lyonesse: (coyote)
[personal profile] lyonesse posting in [community profile] totemists
i just wanted to ask, how do people feel about framing their physical encounters with actual animals in totemic terms, as opposed to intentional spiritual meetings? waste of time, or openness to reality? :)

encountering animals unusual to me often has a great emotional impact (recently a melanistic squirrel at my barn, and a great blue heron in the forest). i haven't tried to think about this in totemic/spiritual guide terms though, but am wondering if/how i might...

i routinely "dwell with" coyote (as you might guess from my icon :) and coyote encounters in our forest are both relatively common and always resonant for me, though it's usually signs (scat, footprints, vocalizations) rather than a direct sighting. but that may just be habit on my part.

Date: 2011-05-26 01:23 pm (UTC)
paleo: Turkey Vulture and American Black Vulture as Totems (Vultures)
From: [personal profile] paleo
I think it's totally fine and normal for to view signs of and encounters with our totem animals as an affirmation of our connection to them. This doesn't mean that every time we see them there is some Great Omen being given to us, but it's nice to at least take a moment to reflect on what they mean to us.

Also, the more you work with totems, the more you're likely to develope a knack for recognizing when a sighting is of particular significance. Mockingbirds are very common in my neighborhood, but twice the usual pressence of them made my totem-sense tingle and I knew it meant something a little *more* and tied in to life issues I had at the time.

Date: 2011-05-26 01:52 pm (UTC)
moonvoice: (totem - brolga)
From: [personal profile] moonvoice
I think it's a really complex situation. I see ravens almost every day, they're my personal totem, but I give them no note because this is normal and they live in the habitat I share. However, unusual encounters I pay more attention to; an intruding bachelor flock of 50+ ravens. A raven that lands directly in front of me, drops something, and then flies off. These encounters I interpret as being something that biologically and physiologically makes sense to the raven; but that also has a greater spiritual meaning or connection for me too, even if it's just a basic message like 'pay attention.'

On the other hand, western brush wallaby are really quite uncommon. Whenever I see one in the bushland, I pay attention. To the physical animal (I give it space and respect), but also to any possible spiritual messages. I'm always alert when bushwalking, but such sightings raise an internal esoteric awareness and prompts me to open myself and be a little bit more connected. I might - at such a point - say hello to western brush wallaby as totem (the energy) and create space for it around me, in case anything is meant to be communicated.

Overall though, I think the western brush wallabies that I see in the wild - though spiritually significant to me - are not doing anything spiritually significant, and it's a danger to interpret a lot of wild animal sightings as such. They're just animals, doing their thing, usually having nothing to do with us and wanting nothing to do with us (unless they can raid our garbage cans).

They might engage in unusual or 'significant' behaviour for a lot of very normal reasons from habituation to humans, to behaviours that haven't been adequately studied or explained yet (that we haven't come across, so we attribute unusualness to them when really they are quite normal), to behaviours that are different because of disease, poison, mating season, starvation and so on. So in that sense, for me at least, I approach it from a two-pronged animal. The wild animal is doing it's wild animal thing. I - as a spiritual animal - can communicate with the totem at that point and see if it's communicating with me and what it's communicating. That said, just being connected to an ecosystem is filled with spiritual wisdom and lessons, even if you don't believe in totems. :)

Awesome topic!

Date: 2011-05-26 11:46 pm (UTC)
lupagreenwolf: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lupagreenwolf
Generally I err on the side of Occam's Razor--the simplest answer is the most probable. So animals out and about are doing their own thing; anything I project onto them is my doing, not theirs. I think a lot of the "I saw X animal--it must be important!" is due to a fundamental lack of understanding of animal behavior, coupled with a bit of egocentrism. That said, there are exceptions, but IME they're the sort that whack you on the back of the head with no mistake.

Date: 2011-05-27 01:04 am (UTC)
spider_fox: (Default)
From: [personal profile] spider_fox
Kinda like what Lupa said about us putting our perceptions onto the animal's behaviors.

However, like with tarot cards and whatnot, I think what pops up in our minds tells us a lot about ourselves and what is going on in our lives right now, so those can still be meaningful.

For example, if you are going nuts over every individual coyote sighting and interpreting it as a great omen, then that is an insight into your behavior. It means you are in a major seeking mode, either from excitement or from trying to fill a void of some sort, and maybe you need to chill out a bit.

Just an extreme example though, to [attempt to] illustrate my point.

Date: 2011-05-27 01:09 am (UTC)
spider_fox: (Default)
From: [personal profile] spider_fox
Hit enter before I was done.

As for my experiences, almost all of my encounters with animals in the totemic sense are in the physical. I don't delve into astral, meditation, etc. things because I don't believe in them. So all my spiritual encounters have been in the physical somehow, with living or dead animals and the feelings I get from them.

So I don't find framing physical encounters with animal totems to be unusual or a waste of time. It's like what the others say, it'll be very obvious when a physical encounter is truly a "totemic" message vs an animal that happens to be near you.

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