Odds are that even if you know something about guides you are a bit confused over the scores of terms for them. So what exactly is the difference between a totem animal, an animal guide, a spirit guide and a familiar? Well that all depends on where you look for the definitions….. Not quite what you were hoping to hear? Well I have found that animal guides tends to be a pretty general term, referring to either physical or spiritual manifestations and either individualized or more general viewpoints. Familiars tend to be viewed as involved with witchcraft and magical circles, in fact, they are said to heighten the energy of a circle. They are often seen as physical creatures, but can be non-physical as well. Often a person’s “pet” that has a very close connection with them is considered a familiar. They tend to be very individualized, addressed with personal names rather than as “Cat” or “Raven Spirit”. Totem animals are connected with shamanic teachings. They tend to be viewed more formally that familiars. They are addressed as “Wolf” or “Bear Spirit” with physical wolves and bears seen as manifestations of the singular wolf or bear spirit. Spirit guides is an even more general term than animal guide. It can be used to encompass totems spirits, familiars, animal guides and other various and sundry spirits such as “ghosts”, and “angels”. Basically an non-physical creature that serves as a protector and guide can be called a spirit guide. These are just some of the commonly used terms. You will also see spirit totem, power animal, spirit animal. Basically it boils down to a very simple definition. “An entity often an animal, either physical or non-physical, that acts as a guide and protector. The spirit nature of guides gives you the chance to interact with animals and beings you might not get to in real life. For example very few people can keep a lion in their backyard, a shark in their pool or a unicorn in their apartment. So people choose to keep the specific nature of their guides to themselves. It is believed that this can serve as a form of protection, keeping others form having power over you.
Do You Know Your Animal Totem?
Begin the process of discovering your animal totems by examining the animal you have been most interested in and the times in your life that interest was peaked. Use the following questions to help determine which animal are probably totems to you in your life:
1) Which animal or bird has always fascinated you?(we are drawn to that which most resonates with us. Those animals which fascinate us have something to teach us.)
2)When you visit the zoo which animal do you want to visit first or the most? (especially children)
3) What animal(s) do you see most frequently when you are out in nature? Have you had encounters with animals in the wild? (The animals we encounter, in their city environments or in the wild, have significance for us. We can learn from them, even if only about survival within the environment.)
4) Of all the animals in the world, which are you most interested in now? (our interests in animals change, Yes, we usually have one or two that are lifetime, power animals, but others become prominent when there is something of importance or specific to teach us).
5)What animal most frightens you? (That which we fear the most is often something we must learn to come to terms with. When we do that, it then becomes a power. Some shamans believe that fears will take shape as animals, and only when we confront them without fear do their power/medicine work for us instead of against us. Such animals become shadow totem.)
6) Have you ever been bitten or attacked by an animal? (Historically, if a shaman survived an attack, it was believed that the animal was the shaman’s spirit totem and the attack was the totems way of testing the shaman;s ability to handle the power.)
7) Do you have dreams with animals in them or are there animal dreams you have never forgotten? (This is especially important if the dreams are recurring or if at least the animal image in the dream is a recurring one. Children often dream of animals , & attention should be given to these animals. They will often reflect specific spirit totems of the child.)
Dolphin’s medicine includes communication, wisdom, the power to breath and sound.
“Dolphin, lend me your insight, deep as the ocean, to follow the rhythms of the universe and hear the voices of my ancestors.”
Dolphin warns mankind of the danger that nears as we ignore the balance of our delicate ecosystem. Dolphin teaches man how controlling our breathing can release emotions and help us reach altered states of consciousness. If you are able to breath in rhythm with dolphin, he will take you to all the places that existed before man walked the earth, before the sea covered the land, during our primordial beginnings. Dolphin also teaches how inner sound, along with breathing can allow you to enter the waters of life to seek your desires. Dolphin’s lesson is to move with the flow of life. Go the direction life carries you and you will avoid great obstacles. He encourages you to dive deep into the waters of life, dont forget to enjoy life, and always remember to breath.
Panther’s medicine includes rebirth, knowledge of darkness and death.
“Panther, let me know your silent wisdom. As my perception expands, I will find a wealth of insight awaits me.”
Panther is secretive, silent and graceful in her every move. She is solitary by choice, she tells little but listens much. She is careful not to share too much information, only enough to ease the curious mind. Panther people have broader vision. Panther medicine gives a deeper insight, both spiritually and physically. Their enhanced perspective lets them see things in close detail or from a distance. Panther enters the world enlightened whereas others have to work to achieve that. Black Panther is very mystical. She finds the most power in the darkness. Black Panther understands death and teaches people not to fear it, for out of death comes rebirth. When Panther enters your life, it is time for a new beginning, a new door has opened for you. Panther introduces you to an expanded awareness, alternate realities, the elimination of fears, and most of all, total rebirth. Panther gives us the opportunity to become a whole new person and she promises to be our protector and guardian throughout this rebirth process.
