In the shamanic belief every thing is alive and carries with it power and wisdom. Power animals are an essential component of shamanic practice. They are the helping spirit which add to the power of the shaman and are essential for success in any venture undertaken by the shaman.

tiger_smallerShamans believe that everyone has power animals – animal spirits which reside with each individual adding to their power and protecting them from illness, acting similarly to a guardian angel. Each power animal that you have increases your power so that illnesses or negative energy cannot enter your body. The spirit also lends you the wisdom of its kind. A hawk spirit will give you hawk wisdom, and lend you some of the attributes of hawk.

Everyone Has a Power Animal

Everyone is thought to have a few of these guardian power animals, from childhood on. Over the course of her or his life the person may have several. If a power animal leaves and one does not come to take its place the individual is considered, by the shaman, to be disempowered and therefore vulnerable to illness and bad luck.  Power animal retrieval is a healing where the shaman goes to find a new power animal for you.

Horses in FieldPower animals do not have to be mammals and can be reptiles, insects or sea creatures. Any living creature can serve as a power animal. (Plants and trees can serve as plant spirit guides.) Domesticated animals are generally not considered power animals because they already in service to human beings. It is possible to have a domesticated animal, but it is more likely to have a wild untamed animal serve in the capacity of a power animal.

The gifts that a particular animal is thought to give an individual varies depending on the culture. Although there are certain consistencies for certain animals. A particular power animal can come to help you with an issue that is very specific for you. It is important not to lock each animal into a category, and be open to the gifts it may be coming to share with you. If you are looking for a book on power animals Animal Speak by Ted Andrews is very popular. A popular website that describes the qualities of various power animals:

Honoring Power Animals

It is important to honor your power animal. In many western cultures, we are not taught to value animals or the gifts that they add to our life and the world around us. In shamanic work the power animal is essential, for a shaman who has no power is not going to have very good results. On a personal level, by honoring your power animal you let it know that its assistance is appreciated. The spirit of the animal is giving up its mobility in order to spend its time with you and assist you with your life. Also, by honoring the power animal we make a deeper connection with it. Honoring it can be as simple a saying a thank you inside yourself, or getting an object which represents it and putting it where you can see it as you go about your day.

Shamanic practice honors and acknowledges the life and wisdom that exists in all things. Everything is believed to have something to teach you and animals are thought to have a wealth of wisdom and protection to offer you.

Finding Your Power Animal

coyote_smallerIf you would like to find out who your power animal is, consulting a shamanic practitioner is an option. But to discover this on you own, you can ask for a dream and see if anything comes up. You can ask the power animal to show itself to you and if you start seeing one or another animal frequently that would be its way of revealing itself to you. For instance you are flipping through the channels and see an elk on a nature program, then later you hear someone talking about going to Elk Grove Village to visit their cousin. You see a sign for an elks lodge. It is believed that the animal guide can communicate with you by drawing your attention to things around you, and a repetition such as that would be a way of communication.

Shaman Links is compiling a list of books on power animals in our Book Directory.

Other Topics:

What do Shamans Do?

Shaman Names

Why do Spirits Communicate in Symbols?


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Power Animals — 47 Comments

  1. If every time I dream of an animal and it’s the same animal, would that animal be considered my power animal? The only animals I have dreamed of is a snake, and for the first time today, a white lizard.

    • Yes, frequent dreams is a very good indication that the snake is your power animal. Snake is a very powerful spirit of transformation and transmutation among other things.

  2. Thank you for the information. I am very interested in power animals and I would like to know what mine is. I have heard mine is a swan, but I want to know completely, so I hope I will find out sometime.

    • Sometimes trusting yourself is just as important as looking for answers outside yourself. What do your instincts tell you?

  3. Hello!
    Hope everyone is doing great; I love this information.
    I went to my shaman three times.
    My first power animal was a rabbit.
    The last time I went was a spotted horse.
    She told me I have ancestors watching over me and guiding me.
    When I close my eyes; I keek asking a chief and many others dancing around a fire and at other times many Native Americans raising their arms and hands facing palms up singing a chant.
    I have seen my horse many times.
    Do you know what this means?

