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Totems

 in shamanic practice

Totems and the revelation of a person's totem is one of the more pleasurable roles for a shaman.  A shaman meditates and journeys for the client, seeking the animal with whom the client (often a baby) has a strong simpatico.

Once revealed, it is almost never changed unless the person is materially altered (i.e. struck by lightening, becomes a shaman themself etc.).

Totems are critical as they describe compatibilities and conflicts in relationships.  A male whose totem is a tiger is unlikely to form any lasting bond with a single female and play happy-families, they are solitary and polygamous creatures.  A female whose totem is a cuckoo bird is likely to be flighty and less inclined towards actively raising her own children.

Naturally the human side of this is without excuse.  A man whose totem is a tiger will be challenged to find peace and stability in a relationship,.. that is their life's lesson.  The totem identifies lessons to be learnt BUT DOES NOT offer excuses for behaviours.

A very strong a vibrant couple known to me had a mix of puma (him) and deer (her). Outwardly, this may seem like a incompatible mix as one is the natural predator of the other, but think a bit more deeply,.. the puma is nourished by the deer, who in turn is made stronger by the pumas presence.  Natural parts of a cycle.  Each surviving, but more poorly without the other.  One of their kids has a black rhino as their totem, and doesn't that keep life interesting 'at the water hole'!  She teaches the child acceptance and courage, and he teaches it thought, consideration and action.

Distinct from animal guides, totems are not necessarily available for help, but are rather an identification of traits and potentials.  Shaman encourage the finding of an animal guide who is also a totem, for this allows clear and strong interaction when the relationship is established, making both much stronger in the process.

Totems are rarely invertebrates (I've never heard of one) but may cross terrains.  For example )(via hearsay), a woman in central Australia has a sailfish as a totem, and is one of the mob's best spear hunters, even though most women of her mob do not actively hunt. Her natural predisposition is towards fishing and the sea, but the spear is her choice.  This ended up working out as she joined with a fellow from the coast and last I heard, things were 'swimming' along nicely.

Finding one's totem can be a powerful and revealing look into one's self.  Revealing lessons to be learnt and absorbed, strengths for finding and weaknesses for overcoming.  Totems are also a powerful tool in helping to decide a future occupation for a person.  A day loving crow will never be happy working the nightshift indoors.  A far ranging stork will not be happy stuck in one place.  A territorial bear will love a position of static achievement and little change beyond comfort levels and power.  I am sure you get the idea form here

Next, onto the more advanced concepts which are the final in this site's foundational concepts series.

 

 

 

Craig Berry - 1996 - 2010, All rights reserved - reproduction without written permission prohibited.