Book and Cards Review – Animal Powers Meditation Kit
Animal Powers Meditation Kit: Spiritual Guidance from Your Totem Teachers
by Monte Farber and Amy Zerner
Zerner/Farber Editions, Ltd., 2006
43 pages, 12 cards, 1 CD, 12 pendants
I have found the totemic answer to the “Teen Witch Kit.”
There has been a recent fad ever since Silver Ravenwolf came out with her kit in 2004. A number of authors have come up with similar prefabricated spell kits, meditation kits, and similar “everything you need in one box!” kits since the TWK came out (despite the fact that the reviews on it were largely negative).
Farber and Zerner have found their own niche in this fad with the Animal Powers Meditation Kit. It includes a small booklet, a number of cards with pictures of the animals on them, a CD to go along with your meditations, and twelve pendants, one for each animal covered, with a cord to hang them on.
At first I thought, “Hey, this is a great idea!” The authors don’t claim that this is the do-all and end-all of totemic work; it’s their own system that they created, based on their own meditations. It’s obvious that they put a lot of thought into it, and that it’s very personal to them. They also avoided the bulk of cultural appropriation that so many totemic authors fall into.
The artwork is absolutely beautiful; woodcuts by Zerner’s mother, and Zerner’s own collages, illustrate the kit with vibrant colors and vivid representations of the animals. And the idea of the kit it self isn’t so bad: a book to help you learn meditations while focusing on the card that represents a particular animal whose qualities you want to emulate, listening to a CD with music and affirmations associated with that animal, and wearing the pendant of the animal to help remind you that you do have those qualities.
Unfortunately, the actual execution wasn’t all that great. The booklet is only 43 pages long, and while the material is good, I was left wanting to know more. How did they develop this system? Do they have any anecdotes as to how it has helped them or other people? Has the kit been “road-tested” by other people?
Additionally, because of the structure of the kit, it’s limited to only 12 animals, and most of these are more “popular” ones — bison, horse, cat (cougar), etc. Only one insect (butterfly), and dolphin represented all aquatic life. While there’s variety compared to, say, the books that try to be more Indian than thou, it’s still pretty limited. Their writings on those animals are decent, but I think they could have gotten away with about 30 animals in this format. If making the pendants was an issue, they could have done 15 double-sided ones.
And that leads me to the “extras.” The CD, while well-intentioned, didn’t impress me. I was enjoying the music — until the people (I’m assuming the authors) started talking. Gods love them, I’m sure they put a lot of effort into writing just the right affirmations, but the only thing I could think of was “New Age Animal Totem Spoken Word.” I don’t know if it was just the way they recited them, but it did not work for me at all.
The cards that you contemplate during meditation are quite lovely, and I like the concept. Part of the cardboard packaging is designed to stand up and display an individual card, which is a nice way to keep from wasting even more cardboard and plastic (these kits tend to require a lot more packaging than you’d think). The pendants had nice little designs based on the woodcuts, but the plastic used was incredibly cheap. They’d look a lot less tacky if good quality resin had been used.
This is why mass-manufactured “kits” aren’t really my favorite thing in the world. I like handmade spell kits made by individual pagans and shops, because the items inside are of a good quality and are often given blessings by the creator. This, and all manufactured kits, falls far short of that level of quality.
All in all, as I said, the idea was a good one, but the execution could have been so much better. Two pawprints out of five.
Review ©2007 Lupa
Edited by Sheta Kaey.
Lupa is the author of Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic, A Field Guide to Otherkin, and co-author of Kink Magic, among other works. You can read her blog at http://therioshamanism.com and see her website at http://www.thegreenwolf.com.