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What Are Animal Spirit Guides?

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  • Written By: Renee Booker
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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Many religions throughout history have believed in the concept of spirit guides. Shamanistic religions, in particular, often believe in animal spirit guides. Native American religions are most frequently associated with the idea of animal spirit guides. According to most Native American beliefs, an animal spirit enters each human at the moment of birth and becomes part of who he or she is for his or her lifetime.

Specific Native American religions and beliefs with regard to animal spirit guides may differ somewhat; however, the fundamentals are usually the same. Animal guides may enter a person's life at vary stages to help him or her through a specific task; however, one animal guide remains with each person from birth to death. This animal spirit guide represents characteristics that the person has within him or her, or strengths that he or she has.

The Native American belief system is founded on the principle that the Earth, and everything in and on it, is alive. This includes plants, trees, and water, as well as the smallest insect to the largest animal. Everything, therefore, has a soul and its own characteristics. Native Americans respect the Earth and have traditionally tried to live in harmony with it. As a result, their lives are very intertwined with everything found on the Earth, including animals.

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Exactly how animal spirit guides are chosen will vary among tribes or religions; however, it is universally believed that they are chosen before birth to help the individual carry out his or her task for this lifetime. A person's animal spirit guide will show itself at some point in the individual's life — usually during adolescence — through a dream or a waking vision. Many Native American tribes historically used peyote or other hallucinogens during ceremonies to help bring out their spirit guides.

In most cases, a person will embody many of the characteristics associated with his or her animal spirit guide. While well-known animal spirit guides such as the eagle, bear, or tiger are certainly common guides, a person may have any living creature as a guide. Each animal, or insect, has characteristics, abilities and powers that are commonly believed to be associated it.

An elk, for example, symbolizes strength, agility, and power, while an ant lends perseverance and self-discipline to a person. The well-known eagle is a warrior in battle, but the owl brings wisdom and patience. A salmon animal spirit guide offers instinct and determination, while the infamous wolf lends the characteristics of loyalty and stability to his human counterpart.

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MrsPramm
Post 3

@Fa5t3r - The thing is though, you've got to take history into account. This isn't a case of two cultures sharing themselves equally. This is a case of a domineering and destructive culture picking and choosing the bits they want to play with from a people that they basically subjugated.

I hate to always have to resort to this analogy, but if the Nazis won and then were using Jewish myths as what they considered to be cute games we'd find that pretty despicable.

Well, we don't like to think about it, but the Native Americans were treated just about as badly as the Jews during the invasion of the Europeans. If they aren't happy about other folks appropriating their culture now I can hardly blame them.

Fa5t3r
Post 2

@Ana1234 - I'm not sure I agree. There are a lot of Christian symbols that get bandied about as pop-culture icons and most people don't seem to mind. You might see a lot of animal spirit guide quiz websites around, but you also see quizzes for people to determine which old testament figure they are most like, or which saint they take after.

I think sometimes that can go too far and become insulting, but as long as people can draw the line between enjoying a part of another culture and actually living in that culture, then I think it's probably OK.

Ana1234
Post 1

Just be careful with throwing this phrase around. It has seeped into popular culture to the point where people will use it as a joke, saying something like "Chuck Norris is my spirit guide" but that's insulting to the original belief. Christians would not be happy if people went around saying that they considered Chuck Norris to be their personal Jesus or something like that.

It's a kind of seductive idea, as animal totems can make you feel special and unique and defined and people seem to like that. But it's wrong to turn a religious dogma into pop-culture.

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