Animal Totems

Many cultures believe that humans can work in cooperation with animal spirits for healing, wisdom, and insight. Mythologies claim that certain tribes originated from animal spirit beings, and thus the tribes continue to honor their totems or ancient ancestors, even today. Shamans in various societies enter a sacred dream in which their animal spirit allies give them information or assist in the healing of their patients. And almost universally, tribal hunters pay homage to the spirit of the animal they will hunt in order to request its cooperation and assist in the continuation of the species.

No matter what you believe, you can learn a great deal about yourself by studying the characteristics and patterns of the animals you admire.  An animal spirit is really the essence of a particular species and represents that animal’s qualities. You can call on an animal spirit to come to you in dreams and meditations where it will teach you how to bring its unique strengths into your life.

Animals also mirror your subconscious beliefs and patterns. They remind you to connect with your own inner, instinctual nature. If you are drawn to certain animals at certain times in your life, consider them to be messengers from Spirit. See what the animal symbolizes and learn how that might apply to your life.

I offer you these interpretations of the animals as a tool for your personal growth. May they guide you with joy.

Animal Symbols

Click on names of one of the animals below to learn what they say about your life:

Animal Totem Descriptions

Ant – Imagine how hard the ant must work to bring rocks up out of the anthill and food back down. Patience, teamwork, and cooperation are required. We can use those qualities as well. If something you want has not yet arrived in your life, be patient. It will arrive at a time that is in the highest good for all concerned. Get some rocks from around the edge of an anthill and put them in your pocket for patience. Back to Animals
Antelope – Antelope is quick to bound into action. If there is an area in your life where you need to act and take that leap of faith, just do it! Or maybe your thoughts are leaping about like antelopes being stalked by a predator. If so, calm down, be still, and look before you leap. Back to Animals
Armadillo – Armadillo with its tough shell and ability to roll up in a little ball teaches us to honor our own boundaries. Boundaries are not meant to keep love out of our lives but rather to protect our gentle and loving nature from the attacks of those who are still motivated by fear. If you know emotionally toxic people don’t judge them, but by all means use healthy boundaries. Back to Animals
Bat – Bat goes into the cave each day which symbolizes a return to the womb. He emerges each night symbolizing the constant cycles of “death and rebirth” in our lives.If you are attracted to bat you may be going through a major life transition or perhaps some old and useless beliefs are finally shifting out of your life. Remember that your intentions send energy out into the world (like sonar) and information will bounce back to guide you towards these intents. Back to Animals
Badger – No wonder we use the phrase, “He’s badgering me.” Mr. Badger can be quite aggressive. If he draws your attention maybe there is an area in your life where you need to be more assertive. Maybe you need to apply personal willpower to motivate yourself or you are being asked to be a spiritual warrior in order to push past the boundaries of your own fears. Back to Animals
Bear – The bear is the keeper of sleep, dreams, and inner wisdom. He goes into the cave and comes out renewed. There are times in life when we must go within to reassess our lives.If you are in a period of transition you may want to go into hibernation. You may want to sleep more, be less social, and less focused on your goals. This is normal. If you are in this period of life, draw on the strength of bear to know that everything has its season and that a time for action will come once again. For now, rest is in order.Bear is also the healer and herbalist. His curious nature motivates him to learn a great deal about the plants and their medicines. Invoke him for his healing, his powers of introspection, and his wisdom. Back to Animals
Beaver – The busy beaver works with the other members of his tribe to build a sturdy home. He is the builder and the symbol for partnership. If he comes in your life perhaps you are supposed to get going on some project or maybe you should be considering a new partnership. Let beaver teach you how to work together towards your goals. Back to Animals
Bee – The bee is the mess anger of the gods. If he comes buzzing into your life, take note. You may be receiving a message from Spirit. Alternately, you could be getting a message to do a little less and just be still for awhile! When we take the time to just be, we clear our minds to receive divine guidance. Back to Animals
Buffalo – The Native Americans used every part of the buffalo they hunted and thus buffalo became a symbol for abundance, prayer, and gratitude. When you are attracted to buffalo you are being asked to renew your connection to higher power through prayer and thankfulness for all you have. In doing so, you will attract more into your life. Buffalo teaches that what you need will always be provided. Back to Animals
