Animal Powers in Dreams

Close-up of an animal totem pole

Indigenous cultures, such as Native Americans, teach us that the animals that roam the earth have a great deal wisdom to teach us. The Lakota Indians, for instance, refer to the animals of their region as their “relations”. For them, the animal’s relationship is familial, sacred and spiritually important. The Hawaiians refer to their animal allies as “aumakua” and their power is protective. They believe the animal possesses the spirit of a deceased family member and may visit in a dream and become a guiding force in the person’s life. Australian aborigines consider animals “kin” and some families take as a surname the name of the animal that lives in their region. As with the ancient Egyptians, animals for these cultures are imbued with god-like qualities and supernatural powers. They influence every aspect of life and guide the individual who accepts the animals as their totems.

For the shamans of these indigenous cultures, the animals are spirit helpers guiding their journeys while in trance states. An animal may first appear to the shaman in a dream calling him to his spiritual power and purpose as a healer. The animal gives the shaman otherworldly visions and healing power.

Just about everyone has had an animal power dream. From a shamanistic perspective, when animals emerge from within a dream the dreamer is initiated and meant to accept the attributes and spiritual power of the animal. If not fought off or chased away, the animal will lend its wisdom as “medicine” for the soul, supernatural power for healing, and instinctive characteristics to strengthen the dreamer’s personality. Whether it is the healing energy of a snake or the pride and confidence of a lion, each possesses an extraordinary power that connects the dreamer to hidden potentials held within.

Some dream analysts interpret animals in dreams symbolically and even ascribe negative characteristics to them. They consider animals to reflect lower drives, which humans should rise above by virtue of the intellect. This view separates man from the mysteries of nature and denies the power and potentials available when accepting a more shamanistic view in which animals represent spirit helpers.

The following twelve animal totems, as archetypes, are the most common emerging in dreams. If you have been visited by one of these animals in a dream, they are likely one of your animal totems.

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For Native Americans, bear is the totem of a healer. Bear brings the power to heal yourself as well as others who may need your special gifts as a healer. Bear’s mothering qualities nurtures growth, comforts, and attends to the special needs of others. Running away from a bear in your dream, may remark that you are avoiding your spiritual power and straying from your path as a healer. It may also mention that you are afraid of being mothered.


Crows sometimes form flocks in the millions, but are usually seen in pairs or in small groups. Those with crow as their totem are led by their intuition, a sense of purpose and a commitment to guide others. Like crow, you are a guide. Crow’s inquisitive nature reminds you to look for signs, decipher their meaning and share what you have learned with those who look to you for wisdom and advice. In a dream, a crow may caw loudly to awaken you to new opportunities ahead.


In the wild, dolphins exhibit a playful spirit and are known to summon swimmers to join in the fun. They are all about synergy and sharing good energy with those around you. They possess a super intelligence and communicate telepathically at great distances, demonstrating that we also have a higher intelligence with potentials that are usually untapped. As medicine, dolphin punctuates the need for joyous attitude. In dreams, the appearance of dolphins usually points to childlike exuberance and the need to play and have fun. It may also remark on connecting and synergizing with others through a bond of commonality.


For Native Americans, eagle is Great Spirit’s messenger. Eagle feathers are used to invoke spiritual power in ceremony and to bless the tribe. If your totem, eagle calls you to embrace a spiritual life and to use your spiritual power to bring light to those around you. In dreams, eagle may lift you out of the mundane and into otherworldly dimensions were you can touch a higher frequency of energy. The appearance of eagle may also suggest that you need to gain perspective by soaring above your problems to acquire greater insight.


Hawk soars on streams of air, the element associated with thoughts and communication. If hawk is your totem, you are communicative, mentally sharp and a bringer of hope and good news. As medicine, hawk gives you foresight. Hawk’s appearance in a dream may bring you a message from above or could mention that someone is trying to contact you from afar. Expect a message. Hawks are also known for their acute vision, spotting prey at a distance. It may arrive in a dream to remind you to look for opportunities that seem beyond your reach, signaling you that there are more rewarding experiences ahead.


In the wild, horses roam free and move swiftly in a herd. They are equipped with an intelligence we refer to as “horse sense”. As a totem, horse mentions that you are a free spirit at heart, willful, sure-footed on your path and that you possess a great deal of stamina for the journey ahead. Your intelligence guides you and you have a great deal of common sense. As medicine, horse brings you added energy, “horsepower”, to get things moving in your life. In a dream, horse may arrive alone or with a rider to nudge you forward to achieve your goals.


African lions live in a family system know as a “pride”, offering a clue to their power as totems. If lion rules you, you are trustworthy, honored, honorable, and gifted with a sense of pride. As medicine, lion teaches you about loving yourself above all others and will appear in a dream to emphatically insist that you do. Lion in a dream can also suggest you need to call up some courage if you are fearful in confronting some challenge. It asks you to become the king or queen that you are.


If raccoon is your totem, you are resourceful, always busy, conscientious and family oriented. You know what it takes to make ends meet and how to prosper. Raccoon will do just about anything to feed and find shelter for its family. They are the masked-bandit of the animal tribe, willing to steal if they need to. In dreams, a raccoon may point to your mischievous nature or to the need to find solutions to very real economic pressures.


As totems, not all snakes are the same. Each variety holds special medicine and power. For example, rattlesnakes warn, cobras are associated with alchemy and magic and pythons bring creative potentials into your life. In general, if snake is your totem it teaches you about the kundalini (sexual) energy that rises activating your chakras and spiritual centers. This power is healing. In a dream, snake slithers past you to awaken you to the beauty of your sexuality. It may also point you towards using your creative talents as an artist or learning how to move energy through dance.


Whether a Siberian or a Bengal, each tiger has its unique markings. If tiger is your totem, you have the mark of a strong leader and teacher. You are regal, proud, strong-willed and confident. As a medicine, tiger insists you stand up and speak up for yourself and others, take center stage even when you would rather be in the back row in the audience, and use your authority to influence those around you. In a dream, tiger may arrive when you need the strength and fortitude to contribute something important to others.


Whales, such as the Humpbacks navigate with sound, calling out to each other from the depths of the ocean. They make beautiful music. As your totem, whale reminds you of your own musical talents, asking you to bring your musicality out into the world. As medicine, whale points you to the healing power of sound, attunes your heart and balances your chakras. Whales are considered the ancient record keepers of a legacy from the stars. Therefore, whale can point you to astrology to map out your destiny. In a dream, a pod of whales may summon you to swim with them and dive into the depths of your subconscious to discover what hidden treasures or gifts you possess that lie beneath the surface.

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