Monkey Totem – Spirit Animal

By: Orly Niran Yahalom

When I think of monkeys, my immediate association is of playfulness, games, acrobatics and… the so human-like facial expressions.

Heart capturing and charming, they connect us to our inner child.

Monkeys are the only creatures that are similar to humans in appearance and characteristics. Like humans, monkeys’ faces are not covered with fur and their pinna is small and similar to that of man. They have 3D vision, perceiving objects around them as two- dimensional with depth. Monkeys walk on their feet, have 5 fingers in each hand and foot and they use them similar to humans. Monkeys live amongst trees in the woods that cover Mother Earth and are masters of climbing and keeping balance.

Primates are divided into three major groupings: Downward nose, also known as Old World Primates (which also includes Man), Flat nose, also known as New World Monkeys, and Halbaffen or “half-monkeys” (Prosimi). Primates living in Asia and Africa belong to the Downward nose group, whereas monkeys living in the tropical regions of the American continent belong to the Flat nose group. They have long tails commonly used for climbing on jungle trees.

The Downward nose Primates sub-order contains the Anthropoid Apes family which includes Hominids and anthropoid Apes such as the Chimpanzee and the Gorilla. The Orangutan, which means woods man, belongs to the Pongidae family. Gorillas and Chimpanzees live in Africa, while the Orangutan’s natural habitat is the woods of Borneo and Sumatra. These Anthropoid Apes are tail-less, are able to walk up-right and their hands are longer than their legs.

A person who has Monkey as his spirit animal is gifted with valuable qualities. Monkey teaches us a fascinating lesson about movement and the connection between movement and ego: mental and physical flexibility, occult knowledge dealing with the maintenance of physical health and mental balance through movement, much like yoga. The Orangutan as a totem animal teaches how to cross over quarrels and settle differences (here too, the key words are flexibility and maintaining balance).

Monkey totem also teaches us a lesson of balance between black and white, our dark side and the light.

In her book “Day-By-Day Wicca” (highly recommended for anyone who is interested in witch craft and shamanism) Tabatha Jennings comments that Monkey is connected to comprehending issues of excess and exaggeration, success and family protection.

Squirrel monkey

All Anthropoid Apes are connected to the medicine of gentleness. Language talents, eloquent speech and rhetoric abilities form some of the gifts of those who are escorted by the Gorilla or Chimpanzee as their spiritual guides. Chimpanzees also bear the gift of having a deep understanding of complex group or community social relations.

The Gorilla is a generous creature with developed maternal instincts. I recall an instance when at the time that I was directing a forum on shamanism, one of the female participants said she had a dream about a gorilla and that her dream did provide enlightenment in relation to her daughter. Both the Chimpanzee and the Gorilla have developed intelligence and reasoning abilities.

The Orangutan and the Chimpanzee are connected to forest spirits and one may learn from them how to communicate with faeries, nymphs and elves.

People who are gifted with Monkey medicine enjoy the ability to experience their five senses on more deep and refined levels (such as extra-sensory sight and sound), and the ability to travel between realms. It seems that the ability to travel between the world of the living and the world of the dead is the reason why Baboons were perceived as the manifestation of divinity in ancient Egypt.

The Baboons – dog-like head monkeys were considered sacred in Ancient Egypt, living in packs in temples and even raised as pets by wealthy families. Baboons appear in ancient Egyptian archaeological findings on wall paintings and statues made of red or black Granite rock. One of the gods’ manifestations as a Baboon appears in Egyptian mythology as Hapi, the God of Embalming. Since all Egyptian culture was based on eternal life, the God of Embalming was undoubtedly one of the most important gods.

The Baboons, Apes and monkeys belong to the same family of Anthropoids. Monkeys have a tail but they do not use it for grasping like Flat nose monkeys.

Baboons are big and stout monkeys living on the ground. Their heads are elongated and dog-like and even their calls sound like dog-barks. They live in large packs that are highly socially organized. They can be found across wide regions of the African continent due to their extraordinary adaptability to various living habitats.

In the Hindu religion, the God Hanuman appears in the shape of a Langur monkey and has many traits: quickness of thought, bold warrior and commander, aiding all and living an eternal life.

During the elections period in the U.S, an article appeared in the media claiming that a golden statuette of the Monkey God Hanuman was sent to the elected president Barack Obama during his campaign as a token of support from the Indian politician Brij Mohan Bhama, who conducted in New Delhi a prayer session for his success which lasted eleven days. According to Bhama, Barack Obama has full faith in Hanuman and even carries a statuette of the Monkey God in his pocket. Whether this report is reliable or not, it certainly reflects the power, charisma and unique qualities related to the Monkey totem.

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