Animal Totems


In today’s busy and hectic lifestyles, the desire to get back to nature and to be more in touch with Mother Earth is a soulful yearning yet, we have never lost our connection, we have just forgotten how to engage it or we have simply ignored it. When we fail to have reverence for nature we lose something very valuable – our intimate connection with the inner SELF. Animal Totems represent a getting away from the norm – a “spiritual avocation” which falls under the jurisdiction of the 5th House. Animal Totems are believed to be a mystical connection that occurs between human beings and certain features of the natural world especially wild animals. 

The animal world has much to teach us. Animals are experts at survival, adaption, nurturing, protecting and the art of courage. Couldn’t we all use a lesson in or a reminder of those qualities from time to time? Terrestrial animals have always had a strong symbology associated with them and we can use animal imagery to learn about ourselves and the invisible worlds. Animal Totems belong to the world of natural shamanism that works to reconnect conscious human life with Nature and Spirit. It is a gentle yet powerful transcendental attunement that brings joy, peace and strength. When you call upon the power of an animal, you are asking to be drawn into total harmony with that animal and its essence. Every animal has many lessons to impart and there is power in the wisdom of understanding that every living thing is a teacher that should be honored. Be mindful always that the lessons taught are eternal and forever forthcoming for that is part of the Great Mystery of Life.

Working with animal totems is not difficult but should be approached with reverence. The steps are as follows:

  • Determine your totems. Be aware that the animal chooses the human and not the other way around! Human ego tied to animals believed to be powerful and glamorous does not work in this modality. Forcing communication has ineffectual results. Every animal’s message and medicine is unique and no one animal is better than another. There are “spirit” animals that you are innately attracted to throughout your life and nine “lifetime” personal power animal totems and daily animal totems. There are also “shadow totems” which represent fears you must conquer.
  • Learn how to honorably attune to and invoke their energies more effectively into your life. You must develop a relationship with your totem for it to be effective in your life. Some people have pictures of their totems or figurines of their totems in their homes. You can also donate to wildlife organizations or volunteer some of your time.
  • Discover the hidden powers of the “self “as are reflected in the totems. There may be one or several totems that are the strongest energies in your life. Some may play a role for several years and others for only a day. You are also likely to have different totems for different areas of your life. Connect with the traits they are showing you and you may discover new talents through expanded consciousness.
  • Apply the skills and adaptive powers of the totems in your life environment. Also remember that more than one person can have the same totem and individuals in a close relationship might also share a totem. The archetypal energies will manifest uniquely for each person.
  • Apply “daily” animal omens to life. These are quick massages that need to be heeded during the ensuing 24 hours after seeing the totem.


Beginning the Process – Do You Know Your Natural Animal Totems?

  1. We are naturally drawn to that which resonates with us. Is there an animal or bird that has always fascinated you? How does it make you feel? What is your heartfelt response?
  2. Whenever you have visited the zoo or a nature center during your life was there ever a particular animal or animals that you always liked to visit?
  3. What animals do you frequently when you are out in nature or your mundane environment?
  4. Of all the animals in the world, which ones are you most interested in now?
  5. What animal frightens you most? Remember when we conquer fear it becomes a power. Many Shamans believe that fear will take the shape of an animal that we need to confront without fear. (If we are successful these animals become powerful shadow totems.)
  6. Have you ever been attacked or bitten by an animal? (Survival of an attack means the animal becomes a spirit totem.)
  7. Do you have dreams with animals in them or are there dreams of animals that you have never forgotten?



(Most popular “Lifetime” Totems)

EAGLE – “Spirit” – ILLUMINATION: The Higher Mind and creative force of the Great Spirit.

HAWK – “Messenger” – INTUITION: Being aware of life’s signals and receiving them.

ELK – “Stamina” – WARRIOR: Realigning the Self with group consciousness.

DEER – “Gentleness” – COMPASSION – Healing power of gentleness that touches all hearts.

BEAR – “Inner-Knowing” – INTROSPECTION – Strength of achievement that comes from intuition.

SNAKE – “Transmutation” – ALCHEMY - Transformation through thought, action or desire.

SKUNK – “Reputation” – DISTINCTION – Assertion without EGO and self-respect.

OTTER – “Woman Medicine” – FEMALE ENERGY – Healthy curiosity and living life without preconceptions and suspicion.

BUTTERFLY – “Transformation” – CYCLES – Going within to bring fruitfulness without.

TURTLE – “Mother Earth” – PROTECTION – Groundedness and observing all situations with compassion.

MOOSE – “Self Esteem” – PROGRESS - Joy without EGO in accomplishment.

PORCUPINE – “Innocence” – TRUST – Faith in the Divine Plan.

COYOTE – “Trickster” – MASTERY – Consciousness that is born from folly.

DOG – “Loyalty” – PHILANTHROPY – Loyalty and service that is not countermanded by need for approval.

WOLF – “Teacher” - WISDOM – Sharing of the Higher Truths.

RAVEN – “Magic” – WIZARDRY – Trusting the power of the unknown and the Great Mysteries.

MOUNTAIN LION – “Leadership” – CONFIDENCE – Balancing intention with physical strength and grace.

LYNX – “Secrets” – CLAIRVOYANCE – Paying attention to revelations and using caution about what you reveal.

BUFFALO – “Prayer and Abundance” – SUSTENANCE – The power of prayer and reconnecting to the meaning of life and the value of peace.

