Well, I know I'm gonna tick off a few people with this sort of post, but I just have to see how this idea works for the rest of you...
...and remember, please, that we are currently lacking a `hard and fast' set of conditions for word-bound angels, so if things need a little fixing later on, bear with me, okay?
In Shamanistic traditions, different animals represent different personality archetypes, as well as different sets of rules, regulations, priorities, and interests.
It is not surprising, therefore, that we discover that each of these archetypes has a guiding Angel that has been furthering it. Each of these Totemic Angels is a word-bound servitor of Jordi with three levels of distinction. They are the most powerful soldiers in the army of the Archangel of Animals. Each one of them has adopted a specific animal archetype, and they have dedicated their existence to furthering the importance of that specific archetype in the symphony. While their Word may cross certain boundaries with other angels, their main focus is on the archetype as a whole. Thus, while Dog places emphasis on "loyalty," the Totemic Angel Dog attempts to further the whole archetype of "Dog," of which loyalty is only a part. The totemic angel of Eagle, similarly, attempt to further "Eagle-ness," rather than any one overly-specific word.
Thus, it is important to recognize that different archetypes may have multiple aspects, and as such, may represent a hybrid of what other, less open-minded Celestials would label as "Words." However, to the animal world, these archetypes blend as a smooth Concept, and they are seen as indivisible. The Totemic Angels feel no pressure to over- emphasize merely one aspect of their Totem Archetype: instead, they further their Concept as a Whole.
Jordi, the Kyriotate leader of the Totems, understands each totem individually, and therefore works to guide them in unison. While other Celestials have often found it strange that each of the seven choirs of angels are so perfectly represented within Jordi's power structure, Jordi has taken this occurrence as a sure sign that there is some Divine Wisdom in his Realm. Thus, each choir is properly attuned to a specific archetype, with Jordi as a Kyriotate rounding out the picture and coordinating everything.
The following is a list of Totemic Angels, all in service to Jordi. Each one is listed as being word-bound to a totemic Concept. They each endeavor to further the concept as a whole, but the particular Archetype/Concept may engender many different aspects.
Each Totem also possesses all of the choir attunements for Jordi (animal-type affinities), as well as all his Servitor attunements and Distinctions. They all are exceptionally important to Jordi's plans, and thus are equally important to his scheme of things. They all understand that every animal-type is important, and brings a lesson. However, each one of them is particularly attuned to the particular animal shape they attempt to further in the Symphony.
Each Totem, as well as their servants, can generate essence by spending 24 hours in their particular Animal form (regardless of whether they spend essence or not, as opposed to the rite normally assigned by Jordi), as this allows one to truly understand and appreciate the archetype they are attempting to further. As well, however, they have another Rite which can generate essence by furthering a particular aspect of their Totem, depending upon which archetype they represent.
Bear is the wisest of the Totems. Unwilling to see one side over any of the others, Bear struggles to emphasize wisdom, healing, compassion, and introspection. Bear is slow to move, but when motion comes, Bear will come to the defense of those that are the most deserving. Slow to anger, slow of speech, but with the largest heart, Bear understands the need for understanding, wisdom, strength, and patience.
Rite of Bear: Bear and his servants can generate Essence by counseling wisely. For every four hours spent in counsel with someone who needs it. (and/or by spending 24 hours in bear form)
Coyote, a Mercurian, is often misunderstood. While the most independent of all the totems, Coyote is the greatest Trickster. However, his main purpose is to Trick one for their own good. One never forgets the dealings that they have with Coyote: if He makes you an offer that seems too good to be true, it probably is! As a Mercurial, he always seems to know what you need most out of life, but his lessons come at a very dear price! He attempts to teach others their own value, and the strength they need to stand on their own two feet. However, his lessons are often two-edged. Not the most beloved of the Totems, and certainly the most often maligned, Coyote is nevertheless one of the most important and powerful of the Totems.
