Deer carries the insight of grace, quiet, insight and balance. He understands the basic functioning of the world—what is necessary for his survival—but finds no fear in this, only understanding and calm. Deer reminds us to engage in gratitude, and is elementally connected to the wood/liver/forest quality of human existence. Because of their sense of connection to everything, Deer teaches us the meaning of sacrifice for the whole, and of the gentleness that can come of thinking ourselves as part of a system.
In their own curmudgeon-y way, Badger teaches us the possibility of standing up for ourselves, being appropriately aggressive and affirmative when it is necessary. He has a connection to the underworld and to the darker qualities of life, but at the same time is innately connected to the plant world and the healing possibilities to be found there. He is obstinate, stubborn, and yet operates this way not because he wants to accomplish a ‘power over’ situation with others, but because he knows what he wants to accomplish and isn’t afraid to stand up for himself. For those of us who have a hard time not being a pushover or losing our footing when challenged, Badger can offer some solid and unwavering energy that will assist us in holding steady. He teaches us how to be entirely self reliant when we are too often looking for the approval or permission of others, and to find pleasure in the simplicity and comfort of our own company.
Bat will often appeal or appear to those who have a strong connection to resonant/sound healing,and who are in need of these therapies in order to experience a rebirth in life. He is master of remaining unseen, but at the same time possesses incredible skills at navigating life with quick and easy movements. Like all other creatures of the night, Bat brings us into connection with our dark sides, and may usher in a transition from spiritual emptiness to elation through empowering our senses.
Some cultures believe that Bear taught Shamanic practice to human beings, and that as a leader amongst animals was capable of sharing this wisdom even when we were disconnected from our surroundings. He is a totem of strength and invincibility, but simultaneously reminds us of the necessity of connecting to our own intuitive knowing and courage.
Being such an independent creature, Bear can be a perfect guide for people who tend to surround themselves with others just so that they may avoid introspection and self awareness, often occurring when we are doing something or living a particular way that is not making us happy but we just don’t know what to do about it. Bear is a plant healer and connected to the cyclic and female energies of our experience, and teaches us the necessity of hibernation and slowing down in the creative and healing processes.
Beaver has the same industrious and persistent nature as Squirrel, though goes about it in a far more deliberate and plodding manner. Not to suggest that he’s slow or lazy in his actions, but that he knows that all good things come with time and dedication, and frenetic energy is not so beneficial when you’re making big, long term goals happen. He is a master builder, accomplished not only in a single mode of action or construction, but entirely malleable in his abilities and insights. Highly clever (also in a deliberate and thoughtful manner, no quick ridiculous humor here but rather the dry, sarcastic wit of an older British man, maybe? I imagine all beavers have British accents), but is also very aware of the necessity of working in groups to get tasks completed. Beaver reminds us to use whatever resources are available, and that incredible things may be created when we do not limit ourselves to a particular form of development or progress.
Bee is connected to the sun, to sexuality and fertility, and to the sweetness that may be found within our own hearts. He is a dutiful and dedicated worker, and reminds us of the necessity of working to extract the honey of life, and that no matter how big the dream is, we have the capacity to fulfill it should we just dedicate ourselves.
For those individuals who find themselves a bit, um, lazy, Bee can be a powerful healer. He operates within a collective at all times, but takes complete personal responsibility for his daily work, tirelessly devoting himself to the bigger picture. But at the same time, the work accomplished by Bee is that of moving from beauty to beauty, and if we are working hard but not finding pleasure in everyday life, Bee can remind us of the abundance of it that is available always. We are able to accomplish the impossible, and Bee affirms this.
Though they appear nervous and jumpy, Rabbit carries the wisdom of moving past fear. As prey, they need quick thinking and intuitive guidance in order to survive in the wild, and as a guide they offer us the same: wittiness, guile, personal insight. And fearlessness, for even as they recognize the dangers they still move outwards into the world. Rabbit is humble and gentle as well, and can be useful for those who are far too used to playing the role of predator in life.
She is the bird of cycles and truth, connected intensely to the cycles of the year and the wisdom of the earth. Being so tiny she carries a powerful and authoritative voice, and can inspire the same in us. Chickadee teaches us the necessity of speaking the truth at all times, and that this truth comes from our connection to everything, not from our own egotistical constructs.
Chickadee loves to be with others, being always cheerful and gregarious, and can be beneficial for those who have been rather reclusive or antisocial for some time.
