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?



Power Animals — 20 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.

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