money, learning to mimic behaviors -- dancing to honor them, and reading and learning as much as possible are ways of honoring your animal spirits.)
  8. Once your learn to work with the medicine of your spirit animal, it becomes a doorway to connecting with others of the animal realm.
  9. Although there are one or two (sometimes several) totems that are strongest in your life and remain with you through most of it, others do play a role. One may come to you and stay with you through a cycle of several years. Another may be present when you do creative work. You are likely to have different totems for different areas of your life.
  10. More than one person can have the same totem. Often, this draws people together.... and the medicine of that animal will work differently in each one, but with an underlying similarity which characterizes that animal.

How Do I Find My Animal Totem(s)?
Actually, we do not find our totems, they find us! To find out what animal totems are active in your life right now, you need to pay attention to your surroundings. Pay attention to the animals you see in real life, on TV, photos in magazines, etc. You may feel a reaction, feel drawn to certain animals that you see or animals that you see over and over again. You can also ask yourself these questions:

  • Do animals appear repeatedly in your dreams?
  • Are there animals that you have always been drawn to? Which animals are you most interested in?
  • What animals, reptiles, insects, birds frighten you? Very often that which we fear has important lessons for us.
  • Special meditations and oracles are often used to discover animal totems. (Check out "The Medicine Cards, Animal Wise Tarot, ...)
  • You may find that you have several different totems. Totems also change, depending on where you are on your lifepath and what you need at the time. Some appear to help you through a certain situation, others to give inspiration or healing.
  • An animal totem might be an animal (or insect or reptile) that you encounter frequently. For example if you have a friendly spider who is always about your home, you might find Spider to be your totem.
  • What animal do you most frequently see when you're out in nature or in the city?
  • What animals are you currently interested in learning about?
  • What animal have you bumped into over and over throughout your life?
  • What animal have you watched for hours?
  • Does art work or jewelry with a certain animal always attract you?

Some Animal Totem Qualities
Ant: Hard work and cooperation brings results. Discipline, patience, stamina. Working with a group.

Bear: Dreams are important. The subconscious, strength, introspection, meditation, going within.

Beaver: Family and home, building.

Buffalo: Prayer, abundance, strength to overcome weakness. Sharing with others and caring for others and all of the kingdoms.

Butterfly: Transformation and the ability to accept change.

Cat: Independence.

Cow: Motherhood, nourishment, fertility.

Coyote: The trickster. Learning to laugh at yourself. Learning to see humor and not be so serious.

Deer: Gentleness, kindness and compassion.

Dog: Loyalty.

Dolphin: Freedom, rhythm and cycles of nature. Learning to work with the breath.

Eagle: Connection with the Divine. Helps you to see your higher purpose.

Fox: Camouflage, being able to adapt. Cleverness.

Frog: Fertility, cleansing, prosperity.

Hawk: Messages. Be aware. Helps you become more observant.

Hummingbird: This bird represents joy. Helps to bring joy into life and to see beauty in everything.

Horse: Strength and stamina.

Lion: Strength and power, leadership. The ability to be powerful, but with an open heart.

Mouse: Helps you notice the little things in life that you may normally overlook. Being more alert to what is going on around you.

Owl: Wisdom. The ability to find out about things that are hidden (like hidden motives of others).

Rabbit: Fear (learning to move through fear). Quick thinking.

Snake: The ability to let go of things that are no longer needed (just as the snake sheds its skin). Help with personal transformation.

Spider: Fate. The weaving of the web of your life. Teaches that everything that you do now affects your future.

Squirrel: Teaches to be prepared, plan ahead.

Wolf: The teacher. Helps you to be in touch with your own inner teacher and to find and follow your life path. Also, loyalty.

To learn more about Animal Totems and working with them, check out resources, by clicking here.

Rev. Jeff

Copyright 2005, Reverend Jeff Bekasinski