Reviewed by Molly Remer, Brigid’s Grove
The Shaman’s Guide to Power Animals is a cross-cultural exploration of the symbolism, mysticism, and stories of nearly 200 birds, fish, insects, and mammals drawn from ancient and indigenous cultures worldwide. It is a spiritual tool for understanding signs, messages, omens, and wisdom from the animals in your own ecosystem as well as if an animal appears in a dream or in your meditations. The information can also be used to “call in” support, guidance, wisdom, or insight from specific animals, or to request support, apply symbolism, or locate resources.
The Shaman’s Guide to Power Animals includes two parts. The first part explores general shamanic concepts, describes what Power Animals are, and explores how they may be experienced in the world and in worldwide traditions and customs. The second part is a detailed dictionary or guidebook of almost 200 different animals in alphabetical order. These descriptions include symbolism, messages, themes from each animal as well as suggested elemental associations and crystal connections.
I especially like how detailed the information is about the specific animals, often including information about eating habits, history, habitat, behavior, courtship rituals, and so forth, rather than treating the animal like only a symbol without purpose and an ecosystemic context of its own. Each animal’s page also concludes with an intention statement based on that animal.
As a whole, The Shaman’s Guide to Power Animals is a helpful reference book and resource tool. It encourages deep engagement with and respect for the natural world and the many inhabitants of it, while also supporting our understanding of symbols, messages, and broader themes of our personal lives.
Note: The word shamanism may be considered problematic as an appropriate descriptor to be used by members of Western society and the concept of “spirit animals” is of some concern as well (this book uses the more appropriate “power animals” term instead). Evaluating this terminology is beyond the scope of this review, but readers should be aware of this as a potential issue of cultural appropriation. This guide to Power Animals is presented very respectfully and considerately in my eyes, but I am also a member of the dominant culture in the US.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.