Friday, 3 August 2012

Animal Totems

Animal Totems. Discover facts and information about the culture of Native American Indians and the meanings of the Animal Totems used by different tribes

What are Totems

Definition of Animal Totems: What are Animal Totems and what are the meanings of Animal Totems? Native American Animal Totems are emblems of tribes or groups of people such as a family or clan. Animal totems or emblems, also reflect the lineage of a tribe, reminding them of their ancestry or their mythical past and creation myths. The word totem is derived from the Ojibwe (Chippewa) word 'odoodem' meaning "his kinship group". Many tribes also hold the belief that each of their people have animal totems that are spirit guides who sometimes appear in dreams or Vision Quests in the form of Power Animals and their dream meanings. These animal totems, or spirit guides walk through life with them, teaching and guiding them and in some instances, protecting them.


Animal Totems that also included supernatural creatures of mythology and legend all had a special meaning, characteristic and significance. Animal Totems are Animal Spirits that can be called upon, by an individual or a tribe, for its special powers to serve as a guardian or protector when facing adversity. Animal Totems and their meanings are detailed on our Animal Totems chart.

North west totems

Animal Totems are particularly associated with the Totem Poles that are created by six tribes of Northwest Indians, the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast. The names of the Northwest Tribes who carved Animal Totems on Totem Poles were the Tlingit, Haida, Bella Coola, Kwakiutl, Tsimshian and the West Coast tribes. Animal Totems and symbols are carved and painted on to long wooden poles that represented the emblems of clans or families and relate to their belief in Totemism. Animal totems were believed to have spiritual significance and watched over the family, clan, or tribe symbolizing their guardian spirit or helper. Animal Totems were not worshipped but they inspired immense respect. Refer to Totem Pole Art and Design for additional facts and information about the design of Totem Poles and their symbolism.

Animism totems

The idea and concept behind Totemism is that people have a spiritual connection or kinship with creatures or objects in nature, making the practice very similar to Animism. Animism is a belief based on the spiritual idea that the universe, and all natural objects within the universe, have souls or spirits. It is believed that souls or spirits exist not only in humans but also in animals, plants, trees, rocks and all natural forces. The concepts of Totemism, Animism, Ritualism and Shamanism should all be considered to gain a full understanding of the religious beliefs of the Native American tribes that included Animal totems.


Each one of the animal totems had a special meaning, characteristics and significance. The following chart details the common Animal totems used by Native Indian Tribes across North America. The meanings of each of the Animal Totems are also detailed although there might be some regional and tribal variations to their symbolism and meaning.

