The Personal Totem Pole: Healing through Deep Personal Imagery
The Personal Totem Pole is an internal guidance system. It is our interior personality, character, strengths, fears and needs, expressed in the imagery of animals. These animals express the quality and nature of different aspects of our inner and larger selves. They represent the Gestalt of ourselves, our needs and values.
The effectiveness of the Personal Totem Pole as a therapeutic modality is due to the completely personal nature of the imagery, combined with the absence of borrowed and foreign intellectual therapeutic systems. The imagery, the personalities, the strengths and weaknesses emerge from the deep psychic wells of our own past and from the body.
By exploring the various “energy gateways,” or chakras in the individual’s body, while in a deep state of relaxation or “trance,” we can allow the quality of that energy to express itself as animal, vegetable or elemental imagery. By dialoguing with these “characters” and by facilitating the interaction between the various animals, we allow the expression of our deep strengths, needs and fears. Healing occurs in us spontaneously when our unheard natures find expression, hearing, respect and support from ourselves. Development occurs in us when those aspects of ourselves are accepted and allowed to grow beyond the point where that growth was first or continually halted. The growth and development of the individual animals results in the unification of our various parts and a feeling of wholeness within ourselves.
Qualitative changes in our behavior, our outlook on life, our experience of ourselves in relationship with the demands of our lives occur when we have a sense of ourselves as whole, un-fragmented beings. When we respect, own and communicate with each important part of our deeper selves, and with different parts of our body (physical, spiritual and energetic), we find self-acceptance and healing. Our self-esteem grows and with it our effectiveness in life. When we go tour own inner self for the answers to our questions we act with confidence and strength. When we act with confidence, from a position of personal power, we have no need to coerce, manipulate or fear others. We become self-possessed and self-guided. Through the process of identifying and accepting the diversity within ourselves we become capable of accepting the important differences between people. We open ourselves to love, energy, power.
The first 90-minute session involves identifying and communicating with your own personal totem animals. In some cases, there may be more than one animal or being in a given body area (chakra). The first insight into personal patterns and deep, old fears and needs comes from this initial contact. This first session will show which parts of yourself are split or frightened, or have stopped growing. You will also see where strength, leadership and personal creativity reside within you and get clues about how to manifest your creativity. Clear needs are uncovered here. You can get specific information about what different parts of yourself need to facilitate their (your) healing and growth.
The Council of Totem Animals occurs here. This is the first opportunity to see how “they” as aspects of yourself relate to each other. Here you experience clearly who shows leadership, who harmonizes, who placates, who cowers, who is frozen, who leads, who is the voice of disharmony or criticism of self and others. You will have an opportunity to gain acceptance and understanding of yourself within the context of your different qualities, your different voices, needs, chakras. Part of the visualization process involves the overt expression by your various totem animals of love and acceptance by the larger group in Council.
Subsequent sessions may occur as needed but two sessions to get you started on this exploration. The best way to know when it is right for further sessions is to ask your animals and you now have access to their voices to ask them. In particular that being who manifests in the crown of your head – this is the aspect of self which commonly provides spiritual guidance.
Couple Totem Pole Sessions
After both partners have discovered and participated in a council with their own personal totem animals, it is possible to bring the two groups together in joint Council. This allows for expression of individual needs and grievances within the context of the larger, more complex relationship(s).
Cost of Sessions
Individual: $150 for 90 minute session
Couple: $250 for 2 hour session
Small Group Workshops
Small group Totem sessions can be facilitated if desired. For pricing, contact me.
The process of the personal totem pole and chakra imagery as a modern personal exploratory tool was developed by Eligio Stephen Gallegos, PhD, through his study of different deep imagery systems, especially those of the Northwest Coast Native Americans. An introduction into this work can be found in Gallegos’ book: The Personal Totem Pole: Animal Imagery, the Chakras, and Psychotherapy.