Late last year I returned to the UK (my country of origin) and thought I would spend some time in Edinburgh.
However, it took me just a few days to remember that nature is my church and city living does not suit me at all. I love to be outside and to feel ‘in tune’ with the natural world and the animal kingdom, both of which hold spiritual guidance for us, if we have time to slow down and notice.
And that is what this article is all about – how Spirit communicates with us through signs from animals and the natural world.
Animal Totems & Signs
An animal totem, or sign is essentially an encounter that we have (often repeatedly) with a particular animal, as a message from Spirit. Its purpose is to teach or show us something about ourselves or our lives.
Here’s a good example one of my students, Elena, recently had of this phenomenon:
“Since starting your Intuitive Awakening Course last month, I have seen a few crows hanging around my house. I live in rural Queensland, Australia and crows are common around here.
However, I have lived here for five years and have never had a group of crows come right into the patio area of my home and hang around nearly every day and especially when I have been meditating or practising tuning in.
I have read a lot of different things about what this may or may not mean which makes it a bit confusing. Do the crows mean anything or is it just a coincidence?”
Obviously not every single encounter with an animal is going to be meaningful, but Elena’s experience is a good example of one which is.
Animal encounters tend to be a ‘sign’ when:
- The animal comes much closer than it usually does
- You keep seeing it
- Its presence ‘feels’ relevant to you somehow
(Crows have no-nonsense, “don’t care” energy. They encourage you to mind less about what other people think and to remember that a lot of things matter less in the scheme of things, than we think they do. So the medicine the crow is bringing to you, Elena, is possibly along those lines. However, you should also consult your own instincts about what this encounter means. The message can vary from person to person – so, do some research and see what resonates.)
The Wisdom of the Animal Kingdom
While we’re talking about the animal kingdom, I also want to mention animal guides. Many of my clients present with an animal guide around them.
On a spiritual level, animal guides embody certain positive energies and bring them to us. These are energies that we often need a dose of in our lives – “animal medicine”, if you will!
Animal medicine can heal us, and keep us in balance and aligned with our higher selves.
Here are some example of Animal Guides I’ve come across in recent readings, along with the ‘medicine’ they bring to us:
What is the wisdom this creature holds for us?
The cat reminds us of the importance of rest and relaxation. She wants us to get comfortable and forget about our worries for a while.
Next to a horse, this creature is rather fabulous looking – it stands out and draws the eye. It is different.
The zebra reminds us that it is OK to not be the same as everyone else, and to fly our ‘freak flag’! Zebra teaches us about embracing our quirks and beauty, especially when they are different from everyone else’s.
(I won’t publish a picture here because they give plenty of people – including me – the creeps!)
This insect is known for its indestructibility. They are hard to kill. They teach us to persist, survive and do our best in whatever circumstances we’re presented with.
Want To Find Out If You Have an Animal Guide?
There are a few ways you can do this:
- Ask Spirit to reveal your animal guide to you (in the form of a sign), as you go about your daily life
- Ask to be given a dream with your animal guide in it.
- Put yourself into the alpha state via meditation, or a guided visualization, and ask Spirit if you have an animal guide.
Upon doing this, you may ‘see’, ‘hear’ or just ‘know’ what your guide is. Once you know what your animal guide is, you can work out what it means.
The Significance of Your Animal Guide
Often the symbolism is very obvious. Ask yourself questions like:
- What is this animal known for?
- What sort of feelings/reactions does it inspire in me?
- What is the animal’s strength, in practical terms? (i.e. is it fast, fierce, easily hides itself, etc)
Often the answers to these questions give us a big old clue about the ‘medicine’ your animal guide or totem is bringing to you!
There are also many books and websites online dedicated to understanding the significance of your animal guide. What’s Your Sign is a good one.
Do you suspect you have an animal guide/totem? Please share in the comments.
I have two totems. One is a large black dog that comes to me in a spirit form when I have been very sick. The other is an owl. I have been followed by an owl my whole life. When I was a very young girl I drew them when my friends were drawing things like flowers and unicorns.
Hi, after reading your article magpies came into my mind almost immediately. Sometimes during difficult times I see magpies hanging around and at one point when I was bedridden they virtually lived in my attic and I could see them entering just above my window. But they aren’t there anymore now that I am much better. Sometimes when I am down I go to sit in a field and admire nature and at my worst , a few came in the field and played out a dance. They were interesting and entertaining to watch.
This is what they stand for “With its noisy chattering, black-and-white plumage and long tail, there is nothing else quite like the magpie in the UK. When seen close-up its black plumage takes on an altogether more colourful hue with a purplish-blue iridescent sheen to the wing feathers, and a green gloss to the tail. Magpies seem to be jacks of all trades – scavengers, predators and pest-destroyers, their challenging, almost arrogant attitude has won them few friends. Non-breeding birds will gather together in flock. magpies are birds of the Corvidae (crow) family, including the black and white Eurasian magpie, which is considered one of the most intelligent animals in the world, and the only non-mammal species able to recognize itself in a mirror test.
