Differences Between Totems, Animal Spirit Guides And Power Animals
Mat Walker | Dreamspeaker
Animal energies have been helping man since our earliest recorded history and it’s not hard to see why. Animals are our companions on this planet, the forms of life that we relate to the most. Some of the oldest pre-historic cave paintings show man with animals and men shapeshifting into animals. Animals have always given a powerful energy to aid us, as companions and neighbors on this beautiful planet. However, many people don’t understand the subtle differences between the meanings we give animal energies and even I am guilty of interchanging them at times when I speak or write. This is my current understanding of the differences.
Totems: The word ‘totem’ comes from the Ojibwe tribe of Native American Indians’ word ‘doodem’ meaning ‘clan’. This gives a lot of insight into what a totem animal is. A totem is a representative animal energy of a group of people. It’s a collective power animal that protects and offers it’s energies to the group of people. Totems are all around us although we don’t realize that they are such. Many native tribes have totems and we think of those the most when we think of the word “totem”. Countries have totems such as the United States’ bald eagle. States have totems such as California’s grizzly bear. Religious and Spiritual groups have totems. Christians use the dove as their symbol to represent the presence, power and peace of the Holy Spirit which they believe is accessible to them, that is absolutely a totem. They also use the totems of fish and lamb. European families used to have their own totems, think of the old family crests with animals on them or the sigils of the royal families. Clubs and Fraternities also often have totems such as “The Elk Lodge” or “Moose Club”. Totems usually tap into the energy of the chosen animal oversoul instead of specific spirits that exist in animal form.
Animal Spirit Guides: Animal Spirit Guides are not chosen, they choose you. These energies are very much Spirit Guides similar to the idea of guardian angels. These are energies that are either with you for your whole life or briefly to teach you a lesson or give you a message. The Animal Spirit Guides that you work with for a life time often reflect a deep essence of our soul. Some of these energies will re-appear over and over again synchronistically, either literally or symbolically, as a message to pay attention to them. You need to tap into the qualities of their energy and see what they are presenting you and what energy is needed for the solution. These animals will be replaced with others once you learn their lessons, while your life long Animal Spirit Guides will stick with you for the majority or entirety of your life. It isn’t uncommon for someone to be working with the energies of several Animal Spirit Guides at once. As you develop a relationship with your Animal Spirit Guide and hone into your psychic ability, you’ll learn to communicate, listen and journey with them. They will often protect you as well. These are often individual specific spirits you build a relationship with instead of the broader oversoul of the animal species.
Power Animals: In shamanistic belief, every animal has an inherit wisdom and “speciality” of spirit. Power Animals are animal energies that you choose to work with. For example, when you are feeling the need for wisdom you can call upon Owl, even if it isn’t one of your animal spirit guides and the overall energy of Owl will be able available for you to work with if you do it with respect and honor. These are also the energies that shaman’s “shapeshift” with, which is a process of blending the energies of that animal with your own energy field or completely tapping into or “channeling” that energy. Power Animals are also oversoul energies - or easier understood as “collective consciousness” energy of that species of animal.