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November 1st, 2013 Introduction Class Information

From: Destiny G.
Sent on: Friday, October 18, 2013 1:08 AM

Hello, Everyone.

I am sending this information again because not everyone got it. Many people have asked me to help them understand and/or to help them find what their Totem was/is. I believe before you find the end result which is usually the "Coolest" part, You need to know the understanding of the whys' and hows'. This will help you keep your Egos out of the picture, have humility and receive from the Creator your true Spirit Totem (s).

So, before we get into the Totem class, I want all who are interested to read it. Write questions down on paper, and any thoughts that come to you when you are reading and/or thinking about this, regardless of how silly it might sound to you.

My gloves will be off for this class, not all people will have the "Cool" Totem that Ego wants to have. We must have our Ego checked at the door during the Shamanistic classes. Depending on the Students' abilities and time needed, is what will help determine how many classes we will have and how long the classes will be.

Please, join this class if you are serious about knowing your True Spirit Totem and have a desire to learn Shamanism in more depth. If you want to know what your Totem is then, in the future there will be a class for just that.

If you are interested in learning more than just Totemism, We will then go to the next step to understand Shamanism. Remember to know Shamanism you must walk the path, in other words live as a Shaman.

Then on November 1st, we will go over what you have learned. This will be considered the Introduction class. Bring paper, pens/pencils or a recorder. You can also bring a copy of this to the class but don't forget your personal notes and questions.

I respectfully insist that if you are interested but don't know if you are going to be able make it to the class.. Just RSVP, If you are going to bring someone RSVP with a guest. This will help me know how much time and space we will need to make this a smooth class.

In the meantime there are a couple books with the subject of Totemism that I like and I think you will enjoy:

1) Animal Speak: The Spiritual and magical powers of creatures great and small by Ted Andrews

2) Animal Magic by DJ Conway

3) The Once Unknown Familiar by Timothy Roderick

4) Power Animal Meditations: Shamanic Journeys with your Spirit Allies by Nicki Scully

5) The Power of Wolves: Nature's way to Organizational Success by Twyman L. Towery

6) How to Meet and Work with Spirit Guides by Ted Andrews

 

Totemism is a system of belief in which each human is thought to have a spiritual connection or a kinship with another physical being, such as an animal or plant, often called a "spirit-being" or "totem." The totem is thought to interact with a given kin group or an individual and to serve as their emblem or symbol. The term totem is derived from the Ojibwa word ototeman, meaning "one's brother-sister kin." The grammatical root, ote, signifies a blood relationship between brothers and sisters who have the same mother and who may not marry each other. In English, the word 'totem' was introduced in 1791 by a British merchant and translator who gave it a false meaning in the belief that it designated the guardian spirit of an individual, who appeared in the form of an animal—an idea that the Ojibwa clans did indeed portray by their wearing of animal skins. It was reported at the end of the 18th century that the Ojibwa named their clans after those animals that live in the area in which they live and appear to be either friendly or fearful. The first accurate report about totemism in North America was written by a Methodist missionary, Peter Jones, himself an Ojibwa, who died in 1856 and whose report was published posthumously. According to Jones, the Great Spirit had given toodaims ("totems") to the Ojibwa clans, and because of this act, members of the group are related to one another and on this account may not marry among themselves.

The nature of totemism:

Totemism is a complex of varied ideas and ways of behaviour based on a worldview drawn from nature. There are ideological, mystical, emotional, reverential, and genealogical relationships of social groups or specific persons with animals or natural objects, the so-called totems.It is necessary to differentiate between group and individual totemism. These forms share some basic characteristics, but they occur with different emphases and in different specific forms. For instance, people generally view the totem as a companion, relative, protector, progenitor, or helper, ascribe to it superhuman powers and abilities, and offer it some combination of respect, veneration, awe, and fear. Most cultures use special names and emblems to refer to the totem, and those it sponsors engage in partial identification with the totem or symbolic assimilation to it. There is usually a prohibition or taboo against killing, eating, or touching the totem. Although totems are often the focus of ritual behaviour, it is generally agreed that totemism is not a religion. Totemism can certainly include religious elements in varying degrees, just as it can appear conjoined with magic. Totemism is frequently mixed with different kinds of other beliefs, such as ancestor worship, ideas of the soul, or animism. Such mixtures have historically made the understanding of particular totemistic forms difficult.

