Through the Wild Gaze: Spirit Animals, Are They Good or Not?

With internet quizzes and celebrity questionnaires filled up with the idea of having a spirit animal, we explore this hyped concept and find out whether we all have a spirit animal or not.

What’s your spirit animal?”, a question which might have dropped into an impromptu conversation or just as small talk, leaving you in a state of amusement and then to a more questioning one, making you ask yourself, “Do I even have a spirit animal?”. The absurdities rise and then you nonchalantly gaze and say “I am a tiger”, feeling proud you have an answer but no possible logic or explanation to stand by it. If that animosity increases, you may find yourself scrolling on the internet for those make-believe quizzes, promising to let you know who your spirit animal is, tempting you to that happiness, while it is understood that when it comes to associating yourself with an animal, it is you who is the best judge for yourself, instead of a generic online quiz.

Yes, when it comes to spirit animals, we all are lost in the concept, maybe a little here or a little there.

What is a spirit animal and why is it such a hyped statement?

The term spirit animal is a means of conveying a sense of certain wisdom or guidance which will prove helpful for one’s own personal growth. The characteristics of the chosen spirit animal may be important for one to recognise either as being a current strength or an aspirational area to work in. For instance, if your spirit animal is a wolf, then you may associate yourself as someone who has powerful instincts and a high intelligence, someone who has a thirst for freedom and leadership. If your spirit animal is a butterfly then you see yourself as a pioneer of change, joy, and tradition. It also symbolises grace, eloquence, and soul. It is also inherent for someone having a vibrant personality, like the vibrant wings of a butterfly.

Ancient cultures and indigenous people believed that humans and animals shared the same spiritual essence with each other. They also stated that animals are attracted to us and present themselves to us in specific moments of our lives to reveal messages, inner revelations, etc.

While many cultures have many different theories attached to it, the American Indian culture ascertains the spirit animal or totem to be an important symbolic connotation, helping a person to be in touch with some specific qualities associated with an animal, which the person needs, connects with and has a deep affinity towards. It is seen as a medium to the spiritual inclination in the Cherokee tradition. The concept of Patronus in the Harry Potter series has taken inspiration from these ancient beliefs as well and entered the contemporary imagination. 

I feel a lot of hype around the concept of spirit animals is also due to the pop culture influence. We see a celebrity interview, wherein they gush about finding their spirit animal or their ode to meditation, and we ardently try and incorporate those values or try to rack our brains trying to know who that spirit animal is for us!”, says Amisha Jain, pursuing English Honours in her second-year in Maitreyi College.

While celebrities have their own beliefs in spirit animals, being it a swan for pop singer turned fashion designer Victoria Beckham or an otter for Australian actress Nicole Kidman, the variability and the reason for having a spirit animal is perceptive.

I do believe in spirit animals as I find it interesting, and something that is considered mythical, there is nothing wrong with it. It is just an exercise to get to know who you are and where you stand. For me, I feel it is a tiger simply because I see and recognise myself as a strong woman with clear ideas and I am outspoken! It’s a matter of association. I see no harm in it.”, says Apeksha Jain, a programme second-year B.Com programme in Shaheed Bhagat Singh College.

The concept, prevalent in almost all cultures, throws light on the genuineness of the concept, however, in the age of the twenty-first century, do we need spirit animals as a guide to grow better?

The appeal of spirituality and self-peace to this generation is pleasing and overwhelming at the same time. While researchers in animal studies and anthropology are stuck in the messy debate on the fact of the genuineness of the concept, the idea of spirit animals is also linked to the Hindu and the Buddhist doctrines of aatma and moksha.

Akansha Naithani, who is pursuing English honours in her second year in Maitreyi College, sheds some light on her take on the spirit totems: “I don’t know who I am right now, as this is the time to simply work on myself instead of establishing a finished product already of myself, and then if someone asks me what my spirit animal is, I am ever so confused! I want to say mine is a butterfly, but I wish mine was a tiger. Or if I associate myself with a fox, I would crave to have a dolphin as my totem. It is just a lot of work for me!” 

While the quest to find your true spirit animal may be a tough path, but certainly an interesting one, and despite mixed opinions, at the end of the day, it is the path cycle of your progress, be it with the assistance of a spirit animal or not!


Feature Image Credits: Deviant Art

Avnika Chhikara

Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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