Tag Archives: animal totems

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

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.

Animal Messages: The Good News

Animal Messages - It's All Good

In one capacity or another, I’ve been dipping into animal consciousness and interpreting symbolic messages they contribute to the greater/global consciousness.

An email I got from a reader of my main website (whats-your-sign), asked a great question:

Hi Avia, I love your work and reading your animal insights have really helped me on my life’s journey.  A few years ago I was having a terrible spell of bad circumstances.  The Owl kept visiting me, and I was convinced it was a bad omen.  Do you remember me emailing you about this several years back?  You responded with a link to an article you wrote about symbolic Owl meanings, and it helped.  It also made me explore more of your animal interpretations, and I noticed something.  All your interpretations are positive.  It seems there is nothing but good news coming from our birds, fish and mammals from your perspective.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a criticism, but even your ideals about Snakes and Spiders (critters who aren’t my favorites, lol) are positive and uplifting.  Can you tell me why is it all good news?  Don’t animal messages sometimes include negativity, or at least a warning of bad things to come?  Thanks for your work.

Beth makes a good point.

I look at animal consciousness as an extension of the Unified consciousness (call it the God, the Goddess, Christ consciousness – by any name,  it’s that omnipresent, pervasive, supportive intelligence unifying all energy).  I mention on many occasions that the creatures of our planet are (mostly) clarified energy – they don’t have the weirdies of mentality like humans often exhibit.  Because our creatures are clarified, they’re a pure channel for Unified consciousness.

So, when I dive in for data about animal messages, animal meanings, etc., it just makes sense the information retrieved will be a bright reflection of the Unified field – supportive, buoying, brilliant.  In short, the Natural Realm lives closer to, and indeed, is one with God.  Naturally, their communications will reflect that relationship.

If you dig this post, you might also like:

Getting Messages from Nature

Nature Symbols

Animal Totems & Animal Symbolism

Tips to Knowing Your Animal Totems

Silly Bands and Animal Totems

Silly Bands and Animal Totems
Silly Bands and Animal Totems

I got the low-down on silly bands from my niece, who gave me this one – a Dragon, who happens to be my predominant animal totem.

Now, I’m not big on extraneous consumerism.  I prefer to keep my personal adornments and purchases as pure and simple as possible.  However, I can see some pretty practical uses for silly bands in relation to our animal totems.

To explain…

Life is replete with distractions.  There’s so much going on in our modern lives.  Busy-busy, push-pull, tag-your-it. 

If your days are potentially crammed with complexity like mine are, then perhaps you’ll agree it’s good (indeed, even necessary) to keep reminders close by.  Reminders that ground us, and redirect our consciousness back to the pure vitals of life like: Compassion, Dynamism, Expansiveness, Balance, and such.

I have tattoos that serve as permanent reminders of these things and more.  Photographs plaster my office-studio walls serving the same purpose.

Imagine my surprise and delight when this tiny silicon silly band fulfilled the same function. 

Every time my eyes catch sight of this little guy, I return to my core – a place in which my Dragon’s crave for me to stay rooted.  Why? Because being rooted in the realms of our animal totems manifests superior benefit for them, ourselves and our society.

Just thoughts…an idea for triggering awareness back to your ideal, totemic core.

That said, a special thanks to my niece for this wicked-keen gift! ;)

Other pages of interest…

Tips to Knowing and Re-Connecting with Your Animal Totems

EcoIntuition: What is it?

Animal Totems (a whole heap of ’em)

Light My Fire: Symbolism of the Salamander

Salamander Symbolism
Salamander Symbolism

Some prevelant symbolism of the salamander include:

  • Energy 
  • Courage
  • Renewal
  • Determination
  • Resurrection
  • Balance
  • Adaptation
  • Spirituality 

The salamander gets it solar animal status from several sources. Primarily, we see this aspect in ancient alchemical illustrations where the salamander is depicted in flames. Alchemists held the salamander to be a fire-eater and able to quench fire with its cool, moist body. In the alchemical philosophy, anything that had the power to transform something into something else was hugely important.

If salamanders are considered water creatures and why are they considered  solar animals? Mostly because of its bright colors, ranging from fire reds, amber oranges and glowy yellows.

Another source for solar symbolism: salamanders live in moist logs and ancient peoples may have observed that throwing a log on the fire causes salamanders to scurry out from the logs. Some of our more naive ancestors may have attributed the fire as giving birth to this amazing creature (instead of running to save their sweet little skins!).

Furthermore, early Christianity held the salamander as a symbol of spiritual integrity, chastity, and righteousness. The sign of the salamander indicated true faith, and the ability to survive the “fire of temptation.”

Medieval and heraldic art depicted the salamander as a symbol for bravery. It was often painted in the background of heroic portraits to indicate the mark of courage.

More on the symbolism of the salamander can be found here.

Post script: Thanks Kachine for catching this sally for me!

Symbolic Meaning of Labyrinth

The symbolic meaning of labyrinth is also associated with the various symbolic meanings of the spiral  in that we can trace our footsteps (both metaphorical and literal) back to and from the Source (center or core).

Labyrinths have been used for ages.  Native Americans used the labyrinth as a symbol that represents birth, rebirth and/or transition from one world to the next.  Specifically, as a Hopi symbol,  labyrinths are depicted with a cross near the center which represents the four cardinal directions and their attributes.  The spirals encircling this compass are symbolic of the waves or cycles of creation all of life experiences.

 On a philosophical level, the symbolic meaning of labyrinth is as complex as the symbol itself.  With many twists and turns, the labyrinth does not share its secrets easily

On the surface the symbolic meaning of the labyrinth deals with:

  • passage of time
  • spiritual growth
  • enlightenment
  • connection to source
  • rebirth
  • resurrection
  • emergence
  • evolution
  • progress
  • spiritual path
  • initiation

The labyrinth can be a powerful tool for inner enhancement and development.  It is designed specifically for this purpose.  When walking the labyrinth, we find our perspective constantly changing.  Our vision and physical bodies are never facing the same direction for long.  This is a technique to coax our inner knowing out from within.  

Further, the spiraling inward motion is a physical replication of our spiritual tendency to seek within the highest truths in order to find eternal freedom.  When we are moving outward from the source, it is an action that we have made the divine connection and now we are expressing our completeness outwardly – essentially sharing our highest good with all around us.

It is important to note that walking the labyrinth (mentally or physically) is not intended to be overly challenging.  There are no dead-ends with the labyrinth, only meandering waves of smooth lines designed to gently nudge us back to our destination. 

This is where labyrinths are often confused with mazes.  Big difference.  Mazes are designed to challenge intellect and strategic skills.  Whereas the labyrinth is an exercise in soul development.

Just thoughts.

There are plenty of labyrinths in Nature we can observe as an effort to encounter a richer understanding of the complexity of our consciousness.  Animals have helped me a great deal in meandering through personal cycles.  Here are a few animals associated with the labyrinth…maybe they’ll guide you too:

Further reference:

Symbolism of Spiral