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Spirituality, Animals and Our Sense of Identity: Animal Totems in Art Therapy

by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ATR-BC


We are all spiritual beings, but our spirituality manifests in different ways. Some people find their connection to the divine through nature, while others find it through animals. Throughout history, animals have played a significant role in spiritual traditions from all around the world. In many cases, animals are used as symbols to represent various aspects of the spiritual experience. We are constantly seeking to understand who we are and where we come from. In our search for self-identity, we look to many different places: family, friends, work, nationality, religion, and more.


One of the most overlooked sources of identity is our relationship to animals. Animals play a significant role in our lives, but often we don’t even realize it. They can provide us with a sense of connection to nature and the spiritual realm, and they can help us to develop a more authentic sense of self.


From the time we're born, we're taught about the animals that share our planet. We learn their names and what they look like. When we look at animals, we often see reflections of ourselves. Pets remind us of our own vulnerability and innocence, while wild animals can represent our more primal and instinctual selves. In this way, they can help us to form an understanding of ourselves that might be difficult to achieve otherwise.


One of the most interesting things about animals is the way they can provoke deep thoughts and emotions in us. From the family pet to wild animals we see on TV, they have a way of getting under our skin and making us think about things we might not ordinarily ponder.


We learn to identify with some animals more than others, and this identification shapes our individual sense of self. But why do some animals resonate more with us than others? For many people, animals represent qualities that we ourselves aspire to embody. They can remind us of our own strength, power, and grace; or they can show us how to connect with our natural intuition and instinct.


Animals can teach us a lot about ourselves. They can help us to see beyond our everyday reality, and to connect with our spiritual side.They can remind us of our own strength, power, and grace; or they can show us how to connect with our natural intuition and instinct. Some people believe that animals are our spiritual teachers, and that they can help us to learn more about ourselves and the world around us. Others believe that animals are our spirit guides, and that they can help us to find our way in life.


One of the most common ways to connect with animals spiritually is by choosing an animal totem. This is a spirit animal that you feel particularly drawn to and that represents some aspect of your life or personality. When you have an animal totem, you can call on its power whenever you need it. A spiritual identification with an animal can be a doorway to understanding aspects of our own nature and character. It can also provide guidance and support for our journey through life. Some people simply feel drawn to one animal over all others. They may find its appearance or qualities to be aesthetically pleasing or resonant on a deep level. They may feel that the animal has something to teach them, or that it carries a message for them.


When starting out with creating an animal totem in art therapy, it is important to understand the different aspects of an animal totem. What does this creature represent? What are its qualities? What does it symbolize for you on a personal level? How do we determine which animals we identify with spiritually?


First, think about the qualities that you most admire in animals. What personality traits or characteristics do you most relate to? Are there any animals that represent those qualities for you? The tiger, for instance, is a powerful animal that is often associated with strength, power, and determination. People who identify with the tiger tend to be strong-willed and determined, and they aren't afraid to stand up for what they believe in. Consider your personal connection to the animal. Do you feel drawn to it?


Another important consideration is the symbolism associated with the animal. Each animal has its own unique symbolism, which can offer valuable insight into your life and what you're working on spiritually. Consider what qualities of the animal resonate with you, reflect who you are or who you aspire to be.


Finally, consider the qualities of the animal and how they might apply to you. Think about the emotions that you want to feel in your life and see if there is an animal that can help you tap into those emotions. Animal totems can be a powerful tool for exploring your personal psyche and diving deeper into your inner world. This can be a very powerful process, as it can help us to tap into our subconscious and connect with our innermost thoughts and feelings.


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