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Totem Spirits - ..or spirit guides


Guest sablemaine
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Just out of interest... What are peoples views on Totem animals or spirit guides. In my time I have had a few. I feel that totem animals are aspects of ourselves that are strongly represented in our personality... for example my two animals are the magpie and the otter.

 

The magpie represents my tendancy to pick and choose 'bits' of anything that interests me rather than researching the whole field; it also represents my need to protect those around me and to listen more than speak.

 

The otter represents my playful side... the more serious a situation is the more 'silly' my thoughts tend to be (never trust me at a funeral :D ) ... the otter aspect will also work very hard to make life easy for themselves ( for instance, if I was given a tedious job the otter within me would sit for a long while figureing out a way to complete the job in two minutes rather than trudge through the task from start to end).

 

Now the question is... are these my totem animals because of my persoanlity OR is this my personality because of the totem animals that chose me?

 

Sabe

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If they are 'merely' animals you have plucked from the air, so to speak, I doubt that anyone would call them 'totem animals' or 'spirit guides'.

 

Such beings would have chosen you, and you would know why.

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im sure we all have animals we identify with, ones whose personality pleases us etc, but i dont think i would call them spirit animals/totem animals. as davkin said, im pretty sure they come to you, as with most things.

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Okay... reading back through my post I can see that its seems that these animals have just been 'plucked from the air'. but I believe that they are not just aspects of my personality, but are individual beings seperate from me.

 

I fall into the second part of my question; that I have become the person that I am because of the animals that have chosen me.

 

I can remember times before these 'animals' were with me, and times of my life where they have been absent.

 

Maybe my choice of words was a little inappropriate... but it does promote discussion

Edited by sablemaine
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akkk! jezreell not davkin. sorry jez x

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You did have me a little confused there... though I spend most of my life 'a little confused' :D

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Hello Sable, from what I've experienced totems dont only have to reinforce aspects of the individual involved, they can also balance/bolster them with attributes that they dont have, in that case, its harder to see how they can only be parts of ones personality.

 

Heh yeah, and I dont know where the apostrophy goes in 'ones' :D

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Okay... reading back through my post I can see that its seems that these animals have just been 'plucked from the air'.  but I believe that they are not just aspects of my personality, but are individual beings seperate from me.

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Are you sure they're not fetches/fylgjar? :D

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Good question but I'm not sure of the answer.

 

When I meditate, when I spend time on me I have an animal that comes to me and weirdly.. it's an otter too. My otter balances me I feel. Brings aspects to my personality that I don't have, as someone said, brings balance to some parts of me and other times, most times in fact it just feels like I'm the otter. I have no clue how to express this. It's me I'm it, I can be it and play with my totem/spirit/whatever youwanttocallit or I can watch myself being there.

 

FRUIT TREES! I can't get the right words.

 

There are other parts to it like the significance of it being an otter and water but that's something kinda private.

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I don't think of old Baloo as a spirit guide. Bear slowly merged with me over decades. I love them, have always been interested in them and have even cared for them. Slowly out of Bear emerged the Indian Sloth Bear which is what Kipling's Baloo and my avatar is. He is a persona that I adopt under stress or at choice. Physical power, the confidence of an alpha [which I do not always of myself posses] quiet earth power, forest reticent and a teacher. There have been many occasions when I would choose the quiet power or the blind fury that he could give me. I once invoked him to help me lift the end of a car! Unfortunately I do not have the muscle/skeletal structure of a bear. The car moved fine but I didn't for several weeks. Along with his positive attributes come impatience, temper and some primitive intolerances. He has a certain advantage over the Northern hemisphere bears as he doesn't hibernate half the time.

 

Well I say I invoke him at choice but that is becoming less and less the case.

As time goes by I am finding that the bear skin is an easy one to live in and I am becoming more and more the growling moth eaten old bear he has always been. Perhaps that is the price of a shared lifetime.

 

edited to add

Xalle - in the American Indian tradition - well the East Coast ones at least - Otter medicine is Women's mystery.

