A Totem is just a symbol of some lifestyle dynamic that has personal relevance to someone. This was a major factor in any small Tribal community. Members would identify with a certain Totemic Tribal subdivision, and thus preserve a sense of personal identity without threatening the social stability of the Tribe.
Animals were the perfect symbols for the focus of these Totemic forms, because everyone in the community would be familiar with the characteristics of the Animals involved.
But today's society has largely abandoned the paradigm of small Tribal communities, and thereby redefined the relevance of traditional Totemic identity.
The need for people to have an effective Totem, still exists in the supertribes we live in today, but it's been largely subverted by the inevitable Market forces that are the common denominator in supertribe social dynamics.
Most of today's really powerful Totems are Corporately controlled. All the common forms of the Animal Totems of old are still there, but you have to pay to belong. Trademarks, Corporate Logos, or Administrative bodies have the best ones.
For instance, your supertribe of the U.S.A has, as a major Tribal Identifier, the Bald Eagle. So Eagle Totem people today are found in Administrative, Military, or Police positions, and they can demonstrate the power of their position, by displaying the appropriate Totem. The Seal of the United States Government carries the Totem of the Eagle, so anyone who is affiliated, will have a Badge of Office or Authority, that carries the sanction of the Govt, and displays their personal Totem of the Eagle.
as is appropriate to their position.
Horse Totem is another example of how Corporate exploitation has subverted the forms into a marketable commodity.
The simple act of putting this Totem on a $5 Tee Shirt turns that $5 shirt into a $50 one. But you get to be recognised as part of a major Horse Totem sub-set.
So now what began as a need for a spiritually identifying Totem, has also developed into a huge psycho-social need for secular identity, and Business being what it is, has repackaged the paradigm, protected all the symbolism with Trademark Legislature, and sells it all back to us in one form or another. Of course, people have been exploiting Totems for millennia, but now, we can easily see just how deeply embedded these symbols really are.
[size=78%]The Propaganda value of symbols wasn't really understood properly until after WWII, and that's when the Corporations moved in and began to exploit the fact that our subconscious mind is far more vulnerable to suggestion through symbolism. Symbols bypass the intellectual screening process of the conscious mind like spyware getting through a firewall.
Our real, 21st Century Totems have been hi-jacked by Corporate Shamen, then culturally re-embedded over three or four generations (With added brand loyalty) using the signal saturation format offered by (esp) Television Advertising. So that's just about everyone's wetware mortally infected with viral marketing engrams. All because people want to have Totems. Thanks guys, I now have to work until I'm old, to pay off my subscriptions to Lamborghini and Jaguar. I'm addicted to Red Bull, and I think the Pigs are after me.