Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Healing images and guides

TimeThief’s process of considering a new favicon for her blog and her comments on animal totems stimulated my thinking about healing images.  As someone obsessed with the word, the use of visual imagery is not second nature to me.  Nevertheless, I once clipped an image of a polar bear and her two cubs from an environmental calendar.

This image has traveled with me from the States to France, where I posted it on the wall of my bedroom for three years.  I was particularly drawn to the protective quality of this humongous bear, the way she lovingly watched over her two cubs in the space in front of her—one tentative little creature and the other perky and curious.

The polar bear as totem

Although I left the aforementioned image in Europe, the polar bear has clearly not left me.  An image of a polar bear came immediately to mind as I read through TimeThief’s blog post and has lingered since.  Perhaps this white knight has more messages for me?  I was prompted to learn about the significance of the polar bear as a totem. In traditional cultures, animal totems are seen as the source of spiritual guidance. You can learn the lessons they may hold for you by observing their characteristics, habits, and habitats.

The essential meaning and messages of the polar bear are “fearlessness, aggressive, provider, powerful.”

“Polar bears are known for their fearlessness and aggressiveness. Polar bears are good hunters and strong swimmers. Humans are their only predator. Because Polar bears are so high up on the food chain it is understandable why they are so fearless. When polar appears you will want to evaluate your fears by looking at the things that make you reactive or act out. Or, you may need to strengthen areas of personal weakness.  The Polar bear is a good provider for his family, anyone with Polar bear as his totem bears the honorable responsibility to provide for others. It is right for the strongest to care for the weakest. Polar bear totem asks that any aggressive behaviors you display are for defensive purposes and not meant to bully.”

“All the arctic totems are survivalists. Living in a cold climate and harsh environment demands stamina and determination to survive. Arctic totems teach the ability to thrive under the direst of circumstances.”

The polar bear brings additional meanings to my mind:

  • white as a symbol of purity of body, mind, and spirit;
  • the ability to swim through water symbolizing the capacity to move through emotions without getting stuck;
  • a harbinger of the dangers of global warming.

The polar bear with her qualities of fearlessness, power, protection, and knack for survival is without question a strong image for me.  Now that I am aware of all her special qualities, I will consciously embrace this totem as a guide through the next phase of my healing process.

There isn’t a single one of us who is not impacted by global warming, however the plight of the polar bear seems to be sparking the awareness of millions.  The documentary The Great Melt depicts the effect that climate change is already having on the Arctic habitat. The film hones in on the polar bear as one animal who cannot sustain itself over the progressively longer periods of warmer weather that are occurring due to global warming. When the ice melts, polar bears are unable to hunt for daily sustenance. This has always been the case, but it is the unnaturally protracted periods of warmth that are endangering the species. In fifty years time, the polar bear may be extinct. It was heart-wrenching to watch as these giants lumbered along, growing thinner with each passing day of the Arctic summer.

So I also feel a special connection with the polar bear because I too suffer from the impact of environmental toxins and choose to speak out about it to warn others.  Man is the polar bear’s only predator, but in this case we are not shooting them with guns, but killing them through our high level of oil consumption and other misuses of environmental toxins.

The turtle as totem

The turtle is another animal totem that speaks to me.

“The turtle is probably best known for its longevity. The turtle is a nomad who carries his home wherever he goes. The turtle’s shell serves as a protective shield from the elements and its predators. It lives on the beach, between water and land.  The turtle does not stress. Turtle moves slowly, reminding us to slow down. What is the hurry? If turtle appears you may need to start delegating your duties, or let go entirely of some things. You also may need to withdraw from others (retreat to your shell) and recoup your energies.”

As a highly sensitive person, I need to intentionally create a protective field around me, be aware of my stress patterns, function at a comfortable pace and not the frantic one dictated by our society, and withdraw from time-to-time to regroup.

Do you use imagery as part of your healing process?  What images speak to you?

Source:  Animal Totems

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  1. Sandra Lee,

    We have something else in common, besides being extra sensitive. Turtles are very special to me. I have been drawn to them since I was a small child, and still have strong feelings about their image. I collect turtles of many materials — onyx, shell, Huichol beadwork, carved wood, woven basketry, and more. I do not consciously use the turtle image for healing, but rather enjoy their symbolic presence throughout my home.


  2. Hi Kathleen, How interesting! It’s fascinating how you have been naturally drawn to turtles since being a young child as they hold so much symbolism helpful to someone who is sensitive. Your collection sounds wondrous! These symbols surely touch us on so many less than conscious levels without ever having to work with them consciously. Here in Hawaii, I’ve watched sea turtles riding the waves, sitting on the black sand beach where they nest (the photo I shared), and snorkeling from time to time. It’s nice to have this special connection with you.

  3. Absolutely LOVE totem animals! Wonderful article, and being a senstive this really speaks from the heart! Thanks!

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