“Every creature is a word of God & is a book about God.”
While the concept of Shapeshifting is important to understanding the world around you, as well as the medicine that specific animals possess–the Shamanic teachings regarding Totem Beasts & Power Animals are equally important. The quote from the Catholic German Mystic above is a beautiful way to look at the energies of Totem Animals. As I understand reality: Source (God, or whatever you choose to call this stirring of creative energy) infused Itself into the All that Is. Different aspects of Divinity then became permanently affixed to different creatures, flora, stones, etc. Each human being was also imbued with talents and attributes, thereby creating a tiny reflection of a part of the Ultimate. “Just as we are born with innate gifts–we are also born with a spirit being attached to us at birth: the totem beast. It is a representation of your personal shamanic identity and of the qualities you mediate to the rest of the world. (Matthews, The Celtic Shaman)”
As a Shaman it is important to connect with your Totem Beast. It helps you to understand your skill set and the way you interact with your community. It can empower you to become the person you were sent here to be, and connect you to the Otherworld. This particular animal spirit remains with you throughout your lifetime, and you can discover what it is through meditation or work with guides. My Totem is the fox–the Celts believed the fox to be a guide; it represents cunning, strategy, quick-thinking, adaptability, cleverness and wisdom.
We are also blessed with Power Animals during our spiritual journey. While your Totem is with you throughout your life, Power Animals come in at different periods, to assist you with specific needs. These spirits can be revealed to you as an animal in which you become interested or attracted to, a meditation you may do to ask for help, or given to you by guides or healers. These animals come to your aid during times of crisis, change, or when new skills are needed. Over my lifetime I have encountered many Power Animals including: the moth, octopus, bee, dragonfly, and most recently the hummingbird.
At the beginning of this year, as I continued my Masters Degree, embarked on my Interfaith Ordination, Chaplaincy Internship, and wedding plans–I knew that I needed some Animal Spirit assistance. Due to the fact that I am in deep need of energy, vitality, agility and persistence–I appealed to the Hummingbird to help me on this 2014 quest. On the top of my foot I had my close friend and Tattoo Shaman place its visage upon me: permanently attracting the assistance of this tiny, marvelous, buzzing creature through sacred tattooing. By no means is it required to do something so dramatic though; if you are in need of some Animal Spirit assistance I suggest getting a small statue of the creature you wish to attract, and placing in on your altar. Shapeshifting meditation can then be used to embody and discern its powers.
“Medieval monks believed the natural world was a scriptural text, liber mundi, requiring as much study and devotion as the Bible (Andrew, Writing the Sacred Journey, p 83).” If you are studying Shamanism it is important to remember that the Earth is your Holy text. The animals and the virtues they epitomize are a wonderful place to start Shamanic studies. Animals Spirits were some of the first things I investigated and I have spent much time reading books regarding their energies. Much can be revealed to you by being open to vitality of life that the Divine has ingrained into this realm of existence.
Blessings Upon You,
The Sacred Circle Shaman
(the art at the top is one of the pieces that I created for my altar–invoking the energies of my Spirit Animals)