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Thread: Why do I feel intimidated by my totem?

  1. #1
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    Aug 2006
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    Why do I feel intimidated by my totem?

    When I first started exploring Paganism in high school, I did a meditation to find my totem animal (very cool, by the way...first ever significant experience I had while meditating) and met a mountain lion/cougar, who I continued to talk to in meditations. I was still in a transitional phase between Christianity and Paganism, which was confusing for me for a long time, and I fell into sort of a spiritual lapse where I didn't meditate or cultivate a relationship with any of my guides (I met several non-animal guides after the cougar).

    Fast forward to now...I'm interested in learning from my totem animal again. Last night, while meditating, I expressed that to him. He wasn't angry at me about the fact that I flatout ignored his existence for most of the last year or more, but I got this sense that he was really sad and hurt about it. And while I want to learn, I'm a little intimidated and hesitant to go forward with meditating with him again, yet I think it's unfair to any guide to continually change my mind about whether or not I want them there.

    I guess my question comes down to: Is it normal to feel intimidated by your totem animal at first? (I say "at first" because I really barely got to know him before.) I'm not even sure WHY I feel this way. I'm not intimidated by the type of animal he is in any way. He's actually quite beautiful and I've always liked big cats. He's also never done or said anything in any of my meditations to make me afraid of him; in fact, I used to feel very comforted walking with him.

    I have a few theories, but if anyone can add anything, please let me know:

    1) It wasn't till I was reading through old journals awhile after I met my totem that I made this connection, but there was a very distinct event that I have a memory of and wrote down in a journal when I was 8 or so. I once stayed up almost an entire night when I was little because every time I closed my eyes to go to sleep, I saw, in my head, an angry cougar's face snarling at my window. This could mean absolutely nothing. I was an incredibly imaginative kid with a lot of irrational fears. On the flip side of that, it also (as far as I remember) was not triggered by anything that would make me think of cougars as scary, such as seeing one on TV or in a movie. It only happened once. Sometimes I wondered later if it was the same cougar. If it was, I doubt the anger and snarling was in any way directed at me (more likely toward bad situations I was being put in at the time). Nonetheless, it creeped me out.

    2) Researching the cougar and what it means/has to teach as a totem made A LOT of sense. Cougars are associated with some lessons I could really benefit from learning in my life. However, I'm a stubborn person, and they might not be EASY lessons to learn. Is it possible I'm not so much intimidated with the cougar itself as with the challenge of learning the things it has to teach me?

    3) This goes back to when I was a Christian, and I feel like I should be long past any guilt or inhibition I associate with having been a Christian. However...I've always, from childhood...been very wary of anything that's not a deity. Ever since I was a kid the idea of spirits kind of freaked me out, regardless of whether they were friendly, neutral, or malevolent. I think I might still be struggling with that fear and not know how to get past it.

    4) From what I can tell, this cougar has very strong emotions, which I'm very sensitive to. I swear I can read this cat's facial expressions sometimes and I didn't even know cats could make facial expressions. That could be adding to the intimidation factor.

    Other than that, I have no clue why I feel this way or how to move past it. Any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by scorpio7 View Post
    Is it possible I'm not so much intimidated with the cougar itself as with the challenge of learning the things it has to teach me?
    Yes it's very likely you are intimidated by the things it has to teach you, it's the same with some stones and crystals you can be intimidated by them by the look or by the touch the spirit is touching your soul where the stone your hand, but keep the "stone" near you at all times and the intimidation will slowly fade it might not go away completely but it will help you to see things in a different light.

    As for your spirit guide to be, sad is understandable and reminds me of the connection too my younger self, a sad confused and scared lill girl if I aproached her to fast she would flee...
    What i mean is talk to him gently ask what bothers him, ask how the whole thing with you ignoring him for a year (was it?) has affected him and listen. offer him gifts of energy offer words (be patient) - and try to explain even though he possibly knows already, that you are intimidated by him and that you dont know why - even through that i'm sure he'll be able to help.
    Every little bit counts - white chocolate too!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    A few thoughts to consider:

    Mountain Lion's appearance often deals with coming into your own personal power, acting with speed and skill quickly to capitalize on opportunities in your life, and learning to control and manage this awesome raw power you are capable of wielding. The concept of stepping up to the plate and really taking Cougar medicine into your life can be very intimidating - especially if these attributes are contrary to your prior personality.

