In the neopagan world, use of animal parts for spiritual work continues to be somewhat taboo. Lupa breaks this barrier, sharing her personal spiritual practices as advice to others who engage with animal spirits and include bodies or pieces of their bodies in that work.
Lupa’s unique perspective on engaging with animal spirits defies conventional views of afterlife (such as convention is among neopagans.) From her perspective, animals may not leave their bodies, and a considerate shaman must take care to gain permission before use of a dead skin. This prevents trauma to the animal and unintended consequences to the shaman.
While the book does talk a small amount about magical practices and animal spirit interaction, the bulk of the text gives instructions for constructing magical objects from animal remains. The first chapter also explores intensely the ethics of using animal parts, and this includes the consideration of those completely opposed to the practice. Lupa’s views on her own use are clear, as is her respect for the dignity of the animals that inhabit the skins she uses.
Lupa’s work is never for everyone, but is always a unique addition to some neglected arena of magical study. In this case, she fills a significant gap that extends her work in Fang, Fur Blood and Bone. She goes from the macrocosmic scale of gods and spirits in the aforementioned book, to the smaller, one on one perspective in Skin Spirits that looks at synergy between animal spirit and shaman. Her direct experience and shared skill make this book a worthy addition to the shamanic bookshelf.
~review by Diana Rajchel
Megalithica Books, 2010
pp. 171, $19.99