Also known as: Animal Totem; Animal Ally
Animal spirits provide us with protection, knowledge, and psychic inspiration. They appear in dreams and visions. Often the most accessible spirit allies, it is not unusual for children to discuss their invisible animal friends and guardians (who are not invisible to the child).
An animal ally may be the spirit of an individual animal or the presiding spirit of a species of creature. Each species has a presiding spirit: the Spirit of the Dog or the Lion or the Saber-Toothed
Cat (as opposed to Muffy the ghost cat who lives only in your attic).
Some animal alliances are ephemeral: a spirit may appear in a dream but once. Others are intense relationships, akin to a familiar spirit.
An alliance with a spirit being (as opposed to a regular member of the species), enables us to acquire wisdom, skills, and protection from animals with whom it might not be otherwise safe, practical, or even possible to have actual physical contact. Communication is usually via dreams, visions, and symbols.
Animal totems are the most prevalent spirit allies. Everyone has them, usually several. If you’ve had limited or no contact or awareness of these allies, be a little patient. They may be hibernating near you, waiting for your call: sometimes it takes a little while before they’ll broach contact, especially if your ally is shy and cautious or if it’s what might be considered a “scary” animal. They don’t wish to overwhelm or scare you. Let them know if you’re ready.
In some traditions, if you’ve been bitten by an animal or survived an attack, that species is obligated to provide you with spiritual assistance. In some shamanic traditions, if an animal attacks you, it was sent to see if you are strong enough to handle its power.
Pay attention whenever that animal or its image enters your life, even momentarily. Dreams of your totem are significant. When pondering a dilemma, have you ever flipped open a magazine and just “coincidentally” found an image of your totem? Pay attention to the context. You may be receiving advice and clues.
Just remember: what is being discussed is a spirit animal. One should never assume that because one has an alligator spirit ally that one is now immune from alligator attack. Always be cautious with living, breathing animals.
Offerings: Tattoos; protect actual living members and/or care for them; do what you can to encourage others to care for them and protect them, too.