EDIT: Updated this a bit, figured folks may want to see.
I wanted to offer some quick resources for those who may be interested in the spiritual work I do with animal parts, since I've been talking about it again lately, and also because it's part of why I created
(since the main reason I started making ritual tools and other art with animal parts in the '90's was due to spiritual, sacred reasons). There's really not that much info available on the subject; most of the people I know who have worked with animal parts in neopagan spirituality did so based on the work I've done, though some of the innovations they've made have been pretty fascinating. And other than a chapter in Patricia Telesco's and Rowan Hall's "Animal Spirit", and a few scattered articles online (like Juniper's "Dead Things on the Altar: [link]
), I've found very little published information on non-indigenous uses of animal parts in spirituality. There just wasn't anyone writing about it. So pretty much everything I've done has been based on my own experimentation and practice over the years, and I'm happy to share that, trade notes, etc.
(Just in case it needs to be said, sharing does not mean plagiarism. If you want to make use of the articles below or the info in them, great! Just please don't post the text without attribution, or otherwise claim the original ideas or material as your own--that's a real dick move, as they say. Link to the original or otherwise give credit and I'll be happy.
Here's a partial listing of my writings on the subject over the years; some older ones have been long-buried, and some I've probably just forgotten about, like old writings on Livejournal that I don't care to go dig up, etc. There's a core of information I've been building that stretches back over a decade, though my first publication about it that I can still find is Chapter 6 from "Fang and Fur, Blood And Bone". So you will find some information repeated in multiple places, but many of the articles and essays have their own specific focuses on a particular topic or angle. The greatest amount of information in one place can, of course, be found in the book "Skin Spirits", but together this is a pretty significant collection of info, free and not-free.
Also, if there's anything you'd like to see me write more about, or questions you have, please feel free to let me know!
I'm always writing stuff, and so prompts are a good thing
Are you curious about a particular process I use? Or have questions about your own skin spirits? Free reading:
--The Skin Spirits category on my shamanism blog (2007 - present): [link]
- Here are some of the more relevant posts:
A PSA About Dead Critters (2013) - warning: this one's rather a rant!: [link]
Skin Spirits and Sacred Remains on Samhain (2012): [link]
Cultural Appropriation 101 for Dead Critter Artists (2012): [link]
The Care and Feeding of Your Totem Animal Dance Tail (2012): [link]
The Care and Feeding of Your Totem Animal Dance Costume (2011): [link]
Skindancing: Shapeshifting Dance (2011): [link]
Death and Skin Spirits and Ethics (2011): [link]
On Dead Critters (2011): [link]
Vegan Skindancing (2011, based on info in Skin Spirits written from 2009 - 2010): [link]
How To Talk To Dead Things (2011): [link]
Dead Critters (2009): [link]
The Caretaker of Critter Bits (2008): [link]
--Witchvox (primarily 2009 - 2011, though I've been writing articles for them since 2005):
Do You Have Eagle Feathers? (2009): [link]
Animal Parts and Paganism (2011): [link]
Totem Tails: Not Just a Fashion Accessory: [link]
Bella Morte (No Unsacred Place, 2011): [link]
Thinking About Dead Animals (Rending the Veil, 2009): [link]
Leftover Spirits (The Wiccan/Pagan Times, 2006): [link]Not-so-free (but still worth it!) reading:
--Reclaiming the Deceased: Animal Parts in Artwork (article, written in 2005, published in PanGaia #45 in early 2007) - has a particular focus on recycled animal parts, but overall is a pretty basic article. Back issue available here: [link]
--Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic (book, April 2006, written 2004-5): [link]
- this is the earliest easily accessible published writing on the subject I can find; chapter 6 is entirely dedicated to working with animal parts and the skin spirits within them. It's from before I coined the term "skin spirits", and there are some things in there I'll change whenever I do a second edition, but it's a basic overview in a book made of chapters exploring different types of animal magic.
--Skin Spirits: The Spiritual and Magical Uses of Animal Parts (book, January 2010, written 2008-9): [link]
- this is the bigger work that stemmed out of that one chapter in FFBB. It's partly more expanded info on the various spiritual practices and philosophies I developed over the years, and partly a bunch of directions on how to make some of the projects I create with animal parts.