Butterfly – The butterfly symbolizes transformation. Caterpillar crawled and struggled across the ground, taking slow and laboring steps to climb each plant. Then he went through a slow death in the cocoon. He died to his old identity and emerged as the beautiful butterfly.If butterflies appear, you are going through change. Let go of the old, wait patiently for the new. You may even be considering a physical move. Make it beautiful! Back to Animals
Cat – Cats have been called the “guardians of the spirit and good fortune.” They see energy and they know how to take good care of themselves. If you are suddenly drawn to cats you may need to be more protective of your own time or resources, or you may be learning to take better care of yourself and to receive. Back to Animals
Cougar – The cougar is a sleek and graceful cat with amazing balance. He knows how to manage his energy by sitting for long periods of time waiting for prey, then pouncing when the right opportunity comes along. He teaches us about the balance between action and rest. He knows about right timing.The female cougar encourages the young to leave the den. She is always watchful and ready to save them from danger, but she allows them to grow in independence. This is the mark of the true leader. Back to Animals
Coyote – Almost universally the coyote is the trickster or the sacred clown. His antics make us laugh and he reminds us not to take life so seriously.If coyote comes into your life things may look all messed up for awhile until you discover that life is really working in your favor. Develop a sense of humor and go with the flow. Divine wisdom doesn’t always agree with conventional logic. Back to Animals
Cow – The cow is the nurturing mother goddess who reminds you to be gentle with yourself and to take better care of yourself. If she shows up around you, slow down, take joy in simple pleasures, and pay attention to your needs. Back to Animals
Crow – Crow, the keeper of spiritual law, likes to steal shiny bright objects. Always the clown, he looks for ways to amuse himself. We too need to look for the bright and shiny aspects of life even in the junk pile.” Like crow we need to see the connection between past, present, and future.Crow is a little cocky because he knows who he is. Honor spiritual truth and you will know true power as well. Crow is a shape shifter who can teach us that we can be anything we desire, and he often serves as an omen of powerful change. Back to Animals
Deer – The deer is gentle and strong. She can leap gracefully and quickly up the mountainside but more often she prefers to graze on the tender shoots and grasses. She teaches us to be gentle with ourselves and to honor our heart.In the South American Huichol tradition, the deer spirit leads the shaman through the “doorway of the heart” and gives him information on how to live in balance. Allow the deer to show you a gentler and more peaceful way to live . She will help open your heart. Back to Animals
Dog – The dog is the symbol of unconditional love and loyalty. And yet he reminds us that loyalty to others must be balanced with loyalty to ourselves. You can best serve the world when you are happy and healthy first. Back to Animals
Dolphin – The dolphin is the epitome of joyful wisdom. He zips through the water, playing, jumping, and squeaking with delight. Unlike us however, dolphin has to remember to come up for air and breathe. We could use this wisdom to remind us that if we come up for air in our lives and allow time for play, we will be in joyful cooperation with the whole universe. Back to Animals
Dragonfly -Dragonfly is associated with the nature angels, devas,and fairies. If one flies into your life it may be time to hike, camp, or play with some plants. Reconnect with your elemental nature by going outdoors and finding the divine all around youDragonfly’s wings are clear but can appear colored in different lights. Similarly, our emotions color our reality. Dragonfly urges you to look beyond illusions and see the truth that is right in front of you. Back to Animals
Eagle – Eagle flies high, close to God. He focuses the big picture but with his keen eyesight he can also perceive the most minute details. The Eagle is the symbol for Spirit. If he is in your life you are likely to be going through a time of great spiritual growth, initiation, and change.Stay close to spiritual truth and all will work out in your favor. While you are paying attention to the details of your life don’t lose sight of the big picture. Back to Animals
Elk – The elk is a strong animal that migrates for long distances. Call on him when you need the strength and stamina to keep going forward in your life. Elk reminds us also to “take time to smell the roses.” He walks on his migrations, grazing along the way. This conserves energy and refuels him. We need to slow down at times and refill our spirits as well. Back to Animals
Fox – Clever fox can sneak around because he blends right in. There are times when it is wiser to hide our power rather than brag, and there is sometimes wisdom in keeping your mouth shut rather than trying to prove a point. Let fox teach you when to stand out and when to conceal your knowledge. Back to Animals
Frog – The frog clan helps us cleanse our minds, bodies, and souls. If one hops into your life, take inventory. Are there ideas, things, or emotions that you need to release in order to move towards your dreams. Frog is not afraid to dive into the emotional waters and cleanse all that is no longer useful. Back to Animals
Goat – The goat is a symbol for perseverance and vitality. He never gives up. If he calls to you, this might be a time to pay more attention to health, food, and rest in order to maintain your stamina. Back to Animals
