totem

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totem

(tō`təm), an object, usually an animal or plant (or all animals or plants of that species), that is revered by members of a particular social group because of a mystical or ritual relationship that exists with that group. The totem—or rather, the spirit it embodies—represents the bond of unity within a tribe, a clan, or some similar group. Generally, the members of the group believe that they are descended from a totem ancestor, or that they and the totem are "brothers." The totem may be regarded as a group symbol and as a protector of the members of the group. In most cases the totemic animal or plant is the object of taboo: it may be forbidden to kill or eat the sacred animal. The symbol of the totem may be tattooed on the body, engraved on weapons, pictured in masks, or (among Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest) carved on totem poles. In some cultures males have one totem and females another, but, generally speaking, totemism is associated with clans or blood relatives. Marriage between members of the same totemic group is commonly prohibited.

Bibliography

See J. G. Frazer, Totemism and Exogamy (4 vol., 1910; repr. 1968); E. Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1915, repr. 1965); S. Freud, Totem and Taboo (1918, repr. 1960); A. Goldenweiser, History, Psychology, and Culture (1933); C. Lévi-Strauss, Totemism (tr. 1963).

Totem

The emblem of an individual family or clan, usually represented by an animal.

totem

See TOTEMISM.

Totem

 

according to primitive beliefs, a natural object, whether living (for example, an animal or plant) or inanimate, that is related to a particular family group.

What does it mean when you dream about a totem?

In American culture, we usually think of animals carved upon a tree trunk by Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest (totems were also found among ancient cultures throughout the world). These carvings of sacred animals would embody their stories and myths. Perhaps the dreamer has a story that needs to be deciphered. The type of animal on the totem pole will indicate the direction of interpretation.

totem

1. (in some societies, esp among North American Indians) an object, species of animal or plant, or natural phenomenon symbolizing a clan, family, etc., often having ritual associations
2. a representation of such an object
References in periodicals archive ?
THE COURTYARD OUTSIDE the art room underwent a wonderful transformation with 100-plus little cylinders mounted in four, 6-foot-high totem poles.
Obviously there are many routes to check through, as there are 14 totems in place and currently almost 200 businesses listed - with hundreds more to come - so the various combinations of routes are extremely high.
The Metro Totems will be sending their silent and enigmatic signals from the Bridge at Tynemouth Station until August.
Originally there were 35 totems here and now there are only 26.
I've included some personal speculation on characters depicted in the totems, based on the knowledge I've acquired over the past 35 years.
The enamel totem, measuring 36 ins long and 10 ins deep, bore not only the name of the station where they were displayed along the platforms, but also the once familiar colours allocated to the different regions.
That totem pole, a symbolic telling of the Bish family story on an 8-foot white pine log, was crafted by Paul Niejadlik, art teacher, and all 524 students at Converse Middle School in Palmer.
Before beginning the project, students viewed a variety of totems and other vertical sculptures (both traditional and contemporary), examined the use of space within and around the forms, and evaluated how balance was achieved within them.
Some of the commercial signs are simply offensive, like the Totem Cafe sign, which has cartoonish totem faces aligned on the vertical and a cartoon thunderbird at the top.
The tangent for the totem-pole investigation suggests that students "research other cultures that use totems, such as the Maori in New Zealand" as a social studies connection.
Hundreds of British children are able to touch three 12-foot cedar totems made by the Mugglis.