Individual totemism:

Individual totemism is expressed in an intimate relationship of friendship and protection between a person and a particular animal or a natural object (sometimes between a person and a species of animal); the natural object can grant special power to its owner. Frequently connected with individual totemism are definite ideas about the human soul (or souls) and conceptions derived from them, such as the idea of an alter ego and nagualism—from the Spanish form of the Aztec word naualli, "something hidden or veiled"—which means that a kind of simultaneous existence is assumed between an animal or a natural object and a person; i.e., a mutual, close bond of life and fate exists in such a way that in case of the injury, sickness, or death of one partner, the same fate would befall the other member of the relationship. Consequently, such totems became most strongly tabooed; above all, they were connected with family or group leaders, chiefs, medicine men, shamans, and other socially significant persons. Studies of shamanism indicate that individual totemism may have predated group totemism, as a group's protective spirits were sometimes derived from the totems of specific individuals. To some extent, there also exists a tendency to pass on an individual totem as hereditary or to make taboo the entire species of animal to which the individual totem belongs.Individual totemism is widely disseminated. It is found not only among tribes of hunters and harvesters but also among farmers and herdsmen. Individual totemism is especially emphasized among the Australian Aborigines and the American Indians.

Some examples of totemism:

Wiradjuri:

Among the Wiradjuri, an Aboriginal people who traditionally lived in New South Wales, Australia, totem clans are divided among two subgroups and corresponding matrilineal moieties. The group totem, named "flesh," is transmitted from the mother. In contrast to this, individual totems belong only to the medicine men and are passed on patrilineally. Such an individual totem is named bala, "spirit companion," or jarawaijewa, "the meat (totem) that is within him." There is a strict prohibition against eating the totem. Breach of the taboo carries with it sickness or death. It is said: "To eat your jarawaijewa is the same as if you were to eat your very own flesh or that of your father." The medicine man identifies himself with his personal totem. Every offense or injury against the totem has its automatic effect upon the man who commits it. It is a duty of the totem to guard the ritualist and the medicine man while he is asleep. In the case of danger or the arrival of strangers, the animal goes back into the body of the medicine man and informs him. After the death of the medicine man, the animal stands watch as a bright flickering light near the grave. The individual totem is also a helper of the medicine man. The medicine man emits the totem in his sleep or in a trance so that it can collect information for him.In this tradition, sorcery may also be practiced by the medicine man. By singing, for instance, the medicine man can send out his totem to kill an enemy; the totem enters the chest of the enemy and devours his viscera. The transmission of the individual totem to novices is done through the father or the grandfather, who, of course, himself is also a medicine man. While the candidate lies on his back, the totem is "sung into" him. The blood relative who is transmitting the totem takes a small animal and places it on the chest of the youngster. During the singing, the animal supposedly sinks slowly into his body and finally disappears into it. The candidate is then instructed on how he has to treat the animal that is his comrade, and he is further instructed in song and the ritual concentration that is necessary to dispatch the totem from his body.

Nor-Papua:

Among the Nor-Papua of New Guinea, patrilineal, exogamous groups (consanguineous sibs) are spread over several villages and are associated with animals, especially fish. They believe that they are born from totems, and they make them taboo. Children are given an opportunity to decide during their initiation whether they will respect the paternal or maternal totem. Each group of relatives has a holy place to which the totem animal brings the souls of the dead and from which the souls of children are also believed to come. Totem animals are represented in various manifestations: as spirit creatures in sacred flutes, in disguises, and in figures preserved in each man's house. At the end of initiation ceremonies, the totems are mimicked by the members of the group.

Iban:

Among the Iban of Sarawak, Malaysia, individual totemism has been the tradition. Particular persons dream of a spirit of an ancestor or a dead relative; this spirit appears in a human form, presents himself as a helper and protector, and names an animal (or sometimes an object) in which he is manifested. The Iban then observe the mannerisms of animals and recognize in the behaviour of the animals the embodiment of their protector spirit (ngarong). Sometimes, members of the tribe also carry with them a part of such an animal. Not only this particular animal, but the whole species, is given due respect. Meals and blood offerings are also presented to the spirit animal. Young men who wish to obtain such a protector spirit for themselves sleep on the graves of prominent persons or seek out solitude and fast so that they may dream of a helper spirit. Actually, only a few persons can name such animals as their very own. Individuals with protector spirits have also attempted to require from their descendants the respect and the taboo given the animal representing the spirit. As a rule, such descendants do not expect special help from the protector spirit, but they observe the totemistic regulations anyway.

Birhor:

