Coolest spirit animals

Your own personal animal totem mascot

Editor’s Note: This essay is part of a column called The Wisdom Project by David Allan, editorial director of CNN Health and Wellness. The series is on applying to one’s life the wisdom and philosophy found everywhere, from ancient texts to pop culture. You can follow David at @davidgallan. Don’t miss another Wisdom Project column by subscribing here.

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Traditional cultures adopt animal totems to co-opt the virtues and strengths

Word totem comes from the Ojibwa (aka Chippewa) word "ototeman" meaning "one's brother-sister kin"

CNN  — 

Warm yourself around the open fire while I dramatically gesture at the night sky and talk of the benefit of adopting an ancient wisdom technique. It involves identifying what some traditional cultures may call a totem or spirit animal.

Sound too flaky? How about if we call it a personal mascot, instead?

Sports teams began adopting animal mascots in the early 1900s to represent a team’s region and imbue it with good luck. The word originates from the French “mascotte,” which means a talisman or charm.

Lions, panthers, broncos, bulldogs, tigers, eagles, wildcats, timberwolves, bears – each carry their own identity and a somewhat anthropomorphized personality that players can take into the field or court. They invoke virtues such as perseverance, courage and agility. Even all those baseball birds were chosen because they’re regionally identifiable, elegant, quick and strong.

Advertisers like animal mascots too: Tony the Tiger, the Energizer Bunny, Ford Mustang. But have you wondered why?

“Animal characters transfer meanings on to brands,” according to researchers at Boston College and AUT University in Auckland, New Zealand, whose paper in the Journal of Marketing Management investigated the integration of animal symbols in advertising and how they “serve to activate and connect archetypal associations automatically in the consumers’ minds.

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Drawing upon your own life experiments

The utility of these mascots and spokesanimals is not far from the reason Native Americans and other ancient traditions (Celtic, Norse, Asian, African, Indian, Australian) adopt animal totems. It’s about co-opting the virtues and strengths of those archetypes for inspiration and guidance, and reminders to live the lessons they offer in old myths and fables.

For some of these traditions, there wasn’t even a categorical word for “animal.” They were simply other people, and not distantly related either. The word totem comes from the Ojibwa (aka Chippewa) word “ototeman” meaning “one’s brother-sister kin.

Totems have a spiritual connection to their tribes, and these animal kin look out for the whole family.

Totems, are, of course, still part of some Native American tribes’ ceremony and belief, and I’m not trying to make light of that by suggesting we adopt a similar idea. But in this world of a la carte spirituality and tradition, you are free to choose your tribe, and its animal. Maybe start with the mascot of your favorite team.

Think of animals as metaphor: busy as a beaver, crazy like a fox, horsing around, bullish, sheepish. And metaphor, as applied to how we live our life, is wisdom. So by adopting a mascot, you create a symbolic reminder of the virtues and lessons you want to be mindful of and employ for yourself.

At the beginning of every new year, for the last 10, I’ve embraced a new mascot. The process is simple. I assess where I am in my life, what challenges I’m facing or anticipate in the coming year and what aspects need more attention than normal. And then I look for a corresponding animal whose symbolic meaning makes for a good metaphoric fit.

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I’ve adopted a duck to remind myself to let things roll off my back, a squirrel when I needed to make more plans for the future, an otter as a cue to be more playful with my young daughters, a swan to float above professional distractions, a salmon to encourage flow during an upstream struggle, a falcon for focus and bold vision, and a rabbit when my wife and I were trying to get pregnant.

It’s easy to find animals’ symbolic meanings. You can Google “wolf symbolism” and get dozens of links about what wolves represent in certain traditions, in dream symbolism and folklore. There are also a number of books with encyclopedic listings of animals and their meaning you can reference, such as Steven Farmer’s “Pocket Guide to Spirit Animals” and “Animal-Speak” by Ted Andrews.

As I consider a new mascot I tend to read a number of sources and look for the common themes, metaphors and traditions. Some virtues even come out in the animal’s biology or behavior. Sharks are immune to most diseases. Bald eagles mate for life. Salmon swim with a reverse undercurrent. Dolphins and otters are among the few animals that play for the fun of it.


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Chosen with some thought, these animals naturally resurface throughout the year with personal relevance. This experiment is simply a tool for becoming more mindful about what you already feel you should be more mindful of.

