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My rant about totems


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#1 Athena

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 07:15 AM

Hi everyone, I'm really new and this is my first thread .I have a issue that is coming up a lot lately and it driving me nuts. Totems I am native American and follow the medician path during that we learn about totems. What they are how to call them even how to help others find theirs. That said this concept that he I'll just pick a cool animal I like is bs. It doesn't and shouldn't work that way. Totems are a sacred part of yourself they reveille something very deep and important about you. There in away like your witchs name and like that secret name you should never tell others what your totem animal or worse it's name is. By telling everyone what your totem is your giving away power over yourself to others.your totem is a sacred part of you and just like thoughs other sacred parts they should be protected and respected. Your totem animal can leave you this happens only rarely and is usually due to a deep spiritual crisis. Most people have more than one totem through out there life or you can have more than one. Anouther thing that can happen is your totem will have three forms usually earth,air ,water or perhaps mythical fire shapes. I have become so annoyed that people are aproching this like it's a whim or game it's flustrating for those of use who find real power in them. In my opinion it's also dangerous like giving away a peace of yourself and I know most of us would never do that because we know what someone could do with it. I hope no one feels insulted by this I am certainly not aiming this at anyone here I'm just so flusterated by the blatant disrespect I see some places. I actually ended up here after attempting a Wiccan site that I found so Juvenal I lasted two days lol. I'm really new to forums so I hadn't researched it like I did after reliving my mistake. I have been reading through old posts and have to say you ladies and gentilmen seem very well educated and masters of your crafts. I realize that I'm new so I expect to have to earn my bones so to speak . If anyone has any questions please ask and I mean no disrespect this was just bothering me so much I had to put it out there hopfully to others who will understand my irritation.
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#2 Whiterose

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 11:54 AM

I think you bring up an excellent point. In the "New Age movement" alot of traditions and cultures are seemingly basterdized as people in this movement blend beliefs and practises from many different cultures in to popular wicca or whatever other name they adopt to sound more ligit. The Native American traditions are no exception. Their beliefs have been ripped off the same as the beliefs of ancient greece, hinduism, buddism, many native african religions, freemasonry and other lodge type systems, chinese medicine and many others.

Now with that said, I work with a spirit animal representation but I do not call it a totem as I feel that term belongs to the NA system. I could use it, but I feel that is disrespectful as I am decended more from the "white man" than the Native Americans and I wasn't brought up in that system. Great topic.

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#3 Marabet

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 01:23 PM

Don't worry, you won't find many of the New Age variety here. A lot of us have no religious element to our practice.

I agree with what Whiterose said, this is a common practice in the New Age/Wiccan/Ne-Pagan group. I look at how they use deities from other cultures and am floored by how little respect they pay to their true meaning and history. Everything has become "white washed" in those paths to best suit their "love and light" agenda.

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#4 CelticGypsy

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 02:05 PM

Hi everyone, I'm really new and this is my first thread .I have a issue that is coming up a lot lately and it driving me nuts. Totems I am native American and follow the medician path during that we learn about totems. What they are how to call them even how to help others find theirs. That said this concept that he I'll just pick a cool animal I like is bs. It doesn't and shouldn't work that way. Totems are a sacred part of yourself they reveille something very deep and important about you. There in away like your witchs name and like that secret name you should never tell others what your totem animal or worse it's name is. By telling everyone what your totem is your giving away power over yourself to others.your totem is a sacred part of you and just like thoughs other sacred parts they should be protected and respected. Your totem animal can leave you this happens only rarely and is usually due to a deep spiritual crisis. Most people have more than one totem through out there life or you can have more than one. Anouther thing that can happen is your totem will have three forms usually earth,air ,water or perhaps mythical fire shapes. I have become so annoyed that people are aproching this like it's a whim or game it's flustrating for those of use who find real power in them. In my opinion it's also dangerous like giving away a peace of yourself and I know most of us would never do that because we know what someone could do with it. I hope no one feels insulted by this I am certainly not aiming this at anyone here I'm just so flusterated by the blatant disrespect I see some places. I actually ended up here after attempting a Wiccan site that I found so Juvenal I lasted two days lol. I'm really new to forums so I hadn't researched it like I did after reliving my mistake. I have been reading through old posts and have to say you ladies and gentilmen seem very well educated and masters of your crafts. I realize that I'm new so I expect to have to earn my bones so to speak . If anyone has any questions please ask and I mean no disrespect this was just bothering me so much I had to put it out there hopfully to others who will understand my irritation.


