Mammal animal totems have been used symbolically within all cultures throughout history. However, it is the Native American culture that is most often associated with the term animal totems. These totems are animal spirit guides who serve as messengers and are with us throughout our physical and spiritual lives to help us gain insights, self-awareness, enhance our connection to the past and even see glimpses of future events.
In the true sense, specific animal instincts and characteristics represent the qualities that we humans should learn to emulate. However, because we lead such busy and complicated lives, often there is no time for self-reflection. Having animal totems surround us gives us pause to reflect and perhaps make important changes for the better to our mind, body and spirit. At times, they can come into our lives when we are at a crossroads or during times of major decision-making.
Each specific animal has its own cycle of power. This cycle is the time at which the animal can pass on his most important messages and powerful energies to you. For example, the bear has a cycle of power that is spring and summer, because he is not as active during the winter months when he spends some of that time hibernating. However, the bear leave the den out of necessity during hibernation to sustain him. He can still send you very strong messages and lessons in times other than during his cycle of power.
You may be wondering how you can access your animal totems or how you can find out which ones are guiding you. One or more may be revealed. Listening to the animals around you will help you form a connection. Animal totems can also come to you as a vision in your dreams or through meditation. Pose these questions to yourself: Are there animals who you have been fascinated with since you were a child? Is there a type of animal who represents your personality? What animal have you felt a certain kinship with? Which animals are you the most fearful of?
This will begin the process of learning who your animal totems are. Study the habits and characteristics of those specific animals and try to discover how those things can apply to your own life or to a message the animal is trying to convey to you. If it is an animal you are fearful of, it may be a lesson in how you might overcome your fears in certain areas of your life. Also, if you find an animal is suddenly near you or one that comes into your life out of extraordinary circumstances, take notice. Watch its behavior — how does it appear, is it content, where is it looking, what is it doing? Look for the subtleties, as these will help decipher if it is sending a message to you.
The Antelope totem is one of right action. If you were to visit Northern Plains today, you would see groups of antelope scattered about the fields and hills. However they are so quiet and unmoving that (from a distance) they resemble stones. But, get too close and they move like lightening. Antelope asks you: are you being still when you should be moving, or moving when stillness is required? Antelope can teach you how to adapt to change and explore new areas in your life path. Someone who is empathetic and emotional may find he has this totem. The Antelope’s cycle of power is spring and autumn.
You’ll never get too close to Armadillo as his hard shell will keep you at arm’s length! And, if this roly-poly fellow is your animal totem, he’s asking you to examine the areas where you need a hard shell — boundaries! Do you “do” for everyone, but never “do” for yourself? Or, are you being TOO sensitive, protecting yourself even when danger isn’t present? If you are empathetic, Armadillo will teach you how to balance your feelings so you can protect yourself, as well as help others in need. If you have the ability of mediumship, Armadillo will help you stay protected as you channel spirits and energy. The Armadillo’s cycle of power is year-round.
Badger is a ferocious opponent, unwilling to back down over any issue. Unfortunately, this unwavering stance leads some Badgers to their demise. If Badger appears, he is asking whether you are fighting the right fight. Is this issue the hill you’re willing to die on, or are you fighting for no other reason than pure stubbornness? The Badger symbolizes situations that are taking place or are possibly happening in your life. It is time to do some self-examination. The Badger’s cycle of power is late spring.
Bat’s internal radar is exceptionally attuned — is yours? Trust your instincts and listen to what is not being said just as much as what IS being said. Bat appears as a symbol of transformation. He is asking you to re-examine your life to determine (using all of your senses) what is worth keeping and what needs to be discarded. For every death there is a rebirth, and Bat is here to help you decide what goes and what stays. The Bat’s cycle of power is nighttime.
Bear represents a time of reflection and stillness — a time of entering the inner cave of Self to contemplate life’s challenges. Bear often appears during times of confusion and unrest — those unsettling moments when you turn to everyone you know for answers — everyone except yourself. Go within, ask the hard questions, then listen. As the bear climbs a tree to get a better view, the message of the Bear is also to give you a clearer perspective on life. The Bear’s cycle of power is spring and summer, however, he may come out of hibernation out of necessity to bring a powerful message.
