Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Most young people who come across “our home” have tattoos these days. Lots of them were chosen intuitively. Yet, when they find out that we (in our home) live traditionally (shamanism) they are often curious about the meaning behind the animals that are etched on their skin. One young man (a friend of my daughter’s) had this great big Eagle on his back and a Roman armour on his chest. When I asked him if he had any big story or experience to share relating to the tattoos, he was all excited. He explained that every since he was a little boy he knew deep down that he had been a warrior in another life and that the Roman armour was intimately related to him. The Eagle always seemed to be a messenger for him (and so he said). Today, he chose the Military as his life’s career.

“A gift from the Eagle,” he said.

I always find it incredible that people live SHAMANISM without consciously understanding the meaning of the word. It seems to be at the roots of our human experience. Animalism has been a hot topic for at least a thousand years – sometimes driving people to horrible violence and other times, impressing a certain deep contemplation. Where some societies view these topics as rubbish; other societies have made aggressive, political decisions to bring to extinction anything and everything playing in these fields of magical power. Is it real or not – has never really been the question but more so – how much power can these societies exercise on others? Magical, Religious or non-Religious have all had their turn at the helm of Society.

When my daughter and my son decided on their tattoo they wanted to be clear that it represented a big part of them and that it would also grow in power along with them. Often when tattoo are discussed amongst people of a certain age there’s a lot of judgment towards staining our human skin (so to speak) with images that no longer have any kind of meaning with time. I think that the young people today are very careful with their tattoos. Most will choose symbols that are connected to important life stories and that are meant to motivate or inspire them for the rest of their life.

My daughter chose to explore one of her totems and I have to admit that she often finds herself exploring the insect that is tattooed on her skin in a very practical way. The Bee queen is demanding and always gets what she asks for but she doesn’t do it without considering the whole hive. I noticed that my daughter expects a lot out of the people around her but she’s the first to give what she asks for. K also has attributes that we often relate to the Bee. She’s hard working, perseverant and definitely works for the well being of those she loves. My son on the other hand decided to tattoo a “music key”. He’s a drummer and this tattoo reflects him in every thought and every emotion. There’s nothing in his life that isn’t filled with music and the understanding that all things come together: A concert of details.

This past weekend we were giving a workshop in Kingston and one of the participants discovered that she had a Bat as a totem through an exercise that demanded that she test her “echo-vibration” abilities. She was quite impressed at how she was able to feel people, furniture and even the energy that was emanating from places before bumping into them. After half an hour she didn’t doubt the fact that she had Bat on her personal Medicine Wheel and that this animal was a part of her somehow… It will be interesting to see how she explores this totem deeper.

There’s so much that can be written on this topic. Tonight it seemed important to discuss it, even though it’s superficial information; because a young woman called me with a question. She asked if a mother could feel the totem of her child before the child was born. It brought me back to my own pregnancy experiences. I remember running through grass as a wolf along side my cub when I was pregnant with my son. The first totem that he recognized for himself as a toddler was WOLF. With my daughter I was stung a few times when I was pregnant with her and the Bee is the totem she tattooed on her shoulder. There’s no doubt that we can feel the totems of our children when we are pregnant with them.

I remember meeting this woman once who had this birth mark on her thigh. It was the shadow shape of a mouse. She said that her mother was afraid of mice and that was probably why she was born with that image. After talking about their relationship as mom and daughter – we came to find out that her mother had given birth without a shred of a doubt to her worst nightmare: A mouse!

Totems can be fun to play with and to explore but they can also be serious business. I have countless stories on this topic but for tonight, I’ll leave it at this!



pixie said...

I really enjoyed this topic, just learning about totems myself. I find it difficult to find my totems, but that may be because I am jumping the gun, and need to explore the one I already know, the chipmunk, I am also trying to figure out where it is on my wheel, and am having a hard time understanding how the totems are connected to each stone.
I have always loved tattoos, and got one of a pixie sitting ontop of the world, I always have a hard time answering peoples questions about it, finding that it looses meaning when translated into words. My tattoo is not complete. The world has yet to be colored or shaded. I am glad that I did not get this part of it done right away, because my view of the world has changed drastically from befor, and I find it continues to change. Every now and again someone will say I should go get it finished, but I know it will get done when it is time.
I am currious about my sons totems, and helping him discover his, how can I guide him through this discovery.
Ok, I'm going on and on,,, Thanx for your entry.

Prismslight said...

Your comment about the magic is so significant in this day and age there are so many causes that people are trying to find meaning for and if we allow that magic to flow through what an amazing place this world will be.With so many times in history where fear overtook people,societies I think we have a chance to really reconnect and I do think people young people feel that energy and calling....Just my thoughts :) beautiful post.

Wapeyit Malsom said...

I've been trying to post a comment for the last half hour.... Hopefully this one will work. I was saying -- that I really enjoy the feedback. It helps me return to my blog entries with new perspective. Your presence and comments are incredibly appreciated. Thank you for being here.


pixie said...

when you say totems can be serious business, what exactly do you mean?

Wapeyit Malsom said...

I left you a blog entry as an answer to your question. Thank you for the feedback.

little buffalo said...

i really really enjoy reading your blog entries. im kind of reading 'backward', but the messages still are recieved the same way. im right now doing some contemplation on what my totems are, trying to see if they are totems or just gates i keep having to pass through. im new to all this and find your entries very helpful to fill in my lack of knowlewdge. im thinking i have a mouse totem, a buffalo, and i think the wolf... but im still looking for confirmation.
thanx again!