Spirit messages often come in dreams and meditations. After a panda bear visited my sleep 2 times this week, I was inspired to write this feature about working with Animal Totems.
Dreams and meditation aren’t the only venues in which Animal Totems might visit you. Pay attention to the trees in your backyard. The shapes of the clouds. Postcards and street signs. For 18 years, I lived in a borough named, “Fox Chapel.” To this day, I keep a plush fox on my bedspread.
If you stay alert, Animal Guardians will find (surprising) ways to make their presence known. For instance, I was guided to wear the color yellow for psychic readings this weekend at Nature’s Treasures. I chose a sweater, embroidered with daisies and red beetles. When I entered the store, another psychic ran up and hugged me, exclaiming, “Oh my gosh, I had a vision that I would be seeing Lady Bugs today!”
When you’re beginning to welcome Animal Totems into your life, you’ll probably start with a pet. Many people consider a dog or cat their personal totems. But so many other animals can bring you guidance and protection. Why limit yourself to two domesticated animals? For that matter, why limit yourself to animals that are native solely to your little corner of the world? Some people consider unicorns, dragons, centaurs, and phoenixes their totems!
How to Find Your Animal Totem
Notice what animals are attracted to you. Are ring-tailed marauders digging through your garbage each night? Do squirrels try to gorge themselves at your bird feeders? Maybe you’ve been purchasing animal symbols and haven’t thought much about it:frog inflatables for your pool; turtle soap dishes for your bathroom, dolphin wind chimes for your porch, etc.
Another way to determine a totem is to think back to your childhood. What books did you like to read? Children’s literature is rife with animals, who teach positive character traits. Remember The Tortoise and the Hare? The Ugly Duckling? The Three Little Pigs?
By the way, you don’t have to limit yourself to one Animal Totem. In the Native American tradition, Shamans believe that each Human has a total of nine spirit animals, and they all take turns teaching us lessons. You will usually identify 1-2 primary Animal Totems. You can consider them your “Guardian Angels” from the animal world. One will walk on (or protect) your left / feminine side, while the other will walk on your right / masculine side.
As for Panda, she’s a newcomer to my army of Spirit Guardians. I can’t remember another time when Panda visited my Dreamtime — which is curious, because I used to sleep with a plush Panda as a toddler. When Panda showed up last night, she brought two gifts. One was a snippet of music (“Things Can Only Get Better,” by Howard Jones.) The other was the enormous rainbow-quartz clasped between her paws. The point of that crystal was pointed at the stars.
Cool Vision, But What Does It Mean?
To understand a message from a spirit animal, you first need to understand that animal’s behaviors in the wild. Is it a herd animal or a solitary hunter? Does it search for food by day, night, or dusk? Does it tend to be silent (like swans) or vocal (like squirrels)? Does it build its living quarters (like beavers) or steal them (like hermit crabs)?
Next, study the habitat in which your totem lives: desert, wetlands, forest, glacier, etc. Also be sure to study your totem’s prey so you can understand the “shadow side” (vulnerable side) of your totem. For instance, Lynxes exist solely on a diet of Snowshoe Hares. When the Hare population declines, so does the Lynx’s.
Sometimes, you will be afraid or allergic to the animal that shows up in your life. Snakes, for instance, have a bad rap. I was stunned to learn that in the United States, snakes bite fewer than 7 Native Americans each year. Most snake bites are reported by Caucasians. Why the disparity? Because when a Native American sees a snake, he doesn’t scream, poke it with a stick, or try to shoot it! He respects the snake “like a brother,” nods politely to the creature, and continues on his way. Animals sense your fear. They know when you’re resisting the lessons they’ve come to teach. I suspect that’s why cats rub the legs of people who hate them. LOL!
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