An Introduction to Power Animals

Native American spirituality is largely based on a naturalistic view of the universe.  Nature was their world.  The premise is that the universe is a living organism, giving and receiving, and those attuned to its messages will perceive them in the call of the crow or the sound of the wind. As we can sometimes feel the intense anger of someone entering a calm office space, those living in nature  can readily perceive the subtle gentleness of a deer nearby in the forest.
Most of the world's religions believe that invisible spirits help man. Many modern Christians profess to know that their guardian angels watch over them. Hindis are keenly aware of the presence of their most popular deities and are very careful about the offerings to appease them. (For example, Lord Shiva likes the blue lotus flower, but never offer him/her champa flower.)  Muslims know when jinn have entered the room. Druids can feel nearby nature spirits. And Native Americans walk with their power animals by their side.
Intuitively, you may already know your primary power animals if you think about it.  What animal, and this can be a bird, fish, amphibian, insect or mammal, are you drawn to? Do any regularly visit you in your dreams?
Animal spirits possess certain qualities that can help you.  Their strength in these areas can be drawn upon.  For example, there may be times when it is most appropriate for you to act with the gentleness of a deer, or conversely, with the aggression of a badger.  There may be a time when you should quietly nurture your thoughts as the bear in his cave or a time when you express them with the courage and leadership of a mountain lion.
Any animal spirit can be called upon to assist you, but you have two primary ones guiding your earth walk, one that appeals to your masculine self and one that governs your feminine aspect.  Many believe that your personal totem of animal spirits is comprised of a total of nine, each offering its medicine, or power, to guide you through the different aspects of your psyche or journey.  The nine power animals represent who you are, both your strengths and the areas in which you need to grow as you walk the spokes of the medicine wheel.
Briefly, the other seven include four on the compass directions of the medicine wheel: east, south, west and north, the above animal responsible for your access to the spiritual world, the below animal who keeps you tethered to this earth while you are on the Good Red Road, your earth walk, and your within animal spirit, your inner shield of the totality of who you are.