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Totem Animals
Karrie Jackson

Ever since a hummingbird flew into my baby nursery, I have been moved by the power and wisdom of the wild...


About the Totem Animal Series

An early childhood photo of me in a bear suit that my mother made for me, shows my connection with the wild from a young age. I would put on my bear suit and my bear claw slippers and run into the forest. The nick name "KareBear" has been with me ever since.

My connection to totem animals is deeply connected to my creativity. From as early as 4 years old until 8 years old, I spent time alone in the forest. My family lived in the foothills of Colorado. All my sisters were about a decade older than me, so my mother would send them with me at first to teach me how to be safe in the wild and track my way back home. After bugging my family members constantly to take me into the forest, I was tested and approved to go into a certain depth of the forest alone all before I started Kindergarten. You could say that nature was my initial education. 

There was a red bridge over a waterfall that was the gateway to the wild. Just up the treaded path that my sister's spent a decade carving, was a cave that I made my second home. I tracked in and out of the forest with solid signs, not the movable signs like Hansel and Gretel's breadcrumbs. In my time in the forest, I had both mystical and somewhat frightening experience. I saw flying squirrels, owls, a big horned sheep, racoons, and even felt like I was being stalked, perhaps a mountain lion. By first grade, my father bought me a companion dog, a boxer named Roxie. I had to learn to command my dog, who would run free but loyally stay by my side as a gentle guide.

Moving from the forest to the suburbs of California was my greatest depression and ever since I have felt the need to find and connect with nature wherever I am. The soul of the forest has never left my heart nor the memory in my body. That is what totems are all about...the soul, heart and body. Animals teach us about the sacredness of our bodies.

In my creative adventures of art school, I found a book called Animal Speak by Ted Andrews. The first animal that I experienced after purchasing the book was a robin symbolizing new beginnings. The book was written from a shamanic perspective and helped me to deeply connect with the essence of animals. It was my bible for over 12 years. I would honor every beautiful omen with a sketch and research into the animals behavior and strengths. My older sister gave me a gift of Medicine Cards by Jaime Sams and David Carson and taught me how to read cards. My first reading I did for myself to find my 9 totems. Unexpected and eerily accurate, I was hooked on learning more about how to personally develop through their gifts. After working with my 9 totems for a few years, I began to pull a Butterfly Spread for every painting. Most of these paintings were experimental early works. Almost like abstract expressionism, the animal movements helped me to inform and evolve my mark making and brush strokes. More than anything, it was the honest inner reflection of the totem animals that taught me lessons to become a strong intuitive artist and human being Creating artwork of a totem is a sacred process that extends beyond the physical artwork itself. Each artwork is both a prayer and gift that honors and encourages a spiritual relationship with nature. Click on each image to read the story behind the piece.

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