Beginning as reverence for rocks, evolving into the use of fetishes and medicine bags to ward off' evil, and leading inevitably to clan symbols, totemism may seem on the surface to be simple superstition. In truth, it is one of the markers of a developing and progressive civilization. In spite of our modern mentality, it may be surprising to learn that totemismisa is alive and well in today's world. Totemism is frequently a combination of social and religious observances. Over time, respect for an admired or feared animal led to the animal becoming the symbol of a chief or an entire clan of primitive people. At its most basic level, it was believed that respect for the totem animal insured a primary need―the food supply. Evolving, totems became at one and the same time symbols of the group and their gods, believed to provide protection from the elements and against aggressive neighboring tribes. Such a totem god was the clan personified. Family crests became the symbols and therefore the totems for more modern peoples. Medieval knights each carried banners, while their ladies bestowed some personal symbol to represent good wishes and grant the wearer luck in battle or competition. Virtually every religion displays at a mere glance a universal recognized symbol, be it the Magen David of Judaism, the Dharmachakra of Buddhism, the Cross of Christianity, or the Star and Crescent representing the Muslim world. Beneath and within each of these faiths can be found a plethora of other symbols, both ancient and modern-totems representing peoples and ideologies. Progressing from one type of symbol to another, we see in flags ancient and enduring totems representing collective groups of peoples and societies. So sacred was a totem in primitive times that the chief or medicine man never allowed the physical representation of his power lo touch the ground. Today, some countries preserve the ancient practice by showing the same reverence for their flags. Commercial brands can also be representative of a modern and often wily totemism, frequently employing brand images-bear, tigers, tomahawks-that draw on ancient totems. Corporate purveyors convince unwary consumers to pay a premium for products associated with their totemelike symbols, and to conspicuously display these images to other potential customers free of charge. The insignia of priests and kings were eventually regarded as fetishes or totems, and the totem of the state has passed through many stages of development, from clans to tribes, from suzerainty to sovereignty, from totems to flags, with many a stop and detour along the way.