A totem is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol of a tribe, clan, family or individual. Native American tradition provides that each individual is connected with nine different animals that will accompany each person through life, acting as guides.
Different animal guides come in and out of our lives depending on the direction that we are headed and the tasks that need to be completed along our journey.
Native beliefs further explain that a totem animal is one that is with you for life, both in the physical and spiritual world.
Though people may identify with different animal guides throughout their lifetimes, it is this one totem animal that acts as the main guardian spirit.
With this one animal a connection is shared, either through interest in the animal, characteristics, dreams, or other interaction.
This Animal Guide offers power and wisdom to the individual when they ”communicate” with it, conveying their respect and trust. This does not necessarily mean that you actually pet or spend time with this animal, more that you are open to learning its lessons.
For some, knowing what is their totem animal is almost an innate process. It’s as if they’ve always known, inexplicably drawn to the animal or having a special feeling for the animal’s energy. For others, they wonder how to tell what their animal totem is.
Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re wondering what your animal totem is:
- Have you ever felt drawn to one animal or another without being able to explain why? This could be animal, including birds and insects.
- Does a certain kind of animal consistently appear in your life? This doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical appearance, it could be represented in other ways such as receiving card and letters with the same animal pictured over and over, unexplainable dreams of a particular animal, watching television and seeing the same animal featured time and time again, or, actually having the animal show up.
- When you go to the zoo, a park, wildlife area, or forest, what are you most interested in seeing?
- Are there any animals that you find to be extremely frightening or intriguing?
- Is there a particular animal that you see frequently when you’re out in nature?
- Have you ever been bitten or attacked by an animal?
- Have you ever had a recurring dream about a certain animal, or a dream from childhood that you have never been able to forget?
- Are you drawn to figurines or paintings of a specific animal?
The totem itself is a symbol that represents this animal. This could be any number of items – a crest, a totem pole, an emblem, a small figurine or anything else that depicts your animal guide.
Note: Native American totems did not include all of the animals listed below, as many of these creatures did not exist in North America; or, in some cases, not at all.
However; the concept of ”totems,” by whatever name they were called, have been known throughout the world since the earliest days of Greek Mythology.
Though the unicorn and dragon are generally accepted as centuries old mythical creatures of Europeans, pictures of these fabled animals have been found in Native American tapestries and pictographs.
Animal Characteristics & Meaning
|Alligator||Maternal, revenge oriented, quickness, aggression, and basic survival instincts.|
|Ant||Group minded, determination, patient, active, and industrious|
|Anteater||Lethargy, curiosity, nosiness.|
|Antelope||Active, agile, jumpiness, and willing to sacrifice|
|Armadillo||Safety oriented, grounded, and has boundaries|
|Badger||Courage, aggressive, healer, having problems relating to others, and energy conduit|
|Bat||Rebirth, longevity, secrecy, initiation, good listener, and long life|
|Bear||Industrious, instinctive, healing, power, sovereignty, guardian of the world, watcher, courage, will power, self-preservation, introspection, and great strength.|
|Beaver||Determined, strong-willed, builder, overseer, and protector|
|Bee||Organized, industrial, productive, wise, community, celebration, fertility, defensiveness, obsessive nature, and enjoys life|
|Boar/Pig||A very powerful totem – prosperity, spiritual strength, organized, self-reliant, fearless.|
|Buffalo||Sacredness, life, great strength, abundance, gratitude.|
|Bull||Insight into the past, fertility, rushing into things without proper preparation.|
|Butterfly||Metamorphosis, transformation, balnace, grace, ability to accept change|
|Camel||Survival, positive, accomplishments|
|Caribou||Traveler, mobility, preference to be nomadic, adaptability to adversity|
|Cat||Guardianship, detachment, sensuality, mystery, magic, and independence|
|Cheetah||Swiftness, insight, focus|
|Cougar||Leadership, loyalty, courage, taking responsibility, foresight|
|Cow||Swift, insightful, and focused|
|Coyote||Trickster, intelligence, stealth, wisdom and folley, guile and innocence|
|Cobra||Swift and decisive|
|Crab||Good luck, protection and success|
|Crane||Solitude, justice, longevity, independent, intelligent, and vigilant|
|Crocodile||Ensuring your emotions are displayed accurately/appropriately|
|Crow||Justice, shape shifting, change, creativity, spiritual strength, energy, community sharing, and balance|
|Deer||Compassion, peace, intellectual, gentle, caring, kind, subtlety, gracefulness, femininity, gentleness, innocence, and seller of adventure|
|Dog||Noble, faithful, loyal, teaching, protection, and guidance|
Kind, salvation, wisdom, happiness, playfulness, prudent, capable of deep emotion, and happy.