Animal Totems & Meanings

Alligator - Emotional understanding, cleansing &
Spiritual Healing
Animal Totems & MeaningsBadger
Badger - Bold, out-going, good communicator
Animal Totems & MeaningsBat
Bat - Death and Rebirth and Guardian of the Night
Animal Totems & MeaningsBeaver
Beaver - Creative and Artistic ability, builder, resourcefulness and determination
Animals Totem & MeaningBear
Bear - Strength, Solitude, Motherhood, Teaching and to learn Humility Meaning of Bear
Animal Totems & MeaningsBobcat
Bobcat - Independence, Clear Vision and self reliance
Animal Totems & MeaningsBumblebee
Bumblebee - Honesty, Pure Thinking, Willingness and Drive
Animal Totems & MeaningsBuffalo
Buffalo - A manifestation of the Great Spirit, Knowledge, Generosity and abundance
Animal Totems & MeaningsButterfly
Butterfly - Represents transformation and the ability to accept change
Animal Totems & MeaningsCougar
Cougar - Power, leadership, humility and encourages responsibility for life
Animals Totem & MeaningCow
Cow - Represents Motherhood, contentment, fertility and nourishment
Animal Totems & MeaningsCrocodile
Crocodile - Strong will, Emotional understanding, cleansing and healing 
Animal Totems & MeaningsCoyote
Coyote - Helps you recognize your own mistakes, Stealth, Clowning and Humor
Animal Totems & MeaningsCrow
Crow - Find balance living in present, release past beliefs, Skill and Cunning
Animal Totems & MeaningsDeer
Deer - Healing, Gentleness, kindness & compassion
Animal Totems & MeaningsDolphin
Dolphin - Interpreting dreams, Change, Wisdom, Communication, 
Animals Totem & MeaningDog
Dog - Guidance, Loyalty and trust
Animal Totems & MeaningsDogfish
Dogfish - Persistence and Strength A Born Leader
Animal Totems & MeaningsDove
Dove - Love, Gentleness and Kindness
Animal Totems & MeaningsDragonfly
Dragonfly - Dreams, Illusions, Ever-changing Life
Animal Totems & MeaningsEagle
Eagle - Great Strength, courage Leadership and Prestige
Animals Totem & MeaningElk
Elk - Bravery, agility and independence
Animal Totems & MeaningsFalcon
The Falcon - Soul Healing, Speed and Movement
Animal Totems & MeaningsFox
The Fox - Cunning, Stealth and Feminine Courage 
Animal Totems & MeaningsFrog
Frog - Spring & New Life, Sensitivity, Communicator, Stability
Animal Totems & MeaningsGrizzly Bear
The Grizzly Bear - Strength and Ferocity
Animal Totems & MeaningsHalibut
The Halibut - Life protector, Strength and Stability
Animal Totems & MeaningsHawk
The Hawk - Guardianship, Strength, Far Sighted
Animals Totem & MeaningHeron
The Heron - Patience, Graceful and Easy Going
Animal Totems & MeaningsHorse
Horse - Energy, Power, Message carrier, communicates with other realms
Animal Totems & MeaningsHummingbird
Hummingbird - Love, Beauty, Intelligence, Spirit Messenger and Stopper of Time
Animal Totems & MeaningsKiller Whale
The Killer Whale - Seas and the Underworld, Traveler & Guardian and Symbol of Good
Animals Totem & MeaningKingfisher
The Kingfisher - Luck, Patience, Speed and Agility
Animal Totems & MeaningsLizard
The Lizard - Awareness, Conservation, subconscious hopes and fears
Animal Totems & MeaningsMoose
The Moose - Headstrong, Balance and Longevity
Animal Totems & MeaningsMouse
Mouse - Observant qualities and diligence
Animal Totems & MeaningsOtter
The Otter - Feminine Power, Playful, Trusting, Inquisitive, Bright, Loyal and speedy
Animals Totem & MeaningOwl
The Owl - Wisdom, silent and swift, ability to see things normally, a creature of the night
Animal Totems & MeaningsRaccoon
Raccoon - Curiosity, Creativity, Dexterity, Disguise
Animal Totems & MeaningsRaven
Raven - Creation & Knowledge - Bringer of the Light
Animal Totems & MeaningsPorcupine
Porcupine - Safety and Protection
Animal Totems & MeaningsSalmon
Salmon - Persistence, Dependability and Renewal - A Provider
Animal Totems & MeaningsSeal
The Seal - Bright, Inquisitive, Organized
Animal Totems & MeaningsShark
The Shark - Remorselessness, Survival, Adaptability
Animals Totem & MeaningSnake
The Snake - Rebirth, Resurrection, Initiation and Transformation
Animal Totems & MeaningsSpider
The Spider - Creativity, weaving the web of fate
Animal Totems & MeaningsSquirrel
Squirrel - Planning and Preparation
Animals Totem & MeaningTurtle
The Turtle - Self-Reliance, Tenacity, Slow Progress
Animal Totems & MeaningsWeasel
The Weasel - Encourages you to develop your sense of inner hearing and to pay attention to your inner voice
Animal Totems & MeaningsWhale
The Whale - Ancient Knowledge, Awareness 
Animals Totem & MeaningWolf
The Wolf - Intelligence & Leadership - Strong Sense of Family


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