totemism definition by Webster's New World
- belief in totems and totemic relationships
- the use of totems to distinguish kin or descent groups
- social customs based on this
totemism definition by American Heritage Dictionary
- A belief in totems or in kinship through common affiliation to a totem.
- The practice of establishing affiliation through totems.
- toˈtem·ist noun
- toˌtem·isˈtic adjective
totemism - Cultural Definition
The belief that people are descended from animals, plants, and other natural objects. Symbols (see also symbol) of these natural ancestors, known as totems, 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.