What Is a Power Animal?

Sometimes we can know the “power animal” of a person because it is hidden in their physical features, or their special abilities. A person might have the penetrating staring eyes of an eagle, a hawk-like facial expression, a calm, absent-mindedness of owl. Once an animal characteristic is recognized, you can study the behavior patterns and learn a great deal.

But what is a power animal? Author Kenneth Meadows offers a very astute definition of power animals here:

A power animal is not an external entity that can somehow take possession of you. You possess it, for it is an internal energy-pattern that has attributes similar to the animal species it characterizes. In order to comprehend that fully, let us examine the title “power animal.”

The word “power” has a number of meanings. It can be defined as “an energizing force”–like nuclear power. Power can also mean “to have control over” or “to exert mastery.” Another meaning is “authority to govern.”

There is a further definition, however: “the ability to perform work.” This is the definition that applies to power animals and to Shamanics. Power–shamanic power–is an ability to perform specific work! Now let us examine the word “animal.” According to dictionary definitions, an animal is “an intelligent creature that possesses life, sensation, and the power of voluntary motion.”

A power animal is an energy-pattern–or energy-system–that appears in animal form and possesses sensation and the power of voluntary movement to carry out its inherent ability to perform the specific work it characterizes. A power animal is the very energy-pattern of an ability or abilities that the animal form characterizes!

According to shamanic understanding, we each have a number of power animals, for they are patterns of natural abilities and potentials that are inherent within us. A principal power animal is one that has prominence.

Adapted from Shamanic Spirit, by Kenneth Meadows (Inner Traditions, 2004). Copyright (c) 2004 by Kenneth Meadows. Reprinted by permission of Inner Traditions.
Adapted from Shamanic Spirit, by Kenneth Meadows (Inner Traditions, 2004).


Aud Nordby
Aud nordby3 years ago


.3 years ago

thank you for the interesting article

Debbie Fry
Debbie Fry3 years ago

Wish I was so lucky, Thanks

Vita Pagh
Vita P3 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Tammy Baxter
Tammy B3 years ago


Aud Nordby
Aud nordby3 years ago


Winn Adams
Winn Adams3 years ago


Diana Roth
Diana Roth4 years ago

Power animal is just another term for any lifelong animal spirit or totem animal. These animals are with you from the day you are born until you take your last breath. You can have from one ot hundreds of them, depending on your ability to understand and see them.

Loretta K.
Loretta K4 years ago

thanks for the thorough explanation

Andrea A.
Andrea A4 years ago