“Ye Gods!”, you might say, “Not another book about totems!” You were thinking it, weren’t you? Another book about how the wolf is a protective hunter, and hawk sees far but flies high, alone, complete with lists and indexes and maybe a pretty good introduction to trance-journeying.
I am pleased beyond belief to be able say that DIY Totemism is completely different from what you fear (and mock). There isn’t a single list of correspondences, for one thing, and if you want a quick reference to anima attributes you won’t find it here. What you will find is lucid writing, well-conceived and personally experienced interactions with a wide variety of animals (the Goat and Caffeine interaction is particularly wonderful), and positively presented opinions about some of the major pitfalls of Neopagan totemism.
Beginning with the just-referenced opinion about Neopagan totemism (clearly marked as a rant, by the way), Lupa then goes into a detailed discussion about source materials to use. For example, if you want to learn about native perceptions of various animals, then go to them (and make sure you know which tribe you are interested in – they are not the same). One thing she said struck a note within me:
[Native Americans] find their “culture” valued while their people and political struggles continue to be ignored. (Quoting Rosemary Coombe, p 45)”
I found her chapter on totems not usually considered absolutely delightful. Remember your childhood fascination with dinosaurs? Maybe you could work with them. What about ‘food’ totems – chickens, pigs, spinach, etc. I think they could teach us a lot.
Other chapters include creating the last totem card deck you’ll ever need, everyday totem work, altered states of consciousness and totems, shapeshifting, therianthropy, and creating your own totemic system. The appendices are robust and as recommended as the chapters.
Lupa clearly lives what she talks about, and her shared experiences are one of the most valuable aspects of DIY Totemism. If you are interested in moving beyond rote work with your totem explorations, you need to own this book.
Five paw prints out of five.
~review by Lisa Mc Sherry
Immanion/ Megalithica, 2008
pp. 204, $21.99