[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A weekly dose of dauntlessly dealt reality from the What It Is Wednesday Blog Carnival

For most fetishists, it’s not untoward to suggest the body is an altar. In animism and shamanism, fetishism means holding sacred items that symbolize relationship to an spirit ally. They could also mean relationship to the item, itself. One of the first things I suggest to all clients, students, and Initiates is to come into relationship with spirit guides, totems, Nature Spirits, Home Spirits, you name it. It’s all there to tap into and engage, and it’s the first step in an animistic life. Well, okay, maybe second, after the realization that everything is alive…

Most often this engagement through form happens on an altar, prayer mat, or shrine–a place where fetish items are sacred and set apart from the stuff of everyday. However, our most direct point of empowerment is our person; meaning, when we adorn our body with those sacred items, fetishism takes on entirely other proportions.

"Body as altar." #whatitiswednesday #intentionalinsights by S. Kelley Harrell, Soul Intent Arts, Fuquay, NC Photo by SKHHaving sacred items in our familiar serves many purposes. Their presence offers us a point of empowered focus during the monotony of the day. We can by looking at them experience somatic recall of working with that being, and in doing so, embody the power of unifying with it. Keeping them near us enables the relationship with the spirit being to become stronger. In doing so, our ability to reciprocate in that relationship becomes more automatic, more unconscious.

As we approach that liminal boundary, we become capable of shapeshifting more readily with these spirit allies. As far back into human history as it’s possible to trace, we have evidence of our species donning the guise of others. By that I don’t just mean wearing furs and skins for physical protection and warmth, but the teeth, the bones, the shells, the bark, the feathers–for sacred decoration. At this point in fetishism, we branch from animism into shamanism–a more personal and direct experience with the aliveness of all things.

Shapeshifting is the ability to merge consciousness with another being, and perhaps in some guise, to find common cellular relationship. What occurs during shapeshifting is one of the deepest synergies of connected formed reality, which transcends language, biology, personality, ego, sense of space and time.

Through shared physicality we have the opportunity to bridge anything, and that’s what makes adornment of spirit allies so powerful.

We become something more, merged. Our capacity to express and observe expands exponentially, which is the crux of shamanism as a life path. It is the recognition of All Things separate, united, embodied. This way of carrying self as the embodiment of path is truly walking with a foot in both worlds.

Body as altar can be as simple of clothing worn, choice of fabric, skins, furs, metals, feathers. Through color, the sound of tinkling jewelry, scents worn, the adornment of plant spirits via makeup and body paint–all of these invoke us to be more present in ourselves, as well as can serve to invoke the spirit of the adornment, through us. Permanent body modification such as scarring, ink, burning, or implanting bone, gems, or other material may be done as methods of invocation of, or ways to honor the spirits of those adornments, the allies they represent, through sacred pain and/or marking the body.

However you express the sacred of your path through adornment, embrace not only what the attribute brings you, but the process of its creation. Just as we create space for the sacred in our lives, so must we engage it in our cells. So must we be it throughout who we are.