There’s a less self-serving benefit to making a connection to other animals, as well, which is an increased awareness that we are not the only beings on the planet. You may start to simply notice more animals around you and how we share spaces we often think of us as ours alone. It’s another much-needed lesson the traditional cultures pass on to an increasingly digital, modern and disconnected world.

Maybe you already have an animal or two in mind. Or maybe you need a little nudge out of the nest. Here are some common animals and their symbolic virtues to get you brainstorming.

Bear: strength, confidence, healing

Bees: success, fertility, happiness

Dolphin: harmony, protection, joy

Eagle: freedom, success, vision

Fish: productive, moving easily, being in one’s element

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    • Fox: discernment, agility, intelligence

      Hawk: focus, vision, perspective

      Horse: success, freedom, courage, strength

      Otter: playful, helpful, curious, nurturing

      Owl: intuition, wisdom

      Rabbit: luck, fertility, creativity

      Wolf: intelligence, instinctual, social

      Kenneth Fowler for CNN

      Ultimate Guide To Spirit Animals, Power Animals & Totems

      Skip to content

      Home NewElena Harris2021-12-21T15:38:54-08:00

      Select a Spirit Animal

      Discover Your Spirit Animal

      Discover your spirit animal with the new Spirit Animal Quiz. This online quiz is designed to help anyone curious about spirit animals to quick start their journey through this fascinating world.

      Take The Spirit Animal Quiz Now!

      Today’s Message of Wisdom from Spirit Animals

      The Bear says…

      Deep in slumber, dreams unending,
      Wise old bear, patient, strong,
      Send me dreams of transformation,
      Grant me intuition along
      With introspection of my life,
      Inner listening, no more strife.

      – D.J. Conway, Animal Magick

      Learn about the Bear Spirit Animal

      Learn about the Hawaiian Spirit Animals

      Spirit Animal News

      There are now 2 Spirit Animal Tests available! We wanted to give our readers fun and free ways to discover more animals and apply those meanings to their lives. We believe that all the spirit animals have value to add, if we can only unlock their meaning…

      What’s My Spirit Animal?

      What Animal Are You?

      Spirit Animal of the Week

      The Panther: The panther symbolizes courage, valor and power. If the panther is your power animal, you are blessed with a fierce guardian. The panther totem animal encourages us to understand the power within the shadows and to acknowledge these powers to help eliminate our fear of the dark and unknown.

      Learn about the Panther Spirit Animal

      How To Find Your Spirit Animal

      Spirit Animal List: The Spider

      The spider is a mysterious spirit animal that works in the depths of our world and psyche. The weaver of fate and destiny is never far from teaching us about the intricate connections between actions, events, and chance. It shows us how to carefully move forward in life while trusting everything has its place.

      Learn more about the Spider spirit animal

      Get the full list of animal meanings

      Top 5 Power Animals

      Featured Power Animal: The Wolf
      The Wolf’s spirit is fiercely independent and teaches us about trusting our path solo or with the rest of the pack. Call on the Wolf spirit animal to guide you during moments when you venture out into the unknown or need help understanding the rules of the game.

      Learn about the Wolf power animal

      View Top 5 Most Popular Animals & Their Meaning

      About Spirit Animals


      Following the footsteps of traditions from all around the world, this guide on spirit animals also offers a contemporary perspective on this fascinating subject. Blending modern psychology, intuitive work, in-depth research, and personal experience, it provides information easy to read and understand for anyone curious about animals and their power.

      Elena Harris, Editor, tells more about, the intention, purpose and hopes behind the creation of this guide.

      Connect With Your Spirit Animal

      A spirit animal characterized by a personal relationship to the individual it is associated with. You can have one or several spirit animals throughout your life, during a specific phase of your life, or at specific occasions.

      It is that connection at the individual level that differentiates the power animal from the animal totem that tends to symbolize a group or person’s identity. As such, power animals are the equivalent of animal spirit guides or spirit animals.

      Your spirit animal often represents qualities and attributes that you may see in yourself. It is instructive to learn about the habits and characteristics of your power animal and see how they are reflected in your own personality and life.

      What is the Difference Between a Spirit Animal and a Power Animal?

      The terms “spirit animal” and “power animal” are often used interchangeably, even though they have slightly different meaning depending on the context in which they are used.

      Spirit Animal Definition

      Spirit animals are typically associated with traditional as well as modern Western shamanic practices. During initiations or shamanic journeys, the shaman would find one or several animals that she or another person is associated with. Traditionally, the spirit animal is used for guidance.