The wise, powerful leader, Cougar is able to guide and organize others without involvement of ego. Cougar has long been thought to carry messages between human beings and the higher spirits, because his strength and power come not from fear, but from steadfastness, developed will, and intention. He can be depended on to deliver communication without personal involvement, therefore. Cougar brings us freedom from guilt, confidence, and presence.
n Chinese symbolism, the Crab represents prosperity, success and high achievement. With its association with the Cancer sign of Western Astrology, Crabs have long been present in our cultural symbolism, and in the Tarot the crab is often connected with the moon and the feminine, intuitive wisdom she carries.
Crab, having a hard exoskeleton and the ability to cast this shell off when necessary, teaches us of the necessity of transformation, and of leaving what is no longer serving us behind. She lives in trust of the cycles and movement of life, knowing that holding onto something we no longer need out of fear for what might come never serves us. She affirms that we always, no matter what, have the ability to determine our life experience and create anew.
In the circumnavigational dance that Crab moves by, she also reminds us that often our paths are not going to be a straight line (often? How about probably never), and that expecting expedient and simple results from our challenges will only set us up for disappointment. And…will often not allow us to fully integrate the lessons we are set to learn. She is strong and well armoured, and yet, like Turtle, also reminds us that the strength and power we are looking for exists not in our ability to defend ourselves or attack others, but is implicit in our being should we just be able to fully relax and trust our life processes.
As the peaceful guardian of the sea, Dolphin understands the power of water, communication, trust and balance in the healing process. She is the carrier of water magic, that ability to change our circumstances or lives through flow and ease instead of our usual resistance, and encourages us to find the pleasure in change.
Eagle carries the gift of courage, swiftness, clarity of sight, and long-view perspective. Akin to all the predators of the sky, he allows us to see our current situation from above, anticipating the connections and outcomes without getting caught up in fear or regret. The power of eagle comes from grace, alertness and a kind of isolated (but connected) life perspective. An excellent guide for those who tend to get caught up in the details and find it hard to execute the completion of projects.
She is royalty on earth, a species (even as a vegetarian) with incomparable strength and presence. The ability to stand in our shoes is embodied by Elephant, confidence and patience in our life process. Her strength comes from not just her colossal size, but by her deep connection to the ancestral wisdom of the planet, and she offers us the same. People attracted to elephant will often have a deep love of learning, with excellent memories that should be exercised and utilized throughout life.
Gentle yet swift, cunning and courageous, fox embodies the female energies brought to full expression. She is welcoming while at the same time constantly observant, camouflaged yet persistently present. Like her cousin Coyote, she is a bit of a trickster, but with a more gentle manner. When we have become convinced that strength is expressed through power-over tactics and aggression, fox reminds us that true power comes within flexibility, emotional agility, and acceptance.
Akin to our hindbrain function, Lizard embodies the energy of fearlessness, action, and detachment from ego. There is no planning or conscious thought involved in the choices and movements made, but a pure, clear sensory reaction. While this isn’t ideal for humans all of the time, for those who get too caught up in emotional experiences can benefit from connecting with this conciseness. With chameleons, the ability to blend into the surroundings is another insight, as well as being able to regenerate ‘lost’ parts of ourselves when trauma has occurred.
Like Squirrel, Gopher teaches us the necessity of being prepared, and of diligent work on a daily basis in order to make sure that we are always resource rich. Instead of being associated with the heights of trees and the ability to see from above, Gopher takes us into the underworld, showing us the unseen qualities of our situations or experiences, and reminds us how to uncover hidden truths.
Gopher feels his way through the world by using his tail as an antenna, sensing the vibrations in his underground tunnels to tell when predators are above. As such, he can teach people who have often relinquished their finer senses and intuitions for purely ‘logical’ or physical practices, reconnecting them with their ability to feel energy and sense vibrational changes.
Gopher also reminds us that we must take responsibility for our growth processes, and that assuming the role of victim in any situation will never serve us.
Hawk brings us awareness and insight that is developed through taking a step back (or, rather, above) from our current situation, extremely useful for modern people often caught in a daily grind from which there seems to be no escape. She is clear-seeing and offers a perspective from the long view, allowing us to find peace in the current moment while also supporting future goals and big life changes. While she is a patient predator, waiting for the right moment, Hawk carries the ability to strike quickly and efficiently when action is needed, and can therefore assist us in doing the same (not necessary when we’re out to eat something, but in overall personal/career/health movements). She is wise and courageous, dutiful and dedicated, and being connected to the goddess Isis in Greek tradition, has long been considered to be the messenger of the soul and higher self.
