Over the past few months, I’ve been on a personal journey of self-exploration. I’ve been learning about interesting subjects, including spiritual concepts, mind-expansive studies (such as quantum physics), and personal growth topics.
One subject, in particular, that piqued my curiosity is the idea of spirit animals. As I’ve always had a passion for wildlife (and animals, in general), I’ve been contemplating the subject of spirit animals (or animal totems) and how they can influence our lives. Going beyond the spiritual beliefs around this subject, from the perspective of our personalities and character traits, it got me thinking – how does the animal kingdom influence or relate to us, as humans?
What are Spirit Animals?
If you’ve never heard of the term, here’s how a Goop article describes a spirit animal:
“A spirit animal is characterized as a teacher or messenger that comes in the form of an animal and has a personal relationship to an individual. Other names might be animal guides, spirit helpers, spirit allies, power animals, or animal helpers. It is believed that you do not choose the animal, rather it chooses, or has already chosen you. The animal is there to provide “medicine” to the recipient in the form of guidance, lessons, protection, power, or wisdom. Shamans worldwide have relied on the guidance, wisdom, and symbolism of spirit animals for thousands of years.”
On a personal level, I’ve always been drawn to and connect with certain animals. Whether it’s a cuddly cat, freedom-loving zebra, or a sentimental elephant, these are just a few of the animals whose spirits I feel similar to.
To inspire you to think about spirit animals you relate to, here are some that I love (which you might resonate with too).
Zebra Spirit Animal
What initially drew me to zebras is obviously their unique, eye-catching stripes. But, aside from their bold look, there’s so much more to them than what meets the eye.
To start with – my friend (who’s a wildlife expert and has been on many safaris), told me that these animals can’t be domesticated. That means, no hopping on a zebra and riding off into the sunset. So, what does that mean (in terms of their spirit)? Well, on a deeper level – it signifies that they’re very freedom-oriented, independent, and strong-willed.
Also, every zebra has its own distinctive markings. That means no two zebras look the same, which makes them truly different and special. It’s a great reminder to us all that in order to live authentically and be our true selves, we must embrace our uniqueness. They truly embody a quote I love: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”
In addition to their wild streak, when they huddle together (which they do for safety), zebras out-smart predators by creating an optical illusion. Pretty cool, huh? Just goes to show how intelligent they actually are. A captivating mix of both beauty and brains, if you ask me.
Butterfly Spirit Animal
Whenever I catch a glimpse of a butterfly flitting from one flower to the next, they always captivate my attention. Their playful, curious personalities exude such a carefree, joyful spirit. But, beyond the facade of their delicate beauty lies a truly transformative, powerful, and brave spirit.
Can you imagine how it would feel to undergo such a life-changing experience of cocooning? The faith in the journey that a caterpillar undergoes in order to become a magnificent butterfly is one to be respected and admired, in my opinion. All too often, as humans, we say that we want to change but we often tend to resist it (out of fear about what will happen in the future). But, it’s often through our ability to transcend our fears and embrace the uncertainty that we give in to the power of true and everlasting change.
To be honest – after spending so much time “going inward” (during quarantine), I can say I truly relate to the journey of a butterfly, and I bet you can too. Think about all the ways that our collective “cocoon” time transformed our lives? While the experience of undergoing deep and pivotal changes is never easy (whether you’re a caterpillar or a human), just imagine how incredible it will feel as we learn to break free from the limitations of who we thought we were through discovering the amazing potential of who we’re destined to be.
Cat Spirit Animal
Cats are pretty interesting characters.
Having adopted a very opinionated, passionate, and strong-willed Maine Coone when I was a teenager, I came to know (and love) cats very well. Yes, they do have mood swings, are known to meditate (or at least look contemplative) a lot, and are usually quite cuddly and loving (when they’re not in a grumpy mood, of course). Even when they’re being moody, I find them adorable. They just seem to have a lot on their minds though. Perhaps they’re introverts, highly analytical, pensive, or self-reflective. Who knows what they’re thinking?!
What’s also interesting to note about cats is the way they balance their need for independence and “alone time” with their desire to be close and connected to loved ones. Unlike dogs (which tend to be “people pleasers”), cats decide when and how they want to feel intimacy. You can’t tell them what to do, as they’ll just ignore your demands. Similar to humans, when we create a safe and welcoming space for others to open up and connect while taking the pressure off of them to act in any particular way, they’re more apt to get close.
As explained by SpiritAnimal.info, the cat generally represents:
- Patience, waiting for the right moment to act
- Independence, yet enjoying social connections
- Spirit of adventure, courage
- Deep, relaxed connection with self
- Healing from the inside out
- Curiosity, exploration of the unknown or the unconscious
Giraffe Spirit Animal
If there’s one animal out there that just has the most adorable, lovable look ever, it’s a giraffe.
They always come across as intelligent, astutely aware, kind, and gentle to me. With their towering heights, they represent high-reaching, aspirational beings in my mind. They’re also generally peaceful animals, that will defend themselves, when necessary. This means that they are strong and powerful when they need to be.
As explained by WhatIsMySpiritAnimal.com, “Gentle Giraffe, with its long neck reaching into the heavens, symbolizes the ability to see the future and obtain things that seem out of reach. When your life is chaotic, Giraffe reminds you to keep your head up and avoid getting entangled in needless arguments; as an Animal Ally, Giraffe encourages you to “take the high road.” The creature signifies things that inspire and raise your energies or Spirit.”
Elephant Spirit Animal
Renowned in many cultures as a highly regarded religious symbol, the elephant is a truly special animal.
Exuding natural strength and power, elephants are known to be very family-oriented, socially inclined, highly protective of their loved ones, and have incredible memories. They’re also considered to be very wise and intelligent, and while they’re generally peace-loving herbivores, they’ll defend their tribe when necessary.
As explained by UniGuide.com, “The elephant is one of the most intelligent animals on Earth… Because of their brain structure, elephants are believed to have deep thoughts and emotions. Animal behaviorists, or ethologists, note that elephants exhibit complex behaviors that demonstrate their intelligence, such as using tools, showing compassion and grief, engaging in cooperation for desired outcomes, and in complex communication.”
The more that we learn about and honor the animal kingdom, the more that we can see how similar they are to us. By discovering the animals whose spirits and personalities you connect with and relate to, the easier it becomes to find out who you are on a core level. Just like any other self-awareness tool (whether it’s a Myers-Briggs personality test or learning about the 5 Love Languages), the more that you can discover about your true nature, the more empowered you’ll feel to live your authentic life and become your best self.
For more personal development and self-help tips, check out the Personal Growth section on Inspirations & Celebrations.