Animal Totems

Nearly every indigenous culture on the planet has connected with animal totems, helpers, or spirit guides. Generally, the belief is that we humans are the youngest of the animals, and we are here to learn from the species that have been here longer. They choose us, rather than us choosing them. For those who are open, they will reveal themselves.

Totems are also called 'medicines' in some indigenous American cultures, because they help us heal ourselves and the world. For this site, I will use the term "magic" instead. Totems teach us internal lessons that we can share externally with others. In some cultures, you only take on one or two totems. In others, you have up to 13.

For the past 20+ years, I've been a totem finder. I use a combination of intuition and cards to help others connect with their totems. While I have charged for this service in the past, I am more interested in doing an in-kind exchange. If you would like me to help you with yours, simply contact me.

Note: I am not Native American, nor do I, in any way, represent myself as such. As totems are also a part of my Irish heritage, I use my psychic gift of connecting with them, while working with the spirits of the land to which I was born and inhabit. In this way, I honor both my ancestry and the genius loci.

Here are some of the most common American totems and their meanings. The list is small for the sake of space. If you have a particular totem you'd like to know about, feel free to use the contact form on the side bar to reach out to me. I'm always happy to help you!


The badger is the giant of the weasel family. Their jaws are symbols of powerful expression, which makes those who carry this totem fantastic storytellers. Badgers are active both day and night. Badgers are not social animals. They like to keep to themselves. Badgers are also bold and ferocious and never surrender. This is also the trait of those with this magic. However, they can be amazing healers as well, since they will not give up where others may walk away.

Badger people are quick to express their opinions and feelings regardless of the consequences. When out of balance, badger people can be vicious gossips or have a chip on their shoulders. In business, those with Badger totem are the boss.. They will never give up and will keep the company afloat. In this position, Badger fiercely protects your warrior side. They are formidable opponents.
Advice to those with this totem: Be aggressive, but try to be careful not to cut others to ribbons along the way- sometimes, you don’t realize how powerful you are.


The bear is one of the most powerful totems to carry, and is a strong symbol in mythology and lore. It is tied to lunar symbolism and is associated with the goddess Diana. Bear is the largest of all carnivores but will eat almost anything. Contrary to popular belief, bears do not truly hibernate. They live, to a great degree, on stored-up fat. Their body temperatures can drop as low as 13 degrees and their breathing rate can be cut in half. The depth of sleep depends on the amount of fat stored. This teaches those with this totem how to go within to find the resources necessary for survival. Bear teaches you to draw upon your inner stores of energy and essence, even when they’ve never been tapped into before.

Those with Bear totem are able to do this effortlessly. Bears are also astonishingly fast. They can go 35-45 mph for short distances. They all can climb. Those with Bear totem are able to climb to great heights in many areas of their lives, including business, spirituality and politics.  Bear people are highly psychic and sensitive to changes around them. They are distantly related to the dog and a closer relative to the raccoon. Bear will help you find the sweetness in life and use your abilities to grow in your spiritual walk.


No other creature on earth has come to represent the process of transformation better than the butterfly. Those who have this totem should study the process of metamorphosis carefully, as this is a key process in their spiritual walk. There are four distinct phases of the butterfly’s shape-shifting: 1. the egg stage 2. the larva stage 3. the cocoon stage/chrysalis stage 4. the winged butterfly. In this position, the butterfly shows you the four stages you need to fulfill your dreams and heart’s desires. Each goal you reach will be successfully accomplished by utilizing butterfly’s metamorphosis.

Butterfly is also the symbol of sheer joy. Not only does its beauty bring delight to those who are around it, but its own joy is evident in its every move. Remember, the journey is much more important than the destination. Butterfly reminds you to fill yourself with bliss through each stage of your voyage on this plane, and through the ones to come.


Crow is the smartest of all birds. Crows are capable of everything from facial recognition (which they pass on to their young) to tool use. There are many myths throughout the world pertaining to crow. Crow is also associated strongly with magic and witchcraft. Those with this totem find that crows tend to flock when they go out in nature or simply outside their homes. Crows have the unique ability to see with each eye, independently.

Those who carry Crow Magic are able to ‘see’ the unseen, can see both sides of an issue, and are excellent counselors. Crow magic people are also well-versed in the laws of the universe and how they operate within our realm of existence. For these reasons, they may find friends and loved ones call upon them for advice and conflict-resolution quite often. Those who carry this totem are also very psychic and seem to live a magical life.


Dolphin speaks to us about the breath of life; the only thing humanity cannot go without for more than a few minutes. Within the breath we encounter the rhythm of energy that all life emits. In changing the rate of the rhythmic texture of our breath, we can tap into any other life form or creature. This is a very easy way to connect with the Divine.

Dolphin is the keeper of the sacred breath of life, and teaches those with this medicine how to release emotions through breathing techniques. Dolphin creates rhythm, swimming through the water and breathing before submerging, then holding the breath for the duration of the underwater travel. As Dolphin comes above the water again, it blows its breath out in a manner resembling the popping of a cork. For you, this is the way to release tension and create total relaxation.  Dolphin also teaches you how to use your voice to help heal the Children of the Earth. You are a bridge-builder between Mother Earth and Her wayward children. Dolphin will help you find the right notes to ‘sing’ to bring harmony to the people once again.


