Team Building with Totems

Some Totems Used in Team Building

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.

Team Building with Totems

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.

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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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

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