Native American Totems

Native American Totems were a significant part of their culture and treated with great respect. Native peoples often carved them into totem poles, weapons, art and used in crest. For Native Americans a totem was a representation or symbol of their family, clan or individual. Their religious beliefs centered on a strong connection to Mother Earth and a belief that animals possess spirits. Humans were not considered superior to animals and all life deserved respect.

In Native Americans culture, the individual could not choose totems. Instead, the animal would begin to make an appearance in their life. Often in reoccurring dreams, random coincidences where the same animal would continue to appear, interpretations and omens. The animal might also appear to an individual in a vision quest.

Popular animal totems included the bear, which represented strength and courage and the dog, which represented intelligence, loyalty and protection. Individuals are believed to have nine animal totems, one for each direction, one above and below and walk to walk at each side. Typically, the totem animals revealed provided individuals with qualities or characteristics that they needed or lacked.

In Native American totems the animal was essentially a spirit guide, and provided both physical and spiritual guidance. The animal would often appear in dreams to help the individual learn. Historically, totems often depended on a tribe's geographic location and traditions since this would affect what animals they had knowledge of. The thunderbird, is a totem animal often depicted at the top of a totem pole.

Native Americans differentiate between totem animals, and divide into several categories. Some animals are life-long companions but others may come and go as needed. Messenger guides and shadow guides are temporary. Both coming around to impart a message and then leave your life, the difference being shadow guides use fear to help individuals see a message they may have been blinded to before. Though not life-long companions journey animals usually stick around for years helping an individual to make major life decisions.

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