I am pleased to announce that I have released updated and annotated editions of my three earliest books: Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone; DIY Animism (formerly DIY Totemism); and Skin Spirits! These were originally published between 2006 and 2009 by Megalithica Books, an imprint of Immanion Press. My parting with them is on good terms, and I highly, highly recommend them for anyone wishing to go the small press route for either sci fi and fantasy fiction, or pagan and occult nonfiction. I’ve just been moving more toward self publishing for the bulk of my works in recent years and was given back the rights to these earlier works. (Both the anthologies I did for IP/MB, Talking About the Elephant and Engaging the Spirit World are now permanently out of print.)
I’ve completely redone the interior layout and covers of the books; the interiors are more compact to cut down on paper usage, and the covers feature my own photos and design. My material is much the same, though I’ve added updates where information has been outdated. I’ve also changed quite a bit as a practitioner, and I’ve annotated the texts to note where I either don’t use a practice any more, or wanted to clarify things that I felt needed a little expansion.
You’ll also notice that I’ve ceased using the terms “totem” and “shamanism”. I’ve chosen to do this as these terms were appropriated from the Ojiwbe and the Evenk, respectively, and while they have been used more generally in both anthropological and spiritual settings, I’ve decided to switch to more culturally neutral terms like animal spirit and animism. I’ve done my best to update the language in these early books to use different terminology while making the text still make sense, and keeping totem and shamanism only where I discuss indigenous practices.
It’s been over a year since I wrote a brand new blog post with anything other than a bit of promotion. Truth be told, I needed a break. I started my first blog in 2007, I think? Earlier if you count Livejournal as a blog. For a few years I even had multiple blogs going at once, and that just got exhausting.
But it gave me time to work on other things. As you may remember, four years ago I moved my art studio out to the coast to a farm owned by a friend of mine. I gradually moved my entire life out here, and I’m now a full-time resident. I’m still self-employed, with my art and writing joined by a small contract doing a bit of environmental education locally, and selling eggs from my chickens.
Yes, I have chickens! Twenty of them! And a tank of guppies and platies, and a dog. And there are other animals I get to take care of here, too, so that keeps me pretty busy. I also spend what little bits of free time I have outside, whether I’m hiking, taking the dog for a walk, or fussing around on iNaturalist.
Like so many other people, my life has been shaken down to the core the past few weeks with the COVID-19 pandemic. Because I already live a pretty isolated life (but not in a bad way) I’m at fairly low risk of contracting the disease, though I’m still careful. However, all of my streams of income have either been severely cut or evaporated entirely within the past month, which has meant I’ve had to adapt quickly. It’s going to be a lean year for sure.
On the one hand, there’s the stress of not knowing what my future will hold (no matter how good I am at divination!) On the other, the shifting around of responsibilities and priorities, and so many things now being put on hold, has left me the opportunity to move some projects up the to-do list. For instance, I have a few books that are either out of print or just about to be that I’m moving over into my self-publishing efforts; hopefully the first of those will be available later this week (and yes, I will post here.) This involves doing an entirely new interior layout and cover for each manuscript, plus whatever minor edits are needed. I don’t like to rewrite my older works entirely, partly because the information is still good, and partly because I’m in a very different place in my life now.
But that also means I have room to write new books, too! I mean, I have other things going on right now, but I’m making time to work on a manuscript that I actually started a couple of years ago, and then had to back-burner due to life happening (and needing to get Vulture Culture 101 out the door.) The working title is Coyote’s Journey: Deeper Work With the Major Arcana, and while it will be based on the animals of the Majors of the Tarot of Bones, it will be useful for anyone studying Tarot in depth regardless of what decks they use. Each chapter will explore some of the messages and concepts associated with each card in detail, followed by exercises and meditation ideas, all written within the story of Coyote (the Fool) going to meet each of the animals associated with the other cards.
I have no idea what the timeline is for publication. A lot depends on how well I’m able to keep paying the bills on an even thinner shoestring over the next several months, and what other side gigs I manage to scrape up to keep things afloat here. But for now, once I get my OOP/almost OOP titles squared away I intend to put a lot more focus on Coyote’s Journey, and hopefully do a little blogging on the side, too.
On that note, I’d just like to remind you dear readers that art and books are still the backbone of my income, and while I have always appreciated every single sale (seriously, I still sometimes squee when I get notification of a sale in my inbox), they matter even more now. If you’d like to help support my work, here’s how:
Surprise! I have a new book! Well, booklet, anyway. And there’s a nifty handmade divination set with it, too!
