So, I’ve taken it upon myself to read and review some witchcraft books, in order to find some that maybe aren’t COMPLETELY awful to share with you guys. Because, let’s face it, we all like to be able to find things in book form. Now, to toot my own horn, I do have a book out right now that’s a pretty good starting point as a grimoire, but I plan to release a revised, much larger, copy sometime next year containing a lot of the things I’ve learned recently. That’s why Witchcraft is called a practice, we never really stop learning.
Okay, on with the review. This first book is very cringe-worthy. Like, I mean, as a Native American, reading it made me want to vomit. The book is Animal Speak by Ted Andrews, and just on the cover alone you can already tell its going to be full of cultural appropriation and disrespect to us Natives. Now, the dictionary part itself was actually not too bad. The book contains a comprehensive list of animals and what they mean and stand for, etc. But there are also entire chapters devoted to ‘finding your totem’ and ‘calling your spirit animal’. I just. Nope. Nope. So much nope.
As I’ve said before in my ‘On Totems/Spirit Animals’ post and my ‘Common Misconceptions in Witchcraft’ article, people who are not born into/accepted and recognized by a specific Native American tribe that has a history of practices and traditions that involve totems and spirit animals, cannot, in any way, have a spirit animal or a totem. While many cultures do have Clan Animals or a history of animal guides, the terms ‘Spirit Animal’ and ‘Totem’ refer specifically to the Native American religious traditions that involve a rite of passages and several difficult trials one must undergo to EARN a Totem or a Spirit Animal. Native American cultures and religions are closed to outsiders. So the fact that this WHITE author is going around trying to teach WHITE pagans/witches and “shamans” (gags) how to contact their ‘spirit animals’, is not only disgusting but also incredibly offensive and insulting. Also, their idea of a Spirit Animal/Totem is an animal that represents you, which is completely false. A totem is an animal that chooses you because it has things to teach you. I’ve wrote extensively about this.
In conclusion, Ted Andrews has written many a book and most, if not all, of them include a form of cultural appropriation. Animal Speak has a good little dictionary to refer to when Animal Scrying, but you can guy a pocket version of it that includes a lot less racist garbage. Personally, I would not recommend reading this book or buying this book. Supporting authors who steal sacred traditions from minority cultures is a lot like aiding and abetting the enemy. Just don’t do it.
If you are interested in learning about some animal correspondences without having to be exposed to this kind of trash, you can check out my posts on the subjects here: Insects and Spiders, Reptiles, Mammals and Birds.