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Animal Totems and Archetypes: A Shaman’s World

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Beth Terrence, LMT, CHP, ShamanTalk2theAnimals welcomes Beth Terrence, LMT, CHP as our guest blogger today. Beth is a Shaman, Facilitator and Holistic Practitioner. At the heart of her work is shamanic healing; her mission is to support others in living a heart-centered and joyful life through discovering the healer within. Beth believes that for true change to occur in our world it must be cultivated at the micro and macrocosmic levels as well as both inwardly and outwardly.  For this reason, she offers her services to individuals, groups and organizations as she views the interrelationship of our personal and collective experiences as the key to creating transformation on a global level. Make sure to tune in to Talk2theAnimalsRadio on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 8:00 PM Central when Beth will be the guest.

“Creation has a greater knowing than humanity.  Life is a unique present given individually to each human born.”

– Hyemeyohsts Storm

It is understood that in the Shaman’s world everything in existence has a spirit and is alive, and that all of life is interconnected through what is called the “web of life’.  It is through cultivating this deep connection with all creation that we learn to bring harmony and balance into our lives.  Whether we are aware of it or not, we are carrying patterns of consciousness and understanding that go way beyond our physical reality.  There is an abundance of wisdom and energy available to support our journeys and life experiences not only as human beings, but as universal beings as well.

Many shamanic traditions access power and wisdom by consciously working with a Power Animal or Totem.  It is said that an Animal Totem comes to you through a dream, journey or vision quest.  They can also be animals we encounter repeatedly in physical reality and have a strong connection with.  In a sense, they are a reflection of our innermost essence; they represent our own talents, abilities and the qualities we need to thrive in the world.  As we connect with an Animal Totem, we are gifted with a greater awareness through the power, medicine, protection and wisdom unique to its being.

The term Totem is derived from the Ojibwa word ototeman, meaning “one’s brother-sister kin.”  Through cultivating this sacred connection, we are able to become more in touch with our own self, spiritual support and the web of life.  In traditional cultures, a relationship with animals is innate and reflects a sense of connection to the greater whole.  In many ways, we have lost this connection in modern societies.  Through exploring the energies and qualities of animals and the wisdom they carry, we are honoring our own true nature and allowing our deeper essence to emerge.

The term “archetype” originates from the Greek root words archein, meaning “original or old” and typos, meaning “pattern or type”; combined it means “original pattern”.  Archetypes are patterns that help us to connect with universal experience and collective consciousness.  According to the research of Anthropologist, Angeles Arrien, all shamanic traditions draw on four archetypes that support being in harmony with our own inner nature and the world we live in.  These archetypes include the Warrior, the Healer, the Visionary and the Teacher; they help to open a gateway to the mythic roots of humanity.

According to Psychologist Gustav Jung, all of us inherit the same archetypes, the same invisible patterns or motifs.  These patterns are built into the structure of our psyche, similar to emotions, but they manifest through our particular personal and cultural experiences.  Although we can go through life without conscious awareness of these archetypes, it is often when we access them in a conscious way that deep transformation and healing can occur.  As we gain a broader understanding about our lives, we become better able to access our inherent wisdom.

Working with Power Animals or Archetypes offers a framework for accessing energy and support, which is always with us as it brings to conscious awareness the deeper aspects of our true essence.  We may have a main Animal or Archetype that we feel most connected to, but there can be wisdom to learn from all animals and all archetypes as they offer us different lenses through which to see our lives.  As we choose to actively work with these gifts of consciousness and spirit, new possibilities for ourselves and for our world emerge.

Beth Terrence


  1. Animal Totems & Archetypes, Part II « The Heart of Awakening - February 12, 2013

    […] topic arose and I wrote my first guest blog post for Talk2TheAnimals last week.  The topic was Animal Totems & Archetypes: A Shaman’s World.  You might like to drop by and read that post, as this one continues from that […]

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