is user-supported. We may earn a commission when users buy via links on our website. More info

How to Find Your Spirit Animal

Decorative image of an elk standing in a field overlooking the ocean.

Here at World Birds, you’ll find resources to learn about the meaning of your spirit animal, whether you are connected to the birds that we tend to write about the most, or more terrestrial animals like the wolf spirit animal or the deer spirit animal. I’ve written a lot of material about bird and animal symbolism, but one question that I get asked a lot by commenters on the site is “What is my spirit animal?” So today I thought I’d write a little guide to help you find your spirit animal. If you want to skip to a particular section, you can click on your question in the table of contents below:

If you already feel a connection to a specific animal and you’re here to learn more about its spirit animal symbolism, check out my extensive library of spirit animal articles. I’m sure you’ll find the animal you’re looking for there, but if you can’t find it, feel free to leave a suggestion in the comments. I’d like to improve this section of the site in the future with even more spirit animal research and even some quizzes down the road. Stay tuned!

What is a Spirit Animal?

The word “spirit animal” gets thrown around a lot and there are a lot of different ways that people understand it. For some people, a spirit animal is a deeply meaningful source of guidance and power. For others, it is a bit of light-hearted fun; a way of using an animal’s unique personality to express the way you see yourself and the way you relate to others.

It doesn’t matter which version you’re here for. No matter what, a spirit animal can be a resource that allows you to connect with yourself and learn about your own nature as well as the amazing insights that nature itself has in store. For yours truly, a spirit animal is a way of appreciating the natural world. Spirit animals help us to listen to the voices of the earth’s wildlife and open ourselves up to the wisdom they’re capable of sharing.

Researching spirit animals can also be a really special learning experience. In my case, every time I dig into a new animal to learn about its spiritual meaning, I find something new to love about it. I get to learn all about animal fun facts and cultural beliefs from around the world. Studying spirit animals and their meanings is enriching, whether you find your spirit animal or not!

Where Do Spirit Animals Come From?

If spirit animals mean so many different things to so many different people, then where do they actually come from? The answer is kind of complicated.

“Spirit animals” as most people know them are a relatively new concept built on top of much older beliefs. Around the world, peoples from a variety of cultures have felt connections to the natural world. Humans are animals, after all.

But most people think of the “spirit animal” as a concept with Native American origins. This is because some Native American tribes use animal guides as deeply spiritual symbols connected to family heritage, tribal history, and personal journeys. This understanding of the “spirit animal,” which is itself not a term that most tribes would use to describe their practices, is not something that you choose for fun or discover through an online quiz.

So are spirit animals cultural appropriation? That depends on who you ask. Some people do consider engaging with the spirit animal concept to be disrespectful for people outside of certain Native American communities. But this ignores the fact that the thing that people call the “spirit animal” is very different from these sacred Native traditions.

Using animals as guides and symbols is a pretty universal concept that can be found in most any culture. From the animals of the Chinese Zodiac, which are said to predict a person’s personality based on the time of their birth, to the many votive animals of the Greek gods, connections between specific animals and the human spirit are everywhere.

So how can we engage with spirit animals in a respectful way? By simply acknowledging that we are not taking part in Native American cultural practices. Instead, think of the spirit animal as a bit like astrology. Whether you believe in astrology or not, studying your zodiac sign is a fun way to learn about yourself and connect with others. Spirit animals and zodiac signs are alike in this way.

Decorative image of a peacock with its feathers fanned out.
Photo by David Everett Strickler on Unsplash.

Nobody who studies astrology is claiming to be recreating ancient Greek cultural and spiritual observances. Instead, we’re all using the natural world (both wildlife and the stars and planets above us) as vehicles to learn about ourselves and express our individuality.

How Do Spirit Animals Work?

Now that you know they are, you might be wondering what the point of a spirit animal is. Depending on your belief system, we can always just answer this question by saying “spirit animals are fun and that’s all they need to be.” And that’s okay if that’s all it is to you! But for many people, spirit animals do a lot more.

I’ll interject with a bit about myself here. I have always felt a deep connection with birds of all kinds. From the first moment I noticed that birds were always all around us, I found them impossible to ignore and could often be found squinting up at trees or clouds trying to make out the shape of a bird in the distance.

