Spirit Animals: A Guide To Dreams & Symbols

Spirit Animals: A Guide To Dreams & Symbols

Curious about spirit animals? Maybe you’ve recently seen an animal in a dream. Or perhaps you’ve noticed the same animal repeatedly showing itself to you: on a TV commercial, on someone’s T-shirt, on a random restaurant menu, etc.

It’s a common experience to “see” animals repeating in the world around you or making themselves known to you

Perhaps right now you’re wondering: what is a spirit animal? What does it mean to see one? And what does this spirit animal in particular mean?

Keep reading because in this guide, we will cover all of that and more!

Spirit Animal Origins

While it’s typically thought that the concept of animal guides was a part of indigenous North American culture, it’s not that simple.

While some tribes do have animal totems and guides, many others doesn’t. So it’s not easy to make a blanket statement about the origins of this idea.

It’s much more likely that the concept of spirit guides was popularized by the Pagan and Wiccan spirituality movement in the 1990s.

In this guide, we are speaking about spirit animals in the literal sense: as spiritual guides.

What A Spirit Animal Isn’t

Contrary to popular belief, your spirit animal isn’t your favorite animal. It’s not cats because you love cats and you happen to own one.

In fact, your spirit animal guide might not be an animal that you “like” at all.

Instead, they are a spiritual representation of something bigger: something you need to keep in mind or something you need to work on within yourself.

Spirit Animals + Cultural Appropriation

Cultural appropriation can be defined as using names, terms and sacred items; casually wearing clothing; or using objects as novelties and without proper reverence and understanding.

Some say the concept of spirit animals is cultural appropriation. However, much of the hurt here comes from a few things. First, spirit animals are not a universal concept. (Again, don’t assume every Native person–or every person in general!–has one.)

Second, let’s not use any dodgy First Nations imagery or other stereotypes when it comes to talking about animal guides.

To that end, I’m avoiding using the term “animal totem.” While the two terms are used interchangeably, totems are an important sacred part of Northwest First Nations culture. So this term should be avoided at all costs.

In this post, we steer well clear of Native American stereotypes in this post: ie. assuming every Native American has a spirit guide or saying things like “Justin Bieber is my spirit animal.”

Animal Symbolism + Your Dreams

Animals are frequent visitors to our dreams and our dreams are a place for our subconscious mind to communicate to us. If you’re experiencing dreams about a particular animal repeatedly (or you had one particularly intense dream), it can be useful to look up that animal’s meaning.

Benefits Of Finding Your Animal Guide

Sometimes we are lost, confused and stagnant. We might be scared and anxious about our future, not knowing the path that we are supposed to be on.

In connecting with your animal totem, you will find the answers and gain clarity in your life. This will help you achieve the happiness and peace that you deserve.

With practice and understanding, we are able to communicate with our spirit animals. They are able to pass on their knowledge and wisdom to us and with this communication, we deepen the connection we have with them.

How Do I Find My Spirit Animal?

As mentioned, your spirit guide isn’t the animal that you like the most.

Instead, your spirit guide will show itself too you.

Also, it’s possible to have more than one animal guide. It’s also possible to have different animals make their presence known at different points in your life.

Keep an open mind, notice what you see in the world and in your dreams, and pay particular attention if an animal makes more than one appearance in your life–especially multiple times in a short period of time.

Different Ways You Might Find Your Spirit Guide

The most common way a spirit guide will appear to you is through your dreams. So yes, if you happened to dream about a white owl last night, it’s very much worth looking up what that means.

Repeating images/appearances3> Your animal guide might not show up in dreams. It might appear to you in a variety of places, just like angel numbers do.

You already have one It’s common to have a special animal that has appeared to you over your lifetime. What animal have you noticed the most?

Meditation You don’t have to wait for a dream state! Sometimes your spirit guide will make an appearance when you’re meditating. It might happen spontaneously. Or you might want to set an intention first or do a guided meditation or hypnosis.

Stay present If you’re new to spirituality or you just think this will never happen for you, it’s helpful to keep a diary. My favorite way of doing this is simply using the Notes app on my phone. Then just record any animals you happen to notice around you (whether real, pictures in a book, on a billboard, etc.) It doesn’t have to make sense! Just record what you notice and over time you can see a pattern forming.

Ask for a sign! You can also play a little game with the Universe and as for an animal guide to make itself known to you. For example, set the intention and ask for it to show you within three days. Then make note of what comes up.

Dream Interpretation of Spirit Guides

Don’t discount your own knowledge when it comes to interpreting your dreams! Remember, this is your subconscious mind/Higher Power speaking directly to you. Your own lived experience is always 1000x more valuable than what you’ll ever read in a guide.

For example, maybe you went to the zoo when you were four and became obsessed with the bear. Now, you’ve had a few dreams about bears recently. What does the bear in your dreams remind you of from that childhood experience?

Spirit Animal Guide: Meanings & Dream Interpretation

If you’re curious about what your dreams about animals mean, here’s a guide to some of the most common spirit guides.

Spirit Guide Meaning #1: The Owl | Intuition

The owl is one of the most popular animal guides. Owls typically represent inner wisdom, truth, and hidden knowledge.

