All About Animal Spirits

Phoenix Rising From the Ashes
ABOVE: Phoenix Rising From the Ashes

“To merge with the animal nature through imitation is to invoke the primal force of the god or goddess reflected within.”
-Raven Grimassi, Hereditary Witchcraft

Shamans often ask for the assistance of their animal spirit who act as a guardian to the shaman while they partake of their journey to the spirit world. Animal spirits are used to bring more power to one’s magic. The use of animal spirits is a form of sympathetic magic. The witch or shaman was believed to take on certain desired characteristics of their animal spirit, these characteristics made the magic that was practiced more powerful and meaningful. Native Americans, witches, and other shamans often use a variety of animal spirits in their practice of shamanism in order to visit the spirit world.

A similar concept is that of animal familiars. Witches and wizards were believed to be able to temporarily remove their soul from their body and store it in their animal familiar. The most common and magically powerful animal familiars associated with witches were thought to be cats, hares, serpents, foxes, and toads.

Some of the more common attributes associated with each of these animal spirits have been listed for your convenience. Choose the animal spirits you want to work with according to the characteristics that you want to emulate while working your magic. Or you may choose to work with the animals that you feel a special affinity towards.

  • Traditional animal spirits:
    Bear – astral travel, change, healing, primal power, solitude, transformation.
  • Bee – chastity, immortality, industry, purity, rebirth, secret wisdowm, spirit.
  • Boar – courage, direction, leadership, strength, warrior.
  • Bull – death, fertility, resurrection.
  • Butterfly – metamorphosis, rebirth, soul.
  • Cat – guardianship, magic, mystery, protection, reincarnation, sensuality, wisdom.
  • Coyote – illumination, insight, intelligence, prankster, shape-shifting, stealth.
  • Crow – boldness, cunning, divination, omen, prophecy, shape-shifting, swiftness, thief, trickery.
  • Deer – gentleness, grace, healing, independence, innocence, kindness, love, nobility, pride, psychic powers, purification, sensitivity, strength, swiftness.
  • Dolphin – balance, change, freedom, harmony, trust, wisdom.
  • Dragonfly – change, grace, power of light, swiftness, truth.
  • Eagle – clear vision, courage, creation, healing, intelligence, renewal, spiritual power, swiftness, strength, wisdom.
  • Fox – cleverness, cunning, intelligence, invisibility, persistence, protection, provider, shape-shifting, slyness, stealth, swiftness, wisdom.
  • Frog/toad – cleansing, faith, fertility, healing, magic, medicine, miracles, sensitivity, shamanism, transformation.
  • Goat – fertility, independence, power, preserver, protection, sexuality, virility.
  • Goose – fertility, fidelity, innocence, luck, parenthood, vigilance .
  • Hare/rabbit – alertness, balance, humility, fertility, nurturing, rebirth, rejuvenation, resurrection.
  • Horse – astral travel, endurance, freedom, grace, journey, magical ability, movement, power, stamina, strength, travel, vitality.
  • Owl – freedom, healing, insight, omens, patience, shape-shifting, truth, watchfulness.
  • Raven – creation, healing, initiation, magic, protection, shape-shifting, teacher, trickster, wisdom.
  • Salmon – abundance, fertility, psychic ability, secret wisdom.
  • Scorpion – attacking from the rear, death and rebirth, transmutation of poison.
  • Shark – defensive ability, guardian, protector, savior, shape shifter.
  • Snake – healing, immortality, initiation, rebirth, resurrection, transformation, wisdom.
  • Swan – balance, beauty, dreams, empathy, grace, innocence, intuition, longevity, love, mystic, sensitive, soul.
  • Turtle – longevity, navigation, wisdom.
  • Whale – psychic, record keeper, telepathic.
  • Wolf – cunning, guardianship, intuition, learning, loyalty, perseverance, ritual, stability, teaching.

Mythical animal spirits:
Use these animal spirits to help guide the darker aspects of your magical workings. They can be evoked to help with banishing spells or to help prevent attack from evil entities or to send an evil spell back to its sender.

  • Basilisk – an ancient mythological creature said to be the king of serpents possessing lethal breath and a gaze that could turn anyone into stone.
  • Centaur – part human, part horse. Healer, teacher.
  • Chimera – a monster of Greek mythology. Part lion, part goat, part serpent and which breathes flames. Elusive delusion, fantasy, figment of imagination.
  • Dragon – ancient powers, enlightenment, intelligence, protection.
  • Gargoyle – dissolves negativity, protector of light, silent guardian.
  • Gryphon – head and wings of an eagle, legs and tail of a lion. The gryphon represents daring, physical protection and revenge.
  • Hydra – a water serpent of Greek mythology with many heads, when one of the heads is cut off 2 more will grow back. The hydra represents immortality.
  • Minotaur – head of a bull, body of a man. The minotaur represents arrogance, isolation, strength, strong will and vanity.
  • Pegasus – a horse with wings. The Pegasus represents astral travel, boundaries, emotion, humility, inspiriation and protection.
  • Phoenix – rebirth, regeneration, reincarnation, renewal, spiritual growth.

Take care,
Lynn Smythe of The Creative Cottage

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