The most common misconception about totem animals is that the person chooses the animal. In reality, it is the other way around–the animal chooses you. The most beneficial way for the average person to begin to recognize their totems is to study their own interests and look in their own back yards, so to speak. In the following discussion, we will use the term animal. However, keep in mind totem animals are not necessarily mammals. They could be reptiles, insects, sea creatures, any of the life forms of the animal kingdom from anywhere in the world.
The most common misconception about totem animals is that the person chooses the animal. In reality, it is the other way around–the animal chooses you. So, start by looking at the animals you see every day.
Slow down, and observe the world around you. Ask yourself this series of questions, and try to be spontaneous. Don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the answers at first. Just see what pops into your mind and make a quick list of the answers:
What animals have characteristics that you admire?
What qualities do you have in yourself that others most often admire? If you could be an animal, which one would you be? Why? Is there a particular one that you see often, or that seems to turn up in unexpexted places?
Is a particular animal trying hard to get your attention?
What animals do you notice on the drive to work or school? What do you see in your neighborhood? Your own back yard?
When you take a trip, what animals do you notice?
When you walk in the woods or a remote place, what animals do you encounter? What is your reaction to those encounters? If you visit a zoo, what area do you generally head for first? What animals do you notice in magazines, on TV, in films? What kinds of pets do you have? Who are their wild ancestors?
What creature do you fear most?
What are your own bad qualities that others say you need to improve upon? Which animals do those things well? The things we fear often have the most to teach us. Ask yourself what your own deepest innermost fears are.
What animals most closely represent the qualities driving those fears? Learn all you can about those animals. Often, we fear what we do not know, or what we don’t understand.
Ask yourself what animals you are drawn to.
What animals are featured on your choices of clothing, jewelry, art, trinkets, the toys you buy for your children, or in home decorating items? What animals are included in your usual choices of reading material, if any? Ask yourself what your choices are when choosing a vacation destination.
What type of terain do you generally prefer? Is it urban, rural, remote wilderness, exotic foreign lands? Are they near the sea, on the plains, high in the mountains? Is the climate cold, hot, or temperate? What animals live in those places? Which ones have you seen when you have visited those locations?
What animals have you seen in dreams?
Are there any animals which show up in your dreams often? Are they pleasant dreams or nightmares, or something in between? Do you have a particular dream that reoccurs or changes but has basically the same elements, terrain, or animals?
Which animals do you like to touch or have always wondered what it would be like to touch them?
Are there any animals that seem to particularly like you, or that you are good at soothing? Being in the presense of what animals do you find soothes you? When you look at a particular animal how does it make you feel? Are you excited, calmed, attracted, repulsed, nervous or serene? Do you see beauty or ugliness? By the time you have answered these questions, you should have a fairly substantial list of animals.
You can then begin to study the animals on your list. As you study and learn about these animals in more detail, it will become clear to you which are incidental, and which have true importance to you personally.
Each animal has it’s own special power and message. Animals come to us because they have a lesson we need to learn, a power they are willing to share, or wisdom they wish to impart to us.
Many times this is wisdom that was born within us, but it needs a nudge to be awakened in the conscious state. The Animal Totem that comes to you offers you power to create this awakening, if you will learn to communicate with it, with respect, trust, and patience.
Understanding will come to you when you are ready and open to receive it. Once you have answered the above questions and have your tentative list of animals, you’ll be ready to take the next step.
Introduction | Respect and Honor | New Age Spirituality | Finding Your Totem
The Conscious Mind | Life Totems & Power Animals | The Unconscious Mind
Directional Totems | Tantra Totem | The Totem Animals