If you’re confused about how to discover your animal totem or totems, don’t despair. The process can actually be a lot simpler than you think. The first and most important step to discovering your animal totem is to do some research. Animal totems act as guides and sources of inspiration in our lives, and they can also help us manifest certain qualities or characteristics in our lives (such as patience, love, joy, or persistence).

There are two basic aspects to researching your animal totem: book research and field research. Reading about animals and their characteristics gives you a good idea of what kinds of energies those animal totems might bring into your life. For instance, hummingbirds bring joy, enthusiasm, and lots of energies, while ravens bring mystery and a deep sense of humor. You can read general books or magazines on animals (National Geographic often has great information) or you can read books that specifically describe animal totems, such as “Medicine Cards” by Carson and Sams. Reading about animals also helps you find out more about animals that either don’t live in your local area or are extinct (just because an animal species is no longer in body doesn’t mean that its spirit isn’t still around to lend energies and help).

The other part of researching your animal totem is going out and observing animals in your local area. Choosing an animal native to your local area as a totem is useful in a lot of ways. First, they are already adapted to your local environment, and can teach you a lot about survival and enjoyment of your outdoor area. Second, you’ll be more likely to receive physical messages from these totems—in other words, you’ll be more likely to see and interact with them on a daily basis. Finally, you’ll be able to do more direct research through physical observation of local animals than with exotic ones from faraway places. To do this kind of field research, just walk through any park or wildlife area and observe the animals. See how they move, how they interact with you and each other, how they rest. Do they move fast? Do they react strongly to your presence or barely notice it at all? How do they express themselves? What qualities are most dominant in their behavior?

For instance, if you were to observe a colony of ants, you would notice that they persist in what they are doing, no matter how much interference they encounter. If you scoop up an ant on a piece of paper, carry it 10 feet away and set it back down again, it will continue in the same direction it was headed, as if it had never been scooped up. It will persist in completing its task regardless. If this dogged persistence is what you need in your life, then the ant might be an excellent totem for you. If you want to be more outgoing and gregarious, consider the raven or the magpie. Or what about the spider for sheer creativity and art?

Animals are all around us and we have so much to learn from them! Choosing a specific animal to be your totem personalizes your relationship with that animal species, and brings their particular personalities and energies into your life. Doing this kind of research is the first step to developing that kind of personal relationship. It’s fun, inspiring and educational. So start doing your research today…you’ve got nothing to lose and lots to gain!

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If you want to dive more deeply into the world of animals, you’ll want to read Animal Communication: A Primer Ebook written by Esoteric School Expert Leta Worthington, available in our store.