Totem animals are sacred spiritual guides who will instruct and protect you when you need them most. They have skills and abilities that can help to deepen your understanding of yourself and your own inner strength. However, most people do not realize that there are different types of totem animals, and that each has something unique to contribute. In general, there are four types of animal guides:
- Life totem;
- Message totem;
- Journey totem; and
- Shadow totem.
The Life Animal Totem and Its Significance
A life totem is the animal that follows your throughout your life, in a spiritual sense. This animal’s primary purpose is to protect a child, guide an adolescent, and wait for instruction from an adult. Its purpose will change as you grow and expand, but usually, your life totem will not change as you mature.
There is an exception to this, however. Emotional trauma that alters your very nature can sometimes cause a shift in life totems. For example, a child who loses a parent will sometimes change life totems. A parent who loses a child will almost always receive a new totem. Divorce is another common trigger.
This is not to say that these events will cause your life totem to change. But it could, so if you know who your life totem is, and you do experience emotional trauma, you would be wise to search within yourself to determine if your life totem is still the same.
The Significance of the Journey Totem Animal
Not everyone has a journey totem all of the time. This is because everyone undergoes different journeys at different times, and the purpose of the journey totem is to guide you through these journeys. For example, if you are recently divorced, the panther may become your journey totem animal until you are through this difficult time, and then it will fade away until it is needed again.
The purpose of the journey totem is to aid and assist you in completing your task. If you listen to your journey totem, you will find that you receive advice that can help you, but only if you heed it. If a journey totem is ignored completely, it may abandon you before your journey is complete, so make sure you respect and honor your journey totem.
The Immediacy of the Message Animal Guide
If you receive a surprise message from an animal spirit that does not usually visit you, then you have just received a message from your message totem. Message totems are very short-term, and usually only stay long enough to deliver their messages.
Some people experience these types of ‘visitations’ every day, others much less frequently. If you do receive a message from an unexpected totem, then you should heed it immediately, for the message is probably important to the present, not the future. These messages are usually received at the tail end of a dream, or sometimes immediately upon waking.
The Importance of the Shadow Totem Animal
The shadow totem is perhaps the totem that has the most impact on an ongoing basis. This is the totem that hunts and stalks you throughout life, trying to bring you down as a hunter would its prey. If you hide from or ignore this totem, it will continue to haunt you, looking for an opportunity to strike. The shadow totem can describe fears and anxieties, and is often an animal that truly frightens you.
If you wish to be free of it, you must discover the identity of your shadow totem. Confront what this totem represents, face your fears, and accept this totem as a part of you. If you can do this, then the shadow totem becomes a friend and companion, instead of a threat.
Each of these totems has a lesson to teach. And each of them is important in its own way. These totems should not be ignored, but should be sought out for their guidance and their wisdom. If you can find your animal totems, you can access their ancient knowledge.