How to discover and work with your spirit animal(s).
You probably have a favourite animal. You’ve heard the term ‘spirit animal’ thrown around in comedic memes and tweets, and you may know that shamans and aboriginal societies worldwide consider animals to be sacred; but what does it mean to identify and connect to your own spirit animal? I’ve been investigating and learning about animal symbolism and spiritual work for the past few years. Here are my quick how-tos and favourite resources so you can start letting your inner animal roam free:
What: A spirit/power/totem animal is an animal that a person particularly identifies with and whose symbolism and characteristics are parallel to the traits of that individual. It’s like widllife twinsies! But who wants twins when you could have quintuplets! I believe that we are each likely to identify with four different animals, one for each of the elements: 1. earth/land, 2. water/sea, 3. air/sky, and 4. fire/mythical creatures! There is usually one dominant animal, but each of the four can come out to play during different life stages and times. Dolphin is my water animal, Elk is my earth, Eagle my sky, and I am still discovering who my fire animal is.
How: There are a lot of different view points about how to identify your own spirit animal, but based on everything I have learned it’s actually rather simple. More often than not, your spirit animal is your favourite childhood animal, or an animal that you have long been fascinated with. Nobody else can tell you who your spirit animals are, it is an intuitive investigation you will have to undergo for yourself. Usually, the very first animal that comes to mind is it. Simple. Don’t second guess yourself. If you have trouble thinking of an animal right away or identifying each of your four animals, then they can be discovered through visualization based meditations and facilitated through a shamanic journey. The late shaman and spiritual teacher, Ted Andrews, wrote fantastic meditations and provided resources on discovering animal totems in his book Animal Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small.
Why: As a writer, to say that I am obsessed with symbolism and metaphor would be an understatement. I love uncovering the meaning behind everything I see, hear, and feel in this world. Learning about animal symbolism has been one of the most rewarding rabbit holes I have ever fallen into. Animals are amazing and they have so much to teach us about nature and ourselves. It’s common for people to seek out role models of the behaviour and actions they want to emulate and develop. All living things, from humanitarians to humpback whales, are excellent role models if we play close enough attention. To discover what each animal has to teach me and how I can ‘work’ with it I use Steven Farmer’s Animal Spirit Guides: An Easy-to-Use Handbook for Identifying and Understanding Your Power Animals and Animal Spirit Helpers
Who: Dolphin is my spirit animal. They’re just so flippin’ (praise puns) awesome! I have always loved Dolphins and diving into the meaning of these magnificent creatures has brought me great richness and joy. This is fitting, because Dolphin’s represent joy, playfulness, connection, intuition, deep emotional experiences, and community. These are all characteristics I both embody and continuously work to strengthen. Whenever I feel like I need to be more playful and easy going I think about dolphins jumping through the air and swimming in large pods. Sometimes, I even jump in the spot or breathe deeply like a dolphin would on the surface of the water. This may look silly, but working with my spirit animal in this way helps me to get back to my true self.
When: Work with your spirit animals whenever you need the boost and support that only they can provide. Really, whenever you think to do it is the right time. Also, pay attention to any other animals that continuously pop-up in your life in pictures, actual sightings, dreams, conversations, bumper stickers, clothing patterns, you name it, nature will speak to you. I usually go with the rule of 3, if you see or think of an animal three times within a short period of time, it’s probably time to look it up and see what the hell it’s trying to tell you. Steven Farmer also has a great set of Animal Spirit Guides Oracle Cards (as does The Wild Unknown ) you can use to take all of the guess work out of figuring out which critter’s messages you need to hear right now.
Have fun using these resources to discover and work with your animal spirit guides.
Who are your spirit animals?
Tell me who your creature kin are in the comments below and what the greatest lessons they have taught you are.
Wild & Free,