Friday, March 16, 2012

What is a fetish?


What is a fetish?

Fetishes are created by the Zuni people in New Mexico and Arizona.  A Fetish is a representation of animals or other spiritual beings. They are usually carved from stone, with the most common being serpentine. This is because of the abundance of this particular mineral in the Zuni Mountains.

Other materials used in making fetishes include Turquoise, corral, jet, jasper, pipestone, bone, antler ivory, and other local minerals and materials. Turquoise is considered the most sacred of these materials used.

The most common fetishes are representations of animals. These small carvings are thought to contain the spirit of that type of animal and it is important to feed the fetish and keep it in a safe place. When feeding the fetish it is thought that an offering of cornmeal and ground turquoise is best.

When I feed my fetishes I often give them small amount of the foods they would normally eat if in animal form.

There are fetishes for clan affiliation, hunting fetishes (to insure a bountiful hunt), and for protection in conflict. Often the neighboring Navajo traded for fetishes of sheep, horse, goats, and cattle. They felt the fetishes, if cared for properly, would protect their herds.

My Horse fetishes
Traditionally the fetishes are kept in a clay pot, but I have found that the fetishes I have like to be in a small basket. I have two fetishes, both horses. These are not just representative of horse energy in general; they are representative of Sir Prize and Buddy.  Sir Prize was my first horse and Buddy was the first horse I purchased on my own. I had had ponies when I was little, but they were always a cranky bunch. Both of these horses were my best friends and lived their lives to the end with me. I keep their fetishes with a lock of mane and tail from each one.  

Many of the fetishes available today are produced for the tourist and art collector trade. This means usually they have not been created with the intention of connecting with these energies. It does not mean these effigies can’t be charged or aligned with the animal spirits they represent.

Bear fetish w/feathers
When working with a new fetish it is important to cleanse the fetish as you would any other magickal tool. I like to use a sage and sweet grass smudge, but you can use another form of cleansing if you feel called to do so. I would suggest that before you use water or other liquids that you inspect your fetish for feathers and other organic materials that may be damaged by liquid.

In the case that the fetish you are working with may have been created with the intention of magically or spiritually representing a particular animal; it is important to honor these energies and ask if they wish to stay and work with you prior to you cleansing the fetish.

After you have cleansed your fetish of any residual energy, you will want to spend some time getting to know your fetish. Often they have their own personalities, as well as representing a particular animal energy. Once you have made a connection with your fetish, it is time to “feed” it. Again this is commonly done with cornmeal and ground turquoise, but you may find that a bear fetish prefers berries or small pieces of salmon. My horses like hay and grain and sometimes really want carrots or apples. 


Animal figurines at Perdigões Portugal

It is also important to remember that you do not have to purchase a Zuni made fetish in order to work with fetishes. Cultures from all over the world, Including other Native American tribes and tribes from Europe have used similar effigies to work with the animal spirits in their home area.

Have a Wicked Good Day!


  1. lol well the title really catches your eye! really enjoyed reading this blog and hadn't heard of fetish in this form before so have learned something today

    Rachel x

    1. I wondered if the title would make people think of the "other" definition...LOL

      Since I live in Arizona I forget that some of the things I've incorporated into my practices may not be known in other areas of the world. I'm glad I was able to share something new with you. ;-)