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"Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone" is unlike any other book on animal magic out there! Not for domesticated magicians...
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The Green Wolf
Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic is Lupa's first published book--but certainly not her last! It is the result of nearly a decade of intense study and practice of animal magics of all sorts. Lupa has also included a guest essay from friend and fellow practitioner, Nicholas Graham, and the artwork is by the incredibly talented Jim Towns.
This isn't your average book on the topic, though. Lupa wanted to provide the working magician, regardless of background, with a guidebook to incorporating animal magic into hir practice. This includes everyone from Chaos magicians to totemists to Wiccans, witches and pagans and so on. She wrote it primarily from the viewpoint of an experimental magician, so it tends to be quite straightforward and matter-of-fact. It's certainly not a boring trip, mind you--amid the information I've scattered some of my best anecdotes from my years of practice.
And controversy--oh, there'll be room for controversy! Not only does Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic delve into the usual realms of totemism and familiars, creating animal-based entities and shapeshifting, but also the use of animal parts in magic and a (highly disclaimered) chapter on animal sacrifice. Look for other odds and ends like cryptozoology, pop culture influences, and therianthropy, among much more! Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic fills in the blanks in the realm of animal magic! (Not recommended for domesticated magicians.)
Many sources would have you believe that you always have to wait for a familiar to come to you. I didn't have that luxury, partially because of my timelines and partially because I needed an animal that fit my lifestyle, so I wanted to take a more active participation in the search than a general "help wanted" ritual.
I spent several weeks giving thought and energy to the idea, building the intent in my mind until I felt it was ready to release it into action. I didn't think about specific types of animals other than the practicality of something that would be happy in a relatively confined area, given my one-bedroom-apartment status. I didn't do too much formal work; rather, I used a form of trance I get into when I go for long walks and focused the energy from those walking meditations into my quest.
I also emphasized the need for a familiar that would be an active and equal participant in ritual. Most of the examples of familiar animals I found in modern practice involved someone's dog that would "guard the door during ritual" or cats "that always come running when I cast a circle." I definitely wanted a familiar willing to keep an eye on things while I was in altered states of consciousness, but I also wanted to be able to ask for active aid with magical work. I wanted a familiar that would be a partner as well as a guardian and general source of animal energy and inspiration.
I ended up with Tatzelwurm, a lovely ocellated skink, named after a mythical giant lizard reportedly living in the Alps (Unexplained - 1993/Clark/p. 360-361). She's quite practical-she lives in a sand substrate in a roomy tank, so she's easy to clean up after. She eats mealworms and she makes absolutely no noise. She's incredibly solitary-she's living up to her namesake's cryptozoological shyness. She was perfect for my need at the time.
Nicholas Graham, Occult Author
Before I get started on the review proper, I feel the need to address something. I'm sure some folks will suspect that I'm only giving this book high marks because it's written by my very good friend, and/or because I'm a guest essayist in this particular volume. While both of those things are true, I believe that the book (and my review thereof) stands on its own as a fine addition to the literature of the field of magic. That being said, I shall carry on.
This book deserves to be handled chapter-by-chapter, as each chapter is really an independent and self-sufficient essay on a particular facet of animal magic. The entire book fits together as a complete manual on the subject but each chapter can certainly stand up on its own.
Chapter 1: Totemism
While the entire book is great, this chapter shines even amongst these gems. The reason is obviously that Lupa has much more experience with this aspect of magic than with any other and, thus, has a great corpus of information to draw from. I learned a great deal from this chapter, and the in-text citations provide a clear guide as to where to look next for more on a particularly interesting topic. The information is primarily theoretical, but it is written with a definite focus on practice. In other words, it's a font of ideas ready to be adapted to your own magical practice.
Chapter 2: Familiars
This chapter probably has the least experience behind it, but it's still incredibly important for the fact that there really are no books on the market which cover the subject of animal familiars. All of the books I've encountered (besides this one, of course) which mention the subject focus mostly on European witchcraft legends, perhaps making a foray into some psychological or anthropological theory or other behind the phenomenon. Lupa's book, however, gives one specific methods for working with animal familiars, both physical and spiritual. Anybody who has always wanted to experiment in this direction, but has never been able to find information on where to start (such as myself) cannot miss this chapter.
Chapter 3: Animal-based Evocation and Invocation
Chapter 4: Creating Animals in Magical Practice
Chapter 5: Shapeshifting
These three chapters, while all useful as stand-alones, seem to have been written as a unit. Chapter 3 provides the theoretical and ideological foundation upon which chapters 4 & 5 are built. Parts of chapter 3, as well as chapter 4, detail methods for totemic evocation and the creation of animal servitors. The creativity of the author really shows-through as she shares some valuable ideas on the construction of composit-animal servitors.
The remainder of chapter 3, as well as chapter 5, concern themselves primarily with invocation and illumination. The Hermetic approach is refreshing, showing respect for the aspects of spiritual beings which are macrocosmic ('objective', external) and microcosmic ('subjective', internal), and explaining how both angles are useful to the magician. This attitude is useful for anybody who works with spiritual beings of any sort, not just totems and animal spirits. The techniques of illumination are particularly interesting.
