Main article: Familiar spirit
"Power animal" is a concept that was introduced in 1980 by Michael Harner in The Way of the Shaman. While Harner took inspiration from his study of animistic beliefs in many different cultures, his concept of power animals is much like the familiar spirits of European occultism, which aid the occultist in their metaphysical work.
The use of this term has been incorporated into the New Age movement, where it is often mistaken for being the same as a totem in some indigenous cultures. The concept has also entered popular culture in various forms, such as in the 1999 film (and earlier novel) Fight Club, when the narrator attends a cancer support group. During a creative visualization exercise, he is told to see himself entering a cave where he will meet his power animal. When he does, he imagines a penguin is speaking to him.