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Thread: Totem Animals

  1. #11
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    I can say I don't feel or have ever felt the presence of an animal, totem, guide or familiar myself. To me they seem to fit in with shamanism more than witchcraft or paganism in general. Norse seidr talks about moving in the spirit realm in animal form. I think this is where lycanthrope legends come from. If people feel they have them that's cool but again I have never really experience this yet.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ula View Post
    I can say I don't feel or have ever felt the presence of an animal, totem, guide or familiar myself. To me they seem to fit in with shamanism more than witchcraft or paganism in general. Norse seidr talks about moving in the spirit realm in animal form. I think this is where lycanthrope legends come from. If people feel they have them that's cool but again I have never really experience this yet.
    Lycanthrope legends are found in many area's outside of the Nordic influences so I do not think that is it. The big thing with any sort of Thrope story is the form is always that of the most feared creature in the area, thus South and Centeral America it was Jaguar, parts of Asia was Rats and Tigers, parts of the slavic countries was Bears, parts of the British Isles, especially Wales, was Wolves for instance. From the stories from the Edda's and Saga's I would think it has more to do with the wearing of furs or coats that allow the person to assume the form of said animal. Well that and the berserker process of wearing furs into battle, I seem to recall Odin was renouned for it and encouraged it. But those wouldn't necessarily be classifed as individual "Totems" though they might be Clan emblems or house emblems.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by MonSno_LeeDra View Post
    Ten years ago, maybe even as recently as five years ago the concept of Totem's was almost unknown. Yet they really took off and soon every book out there had a section on them and the methods of finding them as more and more Native American Spirituality was lifted. They really seemed to become a mainstay about the same time that the notion of a Native American Pantheon started to be pushed in the New Age areas.

    While Guardian Angles have been around for many years I don't really recall hearing a whole lot about them either until about the same time frame. Many will disagree but I personaly think a lot of the totem's and power animals and such became filler for many of the Wicca 101 books that were flooding the market in the 90's as they needed things that were not part of the inner court teachings. Without the various filler's they'd not have sold nearly as many books.

    I do agree though that not all people have totems as the term was initially used. After the 90's if you didn't have one it was one more sign you were not really a pagan in a lot of books, or seemed to imply as much to my perspective. It ranked right up there with the increasing need to have a familiar who was some sort of family pet vice a daemon or daemonic type creature as used in High and Ceremonial magics.
    All of the good books in this general field that I've read, whether they be about spirituality, tarot cards, psychic development, ect, have all said that if something fells right but contradicts everything the so-called experts say, it's right for you. I feel that we are each a God or Goddess and that everything we perceive in our universe is created by our own consciousness. Therefore, I believe that totem animals, spirit guides, ect, are our own creations. If you read about them in a book and it feels right to you, it is right for you. Even if the book is just filled with whatever the money-hungry author could get their hands while doing the minimum amount of research possible. Things like totem animals do not feel right to me, but if they work for you, I say go for it.
    Last edited by grug; January 11th, 2012 at 09:39 AM. Reason: Spelling


  4. #14
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    While Guardian Angles have been around for many years I don't really recall hearing a whole lot about them either until about the same time frame.
    The concept of Guardian Angels is not a new one, and in fact, has been around for almost as long as the Church has (by "Church" I am referring to the Eastern/Oriental Orthodox Churches). They are usually recieved at baptism, and the Ethiopian Orthodox believe we have two angels; one for day and one for night.
    "If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

