Just made a new update to my Etsy shop. Antique Micronesian spinner dolphin teeth, fossil dog teeth, Japanese Tokugawa era coins, wolf tooth amulet, and other fun things. More will be coming (hopefully). I also hope to have a Halloween/Fall sale at some point.
I just have so much…stuff. But I suppose that’s why I’m called the “relic hound”.
The latest skull I’ve cleaned myself from its original raw state (essentially, a severed head sans skin). This came from a large male black coyote from New York State. I pride myself on being able to keep the nasals relatively intact. I’ll take a full photo of him once he’s fully articulated and all his teeth and jawbones are glued back in place.
In various animistic traditions, the skull was considered the most powerful part of an animal (human or non), the seat of the spirit and consciousness.
This fellow here is going to a fellow “spirit worker” and psychopomp once I’m done with him.
Some new artwork. Been trying to get into crafting again, and I’m experimenting with new styles and techniques. Please click the photo for more info on the piece as well as to purchase if interested.
I do a lot of work with animal parts. Both animistic work as well as craft work (usually both at the same time). I may have mentioned that in this blog before, but this is just one sample.
Most people don’t know who Anupet is. Or if they do, they don’t know anything beyond either her being the consort of Anubis, or some sort of feminine “aspect” of him. I’ve always seen her as something more, of course. Then again, I’m a hard polytheist, so you know where my opinions lie in that department.
Anupet is an independent, living and powerful goddess. She has long remained hidden–no one knows much about her, her myths or her cultus. Everything I know about this goddess is strictly UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis). Or was. That veil is gradually being torn back. But before I thrust my head straight on through and disperse the mystery entirely, I should write down my experiences of her, what I know of her.
She first came to me a few years ago, in the form of a black dog or jackal (or some hybrid of the above–not an uncommon occurrence then or now). She had pendulous breasts, as if she had been nursing. That became my primary association with her. The archetypal nursing bitch. The Sacred Bitch. She had a definite motherly feel to her, but it was the sensation of the Feral Mother, ever watchful, sharp of tooth, cunning and quick to defend her pups. People stereotype mother goddesses often. But mothers come in all stripes, and so too do Mothers. She would nurse you one moment, and have your neck in her jaws the next, with full motherly intentions. Pure, primal, feral mother.
Earlier last year I received a pull from my Gods to take my work with animal remains one step further. I work with tooth, bone and claw and hide. But most of what I had seen were finished products, sanitized and ready for use. I had handled raw, dead animals before in previous jobs. I had aided in surgeries, as well as in euthanizations. I am familiar with death, and blood, and guts. But would I be able to dig right in, prepare a specimen myself? I would be put to the test. Around the same time I was put in contact with someone who had a coyote that had been shot due to predator control in the area. This was a rare, black coyote. Coyotes aren’t normally black. They don’t get black, except by the infusion of dog ancestry. It is from a specific gene mutation that domestic dogs carry, beta-defensin 3, which regulates melanism in dogs. Coyotes and wolves naturally do not have this mutation unless it had been introduced into their ancestral bloodline from dogs. The colors of Anupet and Anubis both–black, the color of the fertile Nile–though perhaps, could their color symbolism, and association with dogs, also have something to do with this? Or perhaps their temporal children mirror them somehow, the beta-defensin 3 a sort of divine genetic marker, painting various canids in the likeness of these Divine Dogs.
Anyway, so I get in contact with the guy, expressing interest in the raw skull for cleaning. I’ve never cleaned a skull before. It’s a female coyote. He mentions that the hide is in undesirable shape for taxidermy due to her having had mange. He shows me a photo, and I agree to take the hide and the skull (the hide would otherwise been thrown out or cut for pieces). I had the hide sent to a taxidermist, and I got the head. And I do mean the head. Meat, muscle, eyes, tongue, everything.
It was a very intimate process. I meditated hard on the photos of her corpse. This is a very similar process to the Buddhist corpse meditations that certain sects perform. When I was ready, I took out my buck knife, razor-sharp and ready to go. And I did it. I couldn’t believe myself, but I did. I sliced the muscle from her head and jaws. I reached inside her mouth and cut her tongue out. I gouged out her clouded, sightless eyes, I swizzled the brain from her foramen magnum. The whole time I prayed to Anupet with every slice. Somehow I thought the actions of the knife would be pleasing to her–the cutting, the intentional wielding. Every slice was an offering to the Sacred Bitch, and an offering to my Patron, and his Brother, her Husband. The smell of her blood was sharp and tangy on my nose. Then I had a pot prepared for boiling the remainder of the meat and gristle from her head. I sat at that pot for hours. When she was finally done, I collected her skull, two jawbones (which had come apart) and all her teeth, and placed them into a small cooler filled with peroxide. Weeks later, I removed her, and carefully glued each tooth back in. With the exception of one tiny premolar, I didn’t lose or break any teeth. Soon, her hide came back from the tannery, and putting them together, it was a sight to behold. My offering to Anupet was complete, and I even ended up naming the black coyote “Anupet” after the goddess.
