PDA

View Full Version : spirit guides/ power animals/ totem/ familiars



Mr. Badger
17 Oct 2012, 06:16
just wanted to know anyone's thoughts on differentiation between the terms, how you define them, how they affect you, how you learn of them, etc.

I look at it like this: spirit guides are one's guide down whatever section of the path one is on. some guides stay for a short time some lifetime. I've currently a crow acting as my main guide.
i see power animals as a driving force, a spirit which will make up for your weaknesses with its strengths and help build those spiritual "muscles" until you no longer need them.
i see the totem as one's own person. what one is down deep through all the layers.
and i see familiars as.. well the typical thing, assistants, companions, guardians on occasion, channels for power to the astral realms.

anyway, point being, what do you all think of these things?

nbdy
18 Oct 2012, 04:15
I have not thought on these things overly, and certainly not shared much about them with others. It seems somewhat personal to me. I will share that what I perceived as my totem changed of late, and what you have posted makes me wonder about this. I have undergone personal transformation, but what you have written makes it sound as though the totem would be a lifetime partner. Am I understanding what you written correctly?

Mr. Badger
18 Oct 2012, 05:48
yes, thus me having mine tattooed on me.

volcaniclastic
18 Oct 2012, 07:07
Spirit guides I think are beings on the astral realm (animals) who interact with you. That being said, I don't think I actually believe IN spirit guides. I've never heard of a power animal before, and a totem to me suggests something animistic, like in native american art.

Familiars, well...that's a witches way of saying she has a pet :)

Mr. Badger
18 Oct 2012, 08:01
Spirit guides I think are beings on the astral realm (animals) who interact with you. That being said, I don't think I actually believe IN spirit guides. I've never heard of a power animal before, and a totem to me suggests something animistic, like in native american art.

Familiars, well...that's a witches way of saying she has a pet :)


haha i guess that's one way of looking at it. you don't feel like even something as simple as a household pet can hold very strong spiritual energies for you?
and why, if it's not too prying, don't you believe in spirit guides?

Jembru
22 Oct 2012, 18:31
In my vocabulary, it goes like this..

Spirit Guide: Any spirit, animal or otherwise, lifelong or short term, that in someway guides and assists me.

Spirit Animal/Totem Animal: Both the same thing. Some folks prefer not to borrow terms from other world faiths and spiritualities if they can avoid them, so prefer Power Animal as it is less frequently associated with Native American spirituality. It's kind of mascot in a way. A spirit who's energy you identify with. A specific spirit animal representing your totem, might become your spirit guide, or you may simply identify with the collective spirit of the species.

Familiar. Like V said, it's a pet. We can have (or believe we have) a spiritual relationship with our pets, but generally, a familiar is a living, breathing creature!

Mr. Badger
23 Oct 2012, 05:45
so do you feel like one can have multiple spirit guides at once, a bit like having different teachers for different subject?

Jembru
23 Oct 2012, 12:44
When I was younger, I had four human guides, owl, cat and magpie. Now I still have my main human guide and magpie. If the others are still around, I am not aware of them. I also work with an egregore spirit and.suspect that my partner's dad, who died a year before we met, may have had his hand in our 'chance meeting'. So yeah, they can come and go and some seem to stay forever.

Djnn
23 Oct 2012, 18:51
I just had this discussion with my cousin. I view a spirit guides as a more permenant fixture. Guardian angels so to speak. Spirit animals and totems I view one in the same. I think a totem can be a spirit guide but not all spirit guides are totems. Totems are spirits you can call upon to help with magic or to learn from. They can also come to you to teach you what you need to know at the time. Familiars I think are animals or spirits that we keep around us not so much to use magic but to identify or amplify or attract it.

Mr. Badger
24 Oct 2012, 07:01
When I was younger, I had four human guides, owl, cat and magpie. Now I still have my main human guide and magpie. If the others are still around, I am not aware of them. I also work with an egregore spirit and.suspect that my partner's dad, who died a year before we met, may have had his hand in our 'chance meeting'. So yeah, they can come and go and some seem to stay forever.

so do you suppose that any spirit can be a guide, or does it take a specific sort?

