While there are many religious beliefs providing theories on the origin of life and the Human Race, it was the scientists such as Carl Linnaeus and Charles Darwin who explored the theory that the Human Race evolved from animals. Assuming this to be true, as time goes by, we continue to evolve further and further away from our origin, the animals, as we lead practical lives surrounding ourselves with concrete, pseudo experiences and the ever pressing need for material success.
However, in our spiritual lives, it is the animals who have much to teach US. Wherever wild animals exist they remain connected to the earth, surviving by the use of their instinctual nature and characteristics unique to their kind, characteristics which they have developed to enhance the survival of their species. It is these instinctual, survival characteristics that we identify in animal totems that can be used to guide us spiritually through our own lives.
Totem, derived from native American language, refers to kinship, and an animal totem is an animal who you personally develop a kinship/relationship with. This Native American tradition provides that we are connected to 9 different animals that will guide us throughout our lives. The particular animal totem present at a particular time will depend on our journey or the direction in which we are headed. In seeking to connect or find our animal totems, we are seeking to connect and bond with the spirit of an animal that means something to us and recognise the qualities in that animal that may be needed, at that time, in our life.
For example, my current animal totem is a deer. The deer is a gentle and graceful animal and has been recently present to encourage me to take a gentle and graceful approach to the difficulties I am facing in my life right now.
Finding your own animal totem is very simple. Below is an exercise you might like to try to discover your personal animal totem and thereby gain guidance for your own journey and self discovery.
Sit or lie comfortably, close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing.
Notice any tension and breathe into it, pushing it away. Look for any tension in your head and breathe into it, any tension in your shoulders, your torso, your hips, your legs, your feet.
Pay attention to your feet, let them feel heavy and connected to the earth.
Then go to a room in your mind. In the middle of the room is a chair, sit down on the chair. In front of you there is a large wall made of glass. Through the glass you can see a landscape, it may be a forest, a mountain, a field, it might be a beach. Whatever landscape it is, take in the scenery.
Then you notice a door in the wall, stand up, walk through the door and into the landscape. There is a path that winds safely through the landscape, set off walking down that path. Notice any sounds, any sensations, any movements.
You follow the path until you come to a protected space, it might be a clearing in the forest or a large, horizontal boulder on the side of the mountain. Find somewhere to sit and relax, you have come to this place to meet your animal guide.
Ask your animal guide to come out and meet you and then relax, they will come when they are ready.
When you see them feel a warmth around your heart as you connect with this kindred spirit.
Look into the animals eyes, ask it any questions you may have, maybe you could ask it what characteristics it possesses that you may need in your life right now?. Spend as long as you want to in this space with your animal.
When you are ready to go, stand up and look for your path. Walk back along the path noticing any movements, any sounds – enjoy your walk and finally return to your room.
Walk back through the door and sit back on your chair. When you are ready wriggle your toes and fingers, take a deep breath and open your eyes.
So now that you have met your current animal guide, look out for it in pictures or dreams – remember life is symbolic, it just needs interpreting!
To help you, here are some common animal totems and their meanings – though there is much more information available in books and on the internet – enjoy – and any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask:
|Bear||Industrious, instinctive, healing, power, sovereignty, guardian of the world, watcher, courage, will power, self-preservation, introspection, and great strength.|
|Cat||Guardianship, detachment, sensuality, mystery, magic, and independence|
|Dog||Noble, faithful, loyal, teaching, protection, and guidance|
|Dove||Cross-world communication, spirit messenger, peace, gentleness, love|
|Eagle||Divine spirit, sacrifice, connection to creator, intelligence, renewal, courage, illumination of spirit, healing, creation, freedom, and risk-taker|
|Elephant||Strength, power, affection, loyalty, royalty, and wisdom|
|Owl||Deception, clairvoyance, insight, messenger.|
|Wolf||Loyalty, perseverance, success, intuition, and spirit|