Good Topic Athena. I appreciate that it comes from your own Native American path, that rings true to you, due to the Blood and the Path. It is appalling that the New Age Folks, and bored Wiccan people, have to result in using these sacrosant totems to fit into their belief systems, or add some "flavoring" to their Path. Frankly, I don't think they know shit, imho.

To liken it to a Witches true name, gives me pause to offer, not all Witches have a secret name, while it is very plausible that they have not discovered a name or set in motion the personal quest to have a name that would resonate with them. Personally, I haven't searched for mine, yet I do know deep down inside myself, that I have a "Soul" song, yet to BE found by me. That to me would take precidence over a "name" at this point in my Path.

I accept your stance with the suggestion of knowledge about having more than one sacred totem, and that the totems are connected to the Elements of the Earth. You are not the first Native American that has given me that suggestion, so I appreciate how it validates to me.

When you take a stand on your belief system, it's because of how it lives within you, how it grows within you, and how it manifests the nature of it within you. Don't concern yourself about sounding disrespectful, here on the Forum. I speak for myself that what another brings to the Craft Whole, is preceived as another possible key to a door.

Regards,
Gypsy



+ 1 vote up Athena.

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#5 sarasuperid

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 04:44 PM

Please do let me know, if anything I have written about in relation to Native American lore and practices is inappropriate! I try my best, but could still make mistakes. +1 Athena!
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"A Craft, a calling, a set of Keys to unlock a particular cosmology that is borne, and born, in the blood of the practitioner, and sets the Work to be done with which one may commune with those who hold the patterns and keys of the life of the practitioner and hir stream. The Work is to be done, and we are to do it." --Aiseling the Bard

#6 sarasuperid

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 04:51 PM

Also, I have been wary about talking about a spirit companion of mine and what type of animal it is. I avoid doing so except with people I trust implicitly, those in my coven or very close friends. I am glad to see some of my gut feeling to be a match to another traditions practices. Thanks for sharing about the importance of privacy when it comes to totems, in my experience similar spirit relationships in other traditions follow similar taboos of privacy and secrecy surrounding ones allies.
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"A Craft, a calling, a set of Keys to unlock a particular cosmology that is borne, and born, in the blood of the practitioner, and sets the Work to be done with which one may commune with those who hold the patterns and keys of the life of the practitioner and hir stream. The Work is to be done, and we are to do it." --Aiseling the Bard

#7 Aloe

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 05:06 PM

OK maybe I'm just weird, but when I hear someone use the word 'totem' my mind doesn't automatically assume they mean it in a NA context. And having animal spirit guides isn't strictly just a NA thing. Just like having a 'witch name' isn't something all witches do, and having a secret name is practiced by other non-witch mystical sects.

That being said, I do understand the annoyance at seeing NA culture treated like mayo and spread thinly over every type of esoteric sandwich under the sun. I have Apache family, but because I wasn't raised in their culture I don't try to take on their practices in my craft. It's a matter of respect.

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"The people who live in the Ozark country of Missouri and Arkansas were, until very recently, the most deliberately unprogressive people in the United States. Descended from pioneers who came West from the Southern Appalachians at the beginning of the nineteenth century, they made little contact with the outer world for more than a hundred years. They seem like foreigners to the average urban American, but nearly all of them come of British stock, and many families have lived in America since colonial days. Their material heirlooms are few, but like all isolated illiterates they have clung to the old songs and obsolete sayings and outworn customs of their ancestors." Ozark Magic and Folklore

#8 Athena

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 04:13 AM

Please don't think I'm saying that only NA should have totems because though the word totem is NA animal guides are not unique to us. I personally believe anyone willing to do the work can have a totem . There is a difriance between totems and animal guides you can have both an example of a animal guide is a butterfly that keeps appearing in your dreams or even in life it might be here to guide you through a change in your life or are giving you the message you need to make a change. Though not all animal guides are temporary ether it's one of thoughs areas that can have lots of interpretations and meanings. Totems are more like a deep secret part of you that most people don't know about that you can have a spiritual relationship with. I also have to say while I know my own tribal beliefs there are lots of difrent NA tribes and there spiritual paths are as difrent and varied as they are like the Anasazi and Nantucket they have very different beliefs and rituals. I know that our NA studies professor refers to It as being more a area of study than a subject. Though there is a commonality of cycles of life and reverence of nature that run through all of them . I personally love the apache belief in power and use of power even though they are not my tribe. I don't get affended easily and almost never over unintended insults we all deal with them occasionally. I admit I don't know much about lots of other beliefs simply because I have no experiance with them so the odds are good I will inadvertently insult someone. Like about the magical names comparison I relize not everyone uses them but it was the closest example I could think of. I don't really find people of other cultures wanting to experiance my beliefs as insulting I think it can be a great thing. It's when they start picking and choosing peaces they like and having no respect for it. The best example I can think of is if a group started taking holy communion and turning it into a wine tasting party with crackers I know I would find that insulting if they still called it holy communion. Other wise I think more people need to bond with nature as we do it would certainly help the environment . I love that mayo comment by the way I really need to figure out how your quotes button lol.
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#9 Michele