When working with animal remains, especially from a Pagan and animist or shamanist (most especially this one) angle, it is absolutely imperative that you understand the importance and the reality of where your remains come from, and how they get to you. Like the modern food industry, most of the bones and other items people get are already processed, chemically treated and prepared beforehand. There is very little actual “work” involved. People claim to do a lot of “work” involving animal parts, but the real work is also in understanding and respecting that these parts once had a life, a face, blood and guts. It took me cutting directly into that face to really have that lesson hit home for me. Now I’m graduating to work onto other things, and I have Anupet really to thank for that. I can only hope she finds my offering a worthy one. In time, I hope to have the skin mounted in some way (I did not tackle handling the skin, as I do not know proper tanning techniques and would probably ruin the skin) and have the skull similarly adorned as a votive piece for her.
I hope to write more on this amazing Lady as time goes on, but right now I have a murderous headache, and must retire for now..
Richard Fortey really nailed it on this one, and also helps me to bring up a very good point on just exactly why I consider visiting a museum a deep spiritual experience.
If the source of the word “museum” is a house of the muses, then the original museum might have harboured all the arts and sciences, corresponding to the nine muses. The first building to carry the name was probably the university in Alexandria about 300 B.C. Only one of the muses, Urania, Muse of Astronomy–she who is portrayed in a mural in Herculaneum pointing at the heavens with a staff–would have personified the scientific endeavor remotely in the modern sense. From the early days of the British Museum the display of classical archaeology and art was an important part of the function of this new public space. This was a nod of recognition of the new civilization towards the old, a kind of acknowledgement of mutually shared culture.
~Richard Fortey, Dry Storeroom No.1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum
To muse over something. To contemplate. To be inspired. To go to a place like a natural history museum, or a museum of the arts, is to allow oneself to be touched through the vast reaches of time, by the great machinations and workings of Nature, and the fantastic workings of gods and men rendered in stone and bone, canvas and clay. To go to a museum is to open oneself up to the Muses, to be inspired, to hear the whispering voices spoken in ancient tongues, languages spoken in color, movement and pose. In the attitudes of death are the great expressions of life shining through.
Go to a museum. Quiet your mind. Allow yourself to be still. Listen to them speak. They are eager to tell their stories, and the Muses are ever willing to bless you in the process.
In other news, today is Spirit Day. I’ve written plenty, mostly in private, on this topic. When I’m feeling more able, I’ll relate more at a later time. However, I’d like to recommend Aedicula Antinoi, for thoughtful and inspiring words relating to this day and what’s really behind it.
Posting some old posts I made from my LiveJournal, which I thought would be appropriate for the focus of this blog–and which I should probably have originally posted here in the first place. Originally posted here.
Recently a friend (who wishes to remain anonymous at this time) wrote a long rant in their lj about totemism on the internet. I was going to copypaste the whole thing, but in lieu of that, I’ll mainly just try to write briefly on certain points he made regarding things, and lift some select quotes (with permission).
During the course of the entry he dubbed the word “poketotem”, something that elicited in me a rueful and knowing laugh. Gotta catch them all, right?
I guess what I’m saying is that I find the common online version of this to be complete and utter bullshit. People slamming through these humongous lists of “energies” long enough to come up with one or two pathetic catch phrases to describe them, like captions in a yearbook. That’s insulting to your ancestors, animist societies, and the animals themselves. They’re not fucking Pokemon.
I can definitely understand the frustration. As a practicing animist, I sometimes feel a profound disconnect from other animists. Mainly because I don’t take the Poketotem Approach. I can’t rapidly go through multiple animals at once, compiling “totem dictionaries” that shoehorn animals into limited, specific definitions. Granted, I love exploring animal symbolism. But that symbolism should be explored from experience and research (yes, that would include scientific research), and not from the fantastical minds of those who spend way too much time on the internet, or locked in their own fantasy worlds. It’s pathetic. And that’s one big reason why I can’t stand totem dictionaries, aside from the vast majority of them being very poorly referenced and researched, and highly flavored by the person writing them.
Most cultures agree that it takes a lifetime of dedication to assign yourself the sort of title most of you so readily jump on, and no, putting a “neo” at the start of it doesn’t make you look less of a jerk. So if you find yourself churning through the entire Encyclopedia Animilia , a day or a week per species, please consider that there just may be something wrong with your approach.
