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These basic interpretations of totems were taken from written and verbal native teachings and from the animals themselves. They include animals in the waking world and those animals who travel the dream world. Totems speak to our inner voice – so we benefit when we listen to them. When animals choose to contact us directly, their energy becomes our energy, our Life Totem.
Totems mean different things to different people. In the business world, totems can be used to help teams understand what animal represents the members of each of their team members. In teams of 4-7 each individual must select an animal from the totem list below that they feel best represents identify themselves. Once the selections have been made, teams create a totem including each one of the animals that their team members have selected. Teams work together to decorate the pages and speak to how their groups will use the unique qualities of each team member to their advantage.
To learn more about additional team building activities, visit the blog post–Leading with Team Building.
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Alligators – Primal Energies of Birth, Motherhood, and Initiation
Ant – strength, endurance, efficiency, persistence, productivity, courage and community
Antelope – knowledgeable action, speed, rapid growth, grace
Armadillo – Boundaries, how to consciously define our own emotional and physical boundaries
Ass donkey – Wisdom and Humanity
Badger – aggressiveness, persistence, power of true strength
Bat – blood, rebirth, also navigation, teaches to “see” with your other perceptions rather than your eyes
Bear -introspection, mystery, strength, go within ourselves to find the answers you and others seek. Often seen in the “cave or origins” in the Dream Life.
Beaver – builder, cooperation, alterations, building, shaping security, contentment, industry, balance. Beaver is one of a few life totems, once you have it – it travels with you for life, often in the presence of other totems.
Bee – service, gathering, community
Bird – All birds represent pieces of the fundamental principles of unity, freedom, community and Soul flight. See individual birds.
Black panther – introspection, go within ourselves, hold power but yet be unseen.
Blackbird – understanding of the energies of Mother Nature
Blue jay – proper use of power
Bluebird – modesty, unassuming, confidence and happiness
Brown bear – caution, bravery, fairness, organization, curiosity and leadership
Buffalo – prayer, abundance, practical wisdom, healing, good fortune. Buffalo is one of a few life totems, once you have it – it travels with you for life, often in the presence of other totems.
Butterfly – transformation. Courage to change, balance, evolution, and how to experience joy
Canada goose – cooperative and communal behavior, never leave the weak behind
Canary – power of song and voice. Heightened sensitivity
Cardinal – renewed vitality through recognizing our importance
Caribou – travel, mobility
Cat – wholeness, mindfulness, unity, meditation, independence, sensuality, psychic vision
Catbird – language and communication
Cheetah – helps us to keep our eyes on our goals and to find the most direct way of achieving them
Chickadee – cheerful expression of truth
Chicken – fertility and sacrifice
Chimpanzee – living in harmony. simple ways of life that create joy
Cock – sexuality, watchfulness and resurrection, optimism
Cougar – initiative, speed, grace, territoriality and mystery, balanced leadership, cunning and wit
Cowbird – parent and child relationships, resolving old issues
Coyote – trickster reminds us to laugh at ourselves, and enforces karmic law. What goes out, comes back. Coyote is one of a few life totems, once you have it – it travels with you for life, often in the presence of other totems.
Crane – longevity and creation through focus, expression of feminine energies
Creator. The creator dances in all animals, minerals and plants, is part of everything. Synergy
Crow – council, intuitive knowledge of universal sacred law, assertiveness. Crow is one of a few life totems, once you have it – it travels with you for life, often in the presence of other totems.
Cuckoo – heralding new fate, intuitive ability
Deer – gentleness, sensitivity, grace, alertness, creativity and heart and spirit connection. Deer is one of a few life totems, once you have it – it travels with you for life, often in the presence of other totems.
