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An Introduction to Spirit Animals

Updated: Jan 17, 2020

I've been working on my series Power Animals of the Planet for over 4 years now. After having completed 150+ paintings I am now beginning to put together my first official Oracle Deck. Over the years I've had numerous questions about Spirit Animals. In today's blog post I thought I'd give an introduction on them for you.

The term Spirit Animal has been trending over the last few years. Any basic search online will generate a multitude of results on this topic from pop quizzes to t-shirts that read, 'Ariana Grande is my Spirit Animal.' Chances are if you're reading this you're on a quest for a deeper, more spiritual understanding of Spirit Animals and how you can connect with them. By the time you finish reading this,I hope you'll have a better understanding of which animal(s) are watching over you and patiently waiting for you to see them.

Below are some of the most common questions I've received over the years:

What is a Spirit Animal?

Native Americans and other spiritual cultures have revered animal spirits for centuries. Many indigenous people believed that everything on earth was living and therefore deserved respect. Animals in particular were considered sacred, working with the creator in both spirit and physical form to support humans throughout their lives, similar to the way guardian angels do in Christianity.

What purpose do they serve?

When we have hardships and need support or guidance, they connect with and teach us things that we need to know so that we can move forward to the next phase of our lives.

How do I know an animal is communicating with me?

Spirit animals can come to us in many forms, but two major ways they communicate are through repetition and unusual animal activity.

1. Repetition

In this hectic digital age there are countless demands competing for our attention. The Universe uses the method of repetition as an effective way for spirit animals to communicate because patterns are effective and easy to identify. Here is an example:

You wake up, turn on the radio and hear a news story involving a bear. Later in the day you stop at the grocery store; a bear on the cover of a magazine catches your eye while standing at the checkout line. That evening as you're scrolling through social media you see that someone has posted a video of a bear in your newsfeed. Many would easily pass these things off as mere coincidences but these synchronicities are signs that the Spirit of Bear is trying to get your attention.

2. Animal activity that is not defined as normal.

Any animal behavior that is deemed unusual or out of the ordinary should be considered a spirit animal encounter given that the animal isn't visibly ill or in danger. I've experienced many encounters with animals; allow me to share one of them with you:

During a trip to Glacier National Park a few years ago, my husband and I spent most of our time hiking with friends in remote locations of the park. On our last hike of the week I led the way through a thickly wooded area. I pulled out my phone to check the time and out of nowhere a mule deer stepped onto the path, blocking my way. I froze and just stood there, waiting for him to realize he'd stumbled across a human and dart away; but he didn't. Instead, he began walking toward me until we were about 10 feet apart from one another. During this time his eyes locked with mine for a good 10 seconds and in those few moments it felt as though time was standing still. Suddenly I remembered I had my phone in my hand. He allowed me this photo before turning and disappearing off into the trees.

My photo of a mule deer that stepped onto my hiking path.

Deer are very shy, timid creatures with exceptional hearing; they avoid any interactions with people. This deer's behavior was very atypical, a sure sign that Spirit of Deer was aiming for my attention.

What messages do Spirit Animals have for us?

If you have an interaction with an animal and want to know what messages are being offered to you I recommend that first, you embrace the experience; sit with it for a while and see what feelings emerge. What areas of your life are currently challenging? Where are you in need of help? Allow the answers to come to you. As you become more familiar with Spirit Animals, you'll see that they will appear when you need them most. You will also develop a sense of clarity and understanding about what messages they have for you. If you are new to animal symbolism there are many authors who've written on the subject both online and in book format that can offer direction. Personally, whenever I feel I need a bit of direction I refer to one of my favorite books on the subject: Animal Speak by Ted Andrews.

Note* If you search multiple websites or books you may notice slightly varied animal meanings; don't be concerned by this. The beautiful part is recognizing that an experience has taken place. From there, just trust that you'll be led to the correct message for you; when it finds you, you'll know.

Side Note* the interaction I had with the deer in Glacier proved to be a cathartic experience and allowed me to work my way through a rough time in my life. I was grateful for the gift I was given and ultimately celebrated it by creating a painting based on the photograph I'd taken. It was my way of honoring a special moment that I'll always cherish.

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