Edited by Moonsmith
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  • 1 month later...
Yes, but no word/ phrase of description feels quite right :D How do you pronounce fylgjar?

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AFAIK, filgee-ar.

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I grew up with a spiritualist father so a lot of my view of spirit guides is influenced by that. My grandmother is kind of a spirit guide/guardian of mine. She's helped me out with a lot of spiritual crisis. I suppose I could call her a fylgja but she doesn't really fit the bill. Aetter would be closer but still, I think I'll just stick to 'me Gran'.

 

On the other hand, not really any kind of spirit guide but more like what Moonsmith describes. Only with me, it's (stereotypically) a wolf. It started out quite strange with physical affectations like my sense of smell would go crazy (it's always been very acute but it would increase), my vision would go blue/grey and I would feel almost as though my movements were changing. Later on in life, I started working on Hamfarir (basically taking your 'astral skin', shifting it into a different shape and then faring forth). And although a Wiccan friend once told me that it's strange for women to take a wolf shape when faring forth, it's always been the most natural for me.

 

Now here is where it gets less clear cut. During times when my father has been seriously ill, he's reported seeing a grey wolf standing at the foot of his bed, guarding him.

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Totems, by definition, are not associated with an individual but with a larger group... kinship groups, clan/tribal groups. Nor do they change over time. They may be non-human (or ancestral) beings under whose protection/auspices the group resides. They may even be strongly associated with Spirits of Place.

 

But they are not associated with individuals alone, nor do they change over time. A totem will not choose you. It is your totem by virtue of your kin or other affiliation. Any other usage is simply a new age conceit.

Edited by Animystic
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Totems, by definition, are not associated with an individual but with a larger group... kinship groups, clan/tribal groups. Nor do they change over time. They may be non-human (or ancestral) beings under whose protection/auspices the group resides. They may even be strongly associated with Spirits of Place.

 

But they are not associated with individuals alone, nor do they change over time. A totem will not choose you. It is your totem by virtue of your kin or other affiliation. Any other usage is simply a new age conceit.

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When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.' ....

 

I use the word Totem to describe the animal spirit with which I closely associate and which on occasion I become/becomes me. It chose me and I do not share it. If that isn't a Totem then so be it. :rolleyes: I'm far too old to learn a new word for it!

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I don't use the term Totem in any kind of sense.

 

I jumped in at the mention of Fylgjur which isn't a new age concept and generally was keeping in line with the previous discussion.

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Sorry Birka, my comment wasn't aimed at your post, it merely followed it. I was commenting in general about the usage of the word totem which has been appropriated by new age thinking and is used in a way that is utterly different to the original and/or academic meaning of the word. I generally trust Heathens to be more rigorous about their terminology :-)

 

Moonsmith... Bear may indeed be totemic in relation to you, but if so, it isn't because the relationship is purely personal :-) Totemic as an adjective describes a specific type of relationship as mentioned above.

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Sorry Birka, my comment wasn't aimed at your post, it merely followed it. I was commenting in general about the usage of the word totem which has been appropriated by new age thinking and is used in a way that is utterly different to the original and/or academic meaning of the word. I generally trust Heathens to be more rigorous about their terminology :-)

 

Moonsmith... Bear may indeed be totemic in relation to you, but if so, it isn't because the relationship is purely personal :-) Totemic as an adjective describes a specific type of relationship as mentioned above.

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I understand Animystic. However I think these kinds of threads are good for folks to share experiences that seem a bit similar but then figure out the terminology . Coming outright and saying something is just new age conceit maybe isn't really constructive and might make folks not want to share. I don't think it's mostly conceit either, I think it's more misunderstanding a term and misusing it.

 

I know, possibly weird for me, a Heathen who is pretty vociferous about terminology and such to say that. I dunno, UPG (unverified personal gnosis), is something I tend to be more careful of because it's a very very personal thing. Folks that share that are pretty much sharing a piece of their soul IMO.