- - - Updated - - -


I just had this discussion with my cousin. I view a spirit guides as a more permenant fixture. Guardian angels so to speak. Spirit animals and totems I view one in the same. I think a totem can be a spirit guide but not all spirit guides are totems. Totems are spirits you can call upon to help with magic or to learn from. They can also come to you to teach you what you need to know at the time. Familiars I think are animals or spirits that we keep around us not so much to use magic but to identify or amplify or attract it.

do you keep a familiar for your magic? and I'm not sure if I fully understand your differentiation between spirit guides and totems, could you expound?

Djnn
24 Oct 2012, 18:46
I feel that totems are spirits you can call on that can aid you with magic or self growth. Each totem having different scopes of practice in which they can aid you with. Fox's can help with hiding and blending your aura, and spiders can help with writing or drawing etc... for example.

I also feel that these totems can attach to you and stay with you much like a guardian angel. When this happens they are your spirit guides. You can still access them as totems, but they are also your guardian spirits. Also I feel some guardian spirits may not be totems at all. I had a friend that had a guide that he explained as a tall faceless man in a suite, with a mirror as a mask. He couldn't call on it like one can a totem. But I can still call on my guides guidance, or as totems. (I have a fox and hawk)

While I have a fox and hawk with me, that doesn't limit what totems I can work with or what ones come in and out of my life. Just the other day blue jays were all over my backyard, and they had a lesson to teach. But after the lesson was spoke to me, they were gone and I haven't seen them in the backyard since.

Avarin
03 Dec 2012, 07:27
I like to say I have a couple different totems (depending on who you are talking too ^__^)

As for spirit guides I had one guide (who took the form of a buck but really wasnt) who was not all too thrilled about "being assigned to me" granted I was in my late teens and durring that time...well I dont blame him. He was always siging when he spoke to me as if he were chronically depressed. He said to me once (quite sarcastically) "Everyone's got one, I'm stuck with you..." o.0 wtf?

he remined me of Clarance from "Its a Wonderful Life" except he was a clinicly depressed little snot...

Yeah welcome to my world...


Recently I've had an old pagan wizard-like guy as my spirit guide. But spirit guides dont really help me (unless I speciffically ask them) because I'm the quitisential Aries and I dont do anything unless its MY idea. :P

Pallas
09 Dec 2012, 11:29
Spirit guide discussion is an interesting one. I joined this site for the very cause of finding out some stuff about what I think is an animal spirit guide. I'm pretty sure I have an owl spirit guide. I spoke to three people knowledged in this and they all said it was my animal spirit guide. I've always had an affinity for Athena since I was a small girl. Her animals is the owl and a sign of the wise. Though I have always been a fan of Athena it never really attracted me to owls in particular. I thought they were neat birds but never felt a connection or anything with the owl outside of Athena.

When I turned 18 I got a tattoo of Athena holding her owl. Ever since it seems I attract owls like crazy. Sometimes I see them but most the time I just hear them but can never find them. Since this summer I have been hearing an owl non-stop but can never find it. Others can hear it as well but it seems I'm more sensitive to it and can spot the noise quicker than others. The weirdest part is I moved from one side of the country to the other. Two opposite sides, three time zones away, two very different climates and even here I hear that exact same owl. I'm curious to find out what I'm being told!

As for anything outside of animals, the only guide I have is Athena. She has always been my one and only. if I have more, I have not spotted them.

Spirit guides are a very interesting topic with much mystery! :)

Lawtan
17 Dec 2012, 11:28
Would Dragons work in the place of spirit guides? Reason being... Best way to describe my relationship to them. As far as animal Totems go... Ich weiss nicht. I know that Eagles, hawks, and songbirds seem attracted to me, and I have an affinity for the Thunderbird totem. Corvids hang around my family.
Any link or advice on how to best strengthen interaction with them?

