A totem is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol of a tribe, clan, family or individual. Totem animals occur in every culture on the planet. They speak to a time when we as people were more connected to the earth and the cycles of life and death.
The Celts of the ancient world were one such people that believed that many spirits and divine beings inhabited the world around them, and that humans could establish a rapport with these beings.
The pagan Celts perceived the presence of the supernatural as integral to, and interwoven with, the material world. Every mountain, river, spring, marsh, tree and rocky outcrop and animal was inspirited. Ancient Celtic society was predominantly rural and was closely linked with the natural world.
The ancient Celts venerated the spirits who inhabited the animals, local mountains, forests and springs. Certain animals were seen as messengers of the spirits or gods. In Tribal territories, sanctuaries were sacred spaces separated from the ordinary world, often in natural locations such as springs, sacred groves or lakes where sacred totem animals would dwell and speak to the individual.
There are many different ways in which people relate and interact with totem animals. No one way is right. Some native traditions provide that each person is connected with nine different animals that will accompany him or her through life, acting as guides. It is also thought by many that different animal guides, also called spirit guides and/or power animals, come in and out of our lives depending on the direction that we are headed and the tasks that need to be completed along our journey.
I find that the Celtic knot work designs, with their symbolism of “no beginning and no end” compliment the very nature of Totem animals and the spiritual meanings they bring to our lives. With each totem animal design that I create, I learn more about the spirit of that animal and what it can teach us.