    • Once you know who your power animal is, if you keep seeing it… then it may be trying to let you know that its there to support you. Either it wants to let you know it is playing an important part in your development at this time. (While we have multiple power animals they serve different purposes and some are closer to us than others.) Or just wants you to be aware that its always with you, that its always around to support you. In this second case it would be because it wants you to be conscious on a day to day basis that its around.

      For some power animals its just enough to find out once that its around. For others they want you to be conscious every day. That is more because it would benefit you to have a closer relationship with that power animal.

  4. I took some 5 animal spirit quizes. And the results are deer, deer, bear, dear, bear. That does mean my animal spirit is a deer or taking some quiz do not count?

    • Depending on the quiz, they probably do give you some sense of who your power animal could be. However, sometimes the power animal that comes to you can be unexpected. By that I mean that the traditional wisdom of a book or quiz might not fit the unique reason a power animal has come to you. So its very possible your deer is a power animal, but to be sure, you can ask for a dream or a sign. If you start seeing a lot of deer images or in person, than you would know it was one of your power animals.

      Also, you may have more than one power animal, you are not limited to only one.

  5. I’ve been having dreams of bears lately. Every time I see the bear in my dream, it stares, then stands up… I don’t even know what it means?

    • Seeing an animal frequently in your dreams is one way for power animal to let you know about it. You aren’t having one of those fear of being chased by an animal dreams. The bear is looking at you, which would make it more likely to be a power animal trying to let you know its there.

      • It could be a guide as well who is there to help you find your animal. Staring may be its way of engaging you and standing up may be a signal to follow. If you can ask it if it is your power animal you will know for sure. If it says no ask if it can help you find it. It may be helpful to ask it why it is there, if it can help you, if you can help it, etc.

  6. I always have dreams of protecting my loved ones but I turn into a wolf unexpectedly this constantly happens when I’m defending them what does it mean?

  7. I had an Old Lakota Indian Woman tell me the Red Fox was my Animal Spirit Guide. This was nearly 20yrs ago. Since that day I have collected everything I could find with foxes on it and researched everything I could find about fox behavior. I feel very close to my Fox Spirits that walk through this path along side me. I was wondering if I could have more than one Animal Spirit or if an Animal Spirit could show up for a season share it’s energy and then move on?

    • Yes, everyone can have more than one power animal. Sometimes power animals come to us for a short period of time to help with a particular issue. As an example: Power animal Bees might come help with love and romance, and when your relationship moves on to something more serious you don’t need them for that and they move on. A crocodile might come to help you find your voice, but once you have found it you might not need it any longer.

      As for long term, you can have more than one power animal that stays with you for your entire life. There is no limit. If the spirit world wants to offer you that love and support than there is no limit to how long or how many. Its just about what you need. As you know from your fox, one alone is very powerful. So its not about quantity but the qualities that are needed by a person because of what they are doing in their life.

  8. I have been solitary in my practice, and I asked my guide to show me itself in some form. Ever since then I have been having odd dreams about a grizzly bear giving me advice in spanish or italian. when i translate it, it says things like (My question was “Is this my path”) its reply was tu ley. From what i could find it means “your law”. Does this have meaning? Also, why is it in another language? (I dont know these languages, just a little spanish)

    • When talking to evolved spirits, the spirit world generally will try to communicate in way that conveys more meaning. It is possible that having to translate their message is meant to make you more thoughtful about that message. As for that particular meaning, its best to first start with your own instincts. A particular phrase may not be meant the same way for different people. I would not want to mislead you by guessing.

  9. What does it mean if you dream about 3 different animals all the time? I dream of a wolf, 2 dogs, and a bear that changes into a polar bear at the end, all of them friendly and playful. Does this mean I have more than one?

    • It is possible to have more than one power animal. There is no limit to how many you can have. Repeated dreams are one of the ways they let you know they are there.

  10. I’ve been seeing a wolf in my dreams a fair bit. I’ve also always been drawn to them in general and feel a connection to them. Could this be an indication that this is my spirit or power animal?

  11. I’ve never heard of having a power animal until today. I’ve always had a special interest or love for orcas. When I was younger, I fell asleep to a CD of piano and Orca sounds. As soon ad I started reading this, something in me yelled Orca. I suppose my question is how would I know if my animal is really an Orca or if I am just feeling a desire for it to be an Orca?

