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SPIRIT ANIMALS – Finding and retrieving your Power Animal

fox spirit animal
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Reading time: 7 mins


These days, the terms ‘Power Animal’, ‘Spirit Animals’ and ‘Animal Helpers’ are often used interchangeably by modern shamanic practitioners and in new‑age circles. Consequently, they are used to cover a whole host of different relationships with animals that indigenous tribes would have had separate and specific words for. So I want to be clear about what these terms mean in Therapeutic Shamanism.⁠


Should you decide to practice shamanism, over the course of journeying you will meet many different animals. Some of them may only appear for one journey, and you may never work with them again. Others you will see intermittently. Yet others may become regular companions, and be with you for periods of weeks, months or even years. Indeed, some may become lifelong companions. These are animal helpers, guides and teachers, sometimes referred to as animal totems. They are not, however, what I mean by the term Power Animal. ⁠


In Therapeutic Shamanism, a Power Animal is something different altogether. Think of the difference between friends on the one hand, and a lifelong, committed, deep soul bond on the other. Similarly, animal helpers are like friends. Some of them are fleeting acquaintances, others are friendships that will last months or years, and some may even last a lifetime. As such, they may become very dear to you, and you may get to know them and understand them very well, and even love them deeply. Your relationship with the Power Animal, however, should you choose to enter into it, is of a whole different level of depth, intensity, loyalty, and love.⁠

spirit animals


Oversoul is a branch of Mother Earth in the lower world, that represents the whole of the species.

As humans, in surface reality, we largely experience ourselves as being separate individual beings. If we look deeper though, into shamanic reality, then we see that we all emerge from a common branch, meaning, that on another level, we are parts of a larger whole.⁠

Of course, this does not only apply to humans. From a shamanic point of view each individual dog in surface reality is similarly like the tip of a twig that goes back to a common branch ‑ Dog with a capital D. Similarly, this is true of everything.⁠

In conclusion, the lower world (where spirit animals are from) is a world of unity and of the transcendence of separation. It’s only natural, then, that what we encounter there are the Oversouls and not individual beings.⁠

LANGUAGE MATTERS – words determine who spirit animals you work with are

For example, my power animal is Panther. If I think of it as an individual panther, if I think of it as being either a male or a female, and particularly if I were to give it a name and an individual personality, then what I would be doing is relating to it as an individual, middle‑world being. As such, it would have all the limitations in terms of awareness and abilities that this brings.⁠

However, if I think of it as Panther, in terms of being all panthers, the sum of all the individuals in the species, what we call the Oversoul ‑ the lower‑world Panther that all middle‑world individual panthers spring from ‑ then I am relating to an infinitely wiser and more powerful being. So, I refer to my Power Animal as Panther.⁠

spirit animals are shamanic guides

It is not the shaman that does the healing, but the guides. Shamans invite the helpful spirits to work through them. Your first and foremost guide working through you should be your Power Animal.


If you have ensured that you are working with the Oversoul, lower‑world being, then your Power Animal is infinitely wiser than you are. In other words, if you develop the habit of you leading the journeys and you being in charge of the healing, rather than your Power Animal, then your Shamanic work will always be severely limited.

Above all, developing any depth to your shamanic work means cultivating the practice of getting out of the way and allowing your Power Animal to lead the journeys and work through you. ⁠

You need to develop the habit of constantly asking your Power Animal what to do next; of constantly checking in with it and watching its behaviour and reactions. 

Your job is simply to ask spirit animals and your Power animal for healing and then to watch, remember, do as instructed, and learn. If you do this then you will realise just how wise and knowledgeable your Power Animal truly is, and that you can trust them utterly.⁠

power animal meaning


Working with more than one Power Animal, for me, again depends on what one means by the term ‘Power Animal’.

How many deep, soulful and committed relationships can you have? ⁠
Of course, there are no rules, and you have to answer that question for yourself. But for most people, the answer is that they can have lots of friends and friendships, of varying degrees of closeness. However, the majority of people though, in terms of being able to sustain a truly deep, connected and intimate relationship, most people find that doing that with one person is enough. Moreover, many people would say that doing that with even one person is hard enough! ⁠

So, if we are defining the term Power Animal as being a deep, soulful, committed, primary relationship (as opposed to a friendship), then, while you can have several spirit animals, most people find a single Power Animal is more than⁠ enough. ⁠

However, for a smaller number of people, it has been my observation that a second Power Animal may then turn up, but this is usually several years later.⁠ But in the end, I can only offer my personal experiences and observations; there are no rules and it is up to you and to your guides.⁠


So, working with Power Animal is a crucial part of developing a shamanic practice. Therefore, the important question is, how do we find one?

Your power animal is of the lower world, so you find and retrieve it by doing a lower world shamanic journey.

If you’d like to learn how to do a shamanic journey and find your power animal, we teach that in the first steps course.

The reason we don’t share the process in a blog is simple. Absolutely central to the college is to teach people a safe and step-by-step process to get into journeying. It’s at the heart and soul of it and the main reason it was set up.

Learning shamanic journeying and workings with spirit animals is not that hard. You don’t need any special talents or powers (just an open mind). But it requires an understanding of some fundamental concepts and the process. Otherwise, you could end up being freaked out by the middle world or working with middle world beings. And I have already pointed out all the reasons against it above.


First Steps course covers everything you need to start with shamanic journeying, including:

  • What is shamanism?
  • The history of shamanism and animism
  • How to do a shamanic journey (a step-by-step process)
  • How to do Power Animal retrieval journey and find your own Power Animal
  • Why we nearly lost shamanism, why we need it back and how psychotherapy fits in the process
  • The basics of how to do shamanic healing for other people

Reading time: 7 mins

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