Totem Artifacts and Healing

Essay by bigdawg89University, Bachelor'sA+, April 2010

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Totem Artifacts and Healing

Native American tradition communicates that each of us is individually connected with various different animals that serve as a guide and companion in accompanying us through our walk of life. Depending on the direction we may choose, these animal guides will come in and out of our life. Native American tradition also holds a more constant belief that each of us has a totem animal that is with us for our lifetime, in both the natural and supernatural realms. Though we may evolve and characterize ourselves through different animal guides during our life, our totem animal remains constant.

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, a totem is "an object, such as an animal or a plant, serving as the emblem of a family or clan and often as a reminder of its ancestry." (Merriam-Webster) Totems are not to be confused with fetishes, which are defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as "An object, such as a small stone carving of an animal, believed to have magical power to protect or aid its owner."

(Merriam-Webster) Fetishes and totems often compliment one another; but the basic difference between a fetish and a totem is that the fetish spirit is the solitary slave of the person who owns it, whereas the totem is his personal patron spirit.

Totems are a central and highly important theme that is present through the history and culture of the Native American people. The grizzly bear is a good example of a totem, as it is found on every continent and comes in a diverse array of sizes and colors. The grizzly bear is revered across the world, especially North America where the indigenous people place a large emphasis on the spirituality behind the grizzly bear totem and its fearless power. (Ebscohost 2) Bear people are also...