Animal Speak by Ted Andrews
Learn the Language and Meaning of Animal Totems
Animal Speak by Ted Andrews is my favorite guide to the symbolism and lore of animal totems.
Over fifteen years after buying my first copy, I still find it useful, especially when encountering a new Animal Teacher. It's easy to find what I need and has comprehensive entries. Even when I was completely new to this journey, I found it simple to understand and put into use. Just one of the many things I love is that it is written from the perspective of one with personal experience and insights. This is the totem book I recommend most and gift to friends.
Animal Speak is full of information helpful to people curious about totems and animal symbolism or interested in walking the path of a shaman.
A Complete Guide To Animal Symbolism
More Than Native American Meanings
In Animal Speak, Ted Andrews includes lore from around the world, such as Chinese and Celtic totem animals and their legends and lore as well as North American. The overall focus of the book aligns with Native North American themes but the powers of animals in these other traditions offer a more complete view. For example, Salmon and Crow were also powerful creatures in the Celtic tradition, and a study of their lessons would seem incomplete without reflections on those meanings.
Other sections include in-depth information on insect and bird symbolism. These are areas most similar books I've looked at didn't cover. Most include a handful of the more commonly encountered birds and ignore almost all of the insects, leaving many teachers out. Yet, Flicker and Blue Jay, Magpie and Praying Mantis, and so many others all have their own messages and teachings. you'll find them, and many others, here.
He even shares with the reader a variety of exercises for working with animal totems, strengthening our connection and understanding.
My other primary tool is the book that comes with , which is a lovely, full-sized, deep and insightful handbook of Native American Totems. Of the many books I've looked at on this topic, this is only book I consider in the same class as Animal Speak. It's nowhere near as complete, but includes interesting insights and poetic verses to help illustrate the energies of the animals. They are good companion volumes. For books to read in a study of animal symbolism, it's the second book I'd recommend. Medicine Cards
The deck itself is a variation of a tarot deck, designed from Native American Totem Symbolism and intended to help the user on a journey of self-discovery. Unlike traditional tarot decks there are no higher arcana or suits; in fact, that they are a deck and that they can be used in card spreads for self-discovery are about all they have in common. I've used the deck for many years as a way to better understand animal totems and their energies, as well as myself.
The authors of Medicine Cards use poetry and legends to share the messages and meanings of animal totems, and include what negative meanings may come into play if the energy is out of balance.
Among the card spreads offered is one to help you discover what your totems may be.
Have you read Animal Speak?
What did you think of it?
How Many Totems Do You Have?
People commonly think we have one totem, and we do have one that closely aligns with our personality and walks with us all our lives. But there are teachers who say we actually have many: seven primary influences who seek to teach us in different areas of our lives, and others who come into our lives for a while to teach us specific things, and then move on. These transitory guides may be there for the moment, bring us a message for a specific problem (lesson) we're working on, or stay with us for weeks or even years.
Ways to Identify Your Totems
Usually The First Step On The Path
It's important to remember that all animal totems are powerful and have much to teach us. Don't get hung up looking into the sky hoping for Eagle when Ferret is dancing at your feet. They all have great energies and strengths.
Consider whether there is an animal that has been a recurring theme in your life. Perhaps it's a favorite that you have loved since childhood.
Is there an animal you strongly identify with?
Have you ever been attacked by an animal? This is sometimes seen as a totem challenging you, testing your strength, bringing lessons that cannot be ignored. It can be terrifying and life-threatening or it can seem a bit ridiculous. In the encounter there is often a surreal quality, the whole thing may seem rather bizarre.
Even an animal you fear can be a shadow totem, indicating lessons and, in its own way, be looking out for you by helping you to grow.
Because I've studied Totems and worked with them personally for many years, as my children came along and as they grew, I've paid more attention to animal influences and interactions in their lives than I likely would have otherwise. One of my sons had an animal we encountered at a wildlife sanctuary behave in an extremely unusual way, coming right up to the glass, focusing on him and following him. We haven't made it back that often, but at every visit, as he grows up, this behavior has repeated. And he is completely obsessed with this particular type of animal. With my daughter there were no clues like that, but in instinctive ways she acts very much like the animal she loves most.
These are all strong clues that can help you identify your animal totems. Ted Andrews speaks of many more ways to discover your totems and gives shamanistic exercises (such as meditation or dancing your totem) one can do in Animal Speak.