Animal Wisdom: Connecting People and Animals

A blog encouraging deeper relations between people and animals.

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Discovering Your Animals of the Heart

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.

Other Animals of the Heart represent your inner character or personal characteristics. For example, my family calls me, “Squirrel.” According to them, I am always “bright-eyed and bushy tailed.” They also find me to be a bit squirrelly.

In addition, Ted Andrews of Animal Speak offered several suggestions to finding your Animal of the Heart.. Since the aura of a person may take the form of the animal, someone who looks at them can sense that animal. Other people may move like the animal. For example, I swim like a manatee in water. (Manatee is one of my Animals of the Heart.) Since we all have a tendency to latch onto an animal that we want to have, Andrews counseled to have someone else to help you.

Another method is brainstorming. Ask yourself, if you could be an animal, who would it be? Did you have a memorable experience with an animal such as petting stingrays or being followed by a fox? These animals have made a significant impact on your life. They could be your Animals of the Heart. Ponder your feelings about them to find out.

 Ask yourself, do you communicate with your animal companions. Do they communicate with you, if so how? Having conversations is how your Animals of the Heart tell you about themselves. If you have a connection, they are already with you. I talk to squirrels, who chatter back at me. They visit me, and tap on my window to tell me they are out of sunflower seeds at the feeder.

Remember that although you prefer to have Wolf or Raven as your Animal of the Heart, be open to all the animals. Sloth may have appeared in your dreams, asking to be a part of your life. Sloth will be there for you, when your life turns upside. Open yourself up, and hear the voices of all the animals who call to you. Even, Fly can be an Animal of the Heart, as well.

 As to how many Animals of the Heart a person has, the usual answer is up to seven. More than that, and they become “animals of the journey.” Also, it is difficult to have deep relations with more than seven. Most people have about three or four, with one that they are very close to.

Once you realize who your Animals of the Heart are, you will have friends for life. They will be there for you, and help you along in your life. You and your Animals of the Heart are inseparable for life. Welcome their wisdom and teaching into your life.

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Virginia Carper, a Roman Polytheist, lives in the Washington D.C. area with her family. She navigates life with a traumatic brain injury which gives her a different view on life. An avid naturalist since childhood, she has a blog called “Nature’s Observations.” Having experienced the animals directly, she teaches on-line classes about the spiritual and natural aspect of animals. She has published articles on her brain injury, Roman polytheism, and working with extinct animals. In addition her writings on animals (including dragons and other mythic creatures) can be purchased her book site, Animal Teachers.  


  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Friday, 24 June 2016

    Thank you - a lovely and helpful post. I appreciate your acknowledgment of how often wider culture appropriates spiritual traditions that are not theirs, your term "animals of the heart" is very helpful.

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