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Poof! You’re a Toad (the dangers of totem-assignment)

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

Personal Investment is Key to Totem Identification

Don’t let the title of this blog post fool you.  I’m not waving my rowan-wood wand, turning folks into toads (yet, lol).

Rather, this post is about the tricky business of assigning animal totems to folks wanting to know.

Not a day passes when someone doesn’t send in an email with a question like: “Avia, can you tell me what my animal totem is?”

On the one hand, I’m thrilled with these inquiries.  It suggests a desire to re-connect to animal kin.  It’s a sign that folks are becoming more attuned to the wild and wonderful realms of the Mother [Nature] – and that is uber-awesome.

On the other hand, I’m often distressed by the lack of personal investment in re-connecting with our animal brothers and sisters.  Connections to our animal kin is a deeply personal act.

What’s even more irking is the idea that a virtual stranger can arbitrarily assign a totem to another person.  To explain, I’ve been known to listen in on certain radio show discussions about totems and neo-shamanism.  I’m not naming names, but I’m suspect when these totem-experts get callers on their show with the inevitable question: “Can you tell me my animal totem?” and I’m floored when the totem-practitioner pops off a critter to the caller – essentially assigning a totem to him or her in the span of two seconds.

How can that cosmic connection be gleaned from a distant second party?  It feels like “slot-machine logic” – an answer spit out at random.  I could be wrong. These totem experts could be mightily connected to their spiritual council, and so they are fed this totem information to present to the caller.  Still, I have doubts.

On my most connected days, in which unification with my own Spirit Council is super-tight, I am fed information in terms of “seeing” woodland creatures or other critters scampering around my client’s energy.  These visions give me a good idea about the inquirer’s totem affiliations.  Nevertheless, in the midst of these visions come strong admonishments from the Council.  Admonishments like: “These are the animal energies communing with the human – but he/she must establish the connection.”

Historically, shamans could succinctly identify totems to the members of their tribe/village.  There’s a reason for that.  Shamans, elders, seers, and wise-women of a tribe typically hold their positions in the group over long spans of time. They live, learn, love together in a tight-knit community, intrinsically linked to the clan members. They often oversee the birthing of new members, and are participants of that member’s life from day one.  This gives them special knowing, they see the patterns between a tribal-member’s aura, energy, personality that link to the like-energy of their totem.  Simply put, tribal shamans have had a long-standing connection with their people, and are therefore in a better position to identify the individual totems of their tribesmen and women.

So what if we don’t live in a native setting in which an Elder knows us and can help us retrieve our animal totem identities?

The onus is on us.  We must be the ones to invest the time to re-connect with our animal guides and guardians.

Asking others to identify our totems isn’t a bad thing, but I’d be leery of pat answers from virtual strangers.  Those who ask me what their totems are often get frustrated with my round-about answers.  I offer information that my Council feeds me, but not without belting out a few paragraphs about the importance of personal meditation, research and investigation into the matter.

Let’s face it.  Most of us wouldn’t ask a stranger “Who is my life-partner?” and then marry the first person named Joe or Suzie just because we’ve been given a pat answer to this question.

In my opinion, re-partnering with our animal totems is no less serious.  Our animal totems are profound partnerships – indeed, a marriage.  They deserve our time and attention to get to know them.  We deserve the investment to familiarize ourselves with our connection to them.  So, be wary of the “poof! you’re a toad” syndrome.  Pat answers to complex questions like these are to be approached with caution.

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Introducing Valerie of Pacific Sound and Voice

Saturday, June 4th, 2011
Valerie Piacenti of Pacific Sound And Voice

Valerie Piacenti of Pacific Sound And Voice

Part of the thrill of being involved in an online tribe is meeting incredibly gifted souls along the way.  One such bright soul is Valerie Piacenti.  We’ve known each other for a few years now, and it’s been an utter pleasure to share life’s journey with her.  Valerie has been a beacon in my life for her refreshing outlook and her consistently uplifting perspectives.  Her passion is in sharing the gift of music as a catalyst for healing, expression and expanding awareness.  It’s clear I adore Valerie, her music, and her mission.  Everybody knows a good thing becomes great when it’s shared with others, so I’d like to take this opportunity to share a little bit about Valerie and the value she offers.  Check out her info, contact her, ask her questions – she’s a gem to chat with!  And feel free to leave comments, I know she’ll relish the feedback!