Hawk – The hawk is a mess anger–the animal equivalent of an angel. He drifts upward on the currents and circles high overhead. Like eagle, he knows the big picture but can also dive down to examine the details of life. If you hear a hawk cry, pay close attention to the thoughts you were just having. Perhaps you have received a message from spirit. Back to Animals
Horse – The sleek and beautiful horse is a symbol for personal power. Real power inspires others and motivates you to act in life. False power seems “controlling” or “manipulative.”When you own your talents and speak your truth you will be able to run towards your dream with the joy and grace of the powerful horse. Back to Animals
Hummingbird – Hummingbird is a symbol for love and joy. He is attracted only to the bright colored flowers because these are the ones that bring nourishment. Learn from him by paying attention to what gives you joy. Ignore the rest.Hummingbird feathers, believe it or not, have little true color. Instead they reflect the light in a way that makes them look as bright and beautiful as the rainbow. If we reflect light and joy in our life we too will turn the ordinary into the beautiful. Back to Animals
Jaguar – Jaguar is a master of conserving his energy, attuning his vision, and acting only when the moment is perfect.  He can see in both dark and light spaces. His senses are finally attuned. He symbolizes a perfect balance between intuition and action, grace, and a respect for the interconnectedness of life. If Jaguar is your totem you will crave time in stillness to envision your dreams, but when guidance comes you will leap. Back to Animals
Lion – Lion is a symbol for wisdom, power used rightly and familial bonds.  The pack operates as a unit and cares for the good of all. The strength is never used frivolously but only for good. And there is plenty of playtime, grooming, and family bonding here. If Lion is your totem, you may expect a lot of  attention and admiration from life but you will use your power wisely and value family and friends. Back to Animals
Lizard – Lizard is the dreamer and reminds us that we must honor our dreams, and our higher visions. He sleeps in the sun and soaks up the light. Sometimes taking time to day dream allows us to reconnect with our soul’s light, and refills us for the times when we must stalk our dreams. Back to Animals
Lynx – Lynx can see in the dark, noticing all those animals that are hidden by day. He teaches us to pay attention to what lies behind the scenes. If he comes into your life, look carefully at the people around you to make sure they are really who they seem to be. Look inside of yourself to discern your own truth. Lynx can show you hidden realities. Back to Animals
Moose – Moose is strong and proud. He bellows loudly announcing to all the world that he has arrived.He can teach you to be proud of your talents and to let the world know who you really are. Own your gifts, speak your truth and have the self-esteem to ask for what you want in life. Back to Animals
Mountain Lion – The mountain lion is a sleek and graceful cat with amazing balance. He knows how to manage his energy by sitting for long periods of time waiting for prey, then pouncing when the right opportunity comes along. He teaches us about the balance between action and rest. He knows about right timing.The female mountain lion encourages the young to leave the den. She is always watchful and ready to save them from danger, but she allows them to grow in independence. This is the mark of the true leader.. Back to Animals
Mouse -Mouse scurries about paying close attention to the little things in life that we often miss. Mouse shows us that it is sometimes important to analyze a situation before we act. He also reminds us to balance mind with heart because if we lose sight of the big picture, we risk getting into trouble! Back to Animals
Otter – Otter is the playful clown who works with other otters to create a peaceful and joyful life. Otters can teach us to “jump in the river” of our own emotions and go with the flow. They remind us to honor the heart, to play with the people in our lives, and to allow things to take their natural course. Back to Animals
Owl – The owl sees in the dark and reminds us to get in touch with our own psychic abilities so we can see what is normally hidden. In some cultures, owl is a symbol for death but this isn’t necessarily bad because when you can see into the other realms, you realize death is only a birth. Owl tells you to honor your intuition and your inner knowing and to see truth beyond appearances. Back to Animals
Pig /Sow – The pig is a mother goddess symbol from ancient times. It uproots the soil, turning it over in preparation for new growth and so it reminds us that we become fertile ground for new ideas when we rid ourselves of the old. It is said the pig can hear things at a distance because it is so low to the ground. Take time, listen to your soul, and plow up some time in your life for the new ideas that you are receiving. Back to Animals
Porcupine – If you’ve ever heard the porcupine laugh you’ll know he’s a joyful spirit. “Heh heh heh,” he says (quite literally) and you’re forced to laugh along with him. If we had such good boundaries (like his sharp quills) we’d be laughing more too– trusting and innocent–going through life knowing that if we ever need to use those boundaries they’re already there! Back to Animals
