Pbk: 336 pp
Llewellyn, 2016
ISBN: 978-0738747040

 Reviewed by Marian Van Eyk McCain

Anyone who is familiar with the concept of animal guides or ‘power animals’ may have noticed by now that the range of creatures whose totemic characteristics are described in the books and oracle cards is quite limited, compared to the number of life forms on our planet. What if the creature who comes to you in your dreams is not an owl or a wolf or an eagle but an aphid, a parsnip or a paramecium?

Lupa, who describes herself as a ‘neoshaman, artist and sustainability geek’ is an ecopsychologist with a counselling practice, and her specialty, which she describes as ‘bioregional totemism’ takes a much wider and more holistic approach than many of her colleagues. She calls it a self-created, spirit-centred neoshamanic path. It begins with a reminder that everything we touch came in some way from a natural source and that: …even living in the middle of the city, I spend every moment immersed in nature. As she so cogently points out: The truth is, we never actually left the community of nature; we just think and act as though we did.

If we are to reverse the damage we have done as a result of this attitude, our work must surely start with regaining a sense of deep connection with the Earth that is our matrix and the ecosystems in which we are embedded. One way to do this, says Lupa, is through working with the totems, the overarching spiritual representatives of animals, plants, fungi and other beings…who can act as intermediaries. These can be absolutely any other life form that we encounter, in real life, in dreams, or even in our imaginations. Every other being is a potential teacher, aid and ally. Our first task, though, is a very practical one and it is essential for us all. That is to learn as much as possible about the bioregion in which we find ourselves. Grounded in this knowledge, we then go on to create bonds with the other life forms who share it.

To that end, Lupa’s book is full of exercises, guided meditations and other helpful suggestions that enable us to enlist the aid of these totemic energies, and by doing so to make our deep connection with the rest of the natural world more conscious, moment to moment, and more ever-present in daily life.