A totem can be the symbol of a tribe, clan, family or individual. Native American tradition provides that each individual is connected with nine different animals that will accompany each person through life, acting as guides. Different animal guides come in and out of our lives depending on the direction that we are headed and the tasks that need to be completed along our journey.
Native beliefs further explain that a totem animal is one that is with you for life, both in the physical and spiritual world. Though people may identify with different animal guides throughout their lifetimes, it is this one totem animal that acts as the main guardian spirit.
With this one animal a connection is shared, either through interest in the animal, characteristics, dreams, or other interaction.
This Animal Guide offers power and wisdom to the individual when they "communicate” with it, conveying their respect and trust. This does not necessarily mean that you actually pet or spend time with this animal, more that you are open to learning its lessons.
Totem Pole at Pioneer Square in Seattle,
Washington , vintage postcard.
For some, knowing what is their totem animal is almost an innate process. It’s as if they’ve always known, inexplicably drawn to the animal or having a special feeling for the animal’s energy. For others, they wonder how to tell what their animal totem is.
Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re wondering what your animal totem is:
Have you ever felt drawn to one animal or another without being able to explain why? This could be animal, including birds and insects.
Does a certain kind of animal consistently appear in your life? This doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical appearance, it could be represented in other ways such as receiving card and letters with the same animal pictured over and over, unexplainable dreams of a particular animal, watching television and seeing the same animal featured time and time again, or, actually having the animal show up.
When you go to the zoo, a park, wildlife area, or forest, what are you most interested in seeing?
Are there any animals that you find to be extremely frightening or intriguing?
Is there a particular animal that you see frequently when you’re out in nature?
Have you ever been bitten or attacked by an animal?
Have you ever had a recurring dream about a certain animal, or a dream from childhood that you have never been able to forget?
Are you drawn to figurines or paintings of a specific animal?
The totem itself is a symbol that represents this animal. This could be any number of items - a crest, a totem pole, an emblem, a small figurine or anything else that depicts your animal guide.
Note: Native American totems did not include all of the animals listed below, as many of these creatures did not existed in North America. However; the concept of "totems," by whatever name they were called, have been known throughout the world since the earliest days of Greek Mythology. Though the unicorn is generally accepted as a centuries old mythical creature of Europeans, pictures of this fabled animal have been found in Native American tapestries and pictographs
Animal Characteristics & Meaning
Alligator Maternal, revenge oriented, quickness, aggression, and basic survival instincts.
Ant Group minded, determination, patient, active, and industrious
Anteater Lethargy, curiosity, nosiness.
Antelope Active, agile, jumpiness, and willing to sacrifice
Armadillo Safety oriented, grounded, and has boundaries
Badger Courage, aggressive, healer, having problems relating to others, and energy conduit
Bat Rebirth, longevity, secrecy, initiation, good listener, and long life
Bear Industrious, instinctive, healing, power, sovereignty, guardian of the world, watcher, courage, will power, self-preservation, introspection, and great strength.
Beaver Determined, strong-willed, builder, overseer, and protector
Bee Organized, industrial, productive, wise, community, celebration, fertility, defensiveness, obsessive nature, and enjoys life
Boar/Pig A very powerful totem - prosperity, spiritual strength, organized, self-reliant, fearless.
Buffalo Sacredness, life, great strength, abundance, gratitude.
Bull Insight into the past, fertility, rushing into things without proper preparation.
Butterfly Metamorphosis, transformation, balnace, grace, ability to accept change
Camel Survival, positive, accomplishments
Caribou Traveler, mobility, preference to be nomadic, adaptability to adversity
Cat Guardianship, detachment, sensuality, mystery, magic, and independence
Cheetah Swiftness, insight, focus
Cougar Leadership, loyalty, courage, taking responsibility, foresight
Cow Swift, insightful, and focused
Coyote Trickster, intelligence, stealth, wisdom and folley, guile and innocence
Cobra Swift and decisive
Crab Good luck, protection and success
Crane Solitude, justice, longevity, independent, intelligent, and vigilant
Crocodile Ensuring your emotions are displayed accurately/appropriately
Crow Justice, shape shifting, change, creativity, spiritual strength, energy, community sharing, and balance
Deer Compassion, peace, intellectual, gentle, caring, kind, subtlety, gracefulness, femininity, gentleness, innocence, and seller of adventure
Dog Noble, faithful, loyal, teaching, protection, and guidance
Dolphin Kind, salvation, wisdom, happiness, playfulness, prudent, capable of deep emotion, and happy.
Dove Cross-world communication, spirit messenger, peace, gentleness, love
Dragon Longevity, richness, prosperity, infinity, wisdom, power, and fiery
Dragonfly Flighty and carefree, strong imagination, higher aspirations.
