by Pagan Dawn
Animals are here to teach humans. They have many powerful lessons to give. They remind us that we are only a small part of creation; that each part of creation has a place; that each creature has its own skill and wisdom. Take this to another level by finding and working with an animal spirit guide of your own...
Animal spirit guides (sometimes called animal totems) are powerful guardians of the land and spirit realm. They communicate with the pre-conscious ancient human mind. Forming a relationship with an animal guide could make you a better person: If you successfully contact and work with your animal spirit guide, you could end up healthier physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. You will, hopefully, see the world and all things in it with more clarity and understanding.
Many cultures hold animals sacred. Various types of animals, especially snakes and birds, have been held in great esteem by early peoples around the world and many cultures created rituals and built temples to worship them. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Hindus, Buddhists, Aztecs and other cultures venerated and worshiped various animals, birds and reptiles.
Meditate to find your own animal spirit guide
The most important part to this meditation is to keep an open mind. Don't go into this with preconceived ideas, hopes of what your animal totem will be, or perceptions.
Arrange a time to meditate. Make sure that your setting is comfortable and that you will not be disturbed.
Light candles, burn incense or diffuse oils. Play soothing music if it will help. It is important that the area is personalised to your needs and is clean from any dirt or psychic debris. You may want to smudge the room beforehand (light a Native American sage 'smudge' stick and walk around your room, letting the scent and smoke of the smudge stick fill the main area and also corners), and/or take a ritual cleansing bath. Wear comfortable clothes for the meditation and make sure that you are warm.
Sit in a comfortable position, one that you can sustain for about 30-45 minutes.
Close your eyes and take in a deep cleansing breath to the count of 3. Hold for a further count of 3 and exhale for a count of 4.
Repeat this until the breathing pattern becomes 'normal'. As you inhale, imagine a pure white light entering your body permeating all your cells. As you breathe out, release any stress and negativity through an image of black smoke leaving your body.
Concentrate on a warm energy washing over your feet, relaxing them... allow this feeling to move gently upwards to your calves, knees, thights, spine, chest, shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, neck, jaw, cheekbones, forehead and scalp. Once you have done this, scan your body again to see if any areas need further relaxation.
Now, try to clear your mind. If you find it difficult to do this then imagine an empty room or a blank book. If mundane thoughts or sounds from outside start entering your mind, acknowledge them and let them slip away. They can be dealt with at another time.
When you are feeling fully peaceful and relaxed, state your intention clearly and ask the Divine forces in your life to aid you on your journey.
You may choose to state your intention like this:
"It is my wish to find and speak with my animal spirit guide, and I ask the Divine forces to aid my in my journey."
You can, of course, phrase it however you wish - but say it so that it feels honest and true to you.
Now imagine that you are walking along a tunnel. You can see lamps on the walls, soft candlelight illumiates the path, and you can feel the texture of the floor beneath your feet. Just ahead you see the opening to the tunnel and as you reach the exit you find 10 steps leading to the surface. Count each one as you ascend... 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10. The tunnel exits onto a ledge high above a beautiful kingdom.
Imagine the landscape around you, the mountains, rivers, forests and deserts. Choose a location that you feel drawn to and travel to it, make a mental note of any sounds and noises on the way. At your destination you find a place to sit. Call to your animal guide and ask them to come and make themselves known to you. You hear a noise - you are not afraid, your animal guide appears before you.
Feel free to ask their name, what lessons you have to learn from them - and anything else you wish to know. Ask them what strengths and/or weaknesses they bring to you. Ask them how they can help you combat these weaknesses. Ask them how you can call on their strengths to help you during stressful or diffiuclt situations.
When you have concluded your visit, make sure you thank them for their gift of service and protection. Return to the tunnel mouth and descend the steps... 10 - 9 - 8 - 7 - 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2- 1. As you return along the tunnel you start to become more and more aware of your body and your surroundings. When you are ready, open your eyes, take a deep breath and have a good stretch.
How to work with your spirit animal now you've found them
Now that you have identified your spirit animal, you may wish to add their totems to your altar, or wear clothing/jewellery to symbolise them. Read as much as you can on the characteristics of the animal, and meditate upon its role and how that can benefit you. Visit your animal's natural habitat if you can, and you may also want to get involved in protecting it - contribute your time and resources.
Work with your spirit guide. Ask them for help, advice, or support. If it is for the best they will almost always help.
To contact your guide, visualise the area where you met, and call to them. They will come if they choose. If they do not, try again later or try to work out the problem on your own.
Get to know your guide as you would get to know any close friend. Spend time with it. You will learn how to work with it as you get to know each other, as you learn to become a team and understand each other's needs. Just remember to always, always, treat your guide with respect and gratitude for the help it gives - it will be the best friend you could ever have.