Chapter 6: Working with Animal Parts
Anybody reading this who doesn't know Lupa may not know how passionate she is about her animal parts! The majority of her personal magical practice is directly or indirectly related to crafting with animal parts. Many of her invocations and shapeshiftings involve dancing in a wolfskin, for example. This chapter is full of practical tips and advice on both the magical and 'mundane' end of this sort of work.
Chapter 7: Animal Sacrifice
I will be shocked if after a year's time in publication, Lupa does not receive some e-mails about this chapter. My essay appears here, but more important is Lupa's writing. She goes into historical and anthropological information of extreme interest which provide a theoretical and practical foundation for anybody interested in this aspect of magical practice. Even if you have no desire to utilize animal sacrifice in your own work, it's important to understand as many different magical techniques in as much depth as possible to truly call yourself a magician. Lupa's work in this chapter will certainly shed some light on this, the darkest corner of the occult.
The appendices and bibliography are extremely valuable additions to the book. Appendix A, the guided meditation for the discovery of totems, is simple and elegant, and could easily be adapted for a variety of related purposes. Appendix D was a brilliant addition, being a listing of, and brief commentary on, several suggested animal-based charities. In addition to the citations throughout the book, the bibliography provides a quick reference for anybody wishing to explore more deeply the author's background information.
All in all, this is an extremely well put-together manual of animal magic. Most books on the subject are encyclopedic descriptions of animals, and their 'traditional' symbolism and power. While some of those books are interesting, Lupa's Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone makes them useful. The best part is that the book is written from hard-won experience in the field; I can personally vouch for that.
Erynn Rowan Laurie, Celtic Reconstructionist author
I finished reading Lupa's book, Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic today. Unlike pretty much everything else out there on animals and magic today, it's not a "totem dictionary" in any sense of the word. Instead, Lupa presents a variety of approaches and techniques ranging from a guided meditation suggested for finding a totem to a chapter on the legalities and practices of animal sacrifice. There's a lot of very good information packed into this small book, and it's quite well written. Lupa tackles things from a very practical and experiential point of view, and talks about her own practices and experiences, giving a strong grounding to what could have otherwise been a book largely on theory. She makes no claims to be doing work from any particular tribal tradition, but instead discusses a variety of practices and techniques from many different cultures and from her own intuitional discoveries. Well worth the money spent. Good job, Lupa!
Daven of davensjournal.com
When Lupa asked me to do this review, I was of two minds. I thought "well a GOOD book on animal magick would be a wonderful thing for the community." The other part of me thought "I doubt this is going to be that book."
I LOVE it when I'm wrong.
This is not a book that is an encyclopedia about the Spirit Animals or what they do or don't do. There are tons of other resources for that.
This book gives you practical information on working with not only the Spirit Animals, but also with familiars and those who see themselves as being animals in some regard. It talks about things like lycanthropy and how to call a familiar to you. It also discusses things like combining your energy with that of the animals you are dealing and working with.
Of interest to me was the section talking about the energies left in those bone and fur that you acquire. There are many points she makes in talking about the remnants other than meat on those fur skins. I had never really thought about the fact that the spirit of the animal can hang around. Considering just how many animal products go into general life, not just the metaphysical life, it is a point that has needed to be made for some time.
Even with all this praise, there were some things that I found difficult to endure or frustrating.
The first is the responsibility of the publisher. The style of the typesetting set my teeth on edge. The double-spaced lines were irritating. They reminded me of what I had to turn in to the teacher for sophomore English. After a bit, it seemed as though the publisher was attempting to pad out a short manuscript to make it look better.
I understand the author's main experience is with Totemism, but as I read on in this book, there was more and more relation to totem animals and to using your totems. The specific topic was related to the subject under discussion, but still, reading about invoking an animal spirit (no matter how interesting and engaging the actual story is) by dancing in its pelt relates back to Totemism. I had the same experience with the information about guided meditations on the animals, which is another form of a vision quest.
Then I found that a major piece of information is missing. In the first chapter, Lupa mentions a meditation It's apparently a meditation that changed her life, where she discovered the totem animals for each chakra. She implies that this is a common meditation and discovery journey. But I have never heard of it. Since the steps to the meditation weren't in the book, I expected it to be in appendix. But it's not. That bummed me out.
One thing that needs to be mentioned and Lupa is to be commended for, the frank discussion of animal sacrifice. Given that there are those in the various Pagan communities who actively practice animal sacrifice, it is something that needs to be discussed without the automatic shying away of disgust, and without the stigma which is attached by some to those practitioners.
Although there are some flaws, this book earns four starts out of five. Lupa did an excellent job on this book, discussing a topic which so easily could have degenerated into a list of animals and what they can do with clarity and consideration I have seen in few other places.
I am very glad I have a copy of this book and it will be one book I am sure to reference many times in my own works with my cats and with my Spirit Animals in the future.
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