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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mailbag Monday: Meeting Your Familiar/Totem Animal

Today's question comes from not one but two different readers, but I'll only be sharing one email submission. He writes:

"Merry meet, my name is Quentin. I've been studying Wicca for almost a year now. I was trying to find out what my power animal was, but I couldn't really find anything I thought fit me. I was hoping you could help me find out what my power animal is."

Kowabunga Dude!

At first I was simply going to refer you to the appropriate section of my website  but when I checked I realized  that I hadn't written it yet. So this blog entry will serve as a crash course on the subject until I can do so. 

Totem vs. Familiar 

While these two terms are used interchangeably, I was taught that there is a difference between a totem and a familiar. To begin, a totem is an idea...the essence of a thing with which you or a group of people have an affinity or close connection.  They are often represented by some time of physical object such as a doll, a statue, carving, etc...  

A familiar, on the other hand, is the physical embodiment of an attendant spirit. For example, my totem is the Turtle (see below) and for this reason I keep a turtle shell on my altar to represent that connection. However I do not have a familiar, that is, a live turtle which keep in my home.

Meeting Your Totem

Rather than tell you how to meet your totem, I'll tell you how I found my own in the Summer of 2002. At my altar, I cast a circle and opened only the Western Gate (the gate of spirit). I invoked the Horned God as Lord of the Animals and petitioned him to help me find my totem. 

I then sat before my altar and went into a meditative state. My mind took me to June Creek (a place we went swimming at as a child). I vividly recalls walking along the shore, listening to the sound of the wind through the trees, feeling the sunshine on my skin, etc...I came to a fallen tree and sat down. After a few moments, a giant turtle emerged out of the water and had me crawl on his back. 

The turtle took me to an island where he said that he lived. We had a long and deep conversation the details of which I am not permitted to reveal. However, I can say that part of the conversation consisted of him explaining his personal philosophy to me, instructed me how to work with him, and told me his name which I am never to reveal. Finally, he told me that I would receive confirmation of my experience within three days. When we were done, the turtle returned me to the creek and I came out of my meditation. 

A few days later, I was going to my mailbox. It had been raining for over a week and my grass had gotten very high. I could not get it cut until it dried out. As I was walking to the mailbox, I noticed a large stone in my yard and went over to pick it up. When I got to the stone, I realized that it was actually a turtle that was seeking higher ground. I gently picked up the turtle and put him down in a safe place.
And that is how I discovered my totem. I have to admit that when I discovered my totem was the Turtle, I was somewhat disappointed. Of course I wanted to have something 'cool' like a wolf, raven, snake, etc...but anyone who has ever been on the wrong side of a snapping turtle's jaws will tell you...don't mess with turtle! I researched the totemic meaning and energies of the turtle and found that it really did seem to fit me.

That same summer I was hiking at 40 Acre Rock when I found a whole, intact turtle shell at the mouth of a bear cave. I took the shell, leaving an offering in its place, which rests on my altar to this day. Since that time I have collected or been gifted with many images of turtles. Whenever I see a turtle or even hear the word turtle, I know that my totem is with me. 

Care and Feeding of Your Totem 

Having a totem is a large responsibility and like sharing your life and space with any living creature there are certain rules for their care and feeding. They are:

  1. Never get them wet. 
  2. Never expose them to sunlight. 
  3. Never feed them after midnight. 
No wait. Sorry, those are the rules for keeping a Mogwai.  It is important to remember that you do not own your totem or familiar. As such, you do not command or abuse your totem; but rather you work with your totem to achieve various goals.

Some of the ways in which you can work with your totem include:

  • Sending it out to retrieve information for you. 
  • Delivering healing energy to a person in need. 
  • Sending an important message to another. 
  • Charging it to protect your home or possessions while away. 
  • Guiding you on the astral plane.
  • Warning you of danger. 
  • Borrowing its animal instincts. 
  • Moving negative people or energy away from you. 
  • Finding lost objects or people. 
  • Adding its energy to your own to empower spells. 
These are just a few ways in which I have worked with my own totem. As you work with your totem it will communicate with you the best way to call upon and work with it for various goals. It is important to always thank your totem for its hard work and reward it with offerings such as food, candles, etc... 

I hope this information has been helpful to you in your own spiritual search. 

Until next time, TURTLE POWER, dude!

Carolina Dean


~*Rhi*~ said...

Hehehe! Informative & productive of many giggles...kawabanga!

I just wanted to let you know how much I adore your blog & that I send people over here all the time.


Wild & Bright Blessings,

Carolina Dean said...

Thanks so much for your kind words, Rhi. I hardly ever get comments but I knew SOMEBODY had to be reading this thing!