How to Find Your Animal Spirit Guide
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 order 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 represents 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"
This book is an excellent resource for people interested in researching animal spirit guides.
Fields, Kitty. "What Is Your Spirit Animal?" Exemplore. Accessed December 12, 2018.
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.
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.