The question is drawn from the Greenhaven Tradition; the YaaD course is not published on the Greenhaven Tradition website, but is made available on a person-to-person basis. Material that is not so closely held is available at http://greenhaventradition.weebly.com/
Class 3, Paper 1 (after reading, before discussion): If you don’t already know your spirit guide(s), explore the notion now. Does this kind of relationship interest you, or not? What animals, plants, stones, or other things do you feel most attracted to? Which do you admire? What would you like to gain from a totem? What would you offer in exchange? Be ready to discuss your findings in class.
Assignment submitted October 24, 2011
Writing Assignment: YaaD Class 3 – Totem Reflection
Not only do I not have a spirit guide, I never even considered it, and still feel very uncomfortable about the whole idea. However, I will make a reasonable attempt (while visiting and so with supervision) to make some kind of connection, based on the traits my friends say they see in me.
I was rather hoping that squirrel would come up, because that's the one animal I feel some connection to: I am fascinated by the thieving little tree-rats, I am consistently amused by their antics, I have the same tendency to hoard so many things that I can't keep track of them all, I've been told by at least one person that my brain is like a squirrel on a wheel (that phenomenon has been described by another friend as, "Before you can do anything, you have to do something else first"), and for years I've been using a visualization of a squirrel as a sleep aid. Yes, really; it involves slowing down the wheel, picking up the squirrel, and gently petting it and talking to it until it calms down and curls up to sleep. By that time, my own thoughts are calm and I can sleep.
But squirrel didn't come up even once, so oh well.
You said animals, plants, stones, or other things: I have no attraction to plants; they're pretty, but I have the opposite of a green thumb and I've never bothered learning much about them. Same with stones; they're pretty, but I'm basically pig-ignorant about them. Books, on the other hand, books I'm deeply attracted to, but I don't guess Book could be a totem. Oh, and gadgets of all types; I can spend ages in cooking supply stores looking at all the nifty shiny things, or Brookstone, or even As Seen on TV stores. Gadget probably isn't a valid totem either, though.
I have no idea what I would gain from a totem / guiding spirit / what will you. From conversations with you, I gather that part of the deal is that the animal spirit can, if it so chooses, serve as a teacher, in particular as a trainer for traits that the human wishes to develop. Based on my poll, Elephant came up most often, both for traits my friends say I currently have and for traits they say I might want to cultivate; Dragon came up once for an existing trait and several times for desirable ones; and Wolf was evenly split between the two categories. I guess that would be one useful thing; that metaphysical mentoring.
What I would offer in exchange would, I suppose, depend on what spirit I connected with and what it said it wanted. For Elephant or Wolf, I might could contribute to wildlife sanctuaries and well designed zoos; I don’t know what Dragon would want, but I suspect it would have no problems whatsoever getting its point across. For any of them, I could commission and display or wear (as appropriate) art based on them.