Lame Animal Totem: Hamster

Few hamster owners realize that their pets carry the powerful energy of intense passion and artistic aspiration that for some reason always ends up being considered amusing and adorable. If you doubt Hamster’s depth, please click this link to observe the moving death throes acted out by these talented little nuggets of cuteness.

If you actually watched the video, you now know how hard hamsters work at the craft of acting, bringing depth, energy, and true pathos to their performances. As if that isn’t enough, consider the piano prodigy at this link.

True, the Hamster isn’t playing the piano, because that’s NOT POSSIBLE. Seriously, this is precisely the kind of limited, bigoted thinking that keeps Hamsters—and Hamster people—from achieving the acclaim they deserve.

If your totem is the Hamster, you too have an intense, fiery, artistic nature that just never gets taken seriously. You have paintings in you, and screenplays, and music, and soliloquies! You also have no physical skills or training to back them up, but who cares? Let Hamster help you throw caution to the wind! Although it won’t go far, because Hamster has tiny little arms and not much of a windup. So let Hamster help you throw caution to the floor! Then lie down on top of it (caution, that is) and brood about how no one understands the torment of your sensitive artist’s soul, you darling li’l thing, you.

Lame Animal Totem: Pacu

Take a look at your teeth. If they resemble those of the pacu fish, pictured here, the pacu just might be your animal totem!

The pacu played a starring role in an episode of River Monsters, a television program featuring intrepid angler Jeremy Wade. The aptly-named-Wade went right into bodies of water in Papua New Guinea where the pacu is found, despite the rumor that this fish lives by biting nuts it finds floating on the water. Any nuts, if you catch my drift. Yes, the pacu, also known as the “ball cutter,” is said to accidentally geld men who, for some reason, feel they have no other option but to wash their nuts in the streams of Papua New Guinea. I mean almonds, of course. Or hazelnuts. Get your mind out of the gutter. There are pacu in there.

Anyway, the pacu carries the energy of social misdeeds ranging from slight gaffes to severe faux pas. If pacu is your totem, in addition to enjoying questionable dental hygiene, you may blow your nose into a formal tablecloth, shout in baby talk at anyone with an accent, bring ham as a bar mitzvah gift, or all three at once! Pacu energy is clumsy, oblivious, and boorish, the kind of vibe that makes people cringe so hard they might puncture a lung. Call on your pacu totem to help you offend your in-laws so severely you’ll never have to share a meal with them again, or to get rid of annoying “friends.” When a neighbor extends the hand of fellowship, or the pope offers his ring for you to kiss, bite down hard. And then politely ask them if they would like you to help them wash their nuts.

Lame Animal Totem: Hagfish

Hagfish, also called “slime eels,” are similar to (follow closely, here) extremely slimy eels. Some experts call them “a degenerate type of vertebrate-fish” because they have skulls but no vertebrae. Others just avoid them.  

In addition to its degeneracy, Hagfish energy is spineless, squishy, slithery, and rank. If Hagfish is your totem, don’t assume you must necessarily become a politician. You could also start your own religion, marry a series of rich, aging spouses and drop them off at no-kill shelters, or produce a reality show—whatever requires the least backbone.

If Hagfish shlurps its way into your life, first ask yourself what the hell you’re doing at the bottom of the ocean. Then start to imagine all the ways you can behave immorally while slithering away from responsibility. Park in handicapped zones! Eat the last cupcake! Steal someone’s identity! The trail of slime you leave will give you away, but odds are you’ll just squish merrily on, because no one will ever, ever want to touch you.

Lame Animal Totem: T Rex

TRexYou may think that a huge carnivorous dinosaur would be a good animal totem. It’s so strong and sassy and rambunctious. But in truth, T-Rex energy is the ultimate inner lizard, the totem of fight-or-flight reactions so severe they’ll cause you to burn down your house because there’s a spider in the basement.

As you can see from this totally un-Photo-Shopped photograph of me on my ranch, I myself have a Tyrannosaurus Rex as a totem. (The one pictured was sent to me recently by an anonymous donor. Probably Jesus.) If T-Rex is your totem it will look much like mine, except dressed like you. Look behind you. It’s probably there right now.

I call upon T Rex energy when it’s time to panic—and when isn’t it? Between this massive totem and equally massive doses of caffeine, I always have energy for catastrophic fantasies and useless emotional thrashing. So when Tyrannosaurus Rex sinks his massive teeth into the flimsy Volkswagen of your life, come and find me. We will freak out together until we are obliterated by a giant meteorite, which will be exactly what we expected.

Lame Animal Totem: The Lemming

the lemmingOur animal totem for this month, the Lemming, is a cute little thing—perhaps too cute for its own good. Lemmings reproduce in such numbers that every four years or so, their population density becomes so extreme that they all flee to the suburbs—which is problematic because they have no cities. When they encounter a body of water, such as the Pacific Ocean, they try to swim it. They fail.

Lemming energy is fixated, obsessive, and frazzled. If Lemming has tunneled its way through the yurt walls of your life, this is a good time to find a public space such as a theme park or the Kremlin, then throw a hysterical fit, then drown yourself.

If you prefer to live a while, channel that Lemming energy into a hobby such as stalking.  Lemming’s rabid refusal to be deterred will come in handy! And because Lemmings are aggressive toward other animals, you’ll have the energy for plenty of physical violence when you get arrested. As for prison, there couldn’t be a better place to play out your Lemming destiny. See you there or maybe at the beach!

