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Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic Paperback – Apr 1 2006
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This book is not meant to describe to the reader everything that s/he may do with animals, but it does give a really good overview of the most common (and some less common) mechanisms for dealing with animal magic. Appropriate for beginners, even the experienced can find some worthwhile material in the author's personal accounts of her own efforts and might additionally find a few tidbits they'd not yet considered.
I was happy to actually find a book on animal magic that isn't fluffy, doesn't rely on stuff like "Owl is always a harbinger of death and means you're all spooky bad/goth/powerful/etc. if you have an owl spirit guide!" While I'm not sure I personally would label some of the workings she discusses as "animal magic" instead of "fantasy-based magic", I understand why she does so and consider that to be a matter of semantics and personal preference.
Most of the book is well written, including throughout important cautions regarding ethical treatment of animals; but the next to last chapter seems to ramble somewhat, as though the author were tired and running out of stuff to say at that point (or alternately was early in the writing process and had not yet organized her thoughts very well). That's really a minor point considering that the book is good in general, though.
The art is beautiful and the writing is clear and easy to read; I devoured it the night I got it (something I almost never do with any book). Elements of paleopaganism, neopaganism, and pop culture (including a guest appearance by Moro no Kimi and mentions of such seemingly random and unrelated subjects as "Pokemon" and "Star Wars") blend together to bring something completely new to the standard fare currently ascribed to books on animal magic. Even the chapter on totems alone is well worth it, going far more indepth than any I've read so far.
In short, for those of you (be you magician, witch, whatever, or not) tired of reading the same totem dictionary in fifteen different covers by thirty different authors, this book is for you.
Lupa writes from a very practical perspective. She makes no grand claims of animal charming powers, ("I've yet to have a single dog respond to a mental command in my years of working with the species" ), and she readily admits that this text is more of a starting point for ideas than a be-all-end-all on the subject.
The book covers a broad range of topics including shapeshifting, totemism (very useful introduction to the historical and modern use of the word), working with animal parts, and even a somewhat controversial (but well handled) chapter on animal sacrifice. It's a must-read for anyone wanting to go beyond the totem 101 dictionaries littering the shelves of most New Age sections in bookstores.
For the most part the book is well written and to the point. I was fascinated by the recounting of the author's own experiences of invocation while dancing in a wolf pelt. I often use found feathers in creation of magical tools so the chapter on using animal parts was also personally interesting for me. The author suggests deep communion with the animal spirits left behind in the parts, something I had never considered before. It does make sense to me, although nearly all the feathers I have worked with have been molted and as far as I am aware have little in terms of residual energy clinging to them. On the other hand, I have two turtle shells that I have been holding onto for years, not knowing what to do with them. Perhaps the ritual explained in this book to ask the original owners what they wish to have done with the remains would be a good avenue to pursue in this instance.
I have worked with animal imagery in the past both in forms of totems and animal nature. I often call animals to represent the Quarters when I cast circle. For a long time my favorite tarot deck was the Earth Medicine Deck, which features animals on most cards with some left blank for the reader to fill in as needed. But I never considered invocation of my totems into myself, never considered creating new animals to suit my needs and never tried shape shifting, either in my mind or in actuality. The author claims to feel "other" and to feel a kinship with her totems something I have never felt. This book contained many passages opening new ideas to me. Even if I fail to use their wisdom, I feel that my outlook when it comes to animal magic has been greatly expanded.
On the technical side of the book, I have two small issues. One was the page layout. I found the margins in the book to be too small forcing me to open the book's spine more severely than I am accustomed to. In a hardback book this would not be an issue, but with a soft cover, I am afraid the binding will soon become cracked and damaged causing the book to have a short lifespan. The other thing I have issue with was the author's attempt to be non-gender specific with her own word of "hir" replacing his, hers, him and her. It really is too bad that the English language has no gender-neutral words in these instances, but at best I found the replacement word to be distracting and at worst was that it was used inconsistently throughout the text. In places the common language of his and her was in evidence only to be replaced in the following paragraph by the "hir" usage.
In all this is an excellent book for people wishing to delve into the worlds of animal magics. It is far better than any other book I have read on the subject, avoiding the rote use of listing animal correspondences and getting down to the nitty-gritty of actual rituals and meditations fully accessible to even a novice.
Reveiwed by W. Lyon Martin - author/illustrator of "An Ordinary Girl, A Magical Child"