The Healing Aspects of the Animal World in Shamanic Traditions

Imagine a world where animals are not only companions, but also conduits for spiritual healing. This world exists in shamanic traditions, where animals play a profound role in the healing of physical, emotional, and spiritual ailments. In this exploration of shamanic healing, we’ll delve into the role of animals in shamanism, including animal totems and spirits. We’ll also examine the powerful healing properties of animal spirits, how they heal, and examples of animal spirit healing ceremonies. Finally, we’ll discuss the collecting and use of animal parts in shamanism, including ethical practices, the healing properties of animal parts, and examples of animal parts used for healing. Through this journey, we hope to shed light on the rich and complex traditions of shamanic healing and the healing power of animals.

The Role of Animals in Shamanism

The Role Of Animals In Shamanism
Throughout history, animals have played a significant role in shamanism and indigenous spirituality. In many shamanic traditions, animals serve as animal totems, which symbolize the qualities and characteristics that the individual or tribe wishes to embody. Animal totems help guide and protect the shaman and their community, providing essential knowledge on how to live in harmony with the environment. Additionally, animal spirits are believed to exist in a realm beyond this world and can be called upon to bring healing, guidance, and transformation to those who seek it. However, the use of animals in shamanism is a complex issue, and there are concerns over the ethical treatment of animals and their parts. It is up to each individual to approach the use of animals in shamanism with respect and integrity.

Animal Totems

Animal totems are an integral part of many shamanic traditions. They are unique spirit animals that are believed to be with us from birth and stay with us throughout our lives, acting as spiritual guides and guardians. In shamanism, each animal is said to possess different traits or abilities that can be influential in our lives. This is why many shamans have a particular animal spirit that they identify with, often seeking its guidance in important moments or decisions.

The use of animal totems has been documented in cultures across the world, from indigenous societies in Africa and America to Celtic traditions in Europe. Within shamanic tradition, the animal totem is often seen as a representation of the individual’s connection to nature and the animal kingdom, as well as a reflection of their own personality and characteristics.

Shamans may also use animal totems to help understand and heal a person’s ailments or issues. For example, if someone is struggling with courage or assertiveness, the shaman may invoke the spirit of a lion to help them overcome these challenges. Animal totems can also be used to ask for protection, strength, or guidance in a particular situation.

It is important to note that the use of animal totems in shamanism is not intended to be taken as a literal belief that the individual can actually transform into an animal or take on its physical traits. Rather, it is a symbolic representation of the spiritual connection between the individual and the animal kingdom.

There are many common animal totems found in shamanic traditions, each with its own unique symbolism and meaning. Here are a few examples:

Animal Symbolism
Bear Strength, introspection, healing abilities. A revered spirit among many indigenous communities.
Wolf Loyalty, teamwork, intuition. Often associated with social and family bonds.
Hawk Vision, awareness, insight. Said to be guardians of the spirit world.
Snake Transformation, renewal, healing. Known to represent the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
Butterfly Growth, transformation, beauty. Considered a symbol of change and the impermanence of life.

Above are only a few examples of the many animal totems used in various shamanic traditions. It is important to note that ethical considerations should always be taken when working with animal spirits and totems. The use of animal parts or the killing of animals for spiritual purposes can be controversial, and some shamanic practitioners have called for more attention to be given to both shamanic practices and wildlife conservation.

Animal Spirits

Animal Spirits refer to the spirit and energy of an animal that is believed to be present in the natural world. In shamanic traditions, animal spirits are believed to have a deep and profound connection with the human spirit. They are called upon in various shamanic practices, such as divination, healing, and protection.

The belief in animal spirits is rooted in the idea that every living thing possesses a spirit or essence. In shamanism, the belief is that animals possess unique qualities and attributes that can be of great assistance in healing and spiritual growth. Animal spirits are seen as helping guides, that can offer support and protection as the individual navigates the physical and spiritual realms.

Additionally, in shamanic traditions, animal spirits are often associated with particular energy centers or chakras in the human body. For instance, the snake is often associated with the root chakra, which is related to stability, grounding, and the survival instinct. Other animals, such as the eagle and the owl, are believed to be connected to the third eye chakra, which is related to intuition, psychic abilities, and spiritual insight.

In shamanic practices, animal spirits are often used as a form of divination. Shamans use a variety of methods, such as journeying or meditation, to connect with animal spirits and receive messages from them. The messages may come in the form of symbolic images, words, or feelings, which can provide insight and guidance on a wide range of topics, including healing, relationships, and life purpose.

