Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It I Could Talk To The Animals

If you talk to the animals
they will talk with you
and you will know each other
If you do not talk to them,
you will not know them,
And what you do not know
you will fear.
What one fears one destroys.
—Chief Dan George

For the Native American in America, animals possess spirits which lead the human soul on a path to greatness and well being. Animals have influenced every major religion in the world throughout history. According to Animal Speaks, The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small, written by Ted Andrews, Bushman in Africa mimicked animal motion and gestures just as Native Americans danced in rituals to channel the spirit realm. Egyptians worshiped the feline. The Chinese named their calendar year after animals, bringing good luck and prosperity. Can an animal totem benefit us in this day and age? Was this the message Cheryl received when her dog chanced upon a skunk the other night?

Society has deviated from the rural-minded. Generations have forgotten the ways of animals, the hardships early settlers endured. People used to depend upon animals, their habits and breeding patterns, to learn about the earth. Now society depends upon technology. What if something catastrophic occurred preventing us from accessing energy? Where would we be? What happens to a society that bases its survival upon modern marvels? Today, when companies are trying to go ‘green’, it makes perfect sense that people once again feel the urge to reconnect with the earth. After all, it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!

Once again mankind attempts to grow organic food, to reconnect with the earth, study animals, listen to them, and follow their movements/habits, in order to understand life. This philosophy is the basic foundation for the animal totem. A totem, according to Animal Speak, ‘is any natural object, animal, or being to whose phenomena and energy you feel closely associated with during your life.’ Further, Ted Andrews goes on to describe that, ‘we can use animal totems and their images to learn about ourselves and the invisible world.’ And, ‘as you begin to identify and recognize your animal totems, you will begin to understand your life more effectively.

Beliefs associated with animal totems:

*Animals have powerful spirits.*
*Your animal totem may be mastered by animal origin or spirit origin.*
*Each animal is gifted with its own talent.*
*Animals choose who they guide.*
*In order to develop a relationship with your totem, study your animal guide.*
*Honor your totem for its power.*
*You are not limited to one animal totem.*
*Animal totems can access a doorway to the spiritual world.*
*Pay close attention when you encounter an animal rarely seen.*

Animal totems and their meanings:

An armadillo— Offers personal protection, discrimination & Empathy (All year)
Badger— Bold Self-expression & reliance— Keeper of stories
Bat— Transition & Initiation (Nightime)
Bear— Awakening the power of the unconscious (Spring/Summer)
Beaver— The building of dreams (Dusk & night)
Blackbird— Understanding energies of Mother Nature (Summer)
Bluebird— Modesty, unassuming confidence & happiness (Winter/Summer)
Bluejay— Proper use of power (All year)
Buffalo— Manifesting Abundance through right action & prayer (All year)
Bobcat— Silence & secrets (Winter/Spring)
Cat— Mystery, Magic & Independence (Nighttime)
Cougar— Coming into your own power (All year)
Coyote— Wisdom & folly (All year)
Crow— Secret magic of creation is calling (All Day/Year)
Deer— Gentleness, innocence, Gentle luring to new adventure (Autumn/Spring)
Dog— Faithfulness & protection (All year)
Dolphin— Power of breath & sound (All year)
Duck— Emotional comfort & protection (Spring/Summer)
Eagle— Illumination of spirit, healing & creation (All seasons/daylight)
Elk— Strength & nobility (Autumn)
Fox— Feminine magic of camouflage, shapeshifting & invisibility (Dawn/Dusk)
Goat— Surefootedness & seeking new heights (Fall/winter)
Goldfinch— Awakening to nature spirits (Summer Solstice/Summer)
Groundhog— Mystery of death without dying, trance, dreams (Winter)
Gulls (Herring/Sea)— Responsible behavior & communication (All year)
Hawk—Visionary power & guardianship (Equinoxes/New moon)
Horse— Travel, power & freedom (All year)
Hummingbird— Tireless joy and nectar of life (Daytime)
Lion— Assertion of the feminine & the power of the female sun (All year)
Mockingbird— Finding sacred song & recognition of innate abilities (All year/Day/Night)
Moose— Primal feminine energies & Magic of life/death (Fall/Winter)
Mouse— Attention to detail (5 Six week cycles)
Opossum— The use of appearances (Spring)
Otter— Joy, playfulness & sharing (Spring/Summer)
Owl— Mysterious of magic, omens, silent wisdom & vision in night (Nocturnal)
Panther— Reclaiming one’s true power (Dark moon/New moon/Winter)
Porcupine— Renewed sense of wonder (Autumn)
Prairie Dog— Community (Spring/Summer)
Rabbit—Fertility & new life (All year)
Raccoon— Dexterity & disguise (Spring/Summer-Nocturnal)
Ram— Seeking new beginnings (Fall/Winter)
Rat— Success, restlessness & shrewdness (All year)
Sea Lions/Seals— Active imagination, creativity & lucid dreaming (All year)
Skunk— Sensuality, respect, & self-esteem (All year)
Sparrow— Awakening & triumph of common nobility (All year)
Squirrel— Activity & preparedness (All year)
Tiger— Passion, power, devotion & sensuality (Full moon/new moon)
Vulture— Purification, death, rebirth, new vision (All year/Summer/Winter)
Weasel— Sly & secret circumvention/pursuit (Nocturnal)
Whale— Creation, power of song, awakening inner depths (All year)
Woodpecker— Power of rhythm & discrimination (Summer)
Wolf— Guardianship, ritual, loyalty & spirit (All year/Full moon/twilight)

