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totemists's Journal

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Advanced Animal (And Other) Totemism
Thank you to moonvoice for the awesome icon!

Totemists are people for whom totemism (animal or otherwise) is a primary part of their spiritual and/or magical practices. Generally speaking, they are people who are beyond the 101 material on totems, who have a more intense interaction with totems than simply knowing what their totems are. This community is for discussion of advanced topics in animal totems; if you are still a beginner or just curious, you are welcome to join. However, please be aware that the topics discussed here will not generally be 101 level material. If you want an excellent place for 101 (and other) material on totemism, check out totem_animals. If you want more generalized info on shamanism, check out the_animist.

Here are some suggested topics:

--While the primary focus of this community is for neopagan/neoshamanic totemic systems, discussion of indigenous totemisms is acceptable and encouraged.
--Everyday ritual work and other interaction with totems
--Journeying with/on behalf of totems
--Discussion/debate of what totems are, how to interact with them, different traditions o working with them, the virtues of indigenous vs. neopagan totemisms
--Reviews of books and websites related to the topics at hand; this includes books not specifically on totems, but relevant, such as natural history, biology, etc.
--Personal experiences vs. dictionary definitions
--Totemism outside of indigenous or neoshamanic contexts
--Totemism other than animal--plant, mineral, etc. totems

We also periodically discuss what different totems mean to us as individuals. This is about the closest we get to having an actual dictionary. Instead of the original post just posting a bunch of information yanked from books, members FIRST post a reply with their own impressions, and THEN read what others have to say, so that they aren't influenced by others' perspectives prior to talking about their own. You can find more instructions and the totems we've talked about so far at this post.

Please do not post the following sorts of entries:

--Asking people what a particular totem means IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE ANY RESEARCH, or whether a particular interaction with an animal has any spiritual significance for you personally. If you don't know why a particular totem has shown up in your life, talk to that totem, not a group of relative strangers on the internet. The exception is the sort of community dictionary posts referenced above.
--Asking other people what your totem is. This is something that is between you and your totem(s). If you want to ask for techniques, that's fine; however, this community assumes that you're beyond the basics and you already have working relationships with at least one totem.
--Posting large portions of text from copyrighted materials without permission, either from books or websites. This includes in replies. If you are going to quote a particular author's works, please cite your source, and keep it within Fair Use (generally about 300 words from a book). If it's your work, or if you have express permission from the author, then go ahead and post all you like.

You are invited to post an introduction; who you are, what your experience with totems is, what totems you work with, whether you work within indigenous or neopagan traditions, etc. Commercial posts (such as promotion of books, events, etc.) relevant to the interests of the community are allowed. However, please don't spam the community. If you join and your first post is spam, you will be removed. If all you ever post is spam, you will be removed. If you want to post commercial posts, that's fine--just please also be a participant in this communitry.

Finally, I do expect people to be civil to each other and communicate with at least a modicum of respect. Believe me, I understand being frustrated with people asking the same three questions over and over again. However, if you want to be snarky, dot_pagan_snark is open to your venting. What I want to avoid is the kind of environment that this essay talks about. While I do encourage critical thinking and respectful debate, I do not want people feeling so intimidated that they're afraid of asking questions for fear of being mocked, insulted, or otherwise dealing with condescension. We are all human, and we all have emotions, so if mistakes are made, it's not the end of the world. However, please do your best to treat other people with the same amount of respect you would like to be treated with, and remember that not everyone may have as thick a skin as you perceive yourself as having. If people start getting rude, or if the noise starts drowning out the signal, I will step in as moderator.

Resources of Interest:

totem_animals - great general community for totemism, shamanism and related topics
the_animist - self-described quite accurately as "This is a community intended for the serious and respectful discussion of animism and shamanism by dedicated spiritualists and practicioners." An excellent community to be a part of, and a recommended complement to this community.
neoshamanism - a community for the more advanced study of animism and shamanism in the various forms it has taken in the 21st century.
paganbooks - if you want book recommendations here's a good place to join up; more general than just totemism.

Wildspeak - very good site for animal totem information; the webmistress has experience with indigenous Russian animism/shamanism, but is also familiar with more neoshamanic material. The site also has a good, solid discussion forum.
Animal Totems - extensive and well-known online dictionary of animal totems
Lupa's reviews of books on animal magic and totemism
Therioshamanism - an animal-centered neoshamanic path that deals quite a bit with totems; the site is a blog recording the creator's progress along the path (there's a LJ feed at therioshamanism)