Pallas
17 Dec 2012, 13:31
Would Dragons work in the place of spirit guides? Reason being... Best way to describe my relationship to them. As far as animal Totems go... Ich weiss nicht. I know that Eagles, hawks, and songbirds seem attracted to me, and I have an affinity for the Thunderbird totem. Corvids hang around my family.
Any link or advice on how to best strengthen interaction with them?

Dragons are indeed spirit guides! read this here (http://kittythedreamer.hubpages.com/hub/Animal-Spirit-Guides-Meanings-Dragon-Spirit-Guide), it discusses European and Chinese dragons. This article explains in detail what the dragon spirit is and how to connect with them. You are lucky, I love dragons. Having one as a spirit guide would be awesome.

Threshold
25 Dec 2012, 05:07
I'm one of those people who tries not to use the terminology or vocabulary of paths I don't know anything about, because I don't want to disrespect or misrepresent anything.

I feel like I don't understand the dif between totem animals, power animals, spirit animals.

I think I understand what is meant by "familiar", but for all my very close relationships with many animals, I don't feel l've had one.

I've never experienced my spirit guide as an animal. I feel like any spirit can be a guide if we choose to follow it.

I have had some remarkable relationships with animals, or certain types of animals. I can hear rabbits talk. May as well just lay that out there, but I've not experienced them as being mystically spiritual. They come in all sorts of "personalities" if you will. On the other hand, they are masters of telekinesis, but they tend to use it in practical ways.

I do learn things by observing animals with an open mind, soul and heart, but I don't really feel drawn to a certain species etc, in that way.

I am wondering what my issue is with bears. I am both fascinated and terrified.

Oden_son
04 Jan 2013, 17:33
i don't feel like my spirit guides have been individual animals, but more like a spirit of the species itself. black bears have been my guide my whole life, others come and go. currently the stag spirit has been showing up often and the past couple years i've had many encounters with the cardinal.

Lawtan
04 Jan 2013, 20:11
How do the rabbits talk? (As in what do they say/how do they say it). My curiosity is peaked.

Oden_son
05 Jan 2013, 07:04
i'm pretty curious too. my spirit animals usually don't talk to me. they're just everywhere in my life suddenly and come to me in dreams, but even in the dreams they're usually silent. i get feelings from them and sometimes they want to show me something.

ShadyoFayx
06 Jan 2013, 15:06
I feel my Spirit Guide Is also my Familiar and my Totem. The Wolf. I feel a VERY strong connection to wolves, and I do believe that I harness some wolf like traits. I do believe that every animal has a lesson to teach us. But they wait for the right time.

monsno_leedra
13 May 2013, 14:42
I wrote this some time ago but it touches upon this thread so though I might share it. It's all my opinion so it's up to the reader to decide if or how it may apply or influence them.

All that follows is my opinion only so other's may differ greatly from that.

...................

I think what many are discovering is the confusion that has developed about the notion of Power Animal, Spirit Animal, Spirit Animal Guide, Totem Animal and Guides in general. The influx of new age notions and a certain amount of revamping of pagan notions and ideals have changed the face of these items. That coupled to a certain amount of liberty with the definitions as they have been lifted from other systems of beliefs and practices.

The Totem Animal is perhaps the most corrupted to my point of view. The totem is an animal that was associated with a clan, tribe, family, etc. It was seldom associated to an individual except to the extent that a member of the group claimed it as their ______ Totem. This is most well known when one looks to the Totem Poles of the Northwestern US. Those are Totems that are associated with the tribe (group) not individuals. I will admit I am divided in reference to whether one can have a totem from their respective parent’s lines, I.e. different totem from mother's side and father's side. In this perspective it might be possible to possess two totems.

There is an individual totem on occasion though they are far more difficult to discover. Usually the individual who has done or underwent a quest and vision to discover them discovers these types. They then become the markers for that person and are a guide upon their pathwalk and serve as both totem, spirit guide and power animal all rolled into one. While possible it is my experience that not all will discover this type of totem creature, even if they do quest for it.