As a child growing up, I loved the movie Doctor Doolittle with Rex Harrison. Was the snail his totem? He lived and sailed in one, drawing the respect of the entire animal kingdom, while accepting their guidance.

If we could talk to the animals, just imagine it
Chatting to a chimp in chimpanzee
Imagine talking to a tiger, chatting to a cheetah
What a neat achievement that would be.

If we could talk to the animals, learn their languages Maybe take an animal degree.
We'd study elephant and eagle, buffalo and beagle,
Alligator, guinea pig, and flea.

We would converse in polar bear and python,
And we could curse in fluent kangaroo.
If people asked us, can you speak in rhinoceros,
We'd say, 'Of courserous, can't you?'

If we could talk to the animals, learn their languages
Think of all the things we could discuss
If we could walk with the animals, talk with the animals,
Grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals,
And they could squeak and squawk and speak and talk to us.

I’ve had many experiences with Hawks and believe I have a hawk totem. I see them everywhere I go, usually in passing as I’m driving down the road. (I’m sure that means something.) Years ago, we had an American Kestrel infant in our backyard. It could turn its head around like an owl as Bluejays darted over and around it trying to scare it off. I don’t think it could fly very well or it would have flown away from us as we neared it. We saw the mother’s shadow flying overhead and knew she was nearby.

Recently, a hawk flew out in front of my vehicle from a tall hedge on the side of the road, hovered slightly just in front of my car, and then flew off. Its wingspan was expansive. Time seemed to stand still as I watched it, feeling as though it had something to say. I count myself very lucky to have seen it. Of all the cars passing along the road, it had picked mine to dart across, talons bared, wings flapping to keep it in one place, head pointed in my direction. A hawk totem offers visionary power and guardianship. Hawks are messengers, protectors, and airborne visionaries. A hawk’s ability to soar high in the heavens heightens psychic development and teaches balance. According to Animal Speak, by meditating on the 14th Tarot card, the hawk will lead me to manifest my creative energy and discover my soul’s purpose.

Have you been visited by a strange animal lately, one you’re unlikely to meet on a normal day? If you could choose a totem, which animal would you choose? Has an animal spirit already stepped forward to be your guide?


  1. Have you noticed my blog "totem"? A horse. When I was searching around for some type of symbol for me, I consciously tried to avoid the horse. Not because I dislike them but because everyone, I am sure, rolls their eyes about my horses (they do consume me). I am not being unkind about it - it's just a fact - I can be annoying about my babies. I surfed through clip art and Photobucket trying to find something I connected with, that symbolized me. Immediately when I saw that caricature I said "It's me, whether I like it or not." Note the similarities in how it looks and how I look (white hair and a furrowed brow). My hubby agreed. So you are all stuck with it.

    Looking at Kathy's list, the horse symbolizes travel, power and freedom. I do travel (and I plan a lot more in the coming year) and I have an enormous amount of freedom (thanks to hubby). As for the power, I have come to a point in my life when I do as I please and I do not concern myself with little things - kind of an empowerment. I am free because of that power. Horses are beautiful creatures and I have loved them all my life. I feel such a kinship with them that I guess they are my totem.