I love birds. But it isn’t just because they’re beautiful. I find birds to be a source of strength and a reminder of my unique place in the world. Every bird that I study gives me lessons in return. Chickadees remind me that feisty things can come in small packages, albatrosses remind me that real love is worth waiting for, and mockingbirds remind me that nothing is more important than protecting the things that matter to you.

That’s what spirit animals can do. They show us their strengths so that we can search for those strengths in ourselves and rely on them in difficult times.

They help us see the answers that are right in front of us. And, perhaps most importantly, they remind us that there’s no one “right” way to be. A bull is steadfast, strong, and protective while a raven is curious, intelligent, and playful.

Both are unique, both bring unique gifts to the planet, and neither could take the other’s place or outweigh the other in value. Spirit animals help us understand our own unique way and appreciate the uniqueness of the other people in our lives.

How to Find Your Spirit Animal

Now that you understand what a spirit animal is, it’s finally time to find your own! But how do you find a spirit animal? Once again, that depends on you.

For some people, your spirit animal is something you just know. Maybe all your life you’ve felt drawn to elephants or maybe everywhere you go you see lizards and it feels like a sign. But what if you don’t know your spirit animal right away? Don’t worry! Finding yours can be simple.

First, I want to say that there is nothing wrong with feeling a deep connection to multiple animals. In fact, I think it’s better to try and learn from as many as possible! The earth is full of wildlife just teeming with wisdom to share. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain from learning as much as you can from all of these special creatures.

Decorative image of a bear walking through a grassy field.
Photo by Anna Tremewan on Unsplash.

But if you’re hoping to find the animal that really embodies your journey, I recommend starting by thinking about the animals that you feel drawn to. What do you like about them? How are these traits reflected in your own personality. Then, if nothing stands out to you, try researching the meanings of various spirit animals. Maybe, when you read about the playful and industrious squirrel or the flamboyant peacock, something will stand out to you.

Still not sure what animal fits you? Here are some more tips to help you find your spirit animal:

  • Look for patterns in the animals you interact with. Maybe cats always seem drawn to you, or butterflies always appear when you need a pick-me-up. The animals that play big roles in our lives or bring us strength during hard times are great spirit animal candidates.
  • Try taking an online quiz! We hope to add some quizzes to World Birds in the future, but in the mean time there are thousands of online quizzes you can try to help find your spirit animal.
  • Research animals of all kinds. The more you learn the more chances you’ll have to find an animal that clicks with you.
  • Be open-minded. Sometimes the animals that have the most ability to guide us aren’t the most cute or charismatic. Spiders are often seen as symbols of artists and story-tellers, even though most people think og them as creepy crawlies. Don’t judge a book by its cover or you might miss out!
  • Ask your friends. If you’re drawing a blank when you try to imagine your spirit animal, it might help to ask others what animals they think of when they think of you. Their answers may surprise you and open your mind up to new possibilities. If nothing else, this is a cool opportunity to get some insight into what traits your loved ones associate with you.
  • Meditate. This might not work for everyone, but sometimes a bit of meditation can be very revealing. And it doesn’t even have to be a big spiritual ritual. Taking some time to be alone with your thoughts can be enough to guide you to answers you might never have found when your mind was too occupied with other things.
  • Pick one! Don’t overthink it. If you want to draw wisdom from a spirit animal and you haven’t had a big “aha” moment, there’s nothing wrong with picking a favorite animal to associate with yourself. There isn’t going to be a pop quiz, there is no exact “answer.” Your spirit animal is whatever you need it to be.

The Meaning of a Spirit Animal

Hopefully, this guide has been helpful to you. We’ve talked a lot about what a spirit animal can mean and how different it is to different people, but at the end of the day, the lessons you choose to take from nature should be the ones that serve you.

For me, the most important thing is that we listen to and acknowledge the voices of nature. This planet’s animals are stuck with us here on earth and the least we can do is learn to appreciate the unique values they have to teach us. By doing so, hopefully, we can deepen our connection with all of nature and develop our empathy for both ourselves and others.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *