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Spirit Clans: Native Wisdom for Personal Power and Guidance

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For thousands of years, Native American tradition has taught that we all carry within us an ancient blessing, a spirit clan that connects us to the earth. Our spirit clan may be an animal, or a plant, a stone, or some special object that has taken on spiritual power. Your clan is a reservoir of powerful energy. It helps carry you through troubled times and protects you from danger. The wisdom of their teachings shows the way to true peace and prosperity and to live in harmony with all that is.

In this book, you will learn how to discover your own spirit clan using dreams and visions as a guide and by contemplating the stories, traditions, and descriptions of the 75 clans gathered here. In-depth descriptions of the physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects of spirit clans and their modern-day manifestations lift these ancient teachings off the page and bring them to life.

ISBN-13: 9781571748409

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Hampton Roads Publishing Company Inc.

Publication Date: 05-01-2018

Pages: 208

Product Dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

Series: N/A

David Carson is an official member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. He is the coauthor of the bestselling Medicine Cards, which draws on the healing power of animals. Steven D. Farmer, PhD is the author of Animal Spirit Guides.

Read an Excerpt



From the dark waters, she rose.

The thunder roared and the waves crashed.

The rains beat and the rain slashed winds whipped.

Still the Mother Turtle rose. She rose high. She rose fast, the great shell of her body stretching in every direction, north to south, distances beyond knowing. East to west. Still she rose.

Still she rose.

Her green head extended, bending back, Two immense eyes spiking red above the dark turbulent sea, the boiling dark waters.

She pushed upward, the surf breaking on thousands and thousands of miles of dark ocean.

Coming up in froth and foam and water rolling away.

A deep green plated shell, the turtle — as though a large crust of the earth had broken free and pushed to the surface.

When she at last rested during eons of creation she was covered over and became land — an island — Turtle Island, our mother underfoot. Trees grew. Plants grew. Slowly, animals came, every kind of animal. They came.

And then the people, they came. Clans were born. And tribes and nations. And they made their camps upon every part of her, upon Turtle Island, upon her back. It was good, this sacred island we walk upon.

We are all related.

The North American continent has always been known as Turtle Island to Native Americans. All the land, all the forests, the mountains, lakes, and rivers are carried on the great turtle's back. All of the people, animals, fish, birds — all of life — we live on Turtle Island and all things are interconnected.



Thunder spoke in the beginning of the world, launching the long process of evolution. The world was once dark and the people were huddled together, cold and hungry and praying for light. Suddenly, the world was split in two by lightning. There was a long, frightening growl. First Thunder was heard — so fearful and terrifying that it made the people scatter in every direction.

When small groups of these earliest humans met an animal or other entity such as a tree, a stone, a cloud, or some other magical being, they pleaded, "We are weak. Will you give us instructions and teach us so that we may live?" If the animal or other entity was willing to teach them, these humans became followers of that being and that being became their clan teacher and guide — the animated spirit of the clan. This, as is told in oral history and tribal myth, is how the original spirit clans were formed.



There is evidence that our early ancestors roamed the earth over eight hundred thousand years ago. Humans were not the dominant species — far from it. But humans did have a strong survival instinct. Spirit clans were born from the need of the human species to evolve. From the animals, humans learned how to feed and shelter themselves. Humans banded together in this new way and developed a social order. We owe our survival, our very existence, to the wisdom teachings of spiritual clans.

Spirit clans are not power animals. Power animals are personal spirit guides exclusive to an individual. Power animals emerge from visions, dreams, and meditations or other shamanic experiences. They can be mammals, birds, reptiles, or even mythical creatures such as unicorns, dragons, or winged horses or other winged animals. Power animals lend wisdom and add to personal power.

A clan, say, the Eagle Clan, could align with your power animal. Eagle could be your power animal and your clan lineage as well. A power animal facilitates personal power. A spirit clan is the original organized group with the imprint of our initial soul development, our spirit. We all have a spirit clan, a burning light in our heart that has been covered over. It was love as taught by these spirit clans that guided our evolution and survival. Your spirit clan was truly your original blessing and each of us carries its memories.

Many clans are guided by animal spirits, but a clan could just as easily be informed by a plant or even an object such as a rock or shell or an arrow or even an element such as fire. These clan totems and their teachings were at the mystic center of the clans. The clans were an identity, a sure source of nurture, protection, and a reservoir of powerful synergistic energy. Spirit clans were the first to teach us the meaning of being and provided guidance on how to live a good, meaningful, and transcendent life.

There were countless Spirit Clans over the globe and therefore your Spirit Clan does not have to be mentioned in this book. Clans represent our most ancient spiritual roots, our first coding, and first understanding at our mystical center. A spirit clan is considered to be your parent, your spirit mother and father. This knowledge can carry you over the dark waters of confusion. Finding your spirit clan can empower you, make you stronger, and awaken you. Knowing your clan will help you survive and thrive in these tumultuous, confusing, and shifting times.

Spiritual clans exist as spirit transcending countries and cultures, time and space. What we bind in spirit manifests. When we link with a kindred person from our spirit clan, apowerful synergy ensues. Where two or more people meet with the same spiritual objective, the energy increases a hundredfold. Spirit clans can unify us in this time of divisiveness. Their light will shine, inspiring a renewal and a warmth of spirit within our hearts.

Self-understanding is the key. Not knowing one's roots can result in true feelings of loss and separation. Everyone has an original clan. It is part of our heritage. Your clan came from ancient beginnings. Clans furnish an indescribable connection to the source of all life. A clan is the true Holy Grail, a spiritual search within ourselves.

Clan teachings and clan wisdom were kept by women. Clan chiefs, men and women, were selected by the Clan Mother, who was responsible for passing down all of the clan traditions. Everyone, knowingly or unknowingly, is born into an original spirit clan. Accordingly, individuals are forbidden to marry a member of their own clan because each member is considered to be a spiritual brother or sister.

Clans are spiritual in nature and do not exist as formal institutions. Rather, your clan is solely a spiritual bonding with your antediluvian self, your beginning, your orientation of being, and your most ancient identity. Spiritual clans burn in the heart and are a walkway to understanding who we are.

Clans predate recorded history. Clan memories are contained in intrapsychic phenomena hidden in our collective unconscious. Clans are transpersonal but also personal. Your clan is unique and specific to you as an individual.

With the exception of some tribal people and various aboriginal cultures, spirit clans exist in the margins, at various intersections of coincidence and fate. They are highly important to self-understanding and the information gleaned from this subjective discovery is infused with power, a reintroduction of the primal forces that have molded your life. We go backward in that quantity known as time to our first existential memories at the center of being.

Today, there are numerous women's and men's societies, fragments of leftover and forgotten spiritual clans. For instance, some of the women's societies greeted, honored, and cared for veterans returning from wars. Some keep genealogies and lineages. Some keep ancient power objects such as pipes and sacred medicine bundles. There are singing societies committed to preserving power songs and dance songs. Some of these societies were hatched from the disintegration of long-forgotten clans. The societies are keepers of ceremonial knowledge that would have been lost or destroyed. Because of these societies and because of clans and their connection to the ancient past, the sacredness continues.

This book is simply a remembering book, a possibility book — a hope that you will find an attraction to a great power within that you cannot resist or escape. I pray you find the hidden map to your spirit clan somewhere inside these pages, that you find your right path and familiar way, and that you will bring this remembering back into your life.



Ancient shamans were the first psychologists. Shamans could read you. They could see you and what your issues and difficulties were. They knew your clan and knew what medicine or song or action to give you according to your clan.

They would sing you a song, perhaps a chant answering all your questions. The song could last for minutes or the entire day and into the night. Inside the song was a great vision, a great knowing. They did not talk. They sang. They drummed. They touched with a feather and woke up new places inside you.

When they divined you, it was communicated in song. The song enveloped you. They sang that all matter is sacred, starborn, be it plant, animal, or any child or creature of earth. The words held you in their heart. They sang that there are many phases, many lifetimes, within the fiery waters of spirit, within the vast expanse of your being. The song bathed you and wove in and around and through you and took away your suffering.

Shamans are healers — medicine people, aboriginal power doctors, and tribal practitioners. They divine, perform rituals, and have many unique skills including remote viewing and communicating with animals. They are intercessors between the natural world and supernatural realms. The word "shaman" comes from Siberia, where it meant a person of service. Now the word is no longer culture specific and is used far and wide to describe people who are believed to possess numinous power.

Shamans are connected to nature and to the spirit of animals. They know that every animal is a teacher. Those who have experienced shamanic training and have discovered their animal allies have learned that we have the ability to retrieve levels of understanding through close connection with animals. By undertaking inner explorations to revitalize these lost memories, we can renew vitality and increase our awareness. This way sings to the heart.

Animals possess attributes that are archetypes of deeper knowledge. Trees, rocks, lakes, and rivers also have much to impart and these natural creatures, objects, and phenomena contain deities and supernatural powers. Each of us is bonded with this knowledge on some level. This initial bonding held the nature and beginning of our ancestral spirit clans, our first social identities. Clan teachings, in one way or another, led us from the primeval ooze to today's technocracy.

Shamans have experienced many planes of existence, the everyday world, and many varieties of the supernatural. They read the signs and know about unseen things. They are each unique to their culture complex, patterns, and traits. Some are dreamers, experts on dreams and dream interpretation. They are familiar with the supernatural world and in communication with good and evil spirits. Some are spellbinders. Some may be seers and prophets. They often have uncanny gifts such as the ability to locate lost or stolen items, find game, forecast the weather, and heal at a distance. Today, there are urban shamans who point out that not only do powerful spirits dwell in trees, lakes, mountains, and in all of nature, but also in our automobiles, computers, cell phones, garbage disposals, and other gadgets. Even buildings — old grandfather buildings or contemporary structures — have a spirit.

Shamans are power brokers and masters of spiritual energy. They can help you in many ways — remedying imbalance, conquering fear, finding your right path, finding your particular power places, and waking up lost and hidden aspects of your being. Once you are imbued with power, a shaman can lead you to your primary clanship and original blessings. This transfer of power can happen in seconds or over a long apprenticeship lasting years.

Shamans were the "chosen ones" who had access to the spirit world. They could communicate with a clan spirit, interpreting that spirit's wishes to instruct the clan. As an example, the snake teaches cunning, wisdom, and balance, and people in that clan exhibit those attributes. Snake Clan people know how to keep silent and, when necessary, strike with great force. Some tribal people maintain that snakes control the weather, and without placating the benevolent snake, spirit crops would die. Crops need rainfall to grow and it is the shaman who intercedes with the snake spirit to keep harmony in the natural world. Snakes and humans together participate in rainmaking ceremonies, which bring balance, healing, and equilibrium to the earth in a most elemental way. Shamans from snake clans are often called upon to perform these ceremonies.

Animals speak to us in unique ways and all shaman cultures know this. The shaman knows that animals and humans are connected with an unbreakable bond. What threatens insects, fish, mammals, reptiles, and birds will sooner or later befall humans. He is in a constant battle to adjust negative influences and restore a natural balance bringing us closer to nature. This, in turn, will benefit all of life and the planet itself.

Remember that spirit clans exist at the foundation of consciousness, a powerful centering place and the place to reclaim original powers. The doorway to your secret lost self, your clan, can open for you. It opens to the returning matrix inside the lodge of lost remembering that which is now hidden.

There are numerous ways to access this "remembering" via shamanic techniques such as dreams, visions, altered states, using past life regression, or one-on-one training with a shaman. These approaches can help you identify and find your particular and unique ancestral clan and claim it as your own.


Dreams are symbol laden, but the symbols are unique to the dreamer. One must ask themselves what these important objects, people, animals, places, and symbols are indicating. Obviously skills in dreaming take training and develop over time. The secret of dreams, of course, is to pay attention and listen. Consider dreams as a road sign, a map that must be followed.

Engaging in dream practices requires patience and dedication. It may necessitate a deconstruction of beliefs. One must first learn to interact within the dream when engaging with significant objects, plants, animals, or people, in order to ask for their help and guidance. These are the mentors and counselors on your quest. Carlos Castaneda referred to this technique as "lucid dreaming." In dreams, you may discover connections and clues leading you to your spirit clan.

