Animal Medicine is a balm of the soul. Animals bring us wisdom from not only the shamanic otherworlds, but from the natural, instinctive world surrounding us. The medicine is their message, the answer to our problems. Actual physical illnesses may manifest from harmful thoughts and actions, but more often than not, their medicine power cures the conditions before they manifest as illness, by attacking the root of the issue. Whatever they tell us, through their character and actions, usually grants meaningful insight on the way we live our lives. Sometimes we need a gentle nudge from our animal friends, both in the spirit and physical worlds, to remind us of the living truths.
Some of us have found our totem animals, our animal spirit guides in the other realms. More appropriately, they have found us. Sometimes an animal adopts a whole tribe or family. These power animals may be the archetypal representatives of their race, existing on the astral worlds, or they are simply a guiding spirit taking the form we need most. The concept is found most strongly in Native American mysticism, but power animals can be found around the world. Each one is unique, as individual as people walking the Earth and snowflakes falling from the sky. But common threads run between them. Each animal works with different themes to bring their messages across. If you do not know all of your totems, because you can have many as the need arises, the spirit animal may send a physical representative to remind you. Some stay for great lengths of time, while others do their work and leave, not building a long relationship with you.
Recently I had an opossum climb into my chimney and fireplace while writing at my desk. The noise freaked me out, and I went to investigate. My initial panic was followed by a series of phone calls trying to find humane animal control people who would be able to safely release the opossum. It left before anyone got here.
Later I found out about Opossum spirit medicine from a good friend. The opossum teaches us to play dead. We accept the power of our enemies and cease to struggle. By not providing a chase, they will leave us for dead and we will be free. Those words fit so perfectly for a tense confrontation I was having in my life. By heeding the advice, the struggle was resolved perfectly. This is a quick dose of animal medicine brought to the physical world so I couldn’t miss it. By understanding their nature, we divine our message. I thanked the opossum and since then, have not seen it, either here or in the otherworlds.
In anticipation of finding your totem, there is a desire to control. You may find a certain animal “cool” and want it to be your totem. And since you have an affinity for it, it may be a totem of yours, but the power animal you need most steps in when the time is right, regardless of your expectations or desires. Let them come. Trying to control the situation may block the animal needed to contact you. Each has a lesson. I’ve found some people start disappointed in their animal, because it is not strong or fast enough to match their self-perceived personality. But the animal may be bringing traits you lack. Go with it. Do not fight it. Accept and work with your totem animal.
My first totem is the spider. I hated spiders. I’m still not too crazy about them, but I’m learning from them in both worlds. But I would not have chosen it. Spiders would come to me and just drop down. Wherever I went, there were spiders. I had them following me. My first initiation into the spider clan was a bite from my eight-legged friend as a child. I had an allergic reaction to it and was taken to the hospital. Twenty years later it culminated in a vision where a giant spirit spider helped me process some of my irrational fear and release it. Now they come to me frequently, but mostly during meditations. They have been a great help. Since then I’ve also worked greatly with the crow, for I follow the crow goddess Macha. There are others, but they occur less frequently.
Your first meeting may be in a dream or meditation. It may come as a reoccurring physical encounter with an animal. You’re animal may contact you first as needed, or you can initiate it. Get into a quiet meditative state, and ask to meet the power animal most correct for you at this time. You may be spontaneously led on a shamanic journey. Or a vision may come to you. Perhaps you’ll get no response for now, and you animal will talk to your through the physical world. Be open and aware. No one wants the squirrel, when they think there is a tiger out there. The ladybug is equally unpopular if you are the wild type, drawing more to the scorpion. But expect the unexpected. Your totem may come to you in the form of a cartoon critter, teaching you to lighten up. It’s happened. Be prepared. And never choose a totem animal. Let one choose you.