Although some shamanic practices involve the use of animal parts, it is important to note the ethical considerations regarding the use of animals in spiritual practices. It is crucial to approach this aspect of shamanism with respect and understanding, and to avoid any practices that involve harm or exploitation of animals.

Animal spirits play a vital role in shamanic traditions, serving as guides and resources for spiritual growth and healing. By connecting with animal spirits, individuals can tap into the deep wisdom and energy of the natural world, and access a source of support and guidance within themselves.

The Healing Power of Animal Spirits

Shamans have long recognized the healing power of animal spirits, and have used them to help individuals on their healing journeys. Animal spirits are seen as powerful guides and messengers, with each animal having its own unique qualities and strengths. Animal spirits can help to heal emotional, physical, and spiritual imbalances, using their unique abilities to restore harmony and balance to the individual. Some shamans believe that they can access the healing power of animal spirits by entering into a trance state, where they can communicate directly with the spirit world. In these states, they can ask for guidance from the animal spirits, who can help them to understand and address the root causes of a person’s illness or imbalance. The healing power of animal spirits is a central aspect of shamanism, and has been used by cultures all over the world.

How Animal Spirits Heal

Animal spirits have been used by shamanic practitioners for thousands of years for their healing properties. These spirits are believed to have an energy that can be harnessed to promote physical and emotional health. But how exactly do animal spirits heal?

One way is through their ability to connect us with nature. When we connect with nature, we can experience a sense of inner peace and tranquility. This can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, which are all common factors in poor health.

Animal spirits also have unique qualities that can be beneficial to our own well-being. For example, the agility of a cat spirit may help us become more physically flexible, while the strength of a bear spirit may give us the courage to face our fears.

Animal spirits can help us tap into our own intuition and inner wisdom. By meditating on an animal spirit, we can learn to listen to our own instincts and make decisions that are more aligned with our true selves.

Finally, animal spirits can provide us with a sense of protection and guidance. By calling on the spirit of a particular animal, we can ask for their assistance in navigating difficult situations or making important life decisions.

The healing power of animal spirits is a powerful tool that can help us achieve greater health and happiness. By working with these spirits, we can tap into the wisdom of nature and discover a deeper sense of purpose in our lives.

Internal link: To learn more about how animals are used in shamanic practices, check out our article on Animal-Based Shamanism.

Animal Spirit Healing Ceremonies

are a fundamental part of shamanic traditions. These ceremonies involve calling upon the spirits of animals to help in the healing of individuals who seek help from the shaman.

During an animal spirit healing ceremony, the shaman creates a sacred space where they invoke the spirits of animals believed to have the power to heal. The shaman may don a costume or mask that represents the animal whose spirit they are invoking, which is believed to make the connection to the spirit world stronger.

The individual seeking healing will then often receive a blessing from the shaman, followed by a period of drumming and singing to create a trance-like state. This is believed to facilitate a deeper connection between the individual and the animal spirits, allowing for a more profound healing experience.

Animal spirit healing ceremonies often involve a variety of rituals and practices that are unique to a particular shamanic tradition. In some traditions, the shaman may use specific herbs or crystals to aid in the healing process. In other traditions, the shaman may use bone or other animal parts to create a talisman or amulet for the individual seeking healing.

Ultimately, the goal of an animal spirit healing ceremony is to help the individual connect with the natural world and the spirits of the animals that inhabit it, bringing harmony and balance to their body, mind, and spirit. The use of animal spirit healing ceremonies has been shown to be effective in helping individuals overcome physical and emotional illnesses, providing evidence of the healing power of shamanic traditions.

However, it is important to note that the use of animal parts in shamanic traditions is a controversial issue, as it raises questions about ethical practices and animal welfare. Those interested in animal spirit healing ceremonies should seek out practitioners who practice ethical treatment of animals and promote sustainable and respectful relationships with the natural world. For more information on this topic, visit shamanism, veganism, ethics, and spirituality.

Examples of Animal Spirit Healing

Animal spirit healing has been used by shamans for centuries. There are many different examples of animal spirit healing and each culture has its own unique interpretations. One example of animal spirit healing comes from the Native American tradition, in which animal spirits are seen as companions and teachers that can help humans to reconnect with nature. Animal spirit healing is a powerful tool that can help individuals to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

In the Amazonian tradition, the shamanic use of ayahuasca has been known to provide profound healing and transformation to those who seek it. Ayahuasca is a medicinal plant brew that contains the DMT molecule, which is known to produce powerful visionary experiences. During these experiences, individuals often encounter animal spirit guides that can offer incredible healing and guidance. For example, the jaguar is commonly seen as a powerful and protective animal spirit that can help individuals to overcome fear and gain confidence.