Duck Water energy, helper of seers, can clearly see/deal with emotions
Eagle Divine spirit, sacrifice, connection to creator, intelligence, renewal, courage, illumination of spirit, healing, creation, freedom, and risk-taker
Elephant Strength, power, affection, loyalty, royalty, and wisdom
Elk Strength and agility, pride, majestic, independence, purification, strength, and nobility
Falcon New beginnings, adventure, passionate, and leadership.
Fish Graceful, slyness, open-minded, quick to change one's mind.
Flamingo Heart healing, psychic, people person, flirtatious.
Fox Cunning, agility, quick-witted, diplomacy, wildness, feminine magic of camouflage, shapeshifting and invisibility
Frog Water energy, cleansing, rebirth, sensitivity, medicine, hidden beauty, peace, adaptability, poor character judgment and power.
Giraffe Communication, intuition, attaining the unreachable, seeing the future
Goat Surefootedness, stubbornness, independence, diligence, lack of foresight.
Goose Self-demanding, reliable, prudent, rigid, vigilance, parenthood, and productive.
Gorilla Family-oriented, intelligence, strength, environmental protector, keeps peace through aggression.
Grasshopper Good luck, abundance, forward, progressive.
Grouse Personal power, enlightenment.
Hawk Messenger, intuition, victory, healing, nobility, recollection, cleansing, visionary power, and guardianship.
Heron/Egret Aggressive, self-determined, self-reliant, multi-tasking, balanced.
Hippopotamus Power, creation, imagination, healing.
Horse Freedom, stamina, mobility, the land, travel, power, and freedom.
Hummingbird Messenger, timelessness, healing, and warrior.
Jaguar Chaos, shape-shifter, aggressiveness, power.
Kangaroo Forward, balance, creative, stamina.
Lion Family, strength, energy, courage, guardian and protector.
Lizard Conservation, vision, self-protection, hidden defenses.
Llama Comforting to others, secure.
Lynx Keeper of secrets, guardian, listener, and guide.
Mole Sensitivity, guidance, searching.
Monkey Ability to change the environment, health, success.
Moose Headstrong, longevity, steadfastness, and wisdom.
Mouse Scrutiny, order, organizer, and an eye for details.
Octopus Intelligence, camouflage, nocturnal.
Opossum Diversion, strategist, and deceiver.
Ostrich Grounded, practical.
Otter Playful, friendly, dynamic, joy, helpfulness, and sharing
Owl Deception, clairvoyance, insight, messenger.
Ox Sacrifice, chastity and self-denial
Panther Protection, hidden emotions, introspection, caution, careful decisions
Parrot Communication, beauty, guide for wisdom, mockery, thinking before speaking
Peacock Immortality, dignity, and self-confidence
Resilient, unselfish, rising above.
Penguin Self-discipline, grace, self-confidence, spiritual
Porcupine Innocence, companionship, and trust
Prairie Dog Swiftness, industrious, constructive, preparedness
Puma Companion on journeys to other worlds, grace, silent power
Quail Group-work, team play, creator of harmony and group tolerance, protectiveness (especially toward children)
Rabbit Fear, timidity, nervousness, humility, rebirth,
Raccoon Curiosity and cleanliness
Ram Stoic, sensitive, persevering, curious, imaginative.
Rat Fertility, stealth, scavenging, intelligence, enjoys luxury
Raven Introspection, courage, self-knowledge, magic
Rhinoceros Wisdom, solitary, insightful, solid.
Roadrunner Mental agility, speed, opportunistic.
Rooster Vanity, likes to be showered with gifts and attention, early riser, settling for nothing less than the best
Salmon Proud, intense, confident, wisdom, inspiration
Scorpion Transforming, strong, inspiring, chaotic, passionate
Seagull Versatility, loud, easy-going nature, creativity, laziness
Seahorse Confidence and grace
Seal Love, longing, dilemma, active imagination, creativity
Shark Hunter, survival, and adaptability
Skunk Reputation, presence, and strength
Snail Protective, aware, solitary.
Snake Impulsive, shrewdness, rebirth, transformation, initiation, and wisdom
Spider Balance, wisdom, creativity, communication
Squirrel Planner and gatherer
Stag Lord of the forest, masculine power of regeneration, signs.
Swan Grace, balance and innocence, soul, love, beauty, of the self
Tiger Strength, valor, power, and energy
Toad inner strength, luck, self-examination
Turkey Generosity, life-giver, and sharer
Turtle Nurturer, shy, and protecting
Unicorn Purity, innocence, dreamer, personal power, gentle
Weasel Strength, energy, ingenuity and stealth
Whale Wisdom, provider, intelligence, and kindness.
Wolf Loyalty, perseverance, success, intuition, and spirit
Woodpecker Sensitive, protective, and devotion
Zebra Agility and individuality