From what I've read, an animal totem and an animal guide, or guides, are two different things. The totem being a representation of a person as a whole, the one they relate to best, as represents their character and personality. Whereas the animal guide is a spirit animal that can change throughout your life, and you can have more than one at a time. Is that right?
I was just wondering, what are the best methods of finding out what your animal totem and your animal guides are?
Re: Animal Totem & Guide? By: Lark Moderator / Adept
Post # 3 Jun 15, 2014
You're close in understanding the difference between Totem animals and Spirit animals.
Spirit Animals and Totem Animals are two separate concepts many constantly confuse. Some even seem to think the two are interchangeable. Some have even tried to use the two to draw comparisons to a Witch's Familiar, but the concepts are all very different.
The word "Totem" actually comes from the Anishinaabe word "Doh-Daym" (spelled Dodem) meaning "Clan". Your Clan animal represents which family is in your lineage and what skills you are expected to master in order to serve the tribe (these days, the community). There is nothing mystical in the way a First Nations person receives their Clan animal. Depending upon whether the tribe is Matrilineal (tracing a member's lineage through their mother's side of the family) or Patrilineal (tracing through the father) a Clan is decided at birth. The animal you are given represents the skills you will learn throughout your life.
No one who is not native would have a clan or totem animal. This is *specific* to those who are First Nations by blood.
Spirit animals are an entirely different concept that can be applied with or without First Nations lineage. A Spirit animal is a personal guide which can take many forms and have many purposes. For Instance, one of my friends (who is Scandinavian in lineage) has a wolf as her spirit animal. She has always had a fascination with them since childhood and has had many run-ins and dreams in which they have visited her. Other people have Spirit Animals that arrive in times of need or reflection.
How can you tell if you have a spirit animal or who they are? They way it has always been explained to me is that the animal in question has to be behaving out of the ordinary in order for it to be considered legit. If you like moose a lot and just find them interesting that doesn't count. But if a moose came and stood outside your front door and snorted at you...that would be a pretty huge clue. It has to be something outside of their nature, some way in which they reach out specifically to you.
Spirit Animals should be thought of more as patron animals. They support you and guide you when the going gets rough or when you're just not seeing something right in front of your face.