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 ?
Alex MacLennan, Forestry England's recreation public affairs manager North East, said: "It was a great shame the last totem poles came to the end of their life, but they have been recycled and the challenge has been to collaborate in replacing them for the next generations to enjoy.
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(3)* If a person x has eaten the food prepared for the chief, the state of affairs exists where x has either eaten of the chief's food or has killed a totem animal or has encountered his mother-in-law, etc.
Danielle Daniel, a Metis mixed-media artist and writer, depicts the underlying temperament of each totem animal in an understated, yet sensitive, manner.
The totem in this kind of society, which bears the form of an animal, plant, or elemental force, is argued by Durkheim to be the symbol of the social collectivity itself.
Three performers sang a traditional Cheyenne warrior song while beating a drum during the ceremony for the Friday reinstallation of a totem pole at the 4J Education Center auditorium.
TOTEM, the local unisex boutique, celebrated its much anticipated grand opening in Muscat Grand Mall (MGM) recently.
It shows an office worker carrying a pile of papers and referring to himself as the "low man on the totem pole,'' which is obviously indicating a position of low importance.