Daniella Lopez writes about health, beauty, the occult, and other things.
What Is an Animal Spirit Guide?
An animal spirit guide—also called a power animal or animal totem—is a messenger or teacher who comes to us in the form of an animal to guide and protect us throughout our lives. They may provide comfort, inspiration, or important messages in difficult times. They may also draw attention to parts of ourselves that require acknowledgment or exploration.
Your spirit guide is an animal that resonates with you and has special significance in your life. Your relationship with the guide connects you with the earth and with nature. Ultimately, this animal is a reflection of ourselves—a representation of who we are and who we might become.
Although found primarily in Native American and Aboriginal cultures, spirit guides are not limited to these traditions. They are present for anyone who seeks them, anyone who yearns for a deeper connection with the earth and with Mother Nature.
How Do I Find My Animal Spirit Guide?
The first step is to respectfully ask your spirit guide to show itself to you. Once you've set your intention, you can begin to look in certain places where your spirit guide may allow itself to be discovered, including:
- Dreams: Do you often dream of a certain animal? Paying attention to the animals that appear in your dreams, particularly animals that recur frequently, can give you important insights.
- Meditation: Like dreams, meditation offers access to an altered state of consciousness. Your spirit guide may reveal itself to you during your meditative journey.
- Nature: Take walks outside and observe the animals around you. Being in nature is one of the greatest ways to find your spirit guide because the whole purpose behind a spirit guide is to provide you with a deeper connection to Mother Earth.
- Past connections: Did you have a favorite animal when you were younger, or did you have a favorite pet? Perhaps there is an animal you feel drawn to without understanding why. When you visit the zoo or an aquarium, is there an animal you like to visit first or make sure you get to see?
- Fears: Is there an animal that has always frightened you—but been intriguing to you at the same time? Most often the animal that you're most fearful of will bring you closest to nature.
- Encounters: Is there an animal that you frequently see near your home or that often seems to be watching you? Or, taking a different take on the word "encounter," did you ever experience an attack by an animal at any time in the past? Being bitten or attacked by an animal could represent the totem testing your ability to handle its power.
- Zodiac: This Native American Zodiac will reveal which animal is associated with your birthdate. It's not necessarily the case that the animal listed for your birthdate is your spirit guide, but often it will be an animal that represents you fairly well.
- Shaman: A shaman or qualified spiritual guide can help you identify your animal totem.
If your request is authentic and respectful, your spirit guide will ultimately show itself to you. Don't forget aquatic animals, insects, and birds—every creature on this earth, whether they travel by land, sea, or air, has the ability to be a powerful spirit guide.
Discovering My Own Spirit Guide
I personally have always been fearful of wolves. I dreamt of them often, and sometimes I would dream that I was actually a wolf. I later found out that this was the wolf spirit calling me. Now I no longer fear wolves but respect them and look to them as my spirit guide.
By discovering your animal totem, studying it, and then learning to merge with it, you will be able to call its energy forth whenever needed.
— Ted Andrews, author of "Animal Speak"
Animal Guide Meanings: Traits and Characteristics
Each guide has a different meaning, and they can mean something different for different people. Below are a few examples of animal spirit guides and the common meanings behind their animal totems.
- Bear: Bears teach us how to be balanced, no matter what life throws at us. They also are very wise, protective of the ones they love, and they harbor incredible strength during difficult times.
- Buffalo: Those with a buffalo totem tend to harbor tension, so they need to be careful about finding a safe release in order to prevent it from building up to intolerable levels. Buffalos are strong and protective of their tribe. They have incredible strength and are likely to face their problems head-on.
- Butterfly: The butterfly totem represents freedom, creativity, and transformation. They teach us to work closely with the earth and try to minimize our harmful impact on the planet.
- Coyote: Those with the coyote totem tend to be cunning, loyal, and very goal-oriented. They are focused on their community, but they have no qualms about deceiving an outsider if it means protecting themselves or their loved ones. They know their environment very well and teach us to work in unity with the earth.
- Crow: Someone with a crow totem tends to be very magically inclined. They are dedicated to following orders and tend to be strong healers.
- Deer: Those with the deer totem are intuitive, sensitive, and spiritual.
- Dolphin: The dolphin symbolizes playfulness and lightheartedness.
- Dove: The dove represents peace and blessings. A person who is going through a stressful time might call upon the dove spirit for guidance.
- Eagle: A person with an eagle animal spirit tends to thrive when they're alone. They prefer isolation over community. Eagles have incredible eyesight, providing those with the eagle totem to see clearly in situations that are murky and difficult.
- Fox: Those with the fox totem prefer to keep to themselves and blend in, rather than standing out from the crowd. They are sensitive yet agile, and they are capable of finding a way forward in the midst of a difficult situation.
