Traditional 7 Chakras Animal Totems
Animal Symbols and Chakra Power Animals
Each of the chakras of the human energy system are also linked to a specific animal or animal symbols. Each animal symbol reflects the characteristics and attributes that are similar to the vibrational qualities of the chakra they represent. Chakra animals have symbolic meanings and are often referred to as totems or personal power animals.
Muladhara Chakra (Root Energy)
Associated Animal(s): Elephant, Ox, Bull, Mole
Native American - Snake
Eastern Indian - Elephant with 7 Trunks
Strong earth connection, support/foundation
Swadhisthana Chakra (Sacral Energy)
Crocodile/Alligator, Fish, Badger
Native American - Dolphins
Eastern Indian - Makara (Mythical Crocodile), Stag, Elephant
Associated Animal(s): Bear, Lion
Native American - Birds
Eastern Indian - Ram
Anahata Chakra (Heart Energy)
Associated Animal(s): Wolf, Dove
Native American - All Mammals
Eastern Indian - Antelope
Vishuddha Chakra (Throat Energy)
Associated Animal(s): Bull
Native American - All Human Animals (Humanity)
Eastern Indian - White Elephant
Ajna Chakra (Brow/Third Eye Energy)
Mountain Lion, Black Antelope, Owl, Butterfly
Native American - Spirit Guides & Ancestors
Eastern Indian - Garuda Eagle
Sahasrara Chakra (Crown Energy)
Associated Animal(s): (None) - or - Egg
Native American - Kachina Universal Spirit
Eastern Indian - Enlightened Human
Working with Your Personal Chakra Animal Totems
The personal Totem Pole process has connections with the wisdom and myth of the North American Indians or, as they are more correctly known, Native Americans.
There is also an overlap with the tradition of the Indian subcontinent in that the main energy centers of the body are focus points. These centers are known in Sanskrit as the Chakras, a word which means "wheel."
One usually comes to working with their personal totem pole by way of a workshop or class. During the course of the class by a process of deep relaxation and active imagery, the participants are encouraged to bring their attention to each of the chakras in turn and to allow an animal to emerge from that energy center. The object is not to decide what kind of animal will present itself but rather to stand back and permit the process to occur.
People are often surprised by the kinds of animals which appear. They can be wild or tame, real or imaginary (e.g. dragon, unicorn). Animals may be ill or healthy, free or caged. There can be very young animals or those on the point of death. The main purpose of allowing these animals to come along is that they provide a very helpful and revealing element to facilitate the psychic and emotional process of the individual.
It is important to note that these creatures are not caricatures to be anthropomor phised. Each of the animals exists in some sense in its own right, with its own unique personality and mode of behaviour. And, the animals may express themselves either verbally or non-verbally to the person working with them.
At the same rime it can be said that the animals have a metaphorical dimension in that they mirror the state of the individual and as such can provide a way of understanding the current process. In this sense they are a means to reframe the therapeutic work being done or can provide clues about ways to develop the therapeutic process.
There is a dynamism in working with the animals because they have a life of their own and can contribute very directly to insight. It might almost be said that there are eight facilitators working with the client – the facilitator and seven animals ...
During the workshop or class journeys, it may be that no animal will emerge from one or more of the energy centres. This is not something to cause concern, rather it is a time to reflect and to seek help from the animals which have come along. This usually takes place in ‘council’.
When each animal has presented itself, the participant becomes involved in a dia logue. Firstly, the individual asks the question – “What do you need from me?” The animal will almost always answer quite specifically.
A Beginning Relationship
The next question in the dialogue is often more difficult. It is harder because the participant tells the animal what s/he needs from it. At this stage of the process the individual may not know what s/he needs from the animal and also this is a beginning relationship and needs to settle a little. Finally, one asks the animal if it has a message. In my case the same bird said – “Yes, sing your own song”…..Again the message is clear and direct. It may not be a comfortable one and it may need to be thought about but that’s why one begins the totem pole process anyway.
This formula is repeated with each of the creatures. Apart from anything else it is a way of getting to know them and their reason for being there. When this process is treated with respect it can be a very powerful way of healing and directing our growing.