      Think of your spirit animal as a guardian spirit or spirit guide. It can play the role of protector and provides guidance. It’s like a “personal guide or protector” that has a personal affinity with the person it’s associated with.

      Power Animals

      In addition, the spirit of the animal could unite with the person it “chose” in more personal ways and one will often find similarities in traits of personality, characteristics, and synchronicity between the two. As such, the power or essence of the animal can be felt or communicated. In that sense, spirit animals can also be referred to as “power animals”.

      On this web site, the terms spirit animal, animal spirit guide and power animal are used interchangeably.

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      Perfume that smells like animals - Afisha Daily


      Selfish interest: the best fragrances with animal notes

      Ksenia Golovanova

      May 15, 2018 18:07

      Perhaps, in the composition of your favorite perfume, marmot or potash is hidden. If not, perfume critic Ksenia Golovanova has collected seven fragrances to fix it.

      Neroli Animalis Maison Incens

      Horse in a coat

      Neroli Animalis, which is now on the shelves, is a pomaded version of the original fragrance: the first Neroli smelled like a steaming pile of excrement, into which a sprig of orange blossom was stuck. Those who managed to sniff the original sample will never forget it; this smell is forever stuck in our olfactory receptors, like manure in the corrugated sole of a sneaker. Today's version is a woody-musky fragrance with animalic shades of the stable and a lot of citrus materials: here are the title neroli, and orange blossom, and bergamot, and bitter petitgrain. Imagine BoJack's horse dressed up for a Hollywood party and get him - Neroli Animalis.


      12800 rub. per 100 ml

      Buy now

      Aroma-Teka Perfume Boutique

      Hyrax, Zoologist Perfumes

      Groundhog Shadow

      In translation from English, hyrax means "daman", or "fatty", is an unflattering name for an animal living in some countries of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Outwardly, the hyrax resembles a well-fed marmot, but evolutionarily it is closest to the elephant, no matter how wild it may sound. The oddities do not end there: petrified hyrax droppings - hyraceum, or African stone - are actively used in natural perfumery as a fragrant substance that has an earthy smell with animal and honey hues. But Hyrax by the Canadian Zoologist brand smells more like the African plains chosen by the hyrax than the beast itself: warm dust, crumpled straw, heated stones and modest desert flowers.


      $6 for 1.5 ml


      Maai, Bogue Profumo

      Battle of Chypre

      Take, for example, Maai, a large and rolling chypre built entirely on contrasts - delicate flora and snarling animals, beautiful and ugly, high and low. These rose bushes and jasmine bushes have been fertilized with rich compost all spring, and look how well it turned out: Maai flowers are so full of life that they almost do not bite themselves.


      $ 245 for 50 ml


      Ballyheigue, Coronation Ambergris

      50 shades of the gray

      Coronation Ambergris - a joint project of a professional producer of a pate of a Lenton -Lenton. In the aromatic world, the latter is known for its attars - complex alcohol-free compositions of essential oils and absolutes, which have a deafening power and an internal vintage growl. Everything that has come out so far in Coronation, on the contrary, is distinguished by a kind of sleepy, dreamy tenderness - this is the smell of clean shallows, stagnant water in shallow puddles after a night tide, algae that have not yet been touched by the sun. The fragrances of the brand are tinctures, or alcoholic tinctures of pieces of ambergris found in different parts of Ireland (the names of the compositions indicate them), and “Bellihaig” is the most animalistic of all: the salty smell of the hallway visiting Jonah, swallowed by a whale. 915 ml sandalwood, when it grew in this thicket, then disappeared in a wet tangle of tropical grasses, smothered with vetiver and a young, but aggressive growth of ferns, horsetails and loaches. The two main blocks that Figment is made of are the mossy green of the undergrowth and the dark, dirty, animalistic musk nailed to the wet ground. Together they form a believable ecosystem - a mountain forest with many tiers, both well-ventilated and gloomy, with stagnant emerald air and the warm smell of organic life.