Some animal symbolism to get you started
Animals have their own myths, folklore and symbolism. Some of the correspondences are listed here:
Creation/destruction, birth/death, beginning of a new period and the death of the old, knowledge transformed by a new level of growth. Hidden wisdom awaits. Aggression, survival, adaptability. The ancient Egyptians viewed the crocodile as a theophany of the god Sobek, one of the beings who emerged from the watery chaos at the moment the world began. Sobek was equated in some places with the god Set.
Heightened psychic ability, may need to insulate yourself or come out of hiding, adaptability, strong sense of smell, new opportunities can be seen.
Patience, humility, wisdom to know when to use it, outer recognition of inner potentials. Symbolized in the Old Testament by Balaam's talking ass, who typifies all of the above. The ass moves with the flow and enjoys the road to the goal. Also a totem animal of the Egyptian god Set.
Keeper of stories, write things down, sees beneath the surface of all things and people, including herbs and roots, chances to develop self-expression and reliance, new chapter in your life.
Initiation, rebirth, changes, blessings, trust, instincts, perspective. Guardian of the night, cleaner.
Introspection, power, prophecy, intuition, sovereignty, instinct, transformation, strength, courage, stamina, harmony, healing, visions, leadership. Bears hibernate in the winter, which may explain their association with "dreaming the Great Spirit" or retrospection. The symbolism of Bear's cave is returning to the womb of Mother Earth. It also suggests a strong feminine aspect, one of nurturing and protection.
A builder of dreams who teaches lessons of breath for health. Symbolizes emotions, teamwork, time of action to build upon those long-awaited dreams; may mean to go forth with plans.
The bison or buffalo is considered by many tribes as a symbol of abundance: Its meat fed the people, skins were used for clothing and covering, bones and sinew were crafted as survival tools, hooves were converted into glue. According to Lakota tradition, White Buffalo Calf Woman gave them the Sacred Pipe, promising abundance as long as they prayed to the Great Spirit and honoured All Their Relations, that is, all other creations of nature. The buffalo provides all good things for living, and bestows great curing powers.
Enchantment, The Gateway, The Inner Call.
Happiness, confidence, fulfillment. Look for chances to touch joy in your life.
Wealth, potency, beneficence, fertility, strength, power, courage, stamina, sexuality. The bull is connected with the astrological sign Taurus, and bull sacrifice was an important part of many ancient religions, including Judaism. The hero slaying the bull or the Minotaur (half-man, half-bull) symbolizes the human spirit's conquest of its baser nature.
Major transformations - outcome is different than expected. Butterflies are symbols of joy, color, lightness and change in life. The butterfly awakens us to dance on the winds of life. If Butterfly is your Power Animal or if you feel in any way attracted to it, this means you are ready to undergo some kind of transformation. Examine which stage calls your attention the most: the egg is the beginning, the birth of some project or idea. The larva is de decision to manifest something in the physical world. The cocoon has to do with "going inside", either through insight or the development of the project or idea. The breaking of the cocoon deals with sharing the splendor of your creation with the whole world. Once you understand the stage you are on, you can discover which is the next step.
Guardianship, detachment, sensuality, mystery, magic, independence, protection, teaching, confidence, gentleness, caution, alertness, spirit detection. In Egypt, cats were associated with the goddess Bast or Bastet. They were given special privileges and were treated like royalty. In Scandinavia the cat stood for fertility, and in India it is a symbol of childbirth. In ancient times it was believed that witches took the form of their cats at night. Cats are fiercely independent. If Cat is your Power Animal, then you have magic and mystery in your life. You are independent and a free thinker. You probably feel energized at night. You will stay with a person or situation until it bores you, and then you're gone. You have a great talent for organizing things.
Sensitivity, emotions, loyalty. Associated with the astrological sign cancer.
Growth, strength, power, opportunities, balance. leadership, courage, elusiveness, swiftness.
Wisdom, tasks, adaptations, teaching, demonstrating, communicating, resourceful, cunning, discernment, prankster, insight, playful. The coyote symbolizes duality and the ability to present both sides of an issue. Clowning and humor, perhaps sarcastic.
Life, death, rebirth, transition magic, watchfulness, look for opportunities coming up, communication skills, wariness, intelligence and magical knowledge.
Gentleness, love, alertness, camouflage, attention, intuition, dreams, communication, serenity, acceptance. gentleness, kindness, gracefulness and sensitivity, physical pacing, body awareness. The deer carries the message of purity of purpose and of walking in the light. Deer blend very well with their environment but are very sensitive to every sound or movement.The white-tailed deer are moderately gregarious, and family members forage food together along with other family groups, giving the appearance of a large herd. People with an affinity for the deer are often described as being swift and alert. They are intuitive, often appearing to have well developed, even extrasensory perceptions. Sometimes their thoughts seem to race ahead, and they appear not to be listening.
