I really want to summon a spirit animal, but it hasen't worked for me. I also want to know a few things: are they invisible to everyone except you, and are they actually real, or astral and mental.Thanks!
I have not actually seen my spirit animal yet, but I have felt it. I have had a cat that come to bed with me for about 20 years now and even though I do have two real cats, I can feel the spirit one and at one time I actually pissed it off an it sprayed stinking up my bedroom. LOL that was fun !
I have moved several times and it comes with me, even across the country and back !
I realized it was a spirit animal when my mother was staying with me and I thought my cat was in my bed, then my mom called me into the livingroom and my cat was curled up in her lap, and she said he had been ther for about an hour.
I had a friend who said she saw it, that it was a big fluffy white cat with owl like eyes. I too keep asking it to reveal itself to me but have had no luck yet ! I do believe they are real, and as far as my native side of things I had a vision quest and three animals reveald themselves to me, A bald eagle, A bear, and a White female wolf. I was told they were my spirit animals. I practice a bit of both worlds together !
A spirit animal is not something which is summoned. It is more like a guide, which may come to you or reveal itself.
That said, be careful of some beliefs: Some New Age practices have combined a slew of traditions together, ranging from several different Native American beliefs (do not ever believe that all Native Americans believed the same thing across the continent; their beliefs are quite varied), to concepts of other cultures from around the world. Basically, the slightest similarities in concept were all conglomerated until it made sense enough to propagate an idea which is, quite frankly, full of misinformation.
Some New Age practitioners will make it seem like it is mandatory that everyone have a 'spirit animal,' and some people will be quite stressed out for not having one. Things will happen differently for different people.
If you are wanting a spirit animal in the sense of a Native American totem animal based upon the beliefs of a specific group, you are best to research that group's beliefs. Be aware that much of this will not be documented in books, and in order to do so, you must meet with and study with the people themselves.
If you are looking for an animal familiar spirit, depending upon belief, the entity is either created (similar to a tulpa or servitor) and housed within the mind of the magician, or is either called or comes to the practitioner when they are ready to do so.
If you are seeking a spirit guide, be aware that these beliefs vary quite widely. Many believe a guide cannot be summoned or called, and only arrives when it is ready. Some believe that a guide is always there, but will not always reveal itself. Some believe that the highest spirit guide is an aspect of the self.
So here is where I would suggest you begin: Explore whichever system it is you are studying currently. If it is one which includes an animal spirit guide, work towards that goal among your others, with patience. If it is not a tradition which includes spirit guides, consider if you still believe you must have one within your practice.
To address some of your latter concerns:
It would be a non-physical entity, whether one you have created yourself, or one which has come to you. You may not even 'see' it physically. It might be something you see in dreams or during meditation, if at all. You may just have an understanding of it.
It will not be a physical creature. But if it is real to you as a non-physical entity, then that should be real enough. What is real is a concept in your mind, any way. Life is an illusion.
Prsona indeed gave really solid information, and as one of those people who learned through more new-age means, I can also confirm that because the new-age depends a lot on finding common grounds among many different traditions and philosophies sometimes the wrong terminology gets used for things. New-agers operate in generalizations and, kind of like with painting, when you use a big brush and broad strokes you cover a lot of canvas pretty quickly... but you still eventually need to work into a narrower focus if you want to develop a detailed image.
Also, there is a subtle but distinct difference between having a guide, and a totem, and sometimes that gets things confused as well. A guide is typically a being that has reached a state of experience and wisdom as to be considered an ascended master. They can be people including historical figures, or familial ancestors. They can also be individual deities angels or other higher beings that choose to take you under wing. For a few people, they find a connection with creatures and entities that aren't earth-bound at all- like dragons, phoenix, or othe mythical/fantastic entities. And on occasion animal archetypes as well.
In the end, what defines an entity as a guide is their function within your life. Guides are there to help lead you to yourself. They act as sounding boards, sometimes offer poingiant suggestions, or otherwise communicating and acting to trigger change through introspection and personal growth.