Since it is an organic process it is natural to people and easy to live with. The principles behind it are simple but not simplistic. There is deep wisdom behind them and outlined briefly by Nancy Zastrow, they are as follows:
1. The work is based in experience
It is not a thought system and cannot be accessed by arguments. It does not involve having to believe anything. In fact it is helped by a kind of suspension of belief that allows one to simply be open to the process unfolding.
2. The process is deeper than intellection
The process transcends intellection or any of the more familiar modes of inducing persons to change. The journeyer operates at a level not often reached ordinarily, and since the work is conducted internally there is little fear of encroachment from the out side.
3. The process is one of healing and growth and is therefore positive and benign. The journeyer can be and often is, led through difficult experiences but this is invariably for the sake of cleansing and healing what is amiss and restoring wholeness and health.
4. The animals encountered are in charge
It is the animals who know what is needed, and they, with the journeyer, form the healing council which guides and oversees the work. Even though it is difficult to do the work without a facilitator, the work is one’s own, directed by the animals.
5. The function of the guide is to keep the journeyer and the animals in relationship.
The facilitator is usually crucial, providing a safe place in which to relax and allow the work to proceed. The guide attends to the process from the outside, however, sometimes bringing the journeyer back to trustworthy inner wisdom, away from habits or destructive beliefs and always referring the journeyer to the animals for the correct procedure from within.
6. Individual growth takes precedence over dogma
This takes us back to the first point and the understanding that arguments, ideas, and discussions of what ‘ought to be’ fall in the face of that which causes the person to grow. (Nancy Zastrow: The Totem Pole, Vol. 1, No. 1. 1990)
The animals can and do change. This may happen in a variety of ways: Young ones may grow up. Others may die and be replaced by different creatures. At times an animal may simply disappear. Sometimes the animal will discuss its reasons for leaving and it is also the case that there may be more than one animal associated with a particular energy center.
Integrating the Experience
The reality of the totem pole process is so powerful that it can happen that one falls into the trap of simply enjoying the animals in their own right without seeing them as a means for therapeutic development. I have known people to become so involved with the colour and the antics of the animals that they simply relate the stories without any attempt to integrate the experience into their own process. This is the omnipresent danger in my opinion and one which a guide or facilitator needs to watch.
It is true to say the the totem pole can be understood in a metaphorical way. The animals can provide a way for the client to reframe or re-label an experience which can bring insight into their emotional and psychic process.
However, the other reality is that while it can be said that the totem pole is only a clever use of the imagination, it cannot be denied that the animals appear to have an unpredictable and independent streak which is not under the conscious control of the person.
A Subtle Reality
This brings us to the discussion about where does reality begin and end. Is the process of the totem pole simply an interesting use of an animal metaphor or is there a subtle reality involved which indicates something more than an internal and subjective process?
There are many questions which could be asked, for example, what is the nature of our connectedness with the natural world? How many levels are we operating on? We have been conditioned to experience the world through our main physical senses – sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. But to what extent is a developed intuition and imagination a valid form of knowing? This question brings us to the boundaries of the cognitive process and really enters the realm of epistemology. Intuition and imagination are inter nal processes and as such are not easily available to empirical method. So perhaps faith needs to be placed in a more wholistic paradigm of research since the older more mechanistic approach to research cannot handle the internal world effectively.
It seems to me that a good model for a starting understanding of the animals is to describe them as a manifestation of intuitive awareness, where intuition is a means of knowing which takes account of the empirical evidence and adds another dimension which expands perception. Imagination is that dimension and it is my belief that the power of imagination needs to be celebrated and acknowledged much more fully than heretofore.
To conclude, I like to work with the animals. I admire the clarity, gentleness and insightfulness they bring. This article is written not so much as a rounded discussion piece but as an expression of my excitement about the Totem Pole process. There are many questions to be addressed. Perhaps I’ll find answers on the journey.
[Excerpts above are from an article by Alan A. Mooney, a psychotherapist in private practice. He has a particular interest in personal growth work using animal imagery and other forms of visualisation. He works from the Centre for Creative Change, 14 Upper Clanbrassil Street, Dublin 8. 01-538356/7.]