    • If we have a great love for someone or something, in a very real sense it is our friend. Our best friend in a way. It may not be necessary for the spirit of Orca to be your teacher. It may be that you are the Orca’s power animal. Power animals support us by sharing their energy with us. We can also support animals by freely loving and respecting them. When we love something we send invisible support to that animal, that forest, those birds… and your love is part of that support.

  12. Hi! I was wondering, is my old imaginary friend my spirit animal? He was a white (something.. I always thought he was a dog…) animal, and his name is/was Nipi. Anyway, does that mean that he is my spirit animal, or just a guide in my childhood? But I’ve had dreams of wolves (as a child) and other animals like bear (my Native American totem), and cougars, but I haven’t had dog dreams that stick out to me. Any thoughts?

    • Often children do have an “imaginary friend” that is a power animal or helping spirit. Guardian spirits (some would call them guardian angels) will sometimes appear to a child in a way that will make sense to them. Its not necessary to know if that spirit was an animal or a human type spirit, because in essences they were there to support you. However, it is possible that the spirit is still there to support you now. However, it might choose to show itself to you in a different way. Because now that you are an adult, you don’t need it to appear the same way it did you when you were a child.

      It would be hard for me to guess why the bears and cougars came in your dreams. But if they were there as your power animals, then they might have been letting you know they were around to support you. If you would like to know if they are still there, ask them to show themselves to you. And look and see if you either dream about them, or start seeing them everywhere. So that maybe all of sudden you keep hearing about that animal, in books, on signs, on the tv, or on the radio. Or someone suddenly gives you a gift that is that animal, a stuffed toy, carved statue, or post card with a picture of it, for instance.

  13. Hello ,i did some guided meditation to find my animal totem /spirit /power animal. And each time I end up with a red fox. Even think it told me his name. And every now and then in my life i will see a fox on something. But also i have butterflies around me all the time. See them where ever I go. They land in my hair and stay there for along time before flying off. So im not sure which one is my animal.

    • It is possible to have more than one power animal. There is no limit to how many. They can come to you for a lifetime, as a lifelong teacher and support. They can come during a time period to help with a transition, to learn something new, or to support during a time when we need extra energy. A particular animal / tree / bug can come to help with something specific.

      As a type of example: a tiger works with you in your profession, and a deer spirit is there to help with your health and well being, and bee spirits come to teach you how to be joyful.

      What you describe is an indication that these are your power animals (power insects.) No one can say with 100% certainty why a given animal has come to you, because each person is unique and your relationship with your power animal(s) will be unique for you. It is possible that your instincts are already telling you why there are there. If so trust that.

  14. Hi, I have seen a shamanism practitioner twice now. The second time she told me my spirit animal was a ‘Siebenschläfer’ I’m English but living in Switzerland so my session was in German. The translation of this animal is an ‘edible dormouse’ , it’s neither a mouse or a squirrel, but I don’t find this animal in any of the lists in English. I wanted to find out more so I might ask my animal to help me when I need it. Could point me in the right direction? Thank you so much.

    • When you have an unusual power animal and googling “edible dormouse power animal” isn’t working for you, the next best thing is to read about the animal itself. The description of the animal’s behaviors, and ecology traits will give you a clue to its strengths. The animal is sharing its gifts with you, and you can see those gifts in how the animal survives and thrives, how it relates to others in its species, what home does it have, what physical skills does it have. Reading about both a mouse and a squirrel could give you some clues.

      Reading up on the edible dormouse, they are nocturnal, excellent climbers not very good jumpers, live in trees, and hibernate. They historically spent most of their times in trees, but have adapted to human places well. They aren’t particularly social but communicate by sound and smell. Mothers will often take care of families in a communal nest, sharing the work of caring for young. This is what I got from reading about the animal. You can either reflect on what some of these skills would mean to you, see if you get any gut feelings about the animal’s traits. Or you can look at similar power animals, the squirrel is a good jumper so only its tree habits might be similar to a the edible dormouse. Like bears these animal hibernate in caves, what are the bear’s gifts related to hibernation?

      Reviewing the traits you read about for your animal, ask yourself what might apply to you:
      Is there some way the trait of being able to climb even a smooth surface help you in your life?
      What about working in community to nurture children?
      What about the ability to find shelter for the cold times?
      Does your job have something to do with trees?

