“The true shaman, the true naturalist, works to reconnect conscious human life with Nature and Spirit through totems and ritual. The images of the animals are the expressions of nature help us to transcend our normal, waking consciousness so that we can more easily attune to ethereal realms and beings.” – From the book
Throughout history, animals have appeared on cave drawings, pottery, sculpture, and paintings. Every culture contains myths, stories, songs and fairy tales featuring animals. For earth-based spiritual traditions, animals serve as protectors, messengers, and guides. Because animal archetypes are so strong within the human psyche, many individuals resonate with the mannerisms, defense strategies, social structures and habits of particular animals, insects, birds, and fish.
In the book Animal Speak, author Ted Andrews provides comprehensive information on animal totems, including the process of discovering your own. He describes the function of animal totems, emphasizing that the unique characteristics of animal forms reveal much about our own innate powers and abilities. According to Andrews, the purpose of Animal Speak is five-fold: 1.It will help you to determine your Nature totems 2.It will help you in learning to honor, attune, and invoke their energies more effectively in your life 3.It will assist you in discovering the hidden powers and significance of yourself, as is reflected by your totem 4.It will help you in applying the skills and adaptive powers of your totem to your own life environment 5.It will help you to learn the language of Nature (physical, spiritual, and magical) as it speaks to you every day, to read and apply what it says (through signs and omens), and in doing so help you to develolp a greater reverence and respect for all life, and greater power and control in your own.
Andrews says that animal totems are also known by names such as spirit animals, power animals, totem helpers, and others. Regardless of what you call them, Andrews asserts that there are ten basics attributes of these totems including: the animal chooses the person, not the other way around, lifelong power animals are usually wild, not domesticated, and more than one person can share a totem animal.
Animal Speak delves deep into more than 100 creatures and their habitats. Andrews discusses how to awaken to your spirit totems, the mystery of predator and prey, reading signs and omens in nature, and augury and the meaning of landscapes. He provides comprehensive totem dictionaries of bird totems, animal totems, insect totems, and reptile totems. For each creature, the author provides a Keynote phrase, as well as detailed observations on animal behavior, lore, and physical characteristics like plumage, fur, and coloring. He also notes idiosyncrasies, as well as seasonal, mating, and feeding habits.
Here are but a few examples of Keynotes and Cycles of Power from the book:
Keynote: Feminine magic of camouflage, shapeshifting and invisibility
Cycle of Power: Nocturnal, Dawn, and Dusk
Keynote: Illumination of Spirit, Healing, and Creation
Cycle of Power: All Seasons and during Daylight
Keynote: Ancient Power, Strength, and Royalty
Cycle of Power: Year-round
Keynote: Joy, Playfulness, and Sharing
Cycle of Power: Spring and Summer
Keynote: Transmutation and the Dance of Joy
Keynote: Clairvoyance and Auric Sensitivity
At 383 pages, Animal Speak provides a wealth of information for connecting with, and receiving Guidance from, animal spirits. Whether you seek to discover your animal totem, create and use magical animal rites, or call upon the protective powers of your power animal, Animal Speak provides you with the necessary tools for doing so. My favorite use for this book, however, is animal divination. If I notice that a particular bird, animal, or insect gets my attention—perhaps by cropping up on TV, in a book, or even in a dream--I then get out Andrews' book and see what messages the creatures may have for me. There's enough information in Animal Speak to extrapolate specific animal behavior to my life and see if there are connections—let alone taking into consideration Andrews' own divinatory insight. Whether it’s a dragonfly, blue jay, groundhog, or butterfly I can turn to this book to find wise counsel from the animal kingdom. Because many the messages I receive are from the bird kingdom, I especially enjoy the Winged Enchantment section of Animal Speak, which covers bird totems, the initiation of Air, the mystery of feathers and flight, working with bird medicine, and so on.
This is a book I’ve referred to consistently over the years, and highly recommend to anyone wanting to understand—and connect with—the animal kingdom.
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