Another example of animal spirit healing comes from the Celtic tradition. The ancient Celts believed that animals were manifestations of powerful spiritual forces and that they could be called upon for healing and guidance. One example is the use of the salmon as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge. The salmon is believed to possess the ability to navigate the waters of the underworld and can act as a guide to those seeking spiritual insights.

In the shamanic practices of the Arctic and Siberian cultures, the polar bear is seen as a powerful animal spirit that can offer healing and protection. The polar bear is known for its strength, fearlessness, and endurance, and is seen as a symbol of resilience and adaptability. The polar bear is believed to have the ability to travel between worlds and can act as a mediator between the human and spirit realms.

Animal spirit healing is a profound and transformative practice that can offer incredible insights and guidance. By connecting with the wisdom and guidance of animal spirits, individuals can tap into the healing power of nature and gain deeper insights into their own lives. Whether through the shamanic use of plant medicines or direct communication with animals, the healing potential of animal spirits is something that should not be overlooked.

The Collecting and Use of Animal Parts in Shamanism

In shamanic traditions, the gathering and use of animal parts play an essential role in healing. These parts may include feathers, bones, fur, and even internal organs. Shamans believe that every part of an animal has unique and powerful healing properties. For instance, feathers may represent the element of air and allow a shaman to connect with spirit guides in the sky, while bones symbolize the strength and structure of an animal. However, the use of animal parts has become a controversial topic in recent years, due to unethical practices such as poaching and the exploitation of endangered species. It’s imperative that modern practitioners of shamanism adhere to ethical guidelines and respect the sacredness of the animal world.

A Note on Ethical Practice

It cannot be denied that animals play an important role in shamanic traditions and practices. However, it is important to note that the use of animal parts in shamanic healing raises ethical concerns. Many animals are hunted and killed for their parts, while some are captured and held in captivity for commercial use. This not only goes against conservation efforts but also violates animal welfare.

It is crucial to practice ethical shamanism, where the use of animal parts should not harm any living being. Shamanic practitioners should be aware of their actions and ensure that they are not participating in any illegal or cruel activities. It is important to note that animal cruelty is not tolerated in any form, and it is the responsibility of every shamanic practitioner to ensure that they are practicing ethically.

Additionally, one should not use any endangered or threatened species in shamanic practices. These species are already struggling to survive due to habitat loss, poaching, and other human activities. It is our responsibility to help protect and conserve them and not contribute to their declining population.

It is recommended to use animal parts only when obtained ethically. For instance, feathers that have been naturally shed or accidentally found in the wild may be used in shamanic practices. Alternatively, animal bones and skulls can be purchased from legal sources that obtain them from animals that died naturally.

By practicing ethical shamanism, one can truly honor the animal spirits and heal through their guidance without causing harm to any of the living beings. For more information on ethical practices and the role of animals in shamanism, you can visit animal-comm-shaman or shamanic-animal-reincarnation for a deeper understanding.

The Healing Properties of Animal Parts

The use of animal parts for healing in shamanic traditions is a controversial topic. While some see it as a sacred practice, others view it as unethical. Nonetheless, many practitioners believe in the healing properties of certain animal parts and use them in their ceremonies.

Some animal parts believed to have healing properties include the bones, fur, feathers, and teeth of various animals. For example, bear bile has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to treat a variety of conditions, including liver disease and digestive disorders. The feathers of certain birds, such as the eagle and owl, are believed to have spiritual and healing properties and are used in initiation rites and healing ceremonies.

Another example of the healing properties of animal parts is the use of snake venom. While it may seem counterintuitive to use a poisonous substance for healing, some practitioners believe that snake venom can be used to treat a range of ailments, from chronic pain to cancer. It is important to note that the use of snake venom can be dangerous and should only be done under the supervision of a trained practitioner.

Other animal parts believed to have healing properties include the horns of deer and buffalo, which are used to treat various ailments, including headaches and arthritis. The gallbladder of a snake is believed to have antiseptic properties and is used to treat infections. The antlers of elk and deer are believed to have restorative properties and are used to boost the immune system and improve circulation.

It is important to note that the use of animal parts for healing purposes should always be done ethically and with respect for the animal. The animal should have lived a full life and should have been treated with respect and gratitude. Additionally, practitioners should ensure that the animal parts they are using have been ethically sourced and were not obtained through poaching or other illegal means.

