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People often confuse Animal Totems and Familiars, and the best explanation of the difference that I’ve found is that Familiars are assistants and Animal Totems are guides and teachers. Their purpose is to show you something, teach you something, or show you a particular path. Both connections are spiritual in nature, but the type of bond you have with each is different.
Animal totems represent our connection to the energy of the universe. Sometimes they show us skills and talents that we have or that we need. Other times they reflect our own qualities back to us. In almost all cases, they help us solidify and maintain our connection to nature and the universal. Many cultures revere animals as spiritual beings, and Jung’s view of animal totems as a representation of archetypes within the “collective unconscious” explains much of this. They provide the link between us and the energy of the universe.
Cultures who revere nature and our connection to it have long found meaning in the appearance of animals and behavior of animals. The animals you see, how often you see them, when you see them, where you see them, how many you see, all can have meaning.
Animal totems appear in our lives when we are ready for them, and at times, when we seek them. You can discover and connect with your animal totem in many ways.
Spirit animals bring us many types of information once we know how to interpret it. However, the interpretation that applies to you rests within you and your life, and only you can make the determination about exactly what your animal totem is telling you.
Look at the characteristics of the animal you find. What do they represent to you? Because birds are associated with flight, they’re usually associated with freedom. However, various kinds of birds can represent different things as well. Parrots, for example, can represent communication and speech as well.
I’ve included here some of the most common interpretations of the most common animals people think of when they think of animal totems. This list is not comprehensive, by any means, but it gives you a place to start to explore your own animal totems.
Wolf: Intelligence, instincts, perseverance, success, bravery, Spiritual Guidance, Protection, Ancestry,
Owl: Access to intuition and wisdom, deception, clairvoyance, messenger, protector of secrets and the mysteries of the night
Bear: Strength, confidence, healing, grounding, industrious, instinctive, guardian, courage, willpower, self-preservation, introspection, and great strength boundaries, creativity,
Hawk: Focus, perspective, spirit messenger, victory, healing, nobility, cleansing, visionary power, and guardianship. Higher Perspective, Alertness, Observation, Studies, Messages, Visions
Fox: Intelligence, eloquence, agility, smart, cunning, quick-witted, diplomacy, wildness, feminine magic, shapeshifting, and invisibility, Fairy Magic