Ancestral Medicine Women

Totem in the Naturistic Shamanic Tradition

(Transcript of oral knowledge sharing)- audio

Welcome, this is Mother Sha-Riah and we are going to do a talk on ‘TOTEM”. In our tradition, this is known as ‘Hethna’, but most people will relate to the term of totem.

Now Totem for us in an incredibly important aspect of our Shamanic Practice but as importantly we see it as a gift. It is such a gift to know your Totem. For us Totem is something that you are not necessarily born into as in a group or a clan, you are born into it but it is totally your own thing. Your own unique energy. It doesn’t belong to anybody else; it is totally yours.

We also are very keen that people divine it themselves, so that it is not given to you, that somebody else doesn’t work it out for you. It’s not on a list on the internet, you actually divine what your Totem is. And there are some interesting Totems when people divine it themselves.

We have experienced some that are animals or plants that are in nature something that is very tangible and then we have experienced others where they are conceptual. So, for example: silence or surge or vortex. These are what we would call a conceptual totem. So, there are many possibilities for your own Totem in our Shamanic Tradition.

For us the Totem, as we said at the beginning is an incredibly important part of our practice because we experience it as the, your unique reflection in nature. If you look or experience your Totem in some way, it is as if you are there in nature and you are here in this physical human experience. So, there is this real connection that can be understood, created, set up, experienced between you as a physical human being, and then your reflection in the natural world.

And that for many people is something that they feel that they are missing. The world itself of humans is lacking. This connection to the natural world and understanding your Totem in this way, as a reflection of you, in the natural world and that Totem is your reflection in the natural world, is really something that can be incredibly fulfilling and meaningful and really profound.

When we say that it is a gift, what we mean by that is, that being able to look at yourself in nature can really help to identify aspects of the self and explain aspects of the self that are possibly causing you problems in your life, or also can highlight the things that are very positive in your life.

For many people when they are able to see outside of themselves, this, their Totem in the natural world or in the environment around them they are able to get that reflection back so they can really see aspects of themselves. Because in a lot of spiritual and healing work that you will have experienced, that many people have experienced it is very internal so, and it very often difficult to see inside, so many people externalise, they go to somebody else to try and get that individual, or to something else whether it’s a book or to try and find themselves in that.

So, they actually need sometimes to look out and then be reflected back and so the Totem is a gift in this way. And there are many possibilities with a Totem.


For example let’s say that your Totem is a ‘Still Pool of Water’ and all of your life you have been very quiet and still, there is a stillness about you, but there is also a lot of people see just the surface of you and they think that there is just this surface and they think that there is not much inside and that Still Pool of Water doesn’t move very much and there is not a lot of ambition, there’s not a lot of showing to the world what an incredible person that you are and yet, when people look at you, they see a lot of potential. They see a lot of possibilities. If you think of this Still Pool of Water there is this surface layer and often, it doesn’t move, and that’s all that they see. They just see the surface, they don’t really understand that underneath that, there is a whole world living underneath that and just because the surface isn’t moving, it doesn’t mean that underneath isn’t an entire civilisation, if you like, and entire eco-system working away. And underneath that, there is all this potential. So, when people are looking at you and seeing all this potential but perceiving that you are not doing anything with that, all of this potential, they are actually seeing the energy of the potential within that Still Pool of Water. But all that they can see, they can feel all of that, but all they can see happening is the Still Pool of Water. They can’t see anything else.

Also, with the Still Pool of Water, often it takes a lot to move. It’s just sort of sitting there. There’s not a lot of movement and if you throw a stone into that – there is the ripples and then there is this movement. And if you are a Still Pool of Water you will have to learn to understand that you have to sometimes throw a stone into your Still Pool of Water to make ripples, to make things happen, so you are learning from that that you are actually an element in your creation of what happens in your life. It’s not just being this Still Pool of Water and letting nature take its course with all this energy underneath, there is, you can actually create, you can, you have to make the ripples because when others make the ripples are causes for you a dissonance in the being. It causes the water in you to move in a vibration that’s not comfortable for you.

And so often you find yourself in situations where you are doing things for other people or you are living a life that you don’t even understand because someone else has thrown that stone in. When you realise that you are the one that can throw the stone and should be throwing the stone so that you can have that control, that you can have those ideas, that you can have the life that you want to live.

Then, you are really beginning to understand your Totem.


And this Totem that we have just spoken about, we have really just, we do not want to punish here but, we have just touched the surface, there is so much more to this Totem, as there is with all Totems.

So when you find out, when you divine what your Totem is and you really start to understand it in relation to the way that speak, the way that you think, the way that you live, the food that you eat, your relationships, your work. The way that you carry yourself in society, then you keep going and you keep going and you keep going and you keep going and you find out so much more, so much more.

So, for us this is why for us the Totem is a gift, because so many people want to know the meaning of their life, they want to know the purpose of their life and they are, they try to look in and then they look outside to have teachers or to do courses that can give them some insight into themselves. But if you can find out, divine your Totem yourself, not just somebody giving it to you, not just the general ones that belong to groups of Shamanic Traditions around the world, but actually your own, your own Totem and then you really start to investigate it and see how it applies to your life.

And see how you have enacted this Totem and see how you rely on this Totem and see how the Totem relies on you and so on and so on, you really start to get this picture of yourself and this really helps you find the meaning of your life, because to find the ‘meaning’ of your life is not the same as finding the ‘purpose’ of your life.

The purpose is a doing thing. What am I going to do?

But the meaning is the essence of your being! The meaning is that real, the impulse, the motivation, the real point of creation of your being – that is the ‘meaning’.

And that is what the Totem can give you.

Thank you,

Mother Sha-Riah
Shamanic Representative
Ancestral Medicine Women

(c) Copyright 2020