Guidance, protection, loyalty, faithfulness, playfulness. Dogs are often pictured as guardians or gatekeepers, perhaps to the other world. The dog-headed god Anubis was the guardian of the realm of the dead in Egyptian lore.
Dimensions, curiosity, playfulness, balance, compassion, understanding, love, calmness, eloquence, freedom, emotion, kindness, play. Dolphins are a bridge from man to ocean. They symbolize psychic abilities and are initiators. Breath control and the awareness of tone is also Dolphin power.
Peace, prophecy, maternity, awaken to promise of future with clarity. The dove's role as a bringer of peace and promise are symbolized by its role in the myth of Noah. It was also seen as a symbol of some fertility goddesses. The dove's mournful cry was seen as symbolizing both the ecstasy of sexual union and the pain of childbirth.
Passion, depth, connection, power, potential, riches, inspiration, insight, vitality, transmutation.
Emotional comfort and protection, teaches how to move with grace and comfort in life
Understanding, completion, initiation, power, intelligence, renewal, courage, healing, creation. Divine spirit, high ideals, spiritual philosophy. The eagle is the chief of all the creatures in the air, the primary servant of the sun. Powerful in battle, the eagle protects the people from evil. Eagle medicine attributes include clear vision and soaring spirit. The eagle is associated with success, prosperity and wealth. In the Zuni Tradition, the Eagle symbolizes the direction Up.
Power, strength, warrior, memory.
Cunning, diplomacy, wildness, camouflage, shapeshifting, invisibility, survival, intuition, adaptability, observation. The fox is a provider, known for its intelligence, elusiveness, agility and cleverness. When Jesus referred to one of his enemies, Herod Antipas, he paid him tribute by calling him "that fox." The fox represents twilight and feminine magic.
Cleansing, clairvoyance, medicine, sensitivity. connection with water element.
Climbing, stability, confidence, achievements, loyalty, ambition.
Questing call, travels, imagination, communication/
Subtle lessons in behavior and communication. The gull teaches to read people more effectively
Nobility, recollection, cleansing. Visionary power, guardianship, swiftness, leadership, The hawk sees more in life, is observant and serves as the strength messenger of the sky. The hawk is symbolizes perception, focus and protection.
Determination, balance. The heron follows his or her own path, helping us look deeper into aspects of life. It symbolizes innate wisdom, intuition, organization.
Travel, power, freedom. stamina, mobility, stability, courage, strength. The horse was introduced to the plains tribes by the Spanish. Shamans are often pictured flying on mythical horses. Horses can symbolize coping under difficult circumstances. The horse is love and devotion, loyalty.
Ferocity, strength, agility. shamanic wisdom, focused power.
Silent and inconspicuous, the leopard symbolizes intuition, instincts, perseverance, dignity, aggression, confidence, swiftness, cunning, strength, boldness, visions, vitality, perception, achievements, knowledge.
Leadership, organization, wisdom, enthusiasm, assertion, strength, courage, energy, creativity, intuition, Imagination.
Conservation, agility. Lizard promotes dreaming.
Cheerful journey into the self, teaches journey is a quest not the destination.
Soul purpose, recognizing innate abilities, communicating; flushes negativity, follow your path.
Scrutiny, organization, trust, observation, cleaning, hyperactivity. innocence, faith, trust.
Joy, play, helpfulness, sharing, faithfulness, medicine, creativity. Laughter, curiosity, mischievousness. The otter is a feminine power, and the symbol of grace and empathy.
Detachment, wisdom, change, omens. Mystery of silent wisdom, vision, hearing; ability to pinpoint subtleties of motives, actions and people. Truth, patience, symbolic wisdom, shadow work . The Mescalero believe that Owl carries the souls of the recently deceased, a death messenger. The owl is the totem of clairvoyants and mystics. It has great awareness of all that is around it at all times. It has predator vision, which means it sees clearly what it looks at. It has great intuition: it is the totem of psychics and clairvoyants. It has the courage to follow its instincts. Owl's medicine includes seeing behind masks, silent and swift movement, keen sight, messenger of secrets and omens, shape-shifting, link between the dark, unseen world and the world of light, comfort with shadow self, moon power, freedom.
Ferocity, visions, valor, discipline, control, wisdom, sensitivity.
Reflection/insight, buoyancy in life; teaches to rest in spite of life's heavy weight
Home, love, security, fertility, family
Good-natured, curious, cautious, boldness in actions and words.
Nourishment of the soul, family; teaches how to elude problems, spot danger, safety.
