“A totem is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol of a tribe, clan, family or individual. Native American tradition provides that each individual is connected with nine different animals that will accompany each person through life, acting as guides.” – http://www.legendsofamerica.com/na-totems.html
The website goes on to explain that though a person may have many guides throughout their lives, the totem animal is the primary guide that stays with a person their entire life. It also has a list of questions to assist the reader in determining their animal guide(s), and the meanings of the different animal guides that are common.
I have spent the last 15 years researching animals and the process of determining ones animal guides – though I have met a few of them throughout that time frame, one has remained with me since the beginning (even before I began my spiritual practice). That guide is Black Cat. He first appeared to me as a Panther (of the black furred variety), and since has tailored his appearance to fit the situation. At times, he appears as a full Panther, and at others he appears as a black house cat.
I remember, as a little girl, asking my mother how to determine my spirit animal – she told me to write my request on a piece of paper, place it under my pillow before sleep, and then think about dreaming of my spirit animal. The first time I did that, I met Black Cat – I was about 8 years old. I have always been a cat person, and I have always had an affinity for black cats.
Since meeting Black Cat, I have come into contact with a few of the other guides I will have throughout my life: Coyote, who teaches me to laugh and smile even when things are difficult, he assists me in connecting more with my Native American roots, and he helps me to understand and accept the contradicting thoughts and feelings that flow within me – he also assists me on journeys through certain parts of the Otherworld that Black Cat does not choose to help with; Black Widow, who is my Spider guide, brings my attention back to my creativity and helps to weave a sense of balance into my life; Wolf, who assists me in more mundane and physical ventures, here in the Middleworld, he also is my protector when I go on astral journeys and do spirit work that is not directly involved with other processes or aspects of my practice; and finally, Snow Leopard entered my life earlier this year as a guide to learn self reliance, she appears regularly in my dreams (I have never met with her in any other way, aside from the first meeting when I did a guided meditation).
I know that I have a few others left to meet, and I am curious as to who they are and the lessons they have to teach me.
Have you, dear reader, met any of your guides? Do you know who your totem animal is? How did you meet them? What have they taught you? Do your guides fit into the traditional roles, or do they symbolize something different for you?
Please, discuss. 😀