- Horse: Those with the horse spirit guide thrive when they are left wild. They can be headstrong, but they are willing to bend for those that they care about. While they prefer to be left wild, they respond well to a partner who treats them with patience and kindness. The horse totem also represents positive change in someone's life.
- Owl: Those with the owl totem tend to be very quiet and secretive, but when they speak, people listen and treat them with respect. Owls teach us to embrace the dark and to know that it isn't something to fear, nor is it something that is evil.
- Raven: The raven totem represents mystery, wisdom, and transformation. People with the raven animal spirit guide tend to be strong teachers and are often sought out for their wisdom and intelligence.
- Snake: Snake spirit guides represent transformation, rebirth, and sexuality. They are strong creatures with strong personalities, but they often lash out during difficult situations. Snake totems teach us to work closely with the earth and to learn to understand the earth's vibrations.
- Tiger: The tiger spirit represents raw energy and emotion. This totem connects us with our intuitions and instincts.
- Turtle: Those with the turtle spirit guide tend to be minimalists. They prefer to be on the road and to have minimal possessions or people to hold them back from their desire to travel. The turtle totem teaches us to look within and to be happy with the person we truly are.
- Wolf: The wolf totem has a strong connection to family and their pack. They tend not to socialize well with others outside of their small inner circle. The wolf spirit guide represents strength, loyalty, and community.
How Do I Honor My Animal Spirit Guide?
Once you've found your spirit guide, it is imperative that you honor them. The more you do so, the more clearly you will hear their messages and the more effective their power will be in your life. You can honor your spirit guide in many ways, including:
- Study: Read everything you can about the animal. Learn about their behaviors, traits, habitat, diet, social status, etc.
- Drawing: Drawing pictures of the animal not only gives honor but also helps you become more deeply connected to their physical form.
- Figurines, tokens, fetishes: Decorate your home with images and representations of the animal.
- Dance: Learning to imitate the animal's physical movements and behaviors can create a powerful spiritual link to your guide.
Keep in mind, however, that there is an important distinction between honor and worship. Spirit guides are not meant to be worshiped; in fact, they are our equals—their purpose is to bring humans and nature together as one. We should not dominate our spirit guide, nor should they dominate us. Rather, the intention is to learn from our spirit guide in order to come into harmony with the Earth Mother.
Steven Farmer, Author of "Animal Spirit Guides"
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to be Native American to have a spirit guide?
It is a common misconception that you need to be Native American or have the experience of a Spirit Walk in order to find a spirit guide. This is not true. If you have the ability to go on a Spirit Walk, then by all means, please do—but you do not need to do this in order to find your spirit animal.
Is it cultural appropriation to ask for a spirit guide?
No. Spirit guides do not discriminate against ethnicity, culture, or background; they are there for anyone who is seeking to deepen their connection with Mother Earth. If you respectfully ask your spirit animal to show itself to you, and if you are prepared to show honor to your guide, you will find what you are looking for.
Can I have more than one spirit guide?
Yes, you can have more than one at one time, or you could have different guides at various phases of your life. You might need to draw upon different energies at different points in your life, and a special spirit animal may guide or teach you during those moments.
What if I'm not happy with the animal guide that seems to have chosen me?
Your animal guide may not be what you'd initially hoped for or had in mind. Perhaps you'd wanted something strong and powerful like a bear or an eagle. It's important, however, to be open-minded and patient. Learn all you can about your spirit animal. You will surely discover a deeper significance that will illuminate the spiritual connection between you and your guide.
When we learn to speak with the animals.... They become our teachers, our friends, and our companions. They show us the true majesty of life itself.
— Ted Andrews, author of "Animal Speak"
Online Quizzes: Food for Thought
Although the journey to discover your spirit guide will likely involve dreams, meditation, experiences in nature, and/or deep introspection about past experiences and encounters, you may also find these online quizzes to be a helpful starting point. The animal these quizzes identify may not necessarily be your spirit guide, but there may be something about the animal that is uniquely aligned to your personality.
- McCann, Colleen. "A Guide to Spirit Animals." Goop. Accessed December 12, 2018.
- Mildon, Emma. "Don't Know Your Spirit Animal?" MindBodyGreen. Accessed December 12, 2018.
- Weiser, Kathy (Editor). "Native American Totem Animals & Their Meanings." Legends of America. Accessed December 12, 2018.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: Can birds be my spirit guide?
Answer: Sure! Quite a few people feel gravitated towards creatures of flight. Hawks and ravens are particularly popular.