Periodically in this newsletter and on my FB page, I’ll be sharing the animal totems you wish you knew more about: the marginalized, the disrespected, nay I say, the lame. You’ll learn the illuminating messages they hold for you. You’re welcome. ~Martha

Lame Animal Totem: The Roundish Flatworm

roundish flatwormThe roundish flatworm is the hypothetical earliest animal ever to have developed bilateral symmetry. Its proper name, “urbilaterian,” is just its way of trying to sound important. Roundish flatworms are profoundly unevolved. They carry the energy of unintentional rudeness, deep insensitivity, and naïve indifference to suffering.

If the roundish flatworm is your totem, then like your animal, you probably focus most of your time sucking food through muscular mouth parts located directly over your stomach. This is why no one ever asks you out for coffee, or any other activity that might offer you a chance to develop social skills. No worries—you wouldn’t care anyway.

When the roundish flatworm convulses its way across your path, consider it an invitation to offer only primitive reactions to people around you. Ignore all thought-provoking ideas. Be sexist and politically incorrect. Laugh when people trip. If anyone complains, say, “Hey, I’m bilaterally symmetrical! What more do you want?” The roundish flatworm has been using this line for millions of years, and so far, it’s worked just fine.

Lame Animal Totem: “Dog Vomit” Slime Mold

slimemoldJust when you thought no creature could have a name worse than “oak titmouse,” behold: the “Dog Vomit” Slime Mold. Which is an actual thing. (Right? I know!)

Anyway, slime mold behaves like a bunch of isolated, single-celled organisms until the cells suddenly decide to cohere and act like a single creature, creating polyps and fruiting bodies. This totem creature combines the aesthetic appeal of vomit with the style and verve of an aggressive fungus. What fun!

“Dog Vomit” Slime Mold is the totem beast of self-obsession, sustained dismay, and disorganized loathing. It often leads to institutionalization, or, worse, the writing of a memoir. When “Dog Vomit” Slime Mold seeps its way into your life, use its energy to send ranting, accusatory emails to ex-lovers, relatives, and casual acquaintances. Become hysterical. Come unglued. Then, just when everyone thinks you’re incapable of coherent behavior, rear up and become a human polyp, sowing seeds of your hideous mood among all you encounter.

If “Dog Vomit” Slime Mold is your totem…gaah!  Ick ick, ick, ick, ick!

That is all.

Lame Animal Totem: The Oak Titmouse

unnamedOak Titmouse is a small bird the color of dry bark, with black eyes and a jaunty little crest. Unfortunately, its name was chosen by middle-school boys high on cough syrup, and made official by sex-starved geek biologists. Now the Oak Titmouse is stuck with a label no one can get past.
If Oak Titmouse flutters into your life, you are probably holding onto moronic traditions from your family of origin, e.g., “Of course I beat my children. I’m Talullah Heiniehumper, and that’s how Heiniehumpers roll.” Titmouse teaches you to close your claws tightly and proudly around all that baggage.
Titmouse energy is bigoted, insulting, and hypersensitive. It can guide you unerringly to a soulmate just as dysfunctional as yourself, or spark sibling rivalry that may well end in murder. Channel your Titmouse totem through tantrums or silent treatments. Spend twenty years in therapy, but never change. Then feel superior. Things could be worse. You could be called Fir Mousetit.

Lame Animal Totem: The Clam

ClamsClam energy is exuberant, witty, wise, hilarious, and brilliant, but no one ever realizes this, because Clam keeps it all inside, out of fear that someone will steal its intellectual property.

When Clam maneuvers its way into the bouillabaisse of your life, play your cards close to your vest. Closer! CLOSER! No one must know of your genius, or they will filch all your best ideas! (Which you’ll get around to developing any day now.)

If Clam is your totem, your inner life is teeming with good intentions, none of which you ever act upon. You’re possibly the world’s best singer, writer, dancer, and inventor, but you haven’t yet begun singing, writing, dancing, or inventing. Continue in this vein. Remember that no matter how secretive you are aliens are probably trying to read your mind. Hide your talents in a hard shell of paranoia, or alternatively, aluminum foil. As a Clam, you can never be too careful.

Lame Animal Totem: The Tick

woodtickYou never know when Tick will enter your life, so undress carefully and check all your crevices as soon as possible after reading this. When Tick does crawl up your pant leg and into your life, rest assured that this totem animal will help you take advantage of others while inspiring revulsion in all you encounter.

Tick energy is intrusive, draining, and waaaaaay too intimate. Let it inspire you to show up at the homes of friends you barely know, asking to stay for an indefinite period. Eat their food, borrow their clothes, and follow them into the bathroom to tell them long stories about the bad things done to you by your ex-spouse. Whine. Wheedle. Attach yourself. Tick energy will give you all the inspiration you need.

If your spirit animal is Tick, you already know how to sink your mouth parts into a juicy situation, whether it’s a pyramid scheme that sells automatic buttock massagers to the elderly, or a naïve lottery winner whose money you’ve volunteered to manage. As you enjoy your Tick magic, be aware that you are genuinely disgusting. Also, avoid people with matches and pets with those special collars. You are already living on borrowed time.

Periodically, I’ll be sharing the animal totems you wish you knew more about: the marginalized, the disrespected, nay I say, the lame. You’ll learn the illuminating messages they hold for you. You’re welcome. ~Martha