Posts Tagged With: Druid Animal Oracle

Interacting with Totems Part 4

Interacting with Totems

Author: Robert Oakes

Once the totem has been identified and understood, it is time to learn how to interact directly with the animal spirit.

Totems form an invaluable ally on the spiritual path. Acting as healers, protectors, teachers, and guides, they can have a profound impact in one’s life.

Part 1 of this article looked at recognizing the various types of totems, while part 2 addressed finding a personal totem. Part 3 covered working with the totems in daily life, and part 4 will deal with interacting with the totem.

The following sections are tools and methods that can be employed in creating a beneficial relationship with an animal totem.

Guided Visualizations/Journey

Having access to someone that is adept at shamanic journeying is probably the best way of having interaction with a totem. Be careful in selecting someone to do this work, as many people like to see themselves as a shaman, but do not have the discipline and training. As with everything else use common sense, caution, and look at their track record. If it feels wrong then it almost always is, and conversely if it is appropriate then it should feel that way.

Not having access to a traditional or contemporary practitioner is not the only way to contact totems. Guided visualizations, either commercially done on a CD/MP3, or ones personally prepared from a script can be used to journey with totems.

Oracle Cards

Jamie Sams Medicine Cards, or Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm’s Druid Animal Oracle are both solid sources of information on specific totems, and offer a useful tool in receiving guidance.

Totem Dreams

As mentioned in part 2, dreams can be used to interact with totems. These can be spontaneous dreams that carry messages from a totem, or ones that are incubated by the dreamer. Incubation can be as simple as asking the totem to bring a message in a dream. It is helpful to make the request formally before going to sleep, maybe with an appropriate offering. Examples of an offering might be tobacco tied in cloth, or food put out for that totem.

Song

Almost all pagan cultures use song or chant to connect with spirits and totems. If possible, learn a traditional song for the totem, or using chant and words create a new one. Song can be a touchstone to communicate with a totem and call in their assistance.

Prayer

Prayer forms the most basic type of communication. Prayer is simply focused intention and it can be done internally or verbally. As long as prayer comes from the heart, it is effective in communicating with totems and spirit in general.

Vision Quest

Time spent alone in nature on a fast, is one of the most effective means in connecting to a totem or guiding spirit. The silence it provides is the perfect space to hear spirit.

Totem Art

Sacred art exists the world over, and can be a conduit for spirit communication. Both creating totem art and having it nearby can be a powerful touchstone to that animal’s medicine.

Carvings can also be used to represent the medicine of animal. A carving imbued with the spirit of a totem is called a fetish, and can be used to connect to a totem more easily.

Sweat Lodges Ceremonies

Sweat lodges are found in most cultures around the world in one form or another. Cultures such as the Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) of central Canada have sweat lodge ceremonies that focus on interaction with totem animals.

The sweat lodge creates the perfect environment to have profound spirit contact.

Totem Assistance and Messages

Totems can often bring important messages. This might be in the form of dreams or visions, or it might be in waking reality. Be observant of animals and their behavior. Watch for unusual or repetitive antics, especially of those of a primary totem. Take note if the totem looks healthy or sick. Seeing the totem with food in its mouth can be a sign of abundance. Watch for synchronicities.

Get in the habit of asking for a totem’s assistance when requiring protection, healing or guidance. Like any relationship, familiarity strengthens the bond.

References

Animal Speak; The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small, Ted Andrews, Llewellyn Publications ,1996

The Once Unknown Familiar; Shamanic Paths to Unleash Your Animal Powers, Timothy Roderick, Llewellyn Publications ,1994

Medicine Cards; the Discovery of Power Animals through the Ways of Animals, Jamie Sams, St Martin Press, 1999

Druid Animal Oracle, Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, Fireside, 1995

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Working with Totems Part 3

Working with Totems

Author: Robert Oakes

Totems animal spirits are an invaluable ally not only when dealing with spirit realms, but also when trying to understand life lessons.

Understanding that animal spirits choose to work with humans both in spiritual and mundane matters can be highly beneficial.

Part 1 of this article looked at recognizing the various types of totems, while part 2 addressed finding a personal totem. Part 3 will cover working with the totems in daily life, and part 4 will deal with interacting with the totem.

