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
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 :)
Hey, want to read my books for cheap? Almost all of my titles are available as $5 ebooks in a variety of formats (and “New Paths to Animal Totems” can be had in paperback for under $3!) Here’s more info.
…and the first review of my animism anthology, Engaging the Spirit World, is already live!
Hey, folks! Want a copy of the animism anthology it only took me five years to finish up? (Thank grad school in part for eating my life during that time.) Anyway, “Engaging the Spirit World” is now available from Immanion Press/Megalithica Books, and has a variety of essays on shamanism, totemism, and other animistic practices—more details over here on my website! (And yes, you can get a signed copy from me :)
This world is truly fucked up in a lot of ways.
There. I said it. Even with my optimism about the world, and human potential, and the resiliency of nature in general, there are still some things in this place that are heart-rendingly, disgustingly, infuriatingly screwed all beyond belief. I think we all have different opinions about what falls under that heading, but we can mostly agree on things like war and people dying needlessly, children being abused and then in turn abusing animals and later on other humans (including their own children), the extinction of species that didn’t have to die, and possibly the overuse of the Papyrus font in everything pagan. (Okay, maybe that last offense is in a league of its own.)
And I know that this fucked-upedness makes it tempting to run away and never come back. People want to live off the grid, not just to be eco friendly (even though a well-planned city can be more sustainable) but to get away from other humans except for a select few they deem “okay”. I’ve heard people talk about how humans as a species should just die out and the world would be better without us, emphasizing only the worst our species has done, and contemplating drowning the baby in the bathwater. This includes some deeply spiritual people I know who are quite connected to the nonhuman natural world. I’m constantly amazed by how many ways people can justify misanthropy.
I feel that frustration, too.
Read the rest here.
If you’ve been reading this blog over the years, you’ll notice that one of the themes I keep coming back to is Therioshamanism as a (neo)shamanic creation based on my own social and cultural background. The dominant non-indigenous culture in the US doesn’t have a clear shamanic figure, though I feel there are professions and roles here that can be analogous. On the one hand, American (neo)shamans may face accusations and feelings of illegitimacy, as though our lack of roots makes anything we do insufficient. And yet at the same time, there’s a great opportunity for creativity and flow in making something that is new and suited for the setting we found ourselves born into. I feel it is a fine balance between acknowledging how other cultures have formed their own shamanisms and related practices over hundreds or thousands of years, and making something that is uniquely ours instead of just wholesale copying. There’s a lot of trial and error, to be sure, and at times I really respect my fellow practitioners who are similarly trying to create something with no single existing cultural framework.
One of the themes that comes up as a topic of discussion is that of the ordeal. I have met people who claim that you must have an ordeal in a traditional manner–either a life-threatening physical illness, or a severe mental illness/breakdown–and that it absolutely can’t be a positive or constructive experience whatsoever. Nor, they say, is it something that you can openly seek out; it has to crash down on your head and ruin everything. Supposedly all these things separate the wannabes from the hard-core practitioners. I have a gentler approach. Not every ordeal a person goes through is a shamanic one; as attributed to John Watson/Ian MacLaren, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle“. What I think distinguishes a shamanic ordeal, at least in part, is whether it directly contributes to one’s work as a (neo)shaman. It may still be a great challenge with a significant risk of failure, but it can be something you willingly choose to enter into as a furthering of your path and development. In this, it doesn’t always have to be the initiatory ordeal; ordeals can also be ongoing challenges.
Read the rest here.
