As already discussed, different traditions vary on the specifics when it comes to the exact number of totem animals you work with, and what they are called. Below I discuss two different views – I encourage you to do your own research and go with what suits YOU. It’s a personal choice based on what you resonate with.
Life Event Linked Totems
This is a modern spiritual philosophy consisting of six different types of animal totems you can encounter during your life, connected to life events.
Your Life Totem animal is the first totem you should connect with, intuitively, once your understand its significance. Your Life Totem animal is with you throughout your entire incarnation, and is always there for you when you need its abilities. It is possible to have more than one Life Totem animal that join you during your journey.
Primary Life Totem
Your Primary Life Totem represents your key focus at this time – that which you are currently working on, learning, developing. The messages brought to you by your Primary Life Totem are important reminders from the Universe about your present purpose on Earth, and your inner spiritual nature.
You Journey Totem animal is with you for a specific period of time – whether that be weeks, months or even years, depending on how long it takes you to walk the path and learn the lesson/s that your Journey Totem animal is guiding and assisting you with. You may experience several Journey Totem animals appearing in your life more commonly than all the others, as if by coincidence. When two or three animals suddenly make an appearance in your life, and they share a similar nature, it means that you have established the basis of your path.
A Message Totem arrives suddenly, neutrally, and at random times throughout your life (or maybe even only once). A Journey Totem, in contrast, stays a little longer and tends to slip in and out of your life over a period of time. The Message Totem brings a powerful message of self growth and spiritual awakening – a sudden step forward. The experience will stand out as unique.
A Shadow Totem animal is one of a number of totems sent to us to test us, and will be the one that you initially fear. The Shadow Totem represents your inner fears and weaknesses that you need to overcome. Once you are able to see the fascination or attraction in a previously feared, ‘dangerous’ animal, you have succeeded in learning its lesson, and its power and strength will be open to you. For this reason, facing the fears that the Shadow Totem brings out in you can result in major spiritual growth. Failing to face your fears could result in the Shadow Totem being unable to assist you, and in fact force it to work against your life, holding you back from enlightenment.
A Spirit Totem is what a Shadow Totem becomes in your life once you have overcome your fear. It is one of your most powerful Animal Totems.
The Nine Totems
This is the traditional Native American spiritual philosophy based on nine constant/set power animals who accompany and guide you throughout your life.
Each and every person has nine power animals that represent the medicine they carry on this journey/lifetime. For example, a person who is connected with Wolf is a born teacher, pathfinder, innovator and self-starter. If they are not living their truth/not walking their true path, you may find they emulate the opposite of these qualities.
The number nine is based on the concept that we are born on Earth with seven directions: East, South, West, North, Above, Below and Within (which they teach is inside us AND around us since the entire Universe is inside our consciousness). We have a totem animal in each of the seven directions to teach us the lessons of these directions. The other two animals are the ones that walk on either side of us at all times. We may experience them in recurring dreams, a fascination with them throughout our lives, or simply a recognized “connection”.
How To Find Your Animal Totem