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Animal Fetish FAQs



                                            What is an Animal Fetish?

I had always wondered what an animal fetish actual is and what its purpose was. 
I hope the following information can provide some insight for you.

A Fetish is an object which is believed to have magical, protective,

and healing powers. American Indians have used fetishes throughout history;
especially the Indians of the Southwest such as the Zuni.

Regardless of the form or material a fetish is made from,
a Fetish has one paramount purpose; to assist man against any real
or potential problems. The problems can be those of the mind, the body or
the universe.
  This is closely related to the healing qualities of gemstones as
believed by those studying the Chakra system.

A Fetish may be made and "decorated" with turquoise, arrowheads, and coral, etc.
as a means of adornment. This adornment is a show of affection and appreciation by
its maker and/or owner. The better treatment a Fetish receives, the better
performance it is likely to provide. Fetishes are also used to make necklaces and
other types of jewelry.  I use most of my fetish beads in my earring designs.

Most Fetishes relate to animals. Most often these animals are animals of prey. They
are acknowledged as the most powerful providers in life; so, they are likewise
accepted as having the greatest Fetish powers. They are generally admired for
their strong hearts. Many believe their strong hearts make them dominant and
therefore, survivors; the hunter rather than the hunted.

Most Fetishes are made from semi-precious stones, minerals and shells which are of
natural beauty that are the gifts that nature has provided us. Many Fetishes are made
of malachite, azurite, pipe stone, soap stone, marble, jet, sugilite, turquoise, coral,
spiny oyster, amber and several varieties of serpentine.  I use many of these in my
jewelry creations.  Most of the animal fetish beads I use were made in the Philippines. 
I do hope you enjoy reading about them below. 


Animal Fetish Meanings


The keeper of the home. He is slow-moving and sure and makes sure he gets things done correctly. Armadillo represents variety in one's inner life; he is thick-skinned and reserved.


Protective animal of the South and is associated with the color red. Living close to the ground, he has great knowledge of the earth. It is believed that the badger helps medicine men and shamans dig the roots and herbs needed in healing. Characteristics associated with badgers include tenaciousness, passion, control, persistence and earthiness.


The guardian of the night.


Protective animal of the West and is associated with the color blue. He is called “The Great Protector or "The Sacred Bear".  He is a spiritual guide and also carries within him supernatural powers. Though all bears are healers, white bears provide especially powerful healing. Normally bear fetishes will have little or no tails but a variety of body shapes. Characteristics associated with bears include strength, courage, adaptability, healing and spiritual communion.


Builder, strong sense of family and home. The beaver is industrious and diligent. He represents achievement and hard work. They are known for their building skills and associated with water by some north eastern tribes.


Carry prayers to clouds and sky, asking for rain and blessing.


Hunting animal of the South and associated with the color red.  He is elusive and intelligent; a solitary and independent hunter. The bobcat also represents clairvoyance and is a secret keeper.


The buffalo represents prophesy and fulfillment of powers. He also represents endurance to rise above one's weaknesses.


The butterfly represents beauty and transformation. It also represents rebirth, the ability to change and to move on.


Emerged with the Zuni from the Underworld or Inner Earth. Brings plentiful harvest. She represents strength, creation, and wisdom.


Hunting animal of the West and is associated with the color blue. He is the master trickster and represents humor and the ability to laugh at one's own mistakes. He can be a great teacher showing us how our impulsive nature or our self-centeredness fail to serve us well. And he can remind us to recognize those habits which ultimately make our lives more difficult.


The crow is the keeper of the sacred law.


The deer represents grace, gratitude, and the power of gentleness. The deer has the ability to sacrifice for the greater good. He also represents agility and speed.


The dog represents friendship and loyalty.


The dolphin represents the spirit of trust and friendship. He is very loyal.


The duck represents the spirits of those who have passed on.


Protective & hunting animal of the Sky and associated with multicolor. The eagle symbolizes becoming one with the Greater Spirit. He is the messenger to the gods and associated with power, balance, dignity and grace. The eagle carries the power of intuition and creativeness. His spirit transcends personal problems. He represents vision and higher truths. Highly revered in Zuni, the eagle's feathers are still used in sacred ceremonies.


The elk represents the ability to pace oneself and gain increasing stamina. He represents confidence and power.


The falcon represents power and harmony. He is intuitive and has the ability to see the big picture. While eagles are the messengers to the gods, falcons and hawks are the messengers to people or between animals.


The fish represents the ability to hide one's emotions. He is a purifier.


The fox is quick and observant. He approaches life with amusement and cleverness and can make himself invisible when threatened. He represents camouflage and protection. Fox fetishes will be similar to wolves but with elongated, fluffy tails.