Meanwhile a totem, as understood relating to native american practices, is almost always an animal archetype. They do not typically communicate directly with the spiritual seeker but rather teach through their presence and the representations of their form. They act like a mirror and provide insight into your inner nature, attitudes, strengths and weaknesses through symbolic representation.
For example someone who has eagle as a totem might be considered to be strong of personality, able to have clear foresight and the uncanny ability to see below the surface to see what lies at the core of the situation. Just as an eagle is a predatory bird that is large and strong, and can see beneath the surface of water from great heights to spy out and pluck up the fish it hunts. However as a flying animal that spends most of its time gliding on the winds, it can represent an instinctive need for freedom or even escape from the mundane. Someone who lives in an unbalanced fasion might beconsidered aloof, dismissive, or escapist when it comes to the needs of life.
However, again like what was already said this is only one interpretation of Totems and how they operate. Differing peoples have different nuances within the core concepts of the belief. Some are entirely different. I can only speak from my own experiences and learning. I might suggest shifting your focus from looking for an 'animal guide' to just calling for you to gain contact with your 'spirit guide' and letting go of some of your expectations as to what form that guide might take. They do not always appear in the form you want, but they do always appear in the form that will provide the most valuable connection.
A "spirit animal" is not a created entity. Perhaps in the new agey beliefs not tied to an actual belief system/religion.
Such a thing would technically be a servitor.
Spirit animals are technically the traits you carry, and the animal which it relates to. For instance, someone with an owl as their spirit animal would have traits such as intelligence, keen sight and hearing, possibly a tendency to work better at night. Some paths say that you have one "spirit animal" throughout life. Others will say that it can vary.
Totem animals would be similar to spirit animals. Where you seem more attuned to the traits of said animal. From what I was told by an elder of my tribe, often we will see an animal over and over, or in an area that is not normal, or doing something out of charachter, as a means of drawing our attention to a specific totem or spirit animal. More often than not this ia due to a lesson we must learn or a trait we need to tap into as a means of growth. Though different faiths may argue this as being circumstantial.
Familiars are physical creatures that lend you energy during your work, and sometimes as an alert when things go awry. In recent years people have added on, saying an animals spirit can be a familiar, or even mythical creatures. I tend to disagree except perhaps in the case of necromancy. Only reason I say that is the fact it involves specifically working with and or reading death energy/spirits.
Spirit guides are spirits that come into your life as a means of teaching you or bringing awareness of something. These are often seen as animals. I think people tend to mix this and spirit animals up. At least from what I have noticed on this site over the past ten years.
Be careful with regurgitating information you find on this and other sites. Often it is just one persons opinion that gets twisted around as fact and we really don't need more confused children (or adults for that matter) running around confusing even more people.
If you portion about created spirit animals is directed at my post, you will notice that I do clarify about such an entity being a servitor or possibly tulpa.
A familiar is not physical. "Familiar" is short for "familiar spirit," at least from the European folk traditions. It is a non-physical entity, which some believe arrives, is called, or is created -- much like a servitor -- depending upon belief. Thanks to deliberate misinformation to scare people away from witchcraft and towards Christianity starting some centuries ago, which has since carried over through various tales to be quite well embedded in modern fiction, there is a severe misunderstanding of the concept.
A familiar may be either physical or astral. Astral familiars are found during astral projection, and may come and go just like that. There are four different types of familiars; if you would like to know more about them, feel free to mail me. Physical familiars are, indeed, real; they are simply physical animals with a spiritual connection with you.
Familiars will help you spiritually and may sometimes take the place of a teacher during Magick, or they may help to emotionally and/or physically in your life when you need consolation.
If you are looking for an astral familiar but are struggling with astral projection, a good place to start is in meditation. You need peace of mind and body to move to a new mind and body. I know a meditation that helps me a lot, and if you would like me to send it to you, mail me, and I will. I found it in D. J. Conway's book Animal Magick: The Art of Recognizing and Working With Familiars . If this is a topic that you are interested in, I would highly suggest buying it (online or physical) or checking it out from your local library. (If they have it.)