Does everyone have a totem animal that stays with them their entire life? Some say yes, others say no. Regardless, totemism isn’t just about those “primary” totems. The same person may have all kinds of different relationships and interactions with animal totems, and they don’t all have to last a lifetime.
That has been my experience since I began working with animal totems in my spirituality since the 1990’s. Rather than following what other people told me to do to connect with totems. I found my own path through that forest via a lot of trial and error. I quickly discovered was that there was no set number of totems a person could or should have and not every totem stuck around for a long time.
As I met and worked with more and more totem animals. I created an easy organizational system to help me describe some of these totemic relationships:
*Primary totems are what most people think of when they talk about animal totems. These are your “life” totems, the ones who are around for the long haul, as it were.
*Secondary totems are ones that come into your life on their own volition to help you through a stage of your life or a particular time period. Once their intent has been fulfilled, they generally leave your life, though some do make visits later on.. But even then, they aren’t as consistently present as primary totems.
*Tertiary totems are totems that you approach to ask for help with something specific or simply to find out more about them. If you want elp with a single ritual or untangling a problem in your life, you can find out what totem or totems may be best able to help you, and then approach them for that help.
Any totem animal can be primary, secondary or tertiary totem. It all depends on the nature of its relationship with that person. The particular totem itself isn’t crucial — what matters is the intensity and duration of the connection between the totem and person.
While not everyone may have a primary totem, just about anyone can ask totems for help with more short-term goals, even if you’ve never worked with totems before.
Reference:Excerpt from: Everyday Totemism By Lupa Llewellyn’s 2013