By Phoenix of Elder Mountain Dreaming – All Animals, Birds, Insects and Oceanids do not come randomly as totems to us, and to be a birth totem, you would have to see them every year, month or week the rest of your life and that can only be determined by hindsight. Totems they come to us with a purpose, to help us nature types, healer types, lover of earth and empath types, soul types, to find symbolic meaning in their appearance which is the message. Those of us who love and respect nature and work at the betterment of our own nature, tend to have strong connection with totem animals, birds, insects both light and shadow.
Totems can come to give warning, reflect our good or negative habits, show us how to change our emotional patterns by their example, or teach us about nourishment. If a bird, they can teach us the endangerment of our soul, or how to fly. Predator animals can teach us to fight fair with increased boundaries. So pay attention, these messages are direct and subtle!
All totem work is relative to our “natural” emotional and natural “soul” life. I had one visit from a Woodchuck in the first, second and third moon of Summer. The second Woodchuck visit came when I was sitting on a park bench after a particular upsetting experience with a family member; the second Moon of Summer and last week, I was taking a hike and a Woodchuck was patiently sitting near a tree when I spotted him,.
The third moon of Summer just recently, it ran across the meadow and didn’t even make eye contact or stop, that told me the summer woodchuck was now complete and complete with the ungrounded changes I was going through (moving across country) and living in two different places until I found my place to live. Groundhog teaches to be “grounded” in times of change”.
That is very rare for me in general to have three months of the same totem show up in my space in my more experienced years of synchronicity with birds and animals as a shaman. Woodchuck just stood there silently the second month I saw him, he knew I was to his side, but he never looked over, he just stared out over the rolling hills. I thanked him for his message to just keep still during this difficult time for me.
When working with totems, decide if they are a water, earth, air or fire totem element or a combination of several. Woodchucks are mainly an earth energy, so its about your waking and earthy exterior life. They also fall under the category of sacrifices, you will have a prey totem appear and Woodchucks are prey, like deer, rabbits, mice etc. All these classifications helps us decipher the meaning more clearly.
Woodchuck… whats in a name?
The groundhog belongs to the Sciuridae family, a group of large ground squirrels known as Marmots. Its not easy to think of Groundhogs as part of the ground Squirrel family, but they are. Their other names are woodchuck, chuck, wood-shock, ground pig. The British refer to woodchucks as Whistle pig which comes from their distinctive calling sound that resembles a shrill whistle, whereas land-beaver describes their habitat and behaviors.
Other names are whistler, thickwood badger, Canadian marmot, monax, moonack, weenusk, red monk and, among French Canadians in eastern Canada, Siffleux. The name “thickwood badger” was given in the Northwest to distinguish the animal from the prairie badger. Monax (Móonack) is an Algonquian name of the woodchuck, which meant “the digger” and young groundhogs can be called chucklings. Other marmots, such as the yellow-bellied and hoary marmots, live in rocky and mountainous areas, but generally, all groundhogs are a valley and lowland creature.
Woodchuck, Groundhog and Ground Squirrels shows us that we may have many names, because they represents many qualities, talents and perform many things. So as a totem, if you are worried about your career and this totem shows up, its saying don’t worry about moving on, you have many talents.
A Woodchuck Totem Appears for you to work on…
- Many homes in a short period of time
until the right one comes along;
- A short period of time (2-6 years);
- Emotional conflict between loved ones;
- Bringing more peace into your home;
- Negotiator between light and dark and grounding it;
- Boundary issues from your past needing to be discussed and healed;
- Restful times of retreat from stress (since they hibernate);
- Nourishment preparation like counselling (since woodchucks have to prepare and store food for winter hibernation);
- Woodchucks are a larger and more grounded version of the ground squirrel, they relate to things like solving addictions, stress, anger, ocd, add/adhd disorders etc that were created from one’s past, that needs to be addressed;
- Season of work is from late Spring, Summer and early Autumn. All of Winter is the time of rest until mid spring.
Because Woodchucks or Groundhogs are not nocturnal, this totem reflects that they truly live in the waking life under the sun, a day totem on the ground, an”external” life totem. Woodchucks enjoys its food, the sunshine, meadows and going about its business but keeping an eye on its local predator.
In the wild, they have a very short lifespan, 2 to 3 years on the average. In some cases depending upon their environment like captivity or a local park in the city, they can live up to 6 years, but that is about the longest. So in cycle work, Totems refer to wild animals, not captive animals and it says you are going through a short cycle.
Keeping your life groomed…
The woodchuck possesses some of the amenities of a higher cultivation. It cleans its face after the manner of the squirrels and it licks its fur after the manner of a cat with good habits. The woodchuck is not only a nuisance to some in urban areas, but also a pretty predictable and boring animal to those who don’t see its finer qualities of a very routined animal in its habits.
In cycle work, when they show up when you have a short amount of time to fix or heal your issue and need to take that time seriously. This is why they appear around an “old issue” that has resurfaced and attention is needed with what you are working with. Because you might not get another chance to resolve or heal it and the opportunity will slip away for good.
