Poof! You’re a Toad (the dangers of totem-assignment)

Written by avenefica on July 24th, 2011

Personal Investment is Key to Totem Identification

Don’t let the title of this blog post fool you.  I’m not waving my rowan-wood wand, turning folks into toads (yet, lol).

Rather, this post is about the tricky business of assigning animal totems to folks wanting to know.

Not a day passes when someone doesn’t send in an email with a question like: “Avia, can you tell me what my animal totem is?”

On the one hand, I’m thrilled with these inquiries.  It suggests a desire to re-connect to animal kin.  It’s a sign that folks are becoming more attuned to the wild and wonderful realms of the Mother [Nature] – and that is uber-awesome.

On the other hand, I’m often distressed by the lack of personal investment in re-connecting with our animal brothers and sisters.  Connections to our animal kin is a deeply personal act.

What’s even more irking is the idea that a virtual stranger can arbitrarily assign a totem to another person.  To explain, I’ve been known to listen in on certain radio show discussions about totems and neo-shamanism.  I’m not naming names, but I’m suspect when these totem-experts get callers on their show with the inevitable question: “Can you tell me my animal totem?” and I’m floored when the totem-practitioner pops off a critter to the caller – essentially assigning a totem to him or her in the span of two seconds.

How can that cosmic connection be gleaned from a distant second party?  It feels like “slot-machine logic” – an answer spit out at random.  I could be wrong. These totem experts could be mightily connected to their spiritual council, and so they are fed this totem information to present to the caller.  Still, I have doubts.

On my most connected days, in which unification with my own Spirit Council is super-tight, I am fed information in terms of “seeing” woodland creatures or other critters scampering around my client’s energy.  These visions give me a good idea about the inquirer’s totem affiliations.  Nevertheless, in the midst of these visions come strong admonishments from the Council.  Admonishments like: “These are the animal energies communing with the human – but he/she must establish the connection.”

Historically, shamans could succinctly identify totems to the members of their tribe/village.  There’s a reason for that.  Shamans, elders, seers, and wise-women of a tribe typically hold their positions in the group over long spans of time. They live, learn, love together in a tight-knit community, intrinsically linked to the clan members. They often oversee the birthing of new members, and are participants of that member’s life from day one.  This gives them special knowing, they see the patterns between a tribal-member’s aura, energy, personality that link to the like-energy of their totem.  Simply put, tribal shamans have had a long-standing connection with their people, and are therefore in a better position to identify the individual totems of their tribesmen and women.

So what if we don’t live in a native setting in which an Elder knows us and can help us retrieve our animal totem identities?

The onus is on us.  We must be the ones to invest the time to re-connect with our animal guides and guardians.

Asking others to identify our totems isn’t a bad thing, but I’d be leery of pat answers from virtual strangers.  Those who ask me what their totems are often get frustrated with my round-about answers.  I offer information that my Council feeds me, but not without belting out a few paragraphs about the importance of personal meditation, research and investigation into the matter.

Let’s face it.  Most of us wouldn’t ask a stranger “Who is my life-partner?” and then marry the first person named Joe or Suzie just because we’ve been given a pat answer to this question.

In my opinion, re-partnering with our animal totems is no less serious.  Our animal totems are profound partnerships – indeed, a marriage.  They deserve our time and attention to get to know them.  We deserve the investment to familiarize ourselves with our connection to them.  So, be wary of the “poof! you’re a toad” syndrome.  Pat answers to complex questions like these are to be approached with caution.

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7 Comments so far ↓

  1. vera says:

    For the longest time, I never appreciated being born in the year of the rooster. So many of the other representations were so much more exotic. Tiger, Dragon, Horse!
    Time and experience can be our best teachers.
    In my latter-day hobbies of
    raising up chicks into laying hens
    has brought insights into this interesting species. Now I “crow”
    about chickens and tend toward seeing how much I have in common with these feathered friends.
    And rooster now feels right.

    On the flip side, Foxes have always had their magical appeal.
    Vixen is such a lovely word
    (female fox).
    If you can catch a glimpse,
    you’re lucky.
    How’s that for a marriage of yin/yang, Dark and Light.
    Fox and Hen…….

  2. avenefica says:

    Blessings Vera! :)
    Thanks so much for your comment.
    Too right, as you say: “Time and experience can be our best teachers.” So true. I too was a reluctant recipient of (what I thought at the time) to be an “undesirable” birth-alliance with the Rat (Asian annual zodiac). In time, the Rat and I settled together nicely – very complimentary partnership betwixt us.

    Indeed, a seemingly unlikely duo…the Fox and Hen…love the dynamics, and loved that you shared this – it demonstrates (to me) the inevitability of balance, and how equilibrium is struck in the most surprising ways. Love u V. ;)

  3. sandra says:

    Great article! I cant imagine asking someone to tell me my totem. I would have missed the incredible, life changing and irreplaceable journey!!

  4. Kris says:

    I appreciate and relate to your skepticism…it is a sacred connection that shouldn’t fall prey to the modern need for instant answers. I’m wondering if you could share any suggestions on how to appropriately connect to an animal totem that has been established? I’ve struggled with this of late. Thanks as always!

  5. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Avia – always SO invested in the DEEPLY murky pools garnering TRUE meaningful knowledge and plucking the ENTIRETY of what it all means in doing so! And in ‘going where no man (woman) has gone before’ – you are always STEADFAST and uncompromising in your diplomacy of delivering and conveying the information that you do… QUITE a balance to SO consistently strike.. You did this for me personally last year – without ‘letting me down’ in your areas of integrity – but BURSTING with ‘knock me OUTTA my CHAIR’ knowledge that gave me (and WHAT a FOREVER gift & blessing) knowledge of myself, I did not have (or KNOW that I had..) before, and mirrored me, my life in ways my longest known and dearest friends, could not do with your SPOT ON – eagle eye precision and vision – and you’re TO the POINT manner of delivering the information. You literally saved me – you did, at a time that my mind was spinning out of control with the new ‘gifts’ that were THRUST onto me – now a part of me – so that I could ‘get a GRIP’ – understand (this MOST important) and start slicing and dicing from THERE. From what you gave to me. Forever is too small a word – but, FOREVER grateful in MUCHO UCHO LOVE and LIGHT, to you, Avia :)) Love, MB

  6. avenefica says:

    Hi Kris, thanks for the comment. Here are a few of my personal-favorite methods: http://www.whats-your-sign.com/knowing-your-totem-animal.html

  7. Very interesting blogsite! I like what you say about animal totems and our connections with all creatures of nature. Every time one of God’s critters crosses my path, whether it be on the ground, in thoughts or dreams, I know it means something relevant and special to my life, as we are indeed all connected, and this means with ALL life on earth (and beyond). And I think you are wise in your approach to “assigning” totems to curious seekers: it is a personal connection best read by the seekers themselves, but there’s nothing wrong with a tuned-in individual such as yourself to help guide people to the place of understanding. Also, I like what you said about poking around in hidden places as a child, and as an adult poking around “behind the veil”, so to speak, for that unusual, “invisible” knowledge! Life is never what it seems, is it? I think you are a rare and special soul with unique vision that the world needs more of…

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