Discovering and working with Totem Animals
Due to the enormous amount of email I receive each week I cannot go over specific totems with people on an individual basis, but I am happy to include on these pages as much information as I can about working with and understanding totem energies. I wish I could answer all the questions I receive but time and energy wise it is truly impossible. There are numerous sites on the net that you may also find very helpful and I hope to add some links to my links page where people can find more information soon! Thanks for your understanding!
What are Totem Animals
Totem animals are any animal, bird, insect or aquatic life that offer themselves in service to assist not only humans but all forms of life. In general, most people are born with 7 Totem animals while Shamans or those carrying strong shamanic energy may have hundreds of Totems. New Totem Animals may be acquired throughout the life, especially in response to a great need for guidance or support. A totem animal may come from any part of the world although it is more common for a person to be most strongly connected with those native to the persons country of birth. For those with strong ancestral ties to a country other than their birth, the animals are more likely to be found in the family's original country of origin. It is also quite possible that a person may have one or two totems from one part of the world, several more from another.
How can I tell which Animals are my Totems
Many times a person will feel drawn to one animal or another without being able to explain why, they just like the Animal's energy. This could indicate a possible totem connection. Another clue is to watch and see which Animal's consistently appear in a person's life. This can occur through seeing frequent representations of the Animal such as receiving cards or letters with the same animal pictured over and over, turning on the telly and seeing nature shows featuring the same animal, seeing stories in the papers about the animal, or even in some instances, having the animal show up in person in your neighborhood! Dreams will often feature a person's Totem animal when the person is ready as well as bringing in new totems. Shamans and some clairvoyants are also able to determine what a person's Totems are either through "seeing" the Animal near the person or journeying Shamanically to contact the person's Totems.
Developing a relationship with Totems
Once a person's animal totems have been determined, the next step is to develop a relationship with the energies the animal represents. This can be done in a number of ways, much the same as you would go about starting a new friendship. The first is to be receptive and open to working with the Animal and the energy it represents. Allow yourself and your totems time to interact and get to know one another by studying their habitats, normal behaviour patterns and asking them to be present while you go about your daily routine so they can see how you operate in YOUR habitat!
Commit to setting aside time each week to meditate and tune into your Totems energy, then stick with it! This show honor and respect, much the same way you want others to honor and respect you. Even a few minutes two or three times a week is better than nothing, and crucial if you want to reap the full benefit of what your totem is offering you. If the Totem animal is one you see frequently near your home, say a Blackbird or a Squirrel, spending time outdoors just watching and talking with the one's you see also encourages your Totem to be more responsive to you. Like any relationship, what you put into it is generally what you get out of it. Ask you Totem questions, such as "what should I do about my situation at my job" and then be open to the intuitive insights you receive. Jot them down if possible and act upon them! The more you act upon the intuitive advice given and are receptive to receiving, the more your totem feels like a valued part of your life and will act accordingly. It's also nice to return the favor and ask your totems if there is anything you can do for them! Remember, it's a two way street and the more you give the more you will receive. I often talk to the Crows in my neighborhood (much to my neighbor's dismay!) as crows and ravens are two of my primary Totems. If I ignore them, next time out I am likely to have something tossed in my direction or have a flock follow me down the street shrieking at me. Like any old friend, they like to be greeted when we meet and are highly offended if I don't at least say hello. Makes all the difference in the world!
My Totem is acting strangely, what does that mean?
Once you have developed a relationship with your totem animals, there may be times when those local to your neighborhood or in dream states or meditations, don't act as they normally would. This is an alert that something is up or about to change in your life that you need to pay attention to. The stranger or more unusual the behaviour, the more you need to examine areas of your life that may be out of kilter or situations it's time to let go of. Usually we know intuitively when something is not right in our lives, but all to often we try to ignore it and carry on as usual. Of course at some point the situation is going to blow up in your face which is precisely what your totems are trying to get you to prevent. Pay attention and take action where you know you need to. Then if the Totem still hasn't settled down, it's probably a raven or crow. They are always acting strangely. Just don't tell them I told you so or I will never hear the end of it!
