I’ve been thinking about what I want to do in late March when my six months are done. I had initially thought about getting my tattoo of the Animal Father (or, rather, the cave painting that he used to connect to me), but the spirits told me to hold off until my actual initiation, which will be determined by them as far as timing, etc.–basically, when they feel I’m ready, and I agree. However, rewarding myself with a shiny object for getting through my six months is perfectly acceptable.
So I’ve been planning on making myself a necklace, one that I’ll wear on a permanent basis. I already have a scrimshaw wolf necklace that I wear constantly except for when I shower, which I wear both for my primary totem, Wolf, and for myself, as well as some more private reasons. However, I wanted to come up with something specifically for therioshamanism to serve as a reminder to me of what it is I’ve gotten myself into. (Plus I fully admit that I like meaningful shiny objects.) I wanted a pendant of the Animal Father; there aren’t very many, but I decided on this one in bronze, with the tree on the right on this page on the reverse side (since Quicksilver Mint sells double-sided medallions, and I can tell you from experience they’re quite nice).
I won’t go into too much detail about the necklace itself, as far as my plans go. However, I decided this week that I wanted the necklace to serve as a set of pagan prayer beads. I’ve been thinking about them since reading Pagan Prayer Beads by Greer and Vaughn a few months ago (and enjoying it quite a bit), though Erynn Rowan Laurie’s Circle of Stones was what first turned me on to the idea. So I’ve been messing around with ideas. I generally don’t put that much thought into design, instead letting my inspiration flow unbridled. However, this is something a little different, so I wanted to come up with something particular.
What I will say is that the necklace will focus on the four directional/elemental totems, with the Animal Father as the pendant. There will be two sets of three beads for each totem, mirroring each other. Each set of three will represent Self, Community, and Environment, though the two sets will each have different angles to them.
One thing that struck me as I was thinking about this was that 3 x 4 = 12, and there are twelve months in the year, and I could potentially assign one combination of meanings to a month, twelve of each in all. And then they would fit in perfectly with the idea that North/Wolf = winter, Hawk/East = spring, etc. Which would mean I would focus on the specific meaning (such as Earth-Self-Wolf in January, Earth-Community-Wolf in February, etc.) for each month, and–
–and what? And hope that my life fit whatever parameters the dictates of the correspondence system I’d set up mandated? Ignore anything that didn’t match with the current month’s meaning? Get hopelessly frustrated with the whole thing?
No, thank you.
One of the things that irritates me about neopaganism (guys, I love you, really I do) is that sometimes things get corresponded to death. What I mean by this is that people sometimes spend so much time worrying about whether the correspondences associated with a particular stone, or totem, or herb, or deity, or whathaveyou (gotta love those whathaveyous) match up with the other things they’re working with that it can get pretty damned complicated. And that’s where I found myself when I was thinking about the necklace. I’ve been a little uncertain about where to draw the line on correspondences, especially since my cosmology is still under construction. This made it pretty clear to me–don’t make correspondences just because you see them. Sure, twelve prayer bead meanings and twelve months match up nicely. But do they really have to?
The associations I have with the four totems and their respective elements and directions have worked very well for me for years. The twelves…well…just felt pretty artificial. I’ve introduced some new concepts into my path in recent time, and they meshed just fine. However, the twelve-concept is like the older brother in the story of the Two Hunchbacks, who, seeing his brother’s success, throws too much into the old ladies’ song.
So maybe not everything I try on for size makes sense to me, so I set it aside. But on the bright side, I do have a better idea of what is important in my personal cosmology.