The knowledge of totems has come to us mainly though the teachings of the Native Americans. They have a strong belief in the power of nature and would dress themselves in the skins or masks of different animals to access that animal’s powers or abilities, known as ‘medicine’. In more ancient times, gods and goddesses were often portrayed as animals. We can have many different kinds of totems – animal totems, crystal totems, tree totems, etc. In this column, I am focusing here on animal totems or spirit animals. Totems represent our aspects, character traits or archetypes.
We have at least one animal totem, called a Power Animal that is with us at all times, much like our Guardian Angel or Spirit Guide. This animal or animals represent our main character traits. Although our ego would prefer for us to have a glamorous or powerful totem, that is not always reality. All animals have great worth. One is not better than another, but many people get upset if their totem turns out to be a rat, or a spider, or a mosquito. But these animals are as important as any other animal.
There are many ways to find your Power Animal. Is there a particular animal that you have always been drawn to? What animals do you collect? What animal do you see most often when you go out in nature? Which is your favorite animal at the zoo? You can also find your Power Animal by going into meditation and asking this animal to make itself known to you. You may see an animal, sense an animal, or one animal may start showing itself to you in your daily life. You can also journey to find your Power Animal, but this can be dangerous without training. Once you know what your Power Animal is, learn everything you can about the animal. This will help you to understand how this animal represents your character and how you can best use its medicine.
For instance let’s assume you find that your Power Animal is a Rat. Not necessarily the Power Animal most of us would choose, but important nonetheless. People with Rat as an animal totem are success oriented, a bit hyper, and very perceptive. They are also extremely adaptive and intelligent. These are characteristics anyone would be proud to have, and from a ‘disgusting’ Rat! So whatever Power Animal presents itself to you, accept it and honor it’s medicine.
We can also have animal totems that come into our lives for a moment, a day, or a year. If you are suddenly seeing squirrels everywhere, you may be being told that you are not as prepared as you need to be. A deer appearing in an open field may be telling you to pay attention, there may be danger around. If you happen to hit an animal with your car, it is the animal’s way of offering you some of its spirit. The energy of the animal will become part of you. It is better to thank the animal for its sacrifice than to feel sadness.
We all have character traits that we are missing. Let’s say you let people take advantage of you. To change this, you would find an animal that commands respect and ask it to help you. One of these animals is the skunk. To access its medicine, you could meditate on skunk, place pictures or figures of it around, or simply talk to it and ask it to help you to be more respecting of yourself. Another way to honor your Power Animal or to bring in the power of a specific animal is to wear jewelry representing the animal.
By being more aware of the nature around us, we can learn a lot about ourselves as well as our environment. Allow nature to share its knowledge and wisdom with you and you may be surprised what you learn.