I feel mine are crows and the Owl.
I have a crow friend who started appearing at my window soon after my father passed away. Some days it will eat the boiled eggs that I keep for it, and some day it’s just chatty like my dad was..a lot of pointless cawing and then it abruptly flies off.
Also the owl because even though they aren’t common in my area of residence and I have only seen one real owl all my life, I feel a deep connection with owls. My family members call me the wise owl because they tease me about being wiser beyond my years.
A hypnotherapist onceremarked that I even look like an owl! I laughed but maybe there is something similar.
So I asked Spirit last night to show me which animal totem I had, and this morning the FIRST thing I see when I get off the bed is a small harmless spider. I was shocked! Haha I left the room afterwards and when I came back, the spider was gone. I looked up the meaning of it and it was very accurate to what’s going on in my life now. Pretty cool!
Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences.
Hi Liz – that’s interesting that you were drawing owls from an early age!
Anita – apparently it’s common that your animal totem will show up when you are going through something difficult!
Can your beloved pet (who has passed) be your guide? I feel as if my dog (who was like a child to me) is guiding me – he was the one who launched me on my spiritual path when he died – I had not previously believed in the existence of Afterlife. Is that possible, or is that my imagination? I have always been powerfully drawn by dogs, but he is my Heart Dog…
I didn’t even know totem animals existed until about seven years ago when I told a friend about saving a baby cardinal one day, and she said a friend of hers commented that the cardinal must be my totem. My comment was, “What the heck is a totem?” And, looking for the answer to that question was the first step in a fabulous journey that continues to this day. I am most connected to cardinals, hawks, dogs and cats (I am a pet sitter), crows, wolf spiders, and horses. However, once aware of this constant conversation I can and do have daily with the universe through nature, I have met so many messengers and teachers and gained so much insight. I agree, I like What’s Your Sign as well. I am on a journey into deeper animal connection now; I am now (as of January) a certified Level 1 Reiki Practitioner with certification in Animal Reiki (with Nancy Windheart); Level 2 classes are coming up this fall, and will be moving on to studying animal communication. One of my Reiki guides is my kitty, Murphy, who passed in 2007, but is always with me in spirit.
I think my animal guide is an owl . I often do not see the owl but hear the owl. It has happen many times and most of these times I am in some kind of emotional state,or feeling lost and or confused. One day I came out of the house and as I turned to take the trash to the can, I stopped dead in my tracks as there sat two most beautiful Bard owls staring back at me. I just stood there watching them and them watching me. I felt they were there to comfort me. I even teared up and thanked them. One left, the other stayed a bit longer and then it left also. I then took the trash out. I went back inside and felt so happy and loved.
I’ve had a fairly wide range of animals show up, in dreams or in real-life encounters, over the years: horses, deer, cows, cougars, bears (grizzly), otters and puffins.
Bear and cougar tend to show in my dreams when I am anxious about something.
If I dream about super TALL horses, it usually tells me that I can over-ride whatever
I am going though. I love otters and puffins, because for me, they represent happiness.
Lately, I’ve noticed these huge crows or ravens showing up in our backyard, ostensibly to look for worms, but I do wonder why they have made their presence known to me. So, for now, I am observing and watching.
Crows are one of mine also based on the same experience Elena had. They line up daily on the fence about 15′ from the patio I spend most of the day on. There is one in particular I call Prince, because he shines such a beautiful deep purple in the sun. Had an incident where he flew directly past me, about 3 ‘, into my french patio door. Flew off quite disoriented, but was back the next morning. I do not know what if anything it meant, and am very open to interpretation…But I never liked crows, and now I love them. Also, during a meditation I saw an owl. Which made me laugh as I have always loved owls and collect anything they are on…I loved this blog post…
Crows, from I read, are the birds of Shaman’s, this is a very mystical bird. There’s power there but the person who has a crow guide has to discover it.
I often have crows approach me in strange places, like parking lot’s or other places, it’s always good to ask yourself when you see them, what message are they trying to give me and then watch what your thoughts are or what you were just thinking about.
For me, whatever is needed at the time shows its presence. If I’m having a quiet, meditative moment our 3 cats and dog all want to sit on or close to me. If I’m on the golf course I am very much aware of the birds and feathers found remind me angels and guides are enjoying the outdoors. I feel that there are signs and help around us all the time and we just need to be aware that love is always at hand. Even the long, warm look of a cow or horse over the fence as I pass by gives me a feeling of protection and guidance. This may sound silly but eye contact with all Gods creatures feels like a link to the soul.