    "Remember your spirituality" - Ganesha to a friend in a dream, 2008



  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Selah View Post
    The concept of Guardian Angels is not a new one, and in fact, has been around for almost as long as the Church has (by "Church" I am referring to the Eastern/Oriental Orthodox Churches). They are usually recieved at baptism, and the Ethiopian Orthodox believe we have two angels; one for day and one for night.
    Within Christanity I agree, yet within Paganism its really abt 10 - 15 years ago where you start to really see it being intergrated into things. Prior to that I can't think of any book or pathway that acknowledged them or had them as part of its world mythos. Even if one considers the Africian Dispora traditions it's not that big of an influences as those weren't intergrated into the Pagan umbrella either at the time.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by grug View Post
    All of the good books in this general field that I've read, whether they be about spirituality, tarot cards, psychic development, ect, have all said that if something fells right but contradicts everything the so-called experts say, it's right for you. I feel that we are each a God or Goddess and that everything we perceive in our universe is created by our own consciousness. Therefore, I believe that totem animals, spirit guides, ect, are our own creations. If you read about them in a book and it feels right to you, it is right for you. Even if the book is just filled with whatever the money-hungry author could get their hands while doing the minimum amount of research possible. Things like totem animals do not feel right to me, but if they work for you, I say go for it.
    That's a cop out statement. It's the same statement that's been used for years by those who want to pick and choose what feels right and ignore everything else that doesn't feel good or is seen as the negative side of many practices. Frequently used as a justification for lifting or cherry picking parts of pathways or many first nation spiritualities and justifying to themselves why its ok to do so.

    While I can see it in some instances, lets face it a Rakasha for instance just does not fit into a Lakota based Spirituality, in most instances its a fail. But that is my opinion only so others may see it differently.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by MonSno_LeeDra View Post
    That's a cop out statement. It's the same statement that's been used for years by those who want to pick and choose what feels right and ignore everything else that doesn't feel good or is seen as the negative side of many practices. Frequently used as a justification for lifting or cherry picking parts of pathways or many first nation spiritualities and justifying to themselves why its ok to do so.

    While I can see it in some instances, lets face it a Rakasha for instance just does not fit into a Lakota based Spirituality, in most instances its a fail. But that is my opinion only so others may see it differently.
    I understand why a lot of people would think the way you do.

    I grew up in a Catholic family and went to Catholic primary and secondry schools. That really put me off the whole idea of following the set rules, or even the specific guidlines, of a particualr faith. I haven't found a path that has a system that I believe in 100%, and as my own belief system is constantly evolving I'm more than happy to take the bits and pieces that work for me. But I've observed that for a lot of people the specific structure works for them, so each to their own, I guess.


  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by grug View Post
    I understand why a lot of people would think the way you do.

    I grew up in a Catholic family and went to Catholic primary and secondry schools. That really put me off the whole idea of following the set rules, or even the specific guidlines, of a particualr faith. I haven't found a path that has a system that I believe in 100%, and as my own belief system is constantly evolving I'm more than happy to take the bits and pieces that work for me. But I've observed that for a lot of people the specific structure works for them, so each to their own, I guess.
    Bold mine,

    I think you actually identify the problem in the bolded areas, that being those peoples or socities who incorporate Totemnism, Animism etc in thier belief systems do so on a cultural and social level. It's not part of the religion only, its not part of their spiritual practice only, its not even part of their belief system only for its a facet of everything that makes up thier socities. It is their society and everything that makes it up, its the way they see the world, thier place in the world, the way they interact with the world. It's a facet that can not stand alone nor support itself without the complete structure. Yet most modern pagan practices lift a notion or concept but never take in the full factor that makes it part of those peoples practices.

    I'll be 53 in March. In all those years one thing I have seen over and over and over is the failure of ones practice when they take a piece here and there and do not develope it. It's like going to the dinner table and eating only desert. At first its great and one feels really good about it, then you start to suffer and notice you are missing something but no longer really recall what it is. You hunger for something else but can't explain what it is, only wandering about asking why it no longer fills you. Why the gods / goddess no longer speak to you? Why your left feeling empty? Its day after day of why's. Then its often tied to the notion of not admitting you were wrong as they fought to get away from the established meals they claim didn't sustain them.

    Go to any pagan site on the net and it seem's like their are miles and miles of threads about why it stopped. Why they feel empty now. How can they recover what was lost. How can they regain the lost sense of connection to their gods / goddesses. Why their ceremonies no longer do anything for them. Why their lives seem to hold no energy and they are just going through the motions. In every instance where I have spoken to those people later its always been because they selected what parts they wanted but never what all the parts were that was needed until it failed them. Only then did they go back and actually see what their pathway's were not what they wanted them to be.