Beaver may be one of the hardest working animals on the planet. Beaver is attuned to both earth and water medicine, and is strongly attached to home and family. Beaver appears to remind you that sometimes there’s no substitute for hard work. Make a plan, create a solid foundation, then take the next indicated step. Act on your dreams to make them reality. The Beaver’s cycle of power is dusk and night.
Bobcat protects himself by hiding among the shadows, although he is an excellent hunter and watchful planner. If he shows up in your life, he represents patience, independence and trusting your intuition. People with Bobcat as a totem often have psychic abilities. Having these abilities makes them excellent counselors. However, it is important not to break someone’s confidence who has come to your for help. This can lead to problems. Bobcat’s cycle of power is late winter and spring.
Bull as your totem will help you look at your productive energies. He is also there to remind you to look for new beginnings. Are you being too harsh and inflexible? This might be a time to lighten up and let things happen as they happen. You should also learn to be more helpful, nurturing and unselfishly giving toward others. The Bull’s cycle of power is year-round.
Buffalo has come snorting into your life to bring a message of great hope. Buffalo sacrificed every part of his physical body to support those who hunted him, but he also gave his spirit. And, it’s that spirit of hope, abundance and a bright future that he brings. If you are experiencing a troubled journey, help is here. This may be a time for you to seek out new opportunities and manifest your hopes and dreams. The Bison’s cycle of power is year-round.
The domestic cat as your totem gives you self-confidence and courage to tackle various obstacles that you may encounter. He teaches you how to be independent and shows you many insights that were once a mystery to you. At times, Cat totems can represent those pet companions that you have had during your life. The Cat’s cycle of power is nighttime.
Cougar has long been associated with leadership. Cougars are powerful, agile and unhesitating. When Cougar attacks, he throws one hundred percent of himself into the pursuit. Although cougar is strong, he is also elusive — hard to spot in the wild — until he decides to pounce. His lesson to you is one of being a balanced leader — not rushing into the attack, not always lurking in the brush. He also is one to help you decide how to best use your personal powers, especially when defending yourself from aggressors. The Cougar’s cycle of power is year-round.
Are you taking yourself too seriously? If you are, Coyote will throw a banana peel in your tracks just to see you take a silly spill. Coyote medicine is trickster medicine — the practical joker, the chaos maker. If Coyote appears as a totem, be ready for a curveball thrown in your direction. Remember, though, Coyote uses the bizarre to help us learn lessons we just can’t seem to get any other way. The Coyote’s cycle of power is year-round.
If you can imagine Bambi, you can imagine the message Deer brings to you — a message of sweetness, innocence and gentle spirit. Be delicate in your communication with others and with yourself. This is definitely not a time for being critical, mean-spirited, or sarcastic. Just as Deer’s heart can be easily wounded, so can the heart of your friends, co-workers, or family members. Pay attention to your inner thoughts and look for new perceptions in order to grow. The Deer’s cycle of power is autumn and spring.
The domestic dog as your totem signifies faithfulness, companionship and protection. Dog is a loyal and loving companion no matter what and he teaches you how you can be of service to others in some way. As a best friend, dog teaches us how to protect other. There are many different breeds of dogs, so study the traits and characteristics of the dogs who are/were around you. These traits may be qualities that you are lacking in your life. At times, Dog totems can represent those pet companions that you have had during your life. The Dog’s cycle of power is year-round.
Ever watched a school of dolphins playing with each other, or with the surfers in their midst? If you have, you’ll understand the message Dolphin brings — the message of joyful play. Dolphins are in total harmony with their environment and practice love for each other — always helping the young, or a sick comrade. Join Dolphin’s happy community and celebrate how much we’re all alike, instead of focusing on our differences. The Dolphin’s cycle of power is year-round.
Donkeys are best known as beasts of burden. In this way, he represents service to others. A donkey as your animal totem reminds you that you do not have to shoulder all of your burdens and workload alone. Donkey will teach you to listen to your own intuition and not be a follower of the pack. Listen to your own head and heart. Is your own stubbornness keeping you from moving forward mentally, emotionally and spiritually? Donkey helps you to stay driven toward your goals by using your inner strength and will power. He also gets you in touch with a higher wisdom and greater opportunities. Donkey’s cycle of power is year-round.