My Totem attacked, bit, scratched or frightened me in a dream or meditation
Welcome to the Shamans world! Actually, it's not uncommon to have these kinds of experiences with totems. Often it's their way of testing your ability to handle their energies in the proper manner so you don't harm yourself or someone else. Shamans often have repeated dreams of being torn apart and reassembled by their Totems. Often when a new Totem appears, you are tested in much the same way as their energy is unfamiliar to you and you need classes so to speak in how to deal with this new influx of energy. How you respond in these situations tells the animal how you are able to handle the energy when it actually shows up in your life. Running away screaming is obviously not going to win you any brownie points, but has sure sounded good to me on more than one occasion. The main thing to remember is that the Totem would not be there if the chances were slim to none that you couldn't handle the energy.
What if I don't like, or feel drawn to my Totems?
This does happen. Earwigs for example make me go all wobbly. I know that Spirit in all his/her wisdom has a pretty darn good reason for having created them in the first place, and despite what Crow says about them having been manifested simply to give me the ickies, I know they have a very important place in the scheme of things. I won't kill them, but I will make my housemates remove them when found inside. Without violence of course! So what do you do if you have a Totem that gives you shivers? First have patience with yourself and admit that you just don't care for this particular Totem. Then do your best to set aside any negative feelings you have for it and study it's native habitat and normal life cycle as you would the totems you do like. I have Ant as a Totem and frankly it's another not very favorite insect. Yet I have learned to respect their strength, sense of dedication and purpose, patience and loyalty to their group. They are still not my favorite insects, yet we have a good working relationship based on mutual respect and trust. Often the totem we like the least is really the one we can learn the most from, so do your best to accept what has been offered. If you still can't stomach that particular Totem, you can ask that you have another take it's place, just be sure and honor the original one by thanking it for what it has taught you, asking Spirit to bless it and all of it's kind.
Asking Totem Animals for help
Now we get to the really good stuff! Yes, your Totem animals can assist you in a variety of ways. You see, when anyone or anything does a good deed, they attract positive karma. So it really is in your Totems best interests to help you in any way that they can. Likewise, it's also in yours to assist them when needed! One way of asking for help is to sit in meditation and call your totems to you, saying that you have a problem or situation you need help with and asking for a volunteer to step forward who can give the greatest help. Don't be surprised if he one who steps up is not the one you expected, but trust that this is indeed the right Totem for the job. Next, ask specifically what you would like to have happen, including the phrase " For the good of all and harm to none". This is very important, as your totem may not act if it knows to do so would bring harm to you or another. Yes, they will protect you if you are attacked by another, without hesitation, but they will also do their utmost to protect you from unforseen consequences that could be brought about as the result of your request.
Now you need to release the totem to go do it's work. You can use a phrase like " Peace and Spirit be with you as you journey forth to fulfill my request". Saying thank you in advance is also appreciated both by your totem and Spirit and actually gives greater momentum towards the fulfillment of your request.
Another option is to find a picture of your totem, set up a small altar or private space for the totem with some crystals, incense, flowers, plants, etc., preferably relating to your request. Write your request down on a piece of paper or parchment, place it in on the altar and set a candle ( in a candle holder please! It won't do you much good to ask your Totem to bring you your soul mate if you burn your house down in the process!) on top of it, light the incense, then the candle and visualize your totem going off into the Universe to bring you what you have asked for. Pleases and thankyou's are again much appreciated and add momentum towards the manifestation of your desire.
In some circumstances you may get the feeling that a friend or loved one needs your totems energy on loan so to speak. In such circumstances, you can ask that if it is appropriate, that your totem(s) go and assist this other person. Your intent to help is all hat is needed, your totems will take care of the rest!
Honouring Totem Animals
There are numerous ways to honor totem animals. It can be s simple as putting out food for the wildlife in your area (this does not have to include your loon of a neighbor down the street, but hey, whatever floats your boat!) with the intent that your Totems are also being nourished to sending positive energy and love from your heart to your totems. Giving money to wildlife organizations, recycling, walking or biking as often as possible rather than driving, gardening organically, helping to protect wilderness areas and sharing your knowledge of your totems with others are all wonderful ways of saying thanks and giving back. Create a Butterfly garden in your yard, set up a bird bath or build a bird house. Even sitting quietly and saying thank you, sharing events in your daily life with your totems, honors them and the gifts they share with you each and every day.
If you would like to know more about Totem Animals, I strongly recommend the book " Animal Speak" By Ted Andrews.
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