Most people have at least one spirit helper in animal form. It is possible to have more. As a rule, these helpers are present whether we are consciously aware of them or not. They provide protection, assistance, wisdom, direction and companionship. In a shamanic worldview, the individual’s personal power and physical vitality is a gift from these helpers, hence the term “power animals”. These spirits generally take the form of undomesticated animals and like their physical counterparts, they are wont to come and go as they please. When one — for whatever reason — leaves the company of a person, another power animal usually appears to take its place. However, if that does not happen, the person may experience a diminishment of personal power which might manifest as serious illness, emotional malaise, extraordinary bad luck, personal crisis or some other noticeable way.
A shaman addresses this loss of power by journeying into the spirit world to discover an animal spirit that had previously been their client’s companion. Prevailing upon the animal’s compassion, the shaman beseeches it to return to its human friend. If the animal agrees, the shaman escorts it back to the client. After such a retrieval the client may experience a resurgence of power, health or effectiveness.