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Do I Have a Spirit Animal?


Do I have a spirit animal?


No, probably not.


Unless you are a member of an Indigenous group who believes in spirit animals.


Too often people use “spirit animal” as a catch-all term for feeling intuitively connected to an animal.


While people do have spiritual practices that incorporate animals like familiars or totems, these beliefs and terms are not interchangeable. Using the term “spirit animal” (even in practice) is harmful.


For Indigenous tribes that believe in spirit animals, they serve a specific role within a larger spiritual belief system.


As writer Tristan Picotte, a member of South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe explains,


“… a Spirit Helper isn’t something you choose or identify with but rather something that comes to you in your time of need. Perhaps the animal represents something that holds a certain value, such as the strength in a bull or agility in a dragonfly.”


The problem in using this phrase is part of the cultural appropriation of Indigenous culture that commodifies and rewrites the beliefs of Indigenous people.


We appropriate Indigenous culture when we strip away a sacred practice from its original function and force it into a meaning that suits our needs.


Let’s review our language & simply do better.


Check out Tristan’s blog post on spirit animals at:


http://blog.nativepartnership.org/a-native-view-on-spirit-animals-and-animal-medicine/

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