Be aware that this Tumblr frequently includes pictures of art made with animal remains, as well as occasional liberal political ideologies. Mostly it's nature photography and art (and not just of charismatic megafauna).
Artist, author, (neo)shaman, and wannabe polymath living in the Pacific Northwe(s)t.
Creator of Curious Gallery, a two-day arts festival celebrating the wunderkammer revival in Portland, OR on February 1-2, 2014. Details at http://www.curiousgallerypdx.com.
I discovered neopaganism in the mid-1990s, and shortly thereafter began my work with animal totems and neoshamanism. Over the years I've wandered through various paths, ranging from Wicca-flavored neopaganism to Chaos magic, but for the past few years I've been creating Therioshamanism, a post-industrial neo-shamanic path. I've also been creating various neopagan ritual tools and other sacred art from hides, bones, beads and other such things since about the same time. And I've written several nonfiction books on totemism, animal magic, and related topics. My next book is "Plant and Fungus Totems: Connect With Spirits of Field, Forest and Garden", due out from Llewellyn in May 2014.
A few places to find me, as I'm all over the internet:
Ask me anything
I was meditating a bit a few evenings ago on the fights of butterflies.
See, I’d seen an image on Tumblr of two male Monarch butterflies scrapping over territory, and the caption said that they could get quite aggressive with each other. In fact, there’s a good chance many of you out there have seen butterflies engaged in battle, fluttering at each other in midair and even clutching and pushing at times. We’re inclined to see their struggle as “pretty”, and we may even mistake it as two butterflies happily dancing together.
Now think of two male elk battling it out over a patch of territory. We usually focus on the immense power in their bodies as they tussle, the sharp tines of branching antlers and the muscles in straining haunches. In fact, it is their physical strength that is one of the elk’s best-known traits.
Yet who is to say the elk is more fierce than the butterfly just because the insect is smaller and more delicate?
Read the rest here.
I’ve compiled a small (but hopefully growing!) list of public libraries that have one or more copies of New Paths to Animal Totems available to check out for free! It’s a little bit down the page, but before you get to the ordering buttons.
Also, if you know of any other public libraries that have it currently available for checkout, let me know so I can add them to the list!
“Dusky Arion” sounds like a pretty name, right? Maybe even the moniker of a character in a sci-fi or fantasy story, or a particularly inventive stripper. In actuality, the dusky arion is neither an imaginary being nor a sensual dancer–it is a slug, and here in the U.S. an invasive one at that.
I know Slug totems in general are among the “undesirables”, the ones that people fear getting in their meditations and card readings and whatnot because they aren’t cool or physically imposing. But I’m rather pleased to count Dusky Arion as one of the totems I’ve been privileged to work with. It’s been a mutually beneficial experience, and I’ve been learning quite a bit from it as well as being able to improve my relationship with its physical counterparts.
Read the rest here.
If you liked Rua Lupa’s post on reasons for nature-based ritual and ceremony last week, she’s posted the second of three articles on the topic.
So far I’ve been spending my time here setting the stage for introductory spirit work. But what about the spirits themselves? Who and what are these incorporeal beings that we’re trying to communicate with in the first place? The answers to those questions, in complete, are much longer and more complex than I can cover in one article. So consider this a very brief and incomplete overview of some of the sorts of beings in the spirit world.
Read the rest here.
Note: This is my offering for the October edition of the Animist Blog Carnival, topic being “Death”.
When I first explored paganism way back in 1996, I almost immediately gravitated toward the animals. Like so many other totemists, I picked up a copy of Ted Andrews’ Animal-Speak, and thereby began cutting my metaphorical teeth. For the following decade the animals were at the center of my practice, whether I was working with generic Wicca-flavored neopaganism or Chaos magic. I developed my own system for working with animal totems and spirits, and even created a lot of practices for working with hides, bones, and other animal remains.
After my arrival in Portland, I soon became immersed in the Land as a whole. I adopted a more bioregional approach not only to my spiritual path, but my life in general. This led me to connect not only with the local animals, but with the plants, fungi, stones, landforms, waterways, and many others. I grew to understand that the animal totems lived in their own wilderness and urban environments, just as their physical counterparts did, and this gave more form to my spiritual path, my neoshamanism and my role as an intermediary.
One of the effects of this shift in my worldview was that I became more sensitive to the great emphasis we place on animals over all other beings of nature, and especially vertebrates, and even more especially charismatic megafauna. We tend to value those beings that are most like us (but not too much like us). So (at least in the U.S.) a wolf is seen as more valuable than a salamander, a salamander moreso than a fruit fly. (Oddly enough monkeys and apes are often denigrated as silly beings because we think of them as “failed humans” of a sort; we see too much of ourselves in them and that perhaps scares us.)
Continuing on in that, we see animals as more valuable than plants, fungi, and the like. Someone who would never dream of killing an animal will happily uproot carrots and prune a bonsai tree into perpetual tininess.
Read the rest here.
It’s been years and years since I last did any sort of formal rituals for the Wheel of the Year; I was never Wiccan, but the eight celebrations have been adopted by a wide range of pagans. For years I tried to use them as well, and it never really stuck. While I definitely appreciate the role of seasonal celebrations for individuals and communities, in my own practice I could never quite get over the feeling that doing a special ritual every six weeks was a bit contrived. It’s convenient for a group because it’s a set bunch of times for everyone to plan to get together for a shared ritual experience, and for some solitary pagans, too, it’s an opportunity to break out of the everyday routine and re-connect with the sacred in a deeper way.
Maybe if I was part of a working or ritual group I’d be more inclined to have these special touchstones throughout the year, and there is a part of me that feels a bit wistful about them. But on my own, I have the freedom to acknowledge special moments with nature whenever they arise, and have those as my sacred times. There’s no scheduling necessary, no potluck to cook for. Instead, it’s moments like “picking the first ripe tomatoes of the summer”, and “hey, the maple tree finally started growing leaves again” (and even “thank the gods the noisy-ass starlings finally raised their last brood in my apartment’s ceiling”.) This is not necessarily a superior way of connecting compared to the Wheel, but it’s one that’s fit me better over time.
I think part of the problem with the Wheel is that until the past few years I had little context for it. It was just something a lot of pagans did as part of the pagan package, written by Cunningham and others and used as an excuse for everything from Pagan Pride to pagan coffee klatches. But “old harvest rituals” don’t mean the same to a farmer, as to a city dweller whose food comes from the store and who doesn’t even have a window box of flowers.
Read the rest here.
Hey, you! I’ve got a question for you! (And by “you”, I mean anyone reading this blog, whether regularly or sporadically or just by chance.) So I’ve been writing in this space for six years now. (Y…
My blog, Therioshamanism, is turning six years old this week! And I have a question that I’d love feedback on from all my readers, if you would, please :)
Woohoo! Here’s the final cover for Plant and Fungus Totems! I’m really pleased with it, and I can’t wait for the book to be out next May :)
This month I’m hosting the Animist Blog Carnival (a couple of days late, I’m afraid—life got REALLY busy in the past few weeks!) The theme I chose was “Bioregion”. Why? Well, in part because it’s …
Back online after a fantastic weekend vending at Kumoricon! I’m the host of the Animist Blog Carnival this month, and I chose the theme “Bioregion”. Why not take a peek at all the links I’ve got and see what folks have to say about the topic?