The Birhor, a people that were traditionally residents of the jungle of Chota Nagpur Plateau in the northeast Deccan (India), are organized into patrilineal, exogamous totem groups. According to one imperfect list of 37 clans, 12 are based on animals, 10 on plants, 8 on Hindu castes and localities, and the rest on objects. The totems are passed on within the group, and tales about the tribe's origins suggest that each totem had a fortuitous connection with the birth of the ancestor of the clan. The Birhor think that there is a temperamental or physical similarity between the members of the clan and their totems. Prohibitions or taboos are sometimes cultivated to an extreme degree. In regard to eating, killing, or destroying them, the clan totems are regarded as if they were human members of the group. Moreover, it is believed that an offense against the totems through a breach of taboo will produce a corresponding decrease in the size of the clan. If a person comes upon a dead totem animal, he must smear his forehead with oil or a red dye, but he must not actually mourn over the animal; he also does not bury it. The close and vital relationship between the totem and the clan is shown in a definite ceremony: the yearly offering to the chief spirit of the ancestral hill. Each Birhor community has a tradition of an old settlement that is thought to be located on a hill in the area. Once a year, the men of each clan come together at an open place. The elder of the clan functions as the priest who gives the offering. A diagram with four sections is drawn on the ground with rice flour. In one of these, the elder sits while gazing in the direction of the ancestral hill. The emblem of the particular totem is placed in one of the other sections of the diagram; depending on the circumstances, this emblem could be a flower, a piece of horn or skin, a wing, or a twig. This emblem represents the clan as a whole. If an animal is needed for such a ceremony, it is provided by the members of another clan who do not hold it as a totem. The Birhor show great fear of the spirits of the ancestral hill and avoid these places as far as possible.

Kpelle:

Among the Kpelle people of Liberia there is not only group totemism but also individual totemism. Both kinds of totems are referred to variously as "thing of possession," "thing of birth," or "thing of the back of men." These phrases express the idea that the totem always accompanies, belongs to, and stands behind one as a guide and warner of dangers. The totem also punishes the breach of any taboo. Kpelle totems include animals, plants, and natural phenomena. The kin groups that live in several villages were matrilineal at an earlier time, but during the 20th century they began to exhibit patrilineal tendencies. The group totems, especially the animal totems, are considered as the residence of the ancestors; they are respected and are given offerings. Moreover, a great role is played by individual totems that, in addition to being taboo, are also given offerings. Personal totems that are animals can be transmitted from father to son or from mother to daughter; on the other hand, individual plant totems are assigned at birth or later. The totem also communicates magical powers. It is even believed possible to alter one's own totem animal; further, it is considered an alter ego. Persons with the same individual totem prefer to be united in communities. The well-known leopard confederation, a secret association, seems to have grown out of such desires. Entirely different groups produce patrilineal taboo communities that are supposedly related by blood; they comprise persons of several tribes. The animals, plants, and actions made taboo by these groups are not considered as totems. In a certain respect, the individual totems in this community seem to be the basis of group totemism.

Totem animals or familiars are talked about a lot in the Pagan community. What exactly is this concept? A totem or familiar is an animal that works with you in mediation, spells, rituals, daily guidence etc. The animal can be an animal that is involved in your everyday life such as your cat, dog, lizard, bird or the animal takes shape in an astral/spirit form. In this section of the Book of Shadows, I will provide articles, rituals, and othe information about these beings and how to work with them. Click on a link to the left. If you have any questions, e-mail me and I will try to answer them the best I can.

Totems or Spirit Guides- Several different cultures believe in totems or spirit guides. Some believe that we are each born with a spirit guide that stays with us the rest of our lives, who guides us down the path we were meant to tread but if we stop listening to our guide we will fall off the path. Totem beliefs vary immensely as some believe they are like spirit guides and stay with us and others believe they are only here as we need them (example: if you need courage you might receive a vision of a lion or some other courageous animal).



Power Animals:

Alot of cultures believed in power animals at one time. They would believe that if they ate a piece of the animal it would in turn impart the qualities they needed from that particular animal. Native americans did not do this practice as far as I know but other primitive cultures did. Today native americans and alot of wiccans believe that by visualizing the animal or dreaming about the animal will impart those same qualities.


Animal Familiars:

Early european pagans mainly those of the witchcraft religion had what are called familiars (example: the infamous black cat). Familiars are animals that the witch has formed a psychic bond with. They help in the circle by aiding in energy and make wonderful companions. The death of a familiar can be quite devastating to the witch. A common misconception about familiars is that they are an extension of the witch, they are breathing living animals with minds of their own. It is believed that each of us is born with 9 animals who bring teachings and messages for greater understanding and insights for our benefit throughout our lifetime. Two of those animals are permanent

and never leave us.. They are our primary totems and sometimes called Power Animals. They are not necessarily exotic animals and we usually know them by instinct because we are especially attracted to them throughout our lives - sometimes even dreaming about them. One walks on the left to guard and guide the feminine side of our energies while the other walks on our right to guard and guide the masculine characteristics. Those with a female totem on the right and a male totem on the left are born with a special kind of energy balance and usually have very important Spirit work to do in their lifetime.

