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Spirit Animal: What We Can Learn From The Animal Kingdom & 18 Guides

Emma Mildon
Updated on January 25, 2023
Emma Mildon
By Emma Mildon
mbg Contributor
Emma Mildon is a millennial activist, co-host of 11:11 podcast, and best-selling author of Evolution of Goddess and The Soul Searcher's Handbook.
Last updated on January 25, 2023
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In some Indigenous traditions, spirit animals are an embodied form of a spiritual guide. Spiritual guides can present themselves to us in whatever way we are willing to see them, and you may connect with yours through the face of a familiar animal.

You may find that you feel connected to a power animal, or you could feel close to many members of the animal kingdom. Your animal guide(s) hold a particular quality that could help you navigate life with a bit more ease, faith, and confidence.

Not sure what animal best represents you, or what messages it's trying to send you? Here are some resources to help you find out.

What is a spirit animal?

In certain Indigenous traditions, spirit animals are a spirit that helps guide or protect a person on a specific journey. They can present themselves to us in whatever way we are willing to see them, and you may connect with yours through the face of a familiar animal.
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A few techniques for discovering your spirit animal


Learn about the animal connections in your own lineage

The term "spirit animal" descends from Native American spirituality, and it is important not to divorce it from this history.

Many Indigenous people request that non-Indigenous folks do not replicate their traditional animal imagery from totem poles and pictographs out of respect for their culture.

Instead, to engage with the spiritual meaning of animals in a way that is true to you, take the time to investigate what different animals represent in your culture.


Pay attention to your dreams

Our dreams are intimately connected to our waking lives, so every time you see an animal in yours, write it down the next morning. Is there any particular animal that comes up again and again?


Think about your past connections to certain animals

Think about your favorite animal from growing up, a beloved pet, or just a wild animal that you always crossed paths with when you were younger.


Journal about the animals that you feel drawn to

Sit down and do a quick 5-minute meditation to get quiet and make room for your intuition. Then, consider one animal that has a special significance to you. Ask yourself: If this animal were my guardian, what lessons could it be trying to teach me about my personal power and inner strength? Spend a few minutes journaling on the answer.

Complete this exercise multiple times for as many different animals as you wish. Then, come back to your journal after a few days away and see which animal and lessons resonate the most with you.


Take a quiz

If you've already spent time researching, journaling, ruminating, and dreaming of animals and still don't know which one most resonates with you, taking mbg's spirit animal quiz (below) might give you some new ideas.

RELATED STORY: Moth Symbolism: 3 Meanings + Why You're Seeing Them

Take The Spirit Animal Quiz

Once you've identified your spirit animal, you can start to listen to it

Animals often emanate certain traits and strengths that we can use more of in our own lives. For example, if you feel called to a crow, you may benefit from channeling the tenacious hunter's energy it represents.

One way to remind yourself of the qualities of your animal is with a physical representation of your guide—be it a photograph, statue, or painting that you love or cherish.

Every time you are touched by your spirit animal—whether you interact with it in real life, see it in a photo, or hear someone else talk about it—you can use it as a reminder of the importance of its unique qualities.

RELATED STORY: Praying Mantis Symbolism: 5 Spiritual Meanings & Messages

A list of common animals & their core qualities

Here is a brief introduction to the qualities of some common animal guides:


The bear is deeply emotional and feels a connection to the earth and the outdoors.


In many cultures, the butterfly is a symbol of transformation and development. It is incredibly adaptable and approaches all changes with ease and grace.


The cat often symbolizes curiosity, adventure, and independence. It has also mastered the art of patience.


The deer is a sensitive, highly intuitive spirit guide. It strikes a balance between confidence and success and gentleness and grace.


The dove represents peace, blessings, and new beginnings. It is a hopeful and optimistic animal.


The dolphin represents playfulness and wisdom. It is a master communicator and unifier.


The elephant symbolizes wisdom, gentleness, and spiritual understanding.


The frog is often thought to help heal physical and emotional wounds. This animal speaks to the importance of checking in with oneself and healing from the past in order to live in the present.


The fox is the guide of camouflage. It has mastered the art of detachment and growing with surroundings.


The horse is the guide of passion and drive. It's incredibly productive and goal-oriented.


The hawk represents perspective and the ability to see things from all sides. It is an extremely compassionate and empathetic animal.


The lion represents heart and courage. It's a natural-born leader with a deep sense of authority.


The mouse represents the importance of details and scrutiny. It reminds us not to overlook the smaller stuff in life.


Owls have the ability to see what others miss. They know the deeper meaning of things and discover the hidden treasures in life.


The peacock represents resurrection and reinvention. It knows it's never too late to change course.


The turtle is a highly spiritual animal that represents the journey toward wisdom, truth, understanding, and peace.


The tiger represents raw feelings and emotions. It is highly intuitive and great at following instincts.


The wolf is connected to intelligence, instincts, and freedom. It follows primal instincts above all else.

RELATED STORY: 6 Types Of Spirit Guides & How To Communicate With Them

Emma Mildon author page.
Emma Mildon

Emma Mildon is a millennial activist and best-selling author, aiming to provide fun spiritual wisdom to her generation. She has sought out medicine men, healers, physicists, authors, and artists to explore spirituality, channeling, and healing and has also practiced meditation, yoga, and life coaching. Her writing has been published by the Huffington Post, and she hosts 11:11, spirituality and thought podcast with supermodel and actress Rachel Hunter. She is the author of Evolution of Goddess and The Soul Searcher's Handbook.