totem

(redirected from totemic)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Idioms, Wikipedia.

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 ?
But making everything derivative of kin classes is mistaken, in the sense that it is precisely what Aborigines do not do in reckoning descent from an ancestor; the totemic ancestor is not derived, but is the origin of descent--not only for human beings, but for all species under a totemic sign.
During their initial exploration phase of Alaska Europeans of course were not aware of the importance of totemic law among the Tlingit, just as the Tlingits would not have understood the importance of written law among the Europeans.
The imprint on the woman's imagination is made then not by a work of art, but by a totemic spirit:
Situational ethics," the eighth cardinal sin, a phrase invoked with totemic qualities to condemn us waffling Catholics tempted by uncertainty and questions of individual conscience.
Helmet Fernandez has a penchant for tight close-ups on objects like fires, compasses and dusty books, which take on a spooky, totemic status.
When he is discussed, it is in his role as a symbol or a totemic figure mobilized and manipulated by others.
Massive totemic columns brood at each doorway--but Balbes has balanced the architectural drama with such comfy high-end contemporary elements as trader-counter refrigerators and a steam shower.
His proposals and studies for Olympia reveal a tendency toward the totemic rather than the organic.
His most steadfast love, however, is reserved for a gasoline pump called "Sarah," a totemic object that he sketches again and again, until the day it is dismantled and hauled away.
Elders who have memorized the numerous totemic emblems hold great prestige and power within the village.
It explores and shapes the cultural boundaries of the land, water, fauna and flora and examines the totemic moiety, differentiating clan-to-clan, country-to-country.
I would like to point out a big mistake in the caption below the picture of the totemic poles on page 7 of your August issue.