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Fully accepted Birka, and I apologise to anyone who may have been offended or put off by my wording and approach. sablemaine, Moonsmith and others, it is no way my intention to detract from your exploration of your experience, but I see I have done that. It *is* my contention that the new age conceit exists, but that the appropriation of terms by the new age movement is not the fault of those who pick up and use those terms as a consequence... I do believe it is import to square up about words because words are used to track experiences, and confusion arises when we allow the labels to be applied inconsistently. But I could have made that point much less harshly and continued in detail elsewhere...

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Fully accepted Birka, and I apologise to anyone who may have been offended or put off by my wording and approach. sablemaine, Moonsmith and others, it is no way my intention to detract from your exploration of your experience, but I see I have done that. It *is* my contention that the new age conceit exists, but that the appropriation of terms by the new age movement is not the fault of those who pick up and use those terms as a consequence... I do believe it is import to square up about words because words are used to track experiences, and confusion arises when we allow the labels to be applied inconsistently. But I could have made that point much less harshly and continued in detail elsewhere...

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Oh no worries - I have absolutely no problem with your definition - Its just that I am unlikely to change my use of the word because it is useful in common parlance and avoids a prolonged explanation or a more obscure term.

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Fully accepted Birka, and I apologise to anyone who may have been offended or put off by my wording and approach. sablemaine, Moonsmith and others, it is no way my intention to detract from your exploration of your experience, but I see I have done that. It *is* my contention that the new age conceit exists, but that the appropriation of terms by the new age movement is not the fault of those who pick up and use those terms as a consequence... I do believe it is import to square up about words because words are used to track experiences, and confusion arises when we allow the labels to be applied inconsistently. But I could have made that point much less harshly and continued in detail elsewhere...

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Oh no worries - I have absolutely no problem with your definition - Its just that I am unlikely to change my use of the word because it is useful in common parlance and avoids a prolonged explanation or a more obscure term.

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:( What was that word again? Polysemous? :)

 

It's ok Animystic, I really hope I didn't sound harsh in my post to you.

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:) What was that word again? Polysemous? :D

 

It's ok Animystic, I really hope I didn't sound harsh in my post to you.

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nah... just jolted me into an awareness of how my posting style can impact on others, and that was fully deserved and for which I can only thank you :(

 

Big enough and ugly enough B)

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I have no problem with your response Animystic. This is one problem with the written word; it appears on the page without tone or inflection. The tone is then set by the person reading it, so that it may infer stronger emotion than it was intended.

 

Also, the very nature of language (and as such the words within it) is evolutionary. The word ‘naughty’ for instance was once only used to describe the harshest of criminals; and lets not start on the newer appropriation of the word ‘element’. What I’m trying to say is that newer uses of ancient words may have as much relevance to the person using them even though it may differ from the original use of the word.

 

(and now I’m going to duck and cover)

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On the other hand, not really any kind of spirit guide but more like what Moonsmith describes. Only with me, it's (stereotypically) a wolf. It started out quite strange with physical affectations like my sense of smell would go crazy <snip>

 

Me too with the wolf (although in defence of my stereotype I've loved them for as long as I can remember). It affects my sense of smell, and I've been told I walk differently. In fact, a pagan friend who hadn't been told about it once made the comment that I had a nice tail - and he didn't mean my bottom. :)

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I have no problem with your response Animystic. This is one problem with the written word; it appears on the page without tone or inflection. The tone is then set by the person reading it, so that it may infer stronger emotion than it was intended.

 

Also, the very nature of language (and as such the words within it) is evolutionary. The word ‘naughty’ for instance was once only used to describe the harshest of criminals; and lets not start on the newer appropriation of the word ‘element’. What I’m trying to say is that newer uses of ancient words may have as much relevance to the person using them even though it may differ from the original use of the word.

 

(and now I’m going to duck and cover)

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I think that's an excellent point Sablemaine. The written word can come across very differently from how it is meant.

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