Throw me Thursday: Totems

@rgibson103 said, “What weird emblems are in your life, like the orange in The Godfather films being associated with mortality?”

I love this suggestion.  Let me tell you why.

(The video below has been blocked by Sony, but please do click on the You Tube link.)

I have a pet rock.  He lives on my desk next to the crispy red leaf my daughter carried home from the park just for me.  I have a flying pig I’ve named Penelope.  She goes by Penny and she can really fly just like me.

I’ve always been enthralled with symbolism, though I hardly pick up on tiny literary  references and subtle movie flashes.  I think it’s all made up anyway.  We get our own art with our art.  That’s what makes it delicious.

But even so.  Even so, I’ll share some of my most precious totems with you.

A cup of fresh, hot coffee–

All that is good and right and possible in the whole wide world.  It’s always been this way, back to Yemen and the first glowing red coffee berry on the little coffee berry bush.  I’d dance for that bean.

A long stretch of highway, a road–

Wildness.  The possibility of the Great Huzzah! Rebellion, motion, and huge, hulking platters of hope and expectation.  Tomorrow.  And tomorrow’s tomorrow.

Trees with deep down roots straining to reach the sun–

Strength.  Yearning to catch a breath and dig the toes in deep.  Stretching outside oneself. Attaining.  The Tree of Life.

Her mistress moon

Great longing and desire.  Remorse.  Plans yet to be actualized.

Freshly cut grass, neighborhood lawns, fields of shining yellow wheat–

Security and safety.  Home.  Sometimes giving in.

A pan of frozen spinach cooking on the stove–

Harmony.  Before the shit hits the fan.

Circles and swirls–

The feminine, completion, connectedness.  Spinning in circles round and round, falling down, dizzy with life.  Intoxication.

And there are water and rivers and dams and fish and night and music and art and birds and rain.  There are oranges.  And there are jigsaw puzzles and camping trips and silver dollars and wooden houses that fit in the palm of your hand.  There are symbols inside symbols I can only see while I’m sleeping.  And symbols scratched in my skin.

Tell me yours, tell me so we can throw our totems at the hungry sky and meet once more with fresh appreciation.  I’d like that.  You?


About E. Victoria Flynn

E. Victoria Flynn is a mother and a writer living in Southern Wisconsin. Published in a variety of venues, Victoria is currently writing the first in a series of three fantasy novels based on Cornish folklore. When not taking part in a shrieking dance party or engrossed in her own little fictions, Victoria is keen on art, the natural world and people unafraid to explore their own brilliance.
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10 Responses to Throw me Thursday: Totems

  1. Hey, talk about randomness-surfing (and a chance to sidetrack from my NaNo novel…) I’ve recently been thinking on the concept of totems, and found mine in an animal (a friend called it my Patronus).

    I just hadn’t thought this broadly. This is fun.

    My notes from Wikipedia totem exploration:

    Totems are chosen arbitrarily for the sole purpose of making the physical world a comprehensive and coherent classificatory system.
    Lévi-Strauss argues that the use of physical analogies is not an indication of a more primitive mental capacity. It is rather, a more efficient way to cope with this particular mode of life in which abstractions are rare, and in which the physical environment is in direct friction with the society.
    Firth and Fortes argued that totemism was based on physical or psychological similarities between the clan and the totemic animal.
    totems are a symbolic representation of the group.

    So you might see how I thought of totem in the traditional animal context (and am a skilled user of cut-and-paste.)

    My animal is the badger: interactive and nurturing in a very small sphere, and a don’t-mess-with-me stand-my-ground-ness in my own space.

    By a similar (?) token I tend not to mess with others in their sphere. I waffle with whether that makes me a wimp or just practical.

    • pennyjars says:


      Thank you for stopping by, reading and using your exceptional cutting and pasting skills. I apologize for taking so long to reply, but I’m also in the depths of Nano world, so you can imagine.

      I admit, I have taken liberty in using the term “totem” to refer to these decidedly non-animal symbols, but I think of our modern world and, in ways not unlike Gaimen’s “American Gods”, have drawn the conclusion that our symbols are derived from what we encounter in our every-day lives. Everything has meaning, if we give it.

      Highways and byways are significant to me. Tra la.

      The badger is also significant in these parts, however, not as you intend it. I’m in WI–Go, Bucky, go. (Really, I’m not a sports fan, I don’t know if they say, Go, Bucky,Go, but he’s a badger. And he wears red)

  2. kario says:

    Mine is most definitely the bald eagle. He flies over my car when I’m driving across the lake to take my daughter and her friends to school, he circles my yard screaming as I sit on the back porch writing (or pretending to write), and he sits quietly on the pilings of an old dock when I’m feeling conflicted and reminds me that life is good.

    • pennyjars says:


      I have never seen a bald eagle in the wild. I have heard they’ve been taken off the endangered list and this makes me happy. I would love to have an eagle circling my yard reminding me to write. I do have crows. Lots of crows. And crows can count, at least, to two.

  3. Beth Lowe says:

    I’m with you with trees. And Mistress Moon. And, oh my goodness, there are so many others, but there is always Hawk. I live in a place where there are many hawks, but no one else ever sees them. Perhaps they’re not looking up enough. That also goes for trees and Mistress Moon. When I need to especially pay attention to something, hawk hangs out in the backyard. Hard to miss.

    And there are the bits and pieces of the outside all over and around my desk: leaves, moss, acorns, shells, rocks, milkweed pods, and dried grasses. And a statue of a dear little crone and a pottery horse. And Guanyin to remind myself to have compassion. For myself. For the earth. For others. Yes, let’s throw them to the hungry sky.

    Such good writing.

    • pennyjars says:

      Beth, You’re wonderful. We have hawks. I sometimes see one sitting on a telephone line as we’re driving in to town for groceries. Occasionally, I see herons and I swoon, I really do.

      All these symbols, all these ways of seeing the ordinary, it makes me so grateful for the artist of the world.

  4. Our totem involves a slurpee, a picture of Christopher Walken’s head on a stick, and a stuffed animal named Domo that is the mascot of 7-11. We love yours, it’s beautiful, ours is a little more, well, shall we say kitsch?

  5. e6n1 says:

    Cats and lions. Also Tuesday seems to be a lucky day for me.

  6. pennyjars says:

    I hadn’t thought about days of the week, interesting. Fridays are my most hopeful day and the post productive around the house.

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