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Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
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Thoughts on Cultural and Spiritual Appropriation
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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Animal Totems and Guides
Article ID: 13082
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Gentle Deer Lion Tamer [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: April 5th. 2009
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In earlier days we understood that we were simply a part of the earth. We knew we were only one small part. Now many think humans are the greatest and most important part. But still, we are only a part of the earth, only a part of nature, only a child of Mother, only a part of Spirit. We used to know respect of Nature and killed only what we ate and used only the skins of what we killed and ate. We did not waste life nor disrespect spirits but honored and thanked them for providing us with life, nourishment, and comfort.
In earlier days we gave recognition to the power of the animal spirits by wearing skins, masks, mimicking, singing praise, and prayers to specific animals. We painted the animals on our homes, caves, death chambers, and asked the Spirit to guide us to the animal that we consumed and bless the spirit of the animal we kill for we are a predator in the part of Nature and we honored the spirit of our prey.
These acts allowed us to remain linked to the animal guides and to accept the power they offer us in lessons, in life, and in death. It reminded us that all animals were our sisters, brothers, and cousins and most importantly our teachers and our friends. It reminded us that we too are animals with spirit.
The Natural Power of animal totems has not been lost. They still hold the power and the knowledge we can use. Only we must remember how to be One with Nature and all that is, has been, and will be. Cultures of the past understood the connections. We must not lose this connection now that we are 'cultured'. For what was will always be and all those cultures could not have been wrong.
There is a reason that Spirit has put all of us together, has given us so many healing stones, and has given us medicine, for the body and the spirit. We are all one. Using Animal Totems will allow you to see and love the earth better, to know life better, to know yourself better, and to commune better with Mother and Spirit. You can be healthier and happier physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in understanding and honoring your animal totems.
Animals come to us because they have a lesson we need to learn a power they are willing to share with a friend. They seek to give us a gift of understanding, universal love, energy and knowledge. In general, animals remind us that we are part of the earth; that each creature has a place; that each creature has a skill of it's own; that we have instincts given to us from Mother, wisdom born to us that we must awaken.
The Animal Totem that comes to you offers you power and wisdom if you will learn to communicate with it, with respect, trust, and understanding. Developing a relationship with a live animal totem takes time, practice, patience and could be very dangerous. Having an animal totem does not mean that you are to pet the animal or even be with it physically. Having an animal totem means that you have lessons to learn and a powerful spiritual friend.
Each animal has it's own special power and message, for each animal has a powerful spirit and an inherent skill. Animal Spirits choose a person to be a companion to, a friend to, not the other way around.
You cannot think, 'Gee a bear is cute or powerful and I like what it represents so the Bear will be my Animal Totem'. No, the animal will choose you and make itself known to you. You will only need to pay attention to discover what your totems are. After you define the types of animal totems you can go to a questionnaire to learn what animals are your totems.
Mistakenly people often think of animals as non-spiritual, uncultured, and less intelligent than humans. Some people do not even think animals have Spirit. Not so - an animal is close to Spirit, is Spirit because they have never been taught differently. Think of these things to remind you....
Could you, for your whole life without tools or weapons, even survive in the wild?
Could you weave a bird's nest or spider's web?
Could you catch a fish with your hands?
Would you know how to migrate without a compass? Or even when it was time to migrate?
Can you carry things ten times your own body weight?
Do you know what you can and can't eat in the wild?
Can you go through life happy like animals do?
Can you experience the moment like an animal does?
Could you get along with five to twenty other beings for your entire life and remain in the herd?
Could you for hours simply resting and in contemplate (meditate perhaps, perhaps talk directly with Spirit) ?
Do you take hours a day to just be with your family and to simply play and hug like most mammals?
Types of Animal Totems
When discovering totems you must first understand if the totem is a Life Totem, A Journey Totem, Shadow Totem, or a Message Totem. All totems are powerful but the meaning that the totem brings will vary on your action depending on what type of totem has come to you.
Your Life Long Animal Totem works with you throughout your entire life or until such time that you no longer need that animal totem. It is always there when you need its powers. Always reminding you of your power and connectivity. You may have only one or a few Life totems. They may become your Life totem at any time. But the primary Life Totem will be our focus at this time.
The messages that your Life Totem brings are a hard reminder from Mother. Your Life Totem is always there for you and generally reflects your inner spiritual nature. Many call your Life Long animal totem your Spirit totem. For example if your Life Totem was a Penguin you would be a person who should be very spiritual since the penguin moves better in water (the symbol of the astral plane - which is were we go when we dream) than it does on land. Being able to leap out of the water (up to six feet) represents the ability of out of body experiences.
It is also important to understand which type of penguin is your animal totem since some have additional characteristics that are important to consider, like most penguins life in tropical conditions not arctic ones.
A Journey Animal Totem reflects a period of time. Not just a day but weeks, months, or maybe year s- the time it takes you to walk the path that the Animal Totem is reminding or guiding you on. During this journey you will find that this animal is always showing up in your life or that several animal totems will appear in your life all to guide you on the path. When you find one, two or three animals all of a sudden making an appearance and their nature all has the same basis then you have found the basis of your path.
The difference between the Journey Animal Totem and the Message Animal Totem is a period of time. A Message animal Totem will bring itself to you quickly and impartially where a Journey Animal Totem will slip in and out of your life over the course of a period. Looking into the cycle of the animal also can give insight to the length of the journey.
A Message Animal Totem usually is bringing you a self-growth, spiritual message, or a cautionary warning. It is often a wake up call or slap in the face. It will usually be a very unusual experience making it very powerful at that time and very impartial. A Message Totem is a brief period of time, a day, a week, and occasionally as much as a couple of months but can be immediate for just a few hours.
Sometimes a Message totem is not bringing you a message but causing a delay in your life. This delay, such as when you are trying to leave to go somewhere, is often in assistance for you; to be sure you are not in a place at a certain time so that you avoid an accident or can catch a phone call or meet someone you are supposed to run into.
Shadow Animal Totems are those totems that test us. They have great power for us but will put us through tests before they will let their power work with and for us, instead of against us. In all of nature there is prey and predator. In the spiritual or Shadow World there is the same. A Shadow Animal Totem is one that initially you fear.
The Shadow Totem often represents inner fears that you must overcome. You may have even been attracted by the animal, which is often a very vivid test to see if you are ready to accept the power of the animal totem. Until you face the fears of the Shadow Animal Totem it's powers will work against you, not letting you soar high.
When you overcome the fear of the Shadow Animal Totem you bring it into the Light World as a Spirit animal totem and they become one of your most powerful Animal Totems. Your goal with a Shadow Totem is to learn the lessons and incorporate that animal into your life. If you are scared by something over and over then you still have not accepted the lesson that animal has for you.
Gentle Deer Lion Tamer
Location: Houston, Texas
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