How to Play Totem

The first player to receive their Totem is the person who is the next to celebrate their birthday. This player becomes the Dealer.

We start with the strengths 

1. The game starts with the ANIMAL portion of the Totem. The Dealer shuffles the deck of ANIMAL cards, then deals seven (7) cards to each of the other players. (The Dealer do not get any cards.)


2. Each player looks at their cards without showing them to the other players and then chooses, amongst their seven (7) cards, the strength that they see as the most representative of the Dealer. Each player places the card they have chosen face down on the table. Once all the players have chosen their card, one of the players shuffles them before giving them back to the Dealer (The Dealer now cannot tell who selected what card). Each player then places their remaining six (6) cards at the bottom of the deck of ANIMAL cards so they can be reused.

Discovering and prioritizing

3. The Dealer then looks at the cards chosen for him / her, without showing them to the other players. The Dealer then ranks the cards in order of preference, face down on the table, placing the card representing the strength that he / she recognises the least in himself / herself on the left, and the card representing the strength judged the most representative on the right.

4. The Dealer then turns over the ANIMAL cards, one at a time, starting with the one on the left, stating out loud the strength that he / she feels he / she possesses the least. This means the strength that the Dealer has placed furthest to the left.


5. The player who selected this ANIMAL card for the Dealer must identify himself / herself and explain to the Dealer, in a few words, why he / she chose this strength for him / her. While directly addressing the Dealer (using “you”), the player must:

  • 1. Read everything that is written on the card:

    « Paul, what I like about you is that you stay calm in the midst of chaos. That is why I chose the whale for you. »

    Whale totem
  • 2. Describe in a few words in what circumstances he / she has witnessed this strength

    « An example of this is that recently, as we were getting ready for our vacation and everyone was a bit tense and frustrated, you remained in control. You made good jokes to lower the tension. »

  • 3. Describe in a few last words the positive impact this strength has had on the people around the Dealer .

    « …by doing this, you allowed every one of us to relax, and in the end, thanks to you, we had a good time together!»

6. The Dealer then continues to turn over each card, from left to right. As each card is turned over, the player who gave it explains his / her choice. This continues until all the cards have been turned over.

Selecting the animal portion of the Totem 

7. Before playing the QUALITY cards, the players must choose, among the ANIMAL cards already on the table, the one that they all agree to be the Dealer’s “dominant” strength, or just the one they want to highlight at that particular moment. In front of the Dealer, the other players must debate and agree on a single strength. The card chosen together by the other players will be the animal portion of the Dealer’s Totem. The other cards are placed back into the deck of ANIMAL cards to be reused.

Now the quality

8. Next, the game turns to attributing the QUALITY portion to the Dealer’s Totem: 
The Dealer shuffles the deck of QUALITY cards and deals seven (7) cards to each of the other players (The Dealer does not get any cards.) . The Dealer and the other players then repeat steps 2 – 7 with the QUALITY cards.

9. When the Dealer has received both portions of his / her Totem (ANIMAL and QUALITY), he / she keeps these two cards for himself /herself and it is then the player to the Dealer’s left who becomes the new Dealer and who witness the creation of his / her own Totem. The new Dealer shuffles the cards and the process starts again from the beginning (Step 1).

The game continues in this way until every player has received at least one Totem. The game can continue for as long as you wish to continue playing, and each player can receive a second or third Totem. Each new Totem allows you to discover the best of yourself through the other players’ eyes, bringing out new and different dimensions of the rich personality of the player it represents.