Totem or totemism varies greatly across Aboriginal Australia. However on the whole it’s a spiritual connection to the land through things like animals, insects, birds, fish and reptiles. The concept goes all the way back to the Dreamtime. It helps balance nature and provides guidance through people’s lives.
Totems are assigned at various times for various reasons. The area you live in has a totem as does your tribe and your clan. The kookaburra totem may be assigned to a baby because they sang nearby at the time of birth. Or a bee was buzzing around, telling all that the baby is of the bee totem. If the bee is your totem, then it’s as if you are actually a bee. If you kill a bee it would be like killing your brother or sister. You are charged with looking after the bees, and you know that they will look after you by warning you of danger, for example.
If you are a bee you cannot marry a bee, for that would be incest. In this way, interbreeding is controlled.
Some say you cannot, and some say you should not, eat a kangaroo if your totem is the kangaroo. In this way, the ecosystem is nurtured.
Westerners say I’m a Taurus and the Asians say I’m a Dragon. Well I don’t eat dragons but I sure as heck cannibalise those bulls every chance I get. Yummo!