bengal tiger

Power Animals in Shamanism

Shamanism is a way of dealing with the energy of others that are unseen by the majority. Shamans and shamanic practitioners alike, rely on shamanic elders as well as a variety of helping spirits. Through their elders and helping spirits, they begin to understand the nature of an individual’s “medicine”, and the best course of action to take in helping the individual heal.

One of the helping spirits are called Power Animals, animal totems, spirit animals etc. There are many names used which refers to the energy  of a specific animal. They are often in the background of one’s life creating peace, harmony and understanding- much like a spirit guide in the metaphysical sense. Many will make themselves known at a stage in one’s life that has been particularly troubling or difficult. In my shamanic work, I found the animal totems to be most beneficial when a person is embarking upon healing and transformation.

Life long power animals are usually wild, not domestic.  Some people may believe their totem is in fact a domesticated animal but typically this is a lesser image of the animal’s true nature and origin. For example, some people may believe the cat to be their totem, but in actuality, their totem could be a wild animal in the cat family.

Every animal carries potent medicine in terms of their healing energy. The power animal that chooses an individual is harmonious to the life the person is leading, and act as teachers to help one understand aspects of life that are helpful as well as harmful to their ability to heal.

Some people are under the assumption that they can pick any animal and begin to tap into their healing and understanding. In the shamanic world, the animal chooses the person, not the other way around. When the person attempts to choose the animal to communicate, the ego is usually the driving force. This goes against the very nature of the animal they have chosen. Therefore, this will present as ineffective and frustrating for the person when attempting to communicate.

When the person allows themselves to be open to receiving their power animal, the ego is tossed out the window so to speak, and the result is harmony in both communication as well as alignment.

Animal totems carry the medicine of symbolism at the very least. This symbolism will lead you to a direct link in the areas of life that are to be addressed as well as areas of life that are strong and powerful. When the animal has chosen you, it is truly because there is an alliance with your life, as well as the essence of your soul. They don’t discriminate when it comes to their ability address the  triumphs as well as the tragedies which have caused a degree of fragmentation.

Not all animal totems are the eagle, hummingbird, or the wolf. Mainstream media portrayals are often glamorous and incomplete in their summation. Some animal totems are not at all majestic but their medicine is one that is useful and beneficial to the person shamanically at their current level of understanding.

Who your totem is or isn’t, is sacred to virtually anyone other than the shamanic practitioner working with you. The animal spirit is to be embraced, honored, and revered for their ability to ingratiate themselves into your life and help you in healing.

Animal totems in the shamanic world are called helping spirits. The energy of their soul as well as the essence of their spirit often step into the light of acknowledgement during a shamanic journey and inevitably during a shamanic healing session. They embrace you during this time, and in turn you create a sacred place for them within your mind and heart.

They embody all aspects of life, love, survival and healing, to name just a few character traits. I find their presence to be awe inspiring and also humbling. In turn, I will always express my gratitude  for the role they have played in my life regardless of my stage of transformation.



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