Bones and Stones: Totemic Layouts

Queen Hyeen. Spotted Hyena skull with Tibetan quartz, apophyllite, and Lemurian seed quartz.

Before I get too far into this hideously verbose post, I want to discuss my use of the term “grid” in this context. This one is based not on circles or radial symmetry, but on the shape of the central symbol or totem and the energy flow around it. The grid can be as simple or as complex as you want it. I prefer simple, as too many different energies getting twisted in can muddy the waters of intent. If you want an ambient energy processor, simplicity tends to be more effective. If you want to produce a quicker, harder, and more concentrated burst of energy, more complexity and forethought can be of use.

Animal relics form the basis of this grid. If you haven’t got bone, claw, hide, feather, etc., you can use an image, book, even music or a particular incense, if that is what most evokes the essence of the animal/spirit you are working with. (Check out Morin khuur music if you’re looking for Horse-sound.) I’m a bit traditional, in that I will always favor bone and keratin to plastic when it comes to connecting with animal energies. But- as in all things- what works for me, may not work for someone else.

So, with the general disclaimer of “this is what I do; feel free to adjust it to your needs” in place:
1. Determine Animal or Spirit symbol. This will form the basis of your layout, and the stones you lay on and around it will work with it to help support your goal. It can help to personalize your Animal symbol, and start to see it not as an “it,” but an individual, a collaborative partner in your work. In working with Animal energies, I prefer using skulls, as, being relatively human, I’m fairly hardwired to respond to facial features. We’re primarily a visual species. Skulls are, for obvious reasons, recognizable as faces. Utilizing something that’s already deeply ingrained is useful for the purpose of tapping into the subconscious. There are very high quality plastic casts of countless different species if you are unable or prefer not to work with natural bone.

Acknowledge the animal’s individuality. Try to grok how they experienced themselves and their environment. Let them tell you a name or sound or signal to call them by. Once you’ve got your introductions, let them hang around a bit, get a sense of them. Really let yourself embody their energy, imagine how the sun felt on their fur or the wind in their wings. Feel the essence of their species, and, if you wish, rise up through the phylogeny. In the case of our Hyena, aka Queen, then there’s his clan(s), then spotted hyenas as a whole. If you’re so inclined, go on up to Hyaenidae or Feliformia or Carnivora or Animalia, if you want. Depends on how specific a focus you need. In this case, I wanted to work directly with Spotted Hyena energy, and Queenie is that envoy.

Place your critter where you want the grid built. If it’s relevant, consider directions, climate conditions, other energies in the space, and whether or not pets are liable to try and get into the works. I advise considering room traffic in where you place your layout as well. If you’re setting up energetic defenses, by the main door(s) could be ideal. Or if you’re trying to do self-work, consider placing it in your sleeping area so it can do its work when your brain is at its most receptive. Be sure to address practical as well as psychic considerations.

If you’re working with larger-scale entities, such as Deities, you can work with one of Their Totems as envoy- Horse for Orobas or Epona, for example. If you don’t know who to work with, start small- with a sketch or something handy.

2. Acquire supporting elements. In this case, crystals. You can also use herbs or other, ideally natural, materials if needed. I don’t recommend more than one animal symbol per layout, unless perhaps you’re going for an interpersonal harmony working. Rocks alone will generally get the job done, and done well; however, no matter how many individual specimens I’m using, I try to make sure their uses more or less overlap with one another for a more synergistic working.

For example, in the example layout, I used three crystals:
a) Tibetan quartz. This, I placed first. It is double-terminated, which directs energy both directions in both a practical and metaphorical way. It’s heavily included with black minerals. Energetically speaking, these are earthy, protective, and have a “heaviness” to them but seem to be balanced. They are neither the deepest blackness of the inner Earth like black tourmaline; nor are they the scattered light of clear quartz. They are stolid, ancient things with the eternal patience of glaciers. I chose one with more black inclusions because of the protective, cleansing, and grounding properties, to both serve as a sort of magickal antivirus and to ease the translation of airy, metaphysical wisdom into practical results. My “airy” and “earthy” instincts are fairly compartmentalized, so some help in realizing lofty ideals that don’t always make sense to my monkey-mind is always appreciated. If you’re often torn between a logical side telling you something doesn’t make any sense and an instinctual/intuitive side telling you something doesn’t smell right, using an intermediary stone, like heavily-included Tibetan or tourmalinated quartzes, can assist.

Whatever your grounding/energetic filtration system/protective symbol is, I recommend placing it first.

I placed the Tibetan quartz over Queenie’s nasal cavity. Remember when I said humans are mainly visual animals? Hyenas are not. They’re olfactory animals, and they get most of their data through scent. So, the stone for discernment and defense is over the nasal cavity for perception purposes. Discern what is and isn’t a danger, when useful information may be being taken to counterproductive extremes. Staying grounded, filtering flights of fancy or baggage from delicious, nutritious, decidedly meaty wisdom. What’s the wildebeest, and what’s the wildebeest shit. Smelling past your own aroma and really interacting with others for who they are as individuals; responding to what is while discerning what may be.

b) Apophyllite. The next stone I placed was a clear apophyllite pyramid. Pyramids sweep energy up, focusing it into a more concentrated beam at the pinnacle. Think of them as a cosmic transmitters. Clear apophyllite is a pearlescent, bright stone associated with the Third Eye and Crown chakras. It is an “above” stone, full of Inner Truth, and amplifying etheric energies. Apophyllite crystals form natural pyramids which serve as excellent “radio stations,” receiving and amplifying signals, as well as transmitting energy into the ether. They’ve also got a purifying aspect, sorting wheat from chaff.