Raven’s medicine includes consciousness.
“Raven, share with me your magick. I am the darkness in the light, the light in the darkness,
Raven carries magick from the dark void of the Crone (dark mother) to our realm. This void is where great knowledge awaits us. Thus, Raven has a great responsibility to the spirit realm. Those who have raven medicine will also feel this responsibility and will tend to be those who share deeper knowledge – spiritual teachers, healers, priests, doctors, and prophets. Raven comes when you ask for love, light, and healing. When Raven brings his medicine to you, he gives you a heightened awareness, sharper perception and an expanded consciousness. With this new perception, you can look into the heart and soul of people, begin feeling what they feel. This strong empathy can be a burden. With this refined perception comes a responsibility to use the Raven medicine wisely. Once could abuse it, using it for selfish, nefarious purposes. this is not the way to go. Use the clarity and understanding that Raven gives you for for good purposes.That is why Raven comes to you when you need night the most. He does not want you to turn to the darkness because it will eventually destroy you. As long as you use Raven’s powerful medicine for the good of others, life will continue to flow smoothly for you as well.
The Raven’s keynote is that of magic, shapeshifting and creation. While its cycle of power is that of winter solstice. The raven is one of those birds that has tremendous amount of lore and mythology surrounding it, and it is often contradictory. It is the bird of birth and death, and it is the bird of mysticism and magic. In the near East, the raven was considered unclean because of it is a scavenger. It is one of the foods listed as forbiddenin the bible. The raven is one the birds that Noah sent out after the floods, but it did not return to the ark. On the other hand , also in Biblical lore is the tail of how the raven fed the prophet Elijah when hiding from King Ahab. In Scandinavian lore, the raven played a significant role. The Norse god Odin had a pair of ravens who were his messengers. Their names were Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory). Odin was known to shapeshift as a ravenhimself. This reflectsthe idea of the raven being a messenger of the great spiritual realm. In the Middle Ages the croak of the raven was believed to foretell a death or the outcome of a battle. It was even taught to the common folk in Christian communities that the wicked priests became ravens when they died. Even, today some old timers tell how you can expect hot weather when the raven is seen facing a clouded sun. The raven is a member of the corvids family, to which belongs the crow and the magpie and other such birds. In truth, the only really significant diffrence between the crow and the raven is their size. The raven is much larger. It would be beneficial to study the information on the crow for anyone who has the raven as a totem. Much of the same information that applies to one also applies to the other. It is simply a matter of degree. Rather than repeat that information here, I would like to give you some information not generally associated with the crow itself. The raven has a wealth of myth and lore surrounding it. In many ways it is comparable to the coyote tales of the plains Indians, the Bushman tales of the mantis and other societies in which animals play both a significant and yet confusing role. The coyote was both a trickster amd a wise being-fool and wise one. This is true of the mantis in the tale of the Kalahari Bushman. In the Pacific Northwest the raven has this same aura about him.In the Pacific Northwest, raven brought forth life and order Raven stole the sunlight from one who would keep the world in darkness. Nothing could exist without raven. Raven is honored in art and on totem poles, reflecting the tale and mysticism that have developed around it. With raven, human and animal spirits intermingle and become as one. This is reflected in its deep, rich shiny black. In balckness, everything mingles until draw forth, out into the light. Because of this, raven can help you shapeshift you life or your being. Raven has the knowledge of how to become other animals and how to speak their languages. Ravens are great at vocalizations, and they can be taught to speak. They incorporate and mimic the calls of other species.. In the Northwest are tales of the Kwakiutl Indians who offered the afterbirth of male newborns to Raven so that when they grew up, they would understand their cries. Raven can teach you to understand the language of animals. Ravens are playful, and they are excellent tool users. THey will use stones and anything else that is available to help them cracknuts and such. They are birds not intimidated by others, they are very fast and wary because of this, they are not easy pery for others animals or birds. THis implies the ablity to teach you how to stir the magic of life without fear. They are also known for their amorous behavior, reflecting the strong creative life force to which they have access. This creative life force can be used to work the magic of spiritual laws upon the physical plane. It can be used to go into the void and stir the energies to manifest that which you most need. All this and more is what raven teaches. If raven has come into your life expect magic. Somewhere in your life, magic is at play. Raven activates the energy of magic, linking it with your will and intention. Raven speaks of the opportunity to become the magician and/or enchantress of your life. Each of us has a magician within, and it is Raven which can show us how to bring that part of us out of the dark into the light. Raven speaks of messages from the spirit realm that can shapeshift your life dramatically. Raven teaches how take that which is unformed and give it the form you desire. The winter solstice and winter season is the time of greatest power for those with the raven as a totem. The solstice is the shortes day of the year the sun shines the least on this day, thus it is the darkest. From that day forth, the light shines a little more each day. This is the symbolic of the influence of the raven. It teaches how to go into darkn and bring forth the light. With each trip in, we develop the ability to bring more light out. This is creation.
