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How To Make a Totem

By Cate Cavanagh

Totems are integral to Native American beliefs. A totem is a prayer or an honor to a deity. Eskimos built large impressive totems with different images of animals one on top of the other. Made with great care they are awesome to see. But a totem need not be massive. Consider the dream catcher. The dream catcher is a magical protection totem. Reflecting the web of a spider, it’s purpose was and is to catch nightmares so children will not be frightened. One can hand make a dream catcher which is powerful magic as your energy infuses it with power or one can be purchased with your doing a cleansing ritual by burning a sage bundle and wafting the smoke onto the dream catcher before hanging it up. Just because you might be an adult doesn’t mean you won’t have a more restful sleep if you hang one up for yourself!

There are other ways to make a totem. Native Americans called everything in their environment “people”–plant people, tree people, rock people, water people, animal people and so on. You see they believe all things have a spirit. This is the root of Shamanism. So, in creating the totem I will discuss here one must honor the spirits of the things you will use from Mother Earth.

Many years ago I was stuck in a very low paying job despite having made service delivery breakthroughs for the families of autistic students for many years. It was sink or swim time. I simply could not survive on that extremely low salary and desperately needed a good paying job that reflected my skills, education and worth.

It was around this time that I was learning about Native American beliefs. I decided to make a totem. The totem I was going to make was going be very simple but extremely imbedded with my energy and prayer. I took a slow long walk through the major park where I lived.  As I walked I spoke to the trees and stones and pebbles and plants asking for assistance and volunteers for this totem. I found myself drawn to four little stones. I thanked the stones for offering to help me. I walked further and found four feathers. I thanked the bird people for their help too. I walked further and a branch on the ground got my attention. I picked it up and thanked it as well.

At home I set to work. I took a sharp steak knife and pure cotton thread. I placed the small stones, feathers and branch in front of me and said a prayer asking for help with getting a better paying job.  I focused on this and only this with such extreme intensity that my forehead began to sweat. With the knife I shaved the bark off the branch completely. I took the thread and began tying off the feathers to the branch and left plenty of thread for winding around the stones. After what seemed like a long while I was done. Stones and feathers hung suspended from the branch. I went back to the park and looked for a high tree so I could toss the totem as high as I could.  Having found one I tossed it up, thanked the tree and left cornmeal at the base of the tree in thanks.

The idea was to allow nature to weather away the totem until the prayer was answered. Three months later a friend called me to tell me about a new position with her agency. I applied and I got the job and a $27,000 pay increase to boot!

Keep in mind this did not just drop in my lap. I had over the years worked very hard in my profession, low paying though it was and I was known in my field so the seeds had already been long sown. What is important is that in making the totem, energies were sent out to bring an opportunity to my attention which I could have ignored–but of course I didn’t.

I made a totem another time in my life with an amazing outcome as well. Because it proved so fast and powerful I have not done this since out of respect for the power.

But with so many people hurting now is a good time to share this experience. Just remember: Never do anything to harm anyone or to make a particular person fall in love with you. You must not take away free will or cause injury or bad Karma will indeed come back to haunt you….

Aside from these warnings do try and let us at Global Psychics know how it went.

I asked a friend who has Native American links–her grandmother was a shaman and it is believed she has her grandmother’s spirit–what she thought of the article on totems.  This was her response.  Teresa
We have all had a family discussion and clarified what every one of us have come to understand so far about Totem poles. We have all learned that medicine wheels are for personal strengths and weakness for healing and direction. However, the Totems have always been taught that they are tribal spirts intended for the whole community direction. It was necessary to the heritage to unify and join together in the tribal direction for survival. My family feels that creating your own personal totem is a worship of self rather than roots of heritage and ancient beliefs. We sort of feel like it is a bad and selfish thing to have the power of these spirits employeed to benefit one person alone. Medicine wheels are designed for personal struggles on purpose. The power of the spirits through the medicine wheel in the areas of self are greatly powerful and not intrusive to the tribe. It would actually cause spiritual war to create a totem for self, because the tribe totem is not divided and all inclusive. The Medicine wheel is individual because each individual needs a specific touch that may not work for other individuals.