Another method is to ask your dreams and your dream-body to seek out and put you in contact with your collective clan. This is facilitated by intent, deliberate dream programing. Shamans who teach dreaming often instruct a dream apprentice to consciously acquire the ability to use their hands in dreams. Next, learning to walk in dreams is taught. Once mastered, the dream apprentice can learn how to seek and find their original spirit clan. If you follow this path, you may find yourself in the midst of your spirit clan while dreaming. You will be able to interact and know your original clan, and this door will have opened for you.

Dreams can wake up past life memories. Many people have reported that they have heard drumming and singing in dreams. They have seen flickering campfires and silhouettes of shadowy people. Some people return to these dreams to discover a clan mother or clan chief. Dreams can bring you important connections to your ancestral past.


Visions are a powerful message leading to your spirit clan. Visions are personal — a form of heightened consciousness. There are records of visions dating back to the first vestiges of human civilizations. Visions transcend rational thought and occur somewhere inside a deep mystical state. Some visionaries say that their visions are pure ecstasy. Visions range from the spectacular to the mundane, from prophetic to troubling and puzzling. Sometimes people spend a lifetime unraveling the meaning of their visions.

Much holy writ contains visionary material. The Torah, the Bible, and the Koran recount many visionary episodes. There are the incredible visions of Hermes recounting a meeting with Osiris who instructs him on the path of souls. St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena, and St. John the Divine are all famous visionaries. All through history there are visionary accounts of angels, devils, goddesses, gods, and brilliant beings of light.

Visions often come to spiritually oriented individuals. There may be one vision or a series of them. Many visions, if not most, are religious or spiritual in nature. Visions may come during prayer or meditation, sitting in a church, or on a mountaintop. You could experience one during a stroll in a park or sitting at a table in a café. Like dreams, visions can also contain a past life experience.


Most indigenous cultures with shamanic traditions have or had ways to foster altered states of consciousness. With training, some of these techniques can take us to the original cause within our early human evolution and to the source of our spirit clan. Some of these techniques are thousands of years old. There are many methods to bring about altered states. Some can be initiated by chanting, isolation, sleep deprivation, fasting, breath control, or dancing. Many psychotropic plants and drugs can also induce them — alcohol, tobacco, peyote, ayahuasca, LSD, DMT, psychedelic mushrooms, and many other substances may facilitate a deep inner connection with the numinous.


Excerpted from "Spirit Clans"
by .
Copyright © 2018 David Carson.
Excerpted by permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xv

Foreword xvii

1 Turtle Island 1

2 The Coming of the Spirit Clans 3

3 What Is a Spirit Clan? 5

4 The Path of the Shaman 9

Dreams 12

Visions 14

Altered States 14

Past Life Regression 15

Training with a Shaman 18

5 The Spirit Clans Revealed 21

Alligator 23

Ant 25

Antelope 27

Badger 29

Bear 31

Beaver 33

Bluebird 35

Buffalo 37

Butterfly 39

Cloud 41

Corn 43

Cottonwood 45

Coyote 47

Crane 49

Crawdad 51

Crow 53

Deer 55

Dog 57

Duck 59

Eagle 61

Elk 63

Fire 65

Fish 67

Flint 69

Flute 71

Forehead 73

Fresh Land 75

Frog 77

Gopher 79

Grouse 81

Hawk 83

Holly Leaf 85

Horn 87

Horse 89

Hummingbird 91

Kingfisher 93

Kit Fox 95

Lizard 97

Mole 99

Moon 101

Morning 103

Mountain Goat 105

Mountain Lion 107

Mouse 109

Oak 111

Opossum 113

Otter 115

Owl 117

Plumed Serpent 119

Porcupine 121

Rabbit 123

Red Willow 125

Reed 129

Roadrunner 129

Sage 131

Shell 133

Snake 135

Snipe 137

Snow 139

Spider 141

Spruce 143

Squash 146

Squirrel 148

Sun 150

Tadpole 152

Thunder 154

Tobacco 156

Turkey 158

Turquoise 160

Turtle 162

Water 164

Water Bug 166

Wolf 168

Yellow Finch 170

Yellow Jacket 172

6 The Spirit of the Time Carrier 175

7 The Journey to Your Original Spirit Clan 179

8 Of Time and Time Travel 183