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 12:07 PM

Do totems mean different things in different cultures? Are they only animal guides? Are spirit guides (whether in plant, animal, passed over human, or any other entity) also considered totems? What does the word totem mean to everyone, a guide, an ally, an animal...etc? Do you believe we cultivate our own totems by what path we walk and what we decide to work with? If one never was into plants, or animals, but suddenly started working with them, do you think one get a guide or a totem, or do you think the totem was always there, just not at the fore??? Ancestors can be guides, but I don't think I'd refer to them as totems... what do you consider the difference?

M

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#10 sarasuperid

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 01:57 PM

Very interesting, I looked up totem and it has a different meaning than I thought. It does refer to a type of ancestor. For example the Quillette tribe in La Push that many of us are nominally familar with has wolf as its ancestor and totem. Plants can also be totems.
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"A Craft, a calling, a set of Keys to unlock a particular cosmology that is borne, and born, in the blood of the practitioner, and sets the Work to be done with which one may commune with those who hold the patterns and keys of the life of the practitioner and hir stream. The Work is to be done, and we are to do it." --Aiseling the Bard

#11 Aloe

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 02:06 PM

Plants can also be totems.


Symbols and archetypes can be totems also. I used the animal spirit guide example since Athena was specifically referring to animal totems.

There's no offense taken on my part Athena, I do understand where you're coming from - I just disagreed with what I saw as some generalizing. Don't mind me I'm often disagreeable, feel free to ignore it. lol Posted Image Glad you liked my mayo reference!

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"The people who live in the Ozark country of Missouri and Arkansas were, until very recently, the most deliberately unprogressive people in the United States. Descended from pioneers who came West from the Southern Appalachians at the beginning of the nineteenth century, they made little contact with the outer world for more than a hundred years. They seem like foreigners to the average urban American, but nearly all of them come of British stock, and many families have lived in America since colonial days. Their material heirlooms are few, but like all isolated illiterates they have clung to the old songs and obsolete sayings and outworn customs of their ancestors." Ozark Magic and Folklore

#12 Michele

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 10:16 PM

Very interesting, I looked up totem and it has a different meaning than I thought. It does refer to a type of ancestor. For example the Quillette tribe in La Push that many of us are nominally familar with has wolf as its ancestor and totem. Plants can also be totems.


Is that the La Push of Twilight fame? With the wolves? That's interesting if it is that the author took local legend and molded it into the story...

M

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#13 Jevne

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 03:30 AM

. . . It's when they start picking and choosing peaces they like and having no respect for it. The best example I can think of is if a group started taking holy communion and turning it into a wine tasting party with crackers I know I would find that insulting if they still called it holy communion. . . .


I know next to nothing about Native American culture or totems, as related to the same; however, I do agree with the above statement. The Craft takes many forms and has many avenues, which reach the same magical and spiritual conclusions, but a person who claims to follow a specific Path cannot and should not just pick and choose whatever they please and say it is the same.

Jevne

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#14 Stacey

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 04:07 AM

It reminds me of seeing Wiccans and NeoPagans who adopt the Darker Deities because they have some percieved "cool" factor like the Morrigan who is called Queen of the Witches and Queen of the Faeries. Yes she is a Goddess of Magick and Prophecy but she is also a Goddess of Fate, War and Death but that aspect always seems to be ignored because its not "love n light". I often laugh when I come across it because I tend to think one day the Lady is going to get pissed off and let fly with her disapproval.

I see where you are coming from with the totem animal issue, I also know a few Native American witches who blog regularly do share your thoughts. I think as long as something is approached with respect, reverence and a desire to truly learn and understand I don't think there is a problem with "co-opting" however I do think if someone picks it up and mashes it in with their brand of spirituality simply because it sounds good or they want to sound more learned than they are then there is a level of disrespect that needs to be addressed.