Some totems become clan or Spiritual Clan emblems and houses. For instance, Once I was in a trance state and had a woman in white come up to me and led me into a ring of dancing spirits in animal form. As she brought me to the ring she introduced me to the dancers as "Wolf" and introduced the dancers as simply "Dancers". Yet as I danced the dance I changed from human form to that of a wolf and watched as the other dancers did so as well, yet they were of other forms. Later I joined a second dance that was composed of people that changed to Wolf form only and we danced again. Of course there is a lot more to it than just what I have spoken of but that is for me only.

Totems are also assigned to clan’s based upon the Medicine Wheel. Each quarter of the wheel marked as being under the influence of a specific creature. For instance under one variant I am of the Turtle Clan as that is the house in charge of the quadrant that covers the month of March. Yet on that same wheel I have a totem animal of the Puma, as it is the totem that governs that month. Yet these clan totems may very from nation to nation or from continent to continent. One may also find totems in the form of clan or family heralds in the shape of family crests or banners.

Individuals were (are) associated with Power Animals. The Power Animal is one that guide's and influences the individual but is also a source of power and inspiration for the individual. For instance one of my Power Animals is the Heron. All I have to do is see it and my mind takes off, yet not each sighting is a lesson though the bird inspires me never the less in how I view the world and see myself in it.

The Power Animal may also show as what is called a Shadow Totem or Shadow Power Animal. That is a creature that instills a great fear or hesitation in us. It is some facet of its power that undermines us until we face that fear and learn to overcome or accept it. It's like Wolf is associated with family and group yet inversely it is also associated with individualism and self-purpose. Both that are seen as a detriment to the family / group when they take precedent in action and purpose.

The Spirit Animal Guide is usually a form that is taken that we initially find a connection to. Many times the initial contact the front door to discovering the more terrifying and darker forms that will follow. Some will hold a singular form the whole time we know them, other's will change and evolve or simply one will leave and another come. Many times the Spirit Animal Guide leads us and encourages us within dreamtime or journeywork.

At times the Spirit version may hold the properties of the physical version though that is not always true. At times one may find that to discover the spirit realm one must become the Spirit Animal Guide. By becoming the guide we see it's lessons or come to understand the area we are traversing. Yes, sometimes it also allows us to move unseen or survive in the area we are being taken to.

We also have Divine Spirit Guides I believe. For me mine are Deer (Artemis) and Cat (Bast). My parents have told me cats have come to me since I first crawled from my crib while Deer appear in dreams and walk up to me at times. Granted the Stag is the sign of Artemis and those appear as well but the deer is an unobtrusive messenger that appears in the real world of man. Guides or a messenger that serve to remind us or connect us to the divine presence in our lives if that is a component of our pathwalk.

I do believe there are spirit animals that are life long guides and influences. For me that animal has always been the Dragon. I have seen them in everything since I can recall and know when they show up something is about to happen. In many instances I have carried on conversations with various dragons in dreamtime.

I think Spirit animals may also be seen as primary and secondary. The primary is always with us but the secondary is of such importance that they are also present at all times but not quite as vocal. For me the secondary has always been the Snow Leopard, yet it is also the primary for my wife. I'll admit I have wondered if hers was so large in my life as it was guiding me to her.

In the physical sense the assumption of its shape is a form of Shape Shifting. In this instance it's the process of connecting to our Power Animal or Spirit Guide by trying to imitate it's actions and movements. For instance for me with Heron it's a process of stepping into the water and moving and trying to act like Heron in the way it interacts with its environment. Yet not just trying to act like it but to actually feel like it and understand it.

Where I may differ is that I also believe we receive guides from all the kingdoms of life. Certain trees and plants are used as guides within the kingdom of the Green People; certain minerals or stones may call to us as representatives of the stone people. For me the winged people have sent Heron and Dragonfly. The four legs have used Deer and Cats as guides. The two legs have used many guides. Even the water people have sent guides in the form of fish (Carp) and newts and salamanders.

