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What is a spirit animal?

spirit animal
Question: "What is a spirit animal?"

The concept of a spirit animal is based in ancient animistic, shamanistic, and totemistic belief systems of early Native American Indians, Australian Aborigines, and other indigenous cultures. Today, belief in spirit animals is promoted in various neo-pagan religious systems such as Wicca and New Age, and it is often associated with astrology. The internet has many tips and quizzes encouraging people to identify and contact their “spirit animals.”

The belief in spirit animals focuses on the idea that a human being can have a mystical connection with a benevolent spiritual guide, or spirit helper, which takes the form of an animal. In some cultures, the guardian spirit is thought to be assigned to the individual at puberty. So close is the personal bond between the human and the spirit animal that the human takes on some of the characteristics of the guardian animal. The spirit animal helps guide or protect the person who shares or embodies the animal’s qualities.

An idea related to spirit animals is that of “power animals,” a concept of shamanism that certain animals can either physically or psychologically empower human beings. Like the spirit animal, the power animal shares its wisdom, natural instincts, and other powers with humans in times of need and can help them accomplish goals or perform tasks.

Spirit animals, power animals, and all other kinds of spirit guides promoted in paganism are in truth deceiving spirits ruled by the powers of darkness and spiritual forces of evil at work in this world (Ephesians 6:12; 1 Timothy 4:1). Whether the entity takes the form of a butterfly or a bear, it is what the Bible calls an “unclean spirit” (see Matthew 12:43, NKJV). Spirit animals are a demonic ruse and should have no part in a Christian’s belief system. Getting in touch with one’s spirit animal is the same as dabbling in witchcraft, which the Bible forbids in no uncertain terms: “And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD. It is because the other nations have done these detestable things that the LORD your God will drive them out ahead of you. But you must be blameless before the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 18:10–13, NLT).

The apostle Paul warned that those who unrepentantly practice the acts of the flesh, including witchcraft, will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19–21). Christians have been given everything they need to live godly lives through God’s divine power (2 Peter 1:3). They do not need to call upon spirit animals or power animals for help.

As the children of God, believers are to seek guidance from God’s Holy Spirit alone: “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” (Romans 8:14). The Spirit of God helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26–27). The Holy Spirit empowers us to live godly Christian lives: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22–25).

The Holy Spirit guides believers in what to say and how to witness (Mark 13:11; Matthew 10:19–20; Luke 12:11–12; 1 Corinthians 2:13). He guides us in ministry (Acts 16:6–7; 20:22) and knowledge of the truth (John 16:13). Our Helper is the Holy Spirit, who is greater than any spirit masquerading as a “spirit animal” (Matthew 10:1; 1 John 4:4). We desire to be more like Christ, not more like an animal.

Recommended Resource: Neighboring Faiths by Winfried Corduan

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