How Animal Guides Work

One of my favorite books is “Animal-Speak: The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small” by the late Ted Andrews. In researching and knowing animals, birds, reptiles and insects of the world, he gave us a bible of what their presence means spiritually in our lives, how “divine forces speak to humans through the natural world”, as he put it.

With Jupiter in Virgo until September 2016 bringing attention to the connection between humans and animals – and the new awakening of how much abuse and the unfair treatment of animals is still prevalent – I thought this excerpt from his book on how Animal Guides work would be very helpful, especially to those who have never read or don’t know about it. As we move further into Aquarian Age enlightenment, connecting with and caring for all life, especially animals becomes more and more important.

When we encounter an animal we’ve never met before or dream of one in a compelling way, this book explains what we can glean from it and how it can help us through strange and difficult times. The animal brings a message from Spirit/Nature to help, teach, guide, protect or heal us.

Although Mr. Andrews has a library of work (“Nature-Speak” and “Animal-Wise” among many others), this is a compilation of material from Animal-Speak (published 1993) and Animal-Speak Pocket Guide (published 2009). Mr. Andrews writes:

There was a time in which humanity saw itself as part of Nature and Nature as part of it. And no matter how much we cloak ourselves in civilization today, we will always be a part of Nature. Although many have forgotten this in our modern world, animal and human are inseparable in many ways. Because of our innate connection to Nature, animals play a particularly strong role in our unconscious symbology. They are totems, allies and messengers – providing guidance throughout our life.

No matter how much we cloak ourselves in civilization, we will always be a part of Nature. Because of this, we should learn to listen to Her messages – especially those that come through animal brothers and sisters. Every animal is a gateway to the phenomenal world of the human spirit. What most fail to realize though is that what they think of animals reflects the way they think of themselves.

As humans, we sometimes forget that we can starve as much from a lack of wonder as we can a lack of food. When we open ourselves to animals and Nature, we open our hearts and souls to true wonders. When we learn to speak with the animals, to listen with animal ears and to see through animal eyes, we experience the phenomena, the power and the potential of the human essence, and it is then that the animals are no longer our subordinates. They become our teachers, our friends and our companions. They show us the true majesty of life itself. They restore our forgotten childlike wonder at the world, and they reawaken our lost belief in magic, dreams and possibilities.

Animal Messengers

Animal messengers communicate to us about our lives and about us. Discovering the meanings of the messages they bring is sometimes difficult, but there is no doubt that animal encounters – whether in dreams or waking life – stimulate some primordial part of our imagination.

There are five main types of animal totems and messengers that we are all likely to have in our life. There is some variation depending upon the particular tradition, and some of the roles overlap. For example, a power animal may also be a protector and a message bringer. We can also have several animals in each of these categories.

Message Bringers

All animals in Nature are message bringers. Their appearance provides guidance. They bring directions to us about situations, choices, decisions and activities we are involved in. A closer study of their characteristics and behaviors provides clues and insight as to what our behaviors and actions should be in situations around us. When we have a problem, asking for guidance and then taking a nature walk to get the message is one of the best ways of finding answers.

Personal Power Animals

Power totems are animals that are with us throughout our life or through major periods within our life. They are message bringers, protectors, teachers and healers. Different traditions disagree about how many power animals we have. It can vary, each animal working and helping us in different areas of our life.

For example, one of my totems is the red-tailed hawk. I have worked hands on with hawks and other birds of prey for many years, but I have also worked spiritually with them for many years. Hawk has helped me to develop and focus my spiritual/psychic vision. It has taught me patience and it serves as a messenger to warn me of the ease or difficulty of the path ahead of me. But it is not my only power animal. If the same animal appears repeatedly over a longer period of time (more than a year), it is likely one of your power animals.


Protectors are often power animals, but these are animals that give us extra strength and energy, often without our realizing it at the moment. They alert us to trouble. They often appear in dreams of conflict to let us know what qualities to draw on to handle the conflicts in our life.

Many people wrongly assume that protectors are always big and ferocious animals. They can be, but every animal has its own unique defense strategies and abilities. While bears can be powerful protectors for many aspects of life, the opossum can also serve as a protector, warning that things and people around us are not what they seem to be. We many need to “play possum” in some situations. Remember that every animal has its own unique way of protecting itself and defending its home.


All animals that come to us are teachers. They teach us about our own potentials, about energies at play within our life and about our spiritual path in this life. We can learn something from every animal, but those who appear regularly have something special to teach us, something we need to learn.

Animals also serve as spiritual guides for us, leading us and helping us in sacred quests and journeys. Often animals that appear regularly in our dreams are teaching totems. They are guides into and out of the dream world and the underworld.


Many animals have unique resistance to certain diseases and drawing upon that animal’s energy helps us be more resistant to it as well. Some animals are archetypal symbols of healing. The snake is one such animal. It sheds the old skin and moves into the new. It is a symbol of leaving the old behind for the new. As a symbol of transformation, meditating and focusing on the snake during times of illness will help accelerate the healing process.

Animals that appear to us at times of illness provide clues as to the best way to focus our healing energies.

Once we open ourselves up to thinking of animals and their presence in our lives in this way, we notice how much we interact and support each other. We’re in the Aquarian Age and we’re all in it together – human, animal, guides and angels. The more we are consciously aware of that, the easier the enlightenment is.

With love and gratitude…

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