    Many people have more than one important totem that comes into their lives, or they are discovered at different times in their spiritual development. My early searching into nature medicine and spirituality revealed Redtail Hawk as my primary totem. We had a close relationship for many years, then during a time of my own spiritual turbulance and aimlessness I couldn't seem to connect with Hawk at all. Years later, I find that Hawk is still with me, but in a different capacity. Mountain Lion has come forward to walk directly beside me in this stage of my growth - while Hawk circles far above, there but not in my forefront. Perhaps at this point in your own spiritual path, there is another totem that is waiting to teach you what you need to learn...

    I do agree with the possibility of offending your totems - I know for a fact this is one reason that Hawk stepped aside in my life. It was due to choices I made in my life at that time. But those same choices were attempts to empower myself and my situation, to take control of my life. So it makes a lot of sense that Mountain Lion was with me at that time. You can always honor that animal, learn about it, collect and draw its images, and find ways to include it in your daily life - this may ease the relationship between you if you feel it is strained.

    - Tip-toeing the raggedy edge of something magnificently dark but truly amazing...

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Let me preface this with all that is to follow is my opinon and perspective on things so will greatly differ from most.

    It is not an easy task to answer your question for the very notion of what a guide / totem / power animal is has to be determined by ones pathwalk. To my perspective far to many today have bough into the new age slant on totems and thus never really come to know just what they are.

    To most groups a totem is a symbol of family / clan / tribe / etc. Only on rare occasions does one get a personal totem, and then usually involves them being faced by their totem and having to fight it. The totem in association to family / clan / tribe reveals the strengths and magics of the group.

    If not the group then the sub-group within the larger grouping. For instance one hears of Bear Clan Warrior's within a nation. Wolf Clan Warrior's within a nation. Those are the totems of the specific grouping and indicate the source of their strength and medicine or power.

    To many Native American nations the wheel of the year is divided and there is a totem animal for ones birth based upon the month of birth, there is also a clan totem that governs the quarter of the wheel one is born in. Many times one can look to the manner their Medicine Wheel is set up to see who the spirit keepers and waters are for a particular nation.

    This concept is not that different than what one finds in early europe where a clan or family was notated by the herald of the clann. Usually some sort of banner, skull, colored pattern or sheild that was carried by the family and was often to be found around the main house of the grouping (nordic countries) or weaved into the clothes they wore. For instance Scotish Highlander families also wore a Kilt Broach that was part totem, part herald.

    The sad part to my perspective is that many are duped into the new age facet of totems by being told to call to them or dream journey to find thier totem. Sad part is to my training that's part of finding ones guides but that is different than a totem.

    Guides may come and go as the mood, need and reception changes. Many will try to gain your attention for only so long before they leave. Sometimes to return when you might be more suited to receive them, other times gone forevera along with the lessons they were to deliver and guide you through.

    One also has to look to the type of guide as that helps determine their level of patience. For instance Herron is one of my guides and is renound for its patience. Let's face it patience is one of its main traits as it wades through water with slow deliberate movements to avoid scarring away its prey.

    The other thing is that people forget that guides may come to teach us a lesson but do so in the manner of a shadow guide or totem. In it's shadow capacity fear is a major componet of that lesson, especially in that we as a rule fear our shadow guides until we conqueror our fear.

    For instance Wolf as a guide is one that teaches family, balance, placement, strength in numbers, etc. Yet as a shadow totem is shows us the weakness of false strength, the danger of wrong balance and placement, the weakness of the supposed lone wolf in survival. Many times showing us that to be strong many times is to be more than our individual strengths for that notion is our greatest weakness. For me Wolf is the totem of the Clan I was danced into by Spirit before the council fire.

    So to answer truthfully one must know how you view the very notion of totems and power animals or guides. Only then can one truthfully answer your question or present their own conclusions and beliefs in a manner that would clarrify the information.

    For instance under certain Medicine Wheels I am born beneath the sign of the puma (march) in the big winds month beneath the frog Clan and its association to water.

    By zodiac I am born of the Piscean influence and its water association. By Oriental zodiac I am born beneath the year of the boar though off the top of my head I do not recall the exact as it is broken down into smaller elements. That does not even touch upon which house, which clan and which heralds for up at the hour of my birth beneath them. Yet they to will arrive in the shape of guides, guardians and walkers as one travels their pathwalk.

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