Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Join the council!

We are still looking for contributors to the bioregional animism project. We are in need of a good editor as well as bioregional animism inspired art and essasy's.
our goal is for this project to show the diversity of ideas and ways of relating to the central idea of bioregional animism.
Stories of communing with the spirits, and medicines, new life ways based on new relationships with the land and sky and other then human persons, insights, adaptation's and new languages and culture based on mutuality and communion, we are interested in it all. the messages of my bioregion are only my own, I would love to hear the voices of other bioregions and ecoregions.
Please contact little lightening bolt for more info.
We have 148 members on the bioregional animism tribe, which is really exciting! Lets hear from some of you...
blessings to you all!

Ototeman: new totemism

The word totem comes from an Ojibwa word Ototeman which simply means 'uterine kin' which are ones kin as well as food.

" In the new approach, (animist) totemism is considered to be a mode of sociality and socailising that includes particular other-than-humans in kinship an affinity groupings and avoidances."Graham Harvey: Animism.

Many of us have 'related' at one point or another to an animal or plant or some other-than-human-person in nature at some point in our lives. There has been a rebirth of interest in totemism over the years. Many have been drawn to the books by authors such as Jamie Sams, Micheal Harner, or Ted Andrews as a way to find an understanding to this deep sense of relating we have to other-than-humans as well as to find a certain power that comes from having a spiritual and physical ally in the world that is wild and other than human.

"...persons-human and than human- are intimately ( inter-)related with a broad community just as if they had all emerged from the same womb. Reciprocal duties and responsibilities devolve on to each member of the clan group thus constituted. People are born and nurtured by particular, culturally defined methods into particular groups that embrace not only immediate kin ( those who are literally 'uterine kin') but also other significant members. These various, particular methods unite persons in webs of rules, especially about sex and food, but also in ceremonial roles, land ownership, and much more." Graham Harvey: Animism.

Some of us are drawn to this type of relationship with nature as a way to find a sense of wholeness, a way to live well in the world. We no longer are born into animist and totemic systems of relating. We are not (consciously at least) born into fire weed clans and raven clans, we can not track our ancestors back to an other then human person or a system of relationships that give us identity based on a feeling of wholeness that come from relating to other then human persons. This places us in a relatively unique spot!
So to many of us this is strangely familiar yet unknown territory I hope some of this will clear things up a bit.
In Debbie roses work with Aboriginal Australia she says...
"...decades of study of totemism have brought scholars to the outlines of an understanding of where the appropriate questions are located. They concern human interactions and connectedness with, and responsibilities toward, the nonhuman world. Totemism posits connectedness, mutal interdependence, and NON-NEGOTIABLE significance of the lives of non-human species. It organizes responsibilities for species along tracks that intersect, and thus builds a structure of regional systems of relationship and responsibility."
"and thus builds a structure of regional systems of relationship and responsibility." This is what so many of of feel the lack of in our lives who are drawn to the "Ideal" of totemism, and is what bioregional animism is hoping to reestablish. Rose goes on to say...
"Totemic relationships constitute a major system of linking living bodies into structured relationships. There is a clear recognition that the lives of these beings are enmeshed in enduring relationships which bind people and certain species together and thus differentiate them from other across species boundaries." This is especially true to many Australian Aborigines, and in many ways their truth or perception of totemic relationships can be seen across the board. We are what we eat and who we are, because of the way we relate. How many Smiths are there out there for instance... or Bowmen or Weavers? From a bioregional point of view we are where we live and how we relate to it. Many people have taken on the name and identity of cascadian who live in the cascades or of the name of their bioregion or political region such as American. This is in a way a watered down version of totemism but I think we can do better!
I have for example seen that many of the people I associate with ( nomadic neo-tribal punks) as Raccoon-people, they are survivors living off the rubbish of America as well as living in the wild. They are fairly adapted to both rural and urban areas, yet have a higher mortality rate in urban areas...sad but true. Raccoon is also a tricky scoundrel with a quick temper and a very clean and generous guardian of wild freedom, raccoon does not respect the delusion of ownership and so wears a mask or tattoo over his face so he can mask his identity and appropriate what has been taken from the whole for the benefit of the clan... so I have thought that for many of us nomadic or stationary rural(country punkins)/urban neo-tribal punk folk, the raccoon has been our totem or clan leader spirit elder and power ally in nature. This has been confirmed to me by raccoon many times in person as well. Like raccoons we have our own laws and our own culture all which are very much like that of the raccoons. We live a life that is mutually beneficial to raccoons as well, thus paying respect and developing a reciprocating relationship with the bioregion and the clan totem. This just might be for me and those i relate to as well and by no means do I wish to make this an over all generalization for those that live a similar life way. But I wish to use this as an example.
I also have my own person way of relating, as a person in the pacific north west, as a person of the world, as a person who was born in another eco-region then the one I have now made my home, to the other then human persons whom I am one with or whom one could say in more exoteric terms I relate to today. I have a medicine totem which happens to be a plant, I have many totems which assist me in healing and living a well life which are important to me and benefit the larger community of life which I belong to, which aid me and which I attempt to aid in return. Which have developed through other then human person of which I have a relationship with. Relationships that I developed through the act of communing with other then human persons. My very name little lightening bolt was given to me through these reciprocal relationships.

"Totemism, then, is one sociological structure in which animist persons ( human AND other then human) meaningfully, respectfully, morally and intimately engage with one another. The new totemism adds to the new animism by clarifying a way in which some relationships are closer than others while, conversely, not all relationships are equally valued by all persons and groups. Likeness and difference are enveloped in the specificity of totemic clan relationships- but both serve the wider purpose of mutuality and seeking the flourishing of life. It has already been argues that Hallowell's term 'other then human persons' privileges humanity only because it is useful in addressing other humans. Among other-than-human persons, humans might count as 'other-than-eagle', 'other-than-kangaroo', 'other-than-salmon' or 'other-than-rock' persons. The different but complementary point that is being made here is that relationships may involve all manner of persons and that clan-/totem-identified persons might be better represented by speaking of other-than-bear-clan persons or other-then-kangaroo-clan-persons. Finally, totemic clans should be defined not as groups of humans who use animals to think about their relational ontology, but as groups of persons that cross species boundaries to embrace more inclusive communities and seek the flourishing of all."