Horse is the guardian of the traveller, embodying power, strength, personal will and physical vitality. He is faithful and dedicated, and appreciates the collaborative strength to be found in community moreso than depending entirely upon his own reserves. As a healer, Horse can teach us the necessity of giving care and attention to others, reminding us how important it is to be a good friend to others even as we develop our own capacities.
Horse is connected to our ability to move consciousness out of our body in astral travel, being a companion for us there just as they are on earth. He teaches us that we are able to move and run free in ways that might not have occurred before; that we are unlimited in our experience and scope.
Hummingbird reminds us that we are, always, the source of our own joy. While we may look for it in the world around us (or may also look for healing and insight, which are also not to be found out there…), his wisdom is that true joy only comes from within. While small and delicate, hummingbird is incredibly strong, bringing strength to those who are going through long journeys, whether spiritual or physical. He is connected to the heart, to love, and to life pleasure. Of sipping the nectar of it all, you know?
Jaguar is connected to the Shaman, and to all those who bridge the gap between the spiritual and the physical worlds. Because of this, they are the perfect guide for those going through periods of soul disconnect, or in traversing the darkness that often precedes spiritual awareness. Jaguar has the clarity and cunning to see through chaos, awakening insight in those going through rough times.
She is the northern psychic, akin to the Jaguar in her ability to divine the greater meaning and spiritual balance in all things. Lynx is the guide of mystery as well, and can encourage pleasure in the unknowns and a greater connection to internal seeing when one is too far caught up in scientific reasoning and external influences. All imbalances related to seeing are assisted by connecting to Lynx.
Monkey has long been believed to possess special clarity and insight by multiple cultures around the world. He sees the positive and negative/light and dark in all situations, and is able to make deliberate choices and actions to reflect this awareness. Monkey is agile, clever, and curious.
As a healer, Monkey inspires this awareness and insight, and can bring us closer to having a direct (non-dual) experience of life, moving away from getting caught up in the rights and wrongs of each situation. He shows us compassion and the necessity of living and functioning well in community, and that we are able to maintain a sense of personal existence and creativity even while giving ourselves fully to our tribe. Given their connection to our ancient pasts, Monkey can stimulate a desire in us to better understand and appreciate our history, reconnecting with ancestral wisdom in both our direct family lineage and in the ‘big’ history of life on earth. As such, we learn to assume a role of connection with other species rather than placing ourselves on the top of some arbitrary evolutionary totem pole.
A master of disguise and hiding, Mouse is a useful guide and healer for those who don’t often take time alone, and who tend to occupy themselves too much to allow for self reflection. He is shy and cautious, though industrious and detail oriented when necessary, and can be helpful when we neglect to pay attention to the small stuff in business and life: contracts, negotiations, minute details that may slip through the cracks. For overly boisterous or, one could say ‘obnoxious’ people, the energy of mouse can remind us to be humble and observant.
Like many small spirits Mouse can often be looked upon as a ‘weak’ or lesser animal, and yet—akin to Rabbit and Chickadee—he carries the kind of strength that is so often needed in our contemporary world: that of softness, observation rather than aggression, dedicated attention.
Otter plays, always, throughout their lives. They understand that pleasure and joy must be actively maintained as we age, but also see that work (finding food) need not be totally separate from play. They are gentle, feminine creatures that utilize their intuition to find pragmatism and insight without fear. For those who have lost pleasure in life, or who are recovering from addiction issues or newly resolved pains, otter can be the perfect healer.
The wisdom of the night and of stealthness and all-seeing is in Owl. Long considered to be associated with everything occult and unknown, Owl brings insight and a mask-less awareness to our experience. A 360 degree view of what we are experiencing, allowing us to make excellent decisions even in the ‘dark night of our souls’. He is a balance of yang, powerful energy, and association with the moon and feminine energy, bringing insight that is balanced and freeing.
This magnificent bird carries the healing qualities of color, sunshine, beauty and communication. She is playful and yet insightful, intelligently observing the goings on of the world around her at all times. Parrot reminds us of the necessity of eloquent and thoughtful speech, and can be a great healer for people who find it hard to develop fluid sentence structure or who rely on ‘filler’ words (like, you know, um, ah…) or profanity to get their point across. If you feel that there are words and insight stuck within you and you’re not quite sure how to get them out, calling on Parrot to assist in this can be incredibly moving. She recognizes that beauty exists not just for a sensory experience; not just to stimulate the eyes and ears, but to facilitate great changes in personal perspective and evolution, and reminds us of this.
