The Shaman by Temari
The Shaman by Temari via Flickr

Introduction by Michael Clark  ‹ skip intro

A good percentage of schoolchildren are taught that reality is about things we can measure and easily describe. This focus on the observable world has obvious advantages. Bridges are built, science develops and economies thrive.

But that’s only half the story. There’s also the inner world described by the mystic, saint or seer. Sadly, some spiritual seekers end up like the ill-fated Greek mariners of antiquity, caught between Scylla and Charybdis or seduced by a siren’s song and getting strewn across the shoals of their own splintered psyches. And by the time these people receive psychiatric treatment it might, in some cases, be too late for any kind of healthy reemergence or reintegration.

Having said that, not everyone ends up on the rocks. Some make it through to the proverbial other side. Carl G. Jung was one of those individuals. And Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls is clearly another.

In the 21st century, however, the cosmovision¹ of the shaman remains largely unrecognized or devalued. So practicing shamans tend to be reserved when sharing their inner experiences. They probably don’t want to hoard esoteric knowledge but, instead, have realized that Jesus was right when teaching that it’s unwise to cast one’s pearls before swine.²

For that very reason I hesitated to post this article by Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls. It probes deeper into esoteric realms than other pieces she’s submitted. But hopefully these introductory remarks will facilitate the kind of open-mindedness required to appreciate such a rare, first-hand account.

— MC

Shamans Dream by Bob G
Shamans Dream by Bob G via Flickr

Are Spirit Guides the same as Totems?

Copyright © Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls, 2012.

Spirit guides may or may not also be totem animals. I have a spirit guide who comes to me as a white pelican. I have an elephant who is strictly a totem and not a spirit guide.

A spirit guide is a teacher with something to teach you. A totem animal is often a protector, a mate to travel the Inner Worlds with who knows its way around and can get you in, to your destination and out again safely.

I can ride my elephant right into the Under World and he will stop at exactly the place I need to be to effect someone’s healing. When I have the healing I climb back on and he brings me right back. If anything untoward appears he can step on it with out effort and so he protects me completely. That is a totem animal.

Why an elephant? If you look up elephants you will see, Elephant: Royalty, strength, ancient wisdom, patience, careful, confident, education. No wonder I have an elephant as a totem. He represents me. Notice too that he is not a Native American animal. That means something, too.

Your totems choose you as you are aware. You meet a totem animal, usually in the Inner Planes but sometimes it is an animal you have a special affinity for or have seen a lot lately. I prefer to meet them on the Inner Planes in meditation or such because sometimes those animals you see a lot of in this world are bringing you a message and are not totems for you. It is easy to confuse the two.

Your totem animal can change during your life. As you grow and change your totem animals may change as well. You may have several totem animals at once. But one is a life totem and represents your basic self or personality, your essence.

Spirit guides are teachers. They come to guide you in your education. They teach you things. They may have lived other lives. They may be “ascended” beings. They may be the wind or Father Sky or a guardian angel. They may be your higher self. They may be God. You decide. They can be animals or plants or trees or people. Here is another wisdom nugget, everything has three emanations or faces or appearances. We do and plants do and animals do and everything does.

When I go into the Inner Worlds for a healing for someone, I encounter some being there who is responsible for the sickness. The first face it shows me is really goofy, odd or weird and I know that is not what it really is. So I dismiss that face and ask to see its true face.

The next face it shows if it is a not nice being is some ferocious, grizzly, nasty, scary being who tries to bite me or otherwise scare me. But I am not scared because I know that is not its true face. I may have to fend it off or punch it or step on it or catch it but I am not scared of it. I dismiss it and ask to see its true face for the third time.

The third time I see what it really is and if it is a not nice being it usually looks weak and small and very lacking in every department. This is the being I negotiate with.

So I know that everything has three faces. Another example is when I sit with a rock and it turns into a lily and then it becomes a butterfly and flies away. When I sit with a river and it becomes a meadow and then it is a bear walking away.

So my totem is an elephant, a white elephant and it does not change its face around me. Why? Because it represents me! It is one of my own faces! How cool! A totem is one of your own many faces. That is why some people call them “familiars”.

Can we have more than three faces? Yup! Some people have hundreds of faces. But everything has at least three. And usually the three represent a plant, an animal and a sky creature.

Your spirit guides will help teach you intent, emotional control, knowledge and impeccability if you allow them. Remember it is always your free will to learn or not to learn. But don’t travel to the Inner Worlds if you have not mastered the skills necessary to be safe there and to do your work there. And never go there just out of curiosity. There are too many discarnate beings waiting for you to come there unaware so they can get what they can get from you. They can be tricky and sly and even devious. Even one bee is enough to stay away from. It doesn’t take a pack of grizzly bears to kill you.

Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls has been a practicing Shaman for over 50 years. She recently received a dispensation to reach out to those who have a desire to learn about a Shaman’s path and now offers an online course at Many people on this earth have been Shamans in other lives and only need to reconnect with their lost knowledge and skills to bring shamanic healing back to Mother Earth and its peoples. This is Shaman Elder’s goal. Please visit her website at or write her an email for a free consultation at


¹ Cosmovision is a term used by David Carrasco and others for a worldview where cultural, environmental and spiritual elements exist in an integrated whole. Because cosmovision involves connections across space and time, it implies sentiments like “yesterday I experienced some of tomorrow.”

² “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Matthew 7:6)