Totem  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A totem is a being, object, or symbol representing an animal or plant that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, group, lineage, or tribe, reminding them of their ancestry (or mythic past). In kinship and descent, if the apical ancestor of a clan is nonhuman, it is called a totem. Normally this belief is accompanied by a totemic myth. They have been around for many years. They are usually in the shape of an animal, and every animal has a certain personality, e.g Owl:

The Owl - Wisdom, silent and swift and wise.

Although the term is of Ojibwe origin in North America, totemistic beliefs are not limited to Native Americans and Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Similar totem-like beliefs have been historically present in societies throughout much of the world, including Africa, Arabia, Asia, Australia, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and the Arctic polar region.

In modern times, some single individuals, not otherwise involved in the practice of a tribal religion, have chosen to adopt a personal spirit animal helper, which has special meaning to them, and may refer to this as a totem. This non-traditional usage of the term is prevalent in the New Age movement and the mythopoetic men's movement.


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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Totem" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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