This is from Shamanic Links for more information go to http://www.shamanlinks.net/Power_Animals.htm
In the shamanic belief every thing is alive and carries with it power and wisdom. Power animals are an essential component of shamanic practice. They are the helping spirit which add to the power of the shaman and are essential for success in any venture undertaken by the shaman.
Shamans believe that everyone has power animals - animal spirits which reside with each individual adding to their power and protecting them from illness, acting similarly to a guardian angel. Each power animal that you have increases your power so that illnesses or negative energy cannot enter your body. The spirit also lends you the wisdom of its kind. A hawk spirit will give you hawk wisdom, and lend you some of the attributes of hawk.
Everyone is thought to have a few of these guardian power animals or it is thought that the individual could not survive childhood. Over the course of her or his life the person may have several.
If a power animal leaves and one does not come to take its place the individual is considered, by the shaman, to be disempowered and therefore vulnerable to illness and bad luck.
You are born with 9 animals that bring teachings and messages for greater understanding and insights for our benefit throughout our lifetime. Two of those animals are permanent and never leave me; they are our primary totems — sometimes called Power Animals. We usually know these animals by instinct because we are especially attracted to them throughout our lives. They are not necessarily exotic animals, but can be anything from the animal, bird or reptile families. Sometimes we may even dream about them.
One walks on the left to guard and guide the feminine side of our energies; the other walks on our right to guard and guide the masculine characteristics. Those born with a female totem on the right and a male totem on the left are born with a special kind of energy balance and usually have very important Spirit work to do in their lifetime.
Power animals do not have to be mammals and can be reptiles, insects or sea creatures. Any living creature can serve as a power animal. (Plants and trees can serve as plant spirit guides.) Domesticated animals are generally not considered power animals because they already in service to human beings. It is possible to have a domesticated animal, but it is more likely to have a wild untamed animal serve in the capacity of a power animal.
The gifts that a particular animal is thought to give an individual varies depending on the culture. Although there are certain consistencies for certain animals. A particular power animal can come to help you with an issue that is very specific for you. It is important not to lock each animal into a category, and be open to the gifts it may be coming to share with you. If you are looking for a book on power animals Animal Speak by Ted Andrews is very popular. A popular website: http://www.animalspirits.com
It is important to honor your power animal. In many western cultures we are not taught to value animals or the gifts that they add to our life and the world around us. In shamanic work the power animal is essential, for a shaman who has no power - is not going to have very good results. On a personal level by honoring your power animal you let it know that its assistance is appreciated. The spirit of the animal is giving up its mobility in order to spend its time with you and assist you with your life. Also, by honoring the power animal we make a deeper connection with it. Honoring it can be as simple a saying a thank you inside yourself, or getting an object which represents it and putting it where you can see it as you go about your day.
Shamanic practice honors and acknowledges the life and wisdom that exists in all things. Everything is believed to have something to teach you and animals are thought to have a wealth of wisdom and protection to offer you.
This article is from Spirit Walk Ministry http://www.spiritwalkministry.com/spirit_guides
A Spirit Guide is a spirit that comes forth to guide you through the trials of your life and to help you to understand the lessons that these experiences are there to teach you.
A certain Spirit Guide may be with you your whole life, or it may be there just to help you through one special challenge. You may have many spirit guides or only one; this will depend on the lessons you need to learn and the trials you must face in this life.
Spirit Guides may be someone from your past who owes you a sort of karmic debt or they may be benefic guiding spirits that come to help you in times of moral uncertainty. They may be people or animals that have crossed over from this plane of existence, entities from the spirit realm or from other dimensions. They may even be, from the perspective of quantum physics, a form of conscious energy capable of interaction with the material world.
A "Spirit Animal" is the one who will present life's lessons. The Spirit Animal is the one who comes to you in order to show you, through its own unique nature and skills, how to deal with the manifestations of your Spiritual Journey. Spirit Animals do not necessarily guide you, but they come to teach you that which you need to learn, in order to know how meet the challenges of your Spirit Walk.
Each Spirit Animal has certain powers and skills to teach and certain knowledge to share, for each Spirit Animal has its own methods of overcoming the many challenges it must meet in order to survive.
The Spirit Animal's appearance signals a time to connect with your true Self and your life's purpose. Pay attention to the repeated appearance of this animal and of repeated patterns or themes. Awakening to the recognition of these seemingly synchronistic occurrences teaches you to be aware of the hidden messages in everyday experiences.
There are many ways by which your Spirit Animal may make itself known to you and many ways by which by which it may pass on its message. Do not let your perceived image of the animal prejudice you as to the significance of its message. You will meet with the Spirit Animal whose lesson you need to learn.
You do not choose your Spirit Animal, it chooses you.
.And … do not try to “compel” your Spirit Animal to manifest itself just because you want it to. True Spirit Animals will appear only at the time and place in your life when you are ready to accept them and the wisdom the come to offer.
And … they always turn up at exactly the right moment.
A "Totem Animal" is an animal spirit that you call upon or invoke, as an individual or a tribe, for its special powers and survival skills, to serve as a guardian or protector when facing adversity. Again, never let your perceived image of an animal effect how you see its ability to serve as a "Totem".
Spirit Guide :
Spirit Guides may be someone from your past who owes you a sort of karmic debt or they may be benefic guiding spirits that come to help you in times of moral uncertainty. They may be people or animals that have crossed over from this plane of existence, entities from the spirit realm or from other dimensions. Quantum Physics define this as a form of conscious energy that is capable of interaction with the material world.
.Totem & Spirit Animals
A "Spirit Animal" comes to teach you that which you need to learn, in order to know how meet the challenges of your spiritual path. Each Spirit Animal has certain powers and skills to teach and certain knowledge to share, for each Spirit Animal has its own methods of overcoming the many challenges it must meet in order to survive. There are different ways to find and to recognize your Spirit Animal, but do not let your image of the animal prompt you to choose one. You do not choose your Spirit Animal, it chooses you..
Totem Animal : A power Animal invoked as an individual or a tribe, for its special powers and survival skills, to serve as a guardian or protector when facing adversity.
The Fetch : A spiritual entity that will appear as a facilitator in the communion of the human, animal and spirit realms. The true lightwarrior does not just decide to walk the “Path”. They must first be chosen by and then accepted by Light being, angelic or spirit being as their mentor. Usually, this mentor will send forth an animal spirit to guide the initiate to them, or in many cases, they themselves may take the form of an animal spirit, only later revealing their true nature.