When people say totem*, they rarely actually mean the mytho-history of their kin being descended from an animal (a great pop-culture example, that is also true is that the Quillette of La Push are descended from Wolves). The taboo against the marrying of kin is the main meaning of totem. Although this term has recently come into use as an umbrella term, it is not an umbrella term, and it would serve everyone in the community to be more specific to 1) not use NDN words incorrectly and 2) to be clear on what you actually mean to facilitate meaningful discussion. No this is not just semantics, new-agers misuse this term to mean half a dozen different things. This can lead to unexamined confusion where both parties go away thinking they were talking about the same thing when they weren’t even close.
What you meant to say:
A) Archetypal animal/plant. Although pop-psych has reduced the meaning of archetype to something that is in your head. Archetypes are real spiritual principals. An archetype is the pure form or spiritual template of a regular animal, plant or object. The archetypal bear would be the purest spirit of bears which all other bears are created in its image.
B) Guardian spirit animal/plant. Somehow in your life you gained the protection of an animal spirit. Its not the major spirit of the whole species, its just a regular spirit that you became attached to at some point. Spirits have many sources, ghosts, fairies, and even conjured. Your guardian animal is kinda like Jimney Cricket, it helps you out, but it is not all powerful nor all knowing.
C) Favorite animal/plant: You always liked this animal best. If its a domestic animal you have one or want one as a pet. You have a special affinity for them and you have some characteristics in common with them.
D) Past life animal: In a past life you were this animal. You have memories of it and so it is an animal that is very special to you now in this life.
E) Zodiac animal: In the Chinese Zodiac or some other form of horoscope, you were born under the domain of this animal.
F) Shape-shift animal form: this animal could have come to you from any of the prior sources archetypal, guardian, favorite, or past life or even if you are of a traditional culture with they mythic-history a real totem. You are able to and prefer to change into this form when you enter a mystical otherwordly place, either dreams, crossing the hedge, astral travel or similar.
*”The word totem comes from the Ojibway word dodaem and means “brother/sister kin”. It is the archetypal symbol, animal or plant of hereditary clan affiliations. People from the same clan have the same clan totem and are considered immediate family. It is taboo to marry someone of the same clan.” wikipedia