Greatest Strength, Greatest Challenge

A primary totem can point out the greatest strengths someone carries, as well as their areas of greatest challenge. Often this is two sides of the same coin, as the weakest area can turn into their strength if they do their work. For example, let’s say someone’s primary totem is elk. One of the aspects of elk medicine is stamina and strength. Now this person just so happens to have a chronic health condition that causes fatigue and exhaustion. By turning to elk medicine in times of greatest challenge, they will come to develop deep wells of inner strength and resiliency. By working through this issue they will not only come out much stronger than they started, but also will be able to go on much longer than anyone around them. Their greatest challenge became their greatest strength.

Animal Behavior

Ethology is the study of animal behavior. By learning about animal behavior, a person can get great insight into the medicine of a totem. Knowledge about animal behavior not only develops insight into the totem, but into the person working with that totem as well. How the animal behaves in the wild relates to how the person will work with that totem medicine in terms of interpersonal relations, adversity and daily life routines.

Diet

Although it is a generalization, people do tend to eat according to the active totem in their life. If the animal is a carnivore, then they will probably need to eat meat at least from time to time. Hoof clans tend to be grazers and will snack throughout the day. Wolves will gorge themselves at one sitting and might not eat for a long while. Bears will eat everything in sight and still look in the fridge for more.

Power Times and Environment

The totem’s natural energy cycle will influence the holder of that medicine. What time of day or year is the totem most active? What type of climate do they like? When is their mating time? When is their birthing time? What part of the year represents their greatest challenge? These are all things that come into play in a person’s life when working with a primary totem.

Interactions

Totems influence daily interpersonal interactions. This can be in intimate relationships, business transactions and family life. Understanding how the primary totem acts socially will give clues to how the person carrying that medicine will behave. This is covered in greater detail in the article on totems and relationships.

Protection

One of the most powerful ways a totem can assist is in the form of protection. Just simply asking the totem for protection is recognized as a powerful defense in most pagan cultures. This might be protection from spirit based forces, or from more immediate physical threats.

Life Path

The type of totem gives interesting clues to life path and purpose. As mentioned in part 1, totems can be indicative of a certain type of medicine. Some basic examples of this would be:

  • Wolf – teacher, pathfinder
  • Bear – healer
  • Cougar – leadership
  • Elk – spirit messengers
  • Eagle or Buffalo – prayer work
  • Coyote – trickster teacher

Overall a totem will point to major work that person has come into this life to fulfill. Ted Andrews’ Animal Speak, Jamie Sams’Medicine Cards, or Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm’s Druid Animal Oracle would all be good places to start learning about specific totem medicines.

References

Animal Speak; The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small, Ted Andrews, Llewellyn Publications ,1996

The Once Unknown Familiar; Shamanic Paths to Unleash Your Animal Powers, Timothy Roderick, Llewellyn Publications ,1994

Medicine Cards; the Discovery of Power Animals through the Ways of Animals, Jamie Sams, St Martin Press, 1999

Druid Animal Oracle, Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, Fireside, 1995

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Types of Totems Part 2

Types of Totems

Author: Robert Oakes

Totems form an integral part of most pagan and shamanic paths. Learning how to recognize these different types of animal spirits is highly beneficial.

Totems are animal spirits and energies that protect, guide, heal, and teach. Although the terminology changes from teacher to teacher, there are similarities. Totems can be any number of animals, extinct species, or even mythical creatures. When talking about totems, it is in reference to the animal’s energy in spirit, as well as the physical form it may take on.

Part 1 of this article will look at recognizing the types of totems, while part 2 will address finding a personal totem. Part 3 will cover working with the totems in daily life, and part 4 will deal with interacting with the totem.

Types of Totems

The number of totems active is variable depending on the individual and circumstances. In general though, everyone will have a primary totem. Some people might also call this a clan, power animal, or animal guide. Names do change with different systems, but this is the main totem active from their birth until their death.

In addition to this main totem, the average person will have another half a dozen or so throughout their life. These situational totems come in to teach or protect during a time of challenge or change. A shaman may work with many more totems than this, and it is not uncommon for someone on the shamanic path to work with 20 or 30 totems.

Totem Protectors

The main totem might also form part of the individual’s defense, or there might be specific totems that come to their aid in times of danger. In general, predator totems such as cougar, tiger, wolf, bear, badger, and wolverine would be aggressive protectors to call upon. Some totems that people wouldn’t consider to be aggressive are actually strong fighters; dolphins are known to attack sharks, and elk have been known to kill or injure an attacking wolf.

Healer, Teacher, and Leadership Totems

If an individual is involved in healing work, they will usually attract specific totems to assist them. Most common to this type of work are bears, although many other totems do this work.

Teaching is another level that totems work on. This might be a personal teaching that the individual needs to learn, or it might be that teaching work is a life path. Wolf is an example of a teacher totem.