Elephant represents gentle strength, loyalty and love of family, partners and friends. They are also a symbol of sexuality. Elephant is very sensitive to fragrance and smells, which may be a message to you to work with aromatherapy. As your animal totem, Elephant reminds you of the importance of taking care of family — especially the young and the elderly. He teaches compassion and loyalty. He represents royalty, ancient wisdom, power and strength. Due to his great strength, he can help you remove obstacles that are getting in the way of your happiness, goals and ability to lead a stable life. Elephant’s cycle of power is year-round.
One of the most regal animals of North America, Elk is a symbol of great strength, energy and endurance. If Elk is your totem, he will teach you to pace yourself and to have patience. He teaches you that certain projects need time to execute and become successful. Elk is an important sign to watch your diet so that you can increase your stamina. He also represents the importance of being comfortable with the people in your community. The Elk’s cycle of power is autumn.
Fox medicine represents the ability to blend in. She can change colors to blend with the seasons — becoming almost invisible against a backdrop of snow or foliage. Fox also has an amazing sense of smell that enables her to sniff out dangerous situations. Be like a Fox — street smart and safety savvy. Don’t call attention to yourself, just watch and wait. The Fox’s cycle of power is dawn and dusk.
Giraffe will give you the ability to see far into your future. This is all a part of precognition and clairvoyance. If Giraffe is your totem, communication and intuition are very powerful. You will be able to attain greater heights and focus on the bigger picture. He encourages you to make your words count when dealing with others. Giraffe reminds you of your bonds with family, children and friends. The Giraffe’s cycle of power is year-round.
Goat represents agility, independence and sure footedness. As the goat climbs up the mountain at a slow but steady pace, you should do the same as you look ahead to make changes in your life. Goat shows up in your life to get you to begin new projects, however, to take them slowly. Goat also teaches you the necessity of having a strong foundation in order to gain independence. The Goat’s cycle of power is late fall and early winter.
Groundhog is part of the squirrel family and he is a skilled champion at burrowing, hibernating, and controlling his metabolism. When he shows up as your totem, he is reminding you that you must set up your boundaries and respect those of others. Groundhog can guide you to learn from your dreams, aid you in lucid dreaming and teach you how to tap into your higher consciousness. He may also enter your life to educate you with respect to the process of death and dying. The Groundhog’s cycle of power is during the winter months, when he is hibernating in his deep trance-like sleep.
When Horse came back to the Americas, he brought with him the ability to move rapidly from place to place, and it’s this rapid movement that he brings to you as your totem. Get up and get out of the rut you’ve created. Grab Horse’s mane, pull yourself onto his back and let him carry you across the plains of your life. Do you or someone in your life need to move on? Horse will teach you to ride in new directions. The time for being stuck is over. The Horse’s cycle of power is year-round.
Lion as your animal totem teaches you to trust you intuition. This is also a time in which to put some of your creative ideas into action. The Lion is about finding a balance between work and play. Lion also appears to help you to share the wisdom you have acquired with others. Don’t be afraid to roar, in other words, let go of the fear of speaking out and being heard. The Lion’s cycle of power is year-round.
Lynx is the keeper of secrets and wisdom. With Lynx as your totem, you will discover hidden knowledge and secrets about other people. These people will trust you with their innermost thoughts and have confidence that you will be the silent keeper of them. The Lynx has clairvoyant abilities that he passes on to you. Also, you may often prefer to spend time alone. The Lynx’s cycle of power is winter.
Moose represents incredible strength and longevity, as well as the ability to see the future. Moose antlers are among the largest of the antlered animals. Their antlers are like psychic antennae and give Moose amazingly developed hearing, smell and depth perception. Moose is bellowing at you to open your third eye and stop pretending that you don’t know what’s about to happen. He also represents sexual energies and your ability to awaken your awareness to others and your surroundings. The Moose’s cycle of power is late fall and early winter.
With Mouse as your totem, you will learn that you can accomplish big dreams by paying attention to the small details. However, are your energies scattered? Are you only paying attention to the small details, or only focusing on the big picture? Find a balance. The Mouse symbolizes determination. He shows up to teach you that at times, the quiet and steadfast pursuit of a goal will bring success. Use your intuition and inner strength. The Mouse cycle of power is year-round, in five to six week cycles.
