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You take in a deep breath and are inundated with the fresh, crisp scent of evergreens as your footsteps lightly compress the dewy brown needles beneath your feet. You hear the tentative warble of a few songbirds as they begin their morning chorus; your eyes are drawn upwards into a tall canopy of blue spruce and ponderosa pine, where your eyes settle on the jerky motions of a grey squirrel’s tail. Your eyes follow the squirrel as it launches itself from branch to branch and finally to the trunk of a tree some 20 yards away, where it begins it’s spiraling descent to the Earth. Your eyes continue to follow it as it scampers off. Just then, from the corner of your eye, you see a blur of blue, and before your eyes can focus on it, you hear its call – a blue jay. It lands atop a nearby brush pile and seems to be studying you. You’re close enough that you can see a seed grasped tightly in its beak. The bird deftly tucks the seed between its talons and makes eye contact once again, as though it had a message to deliver. It proceeds to call out “jaaaay, jaay-jaay,” as you are wrested from your slumber by that ever annoying alarm clock. You arise still groggy, wondering what the bird was trying to say. 

It isn’t all that unusual to have dreams or repeated encounters during our waking hours where animals present themselves to us. They often seem to arrive at particular times in our lives, and if we are attuned to them, they may just have something to teach us. For the spiritually inclined, the appearance of such animals is often recognized as an animal totem

Many cultures and religions, including Native American cultures, revere totems as spiritual beings or sacred objects. These beings are considered to be connected to and represent a tribe, family, or individual. Some tribes believe each person has their own animal totem that serves as a spirit guide throughout their life. 

An animal totem may present itself to us in a meditative space or dream to help us learn about our ultimate truths in life. They come, perhaps, when we are most receptive to their messages. They can help us to become more self-aware, and for some, they are a spiritual tool that serves as a reminder to ground oneself. 

Usually, animal totems are wild rather than domesticated animals. And yes, you can have more than one. Often you will perceive a deep and unmistakable connection to the animal when it presents. It is essential to honor and respect your animal totem as they are a gift from the universe. 

Use your intuition and consider the characteristics of the animal totem that presents to you. Think about how the animal is perceived in the natural world. Do the animal’s traits align with, or are they in opposition to your own? Open yourself to the messages that your animal brings. The more you lean into the lessons you receive from your animal totem, the more they can guide you on your journey.

So next time that majestic little blue jay shows up in your dreams – pay attention. He may just have some knowledge to share with you.