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In an attempt to pull away from the cultural appropriation that had plagued modern wicca and neo-pagan movements, I notice many people gravitating towards traditional witchcraft in it’s various incarnations. While this is a broad conversation to enter into, something I want to bring up for the possibility of open conversation is the concept of the Fetch (traditional witchcraft) and the Spirit Animal (Native American shamanism). Bare in mind, my understanding of the spirit animal is limited to what I have been told and I am open to being given more information to better develop my grasp of the concept. Take the following definitions as generals, not absolutes.
A ? around a sentence means I’m not sure of the validity of this information.
Spirit Animal: An entity, separate from the self, which appears to guide or, through lessons, help one become stronger and persevere through challenge. They represent a mind set or perhaps ones strongest traits, what will become most important to them, or the path they should follow in life. ?A spirit animal does not ‘belong’ to any one person? However a totem animal is one with the person both in the physical and spiritual realm. Spirit animals may come in and out of ones life at times of need or to convey messages. ?Sometimes they have strong affiliations with a specific tribe?
Fetch: A fetch is, at it’s core, a representation of the persons most primal and uncivilized self. Wild and perhaps even dark, it is meant to act as a challenger to the persons progress in the craft and, once the challenge is won, the fetch will act on behalf of the person by helping them travel the spirit realm. They can be totemic (as totems and shamanism is not limited to Native American tribes)as they are in essence the person at their most wild and free self.
Why differentiate? Well beyond the two being very different both in concept and intention, I do feel there is a need to stop using the stolen ideals of another culture, especially when we don’t have a good grasp of what they are and simply fling around the term because we took a buzzfeed quiz. Spirit animals do not belong to witchcraft. We do not have a right to them under the concept that they exist for Native Americans. Now there may be some similarities between spirit animals and fetches, familiars, totems, et cetera in other practices. But that does not make the terms interchangeable.