You’ve heard the expression, “playing possum?” It means to play dead and is derived from Opossum’s ability to act in whatever way the situation demands. If it’s practical to play dead, so be it. If it’s to Opossum’s advantage to be aggressive, watch out! Take your cue from this master actor — play the role that will serve you best. You may need to master some new strategies. The Opossum’s cycle of power is spring.
Otter represents one of the most playful feminine energies on earth — and she has swum over to bring a message of joyful play. If life has been difficult or challenges overwhelming, relax a little. Otter is here to remind you that play is just as important as work — NOT competitive play, but rather the kind you loved as a child. Hopscotch anyone? The Otter’s cycle of power is spring and summer.
Panther medicine is the medicine of silence. Panther can stalk its prey in absolute silence — one of the reasons native tribes associate him with the spirit world. He also symbolizes the development of clairaudience due to his excellent hearing. Panther can show you how to face the shadow within your self and bring it out into the light. He is the promise that whatever is lost will be reclaimed and replaced in a more abundant way. Panther is powerful medicine, and the fact that you choose him says much about your willingness to face the unknown. He also is symbolic of a time of rebirth in one’s life. The Panther’s cycle of power is winter, new moon.
Has Polar Bear lumbered into your world? If so, he’s reminding you of the value of being flexible. Polar Bear instinctively knows how to conserve his energy and will observe a situation before he takes action. Once he decides it’s the appropriate time to move forward, however, he has the strength, energy and fortitude to face whatever dangers lie ahead. Having problems making a change? Polar Bear is here to help, and his message to you is: Take heart, have courage, build your strength, then MOVE! The Polar Bear’s cycle of power is spring and summer.
Porcupine has appeared as your totem to bring a message of innocence and trust. Although Porcupine can throw quills when cornered, he is gentle, loving and non-aggressive. Is there an area of your life that needs Porcupine energy? Have you lost the ability to trust? You might be overly critical of yourself and others. This totem reminds you not to let this continue or let barbs from the past continue to stick you. It might also be an indication to take life at a slower pace and find joy in the simpler, less chaotic things in life. The Porcupine’s cycle of power is autumn.
When Prairie Dog shows up as your totem, he asks that you dig deeper into areas of your own life and make sure you are not digging in too deep into the lives of others. Make sure you are involved with your community and family — do not isolate yourself. There are many lessons to be learned from socialization. The Prairie Dog’s cycle of power is spring and summer.
Poor Rabbit! No other animal is more associated with fear than Rabbit — that nervous little bunny who hops and leaps at every little sound. Rabbit has come to ask you to have the courage to face whatever difficulties you’re having, instead of running away to a safe burrow. Face your fears, examine your old “fight or flight” patterns and determine once and for all to stop hiding away. He teaches us to listen carefully and to use our intuition. The Rabbit’s cycle of power is year-round.
This masked bandit can make you laugh with his antics, or make you angry when you realize he’s made off with your food! Raccoon is incredibly curious, to the point that he’ll walk into a potentially dangerous situation just to see what’s up. Like Raccoon, are there situations you’re barging into before you have all the information? You might want to rethink it. This is not a time to make rash decisions and Raccoon will stay with you until you resolve them. The Raccoon can also teach you how to transform yourself and become the best you can be, by removing any negative masks you may be wearing. The Raccoon’s cycle of power is spring and summer.
Ram shows up as your totem to remind you that new beginnings are on the horizon. Take some initiative to begin, but don’t drag your feet. Grab opportunities when they present themselves. Ram teaches you to trust your inner abilities and not to give in to a fear of failure. Ram’s cycle of power is late fall and early winter.
Rat signifies success and restlessness. If Rat shows up as your totem, it may be a sign that you are getting restless somewhere in your own life. The Rat reminds you to continue to be shrewd in all of your business dealings. Rat teaches you that you can survive in any situation or surroundings, provided that you are as adaptable at survival tactics as he is. He also teaches you how to adapt emotionally. The Rat’s cycle of power is year-round.
With Rhinoceros as your totem, he will help you to tap into your inner wisdom so that you can learn to be comfortable in your own skin. He also helps you get in touch with your past lives and to open up old memories. Rhinoceros brings you heightened senses and teaches you to have faith in yourself and to put things into perspective. The Rhinoceros’s cycle of power is year-round.