Dog – loyalty, courage, unconditional love
Dolphin – breath of life. Be in harmony with yourself, your surroundings, and others. Breathing deep
Dove – feminine energies of peace, maternity, prophecy and promise of future
Dragon – transformation, ritual, magic, related to Snake. All dragons influence subconscious protection and healing through giving vitality, especially during sickness and confronting obstacles. There are four kinds of Dragons – Fire Dragon – Enthusiasm and Courage; Air Dragon – Inspiration, Insight; Earth Dragon – Grounding Power, Self-Potential; Water Dragon – Inner Depth, Compassion
Dragonfly – illusion, dreams. Burst self-created illusions and limitations and find answers
Duck – female-mothering energy, male-coping with stress, emotional comfort and protection
Eagle – limitless, free, fearlessness. Transcendence, clarity of vision. Free of boundaries
Earthworm – learn about regeneration, stamina, self-healing, transformation and earth-healing
Elephant – commitment, mind power, physical strength, dedication, and overcoming obstacles
Elk – stamina this medicine teaches us the best use of our energy, To follow through until the end
Falcon – accuracy, rapid progress, restraint
Finch – energy of variety and multiplicity, increased potentials
Firefly – illumination, understanding the life force, continuity, wonder, power of light and darkness
Flicker – rapid growth and trust, increased healing love, new sensitivity of heart
Fox – camouflage, stealth, observation, anticipate behavior in advance. cleverness, adaptability
Frog – cleanse the negative forces away and replenishe the soul with positive force. Leap happily. Frog teaches us to positive willpower generates Life force
Gazelle – teach us that with awareness and skill, we can be comfortable in our own vulnerability
Giraffe – teaches us to view our lives in a way that is both grounded and expansive
Goat – tenacity, diligence
Goldfinch – awakening to the nature spirits- fairies, elves and devas
Goose – call of the quest, travels to legendary places, safe return, love of home
Gopher – gathering, preparation for the future
Gorilla – a confirmation that our endeavors are solid and steady. Teaches the importance of staying grounded in all situations; and to handle our responsibilities through the use of power of leadership rather than the abuse of physical strength upon the weak
Grackle – overcoming excess, dealing with emotions
Griffin – magical lion bird guardian of sacred arcane libraries. It is said that no one can pass a Griffin if they are fearful, greedy, or have no self-confidence; they are refused entrance. It symbolizes a need to protect something powerful within by the use of fierce boundaries. A griffin is related to the Foo Dogs who guard sacred temples in eastern Asia
Grizzly bear – teaches stability, tenacity, healing, introspection, maturity and leadership. Represents raw self-power, both destructive and constructive, and the necessity of self-control. Grizzly is one of a few life totems, once you have it – it travels with you for life, often in the presence of other totems
Grouse – completion, sacred spiral dance, fulfillment
Hawk – be observant and to pay attention to what we may overlook, Is the messenger from the Dream Life.
Hedgehog – self-preservation
Heron – aggressive self-determination, self-reliance
Hippopotamus – grounding ourselves so we can face and dissolve emotional issues.
Horse – inner power, freedom, safe movement
Hummingbird – tireless joy, accomplishing the impossible, beauty, agility
Ibis – single-mindedness and narrow-mindedness are two sides of the same coin
Jackal – trickster, humor, stealer of fire. Try to see humor in things. Laughter is one of the spices of life
Kestrel – mental speed, agility, grace, control
Kingfisher – new warmth, sunshine, prosperity, and love
Kiwi bird – earth wisdom, the ability to sniff out the truth, ability to give birth to large ideas
Lion – teach us to be strong and courageous even in the midst of trouble
Lizard – dreaming. Lizard teaches us the importance of respecting and remembering our dreams
Loon. Learn about mystery, transformation, fidelity and maneuverability from loon
Lynx – teaches us that silence empowers concentration. subtlety, silence, secretiveness, elusiveness
Magpie – the proper use of intelligence, familiars, and occult knowledge
Manatee – serenity, gentleness, trust
Martin – good luck and community peace, peaceful living energies
Meadowlark – cheerful journey inward, discovery of intuition, innate abilities
Mockingbird – finding your soul purpose and recognition of your innate abilities
Moose – self-esteem, practical wisdom, joy of accomplishment, strength, spontaneity, unpredictability
Mountain lion – leadership, stand firm in our power, give direction and aid when needed
Mouse – scrutiny. reminds us not to overlook the obvious
Nuthatch – grounding of faith and higher wisdom
Opossum – peaceful alternatives, deception
Oriole – open doors to positive relationship with all members of nature realm
Ostrich – becoming grounded
Otter – woman medicine, healing, sensuality. Let loose of boundaries and limits and just let go.
