Spirituality Information

Animal Totems


What the Animals Tell Us

"I am the Sun's son.
I sit upon a turquoise horse
At the opening of the sky"
Navajo Horse Song

Each animal has its own nature, its own traits and is a representation of a power such as strength for the lion or speed for the jaguar. By learning about animal strengths or powers a Shaman comes to understand why people are attracted to certain favorite animals and repulsed by others. These attractions and repulsions actually become a tool that tells the Shaman what is needed or missing in a person's life.

There was a woman who no matter how she tried, kept missing the boat, missing out on opportunities that would have brought her the abundance and connections she needed to succeed. In hindsight she could see every instance in which she had failed to recognize the chance to get ahead. It was very frustrating for her but she could not find a way to break out of this rut.

When asked what animal she most feared she related an experience she had as a child with a horse. She was introduced to a friend's horse that was very high spirited and when she reached out her little hand the horse bit it causing much trauma for the child and a lot of consternation for the mother. But since that time, the horse had represented fear for this woman.

Yet if we look at the power of the horse it is a prey animal. That means it is usually a source of food for some other animal. So it is keenly aware of what is going on around it at all times. One quick move, one strange sound and the horse will perk up its ears and be on the alert for what is happening, ready to run if it feels any danger. Horses also watch out for one another and if one horse senses danger the whole herd is willing to move as one, away from apparent threat.

So examining this woman from a Shamanic perspective we see that she is not aware of what is around her and she is afraid of the power represented by the horse that would be keenly aware of her situation at all times. By dealing with her fear of horses we can allow her once again to become aware of her surroundings, to prick her ears up and take full advantage of opportunities around her.

In the same regard we can use those animals we are most attracted to for observations about powers we have or would like to have. Recently a student became interested in developing her spiritual gifts and stated that she was attracted to the snake. Certainly it is an unusual animal to attract the favor of a woman! She just seemed to think about the snake more often than any other animal and it had only been this way for the past year or so.

When we look at the snake we see it represents the power of transformation. The snake can shed its skin and recreate itself within a short time. It has always been a symbol of power and has even been regarded as the mother of all life. The life energy called kundalini is often described as a snake rising up the spinal column to bring enlightenment.

So for this woman the snake was showing her that, yes, it is time to begin developing her healing abilities and taking charge of her own power to help others. As she progresses, other animals will become her favorites and those too will have significance in her own life.

It is said that we carry 12 totem animals in our lives. Usually there are four animals that stay with us constantly and they represent the powers that are inherent in our Spirit before, now and after, eternally. The other eight totems represent life changing events or growth cycles as we move along this path of life learning and practicing what we have learned. If you pay attention to the animals you most like or don't like you can learn many things about your true desires and how to attain them.

Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls is one of America's best loved authorities on Shamanism and has been practicing Shaman for over 50 years. She teaches an online, ongoing course on Shamanism at http://www.shamanelder.com. She is a published author and invites everyone to learn about their own inherent skills to heal and be healed. She also offers Free Consultations to anyone who writes her at shaman@shamanelder.com


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