Dragonflies are very ancient- they’ve been around for over 180 million years. They inhabit both water and air, and it is not unusual to find those with this totem who had very emotional childhoods, but as they mature, they balance it with greater mental clarity and control. As dragonflies are always found near water, the combination of the two is important to those with this totem. Dragonflies are daytime creatures, and summer is their power-time. This is usually true for those with this totem, and they need to be out in nature to recharge.

Dragonfly people are masters at illusion and are adept at dream interpretation. While they seem delicate, many indigenous stories speak to dragonflies having been dragons whose form was changed, or souls of ancestors. Dragonfly people are very strong in spirit and make excellent healers. You may find that you are called to heal others on a metaphysical level. Dragonfly’s main predator is the frog. It is helpful to study those traits in order to do shadow-work. Frog medicine is also that of a healer, but mostly through use of water. Dragonfly totem is the totem of transformation. It can help you throughout your life on your spiritual journey, as you grow and transform.


This totem is one of the most powerful totems one can carry. There is a myth on every continent about the fox. Fox speaks to learning to develop or awaken the ability to fit into every situation and setting by using camouflage. There are 21 species of fox, and they are found in most parts of the world and in varied climates.  The number 21 is significant to those who carry this totem. Card 21 in the Tarot deck is the World Card. It reflects new beginnings and new experiences, and to creating new things. People who hold the fox totem are very creative types, who are always learning new things.  Fox is a nocturnal creature, although it can be seen at times during the day. It is strongly associated with magic and cunning. 

Fox people have the ability to make themselves ‘invisible’ when necessary. They are expert listeners and can quickly spot dangers and avoid them. They have strong powers of observation as well.  Fox people are very family-oriented and protective of their “dens” They have a fantastic sense of humor and are well liked among their peers.


Those who have frog totem are usually healers of some kind. They tend to soothe and 'cleanse' whatever or whomever with which they come in contact. They usually are either clairsentient or clairaudient (or in rare cases, both). They are also strong survivor types who usually experience some kind of trauma or abandonment in childhood (Frogs do not tend to their own young). This makes them excellent shamanic and medicinal healers.

The message of frog is usually one of transformation. Whenever you experience a transition in your life, frog is there to help you through it. Call upon this totem for protection in travel, or are working to enhance your intuition and connection to the spirit world.
Frog is great for cleansing. Frog will support those with this totem in clearing negativity and “toxic” energies. The frog being associated with water, it may be a good spirit animal to call for emotional release.


The horse is one of the totems most rich in lore and mythology. Horse is both physical and unearthly power. We still use the term “horse power” in reference to the speed of cars. Without Horse, human beings would never have progressed to this point. Horses enabled people to explore, travel and find freedom. 

Horse people are strong in spirit, and not easily tamed. They also have great powers of divination and psychic ability. True power is found from within. It is the wisdom of seeing your whole journey, not the destination. Horse in this position helps you connect with your own magic through dreams and otherworldly interactions. Horse can carry you safely through your dreamtime experiences and help you find your own personal power. 


Lynx is the keeper of lost magical systems and knowledge. Lynx people have the uncanny ability to know things about other people that they want to keep hidden. Lynx people have a reputation for supernatural eyesight. They can see error, falsehood and all that someone tries to hide. This is a type of clairvoyance known as “clairsentience”.

Lynx would make a terrific gossip reporter, except for one thing: Lynx doesn’t want the information, and doesn’t want to share. Lynx people are taught to listen to their higher selves. Many Lynx people hear a “ringing” in their ears, particularly around paranormal activity. Lynx teaches you about personal power and of things you’ve forgotten about yourself. Lynx is associated with the number 11, which is considered a master number. It is associated with inspiration, revelation, mysticism and occult teachings.


Otters are the entertainers of the animal kingdom. Those who carry an otter totem are some of the most fun people to be around. They never lose their sense of childlike wonder and play. They know when to laugh at themselves and when to use their antics to cheer up another. In many indigenous North American cultures, otter was seen as the ultimate feminine creature, and one to which both men and women should aspire for her nurturing, playful spirit that lives without jealousy. Otter (Dobhran- which means water dog in Gaelic) in Celtic culture was also seen as a playful, go-with-the-flow creature with a strong sense of fun. 

Otters always make their homes around water. This connection to water links them to the primal feminine energies of life- creativity, joy, imagination, the love of the young.  Otters have practically no natural enemies. However, they are fierce fighters when protecting their young. This is true of those who carry this totem as well, particularly female otters, who have been known to kill alligators who got too close to a den, and who will kick out a father otter who doesn’t care properly for his young. Those who carry otter as a totem are usually filled with joy and attract others to them, because they never lose their connection with their inner child. 


Owl magic is symbolically associated with clairvoyance, astral projection and magic of all kinds. Owl is called “Night Eagle” in several cultures. Night is the owl’s friend. Owl hunts its prey at night. Not only can Owl see in the dark, it can also accurately pinpoint and identify any sound. This gives it a great advantage when seeking food.

