The Once Unknown Familiar – Timothy Roderick

The Once Unknown Familiar: Shamanic Paths to Unleash Your Animal Powers
Timothy Roderick
Llewellyn Publications, 1994
218 pages

This is a wonderful break from the usual totem animal dictionary. It’s a heavily psychological viewpoint of physical and spiritual animal familiars, with a lot of emphasis on the inner animal. The guided meditations and the questions are worth the price of the book alone. It’s a wonderful pathworking tool, and I really enjoyed the trip.

And, miracle of miracles, not only was I blessed by a bibliography, but in-text citations!

I do have a few gripes. Roderick uses Margaret Murray’s now-debunked research, and he also tries to compare witchcraft and shamanism a little more closely than is really necessary.

There’s also a lot of filler in this book–it seems like he was really trying hard to break the 200 pages mark. Each question has a sizable chunk of blank space with it so you can write in those spaces instead of, say, a piece of paper. The chapters are divided by three to four blank, picture, or title pages. And the animal totem dictionaries and other listings of information are rather brief and seem more like an afterthought.

These don’t detract from the book too much. But the pathworking material, the exercises and meditations, are so good, and the rest of it just seems kind of thrown in there for the page count. I’d love to see a rewrite of the book based on the actual magical ideas, and less cliched, formulaic material–let’s see what can reaplce 50 pages or so of filler.

Four pawprints out of five.

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