Cross-world communication, spirit messenger, peace, gentleness, love
Longevity, richness, prosperity, infinity, wisdom, power, and fiery
Flighty and carefree, strong imagination, higher aspirations.
Water energy, helper of seers, can clearly see/deal with emotions
Divine spirit, sacrifice, connection to creator, intelligence, renewal, courage, illumination of spirit, healing, creation, freedom, and risk-taker
Strength, power, affection, loyalty, royalty, and wisdom
Strength and agility, pride, majestic, independence, purification, strength, and nobility
New beginnings, adventure, passionate, and leadership.
Graceful, slyness, open-minded, quick to change one’s mind.
Heart healing, psychic, people person, flirtatious.
Cunning, agility, quick-witted, diplomacy, wildness, feminine magic of camouflage, shape-shifting and invisibility
Water energy, cleansing, rebirth, sensitivity, medicine, hidden beauty, peace, adaptability, poor character judgment and power.
Communication, intuition, attaining the unreachable, seeing the future
Surefootedness, stubbornness, independence, diligence, lack of foresight.
Self-demanding, reliable, prudent, rigid, vigilance, parenthood, and productive.
Family-oriented, intelligence, strength, environmental protector, keeps peace through aggression.
Good luck, abundance, forward, progressive.
Personal power, enlightenment.
Messenger, intuition, victory, healing, nobility, recollection, cleansing, visionary power, and guardianship.
Aggressive, self-determined, self-reliant, multi-tasking, balanced.
Power, creation, imagination, healing.
Freedom, stamina, mobility, the land, travel, power, and freedom.
Messenger, timelessness, healing, and warrior.
Chaos, shape-shifter, aggressiveness, power.
Forward, balance, creative, stamina.
Family, strength, energy, courage, guardian and protector.
Conservation, vision, self-protection, hidden defenses.
Comforting to others, secure.
Keeper of secrets, guardian, listener, and guide.
Sensitivity, guidance, searching.
Ability to change the environment, health, success.
Headstrong, longevity, steadfastness, and wisdom.
Scrutiny, order, organizer, and an eye for details.
Intelligence, camouflage, nocturnal.
Diversion, strategist, and deceiver.
Playful, friendly, dynamic, joy, helpfulness, and sharing
Deception, clairvoyance, insight, messenger.
Sacrifice, chastity and self-denial
Protection, hidden emotions, introspection, caution, careful decisions
Communication, beauty, guide for wisdom, mockery, thinking before speaking
Immortality, dignity, and self-confidence
Resilient, unselfish, rising above.
Self-discipline, grace, self-confidence, spiritual
Innocence, companionship, and trust
Swiftness, industrious, constructive, preparedness
Companion on journeys to other worlds, grace, silent power
Group-work, team play, creator of harmony and group tolerance, protectiveness (especially toward children)
Fear, timidity, nervousness, humility, rebirth,
Curiosity and cleanliness
Stoic, sensitive, persevering, curious, imaginative.
Fertility, stealth, scavenging, intelligence, enjoys luxury
Introspection, courage, self-knowledge, magic
Wisdom, solitary, insightful, solid.
Mental agility, speed, opportunistic.
Vanity, likes to be showered with gifts and attention, early riser, settling for nothing less than the best
Proud, intense, confident, wisdom, inspiration
Transforming, strong, inspiring, chaotic, passionate
Versatility, loud, easy-going nature, creativity, laziness
Confidence and grace
Love, longing, dilemma, active imagination, creativity
Hunter, survival, and adaptability
Reputation, presence, and strength
Protective, aware, solitary.
Impulsive, shrewdness, rebirth, transformation, initiation, and wisdom
Balance, wisdom, creativity, communication
Planner and gatherer
Lord of the forest, masculine power of regeneration, signs.
Grace, balance and innocence, soul, love, beauty, of the self
Strength, valor, power, and energy
inner strength, luck, self-examination
Generosity, life-giver, and sharer
Nurturer, shy, and protecting
Purity, innocence, dreamer, personal power, gentle
Strength, energy, ingenuity and stealth
Wisdom, provider, intelligence, and kindness.
Loyalty, perseverance, success, intuition, and spirit
Sensitive, protective, and devotion
Agility and individuality