So I *think* I have my schedule all plotted out for PantheaCon I have one more book signing to schedule once I get there (PCon’s official signing table) but here’s the rest as it stands:
Friday 3:30pm - 5pm - Bioregional Totemism (on working with the totems of your local area)
Saturday noon-1pm - book signing at Llewellyn’s table
Saturday 1:30pm - 3pm - Immanion publishing panel (“A Publisher’s Embodiment of Co-operation, Tolerance, and Love”)
Sunday 9am - 10:30am - Llewellyn publishing panel (“Publishing Panel hosted by Llewellyn Worldwide”)
Sunday 3:30pm - 4:30pm - Book release party for “New Paths to Animal Totems” at the Pagan Alliance Hospitality! Look for posters around the convention :)
Monday 11:00am - 12:30pm - White Girl Shamanism (a bit about my own efforts in creating a (neo)shamanism from my very not-indigenous background, and how those of us from non-indigenous background can create traditions for our own cultural milieus)
If you want to find out more about what’s happening at PCon, here’s the Program Guide: https://pantheacon.com/wordpress/at-pantheacon/whats-happening/program-guide/
Alright, since I had such a good turnout for my first set of free video workshops this past weekend, I’ve got another pair queued up! This time I’ll be talking about skin spirits and working with animal parts in spirituality and art. As before, there’ll be two time slots to choose from:
Friday, January 18, 2013, 7:00pm Pacific Standard Time
Saturday, January 19, 2013, 11:00am Pacific Standard Time
Here’s a time converter you can use to determine what 7pm/11am PST would be at your time zone. You don’t need to sign up anywhere, just make sure you have a Livestream account and show up! And, again, I’ll upload versions to my YouTube channel. Also, I’ll be doing some practice runs to make sure that I get all the technical bugs worked out, to include making damned sure I can find the chat this time :P
Here’s some of what I’ll cover:
In the last few years there has been an increase in interest working with hides, bones, and other animal parts in both art and spirituality. My work with skin spirits and their sacred remains has become one of my most asked-about topics as a result, and now you can have the opportunity to find out more directly from me in this free online workshop! Plus you’ll have the chance to ask me questions via chat related to both the art and spirit of my work for the past 15 years.
Here are just a few of the topics we’ll cover:
—What are skin spirits, and how do I work with them, and why are the hides and bones known as “sacred remains”?
—How can I respectfully work with animal parts in art or spirituality, and what rituals can I use?
—Where can I find animal parts to work with, and how do I decide what to do with them?
—What are other considerations, such as legalities, ethical guidelines, and safety?
—How can I physically and spiritually take care of the animal parts that I have, and what artistic options are available to me beyond traditional taxidermy?
Newcomers and more experienced folk are all welcome. Because of the sensitivity of this topic, the chat and questions will be moderated. And, again, I’m offering this workshop free of charge! If you’d like to support my work financially, feel free to check out my books at http://www.thegreenwolf.com/books.html or my ritual tools and other artwork at http://thegreenwolf.etsy.com
I’ve had a few people ask me specifically about this topic as of late, so for the curious, here you go–a late Solstice present!
Some of you dear readers are already acquainted with the purpose of ritual garments and the like. For those who are not, the short version is that rituals are special occasions. It can be powerful to have a set of clothing that is reserved solely for spiritual practices. Just putting them on signals to your subconscious mind that it’s time to do special things you don’t normally get to. To an extent, it appeals to that part of us that likes to play dress-up with costumes and fancy clothes and the like–it touches on Homo ludens, the part of us that learns and develops through play. (Of course, as grownups we often feel we have to come up with some “serious” reason to dress up in funny clothes any time besides Halloween–though there are those of us who will come up with any reason to don a costume of some sort, hence steampunks and cosplayers and SCAdians and…)
At any rate, most religious traditions have some form of ritual garments that are worn by the officiant(s), and sometimes for the laypeople as well. Even churches are full of congregants in their Sunday best. These clothes and other wearables are also often a form of identifying people of a similar tradition–if you see someone with a kippah you can pretty well bet they’re Jewish, while someone wearing a cross is likely to be Christian of some denomination or another. In paganism, there’s no single set of garb that will denote “that person is pagan!”, though flowing robes, historical clothing, and a variety of symbolic jewelry (far from limited to the pentacle) will be in abundance at many pagan events. (There will also be a cranky minority grumbling about how we all need to dress like normal civilized people, not Harry Potter or our long-lost Viking ancestors.)
Wolf mask by Lupa, 2012.
Masks are a particularly specialized form of ritual wear. We most commonly focus on a person’s face when identifying them and communicating with them. (I’ve yet to meet someone who could tell who was approaching by carefully examining their elbows.) A mask covers up the face, and thereby the person’s identity. A person putting on a mask also temporarily puts on a different persona. Even someone trying on a rubber werewolf mask will briefly “get into it” by making claws out of their fingers and going “RAWR!”
Read the rest here.