Valerie Piacenti has long been interested in how music, sound and voice can be used to soothe, inspire and heal. She is a certified Cross Cultural Music in Healing Practitioner and Founder of Pacific Sound and Voice, having completed a two-year course of study in Therapeutic Applications of Cross-Cultural Sound and Music with Pat Moffitt Cook, Ph.D. and Director of the Open Ear Center on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Valerie has been involved in extensive personal transformation, spiritual work and meditation for over thirty years, over six of them in sacred sound. Last year, she completed the program Spiritual Health Through Sound and Music, also taught by Pat Moffitt Cook and continues with this program several times throughout the year.

In addition to sound healing, Valerie uses her vocal talents as a professional singer and performer, having appearing on stages from Broadway to London.

Pacific Sound and Voice is a company focusing on the many applications and therapeutic benefits of using sound and music. Current services available for both individual and group clients include sound programs, chant and mantra meditation, prescriptive music and vocal coaching.


The practice of sound and music for health and well-being is ancient. It can easily be traced back 3,000 years and more than likely, it stems from thousands of years earlier.

Throughout history, the use of music and sound have been used successfully to reduce stress, control pain, to entertain, provide a shift in mood and emotion, induce and enhance awareness, as well as provide complimentary techniques to medical practices.

Using the tools of the voice through humming, toning, chant and mantra, the singing bowl, and prescriptive music we can help bring about increased health and well-being.

Some of the benefits of using sound, music and voice include:

  • Focus, clarity and calm
  • Stress and emotional relief
  • Increased breath and lung capacity
  • Synchronize and balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain
  • Balance the chakras or energy centers
  • Improvement of overall health, energy and well-being
  • Enhance meditation or spiritual practice

Are you intrigued?  You should be!  Valerie is a powerhouse of knowledge, talent, and intuitive excellence.  In fact, I have several of her CDs and they are a delight and a joy to experience. The instrumentation she chooses for her pieces are truly soothing and obviously crafted with care.  Furthermore, Valerie’s voice and musical affinity is superior in my opinion.

Check out Valerie’s website here (and check back on her website in a few weeks, because she’s working on adding new information).  If you want to talk to Valerie about her melodic awakening practice, here’s how to reach her at:  valerie{at}pacificsoundandvoice.com -or- give her a call at: 206-931-3771.  When you talk to her, tell her Avia says “hi”! :)

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Introducing Deep-Heart Healing

Monday, April 11th, 2011
Through my work, I come in contact with special souls, whose intent is true and virtuous.  One such soul is Steven Distefano, co-founder of Deep-Heart Healing.  Over time, Steven has remained consistent in his devotion to spiritual growth for himself and his community (both local and long-distance).  This post serves as an introduction to the ministry of his heart, Deep-Heart Healing.  Here are a few excerpts from his work, and the work of co-founder, Ulrike Basile.  Enjoy!

Deep-Heart Healing

Introducing Deep-Heart Healing

The focus for Deep-Heart Healing is the overcoming of fear-based energies in our life by love.

The great human problem of evil and fear lies in believing the illusion that we are separate from one another, separate from nature and Spirit.  This is ignorance of what truly is: Our Oneness. When this is overcome, we behave lovingly towards one another. What is most needed today therefore is healing the effects of believing the illusion of separateness and the fear it generates in our lives.

In the way of Deep-Heart Healing, – Spirit discerns all things. We are all an interdependent web of relationships mutually influencing each other in every moment. As we become aware of Spirit as Loving Ground we can discern how all things work towards the realization of our unique call to love from The Spirit for the good of all.

Deep-Heart Healing also stresses that we can develop intuitive guidance as we commit our whole life for the good of all. Intuitive guidance has but one aim — that we may discern what is in harmony in our life, in all our thoughts, words and actions with Spirit and what is not.

Deep-Heart Healing assists the direction of the heart towards the commitment for Universal Good which discerns all energies at work in our life.

  • What spiritual practice will best serve my awakening to Spirit?
  • What are the unresolved fears and limiting beliefs from my earliest years and throughout my life that are now calling to be released?
  • Where in my bodily systems is there imbalance and what supplements, healing modalities will best restore my natural balance?
  • What relationships and/or choices in my life, best serve my realizing the greater joy and freedom to respond to The Call of Spirit given me?

It is in listening to such questions as these in the presence of Spirit that what we truly need is discovered.

For Healing Sessions (by phone or in person), Talks, Workshops:

Steven Distefano
(402) 651-1926
deephearthealing{at}gmail.com

-or-

Ulrike Basile
(402) 319-7790
deephearthealing{at}gmail.com

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