This post came at the perfect time. The octopus. For the past month (since I truly committed to developing my intuitive skills) I am CONSTANTLT seeing an octopus. Everywhere! And in the most mundane, normal situations. It is a fun daily game now. And gives me the best feeling because I KNOW my guides have a hand in this. 🙂
Hi Anna, I love this post… You read for me that a zebra is mine and I’ve just loved studying and connecting with this ‘free spirited’ animal.
I was walking in the woods on a rainy day. The hood on my rain coat was up. I noticed
something white moving on my right. I turned and was nose to beak and eyeball to eyeball with a hawk. His eye was golden & I was stunned and didn’t know what to do.
I was thrilled & frightened at the same time. My dog (a Whippet) moved very slowly and tried to extract the dead black squirrel that was draped in the hawk’s beak. The hawk never looked at the dog but he spread his wings, I stepped back and he dropped the dead squirrel to my left. My dog didn’t run to retrieve it.
I was under a lot of stress at the time due to a family dispute. I think the hawk gave me the strength to continue and I had a good outcome.
I may be strange on this one, but my animal totem is a Hammerhead Shark. He has been with me since I was 4. Other totems include seahorses, frogs, and bees. These haven’t stayed as long as the shark. It amazes me that the shark is my totem as I do not go in the water as I cannot swim. He teaches me to punch through those barriers that hold me back, and he is my protector when I am scared. I collect everything with Hammers on it, such as towels, jewelry, and artwork. I have even touched a bonnethead and really enjoyed the experience.
In spirit I often see a variety of animals – mainly those I associate with Britain. My most frequent companion is a white stag who transports me wherever I go in the spirit realm, and I am also frequently accompanied by a white hare as well (that would be “hare” and NOT “rabbit”, I’ve been emphatically informed). Other animals I “see” regularly are the fox and otter, and white owl.
LOVE this post and all the comments. I wish I could say I knew my animal totem, although I am rather happy I do not know. You see, for a couple years now when I seek to ground myself or ask spirit questions, animals come to me — all sorts — animals, insects, fish, birds. . . Once during a Shaman Indian guided meditation, I walked in sunset in tall grass with as many animals, insects and birds my brain could imagine. We all then peacefully sat near a beautiful banyan tree as the sun went down. It brought me much peace. Soon after I went for a healing and was told in a previous life I was a shape shifter. Im not really sure what it all means, but I do enjoy their company. I realize I much to learn about my journey with animals and hope one day to work with you, Anna, to help me understand.
Thank you again.
Hi recently I’ve noticed that when I am thinking, working on some issue a certain “unusual” animal would appear.
I had a peacock, nightingale, crow, kingfisher, cat (stray cats are not usual here) and bats as well.
I would say crows and ravens because when ever I’m outside they seem to be around. Especially in stormy weather.
I drive for a living and when I’m on the road I see quite a few.
Hawks I would say are another.
I have actually had them fly along with the truck. They’re always sitting alongside the highway on signs and poles watching me drive by.
It’s kind of weird but I have had an affinity for Wolves for a long time. Whether it’s the independence or strength or the way the pack looks out for each other.
I’ve had an animal intuitive tell me that he keeps seeing wolves when he see me.
So I’m going to say that they’re significant in my spiritual path.
I find that animals come to you with messages when needed, and that they can enact a whole series of events ahead, or offer a solution to a problem you are experiencing. – Once, I was thinking about a problem with a workmate while sitting with my back to a tree – when I turned and saw a fox creeping up behind – which quickly retreated once it saw me watching. Glancing down, I then saw a huge ant standing stock-still on the back of my hand! (And it didn’t bite). I took the fox to be my workmate, and felt the message was that if I confronted her, she would cease to be a problem – in fact, she would transform into a solid team-mate (the ant). I wondered what would happen if I didn’t say anything, and just let the situation continue? – And that answer showed up as well, later in the night – in the form of a creepy, unidentifiable insect crawling slowly up my arm! (The situation will get worse, bug me and turn into a drag). [A simple compliment resolved the situation very quickly the following morning]. Another time I was wondering how my daughter would go, travelling overseas with her new boyfriend. I was sitting down at the beach on a slight sandbar, when I realised 2 incredible albatrosses had settled alongside. The one nearest was very relaxed and unbothered (my daughter) but the one furtherest seemed a bit skittish, and inclined to wander away (the boyfriend). – That particular bird was exceptional looking, with grey tufts all down its neck (the boyfriend was dark-skinned). The birds flew off together and settled 100m away, where they stayed for quite some time – joined by a smaller bird. Eventually, the grey-tufted one flew far, far off into the distance where I could hardly tell if it had landed on a tree or kept going. The female bird stayed a bit longer, then followed – and I couldn’t tell if she had met up with him in the distance and they were flying together, or whether she was still trying to catch up. So what DID happen? Well, they went to Vietnam together, and were joined shortly by one of my daughter’s friends (the smaller bird – a little Vietnamese lady). Suddenly, the boyfriend decided to return to America. My daughter stayed a little while longer in Vietnam, then came home to Australia – letting the boyfriend go. I was so sure the bird tableau was accurately predicting the future! Yet instead of my daughter following the boy to American, as the birds had seemed to show, she returned to Australia. I believe the birds had shown me a future comparable with the energy available at the time – and that the same thing happens in psychic readings sometimes – when some information is accurate, but other parts of it can alter according to will and energy changes further along. There have been many other occasions where animal interactions provided messages, but I will stick to those two. Apart from that, I’m surprised how many people relate to owls – because, yes – owl is my spirit totem too:)
I often see a small deer when meditating or doing animal communication. It’s not a big powerful one that emanates strength and things like that, more a small, quiet one that guides me. I’m looking forward to learning more from it!