Wings so balck it shines like Moon at midnight,
O Raven, strong, hear my cry!
Teach me old magick, powerful, bold
O Raven, eloquent and wise
For thousand of years, cats have been regarded as mysterious creatures with supernatural powers.These beliefs certainly did not disappear during the European witch-craze. The witch trails started in the 13th century. People began to believe that witches had the ability to turn themselves into animals, usually a hare or cat, in order to transport themselves to a sabbat ( a midnight metting) presided over by thr devil. The idea of familiar spiritssoon developed. These were imps or minor demons who took the form of any small animal, from a hedgehog to toad. A familiar acted as an intermediary for the witch, carrying out her orders so that she wouldnt have to be at the scene of the crime when the evil deed was done. A witch’s cat came to be called a “grimalkin”. The Scottish goddess of witches was called “Mither o’ the Mawkins”, a mawkin or makin being either a cat or hare. Originally a gremalkin was a grey cat. Later the term came to refer to the “pussies” or “catkins” on a pussy willow, as well as to the witch’s cat.
Cat Folklore and Magic
Cats have been sacred to more than one religion., and at diffrent times and places have been considered both good and bad luck-bringers. The Egyptian goddess Bast was both lion-headed and cat-headed and attended by cats and therefore cats were sacred and revered in Egypt; killing one was a heinous crime, and when a household cat died mourning rites were performed for it. Cats were often found in temples and were ritually fed; stray cats were treated with honor and fed, and the household cat was allowed to share the family’s food. Cat amulets were produced and elaborate cat-sized sarcophagi crafted for cats who died, who were often embalmed as humans were. Followers of the goddess Diana also considered the cat sacred because she once assumed the form of a cat, and cats were under her special protection. In Scandinavia, Freya’s chariot was drawn by cats. The Celtic goddess Cerridwen was also attended by white cats, who carried out her orders on earth.
Cat Dream Interpertations
To dream of a black cat is lucky. To dream of a tortoishell cat means luck in love. To dream of a ginger cat means luck in money and business. To dream of a white cat means luck in, spiritual matters, divination and spellcraft. To dream of a black-and white cat means luck with children or the birth of a child. To dream of a tabby cat means luck for home and all who lives there. To dream of a gray cat means to be guided by your dreams. To dream of a calico or multi-colored cat means luck with new friends and old ones. And to dream of two cats fighiting means illness or quarrel.
For this you will need the following items : gold candle ( for the god/dess), a cat figure candle for each cat(or just a white one), catnip toy(homemade is always best), incense/smudge and of course your cat.
Light the incense/smudge and place the candles in the center of the altar. Cast your circle and invoke the Horned God: “O Great Horned God, keeper of all things wild, I invoke thee, and invite thee into this circle.” Light the cat/white candle and then, hold your cat, kneel before the altar and recite the following prayer:
“O Great Horned God, Father of the woodlands and loving lord of creatures that walk, crawl, swim and fly a threefold blessing I humbly ask of thee on this special day: May this cat’s life be a long, happy and healthy one. May she/he always receive your divine protection and when our incarnations in this world cease to be may we forever be reunited in the great Paganotherworld known as Summerland. Blessed Be!
After the blessing has been recited, gaze into the flam,e of the gold candle and chant three times the name of your cat with the words “Blessed Be”. End with the burning of sweet incense like Sweetgrass to please the spirits. You can also cleanse & consecrate a collar for your cat, if you would like him/her to wear one, you can add a pentacle as well. Kiss your kitty and set him/her down, present your cat with the catnip toy, you can make one easily by adding drip catnip to an old stocking and tying it off. This catnip offering will create a psychic bond between you and your cat. YOu can also burn some catnip and watch how Crazy your cat gets (good crazy) Give thanks to the Horned God in your own way and close the circle.