Rebirth, intuition, balance, fertility, new life, dietary, spirit detection, transformation, defense. alertness, nurturing, faith. Rabbit's medicine includes moving through fear, living by one's own wits, receiving hidden teachings and intuitive messages, quick thinking, strengthening intuition, and paradox. Rabbit also represents humility, because he is quiet and soft and not self-asserting.Rabbit people are so afraid of tragedy, illness, and disaster, that they call those very fears to them to teach them lessons. If you see Rabbit or in any way feel attracted to him, it may be telling you to wait for the forces of the universe to start moving again, to stop worrying and to get rid of your fears. It always indicates a need to re-evaluate the process you are undergoing, to rid yourself of any negative feelings or barriers, and to be more humble.
Seeking new beginnings. Power, strength, agility, great mental activity; curious and imaginative. The ram offers energy to act upon the mental faculties. It reminds you to trust your abiility to land safely as new endeavors are made, balance as you climb. The ram in ancient Egypt was a symbol of the god Amon, patron god of the pharaohs of Thebes whose cult was merged with the sun god Ra. It was also associated with the potter god Khnum.
Wisdom, past life connections. The rhinoceros brings energy in for one's own solitude, spiritual idealism, high sensitivity to feelings and smell.
Healing, initiation, protection, magic, shapeshifting, creation. rebirth, omens, playful aspects, The raven stirs life without fear, brings in the light. It is a trickster, teacher, hoarder - symbolic of inner journeys, dreams. To Pacific Northwest Coast tribes, the raven represented the shaman's powers and a belief in transformation between human and animal spirits. The raven symbolizes change in conciousness and is the mark of a shape shifter. The Celts associated the raven with Morrigan, the battlefield goddess of death, who likewise symbolized transition.
New growth in many areas of life; encouragement to sing your own song; independence.
Instinct, persistence, determination.
Power, intuition, sensuality, leadership, dreams.
Love, longing, dilemna, movement, playfulness.
Hunter; survival, adaptability.
Respect, playfulness. The skunk takes its own time, is steady with efforts. Fragrances can elicit responses with those who associate with skunk medicine (aromatherapy); an ability to attract people will start to develop.
Rebirth, resurrection, initiation, wisdom, transformation, healing, sleep, calm. Shrewdness, transformation. Life, death and rebirth are represented by the shedding of skin. Among the Pueblo Indians, snakes and lightning are equated with rain and fertility. Snake creatures were said in many cultures to encircle the world. The serpent in Eden was known as the craftiest of all creatures. This reputation for wisdom followed the serpent, which was also associated with medicine - the twin serpents entwined in the caduceus of Hermes.
Self-worth, dignity; shows how to survive, triumph in spite of circumstances.
Maintains a balance from past to present, spiritual and physical balance. Awakens sensibilities and weaves influences in development in your own world, stay focused on the center of things Creative, pattern of life. Spider connects the past with the future, creating possibilities. Spider-woman is a major Pueblo goddess.
Activity, preparedness, awareness, sociability, playfulness, balance.
Soul, love, true beauty of self, power of grace, inner beauty of others reflected in you, balance, innocence.
Power, devotion, tact, skill, adventure, passion, courage, sensitivity, devotion, endurance, energy, nobility, strength, creativity, healing, sensuality.
Longevity, endurance, survival skills, patience. The turtle stimulates hearing on both the physical and spiritual levels. It is a self-contained, creative source. Turtle represents Mother Earth. Informed decisions, planning and adaptability are attributes of Turtle. Turtle is at home anywhere because it carries its home on its back. It does not become attached to places, for it is free to search for new opportunities wherever they may be found. When they sense danger, or are in uncomfortable and insecure settings, they withdraw into their shell, and are protected. If you have Turtle medicine, you value both the power of the earth, the waters of the earth, and the magic of the heavens, for Turtle symbolizes both the grounding quality of earth energy, and the magic of the mystical.
Purification, death, rebirth of the soul; changes internally, physically; conscious of transformation.
Awakening, creation, movement, imagination, inspiration.
Intuition, learning, shadow, guardianship, ritual, loyalty, spirit, magick, dreams, meditation, wisdom. Pathfinder, teacher. Friendship, trust, loyalty, success, perseverance, earth wisdom, protection, stability and thought. Wolves are also regarded as pathfinders and teachers. The wolf is represented by the constellation Sirius, the Dog. In the Zuni tradition, the Wolf symbolizes the direction East. Wolves are fiercely loyal to their mates, and have a strong sense of family while maintaining individualism.Wolves are probably the most misunderstood of wild animals. Tales of cold-bloodedness abound, in spite of their friendly, social and intelligent traits. They are truly free spirits, even though their packs are highly organized. They seem to go out of their way to avoid a fight. One is rarely necessary when a shift in posture, a growl, or a glance gets the point across quite readily. Traditionally, someone with Wolf Medicine has a strong sense of self, and communicates well through subtle changes in voice inflection and body movements. They often find new solutions to problems while providing stability and support that one normally associates with a family structure.
Rhythm, fertility, earth's heartbeat, increase of mental/physical activities, beat of life.