© 2011 Daniella Lopez
samclay on July 13, 2020:
Really happy to say that your article is very useful to me. I study astrology with https://horo.io/, and it’s interesting to learn about my totem animal.
Holly on February 17, 2020:
My spirit totem is a wolf but I believe my spirit animal is a bird. I am naturally drawn to birds. My birth mark is shaped like a bird. I always said it represented freedom. I hear owls outside my bedroom window. I seen one in broad daylight the other day. I have had recurring dreams of flying. I am drawn to shiny things like crows and ravens and I collect peacock decor. I have black birds come into my yard by hundreds all the time. I used to raise ducks, geese and chickens and have a natural gift hatching them and saving their lives. They would follow me like I was their mother. I am not afraid of any animals. I lived in a very rural area and had five dogs that treated me like the pack leader. One sacrificed her life for me by killing a bobcat I didn’t see that was going to attack me bc I was searching for a mama bird and her chicks in the woods. It was awful but I will always remember my dogs loyalty and love and I have a memorial for her. I am a huge animal lover and I am a loner. But I am very compassionate towards others and fiercely protective of my family. I am definitely a wolf totem and although I didn’t know what my spirit guide was I am realizing it must be a bird. Ironically I am terrified of flying! I even married an owl totem. !?! It is very interesting.
Lisa on January 16, 2020:
Well first off, I've encountered through the years different animals to come up and close to me. Just a moment ago I went outside and their was an owl in my back shed sitting on my concrete floor..he stayed there for about 5 minutes while my friend and I were talking while watching. He flew off but I found it awesome and exciting..what do you think or suggest? Thank you
SpiritAnimalScarlett on November 23, 2019:
So yeah I really am hoping to have the wolf as my spirit animal because after my dad introduced me to wolves I have been loving wolves !
SpiritAnimalScarlett on November 04, 2019:
I would like for my spirit animal to be a wolf because they seem to have a great personality and are very beautiful and gorgeous. I have been also wanting the wolf to be my spirit animal because I actually very much love wolves and I read about wolves to and I am still a child but I’m not little but whenever I go to the zoo I’m hoping to see a wolf. But what ever my spirit animal is I must respect it because spirit animals define who you are and you can ask them for guidance just as well as God
liuda67 on October 13, 2019:
It is very interesting! Thank you. I was helped to understand who is my spirit animal by this test https://quizterra.com/en/whats-your-spirit-animal
Jona Kennefy on October 06, 2019:
and it kept saying ask in a question form
Wolfgirl on October 01, 2019:
I know a wolf is my spirit animal I know it
kc on June 10, 2019:
I see this hawk all the time sits on my fence looking at me when i am outside, and sits on fence directly looks in glass doors at me when i am sitting in my easy chair watching tv. Has flown into my window 2 times. I have walked up close to her within 10 or 11 feet. I could see her soft belly feathers and talents holding onto the fence. She swoops down into my yard in front of my screen room. Flown directly over my head about 4 or 5 ft. Was on side roof looking in my bedroom window. I had bird feeder up a while back but took it down a long time ago so she should not be looking to dine here. Going through some really rough times now. Today it was raining, her feathers were all wet, dripping off her head and she sat on the fence looking at me. Am I reading something into this that is not there?
Karen K on April 17, 2019:
Hi. This is an unbelievable story and if it didn't happen to me, I wouldn't believe it either. I have been going through some heavy duty spiritual stuff. Last night, I was unloading my dishwasher and at the bottom, was a snail. Don't know how it got there, since Ifigiref it could e connected. I looked it up and found out it's my spirit animal
Regina on April 13, 2019:
2 nights ago I dreamed I had a bobcat standing on my chest looking down at me.I felt it was saying pay attention to me.
Regina on April 13, 2019:
Pairs of hawks hover above my head once at a powow I saw them fly in from a distance and came to hover about 10 to 15 feet above my head. After that another pair of hawks hovered about 10 to 15 feet above my head in my back yard. Some time I see them land in a tree and my railing of my deck.
Christy on March 26, 2019:
I feel like I'm followed by raccoons. I come across a lot of Raccoon sightings. Once when I was a kid after playing. Then Raccoons would hang out on my last apartment's balcony. Once when I was getting ready to move, I saw one in the dumpster. And now sometimes they would pass by and I would see them through the glass door. They come pretty close and I can see them staring in. When I'm outside and see a raccoon I proceed with caution, I've never been attacked by a wild animal because I try to let them know that I'm not there to bother them. They'll usually run off or go about their business.