In this case, it was placed between the Crown and Third Eye chakras, to bring the above into the below, the spiritual into the meatspace, and vice versa. Basically, connecting the transmitter to the grounding line. Apophyllite’s good for meditating, calming the mental noise, too. Pretty straightforward stuff, good to have around if you ever need a magickal signal boost.

c) Lemurian seed quartz with phantom. The “Lemurian seed” bit may just be newage shorthand, or it may be indicative of a long-lost, super-advanced civilization in the Pacific Ring of Fire. Chemically speaking, though, it’s just a quartz crystal with inclusions. And, while I think the first explanation is far more likely, I strongly prefer the Lost City story. Therefore, it is the legend that goes with the crystal for my work, because it’s about appealing to both the animal-self, the side that’s entranced by pretty, shiny things and good smells, and the mind-self, the side that favors ideas and information.

Lemurian seed crystals have little markings on them that are reminiscent of writing or engravings, as well as raised ridges on at least one side. They’re generally long and thin, with narrow bases, and taper towards the tip. The ridges and “heiroglyphs” are said to store knowledge from Lemurian society which can, reportedly, be accessed.

Placing the Lemurian quartz, my below crystal, in Queenie’s teeth was the final thing I did before walking out of the room without looking back. The jaws are the business end of a hyena, and there is a finality and resoluteness in them. The crystal was placed in their firm grasp to solidify- to crystallize- intent. To steadfastly transmit knowledge, particularly via the language of Hyena. Being my primary totem, the idea is that it’ll maybe sink in a bit better if it’s delivered from the mouths of Teachers. The point was turned towards the pillow so that teaching and understanding may come during dreamtime. I call it the below crystal as its function is to translate and transmit energy into the mundane.

4. Modify as needed. Feel free to modify the grid. Consider giving it a day or so to kick in, if you’re doing a longer-term setup, before messing too much with it. Since I used so many pointed focusing stones, the energy field felt more disruptive than I wanted it. I ended up adding a pallasite slab to the grid shown, between the Tibetan quartz and apophyllite, boosting dreams and mellowing the energy out a bit. Over time, you can fine-tune it as you like.

All three crystals are information conduits; all three are associated with filtration, accessing ancient wisdom, and the Big Truth, whatever that is! That’s the overlap in stone purposes referred to earlier.

The basic objective is to make a personally powerful visual that encodes your intent so that every time you walk past it/see it/are reminded of it, it’ll serve as a sort of reminder to keep your energy focused on [goal]. Whether you believe that the simple objects in front of you simply serve as a complex visual reminder of your resolve, or whether they are actually imbued with the energy attributed them, is up to you.

A note regarding extraordinary critters: If you’re working with an extinct animal, a legendary beast of some sort, or you don’t have a relic on hand, many things can potentially work in place of. You can use everything from plastic animal or pop culture toys. The bit about personalizing your symbol may not work as well if they’re a pop culture icon, or it may make it easier, depending on how you roll. Maybe you want to work with Dragon and all you can find is an old Magic: The Gathering card. Give it a shot- it’s not going to destroy the world. Worst case scenario, it’ll be a dud and sit on a table somewhere not doing much of anything. Experiment and find what gets the results you’re seeking.

General purpose chakra layout: Lay stones in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet in a half-circle around your totem, clockwise, starting at the 6 o’clock position. Teeth can be associated with the root chakra as they are used in defense and are the first stop in the digestive system. Violet goes at the occiput. Place a clear pyramid in the center or at a relevant point near the center. If using a skull, place a black or otherwise grounding stone in the teeth. If using a large skull, you can lay stones starting with black stone in teeth and go from red through violet as you go towards the occiput, clearing out energetic centers as you go.

Specimen symbolism: Skulls easily represent the Whole Animal, the essence, the Higher Truth, wisdom, experience, know-how. Claws or claw hulls can represent work, tangible outcomes, defense, offense, endurance. Teeth, defense or offense, communication, survival. Hide, adaptability, resilience, camouflage. Tails, communication and instinct, root chakra. Antler, phases and changes, virility. Horn: defense, nourishment, manifestation of will.

Okay, that’s great and all, but where do I learn what rocks to use?: Two books I have referred to over the years have been Love is in the Earth: A Kaleidoscope of Crystals by Melody, and The Book of Stones by Robert Simmons and Naisha Ahsian. Ted Andrews’ Animal-Speak is a beginner-friendly place to start looking up animal symbolism. And, of course, there’s always the internet- try looking for “energetic properties of crystals” or “crystals for [purpose].


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