Creature Teachers – Twylah Nitsch

Creature Teachers: A Guide to the Spirit Animals of the Native American Tradition
Twylah Nitsch
Continuum International Publishing Group, 1997
105 pages

I really didn’t care for this book. It’s supposed to be traditional Seneca animal totem teachings (which, by the way, do not come even close to comprising “the Native American tradition” in whole. Unfortunately the format is a little too out there. She writes a story about each animal, but a lot of the time it’s difficult to figure out exactly what the message was.

I’m not crazy about authors wrapping their teachings in obscure parables and veiled language, and that includes natural magic, ceremonialism, etc. I’m sure Nitsch had something good to say, but the stories she used were without explanation.

The method of finding your totem, too, was overly simplistic and formulaic. Basically you pick a number on a diagram, and then turn the page and the animal associated with that number is your totem (the totems, by the way, are arranged alphabetically rather than in a more random order). Totemism takes a bit more work than that. I only give it two pawprints because I’m sure she’s got something to say….but what it is, I can’t tell.

Two pawprints out of five.

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