Summons a Searing Totem with 5 health at your feet for 1 min that repeatedly attacks an enemy within 20 yards for X Fire damage.
"The wood whispered to me as I conjured it. It said that it did not fear flame." —Grennan Stormspeaker
The Searing Totem is a reliable source of extra damage, and is useful in situations where the other damage totem (Magma Totem) isn't and/or when the Fire Elemental Totem is unfeasible..
When dropped, the Searing Totem will randomly select an enemy within 20 yards of it and continuously attack that target until A.) the Searing Totem expires, B.) the target leaves its 20-yard radius, or C.) the target dies. If B or C occur, the totem will randomly choose another target in range and begin attacking it. If there are no targets within range, it will do nothing until an enemy comes in range. Also note that the totem will only engage hostile targets on its own; it will ignore neutral targets, unless you engage them first.
It is useful primarily in single-target, prolonged fights (EG: Boss Fights). You should avoid using it in situations where it could accidentally hit a target that shouldn't otherwise be hit (such as something that has been CC'd).
Very useful in PvP for an extra bit of consistent damage. Most players will ignore the totem, knowing it will go away when you die and not wanting to take the time to target it.
Always useful in a boss fight, assuming the boss doesn't have adds which get CCed, the boss is not immune to fire, and you don't need to drop a Frost Resistance Totem.
Most of the time, if you drop the totem while you are in melee, it will start out attacking the target you have selected. This may be a function of closeness, or may be a function of who you have selected at the time. I suspect that it simply picks the closest target when it doesn't have one.
It can be used to effectively disrupt spellcasting, especially in conjunction with melee attacks and a fast weapon. When combined with Wind Shear, it can be difficult for an enemy caster to get out a spell.
Useful in PVP against another Shaman. Searing Totem will often target and destroy the other Shaman's totems.
Patch 3.0.8 (2009-01-20): Searing Totem (Rank 4) now does the proper damage for its rank.