    And as a side note, we have been having a cougar around the place. It entered the pasture and my horses made a circle facing outward. (I was panicked). The cougar, screaming, kept circling them but the horses remained steadfast, not breaking their circle. Eventually the cougar moved on. What struck me, not about seeing a cougar in Arab, but how the horses reacted. Banded together and facing an enemy, they stood strong and the danger passed. It made quite an impression on me. I connected with them, wanting that kind of strength in the face of adversity. So, I guess my totem is the horse.

  2. Wonderful post! I love goats and always felt a kinship with them. I incorporated them into my upcoming release, Beguiled. (Loose id) Animals are such huge parts of lives. I love including them in my stories.

  3. Cheryl: You've certainly picked a great totem for yourself in the horse. Something occured to me today about horses, something you said to me the other day. Though they are magnificently strong runners, their bodies are more fragile than the average person knows. Skunk is trying to balance your gifts of strength with self-esteem, respect and sensuality. With the horse and the skunk totems in your arsenal, you can't go wrong! :D

    Paisley: I'm so glad you stopped to sit under the Tulip Tree with us today! Goats are a great totem offering sure-footedness to you in your endeavors. And as you celebrate your book release, I wish you success and may your goat totem lead you to new heights. ;)

  4. Cheryl, I wish I had been there to see the horses ward off that cougar. What an amazing/scary sight that must have been! Truly if we take the time to really observe animals in their own settings, we will be gifted with the kinds of insight needed to get us through each day. Perhaps that's why shows on Animal Planet have gained popularity. ;)

  5. Cool post. I have nine animal totems, but I will mention one of them here. Our tabby cat, Salem, represents the mountain lion (leadership) totem occupying the western sector of my medicine wheel. From the west, he wandered onto our property, wounded and steadfast in his determination not to leave. He has been with us for about 9 years now. My current fantasy contains a shapeshifting tabby who is very much the leader when it comes to advising her mistress.

  6. So, are you guys saying I can have more than one? My sister says I have a panther totem (even before the cougar incident). I don't know about it, but I do also have an affinity for cats. As for the skunk, ok, I get it Kathy. I just feel such a connection to horses that I think it's my strongest and most prevalent one.

  7. Yes, Cheryl, you can have more than one. There are those who believe you are born with 7 and after some time, your male and female totems (snake and hawk, for me) reveal themselves to you. In addition, others may speak to you as you journey through life, depending on your needs at any given time. As I mentioned before, skunk is one of mine, and this totem is all about reputation, for we are known by our reputation.

  8. Where do you learn this? I am very interested!!!!!

  9. I used to participate in a "talking circle" centered on native ritual, spirituality, and philosophy. I also have books that I've acquired along the way. If you would like, I can see what I have on the subject and email the titles to you.

  10. Okay, this is not a good day for me to pick a totem. I didn't really understand much of this, possibly because, right now, I am mad at animals. That doesn't mean I don't like them. (Who has not be mad a loved one.)Last night my cat turned over my iced tea on two books, FRESH out of their Amazon boxes. And before you say, "What did you think was going to happen?" let me say that I had taken precautions. My tea was in one of those insulated adult sippy cups that are all the rage. (This particular one celebrates the 2009 BCS championship.) Still, he made a mess.

    So I want y'all to pick a totem for me. I have seen hummingbirds at random times. I see more squirrels than anything but I think that is more because of the pecan trees in my neighborhood, than because they want to have a personal relationship--spiritual or otherwise--with me.

    So help me out.

  11. And oh, yeah. I see armadillos. They are always dead on the road, though. I don't know if that counts. Never touch a dead armadillo. They carry leprosy.

    Hmm. Never touch a dead armadillo. That might be a good book title.

  12. Jean, hummingbirds are messengers from Spirit. As for the armadillo, he/she represents protection (not brilliance for staying clear of the road, mind you). Armadillo balances the magic of Raven in my particular animal totem pantheon. Sadly, no one can choose an animal totem for you. Sit back and see which ones manifest. Given that you have a cat beside you, that is a good place to start. Perhaps you were supposed to wait a bit before reading those books (I feel your pain here. My cat has certainly put my patience to the test over the years).