MOUSE – “Scrutiny” – METHODOLOGY – There is always more to learn.

OWL – “Observation” – TRUTH – Speaking the whole truth rather than half truths or lying by omission. The power of keen “silence” to intuit life situations.

BEAVER – “Builder” – TEAMWORK - Sense of community achieved through collaboration.

OPOSSUM – “Diversion” – STRATEGY – Mental and physical prowess that leads to progress.

CROW - “Law” – SUPERNATURAL - Sacred Law. Knowledge of alchemy. Shape shifting. Higher Order of Right and Wrong.

FOX – “Camouflage” – CUNNING – The sly power behind ingenious maneuvers.

SQUIRREL – “Gathering” – PRESERVATION – The ability to prepare and honor the future.

DRAGONFLY – “Illusion” – ENLIGHTENMENT – Things are never completely as they seem.

ARMADILLO – “Boundaries” – SHEILD – Defining one’s space.

BADGER - “Aggressiveness” – ACCOMPLISHMENT – The “BOSS”… the one who gets things done.

RABBIT – “Fear” – WORRY – Learning to resist pessimism and being attached to negative outcomes.

TURKEY – “Give-Away” – SELFLESSNESS – “Doing unto others.” All life is Sacred.

ANT – “Patience” – COMMUNITY-MINDEDNESS - Working for the good of the whole.

WEASEL – “Stealth” – ACCURACY – The hidden reasons behind anything.

GROUSE – “Sacred Spiral” – VISION – The spiraling DNA double helix. The Divine treatment of motion.

HORSE – “Power” – FORTITUDE – True power is the wisdom found in remembering your total journey.

LIZARD – “Dreaming” – MANIFESTATION – Understanding the shadow side of reality where dreams are reviewed before being manifested physically.

ANTELOPE – “Action” – MOVEMENT - Honoring destiny by masking the decision to start moving.

FROG – “Cleansing” – PURIFYING – Purging the self of distractions, guilt, frustrations and emptiness.

SWAN – “Grace” – RHYTHM – Surrendering to the grace of the rhythm of the Universe and altered states of awareness.

DOLPHIN – “Manna” – LIFE FORCE – Linking to the Great Spirit. Answers to questions. Patterns of Divine energy.

WHALE – “Record Keeper” – AKASHA – Frequencies in DNA codes. Exploring the Soul’s personal records.

BAT – “Rebirth” – GROWTH – Symbolic death that paves the way for the new “self.”

SPIDER – “Weaving”- FATE – Connection to the primordial. Creation and expansiveness of the Eternal Plan.

HUMMINGBIRD – “Joy” – FREEDOM - Paroxysms of joy and renewal in the magic of living.

BLUE HERON – “Self-Reflection” – SELF WORTH – Discovering the role of spiritual essence and Divine purpose.

RACCOON – “Generous Protector” – DEFENDER – Vigilance. Standing up for the underdog. Honor.

PRAIRIE DOG – “Retreat” - BASICS – Pushing too hard can create resistance.

WILD BOAR – “Confrontation” – COURAGE – Honoring the truth, confronting fears, facing challenges.

SALMON – “Inner knowing” – RESOURCES – Reflection and reclaiming the inner self. Discernment and authentic vision.

ALLIGATOR – “Integration” – FLOW – Right of passage. Seeing all sides of a situation and not passing judgment but making decisions.

JAGUAR – “Impeccability” – HONOR – Maintaining integrity and holding on to forthrightness and honesty.

BLACK PANTHER – “Embracing the unknown” – SHADOW SELF – Trusting in the future and the mysteries of life. Letting it BE. Self discovery and healing processes.



Every person has nine lifetime power animal totems that represent the personal essence and medicine they carry on their Earth Walk. These animals emulate each individual’s talents abilities and challenges. A non-expense way to find your Lifetime Animal Totems is to write the names of the animals listed above on separate pieces of paper. Fold each slip so the name cannot be seen. Find a quiet location where you will not be disturbed or distracted. Place the slips on a table and mix them up. Sit quietly and follow whatever ritual you use for relaxation and clarity. Intuitively choose nine slips and place them in the order chosen in front of you. Below is a layout chart that you will use to determine the “direction” of your Lifetime Totems. Start at the left placing the first Totem in the EAST space and then proceed to the right in order. When you are done see what Totems have chosen you and record them on a piece of paper or print out the grid. Do this process only once! This is not a shopping expedition where you can “return” a totem. What you have selected is the Animal Totem that belongs to you.

In Earth medicine it is believed that there are seven directions surrounding the human body. The directions are East, South, West, North, Below and Above. The direction of Within exists inside you but also surrounds you. This is based upon the premise that the entire Universe is within your consciousness. The last two directions are Beside Me (right) and Beside Me (left). These two totems are the animals of the subconscious. They may have been coming to you in dreams or visions. At one point later in your life they will show up.


As you open your heart and mind to the wisdom of the animal world you will begin to notice a change in how your future takes on a new shape. Remember to embody life with courage and to take time out to play. Get out in to Nature as much as you can and be active as well as observant. Do your best to support conservation and the environment. Walk a path of self respect ad self authority. Above all, remember that sometimes it is more important to “feel” than to “know.”

“Whenever you observe an animal closely, you feel as if a human being sitting inside you were making fun of you.” ~ Elias Canetti

“Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.” ~ George Eliot