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What Are Animal Totems

What Are Animal Totems?

Totem animals are a form of spirit guide recognized by most cultures that contain a shamanic element. The basis of shamanic practice is the belief that all things have a spirit, an animus that makes all things sentient and aware. While they may not share the same form of ‘intelligence’ as we do, they all have their own drives and motivations. The world is full of divine spirits, and all things have their own spirit, from the mountains to the rivers to the stone along the path.

It is important to understand that animal totems as life savers are not *a* specific animal, or even a spirit of a particular animal. They are an archetype, the entity that contains and represents all things that are embodied in the concept of a particular animal. Based on this, if one has Raven as a spirit animal, it is “Raven”, it’s name is properly capitalized since it is a distinct entity.

animal-totem

Finding Your Animal Totems

Native American Astrology Sign



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There are many different beliefs around spirit animals and their role in a person’s life. In some traditions a symbolic totem is gained at birth, and travels with you through your entire life’s path. In others it is a coming of age, and when one is visited by and chosen by their totem animal, it is a signifier of being spiritually mature. Which animal chooses you is also in question, but in most cases animal totems are thought to be representative of some portion of our inner nature.

It is believed in many cultures that it is possible to anger or offend one’s animal spirit. By treating it with disrespect, or defying that aspect of our nature which it represents, we can offend the spirit. We may find ourselves abandoned or without it’s guidance until some form of reparation is made.

The path to obtaining an symbolic animal totem, or making contact with them for the first time, is accomplished through entering into an ‘ecstatic state’. In this case it refers to a state of heightened or altered consciousness, and often both. Shamanism has a tendency to use mind altering substances or practices that will open our mind to the spirit world, and make us capable of making contact with and communicating with these entities.

Common methods of reaching the ecstatic state include fasting, psychoactive drug use (peyote was common in certain southern Native American tribes), or extreme physical trials. Steam huts, for instance, involve increased heat and high humidity, along with herbs placed upon the stones producing the heat. This puts the body into a state where we can start experiencing hallucinations and having contact with spirits.

It is important if you try to use these methods, that you are careful to do so under the watchful eye of someone familiar with the process. By their very nature they are dangerous to the one going through the process, and it is important that we take proper care in doing so. The reason for these experiences is that, especially at first, we need our spirits opened and freed from the mundane coil that we’ve lived in, so that we can have contact with that higher astral plane.

When you acquire your own Animal Totem, it will be part of a long relationship where they assist you with your life’s trials. They will guide you to growing your wisdom and experience, and will walk you through the difficult path ahead to shamanic wisdom. Depending on which tradition you ask, not everyone will have an animal totem symblism, in other cases it is the birthright of everyone.

Air Animal Totem Meanings

Bat
Black Birds
Blue Jay
Cardinal
Chickadee
Crane
Dove
Dream Birds
Eagle
Falcon
Feathers
Finch
Goose
Hawk
Heron
Hummingbird
Magpie
Mother Bird
Ostrich
Owl
Peacock
Pelican
Pheasant
Phoenix
Quail
Raven
Robin
Rooster
Sparrow
Stork
Swallow
Swan
Thunderbird
Turkey
Vulture
Wings
Wren
Woodpecker
Wood Thrush

Insect Animal Totem Meanings

Bee
Beetle
Butterfly
Caterpillar
Cicada
Crane Fly
Dragonfly
Firefly
Grasshopper
Ladybug
Mosquito
Moth
Praying Mantis
Scorpion
Snail
Spider
Wasp

Land Animal Totem Meanings

Alligator
Armadillo
Badger
Bear
Boar
Bobcat
Buffalo
Bull
Caiman
Camel
Cat
Cow
Coyote
Crocodile
Deer
Dog
Elephant
Fox
Giraffe
Goat
Gorilla
Hedgehog
Hen
Horse
Kangaroo
Koala Bear
Lion
Monkey
Moose
Mouse
Ox
Panda
Panther
Pig
Polar Bear
Porcupine
Puma
Rabbit
Ram
Rat
Rhinoceros
Sheep
Skunk
Squirrel
Tiger
Wolf
Wolverine
Zebra

Reptile Animal Totem Meanings

Chameleon
Dragon
Frog
Iguana
Salamander
Snake
Turtle
Lizard

Water Animal Totem Meanings

Beaver
Crab
Dolphin
Fish
Koi Fish
Frog
Hermit Crab
Horseshoe Crab
Lobster
Octopus
Orca Whale
Otter
Penguin
Seahorse
Shark
Starfish
Turtle
Tortoise
Whale

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