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#15 sarasuperid

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 06:52 AM

Is that the La Push of Twilight fame? With the wolves? That's interesting if it is that the author took local legend and molded it into the story...

M

That she did, the main plot is very similar to a Klickitat Native American legend from South Washington, and the "Werewolves" are from a Northern Washington tribe, the Quillette. But what interests me is the role totems take, which is as an ancestral spirit. Several local tribe's are descended from Thunderbirds, for example.

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"A Craft, a calling, a set of Keys to unlock a particular cosmology that is borne, and born, in the blood of the practitioner, and sets the Work to be done with which one may commune with those who hold the patterns and keys of the life of the practitioner and hir stream. The Work is to be done, and we are to do it." --Aiseling the Bard

#16 Michele

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 11:25 AM

I know next to nothing about Native American culture or totems, as related to the same; however, I do agree with the above statement. The Craft takes many forms and has many avenues, which reach the same magical and spiritual conclusions, but a person who claims to follow a specific Path cannot and should not just pick and choose whatever they please and say it is the same.

Jevne


That I very much agree with - core elements of truth within a practice (whose presence or lack thereof would also tell one if the person practicing it is full of shit or not, lol)interpreted by the symbols/language/whatever of that pratice. Yet if one walks a specific tradition one should stick within that tradition for their interpretations and ways.

M

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#17 Michele

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 11:27 AM

That she did, the main plot is very similar to a Klickitat Native American legend from South Washington, and the "Werewolves" are from a Northern Washington tribe, the Quillette. But what interests me is the role totems take, which is as an ancestral spirit. Several local tribe's are descended from Thunderbirds, for example.


Ah - it would be interesting to read the legends, especially if one enjoyed the books (which I did strangely enough as I'm not overly into teenage-romance fiction, lol).

M

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#18 CelticGypsy

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 03:00 PM

Bringing this back from Twilight to the real world.:witchbroom:

I don't have a drop of Native American blood in my being, that being said I don't barrow from that Tradition for anything. It's sacred in it's own right. The Native Americans that I'm slightly, and I mean slightly acquainted with are very reserved about sharing anything of their belief systems and traditions.

I call myself fortunate to have the slightest acquaintance with them. They know I'm not just the average old white woman, when I asked permission to collect some swamp water on the Reservation, I explained myself as to why I wanted this. Come to think of it, I wonder if they sent me to the scarey-est place on the Reservation just to have a giggle and a snort, just to test me. LoL !

When I went the second time, is when the Native American told me to bring tobacco and leave it there. I havent been back in over a year to this place, but I believe if I did go back, that the Native Americans would not be adversed to my presense. They know what guards this swamp/bog, I don't, but I'm very respectful of it.

I will barrow from Traditions occasionally, but not Native American. It's not my right to do so. If I am "gifted" something from them, it's a big deal for me, I don't refuse the generocity, that would be insulting to them.

During April, we went to visit some lost relatives on Himself's side, and the Patriarch of this large side of his Family, ( she is in her 60's ) her beau is Native American, full blood. We've invited them up to the Lake in August for a weekend, do some fishing, eat some food... hum -drum. It will be interesting to say the least how this Fellow will react on MY turf. LOL !

Regards,
Gypsy

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#19 Moonshadow73

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 01:02 AM

I have long been attracted to Native American spirituality, even way before I started my path as a witch. It is true, there is a lot of disrespect of Native American culture going on in certain areas of paganism and such. It is just the usual facade that fluffs like to put on. I have no idea really if I have N.A. blood in me or not. I was always told I was a heinz 57, lol, so the chances could be high. I also remember my grandmother passing down, and giving me authentic pieces of Native jewelry, but I was never told any stories about them really. All I know is that Native American spiritual traditions are something I am strongly drawn to, and I just trust that there is a reason why, so I do not deny myself in embracing them.
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#20 JuniperBaby

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 12:36 AM

I think some Native American practices are deeper than Native Americanism. I think they come from before. They are not owned by Native Americans. The Native American way of interacting with and describing these things is not the "right" way or the only way.

I am part Native American, but I don't think that is why I have certain rights. I think as a human and a citizen of this earth I have the right to make contact with the forces that have been here from before anyone crossed the Bering Straight.

I don't think a totem needs to always be a secret. I don't believe in many "always".

I think white men disrespect red man religion. And I think red men disrespect white men by claiming white men have no right to claim their birthrights.

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