.A Spirit Guide is a spirit that comes forth to guide you through the trials of your life and to help you to understand the lessons that these experiences are there to teach you. Spirit Guides often represent archetypes of behavior for facing the challenges of life and they serve as paradigms of comportment for you to emulate in times of crisis.
A certain Spirit Guide may be with you your whole life, or it may be there just to help you through one special challenge. You may have many spirit guides or only one; this will depend on the lessons you need to learn and the trials you must face in this life.
Spirit Guides may be someone from your past who owes you a sort of karmic debt or they may be benefic guiding spirits that come to help you in times of moral uncertainty. They may be people or animals that have crossed over from this plane of existence, entities from the spirit realm or from other dimensions. They may even be, from the perspective of quantum physics, a form of conscious energy capable of interaction with the material world.
It must be counseled here that although Spirit Guides may appear in many guises and in many ways one should act not just with discernment, but also with discrimination when calling upon “guides” in times of adversity. Often those who attempt to connect with spirits through such methods as the use of Ouija boards may draw forth beguiling, but malefic entities appearing in such pretense as that of angels, saints or other so called ascended masters whose real intent is not to guide, but divert you from your true path.
But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee. Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee; and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.
A frequently asked question is...“What is the difference between a Spirit Animal and a Totem Animal?"
While in common practice the terms are used interchangeably there is a difference.
A "Spirit Animal" is the one who will present life's lessons. The Spirit Animal is the one who comes to you in order to show you, through its own unique nature and skills, how to deal with the manifestations of your Spiritual Journey. Spirit Animals do not necessarily guide you, but they come to teach you that which you need to learn, in order to know how meet the challenges of your Spirit Walk.
Each Spirit Animal has certain powers and skills to teach and certain knowledge to share, for each Spirit Animal has its own methods of overcoming the many challenges it must meet in order to survive.
The Spirit Animal's appearance signals a time to connect with your true Self and your life's purpose. Pay attention to the repeated appearance of this animal and of repeated patterns or themes. Awakening to the recognition of these seemingly synchronistic occurrences teaches you to be aware of the hidden messages in everyday experiences.
There are many ways by which your Spirit Animal may make itself known to you and many ways by which by which it may pass on its message. Do not let your perceived image of the animal prejudice you as to the significance of its message. You will meet with the Spirit Animal whose lesson you need to learn.
You do not choose your Spirit Animal, it chooses you.
.And … do not try to “compel” your Spirit Animal to manifest itself just because you want it to. True Spirit Animals will appear only at the time and place in your life when you are ready to accept them and the wisdom the come to offer.
And … they always turn up at exactly the right moment.
A "Totem Animal" is an animal spirit that you call upon or invoke, as an individual or a tribe, for its special powers and survival skills, to serve as a guardian or protector when facing adversity.
It is customary for many Native American tribes (as well as others) to be made up of smaller groups or "Clans" united by actual or perceived kinship and descent and formed around a founding member or "ancestor". Often this ancestor is an animal spirit which becomes the Clan Totem. The clan totems are often the animals that inhabit the local area, (The wolf, bear, turtle, and deer are common clans of the Great Lakes area.), and which have a unique realtionship to the tribe and its heritage.
Some of the clans of the Six Nations are the turtle, bear, wolf and the heron and often within these clans there are different "sub-clans" represented by such animals as the Snapping Turtle and the Painted Turtle in the example of the Turtle Clan.
The "spiritual powers" of the various totems help each clan to carry out its own special duties and responsibilities within the tribe in accordance with the attributes of that totem. (The Turtle Clan ususally being the tribes "Keepers of Wisdom", the guardians of the legends and mysteries mysteries within the tribes ceremonies and practices.)
Again, never let your perceived image of an animal effect how you see its ability to serve as a "Totem". Though it may seem incongruous to invoke a rabbit as a totem for battle, remember the wisdom shown by “Bre’r Rabbit” in defeating an enemy.
The Totem Pole is an arrangement of symbols representing animal totems from the tribe's ancestral past. Totems were a form of communication for the Pacific Northwest Coast Native Americans as they had no written language and thus the Story Poles were used to convey their legends, stories and events. Totem poles may also be messages passed on by those that carve them. The pole's symbols may often tell a very personal story of the carver himself, as well as that of his own family, clan or tribe.
