Totems and Power Animals


As with so many aspects of the pagan path, ask ten pagans about totems and power animals, and you’re likely to get at least ten answers. There is no right or wrong answer, only what works, or is true, for you. So if you’ve heard or experienced things about them that don’t feature in this article, or that contradict them, you’ll need to test them and see what works for you. I’m working from the perspective of a particular Celtic Shamanism path, but you may well come across others. What follows is simply what I’ve learned and experienced about them.


Any spirit animal, tree etc that you meet is not only an animal, tree etc of that species, but is a spirit representative of all the animals, trees etc in that species. Thus what you will learn about them will generically be true of all animals etc of that species, but may not necessarily be true of any living individual you may meet.  A dangerous animal is still a dangerous animal, no matter how well you may know it in the Otherworld!


In this particular tradition, your totem is the animal, plant, tree, crystal etc that resides in the north of your wheel. You can discover what it is by doing a journey or guided meditation that takes you to each of the compass points in some way (not necessarily specifically – you could journey to the different seasons that are associated with the directions, for instance). It has often been said that you don’t choose your totem – it chooses you. Don’t go into your journey to find it with any expectations, and don’t rule out anything you see or hear. If the animal, tree, etc, comes to you three times, it’s probably the one you’re looking for, but do ask it and check the reply.


Your totem represents who you are in this lifetime. Even if you don’t immediately understand how it does this, there will be ways in which you resemble this creature, tree, etc. It is also your challenger, because who you are brings its challenges as well as its benefits.


You can access or work with your totem in many different ways. Some of these are:


They may come to you in a number of ways, without being called; if so, ask them what they have appeared for
Ask them to accompany you on any Otherworld journey or meditation
Check in with them when you wake up or when you’re going to sleep
Ask them questions about things that are relevant to your daily life
Request their help with any magical working or healing you may be doing, for yourself, the planet, or others
Keep a picture, cuddly toy, or (ethically harvested) part of the animal with you, by the bed or under your pillow, or somewhere you will see it regularly, to remind you of it.


Power animals are animals that come to you for a particular reason. It could be that they have a simply message for you and will disappear once it is delivered. It may have to do with qualities they are here to help you strengthen, or attributes you need to look at, work on, or heal. So if you need more courage, you may find that a bear or a lion comes to you to help with this. If you need to protect yourself better, a hedgehog or porcupine may appear. If you need to be more subtle or careful in your dealings with others, you may find a fox waiting for you. If you find an animal keeps coming to you but you have no idea why, look it up or ask it what it’s there for.


Power animals come to you in a number of ways. You may find yourself noticing them more – in the garden, on the TV, or by people mentioning them; or they may appear in your dreams or your waking consciousness as something that clearly has a message for you. It’s always worth asking what this may be. The answer may well surprise you!


Other ways in which animals, plants, etc can be of help to you is by appearing elsewhere on your wheel. Each of the four directions has a set of associations, as follows:

North – Totem/Challenger, Winter, Midnight, Earth
East – Way shower/Path finder, Spring, Dawn, Air
South – Friend/Companion, Summer, Noon, Fire
West – Guardian/Protector/Teacher/Healer, Autumn, Evening, Water


The animals, crystals etc that appear in these quarters will be with you for these basic purposes, though how they work with you will be individual to you.


As you work more with these animals, you may find that others appear to you. They may range themselves around the other points of the wheel. There are twelve in all, so two animals etc may appear in between each of the quarters, who will carry the energies of both. Often one energy will be stronger than the other, so if an animal appears, for instance, between north and east, but has more of the feeling of a totem or challenger, it will be in the northern point of that quarter.


There are numerous books on the subject of totems and power animals, and several helpful websites.


Here are a few suggestions:






Animal Speak by Ted Andrews

Animal Speak Pocket Guide by Ted Andrews

Animal-Wise by Ted Andrews

Animal Spirit Guides by Steven D Farmer

Power Animals: How to connect with your Animal Spirit Guide by Steven D Farmer (includes a CD with guided meditations to meet your totem and teacher)

Animal Wisdom by Jessica Dawn Parker

Angel Messages: The Oracle of the Birds by Claire Nahmad

Animal Totems and Spirit Animals: The Shamanic Approach by Carly van Heerden

Totem animal messages: Channelled Messages from the Animal Kingdom by Brigit Goldsworthy

Native British Totem Animals by Sam Malone

Animal Spirit Guides by Chris Luttichau


by: Karen Tucker Holistic Therapist

Karen is a writer and author of the past life novel Healing the Wounds as well as five collections of short stories – Horripilations Volumes 1 & 2; Liberty Gibbens, Ghost Whisperer, Volumes 1 & 2; and Stories to Warm Your Heart.
All available from