Animals of the Heart are the animals who want to share their lives with you. Offering their friendship, these animals want to be a part of you. I prefer calling animals who bond with you as “Animals of the Heart.” For me, the terms of “totem,” “power,” and “familiar” are specific to their religious traditions. I know that people use these words interchangeably to mean the same thing. “Animals of the Heart” is a general term that I use to denote the type of animal that people feel a deep connection with.
Animals of the Heart come in all forms. Some of them have been with you since childhood. I have met people who have been happy with Goldfish as their Animal of the Heart because they had them as pets. Meanwhile, other people have been fascinated by unicorns or dragons as children. As adults, they look to these mythical animals for wisdom.
White sulphur-crested cockatoos have been my personal totem for years. In the wild they are a noisy, curious, intrusive bird that many people regard as pests, in spite of their beauty. They have a tendency to destroy verandas and windowsills (retaining their habit of ripping up dead wood to get at the insects they expect to find) and their call is loud and raucous. I’ve always loved them, although until recently I hadn’t lived anywhere they existed in large numbers. But now I’m living in the Blue Mountains I find myself surrounded by them.
It’s an interesting concept – that I’ve become local to my totem. I’ve chosen, eventually, to live where they live. As if I’ve been courting them for years and finally we have a good enough relationship that I can move in, onto their territory. I remember swirling flocks of them above me in the blue sky in a forest of ancient Antarctic beech, and I remember them out above the valley on previous trips to the Blue Mountains, climbing and swooping through the mist at my own height as I stood at a lookout. I made up a story about that harsh screeching call of theirs; how it was the sound that ripped open the night of the universe, back at the very beginning of time, and their gold-and-white heralded the the coming of light. They are iconic light-bearers with that white body and yellow crest, yellow blushing the underside of their wings.