Brief Commercial Break: My New Book is Here!

booksarehere

Just wanted to drop a quick note here that my newest book, New Paths to Animal Totems: Three Alternative Approaches to Creating Your Own Totemism, is now available and I have a bunch here in my hot lil’ hands! (Though not as many as before I filled all those preorders–thanks, y’all!) If you’ve been reading this blog in part because your answer to cultural appropriation is to create your own traditions instead of ganking from someone else’s, you may find this a good source of inspiration! And it’s geared toward a general audience; if you’re new to this whole animal spirit thing, there’s plenty to help you get started–but there’s also a good deal for more experienced practitioners to chew on, too! And if you’ve been reading my previous works, never fear–this isn’t a rehash of my older works.

Here’s where you can order your copy–and thank you 🙂

(P.S. I have a couple of content posts sitting ready to go on my laptop; I promise I’ll try and get them uploaded here later this week! However, the garage needs to be cleaned, and we’re trying to overhaul the apartment here, and lots of other stuff and things. But I did write stuff for you!)

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Updates to FAQ

First off, I tweaked the FAQ. Mostly some minor changes and updates here and there, but also an update to the question How can I support your blogging efforts?

Second, I’m going to start writing some posts more tailored towards helping folks “play along at home”, as it were. Some of these will be more theoretical, reorganizing and condensing things I’ve written about sporadically here. Others will be more hands-on–I eventually want to have instructions for the various stages of the first six months and so forth. I don’t have a set date when these things will start appearing; just making a statement of intent.

Cheers!

More Potpourri (Holiday Scented!)

Okay, so the holidaze knocked me out for a few days. However, I have been up to plenty, and here’s the round-up of what you missed via my limited web presence.

First, I’ve added a few new journeying blogs to the blogroll. Love, Hope and Life is Danmara’s journey in working with the gods, including both observations as well as practical matters, described as “a living devotion”. Cynanthropy is Solo’s explorations on further discovering himself as a canine therianthrope, as well as thoughts on cynanthropy in general. And Poison Hara is a personal account of working within the Deharan magical system detailed in Grimoire Dehara: Kaimana by Storm Constantine. Go take a peek, see what you think!

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So, Solstice. I decided that the Stag-Wolf-Bear-Lion progression really wasn’t resonating with me, and the Animal Father was fine with that. So I took the formality down a notch. For now my ritual will primarily consist of a nature walk at a nearby park, regardless of weather conditions.

Winter Solstice in Portland is pretty mild. It was in the lower fifties, with rain (a staple of Portland weather). As I walked, I saw a ton of fox squirrels bouncing around foraging. In other places I’ve lived, they’d be all curled up in their nests snoozing away the cold, but it’s mild enough here that I still see orb weaver spiders on occasion. I was treated to the sounds of Stellar’s jays screaming (an odd sound compared to the blue jays I’m used to out East) and the occasional caw of a crow. Because of all the rain, everything is exceptionally green except for the deciduous trees, which I think must lose their leaves here more out of propriety than anything else–though it does get colder once Winter proper hits. But the grass and moss are verdant, and the conifers don’t really shed that much in the way of old needles. Winter is relatively gentle here. (Of course, I mean relatively–I get cold at anything under sixty degrees Fahrenheit!)

Once my six months are up, right around the Spring Equinox, I may start using the Solstices and Equinoxes as turning points for focusing on the elements cyclically. For example, I may work with Air in the Spring, Fire in the Summer, Water in the Autumn, and Earth in the Winter. Or I might just take the time to review how I’m doing with all four elements, and maybe (or maybe not) choose to focus on whichever one needs the most work. I’m just really not big on celebratory rituals–if there’s a magical purpose, that’s fine, but I feel kind of odd doing a solitary celebration. It’s kind of like throwing a party with no one there–I mean, sure, the spirits and such are there, but it’s not really quite as much of a celebration without other people there in the flesh. Plus it helps to have a solid cosmology to tell you what, exactly, you should be celebrating. Right now the only thing that really stands out to me about Solstices and Equinoxes is that a lot has changed in Nature since the last one, and it’s a good time for transitions (hence the potential elemental workings starting on each one). The rest of the existing neopagan mythology surrounding the holidays has always left me sort of lukewarm–I see why people celebrate it, and I’ve done a few informal Sabbat celebrations with other people, but it never really struck me on any deep level. So for now, I’ll just take my walks and see what the Equinox brings.

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My Air month ended over the weekend. Hawk was quite pleased with my progress, and told me to keep it up. I have gotten better with communication overall, both with others and with myself. Granted, one month isn’t going to fix things. But I’m a bit braver about scary confrontations, and I’m a bit less “clammed-up” about my feelings. Plus I’m more aware of my actions, being conscious of the choices I make. The last one is tough for others to see, sometimes, because it mainly involves me making an effort NOT to do something (such as say something really dumb/insensitive/etc.) and being successful entails being quiet, or saying something more civil/thoughtful/etc.

