Animal Powers Meditation Kit – Farber and Zerner

Animal Powers Meditation Kit: Spiritual Guidance from Your Totem Teachers
Monte Farber and Amy Zerner
Zerner/Farber Editions, Ltd., 2006

43 pages, 12 cards, 1 CD, 12 pendants

I have found the totemic answer to the “Teen Witch Kit”.

There has been a recent fad ever since Silver Ravenwolf came out with her kit in 2004. A number of authors have come up with similar prefabricated spell kits, meditation kits, and similar “everything you need in one box!” kits since the TWK came out (despite the fact that the reviews on it were largely negative).

Farber and Zerner have found their own niche in this fad with the Animal Powers Meditation Kit. It includes a small booklet, a number of cards with pictures of the animals on them, a CD to go along with your meditations, and twelve pendants, one for each animal covered, with a cord to hang them on.

At first I thought “Hey, this is a great idea!” The authors don’t claim that this is the do-all and end-all of totemic work; it’s their own system that they created, based on their own meditations. It’s obvious that they put a lot of thought into it, and that it’s very personal to them. They also avoided the bulk of cultural appropriation that so many totemic authors fall into.

The artwork is absolutely beautiful; woodcuts by Zerner’s mother, and Zerner’s own collages, illustrate the kit with vibrant colors and vivid representations of the animals. And the idea of the kit it self isn;t so bad; a book to help you learn meditations while focusing on the card that represents a particular animal whose qualities you want to emulate, listening to a CD with music and affirmations associated with that animal, and wearing the pendant of the animal to help remind you that you do have those qualities.

Unfortunately, the actual execution wasn’t all that great. The booklet is only 43 pages long, and while the material is good, I was lefting wanting to know more. How did they develop this system? Do they have any anecdotes as to how it has helped them or other people? Has the kit been “road-tested” by other people?

Additionally, because of the structure of the kit, it’s limited to only 12 animals, and most of these are some of the more “popular” ones–bison, horse, cat (cougar), etc. Only one insect, butterfly, and dolphin represented all aquatic life. While there’s variety compared to, say, the books that try to be more Indian than thou, it’s still pretty limited. Their writings on those animals are decent, but I think they could have gotten away with about 30 animals in this format. If making the pendants was an issue, they could have done 15 double-sided ones.

And that leads me to the “extras”. The CD, while well-intentioned, wasn’t all that great. I was enjoying the music–until the people (I’m assuming the authors) started talking. Gods love them, I’m sure they put a lot of effort into writing just the right affirmations, but the only thing I could think of was “New Age Animal Totem Spoken Word”. I don’t know if it was just the way they recited them, but it just did not work for me at all.

The cards that you contemplate during meditation are quite lovely, and I like the concept. Part of the cardboard packaging is designed to stand up and display an individual card, which is a nice way to keep from wasting even more cardboard and plastic (these kits tend to require a lot more packaging than you’d think). The pendants had nice little designs based on the woodcuts, but the plastic used was incredibly cheap. They’d look a lot less tacky if good quality resin had been used.

This is why mass-manufactured “kits” aren’t really my favorite thing in the world. I like handmade spell kits made by individual pagans and shops; because the items inside are of a good quality and often given blessings by the creator. This, and all manufactured kits, falls far short of that level of quality.

All in all, as I said, the idea was a good one, but the execution really wasn’t all that great.

Two pawprints out of five.

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The Personal Totem Pole – Eligio Stephen Gallegos

The Personal Totem Pole: Animal Imagery, the Chakras and Psychotherapy
Eligio Stephen Gallegos
Moon Bear Press, 1990
183 pages

If I had to pick one book as the most important one in my Top Ten Most Underappreciated Books on Animal Magic list, this would be it.

The author had, prior to this book, no real experience with animal imagery, though he had some experience with meditation technique and the like. He discovered totemic animals associated with each of his seven primary chakras quite by chance, and created a wonderful system of it. The book deals not only with how to find these totems, but also how to interact with them and supports his findings with anecdotes from patients.

The real value here is that A) he acknowledges that these totems have independent existences rather than simply personifying the energies of the chakras, and B) describes pathworking that involves holding councils with the animals. Additionally, he notes that the animals evolve as the patient grows.

Be aware that this isn’t some spoonfeeding text. He doesn’t actually give a how-to, step-by-step procedure. However, it’s pretty apparent to anyone with any magical experience whatsoever what it is he’s describing in the text; both my husband and I were able to independently figure it out without any problem. If you’re looking for a totemism 101 book, check out some of the other reviews I have in the Animal Magic category on the left sidebar for suggestions. Then come back and get this book!

I have used this book to good effect, and I highly, highly, highly recommend it for pathworking. I’ve also used it as a source in my first book, and sincerely hope that the pagan and magical community recognizes “The Personal Totem Pole” for the true gem that it is.

Five pathworking pawprints out of five.

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Power Animal Meditations – Nicki Scully

Power Animal Meditations: Shamanic Journeys With Your Spirit Allies
Nicki Scully
Bear & Company, 2001
280 pages

This book is an excellent pathworking tool. The meditations, aided by animals, plants and minerals, lead the reader through the psyche to repair and upgrade where needed. The journeys gentle and realistic, supportive of healing wounds but also not shirking the necessity of dealing with difficult areas. Rather than being a happy, feel-good piece of white light, it’s a series of well-balanced guided meditations that can be used by both beginning and advanced magical practitioners and lacks the saccharine feel of a lot of New Age texts.

The weaving in of the Egyptian pantheon is also well-done. Rather than creating a forced set of correspondences, the author allowed the deities (and other guides) to appear when they chose in her own pathworking for the book. The meditations themselves are quite open-ended. The guardian of the threshold, whom she visualizes as Thoth, may appear differently for different people, and while the environments may be described in great detail, the actual communication between the seeker and the guide is left to the fluidity of the seeker’s experiences.

I do wonder where she got certain bits of mythological information and wish there’d been some citations, adn there’s no bibliography. Still, considering that the book was originally published over a decade ago, it’s a bit more forgivable, as the practice of putting citations in esoteric non fiction is relatively new and still widely ignored these days. Still, given that the bulk of the book is based on the author’s own personal research through meditation, it’s more forgivable.

It’s an excellent tool for conscious evolution, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys animal imagery in their meditations.

Four and a half pawprints out of five.

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