Spirit Animal: What We Can Learn From The Animal Kingdom & 18 Guides
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.
A few techniques for discovering your spirit animal:
1. 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.
2. 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?
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
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.
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.