Animal Symbolism: How to decode messages from our Creature Teachers

All creatures have a message for you. Here, we share the symbolism of the animals you might encounter when out and about...

By: Scott Alexander King.   Posted

Every creature, domesticated or wild, has a message for you. An encounter with a hedgehog on an evening walk is a happy surprise, just as it would be if it were a dear friend. And as your friend most likely has something to share with you – whether news, or simply the joy of reconnecting – so too does the hedgehog. When we pay attention to the symbolism of animals, we can learn much about ourselves, our relationships, life circumstances, and more. To get you started on the delightful journey of decoding animal symbolism, we consulted zoomancer Scott Alexander King…

Hedgehog, Otter and Red Fox totem animals

Hedgehog: Opportunity

According to Scott, 'Hedgehog helps to improve our chances of success by offering a window of opportunity to initiate new beginnings.' When you happen upon Hedgehog, Scott suggests accepting her precious invitation with a ritual: 

  • Choose a candle with a colour that has meaning for your heart's deepest desire (orange for creativity, pink for love etc - see our Essential Guide to the Chakras for inspiration).
  • You may also like to anoint your candle with an essential oil - again, our chakras guide can inspire you with what scent works well with each chakra. 
  • As you light the candle, state your intention out loud.
  • Allow the candle to burn to the end, sending your heart's desire into the universe.

Red Fox: Clarity

Scott suggests Red Fox's symbolism is about wisdom and clarity. 'Red Fox affords the wisdom to look at the world from varying perspectives, to consider the options at our disposal and to execute any plan with precision and dexterity.' When we encounter the Red Fox totem, our message is to learn from our experiences, integrate our lessons and not take ourselves too seriously!

Hawk: Messages

Spotted a hawk circling high above? 'Hawk prefers that we look at life from the viewpoint of the bigger picture, as he does with far-seeing eyes,' says Scott. When you see Hawk, it's a reminder to look for signs from Spirit / the Universe. Be sure to maintain your perspective - don't get caught up in the minutiae - and follow the guidance available to you.

Otter: Playfulness

If you've seen an otter frolicking in the river, it's a reminder to have a little fun! Scott says, 'Otter is a creature of light-hearted charm; a mischievous feminine being that harnesses the energy of both Water and Earth.' Otter's message is to find a balance between the mundane and the delightful. Shrug off your humdrum worries, befriend with your inner child and indulge your sense of humour!

Animal totems for robin, fallow deer and blackbird

Robin: Aspiration

Scott says 'Robin is the totem of those who "wear their heart on their sleeve".' When Robin pays you a visit, he reminds you to show your feelings, be vulnerable and allow any 'frozen emotions' to thaw out. Robin also heralds 'miraculous change, promise, strength, wisdom, ambition and personal healing.' He reminds us to take a chance and have hope!

Fallow Deer: Confirmation

When you are fortunate enough to encounter Fallow Deer, take it as a reminder to relax and drop into your heart. 'Fallow Deer reminds us to always approach life with a sense of trust, peace and gentleness; spiritual love that promises reward to those of us who demonstrate resolve and personal integrity,' says Scott. Scott teaches that we are all born with Fallow Deer as our guide, mentor and source of spiritual power. She offers confirmation that we are spiritual beings!

Blackbird: Song

Most gardens in the UK are blessed with a blackbird... and as a totem, he brings a very spiritual energy. 'Blackbird is considered a gateway to the Other Worlds,' says Scott. 'His song beckons us to enter, explore and follow a spiritual path that will inevitably broaden our self-awareness and intuitive knowing.' Blackbird sounds like the perfect totem bird for The College of Psychic Studies!

Spider: The Weaver

Scott reminds us that in Native American folklore, Grandmother Spider wove the Universe into being with her Web of Life... and she wove the first dreamcatcher. Spider symbolism reminds us that we create our own reality. If we don't like where we are, we can return to our centre and start building afresh. Just as Spider reweaves her web each morning, so too can we reforge the pathways of our life... and make our dreams a reality!

How to create your own library of animal symbolism

We love Scott's animal symbolism. However, it's important to develop your own meaning for each creature. For this, we need to really listen to them. If we're quiet, we can tune in and receive precious teachings from our chance meetings. Practice being receptive to every creature you encounter. Learn to honour each as an animal totem, complete with their own symbolic meaning. Over time, you will build a library of symbolic meanings for each animal, bird and amphibian. You will come to intuitively know what Hedgehog means for you. It is a journey of personal discovery as you build your relationship with the animal kingdom.

This animal symbolism is drawn from Scott Alexander King's beautiful book, World Animal Dreaming: Interpreting the symbolic language of the world's animals (2014), a copy of which is in the College library. 

Join our newsletter to receive more posts like this, as well as updates on our events, exhibitions, talks and more.