Once you have answered the questions in the previous lesson and have your tentative list of animals, the next step is to read all you can find about those animals. Learn what their habits are, what kind of habitat they live in, their preferences and their prejudices.
Look for the desirable qualities in each of those animals, as well as at the negative shortcomings.
Consider how they have adapted and developed abilities to enable them to coexist with increasing interaction with man in their traditional territories. Compare them to your own understanding of yourself. Do you see any paralells?
Do you see any skills you wish you had, but know you lack? Once you have a handle on the biological environment of those animals that seem to stand out to you, how they use it to their advantage, and how they conserve their resources, the next step is to study their social order, and how they interact with each other.
Do they work together or separately? Do they live in a tight knit community or do they lead solitary lives? Do they care for and interact with their offspring? What are their defensive mechanisms? Their offense?
How do they go about solving problems? It is very important to learn the nuances of their body language. By learning more about how they communicate with each other, you will have a better understanding of how and what they are trying to communicate to you. This new knowledge will spill over into your interactions with human beings.
Like humans, all animals use non-verbal communication to emphasize, reinforce, or imply what is not directly spoken. Perhaps you are oblivious to some of the finer nuances of this behavior in humans. However, if you have a pet you are familiar with this behavior and will usually interpret it correctly.
You know by a certain look or body posture or familiar behavior that your dog is hungry, thirsty, needs the restroom, knows he did something wrong, or just wants attention and affection.
You know when he is contemplating doing something he knows is wrong and is weighing the consequences of that action against the immediate reward. You know when he is being protective and when he is afraid.
You know who is the guilty party when you find the garbage strewn all over the kitchen floor when you come home from work and ask your four dogs, “Who did this?”, and one of them slinks away from you.
Even though you don’t speak fluent dog language, over time and frequent association with dogs in general and individual animals in particular you learn to recognize this body language and its exact meaning. You recognize the difference between a yip that signifies joy and one that represents pain.
You know a dog with a raised tail is in agressive posture whether that tale wags or not, while a tucked tail indicates submission. You know a tail at half flag means he hasn’t made his mind up yet whether to run or defend or make friends.
You also know the behaviors of animals that you are intimately familiar with. You can spot your dog half a block away by that funny gait he has. A dairy farmer comes to recognize Old Bessie from the two hundred other almost identical black and white spotted cows in the herd.
You look at a wolf calendar and know by the end of January that the grey wolf on the January page is not the same grey wolf that is on July, even though they may look the same on January 2nd.
So will you come to realize you are seeing the same animal over and over, as opposed to twelve other squirrels that live on your block. When you see an animal frequently and repeatedly, particularly in unusual circumstances, it is more likely than not that it is not a coincidence.
The animal is making himself known to you. He has a message or lesson for you. Reach out. Take it. Learn to recognize the language. Learn to read the body posture. Open your mind and listen. Consider the strengths and weaknesses. Recognize which qualities you have in common and which you need to learn. Be open to what they can teach you.
You can become efficient at doing this by reading about animals, observing them in natural or artificial settings frequently, looking at photographs, and the best way of all is by intimate association and interaction with the animal. Sometimes that means you will have to modify your own behaviour before any interaction can begin.
Learn to give, to be patient, and develop a willingness to change. You also need to consider that your reactions to certain animals can be directly related to their connection with you.
The term “medicine” in a non-medical sense refers to the special essence the Great Father gives to all of His creations. Each form in our world, both animate and inanimate contains its own medicine which can be shared by other parts of creation to bring healing, strength and knowledge.
By observing animals in their natural surroundings, studying their actions and reactions, and the terms on which they accept us, we begin to understand their medicine and can use it to enrich our own lives and share it in the lives of others we touch.
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