Is Big Foot real or a hoax? It doesn’t really matter, because he has ambled into your life to remind you of its mysteries. Not everything can be explained and not everything can be touched. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Suspend your logic for a bit, and be open to the mystery. Tone down your skepticism for a while and open your mind to some new ideas. Sasquatch’s cycle of power is year-round.
Seal brings out your creative energies and imagination. He teaches you how to use your dreams as a catalyst to awaken your creativity and make it a part of your outer self and your daily life. Seal provides balance between imagination and reality. The Seal’s cycle of power is year-round.
Phew! Everyone knows Skunk’s power, that’s why people (and other animals) get out of his way! Skunks are fearless. If you’re lacking self-esteem, Skunk is there to help you to be noticed. You are worthy of a happy life, and if someone is making you miserable, look to Skunk as a confidence builder. Remember, though, Skunk doesn’t have to spray to be powerful — his reputation precedes him! And, like Skunk, you don’t need to spray either, but you do need to stand your ground calmly and with Skunk’s confidence. Examine your self-image — it is within your power to bring out new respect and self-esteem for your mind, body and spirit. Skunk’s cycle of power is year-round.
Snow Leopard shows up as your animal totem to teach you self-reliance and that you must trust your inner self. If you have had personal demons and haunting thoughts, Snow Leopard shows up to remind you to let go. However, be patient, as this may take some time. But you have the ability to do it. A whole new outlook on life will open up for you. She is also symbolic of finding your inner and outer balance. The Snow Leopard’s cycle of power is early morning and dusk (early evening).
Hoard, hoard, hoard! Squirrel has been a busy fellow, gathering food for the long winter ahead, and he advises you to do the same. Have you set enough money aside to get you through lean times, or do you squander what you earn? We all love a shopping spree, but if Squirrel scurries around you, he’s cautioning you to spend a little, but also save a little. Squirrel is there to teach you the balance of give and take. Squirrel’s cycle of power is year-round.
If Tiger is your animal totem, expect some great new adventures. Take some time to examine your life. Tiger has shown up to awaken the power and passions you have hidden within and to make sure that you are using them appropriately. He also comes into your life to help build your self-confidence. Tiger will teach you to tap into your innate healing ability. Tiger’s cycle of power is nocturnal — full moon and new moon.
The Weasel teaches you to watch and observe situations in silence and be discrete. Always trust your own instincts and intuition. By doing this, it will help you avoid any obstacles that might get in the way of achieving your goals. The Weasel’s cycle of power is nocturnal.
Whale represents strength, grace, intuition and knowledge from the past. Whale and its beautiful songs signify creativity. Whale teaches you to locate your own creative inspiration and use it to enhance your life. The strong and powerful Whale glides effortlessly under water and surfaces when he needs air to breathe. This ability in Whale reminds you to be mindful of choices you make — when to make them and how to make the best use of what you gain. Whale makes you look deep within yourself to find clearer answers. The Whale’s cycle of power is year-round.
Wolf can survive either as a loner or as part of a pack, and he howls to remind you that you have to balance the needs of others with the needs of the self. If you’re giving yourself away to your own detriment, you are living in opposition to Wolf medicine. Return to balance and begin feeding your emotions, your mind and your body. When the wolf enters your life, it is time to look into your own genuineness and openness toward others. The Wolf, with his thick coat and hair is also symbolic of psychic abilities. Wolf’s cycle of power is year round, full moons and twilight.
Wolverine is thought to be a bridge between the physical and spirit worlds. He has the ability to survive in the most difficult terrains, and his message to you is of inner strength. Have you forgotten just how powerful you really are? If so, it’s time to refocus and re-dedicate. Remember that Wolverine medicine runs through your blood. Pursue your dreams and be willing to fight for your convictions. This is not the time for uncertainty. Fight for what is yours, but do not get greedy. You will get to the pinnacle of your life. Wolverine’s cycle of power is year-round.
To learn about Bird Totems, click here.
To learn about Insect Totems, click here.
To learn about Reptile Totems, click here.
For a guided meditation to meet your animal totem(s), click here.