Pocket Osteomancy is a bone divination system that I created based loosely on the Minor Arcana of the Tarot of Bones. It’s a bone casting method using a casting cloth divided into four quadrants. I first released it to some of my Patrons on Patreon last year so that they could try it out, but they only had a single instruction sheet to work with. Now I’ve fleshed that out into a 24-page booklet available as a paperback or ebook, and you can purchase the casting cloth and bones as well!
Divination with bones doesn’t have to be complicated! Pocket Osteomancy: A Simple Bone Divination Set is a simple but effective system for using animal bones to focus your intuition and explore possibilities in your present and future. It’s great for both beginners who may feel intimidated by more complex systems, and also provides a basic structure for more experienced practitioners to build on and explore.
I am excited to announce that the official IndieGoGo campaign for my next book, Vulture Culture 101: A Book For People Who Like Dead Things, will launch on February 6, 2018! More than a book on taxidermy or bone identification, Vulture Culture 101 is a guidebook to the subculture surrounding the preparation, collection and appreciation of hides, bones and other specimens. It’s suitable for both beginners and experienced Vultures and may even appeal to those who are just curious about us and our collections.
The full IndieGoGo campaign won’t be launched til the 6th, but you can get a taste of what will be included at the prelaunch page here. And you can sign up for an email reminder to be sent to you when the campaign officially starts!
As with my wildly successful IndieGoGo campaigns for The Tarot of Bones, this campaign will help me to fund attendant costs for the book, such as paying guest writers for how-to essays on topics like hide tanning and bone cleaning, as well as the cost of printing physical books and having them shipped to me. Anything left over after that will help me cover my bills and other expenses as I finish up the last bit of writing, editing, layout and other work that remains before projected publication in Summer 2018.
I will, of course, make an announcement when the campaign itself goes live, but for now check out the prelaunch page for a taste of what’s to come! And, as always, thank you for your ongoing support.
As a hide and bone artist it’s part of my business to do my due diligence in knowing the laws governing possession and trade in animal remains. That’s why I’ve maintained the Animal Parts Laws Pages for a few years now–it’s a good resource for me, and one that I can share with others, too.
I wanted to point out some of the most relevant recent changes to CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. CITES is an agreement among almost every country in the world to monitor and restrict trade in endangered species, both alive and dead, and last month they had their big annual meeting where they decide what animals will maintain protection, and which will get more or less protection than before. Because some of these animals have remains that are sometimes seen in the Vulture Culture, and because not everyone knows about the recent changes, I wanted to bring more attention to them. These are not the full summary of the CITES changes, of course; I haven’t yet been able to find notes from this year’s meeting (the most recent set on the CITES website are from 2013.) If anyone has an online version of these notes I’d greatly appreciate it.
So–on to my own summary!
–Elephants in most African countries are CITES I; however, those in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe are still CITES II. Attempts to uplist these to CITES I were blocked, which means those countries can still trade their ivory legally. (Keep in mind that the United States has banned almost all trade in ivory, so those of us stateside should not be trying to import CITES II ivory!)
–African lions already became illegal to trade in the United States (except for a very few exceptions) when they got added to the Endangered Species List earlier this year. CITES now bans the trade in all wild lion parts–but it is still legal for the bones, teeth and claws of captive-bred lions to be traded, and hunting trophies can still be exported. Considering the IUCN estimated the remaining wild lion population at 20,000 across the continent (the population was 450,000 in the 1940s, less than a century ago), things are looking dire for the biggest cat not given CITES I protections. My recommendation, even if you are in a country that allows lion parts to be traded, is avoid–it’s easy to lie and say that bones from wild lions actually came from captive ones, and this is one animal that really needs the pressure taken off of it.
–African gray parrots were given CITES I protection. Thanks to their popularity as pets (boosted by the now-deceased Alex, whose charisma often enticed unwitting people to take on pets they weren’t prepared for), African grays have been relentlessly hunted for the pet trade. Habitat loss is also a major factor in their decline. CITES I protection means that it’s now illegal to trade in the remains as well as live specimens of this specie; here’s hoping this intelligent little dinosaur will now have a better chance at recovery.
–Skulls of several species of hornbill are often legally traded in the Vulture Culture, but if you ever see someone offering the skull of a helmeted hornbill, watch out! This species has been declining in recent years as its solid bill became an alternative to elephant ivory for carving and other art. It already had CITES I protection, but this year the meeting emphasized the need to publicize that fact. So here I am, helping to publicize it!
