Slipping, sliding, soft fur gliding
Through the forest water bright,
Friendly otter in tumbling water,
Lead me to happiness and light.
Recently I posted about birth animal totems, and promised to post about animal totems in general and my individual totems. But what is a totem? It's any entity which watches over or assists a group of people, such as a family, clan or tribe. Traditionally, it supported groups - such as Native American tribes - rather than individuals.
However, in modern times, some single individuals, not otherwise involved in the practice of a tribal religion, have chosen to adopt a personal spirit animal healer which has a special meaning to them, and refer to them as totems.
An often-asked question is: "Do you choose a totem, or do totems choose you?" You may actually have chosen a totem for yourself, but don't think it hasn't chosen you too! Perhaps you have been unconsciously aware of your totem all your life. Do you see coincidences, signs or even omens concerning a particular animal?
It may be an animal you have felt strangely - but strongly - drawn to since early childhood. You may have drawn or written about it, or collected art or jewelry featuring it. You may have dreamed of your totem frequently. Do you visit it first at the zoo? Is it one you have literally bumped into over and over? Is it one you notice more than others when you are out in nature? Have you watched this animal for hours and hours? Your totem could even be an animal you are afraid of.
What I have been discussing is your Life Long Animal Totem, or your Spirit Totem. It is always there to remind you of your power and connectivity with the earth, and generally reflects your inner spirit nature. Totems are our guides, meant to teach us life lesssons.
There are other totems: Journey, Message and Shadow Animal Totems, but I won't discuss them here.
About 15 years ago I visited Northern California for the first and only time. My husband and I, armed with binoculars borrowed from our B&B, took the 17-mile drive between Pacific Grove and Carmel. We pulled over to the side and got out on the rocks to observe mother sea otters, lying on their backs and cradling their babies on their tummies. At a different stop, we watched another otter, again on her back, cracking open a shell with a rock. I was entranced, enthralled and enchanted with the sea otter, and have been ever since.
I am also drawn to the river otter, especially after reading "Ring of Bright Water", and I must see them first when I visit the zoo. I hate to be anthropomorphic, but otters are so winsome, so intelligent, so playful, so curious, charming and contented.
The otter, whose elements are earth and water, is woman medicine. She teaches us the beauty of our female energies. She is a sign of healthy play, balance and "go with the flow" attitude. Those with the otter totem attract love, harmony and grace into their lives (That's me, Julie, always seeking grace.)
It is otter that brings forth our ability to allow others into our lives without doubt, jealousy or fear. Otters awaken curiosity. They remind us that everything is interesting if we look at it from the right angle. Otters help you awaken your inner child and allow events to flow naturally in your life.
With an otter totem, you can create a space for others to enter your lives without preconceptions or suspicions. Otter teaches us that balanced feminine energy is not catty or jealous, but instead is sisterhood and sharing. Otter expresses joy for others.
Otters represent loving memories and nostalgia for family and friends and for the past. I am otter, and I move gently in the river of life.
One may have more than one Life Long or Spirit totem. My other totem is the dolphin, and I will write about it in the future.
BELOW: RIVER OTTER
This is from a brochure for the otter totem necklace made by my friend Lila Marquart. (I blogged about her "Jewelry With Meaning" this spring.) Lila also creates many other totem, goddess, chakra & fairy necklaces. For information about her, email me or check my blog.)