Possum -Possum knows when to use drama and when to run. He plays dead when threatened, using an appearance of weakness as his greatest strength. Sometimes it is better for us to be quiet or to retreat or use cleverness to achieve a desired result. Possum also teaches us to get the babies off our back to allow them to grow up. Back to Animals
Rabbit – The rabbit can be a symbol of either abundance or fear. If he freezes in fear he gets eaten! If he takes off running he multiplies. He teaches us not to let our fears paralyze us but rather to get moving and therefore to attract great abundance into our lives. Back to Animals
Raven – The raven is the keeper of the mystery. His shiny black feathers remind us of the great unknown, which need not be frightening when we learn to trust that Spirit is always guiding us.When we give up control and enter the mystery synchronicities work in our favor, chance happenings bring us good luck, and life magically begins to work. Allow raven to remind you that magic is always happening behind the scenes. Ask him how you can learn to recognize it. Back to Animals
Rooster – Rooster crows heralding a new dawn. Maybe you’ve changed and you want others to take note. Maybe it is time to being a new project. Let this cocky little being remind you that sometimes you have to let everyone know your new plans. Back to Animals
Skunk – Skunk stinks, or so some think. But he smells awfully good to the other little skunks. He reminds us to be ourselves, put our own energy out into the world and trust we will attract those of like mind. Speak your truth, be proud of who you are. Those who like you will stay around and those who don’t will run! Back to Animals
Snake – Snake is the symbol for change. He sheds the old skin, rids himself of all that is useless and is born once again. He teaches us to use chang to transmute a situation that is stuck.Are you ready to leave a job, clean out the house, or transform a relationship? Or do you need snake’s fiery energy of transmutation to help you move past an old belief? Look around your life and get rid of everything that no longer serves you. Back to Animals
Spider – Spider spins her web where and when she please. She reminds us that home is always within and we can create life however we want it to be. Our thoughts, words, and deeds we are always spinning new realities. Pay attention to the one you are creating. Back to Animals
Squirrel – Squirrel scurries around gathering nuts and seeds for the long winter ahead. He builds his nest far in advance of the cold and teaches us to prepare for events ahead of time so we can avoid last minutes stress.He also reminds us to gather what will sustain us in life and to ignore the rest. He might even symbolize that you must sort through your belongings and your beliefs. This often precedes a move or change in your life. Back to Animals
Swan – The graceful swan teaches us to “go with the flow,” to release struggle and effort, and to know ourselves as beautiful. When we surrender to the spiritual current in our life we let go of the notion of ourselves as the “ugly duckling” and we begin to see ourselves with the grace and beauty of the swan. Back to Animals
Tiger – Tiger teaches us to own our personal dignity, grace, and power, and face our fears with calm resolve.  Tiger is a confident, aggressive only when necessary and grace in motion. No energy is wasted an extraneous drama. Tiger acts swiftly and decisively. Call on Tiger when you want to embrace your personal power and manage your energy with grace. Back to Animals
Turkey – Turkey sacrifices his life for a meal. The wild ones are very smart so if they get caught you can assume they allowed it. Turkey reminds us that if we are to sacrifice ourselves we better think about it and make sure it is in highest good for all–including ourselves. He teaches us not to be a martyr, but rather to give (or give in) when it is appropriate. Back to Animals
Turtle – The turtle is close to the earth, slow moving and methodical. She reminds us that we must remain grounded and balanced in order to be healthy. As we pull our energy back into our body, away from a chaotic mind and turbulent emotions, we become clear, calm, and peaceful. Get out and walk on the earth, take it easy and remember that sometimes, “slow and steady wins the race.” Back to Animals
Weasel – The weasel has a bad reputation but in spite of that can teach us that there are times when choosing to cleverly work behind the scenes is more productive than making a scene. Back to Animals
Whale – The whales migrate great distances in their yearly journeys and each whale has a beautiful and unique sound that is recognized by the others. Whale holds wisdom from all its experience and knows its own value and worth as part of the whole. Whale can help us get in touch with our deeper truth, our purpose, and the nature of our soul. Back to Animals
Wolf – Wolf is the pathfinder and teacher who is not afraid to go off and explore the many trails in the forest before coming back to share its adventures with the pack.At times we must honor our need for solitude. Then we come back to our friends and families wiser and ready to share. Experience life first, then teach. This is, in fact, true wisdom. Back to Animals
Zebra – Zebra with its black and white stripes symbolizes balance and an acceptance of all things as part of the whole. Zebra teaches us that there are always different perspectives to be embraced, and if we can do that we, like this beautiful soul become agile, powerful, and able to quickly respond to life.Back to Animals