      Each animal is unique, it has come to you because of unique reasons to support you in ways that are specific for you.

      For those who know how to shamanic journey, they would go on a journey to their power animal and ask them what gifts they have to share.

  15. Hello, so lately, I’ve been noticing wherever I go, a dove plus multiple more appear; sitting on wires, flying around, even statues. I don’t think I’ve ever really had a dream about one though, but if it’s my power animal, I could definitely see owni could relate to it. Not only that, but I feel I have a symbolic connection with crows, it’s hard to explain, but the crow and the dove appeared together around the same time. What does this mean??
    Also, all my life, I’ve connected to butterflies and recently they’ve been showing up more, could a butterfly be my power animal or does my subconscious WANT it to be?

  16. I live in remote country, and I have been seeing this one hawk when I drive into town (50+ks away). Every time I see him he’s standing on a post, I think to myself to get a photo as I believe he is my spirit animal but by the time I come home his gone. I know there is a message but I don’t stop, so I miss it an can’t seem to work it out. When I see him its like a in your face notice me look.

  17. Hi. Thank you for this wonderful website. You teally make Shamanism understandable.

    I was intrigued by your suggestion to winter (who has a love for Orcas) in this comment section that she may be the Orca’s power animal. I’m new to Shamanism and know I have a lot to learn. I’ve been involved in animal rescue for some time so have been around them a good bit. I can’t help thinking that it seems very possible that they have some form of Shamanism of their own – with journeys, etc. I just wondered what are your thoughts on this.

    • Adrain, what an excellent question. I do believe that animals also journey. When they are sleeping and their feet start running, its true that this could be a dream. However, it seems to me that if we are going out and exploring while we are sleeping (which a shaman will tell you that we all do) then animals would do the same thing. Sending their soul to go explore places they love, to meet up with the brothers and sisters they were born with in order to run and play. If you practice shamanism and shamanic journeying, this is an excellent question to go ask the spirits about. When an animal is having a difficult time, a healer can find and give them a power animal. In shamanic healing, the healer can find a power animal that is willing to lend its energy to a person or an animal. The power animal volunteers, and the healer blows the spirit of that power animal into the person (or animal) who needs that aid. That power animal’s spirit then fills the body with its own power. When I visit an animal shelter, I sometimes give a power animal to dogs that seem particularly scared and nervous so that they have some support during the difficult time of being in a shelter.

  18. I have had two emotional crisis situations in my life so far and both times I have had a bear show up in my back yard. This is at two different houses in differnet states. This last time I stood across from it at night and stared right at the bear as he stared back at me. I then realized that these situations are both related in how I felt and needed emotional quidance, and both times the bear has presented himself to me. Would this mean he is my spirit animal or more?

  19. Soon after waking up one morning I saw, in my mind but somehow in front of me, a wolf with a black cord around its neck (like a necklace) with a light purple rock attached to it. As I saw it, I heard the word ‘violet’. I assume this is/was a guide, but I’ve no idea why I had this vision.

  20. Do power animals appear in the ‘real’ world? I ask this because around 3 years ago a sparrowhawk began roosting on a beam at the side of our house. Its only there at night and it roosts almost directly above where I sleep. I live in the countryside so its not unusual to see animals like that around, but I do find it odd that it would roost there. Whether its a power animal or not I do find it comforting to know that its there.

    • Yes, people have found that an animal will appear for them and will turn out to be a power animal. Whether the sparrowhawk is yours or not, the instinct you have that it is, is a good indication.

  21. As a young man who discovered shamanism literally yesterday, I am quite interested in learning how to practice it. Which aspect of shamanism do I start with? And how devoted must I be? As well as that, are plants like marijuana (and the like) and hallucinogens like magic mushrooms necessary for deeper understanding?

  22. As I woke up I saw in my mind a wolf, sitting looking at me, with a thin black cord around its neck with a violet coloured crystal attached to it (like a necklace). I was not afraid of it, just wondered what it wanted… I’ve never had an experience quite like this before.

  23. Hello,

    During my guided meditation tonight, my spirit animal presented me with a gift. My animal was an elk and he presented me with a black feather. Do you possibly know what that could embody, or is it a gift for just me to know and grow into?

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