Neoshamanism is, I feel, a valid practice. How it is applied, however, can be open to some debate–and is. But there is a reason why I call myself a “shamanist” instead of outright “shaman”. Curiouser and curiouser are the cases of what I call “internet shamans” who will preach the importance of respect and whatnot, but as soon as they get a little taste of popularity, the “ist” in the “shaman” slowly begins to get dropped and when this happens, I strongly begin to consider what, if at all, they have contributed to their society, to their “tribe” beyond further opportunities for people to stroke their egoes.
Because doing this Poketotem bullshit is professing the exact opposite. It is quite blatantly saying that you, yes you, are advanced and important enough to know what is significant already. That they are there for our use spiritually as well as physically, for us to pick meanings from and apply them to our lives, or ask for ridiculous favours, regardless of the intricacy and depth we know, or should know, is actually there amongst the instincts and history of these other peoples (as you so often call them.).
Well, none of us know what is significant. Even back then, the early animists didn’t. That’s why they turned to things like “elders”, and things that dwelled “beyond”. That’s why we journey, why we seek what is beyond the periphery of our bodies and our societies. For wisdom, for knowledge. People assign meaning to things to shed light on the unknown, the mysterious. I can understand the frustration though. I’ve seen totems used far too often like mascots for concepts or ideas, or crutches for people’s own shortcomings and inner demons. If animism is the idea that everything is alive in some way, then life is far more complex than a paragraph, a set of definitions, a summary.
If you feel you need some sort of internet-paced community built up around you to start this pathway, then so be it. But when your spiritual revelations start reading more like the badly written horoscopes used as filler in the back pages of cheap newspapers than real insight, step back, take your time, and go on your journey. It’s okay if you don’t get everything right away, don’t feel bad about it. That’s just our too-fast-hurry-up culture talking. This is supposed to be an individual experience that will translate to you the meanings behind your own world and place in it, and it is a journey that takes a lifetime of dedication and introspective thought. Deep down, you know that, and it was either that or the want for some pathetic internet celebrity status that you chose this path in the first place.
And here…I can’t argue with anything here. I’ve seen it far too often on the internet already. This “too-fast-hurry-up” culture really does talk. One of instant gratification and hyper-individualism. Way back when, it was the group/society/tribe before the individual, now the roles are reversed, and how we deal and work with animistic pathways is affected as result. Does this make it wrong? Depends on the perspective. I am a very individualistic person, but I was also raised and put in situations in my life that caused a sacrifice of ego and self for the betterment of group or family. I have a taste of both sides, I think both sides have much to offer in a person’s perspective. I’m not going to fall into the danger of nostalgia and the “good old days”, but I guess that can have its merits, too. But this Fast Food Animism is not one I can relate to. I may not burn through totems as rapidly as some people, I may take a longer and considerably more painful route with my shamanistic practice, but that’s my choice. I’m not going to say that my path is better, because I really don’t know the answer to that. I just know what I don’t want to be a part of, what I feel is far too shallow for me to adapt or relate to.
This post wasn’t spawned by anything in particular other than my friend’s post (which, to the best of my knowledge, wasn’t spawned by anything in particular, either). It’s helped me crystallize some thoughts rolling around in my head lately.
Plus, an addendum to this post, originally posted here
It’s not that I don’t think totemism isn’t valid for those modern animists who aren’t a member of an indigenous or tribal society, as it where. Hardly (I’d be a hypocrite obviously). It’s just that I don’t always agree with how it is applied. Then again, how it is applied may vary from society to society, so you can’t pin it down to any one particular group of people. Even still–there are ways of going about this sort of thing that doesn’t have to be shallow, careless, half-assed, and ego-serving.
Or, to put it another way, when one invokes “cultural appropriation”. Strong words, and important ones, yes. But one must also remember that cultures, religions and related have been appropriating from each other since the dawn of time. This does not justify all forms of appropriation. When all you take out are the bits you find to be attractive to you and leave out the rest, you are not doing anyone or anything any sort of justice, and you certainly aren’t helping yourself by doing so either.
Or, let me try to explain this again. The TL;DR Version: just remember to do your freaking homework. Haha.
I know I haven’t updated this lately. That’s going to change.
I’m sure those of you who have read this blog in the past know the reason why it’s named Dimension Bomb. And if you don’t, I’d strongly suggest checking that link out.
Watching it again for the first time in a year and a half, I get to process more of the hidden symbolism within. Note the frequent presence of the Sun, and the obvious and repetitive examples of being torn apart by supernatural forces–a very classic case of shamanic initiation. The girl in the movie almost seems as if she is leading him through the initiation, though admittedly some of the message is inevitably lost without the aide of a translation for the Japanese, for those of us English speakers.
The movie has been released onto YouTube, and split into two parts.
Enjoy. This movie was one inspiration for the creation of this blog, and really does ring true in so many ways.