Spirit Stones – Growling Bear

Spirit Stones
Growling Bear
Journey Editions, 1997
128 pages

Note: This book apparently initially came with a set of stones with animals on them, but I just had the book. The stones look easy to make, though.

“Spirit Stones” is one of a number of modern divination systems that are supposedly based on older traditions. It caters to those of the animal totem variety, featuring stereotypically “Native American totem” animals like Wolf, Bear, Snake and Frog, as well as other mostly Big, Impressive North American Birds and Mammals and other Traditional Native Animals. The book is meant as a guide for using stones with thes eanimals painted (or printed) on them.

I really have mixed feelings on this book. On the one hand, the author does cite some tribe-specific examples of relationships between humans and animals. However, he doesn’t cite his sources, giving only a list of recommended reading, most of which seems to be on Native American cultures in general. And he throws around a lot of talk about “Native American spirituality” without making tribal distinction, and falling into the “noble savage” stereotype that all Indians are close to the Earth spiritually and ignoring the very real problems facing them today. He does bring in some historical information about various tribes, to include not glossing over the fact that the U.S. government basically screwed them over.

Functionally, it’s an interesting system, all cultural appropriation issues aside. The author includes a few sample readings that really flesh out the concepts he talks about, and he does include a decent amount of information on his interpretation of each animal. It’s something I’d recommend to a beginner looking for a simple, easy animal-based divination system.

Overall, it’s getting two and a half pawprints. I like the idea and the inclusion of research on Native cultures, but there’s just enough plastic shamanism to make me cringe every couple of pages.

Two and a half pawprints out of five.

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1 Comment

  1. tracie said,

    January 7, 2008 at 2:33 am

    As a first time user of spririt stones I found the book easy to follow and understand.


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