I’ve been pretty good about remembering to record my dreams, though I’m much better about it during the week when I have a routine to work it into. I’ve also been remembering to pray both in the morning and evening, and meditate over my lunch break, about four times a week on average. My meditation has mostly turned into “Conversations with My Wolf Totem”, which is fine–Wolf has always been one of my main connections to the spirit world. I’m going to keep working on it, of course.

Being more aware of my actions has also helped to calm me down–which, appropriately, has meant that I haven’t had my asthma crop up (it did once in my Earth month, as a reminder to RELAX). I find that I can “ground” into the Sky as well as the Earth, with just as much ease. And, as I’ve started my Fire month, I’m finding already that the burning energy of the cellular breakdown of nutrients flares up easily in conjunction with the Earth and Air energy. It reaches out to the sunlight (even through the clouds) and connects me to the Sun, which is a primary source of energy and nourishment sustaining life here.

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Which brings me to the beginning of my Fire month. Fox met with me to figure out what I should focus on. Sex and sex magic will be part of it, though for personal reasons most of that will remain private. However, there are also a lot of changes going on in my life (though this seems to be a semi-regular thing for me) and part of the Fire month will involve being more responsive and flexible with change. Also, reading through Starhawk’s The Earth Path, I gained a new appreciation for energy as an interconnected web among all things, and the implications thereof. It’s not that this wasn’t already a part of my perspective, but the six month process has done a lot for magnifying certain aspects of my beliefs and showing me what I really feel is central to my path.

I think the lessons in communication from the Air month will be broadened in the Fire month to include numerous types of communication, not just person to person. The importance of what we take into ourselves and what we put out, which I first concentrated on in the Earth month, is also revisited, though on a more energetic rather than physical scale. Fox instructed me to get outdoors at least a couple of times a week for purposes other than walking to and from work and the train station, even if it’s just to go to the park nearby. I get unhappy and sluggish if I stay away from the wild too long, and even a trip to the park can be an energetic quick fix, though I should still get out to hike in wilder areas when I can.

Fire has started pretty well, burning off impurities created as byproducts of communicating about some unpleasant things during my Air month. I’m looking forward to the rest of the month.

Journeying Blogs

Last Tuesday, I requested links to blogs that dealt with people’s spiritual journeys. I wanted to introduce the initial round of journals to give readers an idea of who else is out there recording their journeys in the blogosphere. As I add new links, I’ll post intros to them as well.

★☆天死☆★ is Technobushi’s account of post-paradigm-shift explorations and thought processes. His interests, as ganked from the About page, include “Astronomy, cosmology, chaos magic, chaos theory, occult, mindhacking, reality-hacking, altered states of consciousness, memetics, technomancy, technoshamanism, abnormal psychology, psychology, cybermancy, techno and industrial music, to name a few.” This one promises some truly unique observations on spirituality in the 21st century.

Imagine Your Reality is my husband Taylor’s life coaching blog. While life coaching, in and of itself, takes a much broader view than only spirituality, Taylor has some good insights, spiritual and otherwise. He’s being trained in Whole Person Design life coaching, which supports a holistic view of the person that acknowledges and makes use of the various interconnections both within and outside of an individual. Spirituality is woven in with advice and observations as he walks his path.

Limen: Thoughts from a threshold includes observations on everyday spirituality from a pagan perspective. Part receptacle of essays and part daily record of progress, it’s an accessible and inviting read, and I’m curious to see where it goes.

One Pagan Group – Some Assembly Required – while my main focus with this section of the blogroll is to detail individual journeys, I do like this blog that records the efforts involved in forming Hemlock Vales Protogrove, ADF. Most folks encounter groups once they’ve been at least somewhat established, so the actual process of getting everything organized in the first place is already taken care of. This allows an intimate look into the nitty-gritty of one group’s seeding and growth.

Reconnecting to the Otherworld is another neoshaman’s journey towards creating a stronger personal path. There are a couple of neat posts detailing things like cosmology, as well as meditations and other miscellany. Well-written and a good read all around.

Searching for Imbas – as author Erynn Rowan Laurie deepens her practices of filidecht, the Irish Celtic poetic mystic tradition, she uses this blog as a record for her own journey. Given that there’s not a lot of first-hand information about this tradition, this is definitely a blog to keep an eye on.

Shadowolf – a relatively new blog that offers practical meditations in the process of seeking balance within the self. Should be an interesting eclectic pagan path to watch.