I hope you find this helpful; again, you can research more about legalities related to animal remains at https://thegreenwolf.com/animal-parts-laws/ (and, as always, neither this post nor the resources I provide are intended to be legal advice. I am not a legal professional and have no legal training, I am just an artist doing layperson’s research.)
It’s been an incredibly busy few months here at the Green Wolf! Since April, I’ve moved my studio to the Washington coast, been to two Midwest festivals that required me to be away from the studio for a week or more, and tried to adjust to bouncing between two separate homes (Portland, OR and Long Beach, WA) while maintaining a foothold in each. Along the way I’ve made new friends and business contacts, fallen in love with new lands and spoken with their spirits, and discovered strength I didn’t know I had that can balance out my all-too-human challenges.
Thank you to those who have supported my work along the way, whether that was boosting the second Tarot of Bones IndieGoGo campaign, coming to Still Death sessions in Portland, buying art and books online or at venues, coming to my workshops at events and elsewhere, supporting me on Patreon, and otherwise making sure I could keep the lights on in my homes. I know I’ve sometimes been a bit tough to get in contact with because of the busy-ness (and occasional internet blackouts thanks to poor cell signal.) Know that I will always try my best to get caught up once I’m back to a more settled location, and I intend to keep working hard to create awesome things and get them out to y’all.
So what’s on tap next? Well, after a long weekend of vending and doing a serious overhaul to the Portland apartment, I am back in the studio getting caught up on sending out orders and finishing Patreon goodies for the month. I’ll be announcing the next few months of Still Death sessions soon, and getting the ball rolling on Curious Gallery 2017. I should have the layout for the Tarot of Bones companion book done soon and can send the file in to create a test copy (no, the book won’t be released til the deck is later this summer.) And, of course, artwork. Lots and lots of artwork!
Preorders for my next book are officially open! Nature Spirituality From the Ground Up: Connect With Totems In Your Ecosystem is due for release from Llewellyn Worldwide this January. If you’ve enjoyed my previous writings on (nonindigenous) bioregional totemism, you’ll love this book. It’s entirely dedicated to working with not just animals, but plants, fungi, minerals and more, all toward getting to know the land you live in better and rejoin the community of nature.
I’ve been funneling most of my writing time over the past week toward a new book manuscript that, for now, shall remain under wraps. In the meantime, here’s what else I’ve been up to:
–Along with vending and leading a workshop on repurposing leather clothing in crafts, I entered a few pieces of my art in the art show at OryCon 36. I was absolutely thrilled when I found out The Teacup Tauntaun won the Popular Choice award, complete with shiny blue ribbon! What does that mean? Well, apparently a LOT of people liked my attempt to turn an old Corsican ram taxidermy mount into the wild beast of Hoth, and while she didn’t find a new home with someone else, she did bring home some bragging rights.
–Speaking of art shows, you can see (and purchase) another one of my assemblage pieces, “Raptor’s Feast”, at the Wild Arts Festival held by the Audubon Society of Portland on November 22-23, 2014. I created it to donate to the 6×6 Wild Art Project, where artists create pieces measuring no more than 6″ x 6″ x 2.5″; these are then sold at the Wild Arts Festival and 100% of the proceeds benefits the Audubon Society of Portland and their efforts to protect local birds and their habitats. “Raptor’s Feast” is a 6″ x 6″ canvas board painted in acrylics, with used grit from my rock tumbler added for texture, a resin hawk skull, and real rodent jaws from owl pellets.
—I’m also going to be presenting at PantheaCon 2015 in February; my workshop, “Animal Skulls as Ritual Partners”, scheduled for 9am on Sunday, February 15, 2015 will involve some introductory information on working with animal skulls in spiritual practices, along with some hands-on experience. So bring your favorite skull (or borrow one of the ones I’ll have with me) and be prepared for what is often considered a very moving spiritual experience! (I’ll have some other events happening, both at the convention off-site–more info on that later.)
–Finally, I’m working hard on Curious Gallery, my two-day arts festival celebrating cabinets of curiosity and their contents. Its next iteration will be January 10-11, 2015 at the Crowne Plaza Portland-Downtown Convention Center here in Portland, OR. We’ve already got some great programming arranged with more in the works, and we’re still accepting programming and vending applications, with art applications opening soon. The early bird weekend rates end after November 16, so register now!