Every creature has something to teach us, if we are open and willing to learn these lessons.
This guide is meant to help you understand the symbology behind my glyph images. Please keep in mind that these meanings can vary widely from culture to culture, and this list is far from all-inclusive.
There are many ways to choose the glyph image and spirit animal that is right for you. It is sometimes best to go with what first catches your eye, as those intuitions are often correct. You can choose something that represents you, something with traits that you would like to learn or work on, or just something that appeals to you. You can choose something that represents a personal animal totem. There is no wrong choice! The meanings I listed are very simplistic, please don't be disheartened if they don't fit with your own personal view of what a specific creature stands for. Every animal is complex, and some lessons are harder to uncover than others, and no sterotype is correct all the time.
What is a totem?
The English word totem was taken from the original Ojibwe/Anishinaabe word doodem, a complex term referencing kinship clans. The modern, common-use word 'totem' can mean many different things to many different cultures, and most cultures have the concept of a symbolic, spiritual animal going by different names, of which 'totem' has become a commonly understood cultural umbrella. At its core, a totem is a guide; an animal spirit that helps to teach us the many lessons of life. One of the most common misconceptions is that you 'choose' a totem. You do not pick your totem, it is not necessarily going to be a creature that resembles you (i.e. "I am curious and independent, so my totem must be cat!"), or that you have an affinity for. It is, instead, a spirit that offers you guidance and aid along the path of life. A totem chooses you, not the other way around. There are also different types of totems, and sometimes totems come and go. Many people have more than one totem creature in their lives.
How do I know what my totem creature is?
A totem can be something you are born with, a family or community symbol, or something that you find later on. It is not something that you chose, but something that chooses you. Discovering your totem is much more than just deciding you like one type of animal or another. Finding your totem requires thought, time, and introspection. A good place to start is by asking yourself a few questions. Is there a specific type of animal that you have always been drawn to? Were there any coincidences or occurrances that happened in your life regarding that animal? If nothing comes to mind, try thinking about times in your life when you felt a certain, unexplainable guidance. What lessons did you learn, or what sort of push did you have? Most often, totems have strong lessons to teach and they do so in one way or another. These lessons can range from simple, practical bits of wisdom to major, life-changing epiphanies. If you have asked these questions and feel there is an animal (or a few) that you strongly connect to, research research research!
There are plenty of modern associations with animals (foxes being sly, owls being wise, etc.), but you may be surprised the more you research certain creatures. For example, the 'lone wolf' stereotype. Some people may be surprised to know that wolves rarely live alone, and have a hard time hunting and living by themselves. They are extremely social animals, with a strong pack structure and complex, interactive behaviors. Or the raven, who is known as a wise trickster - but the coyote could fit this role as well. Don't be afraid to explore, and don't get yourself set on one thing without being open to others. For some people, the realization of their totem happens quickly, for other people it is something that becomes apparent over the course of many years.