The most positive symbols of Woodchuck are loyalty, balance, generosity and happiness. The groundhog symbolizes good luck. Groundhogs are marmots and in the same family as land Squirrels (ground squirrels) but are much bigger, older, wiser and more serious about life, that is why they don’t have to live that long. Where squirrel are all about play, fun and joyfulness. A woodchuck can climb trees like a squirrel if they need to, in order to protect themselves from predators. So be creative with your boundaries is this totem’s message. Like a hug free spiritual discipline for empaths.
The most noticeable feature on groundhogs is their upper incisor teeth are a prevalent feature of their mouth. It’s this characteristic that allows both these animals to gnaw at your prized garden possessions. Like squirrels, groundhogs are brownish-gray, but they have much wider and stockier bodies. Additionally, squirrels have long, noticeable tails, while groundhogs have very short, dark tails.
Large predators such as hawks and red tailed hawks, golden eagle, gray wolf, eastern cougar, northern goshawks still hunt groundhogs for food. Younger groundhogs (usually those less than a couple months) may also be taken by the smaller minks, mustelids, cats, timber rattlesnakes in the spring. As a totem, know that you are asked to play a more subservient and humble role in your issue that has appeared to heal in your life.
Signs and syncronicities are forms of communication with the natural world and the dream worlds, and woodchuck is no different in its totem appearance. Woodchuck gives you an opportunity “stop, turn around and face the issue your dealing with” or they can come to say “stop what you are doing” and figure out the issue, conflict or struggle that is present in your life this week.
Woodchucks want you to relax and enjoy life, to relax but also be very aware of your earthy environment. Its very interesting that they use the old dens of Foxes which means Woodchuck and Fox people have a symbiotic home life, they will know each other and share their home together. There are not too many natural totems and animal souls that can do this.
Woodchucks don’t really play around very much, they are very saturnian in their daily waking activities, its down to business with both den and preparation for its seasonal hibernation. Ground squirrels show the same behaviors compared to tree squirrels.
Woodchuck lives with the seasons appropriately to what each season offers in their routines of life. When alarmed, they will use a very high-pitched whistle to warn and will return to their burrowing home. The burrow is used for safety, retreat in bad weather, hibernating, sleeping, love nest, and nursery just like we humans. In addition to the nest, there is an excrement chamber (bathroom).
There are typically two burrow openings or holes. One is the main entrance, the other a spy hole. Description of the length of the burrow often includes side galleries. The longest burrows, including side galleries, was forty-eight feet. The larger their home, the greater numbers of burrows per individual groundhog which decreases with urbanization.
Animals, Birds, Fish etc do not have mental bodies, only humans have that and that is why we get into trouble so much in relationships, in our harmony with the earth and with our self. Nature communicates between their body, emotions and soul, so when totems come to visit you and make eye contact with you or you notice them around, you are connecting with their body, emotions and soul with yours. So don’t over think it, keep totem work as simple as you can.
Woodchuck shows up when there is a situation in your life that needs to change. Or for those who are harmful to the self, when that behavior needs to change in a major way. Woodchuck appears if there are struggles in a relationships=, struggles with addiction, struggles with old conflicts of the past that are not resolved in the present yet.
They will come quite a few times until you have noticed that they are in your presence and that is there message: “they have appeared” in your personal space. If they have come for a long time, ten years or more, and you have not paid attention, they will sacrifice their own life by hitting your windshield or running out in front of your car and get hit… just so you will “get the message”.
Once you kill a totem by them throwing themselves at you to pay attention to them, that is all they can do to make you wake up to their presence in your environment. They generally do not return as messenger after that because they made a great sacrifice of giving their life to get you to “really notice” them and what they stand for.
Because I have always worked with totem animals a long, I have learned much. But I also have “Animism” souls of my own soul life as a shaman. So do some of my apprentices which I hold the soul light at a high level for them until they can heal deep enough to carry their animism soul. One small squirrel or woodpecker takes about 10 years of daily, dedicated, sobriety work to earn its return.
When I would lead a lot of group shamanic journeys for people over the last thirty years, my black jaguar and some of my other animism souls would appear in the participant’s journeys. Black jaguar would only come to those who were going to have a real soul retrieval rather than an informative journey. It would both guide and protect them from shadows, as he walked along side the journeyer.
Woodchuck on the other hand is solar, not nocturnal like jaguar, its a small earthy animal who wants to help you in your waking life to address the issue in your waking life. So pay attention and connect its appearance with your real struggles in life. Midsummer is connected to the fullness of the year when everything is in bloom and thus there is lots of nourishment to heal what is needed.
For me, woodchuck appeared on the 2nd Full Moon of Summer (which is still the summer solstice moon cycle) in the sign of Capricorn and on the preceding New Moon of Leo two weeks later. I couldn’t have had a better visitor when I needed it the most. It appeared for both me and for my daughter (the first one), but then only to me, the second time two weeks later after I had to make one of the toughest decisions in my life. Still the woodchuck remained grounded, focused and peaceful and so I practice that.
The opposing time of woodchuck then, its completion, is the Winter Solstice when things rest into a more peaceful completion.
So if Woodchuck has waddled into your life, made direct eye contact with you, or ran in front of your path, its time to pay attention to family matters, home life matters and the past or settling into a new home, preparation for rest and hibernation or letting go of a family member that its time has completed (karmically).
Try to bring them out into the open, up to the surface even though this is very difficult, or structure it by going to therapy or family therapy to heal through emotional releases of what no longer serves your highest good in intimate relationships.