To discover the remaining 7 totems, we should read and learn as much about animals and their physical characteristics as we can. One excellent book for this is Animal-Speak by Ted Andrews. Psychics, people who do healing and special work with animals, and others who have a good understanding of animal energies, should also be able to help. Those who meditate can ask for the animals to show themselves during meditations and identify themselves as totems. The animal chooses the person, not the other way around. Many believe that they can just choose an animal and start communicating with it.. usually ego gets in the way at these times. The individual chooses the animal he or she believes to be the most glamorous and powerful, rather than what is harmonious to the individual. The results are ineffectual and often frustrating. No animal is better or worse than any other. Every animals medicine is unique. It is always much better to be powerful in mouse medicine than to be clumsy and ineffectual in eagle medicine. You will find your greatest success in the animal that comes to you. Do keep in mind that your interactions with animal energies is not limited to those which have "specifically" called to you. Any animal may be called on "when you are in need." If you're feeling depressed think of Hummingbird for joy. When details are slipping through your fingers call on meticulous Mouse. If you're having a communication difficulty ask for Dolphin's help. Butterfly helps all those who are going through important life changes. Also keep in mind that while the attributes given to animals in most books on the subject are usually singular, each species (to say nothing of individual animals) has many other qualities. Squirrel, for example, is given the quality of Gathering, meaning gathering only that which is needed. For humans, this refers not only to material possessions but to the ability to shed old sorrows, fixations, beliefs. If you study Squirrel you will also discover that it is an incredibly inventive animal, and one which does not know the meaning of defeat. The squirrel-proof bird feeder has not yet been invented.

Familiars:

Familiars - also called imps - were said to be given to Witches by the Devil or bought or inherited from other Witches. A Witch could have several of them. Cats were the favored forms, especially black ones. The fear that all cats were Witches' familiars was one of the primary reasons for the famous cat massacres that swept through medieval Europe. Familiars were given names like any household pet, which most of them undoubtedly were. Perhaps the best known familiar name is Pyewackett, the monicker the Witch's cat in the movie Bell, Book and Candle, and a name that dates back to Renaissance England. Pyewackett, Matthew Hopkins (the famous Witch hunter) stated, was a name "no mortal could invent." There is a scant evidence of familiars in early American Witch trials. In the Salem Trials in 1692, John Bradsheet was indicted for "inciting a dog to afflict." The dog was tried and hanged as a Witch. Some familiars were said to be Faeries. Oberon was a popular name for fairy familiars in 15th and 16th century England. Many modern Witches have animal familiars, usually cats, which are their magical helpers. Some also have dogs, birds, snakes or toads. Witches do not believe the familiars are "demons" or spirits in animal form but simply animals whose psychic attunement makes them ideal partners in magical workings. Some Witches say that it is possible to endow pets with magical powers and turn them into familiars, though others don't believe it should be done. Still others believe familiars are never "pets" (and should never be treated as such) but are animals who volunteer to work as familiars and are Karmically attracted to Witches. Witches who do not have familiars sendout psychic "calls" to draw the right animal. Familiars reputedly are sensitive to psychic vibrations and power and are welcomed partners inside the magic circle and other magical work. They also serve as psychic radar, reacting visibly to the presence of any negative or evil energy, whether it be an unseen force or a person who dabbles in the wrong kind of magic. Familiars are also given psychic protection by their Witches. Some Witches it seems also use the term familiar to describe thought-forms created magically and empowered to carry out a certain task on the astral plane. In closing, what I usually instruct in this area is that the student of magic who feels that they have found a familiar is that they should practice an exercise called "Trading Places" by Keith Harry. This exercise is simple enough to memorize and to practice, and though it was not written specifically for bonding with an animal familiar it was designed for becoming familiar with an animal, and inducing a mystical experience. I think you will readily discern its value in the acquiring of a familiar.

4 Kinds of Familiars:

There are four kinds of familiars.

The first kind is a physical creature who lives with and has a rapport with a human. These are usually called "pets." The "pets" who are truly familiars are the ones who establish a psychic link with the human of their choice. These physical familiars can communicate their needs without vocalizing. They are usually very good at telepathy.

The second kind of familiar is an astral creature of animal form which attaches itself to a human for the purpose of aiding her or him. This type of familiar may be attracted by an intense liking for a specific creature that one cannot actually possess in his or her physical life. The familiar may also appear because of a specific need within the human's life. Deceased pets often return in this capacity.

The third category of familiar is an elemental spirit. Ceremonial magicians and witches often call upon an elemental to inhabit an object, such as a talisman, statue, crystal, magick mirror or pieceof jewelry. The genie of the lamp or ring falls into this category. Paracelsus had such a familiar which lived in a large precious stonein the pommel of his ritual sword.

The fourth familiar is a discarnate human being or the spirit of someone who has died. Although a few practitioners of the art will command the appearance of a discarnate being, I'm not in favor of ordering such beings around. A discarnate spirit who has been commanded against his or her desires can be troublesome. Then you are faced with the necessity of getting rid of them, which can also be more difficult than the original calling. Discarnate spirits who are willing take the positions of astral teachers or guides, some people call them guardian angels.

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