Innocent looking, isn’t he? A paradoxical combination of childlike naivete with firmly held boundaries, Porcupine is an essential guide for those individuals who embody the same. If you feel that you have not been able to consciously determine your path throughout life, or that others are constantly running all over you, Porcupine can show you the way to enforce your existence without relinquishing that childlike openness and sensitivity. In the same breath, he shows us that only by allowing others their path will we be able to maintain the same for ourselves.
While in the material world their curiosity often gets them into trouble, as a spirit guide and energetic healer Raccoon reminds us to engage with and find pleasure in the childlike qualities of ourselves. To ask questions without fear, and to explore where we normally would restrict ourselves. Not that he stimulates us to lose all sense of boundaries or right/wrong behavior, but serves as a gentle reminder that life is far too ridiculous and bizarre to be taken seriously. They are dexterous and clever, and know the power of using masks or disguises while exploring the world. When we have lost touch with our childlike interest in the world, or for those people who feel very heavy and too visible to the outside world, Raccoon can reconnect us with the pleasure of intrigue, and of potentially releasing the burdens that we have been carrying.
Crows and Ravens are our guides in the dark; the shapeshifters who are able to transmute the negative parts of life into insight and pleasure. They hold a deep connection to ancestral wisdom, though their intelligence operates outside of the boundaries of space and time. If there are parts of your personality that you have been avoiding but are now creating considerable pain or discomfort, call on Raven.
The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that Seahorse was connected to Neptune, the God of the Sea, and was therefore thought to carry a powerful and strong energy. Chinese culture and old mariners believed that he was a sign of good luck and prosperity, while ancient Europeans thought that he was responsible for carrying the souls of dead sailors to the next world.
Being the calm and somewhat reserved-seeming creatures they are, the power that Seahorse carries is one of confidence and knowing, not of brute strength. His power comes from patience and contentment with who he is, never from trying to impress or rush. This implies a certain amount of inflexibility to his interactions with others, but it is the kind of self-affirming belief that allows for honest and direct relationships to always form. Seahorse can be very healing for people who spend too much time trying to convince others of the rightness of their way of being, or who think that forcing ideas or actions on others is the way to get things done.
Celtic cultures believed that animals possessed the ability to transform themselves into human form when desired or necessary, and animals of the sea carried a particular intrigue for them. Seal, in human form, was known as a Selkie, and was the subject of many tragic romantic tales in old European literature.
By just looking into his eyes, Seal seems to innately carry the quality of sadness and romantic despair. While He is effortlessly playful nearly all of the time, hunting or relaxing, there seems to be a melancholy to him, and as such he is highly connected to our feeling, sensual selves. Seal’s connection with water reminds us to allow flow and trust in our lives at all times, even (especially!) when we are dealing with experiences of emotional upheaval and pain. Seal also teaches us the necessity of utilizing emotion and creativity in everything we build; that without awareness of our personal experience of things we will not produce honest representations of our individual state in the world around us.
Tasting the world with her tongue, Snake can be useful for those people who possess eloquent powers of speech but yet have a hard time expressing themselves out of insecurity or lack of personal power. She is a shape-shifter, progressing from one stage of life to the next in a clean and concise way, shedding the old ‘skin’ of past experiences with no regret or fear. For those who cannot let go of old woundings or desires, snake can remind us of the necessity of allowing change. She is primordial and mystic, and connects us to the greater mysteries that may always go unsolved (and we like them that way!)
Squirrel carries the energy of action and perseverance, being an animal who will never give up on a task or challenge no matter how gargantuan it appears to be. If you’ve ever had a squirrel trying to live the roof of your house you’ll know what this looks like firsthand.
He is all about movement and the action of gathering, developing and assessing the resources available at all times, and ensuring that preparation is always happening. When we feel that we’re at a dead end in our lives, Squirrel can stimulate movement and wider awareness of possibility, effectively boosting us out of stagnation and deliberation. Being perpetually playful and curious even as they are working, Squirrel reminds us that there is the possibility of working hard and planning for the future while still enjoying every moment today.
