The Prairie Sage: Searching For A Totem
In Search Of A Power Animal
Running down the tracks, following the dogs, Dave Matthews Band singing in my ear, I try not to stare at my feet. The uneven footing of the train tracks makes it difficult to look around. Slowing my pace I raise my eyes, to take in my surroundings. Frost glimmers on grassblades as the sunlight slowy emerges. Early morning birds take wing as the dogs chase through underbrush, scaring a rabbit onto my path. Ahead, about a half mile several deer watch us warily. They smell the dogs and begin bounding across wide open fields long before the dogs notice their presence. I continue running hoping once again to see my fox.
I run along the railroad track that go past my house. After only a mile or so, I have left the familiar neighborhood and am surrounded by farmland and nature. It is here that I truly feel alive. This is my true home.
About two miles down the track, I have seen a fox on several occasions. She peers out from weeds growing along the access road, then runs daintly ahead, giving the dogs a fresh scent, but staying well ahead of their machinations. Usually she darts across the tracks and is gone long before I get too close. I make my way down the gravel road, peering ahead, seeing nothing. I am not surprised. Two trains have passed by on this morning, and a farmer bales hay on the downhill side of the tracks. Across the tracks, a construction crew has begun work on a new road, and machinery breaks through my peaceful reverie. Wanting to see the fox, I continue running, well past her usual haunting grounds. I press on, until I realize the lateness of the hour. Kids are home, waiting for breakfast before the bus comes. Shrugging, I turn back and make my way home.
About half a mile later, in the undergrowth ahead, I see the small red head peer out and stare right at me. She crouches, unnoticed by the dogs, just waiting and staring. As we approach, the border collie picks up her scent and gives chase. The fox appears to trot nonchalantly away, as Pepe breaks into a flat out run. Happily I follow fox and dogs about a quarter mile, before she tires of the chase and heads for safer ground.
I say a thanks to God, for allowing me the gift of encountering my power animal during my run.
What Is A Power Animal?
How do you choose a totem?
I have only recently begun learning about power animals and totems. According to Ted Andrews, in his book, "Animal Speak", "The study of Nature Totems is essential for understanding how the spiritual is manifesting within our natural life. A totem is any natural object, being, or animal to whose phenomena and energy we feel closely associated with during our life."
It is often believed that Spirit beings sometimes take the form of animals. Before you scoff and close the page, think about your own life. Many people believe in guardian angels, ghosts, saints, demons and even fairies. These spirit guides provide a purpose in many lives, to protect, to enlighten, to empower us, to help us heal. One form that spirit guides take is the form of animals. These animals help us understand, through their behavior, how the spiritual world is manifesting in our own lives.
Have you ever been fascinated by an animal or bird? Those animals which fascinate us often resonate with our spirit, and have something to teach us. How about the zoo? What animals are you typically drawn to? What animals do you see frequently in nature? Have you ever been bitten or attacked by an animal? Do you ever dream about animals? These are some ways to begin to identify your personal power animals. There is usually one, or sometimes two totem animals in a persons life that are the strongest, and remain with you for a long time. Other totem animals may come to help you through a difficult situation, or to teach you a particular lesson.
My Power Animals
I recently began to wonder if I had an animal totem. I had some ideas about what they might be, but I wanted to know on a deeper, more spiritual level. I decided to pray each night, asking God to show me my totem animal. I decided that I would seek for a week, then let it go. I am not about to force myself and my energy into the animal kingdom.
The first night. Nothing. I looked for signs. Looked for animals. I always see deer when I run, but I was looking for something more special. Something that spoke to me. The second night, I prayed that God, or the Great Spirit, would show me my totem. I awoke around two in the morning, and as I lay on the bed, could hear a dove cooing through the open window. Puzzled, I wondered what a dove was doing in the middle of the night. As I began drifting back to sleep, I realized that it was the call of an owl I heard. I listened for several minutes, as the owl hooted into the night.
The next morning, I took my run, to see if the fox would appear. She was there, as always. As I ran home, I realized how many foxes have accompanied my runs over the years. In Colorado, a black fox would run every morning alonside the road, keeping pace and watching me closely. Then he would disappear. The red fox is one of my power animals.
After hearing the owl calling, I remembered seeing an owl, gliding over our house the summer before. Three evenings in a row, he soared over the house. Then one night, this summer, hiking with the kids under a full moon, I saw a dark shadow float over my head. As the enormous bird turned, its wings brightly reflected the moonlight and I realized it was a huge owl. My second power animal is a white owl.
Having come to this realization, I have begun studying the characteristics of these two animals. The book, "Animal Speak", is a great place to start, and there is a lot of information available online as well.
What Do I Do With It?
Having gathered information about my power animals, the red fox and the white owl, I look for opportunities in my own life for personal growth. What about these animals can I learn of myself? How can I apply their characteristics to my life?
The challenge in life is to not only gather information, but to put it to good use as well. As I learn about my totem animals, I learn about myself. The need to listen closely, to search out the unspoken. To blend in rather than stand out. These are the lessons I am learning.
As you seek out your Spirit Guides, in the form of animals, you will find a new type of spiritual growth waiting for you.