In its simplest terms, the word means one who oversees. The Native Americans consider a curatoria to be an animal spirit guide. In my series of books called, “The Second Coming,” I make reference and discuss in some details a curatoria. However, for the sake of this column, I will limit my exploration to the general and only articulate the characteristics of my own guides, and one other.

That said, I have a few questions. Whether you realize it or not, are you honoring an animal spirit guide? And at the end, will you be surprised to know that you are? Let’s see what revelations this story might hold. But first, let me make a general statement and tell you what I perceive.

A curatoria represents something different for each person. For some, this being is a dear friend, and for others it’s simply a guardian. The animal spirit can and often enhances an individual’s strongest characteristics or an attribute a person might require to overcome adversity.

A person’s curatoria has a name. However, the name is always encrypted to the ears of everyone but the person the spirit is bonded to. Therefore, it can only be summoned and/or commanded by one person. This doesn’t suggest the owner cannot use its animal spirit to protect or defend others. Native Americans were known to do just that. When this country was just forming, Indian men would go out hunting, and some would leave their animal spirits behind. It would provide the women and children — who required assistance — courage and support in their absence.

The concept of animal spirit guides draws its origins from ancient Animistic and Totemistic beliefs about the world and our connection to it. Totemism is a system of belief practiced by the Native Americans and the Australian Aborigines which proposes that each human being has a spiritual connection to another physical being. Now, I’m not suggesting that anyone should believe in such things. I’m simply telling a story and providing some background details — as it were.

I personally feel a connection to several animals. One is the polar bear. It’s the largest bear in the world and the largest terrestrial predator on the planet. Here’s an interesting fact — it’s the only bear to spend most of its time at sea. Therefore, this animal is sometimes considered a marine mammal, like a walrus.

Male polar bears are solitary creatures. When they find a mate between the months of October and November, they engage in combat with any other rival 24 hours a day, seven days a week — for weeks at a time — until they are certain their genetic material is guaranteed to be passed on. The physical stresses of those few weeks are often fatal. At the end, this massive mammal quietly lays down for the last time, never to get up again. Nevertheless, it draws comfort in the knowledge that their strong lineage lives on.

If a bear is your animal guide, you often set clear boundaries and don’t compromise when set — even when pressured to do so. You often seek what you want whether you believe you’ll be successful. You’re creative, but frequently place that part of you on hold. But you regularly set time aside for solitude.

You are often in need of physical or emotional recovery, yet nevertheless, you are gentle and loving to those closest to you. To find answers to problems or questions, you often look within yourself rather than ask others for assistance. How are we doing so far? Is there anyone reading this column and saying to themselves, “Hey, that’s me, me, me?” Well, if there is, the chances are that your animal guide could be a bear.

Now, let’s move on to another incredible species — the emperor penguin. It’s the tallest and heaviest of all living penguin types. They can easily stand over 4 feet tall and weigh over 100 pounds. The male emperor penguin endures the extreme Antarctic winters — where air temperatures may reach minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit and winds are in excess of 100 per hour — in complete darkness — for as long as four months — while protecting his egg. They eat nothing during this time and many lose a quarter of their body weight while waiting for their eggs to hatch.

Unlike the male bear, which prefers the solitude, penguin colonies symbolize community interaction and loyalty. It’s a testament to the cooperation required and the social discipline needed for many to endure. This being represents all that is gracious, courageous and chivalrous in a person. One of noble character, who will conduct themselves in a righteous way whether their alone or in the presence of others.

The presence of this being is said to keep you determined, focused and patient when conditions become extreme. It brings you comfort when you endure and provides self-discipline to achieve your goals under circumstances which would cause many to falter or fail. The penguin guide helps you remain graceful under extreme conditions — clearly demonstrated in both the actions you take and in your reactions to dangerous stimuli. I personally find this to be true for me — I wonder how many of you out there feel the same? In addition, the essence of this animal’s psyche provides strength and gives you the courage to engage your struggles and overcome hardship.

Now, let’s talk a little about a hawk. Hawks are a group of medium-sized diurnal birds of prey. If you are the type of person who steps back when confronted by many variables to gain a better overall perspective, then the chances are your animal guide could be this magnificent animal. The hawk is said to help keep you focused and aids in the elimination of distractions, like if you often spend time evaluating and studying your environment, and then when it’s time to act, you respond quickly and without hesitation. The spirit of this being is part of your support psyche. If you often try to change others or the situations around you, this spirit guide helps you to accept your environment and act accordingly.

Many believe that once you’ve found your spirit guide, it’s important to honor them. The more you do, the clearer you’ll hear their messages and the more effective their power will be in your life. So, how do we honor these animal spirits? And can we honor them without knowing? Well, do you have a favorite animal that you like to study or read about? Do you relate to a particular animal’s behavioral traits or characteristics? Do you have images or figures of it in your home? If the answers to these questions are yes, then you might be unconsciously honoring your animal spirit guide.

My house is full of penguin and bear figurines and stuffed animals which bear their likeness. I’m drawn to television specials, books or movies that feature or highlight these beings. Whether I want to admit it or not, I’m drawn to these magnificent creatures, and they represent part of who I am. So answer the questions listed above. You might be surprised to know that you, like many others, have an animal spirit guide backing your play.

Get today’s top stories right in your inbox. Sign up for our daily newsletter.

Alberto Perez wrote his first book, “The Second Coming: The Arrival,” almost two years ago. The book illustrates an account of the Rapture. The fourth edition is now available for sale. His second novel in the series, “The Second Coming: The Gathering,” is also available for purchase through Amazon. You can learn more about him at www.albertoperez.com or join him on Twitter @albertoperezmba and Facebook.