I believe in guardians and allies who may take on the form of various animals, and may settle on one favorite that suits them. Some anthropologists trying to fit the ideas from some cultures into a definition that would fit the mindset of westerners called them “spirit animals”.
Unless one has undergone the passages required to perceive them, it is doubtful that they have found their “spirit animal”. Generally, these passages require a trained guide from a tradition in which one is taught to do this safely without going insane or catching some bad spirit.
I am sure that some people have met some animal spirits or spirits or extradimensional beings who took the shape of animals. I don’t knock their experiences or beliefs, but just like someone who learns to read Opele from a book, this is still not a babalawo unless they have been through the passages in the community.
Same goes for other tribal practices and titles that come from other communities. It is bad to run around claiming a passage one hasn’t crossed over.
I wear many marks. I will be getting another soon from my community here in Israel. It was not earned easily. It did not come without a great loss.
These things are not done for the self. The benefits are not to serve one’s self. It is not for personal fulfillment or self help that one seeks their primal guardians or embodies them. One does it for their people.