Leadership brings it own challenges, and a totem might be attracted to assist. Learning the appropriate use of power is a difficult skill, so a totem such as cougar might be brought in to teach these lessons. This would double as a protector when the position of leadership creates a target out of the individual.

Relationship Totems

Even a relationship with a spouse or family might have its own totem. This totem might be a protector, or it might be there to teach about patterns. Wolf and goose are both relationship type totems.

Totems Dealing with Transformation

During difficult times of change, totems can be an important guide. This might be through a death, divorce, change in life path, or shamanic death rebirth cycle. Common transformational totems would be bats, owls, snakes, and butterflies.

Of course there is also traditional role of a totem in that they can be a guide through the spirit realms. Common totems for traveling work are horses, birds, turtles, and anything that flies or swims.

Primary Totem

As mentioned, the primary totem is active throughout life. This totem tends to sum up the general traits of the person as well. It will give an overview on their personality, strengths, challenges, and the way they deal with success and adversity.

References

Animal Speak; The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small, Ted Andrews, Llewellyn Publications ,1996

The Once Unknown Familiar; Shamanic Paths to Unleash Your Animal Powers, Timothy Roderick, Llewellyn Publications ,1994

Medicine Cards; the Discovery of Power Animals through the Ways of Animals, Jamie Sams, St Martin Press, 1999

Druid Animal Oracle, Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, Fireside, 1995

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Finding a Totem

Finding a Totem

Author: Robert Oakes

How does someone find their totem? Using both traditional and innovative techniques, anyone can find their totem animal spirits.

The first step in working with a totem is to find out which totem is present in the person’s life. It is usually best to start with the main totem or primary power animal. These are different words to describe basically the same thing, and will depend more on the teacher or tradition’s vocabulary.

Part 1 of this article looked at recognizing the various types of totems, while part 2 will address finding a personal totem. Part 3 will cover working with the totems in daily life, and part 4 will deal with interacting with the totem.

Traditional Method of Finding Totems

In traditional culture, the shaman would enter the spirit world to find someone’s totem animal. Some traditions use the clan system, where the major totem would be inherited or more commonly these days adopted into.

If access to a traditional shamanic culture is not possible, then either journey work or hypno-trance can be used to find the totem. This can be done with someone that is qualified to lead journey work (shamanic trance), or with the use of self guided visualization CDs or scripts.

Totem Dreams

It is common that a totem will make itself known through dreams, or even real life encounters. It is normal that these dreams and encounters can be scary or challenging. Often a totem will test the person to see if they are strong enough to carry their medicine. Being bitten, scratched, chased, attacked by an animal can often represent a test by the totem. This is especially true for predator totems. When the person is able to work past the fear, the totem accepts them and offers support.

Dreams can also be incubated by asking the totem to appear in the dream. It would be appropriate to make an offering to honor that totem and to set the intention. The offering could be as simple as a tobacco tie offering, lighting a candle, or making a feast.

Animal Connection

Affinity is another way to be aware of totems. Some people just have a natural attraction for an animal. They have pictures and sculptures of them around their house, and love observing them in the wild. Be aware of what animals draw the attention on a daily basis.

Honoring Totems

Once the totem has shown itself, it is a good idea to honor that in some way. Examples of honoring would be having a small altar or space dedicated to that totem. Pictures, sculpture, track casts, fur, bones, candles, and food are all common items, but bottom line is that it has to mean something to the person making the offering. Anything that comes from the heart is appropriate.

Feasts are a common way of honoring in traditional community. If bear is a totem, then having a feast when they hibernate in the fall and when they wake up in the spring is appropriate. Serving berries and fish would be a natural connection to the bear totem. Putting a small spirit plate of part of the feast outside for the animals, or offering it to the fire with a prayer is also part of many traditional feasts.

A more practical way to honor a totem is to support their physical incarnations. If eagles are the totem, consider helping an eagle rehab or conservation project. For a deer clan, maybe it is setting up a feeder to get them through the winter.

Part 3 will look at the teachings totems bring to everyday life.

References

Animal Speak; The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small, Ted Andrews, Llewellyn Publications ,1996

The Once Unknown Familiar; Shamanic Paths to Unleash Your Animal Powers, Timothy Roderick, Llewellyn Publications ,1994

Medicine Cards; the Discovery of Power Animals through the Ways of Animals, Jamie Sams, St Martin Press, 1999

Druid Animal Oracle, Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, Fireside, 1995

Categories: Animal Guides/Totem Animals | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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