Members of the noble bunny clan are known throughout the land for being adorable and cuddly. Unfortunately, when war reared its ugly head, bunny clan could not be found. They had somehow managed to fit their entire clan into a single rabbit warren.
They went into the warren with a few hundred clan members and came out with fifty thousand.
People often send me emails asking me to cover certain topics or wondering why I don’t do more comics of X culture’s mythology. Part of the problem with doing comics and blog posts is that I like to be fairly confident in my knowledge on a given subject so that when I write a post, I don’t end up getting fifty comments about how I’m an idiot and messed something up. Creating content for this site is no easy feat, my friends. Given the massive amount of mythology and folklore out there, it is very easy to be wrong about something when you’re trying to study as much of it as you can.
One of the subjects I’m terribly interested in but haven’t found many good books for is Native American mythology and folklore. The major issue being that “Native American” isn’t really a thing. The Americas were and are the home of a great many distinct language and cultural groups with many unique mythological and folkloric traits. While they do share some things in common, they have just as many differences. What I’m getting at is that it’s pretty difficult for me to come up with comics and posts about the people native to the Americas and feel confident.
That said, I’ve been reading a bit about the Ojibwe people of North America and about animist traditions in shamanic cultures across the globe. One of the common practices in animist and shamanistic cultures is the identification of clans and clan totems. Clans (family groups with a perceived common ancestor) each have their own totem, an animal that symbolizes the purpose and represented the mythic past of that group of people. While some people in a clan may actually be blood-related, many are not though members of the same clan are typically reated as family. The clan system was, and still is in some areas, a vital part of interpersonal relationships and a way of understanding social interactions between different regional groups.
The totem animal is a very important part of this kind of social structure not related to the way the “New Age” movement views it. Rather than being a kind of personal spiritual guide that an individual chooses of his or her own accord, the totem is a symbol of the family group and applied to members of a family as they are born. This animal (sometimes a plant, in certain cultures) is usually seen as contributing to the success of a clan in the mythical past and there are many stories about the interactions between clans and their totem animals in the folklore of these cultures. Due to this relationship, a clan’s totem animal is considered as much a brother or sister as any human and, in the case of many cultures sharing this tradition, harming or killing a clan animal is as bad as harming or killing a human member of your clan.
It’s interesting to note how widespread this tradition has been. While I’ve mostly been reading about the Ojibwe version of this concept, it has also been noted in every continent in the world at some point in history.
Despite its wide-spread nature, I’m pretty sure there haven’t been many bunny clans. Hares? Probably. Bunnies? Having your clan represented by a fat rabbit may be funny, but I don’t imagine it’d be very impressive to other clans!
I guess you don’t need to be impressive when you can stupefy your enemies with cuteness, though…
Bunny clan forever!