What is your animal totem?

By Glauce Fleury

I haven’t overcome the crow attack yet. It’s hard to forget it. I still have to sterilize the injuries on my swollen knee, foot and elbow, and dress them with gauze or bandage. As if my fall hadn’t been enough, I had hives.

The American crow, the one we normally see in North America, measures 17.5 inches (44 cm) in length, including the tail. It’s embarrassing that I’m much bigger, but felt completely powerless before him (or her?).

When I mentioned my fright to a friend — the same that suggested me to look at the crow attack symbolically — she referred me to animal totems. I had never heard about it, so I looked it up. Now I’m amazed.

Animal totems are spirit guides in the form of animals. We can have one or two main totems that stay with us throughout our lives, and others that come and go depending on the lessons we must learn.

The concept behind it says we must find harmony with all living things to gain respect for ourselves as guardians of the planet. Animal totems are supposed to combine our feelings, beliefs and experiences.

We can be introduced to them through different ways: when we dream, when we physically meet them, when they appear repetitively or when we see them everywhere we look at (synchronicity).

We’ll often share characteristics with our totems. We may also feel attracted to specific animals. Both are signs that we may have found our guides. But before that, let’s learn about the different roles they play:

  • Life Long (Spirit): they stay close to us since birth and throughout our lives — or until we no longer need their strengths. These totems help us remember our powers and reflect our inner spiritual nature. We may have one or a few Life Long totems.
  • Journey: the Journey totems will guide us for a specific period of time. They usually appear when we’re going through important lessons in life. It’s easier to notice our journey totems because they will show up frequently.
  • Message: these totems appear completely out of the blue and disappear just as suddenly as they arrived. They often bring us self-growth, a spiritual message or a warning. But it could also be a delay, obviously for our benefit. For example: our totem can hold us somewhere so we can avoid an accident. This encounter can be unusual and powerful, similar to a slap in the face. (The difference between the Journey and the Message totems is the period of time they stay in our lives. The cycle of the animal can also give us some insight about the length of this journey.)
  • Shadow: the Shadow totems will test us before they let their power help us. These tests are often challenging, but will bring invaluable wisdom. This totem is generally an animal we fear. In fact, they represent inner fears we must overcome. Until we do, their powers will work against us, so we have to learn the lesson: if we’re scared by something repetitively, we haven’t accepted the lesson our totem has brought for us. These totems can help us work through fears and phobias, painful memories and emotions.
  • Medicine: these totems show up when we need healing in any form be it physically, mentally or spiritually.

After all my readings on this topic, I realized Boxers are my Life Long totems. Besides my admiration for them, I share many traits with these sweeties: devotion, bravery, loyalty, energetic pursuit of my goals, persistence and a bit of stubbornness.

If your Life Long totem is also a Boxer, you’ll be the type of person who does everything to protect the ones you love. You speak your mind and carefully choose the people you want to be close to. When you call someone a friend, you mean it.

Going back to the crows, after thinking of the incident that happened two weeks ago and reading about these birds, I reached a conclusion: crows are obviously my Message totem.

If a crow crosses our path, it’s a sign of positive change. These birds can also bring a message about where we should head next in life, so intuition is essential.

If you have crows among your totems, you have integrity, are mindful of your opinions and actions, and speak your truth. Totemic initiations are powerful interactions that install the energetic configuration of the totem into your own energetic system at a deeper level.

That explains the strength of the crow incident in my life. Now, I’m curious about you. Which animal is your totem?

Photo credit: Glauce Fleury

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