While the use of animal parts for healing in shamanic traditions may be controversial, many practitioners believe in the healing properties of certain animal parts and use them in their ceremonies. From snake venom to antlers, animal parts are believed to have a range of restorative and healing properties. It is important to approach the use of animal parts for healing with respect and with ethical considerations in mind.

Examples of Animal Parts Used for Healing

It is important to note that the use of animal parts in shamanic healing is a controversial practice and should be approached with caution and sensitivity. That said, here are some examples of animal parts that have traditionally been used for healing purposes in shamanic traditions:

Bear Gallbladder: In some Native American cultures, bear gallbladders were believed to have medicinal properties and were used to treat a variety of illnesses. However, this practice has been outlawed in many states due to concerns about overhunting and animal cruelty.

Snake Venom: In some shamanic traditions, snake venom is used in small, controlled doses to stimulate the immune system and promote healing. However, this practice can be dangerous and should only be done under the guidance of an experienced shaman.

Deer Antlers: In traditional Chinese medicine, ground deer antlers are often used in herbal remedies to treat everything from joint pain to infertility.

Shark Cartilage: Shark cartilage has been used in some cultures to treat cancer and other illnesses, although there is little scientific evidence to support its effectiveness.

Buffalo Hair: In some Native American traditions, buffalo hair is believed to have protective and healing properties and is often woven into bracelets or other jewelry.

Again, it is important to approach these practices with respect and caution. Many shamanic healers emphasize the importance of ethical and sustainable sourcing of animal parts, and it is important to do your own research and make informed decisions about what practices align with your personal values and beliefs.


In conclusion, animals have played a significant role in shamanic traditions for centuries. They are viewed as powerful guides and healers with the ability to connect us to the spiritual world. Animal totems and spirits are seen as teachers and messengers, helping us to understand ourselves and the world around us.

Animal spirit healing ceremonies have been used to treat a variety of physical and emotional ailments, with the belief that these spirits can offer guidance, protection, and healing energy. However, it is important to note that the use of animal parts in shamanic practice also raises ethical concerns.

While the use of animal parts can have healing properties, it is imperative to obtain them through ethical and sustainable means. Shamans must also be trained to handle these materials properly, and to have a deep understanding of the animals and their significance in their respective cultures.

Overall, the healing power of animals in shamanism is a fascinating subject that continues to be studied and practiced today. As we strive to reconnect with nature and honor our spiritual connections, we can look to the teachings of animal totems and spirits as guides on our personal and collective healing journeys.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is shamanism and why is it important?

Shamanism is a spiritual practice which involves connecting with the spirit world. It is important because it can bring healing, clarity, and profound insights into the nature of reality.

How do animals play a role in shamanism?

Animals are often seen as powerful guides and helpers in shamanic traditions. They can serve as totems or spirits that provide guidance and healing during shamanic journeys.

What are animal totems?

Animal totems are spirit animals that serve as guides and helpers in shamanic practice. They are often thought to embody certain qualities or characteristics that can help individuals in their spiritual path.

What are animal spirits?

Animal spirits are the essence or consciousness of an animal that can be called upon for guidance, healing, and transformation during shamanic journeys.

In what ways do animal spirits heal?

Animal spirits can heal by providing insights into the root causes of illness and pain, by offering comfort and support during difficult times, and by helping individuals to shift their energy and perspective in positive ways.

What are animal spirit healing ceremonies?

Animal spirit healing ceremonies are rituals that are designed to help individuals connect with animal spirits for the purpose of healing and transformation. These ceremonies often involve drumming, chanting, and other shamanic practices.

Can you give an example of animal spirit healing?

One example of animal spirit healing is when an individual connects with the spirit of a bear during a shamanic journey. The bear may offer guidance and support for overcoming challenges and obstacles in the individual’s life.

Is it ethical to collect and use animal parts in shamanism?

It is important to approach the use of animal parts in shamanism with respect, awareness, and ethical considerations. This includes avoiding the use of endangered or protected species, and working with reputable sources for animal parts.

What healing properties do animal parts have?

Animal parts are believed to hold a variety of healing properties in shamanic traditions. For example, feathers may symbolize freedom, while bones may represent strength and durability.

What are some examples of animal parts used for healing?

Examples of animal parts used for healing include bones, feathers, claws, and teeth. These parts may be used to create healing tools, such as rattles or medicine bags, or they may be ingested for their medicinal qualities.


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