Connecting to animal totems isn’t the same as animal communication. Animal communication connects to individual animals. Instead, animal totems connect to the essence of a species—its strengths, weaknesses, and ways of surviving in the world.

When we feel connected to an animal totem, we may receive insights on how to naturally navigate through life.

Where do animal totems originate?

Many cultures have looked to nature for signs to help them make sense of life. And that includes animal species. For instance, animals feature prominently in many cultures’ creation stories. And many cultures felt connected to certain animals on a tribal or personal nature.

Our current use of animal totems provides us with guidance about ourselves and our situations. Totems are referred to by capitalizing the species and speaking of them as an individual—Moose, Beaver, Snake.

According to Ted Andrews’s book, Animal Speak, “A totem is any natural object, being, or animal to whose phenomena and energy we feel closely associated with during our life.”

What can we use totems for?

Animal totems can help us in two main ways: by providing insight into our nature and into our problems.

Insight into our nature

turtleWe may better understand how we function and use it as a strength.

For example, I’m “aligned” with the Turtle Totem. I’m not going to race out of the gate, but I’m going to persevere. I show up consistently. I’m not flashy, but I might just win the race in spite of my “slow” movement towards goals.

Knowing this connection comforts me.

Insight into a problem

Turkey vulture animal totemFor example, a flock of turkey vultures landed in the yard where I was meditating during a weekend retreat. I’m not talking two or three of them – there were enough to wonder where the carcasses were hidden. Nobody else noticed them.

When I looked up the meaning of turkey vultures in Animal Speak, I read,

“For those with this totem, it speaks of a coming time when you will be noticed more for what you do than for how you appear.”

At the time, I worried that being (looking) older would hold me back, so this was an awesome message!

Do you have one or many animal totems?

bear animal totem

Some people believe they have one animal totem. They may use the term Power Animal. I have a family of animal totems. My first animal totem came to me in a scary dream about a Bear, It was the size of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and attacked me. Here’s the guidance I received from Bear in Animal Speak:

“[Bear] is a reminder for those with this totem to go within to awaken the power, but only by bringing it out into the open and applying it will the honey of life be tasted.”

But I also connect with the Fox, Turtle and Bee animal totems.

How do you discover your animal totem?

Here are some questions that might lead you to which animals could be your totem:

  • What animal or bird has always fascinated you?
  • When you visited the zoo, which animal do you visit the most? How about when you were a child?
  • Which animals are most interesting now?
  • Is there an animal that frightens you?
  • Have you ever been bitten or attacked by an animal?
  • Do you have dreams with animals in them, or are there animal dreams you have never forgotten?
  • Has a wild animal acted oddly, almost as if they want you to notice them? For example:
    • Fox crossing both ways in front of you
    • A flock of turkey vultures roosting nearby
    • Bee or butterfly hanging out with you

How do you find out the meaning?

You can always search the web to find out the meanings of animal totems. That’s right: Google it. I love Ted Andrews’ book, Animal Speak. He even wrote a pocket guide you can carry with you. There’s a guided meditation in Animal Speak to help you meet your animal totem. Have someone read it to you to get the full effect.

Read the blog, Animals as Messengers from Spirit.

What does your animal totem tell you about yourself?