      27000 rub. per 100 ml

      Buy now

      Fragrance Secrets Boutique

      Musc Tonkin, Parfum dʼEmpire

      Mother Deer

      Musk is one of the oldest perfume ingredients, which at one time was attributed to many of the most amazing diseases from pandiasis, all the most amazing properties: causing attraction to members of the opposite sex, a link in a complex perfume composition. In 1979, when the musk deer, a deer that had been slaughtered for centuries for its musk gland, was recognized as a vulnerable species, the use of natural musk was banned, and perfumers faced the difficult task of accurately recreating its aroma with the help of synthetic substances. Marc-Antoine Corticchiato, the author of Musc Tonkin, did it all: this musk has leathery, creamy, powdery, fruity and even fecal undertones, like vintage musk compositions found on eBay.


      10500 rub. per 100 ml


      Oudh Infini, Parfums Dusita

      Cheese Plate

      Probably the best oud fragrance on the market - thick, creamy and smooth, like aged goat cheese with harsh rose moldings and harsh goat cheese sandalwood oil. The rose in Oudh Infini is absolutely phenomenal: only Arab attars can afford such a depth of penetration into the soul of a flower, but here it is, a real hologram of a heavy flower head swollen with honey (all perfumers should find out from whom Pissara Umavijani buys raw materials). "Newborn kids in rose oil" - this is how the perfume blogger called this fragrance Dusita, and the comparison is very accurate: Oudh smells of interior warmth and May flowers at the same time.


      36000 rub. For 50 ml


      Aroma-Teach perfume boutique

      Tell your friends



      Features of animal notes in spirits

      • BALISE
      • ONE ONIVERS OF OFFICA is a relatively small group of fragrances, whose works are distinguished by an emphatically animalistic, "dirty", often frankly erotic nature of various waste products of fauna representatives. Among the most popular notes of the group, one can note musk deer musk (in the olfactory pyramids it can appear as “black musk” as opposed to “white”, behind which are usually synthetic substances with a clean, soapy-powdery smell), ambergris, castoreum, civet, and also bee honey. In modern perfumery, animal materials of natural origin are almost never used: in order to formulate the fragrance “noses”, as a rule, components such as ambrocenide, hexadecanolide, etc. are chosen, which have the desired odor characteristics, but are cheaper to manufacture and are not associated with causing harm to the environment. environment.

        Animal notes: examples and descriptions

        Despite the fact that in its pure form animal fragrances are rarely found on sale (this is due to the lack of noticeable demand from store customers), animalistic notes can be found in many compositions, especially in the niche segment - and the synthetic ingredients behind them, in the vast majority of cases do not play a major role in the composition, but help to reveal other components, soften or shade their sound and add the necessary nuances to perfumes. Here are some examples of animal notes with a description of their smell:

        • musk — warm, sweetish, somewhat “dirty” smell with urinal and floral shades
        • castoreum (beaver stream) — rich fecal-smoked smell, the main role in the formation of which is played by phenols; may have nuances of narcissus and vanilla
        • civet — describes the smell of viverre secretion: dense and leathery, with spicy and green undertones and sweet nuances fragrance
        • honey - a number of perfumery ingredients that repeat the smell of honey can be attributed to animal notes, due to the presence of a pronounced cheesy-urinal shade.

        Animal fragrances: features of the genre and examples of work

        Animal fragrances in their purest form have never made the list of the most popular and best-selling perfume products. There are several explanations for this at once, but the main reason is quite simple: perfumes have been created and existed for centuries, including to hide the "animal" smell of the human body, and for the last hundred years perfumers have been helped in this for the most part by floral, citrus, woody, green and other materials; interest in animalistic notes has become pronounced, truly noticeable only in the last 10-15 years - largely due to the work of independent niche brands, which reserve the freedom to work with those genres that the client of larger brands may not understand. Despite this, the animal "trace" is easy to catch in many hits of the 60s - 80s. - but then such materials were used only as a background for a variety of floral, chypre or fougere compositions.

        Now animalistic fragrances are released infrequently and almost always in the portfolio of niche or artisan brands. Here are a few examples that you can pay attention to when getting acquainted with the genre:

        • Musc Encensé, Aedes de Venustas is the first animalistic fragrance from the New York brand. Starring incense and musk framed by smoked nuances of tonka bean and cashmeran
        • Muscs Koublaï Khän, Serge Lutens is a great classic by Serge Lutens, a fragrance that is often called "the smell of stale sheets". Musk, civet, amber
        • Oudh Infini, Dusita is a dense oud-honey composition in which the animal character of agar tree resin is highlighted by subtle gourmand nuances. In the 2020 version, an additional fruity undertone has joined the main accord.

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