An animal totem is an important symbolic object in furry spirituality used by a person to get in touch with specific qualities found within an animal which the person needs, connects with, or feels a deep affinity toward. Some Furry lifestylers find they draw spiritual energy from a totem animal which guides their lives and causes them to imitate behaviors of that animal.
Because a totem is symbolic in nature, a specific animal totem need not be a "real" animal to begin with. Some people have totems which are based on mythological or fictional creatures, entirely unique beings, or totally abstract entities. Totem practices can range from the serious and introspective to the completely playful, and fall anywhere between.
It should be noted that animal totemism one might find in Furry fandom are not always Native American in origin or convention, which may be the context in which many people in North America are familiar with totemism. There has been criticism directed at Furry fans who practice totemism to the effect that they often do not fully understand Native American and other cultures that incorporate totemism. Some furry conventions such as Further Confusion have hosted panels on spirituality and totemistic practices to offer further education and discussion.
It has been posited that as of furry becomes more of a subculture with lifestyle elements for some, it is developing still more expressions of ideas like Totems. Over time, a number of lifestyler fans have developed their own personal definitions of totemism that might be inspired by existing traditions, but are largely unique and tailored to the individual's belief system. Totem-related media has also been produced within the fandom. At conventions, it is not unknown to find furry artists such as Jim Groat offering anthropomorphic drawings and caricatures based on a person's specified totem animal.
- Totems and Totemism at Wikipedia