Animal totems pervade many ancient myths and cultural traditions and have been used for centuries to foster spiritual growth and guide people in their lives. Knowledge of animal totems can also enhance our understanding of the innermost aspects of human nature by revealing more of a person’s innate character, and by borrowing from the wisdom of these ancient cultures, we often add to a modern approach to life that has all too often failed to recognize the inter-connectedness of all things.
AusIDentities builds upon all of this knowledge and wisdom, making it accessible by linking aspects of observable human behaviours to the characteristics of some well-known Australian animals, the Dolphin, Eagle, Kangaroo & Wombat. This not only gives AusIDentities a uniquely Australian flavour, but also allows us to incorporate aspects of these ancient traditions to help us find our way.
An excellent example of the use of totems is among some of the native North American tribes, where one of a child’s first teachings was that of the four great powers of the medicine wheel, which are inherent in each of us. These powers are each appointed a place on the wheel at one of the four points of the compass, North, South, East and West, accompanied by a specific set of gifts or characteristics, as well as a symbol represented in the form of a medicine animal and a colour.
In the North we discover wisdom and logic the colour of which is white and whose medicine animal is that of the Buffalo. It is in this aspect that we are able to learn how to receive with our minds.
In the South we are able to learn about innocence and trust, the colour of which is green and whose medicine animal is the Mouse. Here we are able to learn the subtle lesson of how to give freely.
In the East we discover illumination and enlightenment where we are able to see things clearly far and wide, which has the medicine animal of the Eagle and whose colour is gold like the morning star.
In the West we find the ‘Looks-Within’ place, representing the sometimes introspective and insightful nature of humanity, whose colour is black and where we find the Bear as the medicine animal.
The story of the medicine wheel states that when we are born, each of us will adopt a beginning place within these four directions, which in turn will give us our first perspective of life.
This perspective is destined to become our easiest and most natural way of experiencing the world. Once we have learnt to appreciate this way, personal growth can then occur for us by seeking a greater understanding of each of the other three directions. Only in this way can we become whole, capable of making balanced decisions for our lives, not just relying on one, single perspective.
Many indigenous Australians also used animal totems. Each of the four elements: earth, water, air and fire, had a role to play in Aboriginal life. Different creatures, due to their habitats or Dreamings, had an affinity with each (and maybe two or three) of these elements; although this is a modern interpretation. This gave them a strong connection to their natural environment and, since they were never allowed to harm or eat the flesh of their particular animal totem, a deep respect for nature.
This message of respect for nature is something that we also seek to encourage. We want to help reconnect people, especially our young people, with the natural world of plants and animals to which we are inextricably linked, as well as draw attention to the historical use of animal totems and the benefits of having a strong and healthy sense of identity.
Incorporating aspects of ancient knowledge and contemporary research, AusIDentities gives people of all ages a greater understanding of who they are and how to better take care of themselves. We have taken simple concepts regarding self-awareness and good health and applied them in a holistic way, helping to address our deepest physical, mental, emotional, and perhaps even spiritual needs, to bring us back into balance again.