The thing about guides is that I believe that a guide may only be with us as long as necessary to teach its lesson. SO we may have guides that are present for a day, a month, a year however long it takes to teach us the lesson it has been sent to convey to us. As such it also implies that a guide may come and go forever, a guide may appear then disappear from your lives multiple times. It implies that one may have any number of guides present at and given moment of time to teach you Spirit’s lesson.

As I stated at the top these are my beliefs and opinions so may vary greater from what other’s have to say on the subject.

Below are two articles and links from another person that some may recognize from another site. Yet I find that I agree greatly with much that she has said. As such I include them here that you may have other resources to read and discover from.



http://www.spiralnature.com/magick/tradvsneopagantotemism.html

Animal totemism is a hot topic among magical folk, in particular pagans and shamans. This, of course, has spawned a growing number of books about totems which vary in quality from excellent to appalling, as books are wont to do. Many of them attempt to be an improvement on Ted Andrews’ works, which spawned the “totem dictionary with some extra stuff” trend. In addition, there are numerous websites about totems, again of varying quality. It’s laughably easy to find the information you seek.

http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usor&c=words&id=12039

Nerá
13 May 2013, 17:09
I guess I've always referred to all of them as spirit guides. To me, they can be human, animal, angel, etc. and they can be temporary or permanent.

Two people very close to me passed away (one in '99 and the other last year) and became temporary spirit guides to help me cope with the loss.

I also have three animal spirit guides....a horse, a mountain lion, and a snake. The horse is my main spirit guide. The mountain lion is one that I call on when I need strength or when I need to follow my instincts. The snake likes to come to me in dreams. I don't know why he likes me so much, but I'm not crazy about him! I'm terrified of snakes.

PsykhikosAnarchosNautikos
13 May 2013, 21:01
To me spirit guides are of the spirit realm- angels, deceased loved ones and possibly nature spirits because they can (if the choose) to guide you on your spiritual journey, but I do not consider them part of the spirit realm, more of an enchanted realm here now on earth that we can't see, where as an angel or deceased love one has a home in a place disconnected from this plane. In other words, nature spirits dwell within nature we just can't see them, where deceased loved ones, ascended masters and angels come through gateways of alternate dimensions, if that makes sense.

I would consider a power animal or power spirit an animal or spirit of a subconscious or internal nature- they are a part of us but can become objective as in seeing them in times of doubt in the external world (seeing a hawk fly right above your head when you are unsure of your future for instance). Basically, they are your power in symbolic form, reminding you just how much potential you already have inside of you.

A totem is a living animal that makes its presence known to you in very obvious ways, such as a cat that hates people always cuddles you, or a crow that keeps an eye on you wherever you go. This type of manifestation could also be seen as a spirit guide but only in the sense that they are hosts for the Gods (the Gods watching you through the animal), but maybe this is a familiar. I work, or at least notice their presence in my life, with these types of entities but I never tried to differentiate them until now. That was kind of fun.

Lilium of the Valley
21 May 2013, 03:28
I have a very similar opinion Mr. Badger...i believe that there are different kinds of spirit guides...one that stays with you forever from the day you were born until the day you die (and who knows maybe beyond that)...some that will enter your life for short times to bring messages....and shadow totems that reflect something about yourself that you dont like but dont know, because these things usually happen in the subconscious parts of our brain. i like focusing on my shadow totems, because they help me conquer my fears, work on things i know i need to work on...they show me my weaknesses so i may turn them into strengths. which is nowhere close to easy, but it is manageable.
i believe that all of the different animal guardians can help you through many things in life, if you want to see them, they will be there, you must only ask. it is a truly awesome experience, once you find them (which can be a challenge), it changes the view on things forever. at least thats how it was for me.

Rae'ya
05 Jun 2013, 05:19
Here's my definitions, based on my own research, experiences and personal thoughts...

