Jump to content

My rant about totems


Athena

Recommended Posts

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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 tongue0013.gif Glad you liked my mayo reference!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

. . . 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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

 

I can remember being taught that the magic my Great grandmother taught me was thousands of years old, as old as the dawn of man and was handed to us from the others, who still teach us, and may be older than they are. That stated, no magic practice is original and no one has the rights to certain practices. They all originate from the same place and will come forth in whatever way fits the practitioner best.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

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.

 

In all fairness, it is not just the fluffy :bunny3: types that have this problem. I know a few self-proclaimed Trads that feel free to beg, borrow, and steal without demonstrating any respect for the underlying current from which the aspect comes. When I responded with my distaste for the term, eclectic, this is what I was referring to. I am not personally opposed to someone using what is at hand, but I do have a problem with people who jump from one type of practice, pantheon, or magical anything to another without taking the time to truly learn about what they are dabbling in. I have my Path, but if I were searching, I would feel compelled to give a respectable amount of time to learning about the Path before claiming it as my own. For me, that means years of study and practice, not the magical equivalent of 10 minutes of effort, which is all some folks give.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1344386215[/url]' post='129964']

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.

 

I don't reallly think it matters what your race is as long as you show some respect for the religion or tradition you choose to follow. You can trace a lot of things back to a different time or place however each group puts their own spin and flavor in its traditions and taking that away from them seems a little cruel to me

I know plenty of NA who have no respect for there spiritual ancestors on the other hand I know many people of other races who have put in lots of time and learned all they can about NA spiritualism I would much rather they participate. That said I do know many elders who do not like outsiders sharing their path, I don't actually agree with that but to each their own.

 

The reason I feel you should keep your totem secret is the same reason many here keep things that are very personal to them secret it can give others the power to attack you or learn things you might not wish them to know. However if that isn't for you I'm ok with that I'm pretty much ok with any choices people make that are not going to cause me a problem lol.

 

 

I agree also that some types of racism work both ways, however I would like to point out that most tribal members feel this way because they feel they have had a lot stolen from them and they want to keep what little of their traditions they have left. On the other hand most whites I know who disrespect NA do so because eather they have deep seated prejudices like all NA are alcoholics or because they feel they should automatically have acsses to our spiritual practices and don't like the fact that in this culture you don't just get baptisied or something. I have been learning all my life and at 35 still am not considered a true medician woman. That is a title of respect I will work towards most of my life as it should be.

That said I still welcome anyone who truelly wants to learn, I believe the best way carry on these wounderfull traditions is to teach them to anyone who wants to actually learn them. On the other hand if it's someone who wants to pervert them into a bunch of new age bs I have no interest in seeing them turned into some weak watered down crap that takes no work to achieve..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am curious about totem animals. I have had my own experience and I was quite shocked about the animal I was shown at the end of that particular journey, I'll give you guys a hint its stationary and plant-like but it is an animal think along the lines of a sea anemone, sea sponge or coral. I find myself really annoyed by people who think that a totem animal is only a select group of animals like bear, eagle, hawk, otter, etc and then comes up with a quasi-mystical correspondence to said animal. The totem is an important tool and more focus should be put on the wisdom it shows and the connection with nature it brings rather than the bragging rites you get. whether its a bear or a common garden slug.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

When I was working near Uluru (Ayers Rock), the thought crossed my mind to go and visit it but I never did. I never had the desire and I felt I was kind of being 'pushed' away from it, definitely not welcome. Later I found out it was considered sacred men's business (for men only). Not only are women not welcome there, nobody should actually climb it. I think the reason I felt this was partly because I'm Aussie born, so have that connection to the land but also I'm more sensitive to the land/vibration that what a lot of people would be.

 

With regard to totems, power animals, god/esses, etc, I've always felt they won't work with anyone who does not show the proper respect for them or approach them in the right way. It can be so maddening at times, but really my only business is my own and what I am doing. If Joe Blow down the road wants to muck about and ends up getting zapped, that's their problem.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...