  13. Crystal, would you let me know some of those titles? I would love to learn this.

    Jean - The squirrel fits. It's active and prepared just like you. I don't know much about this so Crystal and Kathy have to teach us. As for dead armadillos, good book title (I like it!) I have seen more dead skunks this year than anything. Maybe Kathy is right about the skunk thing. Oh, and Mason is my book destroyer. He eats books but only certain ones - the disposable ones if you recall that statement.

  14. Cheryl, I'd be happy to.

    This has been loads of fun. You never know who might pay you a visit, so keep your eyes open. I've had a couple of snakes climb the brick to my windowsill over the years (not to mention the one who lived in my attic).

  15. Jean: Squirrels are great! Sounds like they are trying to talk to you (or get food to store up for the winter. ;) Squirrels teach balance within a gathering and giving out circle. Master preparers, they remind us to make time for socializing and playing when we're on a quest to attain a goal. All work, no play, makes Jean a dull girl. ;)

    Hummingbirds know the healing ways of flowers and want you to draw from their life essence. They are playful, fiercely independent hard workers and master architects. These tiny, beautiful birds, which are hard to see with the naked eye, at times, teach us we can accomplish the impossible.

    You can't go wrong with Hummingbirds and Squirrels for you totems! :D

  16. Armadillo moves fast when needed, is a good swimmer, and can teach you how to move from one dimension into another by their digging ability. They are a sign of new birth coming your way. (Perhaps a new book?) Those who have this totem are empathetic to others, but tend to hide the more sensitve aspects of themselves from view. Armadillo teaches us to open up, control ourselves and create a beneficial rhythm.

  17. I've got to say, I have never heard of such in my life. I am not scoffing at y'all but I just do not know about this.

    What about elephants? Can't Big AL be my totem?

    Do y'all actually have totem poles? Do your characters have totem animals?

  18. Cheryl, this all comes from Native American philosophy. Being centered is about communing with our core, which is just as sensitive as the earth's core affecting our everyday lives. I believe if more people tried to understand we all speak the same language, we'd all get along. Haven't you ever met someone you've known somewhere completely unexpected? I've met people I've known overseas at different stages of my life. The world is a very small place and animals are the same wherever you go. By listening to animals, allowing them to teach us, we will thrive spiritually, intellectually and physically.

  19. Jean, you will be happy to know that elephant is a symbol of ancient power, strength and royalty. Listeners to this totem should follow their sense of smell, which is closely connected to the sexual. Elephant is a seducer, a sexual symbol, showing affection and loyalty, and those endowed with its totem will find themselves reestablishing family ties and societal ideals as the elephant is a great protector of the herd.

    Tigers stir a feeling of awe when seen. Individuals with tiger totems accomplish more at night. Motherly devotion marks this totem as a territorial, solitary soul. Sleek muscles and agility mark tiger as a sensual creature. Tiger is an untiring traveler and brings new adventures filled with awakened passion and power.

    Iron Bowl is on!

  20. Add a tiger totem to an eagle and you've got an unyielding source! A territorial, resurrecting symbol of spirit and life. When eagles enter your life, opportunities abound for the untiring, awakened adventurer shouting "War Eagle."

  21. No, Jean, I don't actually have a totem pole, but several of my characters have shapeshifting companions that provide counsel when needed.

    The world is an awesome place, filled with a host of possibilities. It is exciting to open one's mind to those possibilities and observe what unfolds.

  22. The only place you will find Totem Poles is in the American northwest coast and Alaska. Most were hand carried inside buildings for ceremonies. They were almost always made of wood and date to before Europeans arrived, which means they deteriorated leaving nothing for anthropologists to view today.

    What we're describing today are spirits who communicate via animals in order to enrich your life and help you walk the path you have chosen to walk. :D

  23. Sioux Indians call this path, the Red Road. ;) (The color red is very sacred and symobolic to Native Americans.)

  24. Okay, y'all. I read this post first thing this morning and have pondered all day about what my totem animal or animals might be.

    The strange animals that I come into contact with most are kindergartners and I don't think this is what Kathy had in mind when she asked this question.

    I don't really like or feel an affinity with any animals. I think it is very cool that you are are so "tied in" with yours but I have to say that really the only animals I like or feel close to are those that are used to create my shoes.

    Does that count?

  25. No of course that doesn't count! How could you possibly think that that counts....

    Kelvin from
    Manifesting abundance