Rite of Coyote: Coyote and his servants generate essence by tricking somebody for their own good. They are cruel, but only to be kind. When they perform some type of prank, jape, or backfiring- contract that teaches somebody a lesson, they gain one point of essence. (and/or by spending 24 hours in coyote form)
Dog, a Cherub, is fiercely devoted to his friends and his territory. Dog is the great Defender. Once his devotion is given, it is never taken back again. Dog will defend those he loves to the bitter end, and he endeavors to teach others the importance of such devotion. While not the greatest warrior, Dog serves as a reminder that a brave heart will overcome the mightiest opposition. Light-hearted, loving, and friendly, Dog shows us that you have to Love in order to Live. Dog is never apathetic, but is instead fiercely attached to that which is in his care.
Rite of Dog: Dog and his servants can generate essence by guarding that which they Love. When they patrol and protect the object of their attunement for 8 hours (usually, throughout the night), they generate an one point of essence. (and/or by spending 24 hours in dog form)
Eagle flies highest, sees furthest, and lives in the purest surroundings. As a Seraph, he knows that the highest reaches are inhabited only by those with the purest of heart. Eagle knows that the Truth is the path which allows one to fly highest, and therefore come closest to God's Will. He sees all, and is never swayed by illusion, trickery, or lies. From his lofty position, he always sees the big picture, and knows that sometimes sacrifices have to be made in order for the greater Good. He is above everything, looking down from his lofty position, proud and solitary. This lesson he teaches to those that will listen, for he knows that, in order to truly achieve understanding, one must aim for the highest peaks, and one must fly alone!
Rite of Eagle: Eagle and his servants can generate essence by soaring above in the heavens. When they fly, non-stop for 8 hours, they generate one point of essence. This is in addition to the essence they can gain by spending 24 hours in eagle form.
Raven is the bringer of Change. As an Ofanim, Raven cannot stand to see the world stagnate. When a change must occur, Raven flies swiftly in to evoke it! Raven, may be a trickster, but he is nowhere near the league of Coyote. Raven is the bringer of new things, new places, new ideas. Raven teaches the people that which it is time to learn. When the world has become complacent, and is ready to move on, it is Raven who swoops in from his journeys to show the world something new, something exciting, something different. He explores, he challenges, he is the bringer of transformation!
Rite of Raven: Raven and his servants can generate essence by bringing change in people's lives. Whenever they significantly (GM discretion!!) alter somebody's life, they gain one point of essence. (and/or by spending 24 hours in raven form).
As a Malakim, Wolf understands that Honor and Virtue are the most important aspects. Wolf is the defender of the pack, and loyal to all those under his care. Loyalty, Duty, Honor, and Virtue are the hallmarks of Wolf. However, Wolf's main strength lies in his ability to do battle. When the time comes for a fight, Wolf is there! Wolf fights, either alone or in a pack, with every fiber of his being. He places himself between the Evils of the world, and the object of his protection. Wolf wins all battles, except the last one.
Rite of Wolf: Wolf and his servants can generate essence by battling those who endanger the pack. Whenever they combat Evil, they generate one point of essence. (usually, this point is immediately spent during the course of the battle... for this reason, they are extremely good fighters!!). They also generate essence by staying in wolf form for 24 hours.
Well, there it is. It is not for everybody, but it provides a nice way to move shamanism and totemism into the sphere of In Nomine. Thus, all "wise-men" and "medicine men" are truly holy, as they are all merely passing on the lessons learned through their ultimate benefactor Jordi. Since Jordi is simply furthering an understanding of God's Will (albeit through the symbolism of animals...), we can see that shamans and totems have a lot to offer in the way of understanding the Divine.
That's a really good question. There are two ways of approaching it, depending upon which sorts of shamanistic traditions you follow.
Myself, due to my background and the sorts of environment in which I was raised, I can't see Coyote as anything other than a friend who knows what is best for me, and is willing to teach me that lesson, no matter how harsh the lesson is on me!
However, if you prefer a more "balanced" campaign, you can always divide the totems appropriately.
It is always difficult when dealing with totems to assign a simple label like "good" and "evil." Different stories, different regional interpretations, different tribal traditions, all have different ways of representing these guys. Depending on who you talk to, Coyote is Good or Bad. Same with Raven. Different stories paint Eagle as just a power-hungry bastard, with others as being just so Noble that he is dangerous (he's not willing to compromise).
Take the type which fits your style the best. Remember, you won't please everybody, and you won't make it mesh with every story, because the stories themselves don't all mesh!
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Elizabeth McCoy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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