Frogs are most often associated with water, prayers for rain, and fertility. He is also the fertility fetish. Women often keep a frog fetish by their bed when hoping to become pregnant. Frogs and tadpoles represent the cycle of life.


Known for their hunting skills and in keeping rodents away from crops. He represents energy and inspiration. While eagles are the messengers to the gods, falcons and hawks are the messengers to people or between animals.


The horned lizard represents longevity and self reliance.


The horse represents partnerships and strength. He also represents power and achieving one’s potential. The horse has innate healing powers.


The hummingbird is a messenger and represents the ability to stop time. He also represents joy and beauty.


The Lizard represents patience and wisdom. He also represents conversation and agility.


The macaw was, and is, an important bird. Even today macaw feathers are highly prized and used ceremonially and in dance costumes. The macaw plays a part, as does the raven, in the Zuni story of migration.


Protective & hunting animal of the Inner Earth and is associated with the color black. Protector of growing crops by hunting small animals such as mice and rodents. He represents awareness and grounding and has the ability to look inward. The mole has the least power of all the protective and hunting animals.  


The moose represents longevity, self esteem, and confidence.


Protective & hunting animal of the North and is associated with the color yellow. He represents leadership and resourcefulness.  The mountain lion is carried by travelers to protect them on their journey and also carried by hunters to help ensure a successful hunt. The mountain lion can remind us to persevere, clarify our goals and move forward to achieving our dreams. They are carved with tails slung over the back and down the side or hanging down from the back.


Reminds one to pay attention to detail.


The opossum is a planner.


The otter is very playful.  He represents laughter, curiosity and balanced femininity.


Guardian of the home.  He represents wisdom, truth, and has the ability to see what others cannot.


The quail represents holiness and the sacred spirit.


Not traditionally a Zuni fetish. Due to their reputation for abundant reproduction, the rabbit is associated with birthing and fertility. The rabbit is the special guardian of women in childbirth and is associated with safe childbirth and a long life for children. He represents gentleness, charm, virtue, serenity and awareness of others.


The raccoon is shy and resourceful.


The ram is used to secure and increase the herd.


Not a traditional Zuni fetish, yet along with the Horse, the raven has the possession of healing powers. He is clever and represents magic and transformation. He is a messenger of great mystery and represents a change in consciousness. The raven helps guide us through the darkest of times.


The skunk represents self respect; helps us gain inner strength and an honored reputation


The snake represents energy and helps us connect with greater powers. He symbolizes the circle of life: life, death, and rebirth. He is believed to have curative powers and is also associated with lightning. The snake plays an important part in Zuni ceremonies.


The spider represents the creative patterns of life.


The squirrel represents the ability to plan ahead and is very industrious. He represents natural intelligence and the protector of reserves.


The turtle is the symbol of Mother Earth - longevity and confidence. He is also associated with self-reliance, tenacity and being a skillful navigator through life's obstacles.


Protective & hunting animal of the East and is associated with the color white.  The wolf is a teacher, pathfinder, and survivor.  He represents loyalty and strong family ties. He teaches us inner guidance and clarity.

The Zunis believe in Six Sacred Directions: Sky (above), North, East, South, West and Inner Earth (below).
Each of the directions is associated with a color:
Sky                          Multi-colored
North                       Yellow
East                         White
West                        Blue
South                       Red
Inner Earth              Black
And each of those directions has a Cardinal Guardian fetish animal associated with it.
In a healing and protective directional Zuni fetish set the animals are as follows:
Sky                          Multi-colored           Eagle
North                       Yellow     Mountain Lion
East                         White      Wolf
West                        Blue         Bear
South                       Red          Badger
Inner Earth              Black       Mole
Additionally, there is a familial relationship between each of the animals in a Zuni fetish directional set.
The Mountain lion is considered the elder brother of the bear who is the elder of the badger, considered
elder to the wolf, who is elder to the eagle, who is elder to the mole.
A Zuni fetish hunting directional set would only be slightly different:
Sky                          Multi-colored           Eagle
North                       Yellow     Mountain Lion
East                         White      Wolf
West                        Blue         Coyote
South                       Red          Bobcat
Inner Earth              Black       Mole
Equally, you may have a Zuni fetish directional set of only mountain lions (or bears, or wolves, etc.)
Each animal must be of the appropriate color as follows:
Sky                          Multi-colored           such as Picasso, Rainbow Flourite, etc.
North                       Yellow     such as Citrine, Yellow Calcite, etc.
East                         White      such as Marble, Alabaster, etc.
West                        Blue         such as Turquoise, Lapis, etc.
South                       Red          such as Red Jasper, Carnelian, etc.
Inner Earth              Black       such as Jet or Black Onyx, etc.



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