I did a shamanic journey and had a fox and an owl come to me. Also a fox kept hanging around in our garden for about a week. It wasn’t bothered by our presence or shouting, just sat and looked at us, lol. Also for the past 5 months I’ve seen Elephants everywhere!
My spirit animal is a lioness. She knows that I am scared of the dark and still scared of ghosts and comes to me at night to comfort me and make me feel safe.
Mine is the owl. Usually comes to me in dreams, and two dreams really stand out for me. In one, the only thing I can see are the owl’s eyes. It feels like he’s communicating thoughts to me, upon waking I write everything down no matter how irrelevant it may seem. The second dream is, I am actually looking through the owl’s eyes to see what he’s seeing, I don’t know what that means, and if anybody would like to interpret, I’d be happy to hear!
Hi Anna. A few years ago, while going through a particularly difficult divorce, I started to have repeating dreams where a very large male african lion would come to me and guide me. It became almost nightly for a while, and we would walk through different environments while he communicated with me things that I needed to learn or know or be aware of. One night he even lead me to a place where a woman was sleeping and I was told to not make a sound, but to observe her; she would be important in my world…. I met that woman in real life about a month later and she became a pillar for me for a while. Years have passed, and my lion doesn’t meet me very often anymore, but when does, he carries an important message that always ends up strengthening me in some way. and since that time, I have found that lions, as statues, photos, artwork, etc., have been very pronounced in my world, and accepted into my home. This magnificent animal has definitely been my guide and my savior; and continues to be.
wow I was only asking spirit about the meaning behind all these dead bees or dying bees meant… and I get this on my email system… I knew it meant something but still need to figure out what… every single day for the last few months when I walk outside my backdoor I see one to several dead bees… and have been trying to research what it may mean.. but coming to a dead end all the time… I know deep down it has a significant meaning… love your emails by the way xx
Hawk, specifically red-tailed hawk must be a totem for me now. I had been seeing them often, and then last week I found a beautiful wing feather dropped by a red tailed hawk, in my driveway just next to my car. It’s the strongest feather I have ever found. I made a new dream catcher and suspended just that one feather from it, where it floats in the breeze next to my bed. I have also been working with Lion, as I am having a significant Saturn transit and my natal Saturn is in Leo. Also been working with Turtle, as I am trying to accomplish a lot and have had problems in the past with having loads of initial enthusiasm leading to burnout and quitting; so I am using “slow and steady wins the race” as a mantra these days, and in the short time since I have been doing this I have seen no less than three different types of large turtles passing (surprisingly quickly) through my yard.
Anna – yes, our deceased pets do keep watch over us, much like our deceased human loved ones do.
I’ve picked up on the energy of deceased pets when doing a reading, and it feels like the unconditional love that the animal brought to us in the physical. They bring that from the other side, too. They are still with us. It sounds like your dog had a soul contract to influence your spiritual path through his presence and death.
This is not a ‘guide’ role they have as such (as souls who choose to become spirit guides are not usually on a path of incarnation any longer, and these souls have trained to become guides) but it does sometimes resemble it.
Dear Anna, thank you so much for responding to my comment/question about deceased pets. Your comment makes so much sense! When I read your words about soul contract, it totally “clicked” – so validating and heartwarming… Thank you so much for that! Yes, the pure Love bond that still exists between humans and oir beloved pets is incredible. It seems to extend beyond what we call death. Thank you again for this great post, means a lot to me:) Anna
Craig – enjoyed reading about your experience & seeing the avatar of your male African lion!
Thank you everybody for adding your experiences! I loved reading all these comments about your animal totems & guides.
I read this article and asked to know my animal guide/medicine like you said. It turned out to be in the form of my friend’s dog: a German Shepherd puppy. It’s big, tho only 7 months old.
In the dream I stepped into our house and saw the dog. My housemate informed me she got the dog, it is hers and it’s staying. I became very upset, I didn’t want it.