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
[Lupa’s note: It was such a busy weekend, I forgot that my first content post over at my paganSquare blog, Lupa’s Den, went live on Friday! I’m starting with the bare-bones basics in this how-to blog, and my first post is on “How To Sense Nature Spirits”]
So, let’s start with the very basics, beginning with how to sense spirits. After all, if I’m going to be helping my readership work with spirits and totems and the like, I should make sure that you have a way of doing so. You might already have figured out a good option for yourself, but keep reading anyway if you like—maybe there’s something in here you haven’t considered yet.
I’m going to sidestep the issue of the exact nature of spirits, whether they’re independent beings in a nonphysical reality that parallels our own, or unseen denizens of our world, or elements of our psyche that we project outward. Not that it isn’t important, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide exactly what they are; the how-tos I’m going to put in this blog should work regardless of your answer.
How do you sense something that doesn’t have a physical presence? In popular Western traditions, particularly those based in 19th century mediumship, there may be physical signs that a spirit is present, such as the room going cold suddenly, or an item falling off a shelf. However, these supposed signs can often be explained by more mundane things: the room went cold because the heat shut off, or the object fell off the shelf because it was already precariously balanced. The problem with these signs, too, is that they can lead you to want there to be “real proof” of the existence of spirits so badly that you start attributing any little thing to “the spirits”. This is what’s known as confirmation bias. This bugaboo can lead you to selectively ignore anything that doesn’t support your desire for “real proof”. Eventually you may find yourself so focused on trying to interpret the meaning of every little change in your environment that you completely miss the spirits themselves because you can no longer filter out what is and isn’t the sign of a spirit’s presence.
I favor a tactic that is admittedly more subjective and personal; it won’t prove the reality of spirits to everyone and their mother, but it can help you to figure out the best way for you to sense their presence. (The spirits, I mean, not everybody and their mother!)
Read the rest here.
Hey, folks! If you like my writing, I have great news for you! I am now a blogger over at paganSquare, courtesy of Witches and Pagans mag. My new blog, “Lupa’s Den: Practices for the Earthy Pagan” is going to be focusing on “how to do stuff” type writing—and I’m open to suggestions of things you’d like to see me cover! Here, check it out: http://witchesandpagans.com/Lupa-s-Den/Blogger/Listings/lupa.html
Note: This is my July offering for the Animist Blog Carnival, with “Becoming an Animist” as the theme; please note that the information about it has changed locations (again). When I was young, I v…
Note: This is my July offering for the Animist Blog Carnival, with “Becoming an Animist” as the theme; please note that the information about it has changed locations (again).
When I was young, I very quickly discovered the Great Outdoors. In fact, it was sometimes pretty hard to get me to go back inside! And even when I was under a human-made roof, I was usually reading books about nature, or playing with toy animals, or watching wildlife shows on TV. In short, the natural world was my first true love, and it’s a relationship that’s never ended.
However, it was about more than just the physical trees and grass and rabbits and snakes. Even at a young age I felt there was vivacity to the world beyond the basic science of it. People had been writing myths about nature spirits for millennia all around the world. Shouldn’t there be something to that, at least? And so I began talking to the bushes and the birds, and while they never spoke back to me in so many words, I sometimes felt that I was at least acknowledged.
Read the rest (and the twist ending!) here.
Over on my personal blog, Therioshamanism, the concept of giving things has been on my mind quite a bit as of late. Early in the month I talked about the concept of “giving” plants and animals (usually in the form of food) as offerings, and wondered what we would give the spirits or totems of those species in recompense. Then, for the Pagan Values Blog Project, I wrote about service, particularly service to this physical realm we inhabit.
All this centers around giving an offering, either an item or an action. But what about offering through taking? To take something away means to reduce its influence. This can be a negative choice, such as taking food from someone and reducing their access to necessary nutrients–not a very good offering for anyone! But there are other things we can take away from someone or something that ends up being a beneficial action.
Read the rest here.
As many folks who have worked with animal and other totems know, not all totems are cuddly and friendly. Sometimes they’re what are popularly known as “shadow” totems, who challenge us through embo…
As many folks who have worked with animal and other totems know, not all totems are cuddly and friendly. Sometimes they’re what are popularly known as “shadow” totems, who challenge us through embodying some of our less pleasant aspects. Others represent animals or other living beings that we don’t care for, or maybe even have adverse relationships with.
This latter description fits my relationship with the totem of black mold pretty well. This is a common name for Stachybotrys chartarum, a fungus that commonly resides in drywall in houses and whose spores can cause illness (sometimes fatal) to a home’s inhabitants. Black mold has also been implicated in sick building syndrome, causing the same sort of havoc at work as well as at home.
How can this be anyone’s totem? Find out here.
Last week, the Wild Hunt blog featured a piece on “Pagans Doing Good. It started with a critique of paganism, the common complaint that there are no pagan hospitals or homeless shelters or major nonprofit groups. The writer, Heather Greene, then highlighted two activists who also happen to be pagan (and there are more where they came from!)
My only critique of this is that “service” isn’t limited to those who are able to devote their entire lives to activism. Most of us have households to support or families to raise or debts and bills to pay or any of a number of other obligations that we can’t just toss to the wayside to go be full-time activists. We do need these people; I admire devotion and I do admit I envy them a bit. But that is far from the end of pagan manifestations of service.
I am not, however, speaking about service to gods or spirits or other incorporeal beings.
Read the rest here.
When Emma-Jayne Saanen talked last month about her relationship with water, it got me to thinking about my own connection to it. I grew up near creeks and streams, and fishing in ponds, and although I didn’t go to any ocean until I was in my late twenties, the Pacific has inspired child-like joy and wonder in me every time I visit it. I’m even happy splashing around a swimming pool or soaking in a hot tub, and my daily shower is one of life’s luxuries. I’m fortunate to have lived in places with uniformly clean, good-tasting tap water, and I never developed a bottled water habit.
So I suppose my relationship to water is overall pretty positive. Maybe it’s my evolutionary inheritance; supposedly we humans are attracted to places with water because in the savannahs we evolved in, knowing where the water is was crucial to our survival. But then again, it could also just be the culmination of a lot of positive experiences with water, too.
However, there’s a more immediate connection to this classic element.
Read the rest here.
So, funny story from my early years as a pagan. I was big into chaos magic, and drawing on whatever-the-fuck I felt would work. I had a conflict with a neighbor, and was freaking out about the possibility of them breaking into my apartment (since I was renting from slumlords at the time, and it was a pretty flimsy lock).
So I used that fear to charge a sigil I hastily scrawled on a piece of paper and taped it to the inside of my apartment door. I had remembered that Renaissance magicians had often used Latin, though it often had bad grammar and syntax (and even the wrong words), but it still worked somehow. So I decided, what the hell, it’s the intent that counts, right?
Years later, upon reflection, I realized due to my grammatical error that instead of telling evil to go away, I had instead mistakenly tried to banish apples.
Taking a quick break here from working on the last couple of chapters of New Paths to Plant and Fungus Totems before I turn the manuscript in. I’m writing about treating the leaves and caps and suc…
Yes, I took a break from writing to do some writing. What?
Sorry I’ve been so quiet folks—I started that summer job at my old internship site that I mentioned a while back, so I’ve mostly been adjusting to that. I did, however, get a chance to do a bit of writing—and I have an invitation for my fellow bloggers…
Just a quick bump for those who didn’t see this earlier today. Feel free to pass it along to anyone who may be interested, too :)