Connected with the strength found in family and home, Swallow is a guide and healer for those who look too much for importance outside of that. She is a reminder of the necessity of community, and of creating beautiful and personally reflective living situations from which we may walk out into the world in a far more positive manner. She is agile and quick thinking, able to accomplish feats of flight while hunting in the air at the same time, and may stir a similar energy in us, potentially allowing us to get the laundry, dishes, career work, childcare and self maintenance done without distraction or resentment.
It’s not difficult to feel the lesson of tiger: Power. Strength. Knowing. Action. This fierce and beautiful hunter is the embodiment of many human qualities we aspire to, walking with a confidence that is not often expressed. The wisdom of tiger relates to how we represent ourselves in the outside world, and to our ability to carry this same presence even when faced with criticism and adversity. For those who remain stuck in analysis and internal debate and find it hard to move into action, Tiger may be the energetic boost necessary to change this pattern.
As you might imagine, Turtle and Tortoise are associated with the establishment and maintenance of personal boundaries, assisting us in the process of living as a separate entity without restricting our access to life pleasure and connection with rigidity. They are associated with all earthly things, being ancient and wise beings that have existed on the planet for millions of years, and connect us to the center of our life and the earth.
Turtle knows the power of resistance without violence, affirming that a well-made and stable personal boundary is often far more effective at deterring attackers than is retribution and retaliation. He is self reliant and contained, and is a good healer for people who need to turn inwards and spend some time creatively thinking about their life process, and then to turn that brainstorming into constructive action.
A balance of death and rebirth, instinct and intelligence, family and individuality, wolf carries the lessons of the teacher and leader by embracing all of these polarities.
For human beings (as opposed to animals which don’t live in a dual experience of the world), Wolf is a powerful teacher. Her spiritual insight allows us to see the perfection of our circumstances at all times, guiding us through change by empowering our higher mind.
Wolverine is a forceful, aggressive, and ferocious animal. He is unwielding in matters of territory and status, and holds his own even against animals much larger than him. He knows not of backing down or taking a passive stance, and as such can teach us the power of not surrendering, no matter what obstacle presents itself.
Now there is paradox in this, however, as his strength—no matter how brutish it may appear in animal form—is still grounded in nonduality and trust, and we (as dualistic humans) have to remind ourselves that forcing things to happen just doesn’t work. Not giving up is a different thing than not listening to the situational feedback we’re receiving. Wolverine is passionate, engaged and attentive, and his power and presence come from this complete awareness, not from ignorant egotism or selfish desire. His passion can be a challenge, and as a healer must be used consciously so that we do not become too aggressive or self-aggrandizing, but when used appropriately can stir somewhat overly gentle and passive people into action and confidence.
Coyote is the antihero. The situation, person or experience which may have caused us immense grief or embarrassment, but which ultimately turns out (somewhere down the road, usually) to be our greatest opportunity for growth and insight. The trickster who reminds us that life is about pleasure and laughter, coyote also teaches us that only when we have let go of all our concepts about ourselves will we be able to fully connect with life. Shape shifting and adjusting to all situations is available when you call upon Coyote.
As some of the most sensitive animals on earth, Frogs are connected to the water and the common bonds that are shared between all life. Their songs remind us of our watery beginnings, and even as their populations dwindle due to environmental pollution around the world, frogs still represent the possibility of change and cleansing, and of finding beauty in such sensitivity. To pay attention to our emotions is a key teaching of Frog.
It is in transformation and change that we find the strength of Butterfly. Even as delicate and seemingly fragile as she is, this animal goes through immense change throughout her life cycle, eventually embodying an existence that could never have been anticipated by her original state. And she provides this magic to us. But even as these changes are happening, she reminds us that being caught in the winds of change may be a source of pleasure and joy should we decide to view them as such.
A wise, strong and—one could say—obstinate animal, Salmon carries the healing of dedication, connection to home and cycles, and of moving through obstacles at all cost. Given the importance of their beginnings in returning to spawn, Salmon reminds us of the necessity and power of connecting to heritage, and that our life journeys cannot be complete without appreciation for our ancestry.
Salmon is a powerful healer for people who seem to have a rougher go in life than most others. People who tend to always be encountering challenges more often than those around them, as though they were asking for continual lessons to stimulate their personal and spiritual growth. Grounding our life experience in trust allows one to find more ease in situations like this, having faith that the level of challenge we’re encountering is only proportionate to the strength and possibility within us, and Salmon reminds us of this knowing.