Fetish Meanings

Silver Moon Traders
About Fetishes

A fetish is a Native American carving believed to have power.  Many Native American tribes create and use fetishes; however, the most renowned fetish carvers are the Zuni, who call themselves Asiwi (Ah-she-wee).

The Zuni have used fetishes for many purposes:  to enable hunters to catch game, to make game more plentiful, and also for curing ceremonies.  Fetishes may protect individuals as well as the community.  The Zuni believe that animals are more like the deities and have more power than man.  They also believe that both practical and spiritual power reside in their fetishes. 

There are two major groupings of fetishes (and some overlap between them):
1.  Protective or healing animals include:
mountain lion
2.  The hunting and prey animals include:
mountain lion

Animals and their meanings:
Armadillo Slow, sure, gets things right.  Keeper of the home
Badger Aggressiveness, perseverance, the ability to reach a desired goal
Bat Guardian of the night, cleaner
Bear Strength, introspection, spiritual journey through life.  The white bear is medicine
Beaver Builder, hardworking, power or working and attaining a sense of achievement
Bobcat Knows secrets, clairvoyance ability
Buffalo Endurance to overcome, great emotional courage provider to all
Butterfly The art of transformation, the ability to know or to change the mind
Coyote Laughter, humor and foolishness, the master trickster who tricks himself
Crow Keeper of sacred law
Deer Gentleness
Dog True friend, loyal
Dolphin Spirit of friendship, trust, loyalty
Duck Spirits of those who passed on
Eagle A connection with the divine, a soaring spirit that transcends personal problems, creator, teacher, great integrity
Elk Teaches that pacing yourself will increase your stamina
Fish Ability to hide emotions, purifier
Fox Camouflage, protection
Frog Bringer of rain, abundance, and fertility
Hawk Messenger of the gods
Horned Toad Longevity, self-reliance
Horse Posses healing powers, swiftness, strength
Hummingbird Messenger, stopper of time
Lizard Conversation, agility
Mole Keeper of the underground and crops
Moose Headstrong, unstoppable, longevity
Mountain Lion Leadership, resourcefulness
Mouse Paying attention to detail, scrutiny
Otter Laughter, curiosity, mischievous.  Women medicine, the balanced female side
Owl Can see what others can't.  Essence of true wisdom.  Protector of the home
Parrot Symbolic to the sun, as rainbows are the product of rain and sunlight
Porcupine The power of faith and trust
Quail Sacred spirit, ceremonial, hold
Rabbit The special guardian of women in childbirth.  Also associated with safe birth and long life for children
Raccoon Bandit, shy, resourceful
Ram Sense of self worth
Raven Magic, the messenger of the great mystery, a change in consciousness
Seal Family oriented, possesses power in numbers
Skunk Vary, conspicuous, intense
Snake Life, death, rebirth
Spider Creative patterns of life
Squirrel Natural intelligence, saver, protects reserves
Turkey Smart, elusive, festive
Turtle Oldest symbol of Mother Earth, longevity
Wolf Teacher, pathfinder, sharing of your knowledge, never ending journey
The information above is from A Guide to Zuni Fetishes & Carvings, Volume I:  The Animals & Carvers by Kent McManis, Treasure Chest Books, Tucson, AZ  1995, 1998.

See also
A Guide to Zuni Fetishes & Carvings, Volume II:  The Materials and Carvers by Kent McManis, Treasure Chest Books, Tucson, AZ  1995, 1998.
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