The Quest is a particularly unusual story, involving a Christian mystic who is in the process of also training in Ancient Order of Druids in America. The mixture of traditions is incredibly interesting, and I’m really curious to see how this one progresses.

Wildspeak (the blog) is a counterpart to Wildspeak (the site), viewable in the shamanism links on the left sidebar. Ravenari, the writer/artist behind it all, is a practitioner of a shamanic path that hybridizes Vilturj, an exceptionally rare Russian shaman tradition that some of her family practice, and her own relationship to the natural elements of the area of Australia she resides in, particularly the Koondoola bushland. Ravenari is one of the shamanic practitioners I respect the most, and while the Wildspeak site contains a lot of good information, I’m glad she’s mapping out her personal progress in this blog.

So that’s what I have so far. Go, take a peek, and see where other people’s journeys are taking them! Perhaps you’ll find some inspiration, a kindred spirit, or a step on your own pathway.

For Those of You Playing Along At Home

In the past few months since I started this blog, I’ve had a few folks tell me that my work has inspired them in their own spiritual paths, or that, independent of what I’m doing, they find themselves in similar situations. So I’m not the only one who’s been seeking a more formal path, a closer connection to the Divine, and a more regular practice. I find this to be an excellent set of events, personally. One of my goals with this blog, along with helping me to keep track of my progress, is to demonstrate one person’s progress in creating a formal path essentially from scratch. While there are numerous elaborate and spiritually fulfilling traditions and religions out there whose adherents are quite satisfied (and in some cases are contributing to a great deal of positive growth), some of us prefer to wear down our own trails in the grass.

I do know that at least a couple of the aforementioned folks have their own spiritually-focused blogs that I’ve enjoyed getting to read. It’s nice getting to compare notes with other folks, whether they’re on a shamanic path or not. And while there are plenty of resources on how to be a solitary practitioner of an established path (such as Wicca, or as some would argue Neo-Wicca or eclectic Neopaganism), there’s not that much out there on constructing your own personal path. Oh, sure, there are books of correspondences and spells and whatnot, but most of the deeper texts on constructing a specific path, cosmology, set of rituals and celebrations, traditions, etc., seem to be group-oriented*.

Granted, some of that just comes with the group-based territory. If you’re already in a tradition of one sort or another that depends on groupwork, then you’re going to have the cosmology, rituals, etc. handed to you as part of your training. The same thing goes for those who are individual students working with a teacher or mentor. As I’ve mentioned before, though, those of us on our own have to create these things from scratch, determining what works best for us and what’s don’t really mesh well with our beliefs. One of the reasons I’m a “career solitary” is because I never found a particular tradition that I agreed with enough to dedicate myself to it, and now that I’m older and set in my ways, therioshamanism is the best choice, given that I’m its creator. However, I also value the input of others. Talking shop and trading notes are valuable practices for me–they allow me to bounce ideas off of others, and they help me to find inspiration in others’ work.

Here’s where, in the past, I might have said “Hey, I’m going to create a listserve/Livejournal community/forum/etc. for the discussion of creating your own path!” However, I’ve done that sort of thing before, and honestly, at this point, I haven’t the time. Additionally, it takes a TON of work just to get a bit of steady activity going on such a forum, and I’m stretched thinly enough that I don’t need another commitment. So I know better than to bite off more than I can chew.

However, I would like a way to gather a few resources for those who come to this blog seeking ideas on forging your own way through the spiritual world. Therefore, here’s my request. If you have a spiritually themed blog that you are primarily using as a journal to record your progress through a stage of growth, I want to link to you. Whether you’re creating your own path, starting a group, or working through a novitiate in an established tradition, if you’re recording it as you go along, complete with successes and setbacks, feelings and experiences, I’m interested. I’m going to create another section of links on the left sidebar of this journal just for these links. I want to offer the stories of others’ journeys for those who visit here who like using my experiences as inspiration for their own, and can benefit from reading even more first-hand accounts.

What I’m not looking for is personal journals that may include some spiritual content, but are also full of day to day minutiae, memes, etc. For example, I have my Livejournal for that sort of thing, but this one is specific to therioshamanism.

Leave a comment here (on therioshamanism.com, not the Livejournal feed post for those on LJ) and I’ll get you added in.

Thanks 🙂

* For those curious, two of my favorite books related to this are Gathering the Magic: Creating 21st Century Esoteric Groups by Nick Farrell and Magickal Connections: Creating a Lasting and Healthy Spiritual Group by Lisa McSherry. While both of them are rather practical, dealing with things like group dynamics, and the latter text is particularly coven-oriented, they also are good for prompting thought about group-based spirituality and magic in general, creating a group mindset without becoming a cult, etc.