If you’re seeing owls in your dreams (or in the world around you), this is a call to listen to your intuition. What is your gut telling you right now? Is there a message you’ve been ignoring? Tap in and follow your own inner advice.

Spirit Guide Meaning #2: The Wolf | Loyalty

Wolves are known for being pack animals. Across different cultures, they are revered for their intelligence, keen instincts, and strong sense of community. The presence of a wolf in your dreams (or meditations) is a call to embrace your sense of leadership, team work, and family/friendship bonds.

Spirit Guide Meaning #3: The Bear | Strength

Bears are known for being fierce and protective. If you are dreaming about them, it’s time to embrace your own ferocity! Where do you need to be a bit stronger? Perhaps take a stance, set a boundary, or have a tough conversation? Remember that you are always stronger than you think! You are able to face challenges and adversity, even if you don’t feel like you can.

Spirit Guide Meaning #4: The Snake | Transformation

Snakes famously shed their skins. In turn, seeing a snake is all about letting go so you can become a more powerful version of you. If you’re seeing snakes in your meditations or dreams, think of it as a signal to let go. What habits are holding you back? What relationships or dynamics do you need to say goodbye to? But fear not. The snake isn’t only about goodbyes. It’s also about rebirth and healing. Where is your next level or life stage taking you?

Spirit Guide Meaning #5: The Deer | Gentleness

The deer is a gentle and sensitive animal. If you’re calling in deer to your dream world, that’s a sign for you to focus on your own sensitivity: in relationships, or even spirituality. Where do you need to soften up a little? How can you bring in a little more tenderness, especially with those you love the most? The deer can also be seen as a reminder to approach challenges with poise and mindfulness.

Spirit Guide Meaning #6: The Eagle | Spiritual Awakening

Eagles are known for their unique perspective, flying high in the sky. They are often a symbol of rebirth and transformation, especially in the spiritual realm. If you’re dreaming a lot about eagles recently, then perhaps it’s time to tap into your Higher Self. What are your guides telling you? Where does your Higher Self want to talk you? Or what fresh perspectives do you nee to adopt right now? Often we think the answers lie outside, when in reality, we can find them if we just look inwards. Don’t discount your own inner knowledge!

Spirit Guide Meaning #7: The Hawk | Perspective

Hawks are known for their ability to soar high in the sky. They symbolize vision, awareness and perspective. Are you dreaming about hawks–or seeing them in the world around you? This might be a call to adopt a broader perspective or to focus in on your goals. Remember your problems are not punishments! A simple shift of perspective is all we need to go from problem to opportunity. What new heights can you reach with this new view and attitude?

Spirit Guide Meaning #8: The Fox | Cunning

The fox is frequently seen as the trickster. They are smart and quick on their feet. When it comes to spirit animals, the fox is here to help you get out of any problems you might be having. How can you protect yourself first and foremost? What’s the quickest way to achieve your goal? How can you reframe the problem to give yourself a position of power? The fox isn’t deceitful or evil. In fact, it has a fun-loving spirit. Even in the middle of struggle, find your way back to embrace the fun of where you are.

Spirit Guide Meaning #9: The Tiger | Inner Power

Tigers are known for their superb hunting skills, physical power, and courage. When they set their sights on something, it’s a done deal. If you’re seeing tigers in your dreams (or elsewhere) it can be a sign to bump up your own inner strength. What problem are you grappling with at the moment? What are you capable of if you just let yourself move forward without overthinking? What’s the smartest move you can make at the moment? It’s important to trust yourself and take action–even if it scares you.

Spirit Guide Meaning #10: The Lion | Self-Confidence

When you think of the lion, you automatically think of bravery and self-confidence. They’re also known for their regal nature, including that fluffy mane of hair. Much like the sign of Leo, the lion spirit animal is here to help you feel more confident. It’s time to get out of your own way and stop wallowing in self-doubt. If you had the courage to do anything right now, what would you do first?

Spirit Guide Meaning #11: The Dolphin | Joy

Dolphins are known for their playful and joyful nature. They are highly intelligent and are often seen as a symbol of protection. In terms of spirit animals, they remind us to tune into our joy and sense of playfulness. Where can you experience a little more joy? How does your Inner Child want you to play right now? Even in this serious adult world, there’s always time to kick up your feet and laugh a little! In fact, laughter is the best medicine for much of what ails us.

Spirit Guide Meaning #12: The Crow | Intelligence

Crows might have something of a spooky reputation but they’re actually highly intelligent creatures. That means if crows are appearing in your dreams, then you’re quite lucky! It’s time to take your power back from whatever problems you’re facing and rely on your own instincts. What do you think you should do that you haven’t done yet? What crazy action do you need to take? Crows are also innovative so don’t be afraid to go outside of the box. If all else fails, call on the crow’s sense of curiosity and see where that takes you.

So tell me: what spirit animal guide have you seen recently? Did you learn anything here that shed light on its meaning?

Final Notes

Simply being curious and open-minded will tell you a lot about your own spirit animal. You’ll know you have the right meaning when it resonates deep inside of you. Again, never put someone else’s interpretation above your own. In the end, working with your spirit guides (in whatever form they appear) is a way to strengthen your own intuition and self-trust.

Jenn Stevens The Aligned Life

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Spirit Animals: A Guide To Dreams & Symbols


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