    Well that or they left it with disgust or bitter taste in their mouths about it and went running home to thier original belief systems. For they finally came to understand what thier own beliefs systems really were and what they were about. Ironically I suppose in that many of them returned to Christanity and finally understood what it was about not what the structure tried to pass itself of as.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by MonSno_LeeDra View Post
    Bold mine,

    I think you actually identify the problem in the bolded areas, that being those peoples or socities who incorporate Totemnism, Animism etc in thier belief systems do so on a cultural and social level. It's not part of the religion only, its not part of their spiritual practice only, its not even part of their belief system only for its a facet of everything that makes up thier socities. It is their society and everything that makes it up, its the way they see the world, thier place in the world, the way they interact with the world. It's a facet that can not stand alone nor support itself without the complete structure. Yet most modern pagan practices lift a notion or concept but never take in the full factor that makes it part of those peoples practices.

    I'll be 53 in March. In all those years one thing I have seen over and over and over is the failure of ones practice when they take a piece here and there and do not develope it. It's like going to the dinner table and eating only desert. At first its great and one feels really good about it, then you start to suffer and notice you are missing something but no longer really recall what it is. You hunger for something else but can't explain what it is, only wandering about asking why it no longer fills you. Why the gods / goddess no longer speak to you? Why your left feeling empty? Its day after day of why's. Then its often tied to the notion of not admitting you were wrong as they fought to get away from the established meals they claim didn't sustain them.

    Go to any pagan site on the net and it seem's like their are miles and miles of threads about why it stopped. Why they feel empty now. How can they recover what was lost. How can they regain the lost sense of connection to their gods / goddesses. Why their ceremonies no longer do anything for them. Why their lives seem to hold no energy and they are just going through the motions. In every instance where I have spoken to those people later its always been because they selected what parts they wanted but never what all the parts were that was needed until it failed them. Only then did they go back and actually see what their pathway's were not what they wanted them to be.

    Well that or they left it with disgust or bitter taste in their mouths about it and went running home to thier original belief systems. For they finally came to understand what thier own beliefs systems really were and what they were about. Ironically I suppose in that many of them returned to Christanity and finally understood what it was about not what the structure tried to pass itself of as.
    But isn’t casual experimentation a good way to introduce yourself to new ideas? If you’re interested in the idea of totem animals and start to use some of the associated culture, you can learn whether that particular system is right for you. If it feels right you can slowly introduce more aspects of it into your life. If it doesn’t work, at least you tried and you’re wiser for the experience.

    I’ve always found that finding out your current system is wrong to be a liberating experience because it frees you to discover new systems.


  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by grug View Post
    But isn’t casual experimentation a good way to introduce yourself to new ideas? If you’re interested in the idea of totem animals and start to use some of the associated culture, you can learn whether that particular system is right for you. If it feels right you can slowly introduce more aspects of it into your life. If it doesn’t work, at least you tried and you’re wiser for the experience.

    I’ve always found that finding out your current system is wrong to be a liberating experience because it frees you to discover new systems.
    Wow, that's the same BS line we used to feed to the establishment in the 70's with the drug usage. We were expanding our minds in truth all we were doing is getting high and passing life by and avoiding anything that seemed hard or responsible. Wiser for the experince of it? Not hardly. Had fun and took no responsibility for it, You bet. Start off doing it because it was the in thing to do, later kept doing it as a justification to ones self about learning and expanding thier horizons and experiences.

    To me its more like trying to learn a new language. It's learnt the best when you immerse yourself in it not by cherry picking parts of it and trying to pass it off as actually having experienced it. It's a matter of walking the walk, talking the talk and doing it not reading a book and thinking you have it from that. To read a book or someones experince does nothing to show you what its like if you have not walked in their path as they walk it. I can describe all day long what its like to be at sea and walk upon the bulkheads as the sea tosses you about but until you've done it and been there you'll never really know.

    Watching a Gojira (Godzilla) film will show me quite a bit about Japan but it's nothing like having lived there for 6.5 years and lived in the society, lived it, breathed it, and experienced it within the society. To trully know what a totem or other guide, etc is like you have to experience it within the cultural content is derives from.

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