Many members of the Native community possess what is known as a Spirit Animal, also called a Spirit Guide, or Animal Totem. The Spirit Animal is often considered to be a gift sent from the Creator to guide us on life’s journey. Unlike what google searches or random websites might tell you, it is impossible and cheapening to take a quiz and determine your Spirit Animal. Rather, the Spirit Animal you are meant to have will choose you. The Spirit Animal who chooses you will represent various aspects of yourself, and will serve as a meditative, healing presence as you walk a road of wellness.
When listening for your Spirit Animal, it’s important to remember that each Nation has their own beliefs about Spirit Animals, and it is beneficial to consult with an Elder or a cultural leader to discern your own Tribe’s unique viewpoints. Some may require ceremonies to seek out your guide. Others may be location-specific, such as Salmon for those in a fishing tribe, or Horse for those who live on the plains. Others may be familial Spirit Animals. For instance, my Grandfather was known in my Tribe as The Eagle. His son is named Tuhwahunnuh, meaning Son of Eagle, and all of his children have been Eagle Spirits.
A Spirit Animal will often present itself to you during landmark moments in your life. When I see my Spirit Animal nearby, I recognize that it is trying to tell me something. This causes me to reevaluate the decisions I am making, and consult an Elder or a mentor for guidance and wisdom.
Ways to Honor Your Spirit Animal
It is important to honor the Spirit Animal who chooses you. To do so, you might wear designs of it on t-shirts. If it is a bird, you could wear its feathers. When I find feathers from my Spirit Animal on my path, I recognize that this is a gift meant to honor and help me on my journey. Or, like the above photograph, you might choose to bead your Spirit Animal and wear it on your regalia if you are a dancer. Often, at Powwows, I notice that dancers who wear their Spirit Animal also assume the posture of that animal at times, and in their dancing, they honor their Spirit Animal, and display its wisdom and glory.
The Manataka American Indian Council has put together an informative list of some possible Spirit Animals and their common characteristics. It may be helpful after ascertaining your Spirit Animal to consult this list. www.manataka.org/page236.html
Hayu Masi (Many Thanks) and good luck on the journey.
Misty Lynn Ellingburg (Shoalwater Bay) is a student at Seattle Pacific University, majoring in English (concentration Literature) and minoring in Professional Writing. She has two brothers and two sisters--Brandt, Shana, Hope, and Hunter. Her mom, Lory, is a Tribal artist, and her dad, Todd, is becoming fluent in Salish, a local Tribal language. Her favorite Native writers are Leslie Marmon Silko, Louise Erdrich, and Sherman Alexie. She even met Mr. Alexie in Seattle at a book reading where she got his autograph and a picture taken together.