New Paths to Animal Totems: Three Alternative Approaches to Creating Your Own Totemism Paperback – Dec 8 2012
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About the Author
Lupa (Portland, OR) is a neoshaman, artist and sustainability geek. She has been working with animal magic in various forms since the 1990s and has developed a self-created and spirit-directed neoshamanic path. She possesses a Master's degree in counseling psychology with an emphasis on ecopsychology. Visit her online at TheGreenWolf.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It's intelligent, rational, easy to read while being in-depth, and has a wonderful conversational quality to it that makes it feel like you're listening to the author talk instead of reading from the page.
In terms of content, this is one of the first books containing "how to" info that didn't a) bore me, and b) intimidate me away from trying it. At the end of the book, instead of feeling that trying to find my totem is just too much time and work, I've been motivated into feeling like it's something that is doable and within my reach.
I'd recommend this book to anyone. :)
Let me first start off saying the -ONLY- reason I genuinely dislike this book with vigor is due to the use of 'Neo' being used as her basis.
I find it painfully ironic, how, she mentions and seems to constantly overlap her dislike towards the 'New Age Natives/Shamans', yet she goes about her workings with 'Wiccan Based / Neo Pagan' based ideas.
Also as much as totems and personal spirit animals can be a tad different to each human, they aren't 'custom' (yes I know, that is a straight opinion but let me add in some more fluff to that statement-); there are basic meat and bones to what each animal, insect, water sky and so on so forth (even extinct creatures) represent, even in different cultures.
The idea that, let's say, a fox is specifically monogamus and shows and guides one to be more or less scared and more sly, based on their experience, it is NOT being derived from ancient perceptions and more than once agreed statements and meanings that have been around since (I could guess) the era when humans were just discovering these ideas.
There are -SOME- good points in this book, but for the most part it is;
- Opinion based and not driven from old, classics texts and ideas from tribes, cultures, and others having similar experiences/meanings and understandings (which totems can be, not always, as they are personal)
- 'NEO', again, 'NEO' - think of the new age wiccan stores and books they might have in there, this would be one of them.
- Really poor semi-earth based ideas that are trying really hard to be legitimate, yet being a mix of other sources and dumbed down.
- 'Using a base of a totem that many people agree with, use, and experience together is not the best, let's create our own meanings and thus erasing the entire history of totems completely'.
I know this review is pretty harsh, but it's honesty.
The section on cultural appropriation was also a welcome sight; making Neopagans feel confident in our own cultural heritage instead of seeing it as inferior to (highly romanticized) indigenous ones. We do have our own culture, and that's OK, we can work it in new directions instead of borrowing all the time from traditions we don't understand, and people who may not like their traditions being pillaged. That was a breath of fresh air.
There are many suggestions on how to tailor totemic traditions for yourself. I am partial to the bioregional method, which is getting to know the environment you live in, and the spirits within it. I follow a Kemetic (Ancient Egyptian) path but I live in the Midwestern U.S. and a spirituality based on the climate, flora and fauna I experience on a daily basis was something I felt was missing from my life. this fills that void nicely and it feels natural to me.
Other suggestions include looking for family totems in your own family if you are not indigenous - say your name is Taube or Wolf, those are animal names, and can be worked with totemically.
I liked this book so much I got Lupa's DIY Totemism and plan to get more. it's a must read for anyone interested in Totem animals.
Animal totems are something I was interested in but never really explored. I always sort of felt that you needed to be a big nature lover to work with animal totems and if you know me, you know that me and nature do not get along. I'm allergic to just about everything that grows and every animal. All fur, feathers, dander, down, all of it. However, Lupa's new book "New Paths to Animal Totems: Three Alternative Approaches to Creating Your Totemism" really opened my eyes.
Lupa explains how you don't have to be tied to the Native American model that so many books and websites tend to favor. She offers three alternative models to discerning your totems: correspondences, bioregional, and archetypal. In correspondences Lupa discusses discovering your totem/totems using the directions, the Chinese or Western Zodiac, the Tarot and more. Bioregionalism is finding your totems not from within arbitrary boundaries such as state lines but instead from a place defined by natural phenomena such as waterways and geographic formations. Last is archetypal which is more psychological than other options. It matches our internal impulses and instincts to what we know of nonhuman animals, creating a personalized map of both the internal self and the world we inhabit. Lupa offers exercises, meditations, and examples for all of these so the seeker has a companion working with them along their path. She also discusses the option of combining these totemic paths.
Additionally, Lupa discusses ways to interact with, honor, and assist your totem animal. There's a guided meditation for helping find your totem animal. My favorite extra is a list of animal nonprofits.
"New Paths to Animal Totems" is a great book for anyone looking for a new perspective, or for someone new like me. I thought that someone housebound like myself couldn't have a relationship with a totem animal, but Lupa's writing opened my eyes. Ideally yes, being out in nature is great. However many people have totem animals that aren't found in nature where they live, so being outside doesn't effect the relationship one way or the other. That's a pretty big leap from one book. Just think what "New Paths to Animals" might teach you.
The book starts off with a lot of informative information. As always, she does her homework when writing new material. Unlike other authors, Lupa offers a completely new book instead of a rehashing of her old material. The book New paths to Animal Totems has three distinct ways in order to commune and work with animal spirits/totems. From the get go, she explains that this is in no way meant to be the only way to practice and emphasizes that whatever doesn’t work for you; to just leave it there. She encourages the reader to explore ones own personal experiences and only use her work as a basis of practice, unless you decide to use her method.
Instead of the direct “this is how you do it”, Lupa offers the individual ideas in which you can use to further your experiences with animal spirits. These three distinct ways may involve one or all three methods that include: Directional Correspondences to other forms of Magical Correspondences, Bio-Regional, and Archetypes. The first is self explanatory. The Bio-Regional method of working with animal spirits is by using your own backyard or local area to commune with the local spirits there. The Archetype method however, is typically the animal within yourself or animals which manifest through us in our psyche. Each of these ways are capable of being a singular way to understanding animal spirits, or a combination can be used of two or all three methods.
Lupa also covers over offerings, how it can directly, or indirectly affect the animals in your local area in a negative way. She also addresses that when you practice, it should never be constricted except by your own boundaries and that one must decide for themselves what their boundaries are when working with animal spirits. She prefers instead to let the individual decide for themselves of what way is right for them, if they would rather use one of her methods or to use one that was created by the individual. I personally relate to the Bio-Regional method.
Do I think that this book is worth purchasing? There is no other author that I trust more with this kind of information. I have been following her work for a while now and every time I read, I gain something new from it. Yes, I believe this book is worth your time because of the open mind that she puts into this book, not restricting people from simply doing their own thing and what feels right to them as individuals. It offers a spiritual, but practical approach to animal spirits, one which I find unique and interesting. I plan to use some of these ideas myself in the future.