A third type of Animal Spirit, little heard of outside of Shamanism and Witchcraft is called a "familiar". The familiar is a spiritual entity that will appear as a facilitator in the communion of the human, animal and spirit realms.
The true shaman or witch does not just decide to walk the “Path”. They must first be chosen by and then accept a spirit being or deity as their mentor. Usually, this mentor will send forth an animal spirit to guide the initiate to them, or in many cases, they themselves may take the form of an animal spirit, only later revealing their true nature.
One example, in the case of shamans and witches who come from the background of the European Celtic traditions, the Goddess Morrigan will often appear to the initiate in the form of a raven or crow as their familiar and she will reveal her true self only after the initiate has actualized as an “enlightened being".
As the name implies, the animal messenger delivers messages from the spirit realm that you need to pay attention to in your current situation. They often appear in dreams and meditations or while you are on your spirit walk. Their visits are usually sudden and they often depart as quickly as they arrive, but they can also be quite persistent and repeatedly present themselves in a way that cannot be ignored. Look and listen carefully to what they have come to show you for you need to accept and understand the message they are attempting to impart.
The Shadow Animal
The Shadow Animal arrives because of lessons you have not learned. It will come to you repeatedly until there is change. It may come at the time of your greatest adversity and confusion.
The Journey Animal
The Journey Animal comes to you as a guide when you set forth on a new life path. It is there to help you find the path home should you loose the Way. The Journey Animal will travel along with you until you have completed this present challenge.
The Life Animal
The Life Animal reflects your deeper, spiritual self and is always with you. Life Animal may, at times, call upon other Animal Spirits to aid in your guardianship and this new Animal Spirit may come to awaken you to the abilities the two of you share or it may come to teach the life skills you need to learn.
The Medicine Animal
This type of animal spirit brings “medicine” to help heal and comfort you in times of illness and injury. These animal spirits only come when you call them and will stay only until you are well and are ready to let them go. These medicine animals have great wisdom and they will guide you through the process of healing.
It is important for you to be aware that the portraiture given of each Spirit Animal is a "generality". A Spirit Animal's appearance is a special event and it comes as a personal teacher to help guide and protect you. Spirit Animals do not appear to bring you just one simple message. They come in order to awaken you to a new spiritual awareness and to reveal to you the purpose of your spiritual journey. See them as individuals and understand them for their animal nature. Look not only at their “Animal Totem” meaning, but study them to discover their habits and behavior in order to understand how they use their unique skills to survive within their environment. Learn how they respond to the challenges they face in their lives in order to be able to better respond to the challenges in yours. Your Spirit Animal has come to introduce you to a new way of "Being".
It is rather amazing to us at Spirit Walk Ministry that we should have to post this message, but as a result of far too many letters we receive from people regarding their attempts to encounter their “animal spirits” we feel it is necessary to say something.
It would seem that a lot of people, living in their modern, secure, climate controlled, urban homes are sitting there, in front of their big screen TV’s, watching Yogi Bear cartoons as if they were wild life documentaries.
If you ever do venture outside the safety of your little castle and you find yourself in a situation where you are confronted by a bear going after your “pic-a-nic basket”, you need to understand that bear is not Yogi and you are not Grizzly Adams.
No matter how much “bear totem spirit” you think you have in you and no matter how many choruses of Kumbaya you sing to it, if you get between that bear and what it wants, you are going to get hurt. Have no illusions about it ending any other way!
Whenever encountering an animal in the wild, remember that it is just that, a wild animal. Nature is a savage, unforgiving realm and every animal in Nature is fighting for its survival in a savage, unforgiving way and no matter how spiritual a motive you may have in approaching that animal, if you push that animal into a corner you will find yourself fighting for your own survival.
Don’t try to pet the skunk, don’t try sticking your face in the bee hive and don't try to poke the bear, no matter how powerful a shaman you think you are.
If you are unable to find a particular animal spirit listed on this website, please write and let us know. We will do our best to discover what we can about that animal.
Individual Animal Spirit's Wisdom.
Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion -- several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight.
The higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out in the Hereafter. I wonder why? It seems questionable taste.
~ Mark Twain ~