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The belief that people are descended from animals, plants, and other natural objects. Symbols of these natural ancestors, known as totems (a natural object or an animate being, as an animal or bird, assumed as the emblem of a clan, family, or group), are often associated with clans (groups of families tracing common descent). By representing desirable individual qualities (such as the swiftness of a deer) and helping to explain the mythical origin of the clan, totems reinforce clan identity and solidarity.


Followers of Totemism: Less than 1% of the world's population (note).


There are no known founders or authoritative writings. Rituals and beliefs have been passed down through the generations.

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