It occured to me that the Totems were just like the Ephod that Aaron was commanded to wear for the Tribes of Israel. Each tribe has a jewel in place on the breast plate so that God could see it. The ways that I was taught was that each animal on the totem has a significant way that relates to the tribe in a peaceful harmonious celebration of the tribes strength. Just like the tribes were presented harmoniously to the presence of the Ain Sof on the breast plate, the totem presents itself harmoniously to the different Shaman. The spirits of the Shaman really do exist. I used to see them out of the corner of my eye. They are very opaque black spirits that appear like men. They are black so that they can hide in nature and oversee the ways of nature. The color black represents love. Each shaman is assigned to a creature on earth. In the Indian way the creature is also the earth, the rocks, the sky, the clouds. Western culture thinks of these things as objects that we use as resources. But the Shaman think of these things as living things with a conscience. As I have gotten older I have seen their full form and I have shown them to my children. My girls see them as well. It is very important to understand that these creatures do exist. I guess that is why it is difficult for me when people tap into the spiritual teaching without understanding the creatures that they are dealing with. The totem is very sacred and I am troubled that people use the idea of the power instead of harmonizing to the power involved. It is not really a worship as if these powers are gods as much as a respect and reverence for the powers that be in the universe. The Shaman want to share their gifts and give people survival in the treacherous way that nature can cause, but it takes relationships to do this. Just like we have relationships and peace with Jews understanding the harmony they teach with the Ain Sof, which really does exist. It is important that we harmonize with the Shaman before we start thinking that Totems can fulfill our e xpectations. They need to feel pleased and peaceful before embarking on such a path. I guess I am not hearing any relationship with the creatures of the Shaman, only relationship with the animals. Does any of this make sense at all? Sherri

Totems and the Ephod
It occured to me that the Totems were just like the Ephod that Aaron was commanded to wear for the Tribes of Israel. Each tribe has a jewel in place on the breast plate so that God could see it. The ways that I was taught was that each animal on the totem has a significant way that relates to the tribe in a peaceful harmonious celebration of the tribes strength. Just like the tribes were presented harmoniously to the presence of the Ain Sof on the breast plate, the totem presents itself harmoniously to the different Shaman. The spirits of the Shaman really do exist. I used to see them out of the corner of my eye. They are very opaque black spirits that appear like men. They are black so that they can hide in nature and oversee the ways of nature. The color black represents love. Each shaman is assigned to a creature on earth. In the Indian way the creature is also the earth, the rocks, the sky, the clouds. Western culture thinks of these things as objects that we use as resources. But the Shaman think of these things as living things with a conscience. As I have gotten older I have seen their full form and I have shown them to my children. My girls see them as well. It is very important to understand that these creatures do exist. I guess that is why it is difficult for me when people tap into the spiritual teaching without understanding the creatures that they are dealing with. The totem is very sacred and I am troubled that people use the idea of the power instead of harmonizing to the power involved. It is not really a worship as if these powers are gods as much as a respect and reverence for the powers that be in the universe. The Shaman want to share their gifts and give people survival in the treacherous way that nature can cause, but it takes relationships to do this. Just like we have relationships and peace with Jews understanding the harmony they teach with the Ain Sof, which really does exist. It is important that we harmonize with the Shaman before we start thinking that Totems can fulfill our e xpectations. They need to feel pleased and peaceful before embarking on such a path. I guess I am not hearing any relationship with the creatures of the Shaman, only relationship with the animals. Does any of this make sense at all?
 
Love Sherri
PS.  Dreaming about Totems and shaman and medicine wheels just a few minutes ago. And I dreamt that I took all the totems and unified them together. Then all the nations gathered together for a feast and all the shaman were pleased. This is what was told for me to do instead of dividing the totems into personal totems.
Good input which is why I suggested that it be for the good and need and to allow what outcome happens. Being of Native heritage myself I understand what she is saying however, in the later days the spirits of Native American heritage will avail themselves to all as prophesied. I understand wanting to protect the integrity of beliefs… Cate
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