Spirit guides
Any spirit or entity who acts as a guide and adviser to you. I don't think that spirit guides are limited to any particular 'species' or 'type'. They can be deceased humans, ancestors, 'ascended masters', animal guides, spirit helpers, deities or any other entity. Our relationship with spirit guides can be varied... they can guide and teach us on an internal level, communicate with us in the astral plane or be companions within the Otherworlds. I don't think that there are any real boundaries when it comes to spirit guides, and that the term can also encompass the other, more specific terms below.

Power animals
This one is a difficult one to pin down, because it's used in multiple contexts in the neo-pagan community, and is not a term that I use myself. I think that 'Power Animal' has come to mean the transient, temporary animal guides that we connect with and work with on a less permanent basis than a primary 'totem'. Having said that, I've seen it used as an alternative to 'totem' by people who don't like the term due to cultural appropriation. I've also seen it used in core-shamanic circles to indicate the animal spirits who aid them on their journeys in what I call the Innerworlds. It seems to me that power animals can be approached and sought out, which would put them in the same category as transient and temporary animal guides, rather than primary animal guides (aka totems).

Totems / animal guides:
I don't really like the term 'totem', for similar reasons that monsno_leedra stated earlier. The context of the term as used by neo-pagans is not strictly the same context as the original term, but it's a commonly used neo-pagan term nonetheless, whether we like it or not. I tend to use the term 'animal guides' and I see multiple tiers in this category. There are primary animal guides who are what most people consider a 'totem' - the one (or small number of) animal guide energy which connects with us and represents our base internal nature. Primary animal guides are with us for life and they just 'are' - you can't chose them or change them or make them evolve into something that appeals to you more. They are not our favourite animal (they can be, but it's not a determining factor), sometimes we don't even like the animal. There are also temporary and transient animal guides that are with us for short periods of time - days, years, decades or for a single magickal working. These ones vary as to whether they approach you or you approach them. You can consciously chose a particular animal guide to form a connection with (though it may not necessarily stick without intensive work) and you can cut ties if you so desire (or they can cut ties with you). And as Lilium of the Valley said, there are also 'shadow' animal guides, who represent aspects of the self that we don't like, don't understand or wont acknowledge.

My own specific breakdown is this: Animal guides are the overarching 'grandparent' spirit of a species - the primal, core, energetic representation of a species... they aren't individual animal spirits or entities that have names and distinct personalities. Animal spirits are an individual entity who may have once been incarnated or who may have always been non-corporeal, but who are a member of the species in question - these may take names and they have personalities and identities apart from 'Dog' or 'Horse'. Sometiems animal guides may send you an individual animal spirit who then may interact with you on a different level. Animal energies are a more subtle manifestation and are the ones who manifest internally, as aspects of the self or representations of parts the self on a more personal, internal level. If anyone has read The Personal Totem Pole by Eligio Stephen Gallegos then you could consider the 'totems' he presents to be animal energies manifested within the self.

Familiars
I have to split with the majority so far and say that I don't believe that familiars are pets. Or rather... that pets are familiars. I was taught that a familiar is a spirit (and it doesn't have to be an animal, nor does it have to occupy a corporeal body) who has a specific relationship with a witch or magickal worker - they aid with magickal work. Unlike spirit guides, who guide, teach, mentor or otherwise aid in our personal and spiritual growth, familiars specifically aid us in working our magick and ritual. They can lend energy, guard the sacred space, help ground energy or go off to perform specific tasks. Some pets are familiars, but I believe this is actually pretty rare in the true sense of the term. Many of us have deep and significant relationships with our pets, but that doesn't necessarily make them a familiar. The familiar relationship is a conscious contract which certainly can be filled by a physical pet, but which can also be filled by a non-corporeal spirit or even a created servitor.

- - - Updated - - -

Oh I didn't realise that editing before a reply was made triggered the 'last edited' marker... I just added the sentence about animal energies. I doubt anyone minds, but I don't like editing my posts without explanation lol