Posted by: White Cranes | August 15, 2009

Altars, Fetishes, Kachinas, and Masked Stilt Dancers

I always build an altar for shamanic ceremonies. It is a little bit different every time, but it is always there.

Building an altar is part of the process of recreating the energy of the space and putting up spiritual protection for the participants. It includes candles (the kind in a tall glass cylinder) as a campfire substitute, natural items like seed pods and stones, feathers, crystals (to focus and transmit energy), and other things that have meaning to me.

bear_smallOn the altar are always a lot of animal fetishes. Many are authentic Zuni stone fetishes. Some are animal figures that I have empowered by using them, as described by Hal Zina Bennett in some of his books. I also usually wear several animal fetish necklaces.

People often ask me about all those animals. Most are shocked when I say the animal figures are fetishes. Most Americans seem to only know of the word fetish from the derivative psychological term, sexual fetish. So it takes awhile to explain.

Because I am always having to explain the meaning of the word fetish, I just published a two-part article about masks and fetishes in my Houston Shamanism Examiner column.

kachina_dollsHopi katchina masks and costumes are fetishes in the anthropological sense. And African sacred masks are also sometimes fetishes. Americans usually completely misinterpret their purpose, so I discussed masks in the article, too.

You can read both parts of the article here:

There are photos, illustrations and resource links, too.

Please stop by and take a look, and leave a comment to tell me what you think.



  1. […] The busiest day of the year was March 3rd with 21 views. The most popular post that day was Altars, Fetishes, Kachinas, and Masked Stilt Dancers. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: