Power Animals

   A significant portion of the practice of neoshamanism, including almost all early workshops in the style of Michael Harner’s core shamanism, involve guided visualization or meditation—sometimes glossed as “journeying”—in search of a “power animal” or “totem.” Usually these are considered to be integral parts of an individual’s “true self.” They are the closest helpers and guides in further journeying and shamanic work. Power animals usually take the form of dolphins, wolves, eagles, horses, and the like, indicating a Western bias for what are perceived to be benevolent and/or powerful beings. Neo-shamans also tend to recall Mircea Eliade’s and Sergei Shirokogoroff’s emphasis on the mastery of spirits in retaining control over their engagements with power animals. Some neo-shamans, Heathen and other polytheistic Pagan practitioners in particular, have developed more sophisticated engagements with other-than-human persons, viewing the nomenclature “power animal” as indicative of a New Age understanding of shamanism rather than an animistic, new-indigenous one.

Historical dictionary of shamanism. . 2007.

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