Owl is the magic of sorcerers and witches. Those with owl magic will be drawn to occult practices, and owls will tend to collect around you, even in the daytime because they recognize their kinship with you. Owl is the symbol for wisdom and illumination. Owl can see that which others cannot. Athena, goddess of Wisdom, had a companion Owl on her shoulder, which revealed truths to her. Owl could light up her blind side and reveal the whole truth. As your personal magic no one can deceive you about what they are doing, no matter how hard they try to disguise it from  you, and some may even find you a bit scary because of it. You always stand for truth and bringing it into the light.


Ravens are the largest songbirds in North America. Their bodies are covered in rich black plumage, which shines with an iridescent blue color. Though often mistaken with crows, ravens are much larger and their croak is more raucous. Ravens are intelligent masters of mimicking the calls of other animals and have also been known to mimic some human words. They are good at finding food and communicating with other ravens where food is located.

Raven people are the keepers of magic and mystery. They have a strong connection to the Otherworld/Underworld, and are usually involved in some type of arcane spiritual practice. They have strong intuition and are usually clairvoyant. Raven people are very creative and usually turn to the arts/music as an outlet.


Snake is one of the most powerful totems to carry. It is the symbol of transmutation and transformation. Those who carry this totem have strong kundalini energy. Because the snake sheds its skin, it has long been the symbol of death and rebirth. This is associated with higher wisdom and those who have snake medicine are able to tap into that knowledge with ease. Snakes strike quickly whether it be against prey or foes.

Although slow to lose their tempers, snake people will bite- and it will hurt, because they always hit their mark and will either swallow up their intended target or poison it.  Learning opportunities come easily to those with this totem. As snake slithers along the ground, it has a strong connection to Mother earth. .


Spider is the totem of writers and those with a high degree of creativity.  Spider teaches how to balance past, present, future and male/female energies, as well as how to find one’s true self. In ancient mystery schools, the one mantra was “Know Thyself, and You Shall Know The Universe.” Spider reveals the mysteries of life to those who carry its medicines. In the ancient Americas, many myths point to spider bringing man the primordial alphabet, and therefore, gave him the ability to write down his thoughts in more than pictures.

Spider magic people are masters of words and weave beautiful webs with their creations. They are also good story-tellers. Spider, in this position, reveals to you those things about yourself which can only be found through your dreams. Spider will spark your creativity and be your muse when you need a new idea. Those who have this totem find that spiders will show up when they  begin to write, or when they are stuck and cannot think of words to say. Spider reminds you that you are an infinite being who will continue to weave patterns throughout time and many lives in many realms- do not forget to see the eternal plan in all you do.


The swan is one of the most powerful of the ancient totems. It is the largest of all water-fowl. It’s nose is so sensitive that it can be used as an under-water feeler. This speaks to feeling emotions- both yours and those of others. Swans are very empathic. For those with swan as a totem, as you begin to see your own true beauty, you will come into new abilities and powers, and be able to bridge between the worlds easily. Swan people are highly intuitive and psychic.

Swans are cold-loving birds. They do not do well in heat. This may also be reflected in Swan people. Those with this totem find it easier to deal with cooler temperatures than others without this totem.  Swans are powerful birds. They can break a man’s arm by beating their wings and they have strong bites as well. They are very devoted parents. Swan is the totem of the child, the poet, the mystic and the dreamer. Swan can teach the mysteries of song and poetry. Most of all, Swan teaches those with this totem how to see their inner beauty and accept their power. Accept your ability to know what lies ahead. Swan helps you to see your power, accept it and use it to follow the path to your bliss.


Turtles are more ancient than any of the vertebrate animals. Myths abound throughout the world about the turtle. Turtle’s shell is seen as a symbol of both heaven and earth, and for those who carry this totem, they are able to walk in both the spirit and mundane worlds with ease. Turtle is at home on the shoreline- a symbol of doorways into other realms. Turtle is seen in many cultures as the gatekeeper to the realm of the Fae. Those with this totem may find that they are both clairaudient and clairsentient.

 Clairvoyance in all its forms are strong in those who carry turtle magic. Turtle is also seen as a symbol of North America. Many native nations called the continent, “Turtle Island”.  Turtles, when flipped over are able to quickly right themselves. This is the same with those who carry this totem. They may be thrown for a loop, but they always manage to right themselves and their situations with ease. Turtle is a place of wisdom and a symbol of groundedness and balanced emotions.


Wolves are the epitome of the wild spirit. Their positive characteristics are so numerous that the Native people of the Americas practically deified them. Wolves are also very ritualistic. They live by carefully defined rules. They pile up stones to mark their territory, and howl as a form of group echo-location. Each member of the pack has a specific place within it, and they are ruled by an alpha male/female.

Wolves do not fight unnecessarily. They often go out of their way to avoid conflicts where possible. This is also true for those with wolf magic. Wolves are extremely intelligent and have a strong connection to corvids (ravens and crows). They have excellent hearing and sense of smell. Wolf magic people can often smell that something isn’t right when others cannot. Wolves are considered to be great teachers, and those with this totem tend toward teaching roles.