Writing, working, researching and consulting about animal guides for 20 years has taught me a lot. Over that period of time, I’ve uncovered a lot of myths about animal guides. Here are a few of the more common misconceptions about spirit animal guides, and some insights into each.
Myth #1: You Only Get One Animal Guide In Your Lifetime
To this myth about animal guides I ask this, “Do you only have one friend?” Not likely, right? Now take a look at the diversity of nature. It’s so marvelously varied and extraordinarily diverse. Then look within yourself and assess all the complexities and intricate details you represent. Observing all these nuances and variables should make it clear that having only one animal guide doesn’t seem altogether fitting.
Each of us is multi-faceted. Between thought, emotion, culture, history, etc – we have a myriad of expressions. Nature and all her creatures are equally vast and multitudinous with variety. Therefore, it just doesn’t make sense that we’re only permitted one animal companion. Where this myth got up to, I’ve no idea. Personally, I have several guides. Some have helped me in certain times in my life and moved on when the time was right. Then, there are other animal guides (several of them) that are with me all the time.
It’s important to know that building a bond with animal guides isn’t “one size fits all” – we may have several guides. Some animals may show up in are darkest moments, only to fade out as we become stabilized. Relationships with animal guides are similar as spirit guides, family, romantic partners or friends. We don’t have just one, and sometimes relationships change over time.
Myth #2: A So-Called “Guru” Needs to Identify Your Animal Guide
To this, I say, “Horse hockey!” I’ve written about the dangers of totem assignments. Namely, nobody knows you better than you. Similarly, no other creature knows your essence and energy as well as your animal guide. Furthermore, your relationship with your animal guide is intensely personal. Given that, why would you trust someone else with assigning you an animal guide? Now, there are experienced shamanic practitioners, psychics, intuitives, etc who can sense the presence of animals in others. When called out, these observations made by experienced practitioners should certainly be heeded.
If a trusted friend or totemic advisor says they see an animal in your aura, then by all means – heed that observation. Listen to it, invest thought in that impression someone else had. But please, don’t let someone tell you, “Poof! Your animal guide is a [whatever].” Arbitrarily receiving animal guide assignments is akin to arranged marriages without permission. On the contrary, your bond with an animal is a personal one, not to be taken lightly or at someone else’s word. You have more insight and power than you likely give yourself credit for. Therefore, trust your intuition and instinct when it comes to identifying your animal guides.
Myth #3: Animal Guides Are Always The Coolest and Most Awesome Creatures
I hate to break this to you, but in my experience, not all animal guides are what we might envision. For example, one of my animal guides is an earthworm (I kid you not). Granted, it’s not the prettiest and might not seem the most inspiring guide on the surface. However, earthworms got me through a tremendously tough time in my life. Sound weird? Maybe so. But it’s important not to limit the vast world of animals, fish, birds, insects, reptiles, etc.
It’s interesting how the wolf, hawk or some other creature that is popularly viewed as a noble creature is frequently cited as the majority favorite for animal totems. In truth, an animal guide can be anything, including some critters that don’t always get the pop vote like slugs, rats, ferrets, cockroaches, or whatever. Now, to set the record straight – I don’t have a problem with any creatures. Even the mosquito has taught me lessons.
I’m just saying that the myth of having the “cool” animal guide is a pitfall that can exclude you from some really powerful connections. If we eliminate the seemingly less-jazzy creatures and only opt to connect with the exotic or favored ones – then we’re missing out on truly profound lessons from underestimated creatures.
Myth #4: Your Animal Guide Can Only Be Identified Through Ritual or Ceremony
Yes, it’s true that many indigenous, ancient, and native cultures do have ceremonial customs when it comes to connecting with animal guides. However, it’s not a requirement to bond with your power animal. You can certainly opt to delve into a meditative state, attend a drumming circle or sweat lodge with a purpose to achieve animal communication. I’ve done so, with great results. Nevertheless, I’ve had stronger communication with animal guides by simply being present, becoming still, listening, etc.
I’m a big believer that when we make an effort to sync up with the natural world, it encourages totemic connections. Heck, I’ve had more meaningful communion with crickets while meditating in garden work than I’ve had in stuffy rituals or ceremonies. I’m not knocking ritual. It has its place. Rituals and ceremonies are brilliant for honoring, recognizing, enhancing, clarifying – but sometimes connecting with animal guides should be as effortless as greeting an old friend. Just sayin’.
Myth #5: We’re All Born With Animal Guides (or not?)
This isn’t really a myth, but more of a perspective. A ton of cultures and indigenous people believe we are all born into this world with animal guides. I believe it too. However, many of us either don’t remember, or haven’t latched onto that birth-connection with that birth animal guide. A birth totem might not make an appearance in our consciousness in our lifetime – but that doesn’t mean it’s not with us all the time.
So, the argument can be made that all of us are born with animal guides, but we might not be aware of its identity. Furthermore, there is no end-all-be-all rule that says we are born with our totems. It’s a point of debate, and everybody has a different opinion on this aspect of animal guides.
You might opt to check out birth totems from various cultures such as Native American or Celtic. However, these aren’t necessarily animal guides we are born with – only creatures that are aligned with our time of birth.
Whatever point you might subscribe to when it comes to animal guides at time of birth, don’t buy into myth #2 (you can only have one animal guide). Even if you have a spirit animal at birth, very likely, you will have other animals come into your awareness at different times in your life.
Myth #6: Animal Guides Are Always Cuddly Lovelies
Sorry to bust your bubbles here, but some of our most powerful animal allies aren’t always the ones we are completely in love with. I’ll give you an example. A friend of mine isn’t keen on geese. It wasn’t a phobia or anything, but they used to pick on her when she was a kid getting off the school bus. Since then, she’s always been tweaked by them. When she came to me, she was perplexed about all the geese that were migrating to her – literally.
They descended upon her property. She saw them on the TV. My friend even got a gig editing a modern-day Mother Goose screenplay (no joke). She kept having goose sightings for months. All these geese in her life were freaking her out a bit, and I proposed it might be one of her animal guides (or at least a transient animal advisor). She balked, of course, because she didn’t have a lot of love for geese. She assumed that animal guides are creatures that we love, respect – or at least have a positive report with.
In truth, sometimes the animal guides that are the antithesis of what we expect are the most profound companions we can have. This includes animals you might be terrified of, like spiders, snakes or bats – these critters really freak out a lot of people, but they are still immensely powerful animal guides. The point is to avoid putting expectations or limitations on animal totems. If you perceive you have a spirit animal that isn’t quite your cup of tea – pay attention to its presence in your life anyway. You never know – it might be there to reveal some important life lessons, help you heal, and even facilitate some incredible personal growth.
Myth #7: Seeing Is Believing
Many folks who are new to animal guides might think they have to actually see the animal in order for it to be their totem. Or, they may think they must have some sort of mystical vision of an animal for it to be a true guide. While seeing a bird, animal, insect, or sea creature is certainly a good sign – you don’t always have to see it in order to believe it’s your guide.
That said, if you do have visions of certain animals, or you’re having recurring dreams about a creature, that’s a positive indication this animal is meant to guide you. But in many cases, it might be a sound, a movement, a scent or a sensation that leads you to identify your animal guide.
Last Thoughts On Myths About Animal Guides
If you’ve gotten to the end of this post with more questions than answers – that’s okay. In truth, identifying animal guides is a wholly personal thing. These myths are merely what I’ve come across in working with spirit animals for decades. The funky and wonderful thing about animal guides is that everybody is going to have a different experience. There really are no rules when connecting with power animals, totems or animal spirit guides. That makes your experience incredibly unique. As always, thank you for reading!
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