Animal Wisdom – Jessica Dawn Palmer

Animal Wisdom: The Definitive Guide to the Myth Folklore and Medicine Power of Animals
Jessica Dawn Palmer
Thorsons, 2001
368 pages

Normally I really don’t care for animal totem dictionaries, just because there are so many of them. But this book ended up on my list of the Top Ten Most Unappreciated Books on Animal Magic. I wouldn’t call it “definitive,” meaning “ultimate”, but it is very thorough.

This is an incredibly detailed animal totem dictionary. There’s no spellwork, no instruction–it is purely referential. However, it’s very well executed. Palmer starts with physical characteristics and environmental factors of the species, then discusses world lore and mythos surrounding it. Next she goes into more neopagan magical correspondences, and finally a paragraph or two of her obsrvances of people associated totemically with that animal. All in all, very thorough.

It’s not perfect; occasionally she gets a fact wrong or stretches an animal’s inherent magical qualities a little farther than I’d agree with. And the discussions of the people involved are just too limiting. I don’t recommend reading it cover to cover; after a while the format does get a little tedious, though her writing style is excellent.

Still, overall this is a high-quality book that any animal magician should own. It’s a really good exception to my “I’m tired of totem animal dictionaries!” rule, and I highly recommend it as a good reference book.

Four and a half pawprints out of five.

Note: This should not be confused with Animal Wisdom by Susie Green.

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