Jessica on January 09, 2019:
Well I fear sea life and I am not very interested in it and I also don’t like anything slime though I feel great connections to mammals
Honey on December 09, 2018:
I knew my tolem was a wolf from the start. Even though my sister (Stina) doesn’t know hers, we went to Native American store and saw the spirit tolem guide. It’s a work in progress..... although it’s up to the spirits to deside......
journeywomyn from New Bedford, MA on November 14, 2018:
I have always known the my totem was a wolf, a white wolf. I have seen him all through my childhood through adulthood. My great great grandpa a Nipmuc Indian born 1889 died 1963 told me many things, taught me many things. For that I am forever grateful. We shared many stories about the wolf.
Hi, ya'll on October 24, 2018:
Horse: Those with the horse spirit guide thrive when they are left wild. They can be headstrong, but they are willing to bend for those that they care about. While they prefer to be left wild, they respond well to a partner who treats them with patience and kindness. The horse totem also represents positive change in someone's life.
that so represents me!
Deardra on September 07, 2018:
I was looking in my mirror once and was looking at my reflection but then out of my face I saw an Old man, he looked Native American and out of his face a panther. Also, while camping with friends. A Mayfly landed on a blade of grass that was near my face. The fly did a very odd thing. Stood up on two legs and used his front legs to groom itself. It got closer to me and looked right at me. The thought that came into my mind is that he was showing me his beingness. I note that I can be in my office and look down at my desk and there is a fly there staring at me. This happens far too often. So I guess one of my spirit guides is a fly and perhaps the other a panther. I also feel a affinity with deers and birds.
Amberdp1982 on March 29, 2018:
im very interested in big cats. panthers and tigers. But since my father passed away in 2006 i have a crow who follows me everywhere i go. and he lets me know hes there.
Jake Castaway on March 02, 2018:
Most of my friend group feel connections with an animal and I have always enjoyed trying to learn more about that connection and this has helped lots. Thank you
Is it possible to have more than one? just wondering
Stefany Burkhalter on January 17, 2018:
How did you guys all find your spirit animal guides
Please tell me
Kaykay on November 29, 2017:
I love your hub. I am very intrigued by wolves i love them so much. I do dream alot about snakes though causing me to fear them even though when i was younger i have came across them and even though i was super nervous i had no problem holding them yet they dont give me very much comfort. I also really like cats including tigers cheetahs and lions so how do i know which one is my spirit guide?
SO-CALGURL72 on June 15, 2017:
I just found out that my number one spirit guide is the snake I've always loved snakes ever since I was 11 years old, I always been intrigued by snakes, whie living in New York. when I moved to Southern California and feared the California diamondback rattlesnake. Another animal spirit guide I believe I have is the dragonfly as well as the grasshopper.
Rocky on May 20, 2017:
Sydney Burke on July 15, 2016:
I do not know of any animal I fear. I have a great respect for most. So which would you sugest.
Leo on March 17, 2016:
I have an eagle, crow, peacock, and an owl.
ThussaysNanaMarie from In my oyster on July 14, 2012:
Tigergirl99 on April 21, 2012:
The tiger is my spirit guide. I have met and talked with him many times and I named him Kishan. When I go outside at night my senses are keener and Kishan always goes with me. I have always felt drawn to tigers because of there smarts in "battle". This gave me the information that I needed to realize that he would not hurt me.
LightIsLove on March 31, 2012:
I feel connected to Dolphins for what ever reason. Thank you for having the courage to share with others. I too have had an exsperience. Please read the only hub I have ever posted. You will find it comforting
"Proof of Angels, Spirits Light Beings, Ghosts"
Light Is Love
Beth J from India on March 30, 2012:
A great hub! I feel drawn to eagles. I'm pretty certain they're one of my animal spirit guides. Snakes have appeared frequently in my dreams all these years though I've not really felt comfortable with this. I always thought we had to be very comfortable with an animal for it to be our guide. After reading your hub, I understand that this is not necessarily the case!
In Love and Light,
Daniella Lopez (author) on November 07, 2011:
Glad you found this informative, Caroline. :) Thanks for stopping by!
Caroline Marie on November 07, 2011:
I love this hub. It's amazing. Very informative. :)
Daniella Lopez (author) on October 12, 2011:
You are very welcome! :)
Cresentmoon2007 from Caledonia, MI on October 12, 2011:
Thank you once again. Blessed be!
Daniella Lopez (author) on October 12, 2011:
There definitely might be a connection. It's definitely something I would consider if I were you. Try to figure out exactly why it is that you fear those animals and perhaps that will draw you closer to them. Blessed be!
Cresentmoon2007 from Caledonia, MI on October 12, 2011:
Great Hub. There are actually a few animals I fear. I fear sea life a great deal and geese as well as chickens. I think that above all else I fear sea life A LOT. And have often had nightmares about fish. I wonder if there's any connection there.