Find your Totem Animal

To determine your totem animal(s), also known as your power animal, ask yourself the following questions and trust the first answers that come to mind:

  1. What species of animal do I love or have been consistently attracted to?
  2. Do I resonate more with birds, animals in the forest, the ocean, etc. What environment am I drawn to?
  3. If I could be any animal, what would I be?
  4. Is there a certain animal that repeatedly show sup in my dreams?

From these questions, a certain animal or a couple of animals might come to mind.  If you still aren’t sure these other methods can work.

Dreaming your power animal: Before bed, ask sincerely for your power animal to appear in your dreams.  Ask that you awaken and remember them clearly. Repeat this until you have a dream with an animal that feels powerful or meaningful to you.

Journey to meet your power animal: Shut your eyes. Imagine there is a beautiful rock wall in front of you. You see an opening in it, just wide enough to walk through. As you walk through this you realize you are in a sort of cave in the rocks, but you see light ahead of you. As you emerge into the light you will emerge into some sort of natural setting. You are safe, comfortable, and completely at ease.  Ask your power animal to present themselves.  See who appears first in your imagination. Trust.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I have more than one power animal?
Yes absolutely. You have many aspects to your essential nature and each power animal represents a part of who you are.

Do power animals stay with me for life?
You usually have at least one or two power animals that represent your essential nature. Remember power animals are energies, the essential “spirit” of the animal species. We have much in common with some of them.  This energy is really part of us. The energy may look like a member of that species when you connect with it in dreams, journeys of imagination, or visionary experiences, but in reality you are working with a deep, natural part of your own spirit.

Can power animals come and go?
You may, from time to time see animals other than your essential ones. These are energies that come to give you special strength. For example, if you are teaching a class, you might see wolf. If it is time to pay attention to details you might see the mouse. Each animal has certain gifts and at times we can call upon these strengths for various projects and phases of life.

How do I work with my power animals?
Your power animals are the wise and natural parts of you. They are energies that bring you certain gifts, talents, and strengths. If you like ask your power animal to come to you in your imagination. They might look like a typical member of the species, or they might be a bit different. Ask this animal how they assist you. Trust the answer you get in your imagination. Ask the animal questions. You will “hear” the answers either in words, pictures, thoughts, or feelings. You are tapping into something deep, essential, instinctual, and wise within you.

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