Animal Energies – Buffalo Horn Man and Firedancer

Animal Energies
Gary Buffalo Horn Man and Sherry Firedancer
Dancing Otter Publishing, 1997
40 pages

This was a tough book to find outside the internet, despite the authors’ claims of selling over 100,000 copies since 1992. It’s a slim little self-published volume that is primarily a totem animal dictionary. So how did it fare?

It’s actually pretty decent as far as dictionaries go, especially for its size. The entry for each animal starts with a bit of natural history, followed by the authors’ interpretations of the totemic qualities. Occasionally they throw in a bit of Native American lore (without citing their sources). While they do focus on Big, Impressive North American Animals, they do sometimes have a few oddities–for instance, the jellyfish is characterized particularly by the fact that it must rely on the waves to move from place to place (which isn’t entirely true–they can move with a belling motion). There are a few other details that they throw in that are questionable; for example, I could find nothing to substantiate the claim that a fox with fleas will hold a stick in its mouth and slowly immerse itself in water until the fleas are on the stick–then let the stick go. Still, for a dictionary this isn’t a bad starting place.

There are no rituals or tips on how to work with the animals–this is only a dictionary. It’s the kind of thing that would appeal to people who may not necessarily be heavily into totemism and related practices. I do cringe a bit when the authors toss around words like “Great Mystery” and “medicine” when they don’t give any tribal information about themselves other than saying they learned from a Native American teacher a couple of decades ago.

Still, cultural appropriation aside, this is a neat little booklet. It’s well-written, and a good resource if you like to have a variety of totem animal dictionaries.

Four pawprints out of five.

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1 Comment

  1. sherry ramsey said,

    October 11, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    i enjoyed the book muchly— it was thought provoking and descriptive–

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