Owl -learn about old wisdom, mystery and vision, magic, omens, and vision in the night. Insight
Parrot – sunshine and color healing; teaches power of light and color
Peacock – resurrection and wise vision (watchfulness)
Pegasus – Inspirer of rising above difficulties. Teaches the importance of having quick and agile wisdom, as well as humility and boundaries
Pelican – renewed buoyancy and unselfishness; do not to be overcome by emotion
Penguin – lucid dreaming and astral projection
Pheasant – family fertility and sexuality
Phoenix – Keeper of transformation and represents the cycle of death and rebirth through fire. A phoenix reminds us to have hope in the midst of despair, and to flow with the seasons of events
Pigeon – return to the love and security of home; very gentle and loving energy
Porcupine – self-protection, memory, security, innocence, humility
Quail – group nourishment and protection, protectiveness, group harmony
Rabbit – fear. Rabbit teaches us self confidence, and confronting our fears. What we fear will persist and come to us to teach us to let it go. Predators are nearby, so do not let fear guide you into the open
Raccoon – teaches you how to mask, disguise and transform yourself. Put asleep the part of you that is not needed and awaken the aspect of yourself that is. Represents the magic of dexterity and disguise, strategy from afar and moving in shadows to achieve the attainment of desires. Raccoon is one of a few life totems, once you have it – it travels with you for life, often in the presence of other totems
Raven – prophecy, clairvoyant vision, magic, mystery, exploring unknown
Red hawk – learn the lessons of awareness, insight, truth, adaptability, prayer and openness
Road runner – mental speed and agility
Robin – Renew by letting go of the past, do not beat your breast. Renewal of life and one’s self
Salamander – get grounded in the present moment
Salmon – teaches us trust, strength, determination, willpower, loyalty and tradition. Salmon is one of a few life totems, once you have it – it travels with you for life, often in the presence of other totems
Sandpiper – quickness, foraging, scavenging
Seagull – observation, swift action, opportunity, carefree attitude, versatility
Seal – tapping sub-conscious. The seal reminds us how to swim in our inner being for the answers
Skunk – self-respect, reputation, protection, secrecy. The original “walk your talk.” Respect
Snake – transmutation, rebirth, sacred spiral
Snow goose – learn beauty, tradition, transmitting, receiving, ceremony, and gregariousness
Sparrow – awakening and triumph of common nobility; shows how to survive
Spider – weaving, hunting, creativity, balance, interconnectedness, industry
Squirrel – gathering, vulnerability, elusiveness. Discarding the old, planning ahead, playfulness, trust
Starling – group behavior and etiquette; clear communication
Stork – birth and unspoken communication
Sturgeon – determination, teaching, leadership, knowledge, depth
Swallow – protection and warmth for the home and proper perspective
Swan – grace. Be graceful and natural and not be something which you are not
Swift – speed and agility in the great quest; responding to opportunity
Swisher – awakening to the fairy realm
Thunderbird. Lessons in goodness, kindness, cleansing, healing, and humility
Tiger – stress and courage. Be bold in the face of danger. caution, appropriate timing, stealth
Tortoise – Learn from tortoise are ancient wisdom, experience, patience and endurance.
Turkey – setting limits, appreciation, renewal, sharing blessings and harvest
Turtle – The mother earth, longevity, creativeness. The turtle finds solutions by being creative. Turtle is one of a few life totems, once you have it – it travels with you for life, often in the presence of other totems
Unicorn – Symbol of Purity and Innocence, and the ability to make dreams come true. Has the ability to restore broken spirits through gentle strength and trust
Vulture – purification – death and rebirth – new vision., resolution of problems
Waxwing – gentleness and courtesy
Weasel – stealth, seeing beneath the surface, supernatural power
Whale – record keeper. The whale teaches us to listen within, feel the heartbeat of the universe
White Buffalo – Spirituality, selflessness, generosity, hope, and ancient wisdom
Woodchuck (groundhog) – gathering, preparation, burrowing into the earth., power of cycle. Woodchuck is one of a few life totems, once you have it – it travels with you for life, often in the presence of other totems
Wolf – eliminating weakness, commitment, family loyalty, teaching skill
Woodpecker – the power of rhythm and determination; stimulates new rhythms
Wren – resourcefulness and boldness
Zebra – power, alertness, community
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