The Totemic Art of Charlotte Rodgers

The Totemic Art of Charlotte Rodgers January 22, 2018

Animistic Artwork

Art and magic are two distinct and abstract concepts that at times can seem to be one and the same.  In antiquity, religion was the purpose for art because the arts of man were used to honor the gods by building statues, temples, and other holy sites.  With the modern concepts of individualized spirituality we see more personal religious icons, talismans, and other smaller scale objects meant for the individual instead of the community.  Esoteric studies promotes individual growth and understanding.  Western Esoteric practices including, magic, witchcraft and other forms of sorcery are focused on individual growth and advancement.  There is a greater sense of community that exists between Occultists, magical practitioners, and the many diverse Pagan Spirituality, some of which are reconstructions and others are new conceptions of older practices.

"Moving Between Worlds and Lives." Artwork by Charlotte Rodgers. Used with artist's permission.
“Moving Between Worlds and Lives.” Artwork by Charlotte Rodgers. Used with artist’s permission.

When a person embarks on their journey of spiritual investigation they soon realize how intimately history, human spirituality, and symbol are tied together.  These three distinct facets of humanity inform one another, and draw new relationships as ideas grow and change into new spiritual concepts.  One of the key benefits of extensive occult studies is that it allows us to build a personal symbolic vocabulary that we can draw from when engaged in our spiritual practices.  These practices can manifest as ritual or spell work, but also in the mindful assemblage of magical artifacts, which I refer to as Artifice.  When we go into this altered state of consciousness and prepare for this type of work, not only do we tap into our own symbolic vocabulary, but through spirit congress we are able to tap into the symbolic language of the spirit world as well, making new connections and associations.

"The Hermit" Artwork by Charlotte Rodgers. Used with artist's permission.
“The Hermit” Artwork by Charlotte Rodgers. Used with artist’s permission.

Featured Artist: Charlotte Rodgers

There are so many different niches and facets for magical practitioners to fit themselves into depending on their area of interest, and where the spirits pull us along the way.  Within the realm of magical artifice there are various types of artisans, including but not limited to; metal workers, herbalists, ritual craftsman, writers, painters and infinitely more categories.  It would appear that any art can be incorporated into ritual magical practice, as this is the craft of all crafts, the art of all arts.

It is in our human nature to mirror those behaviors of people around us that are desirable, and fit into our own concepts of personal identity and where one fits into the wider community.  It can be so easy to compare oneself to those around them, using some one else’s achievements as a yardstick to measure their own success.  However, once we realize that magic is an art just like any other, and it is expressed in an infinite number of ways depending on the individual artist.

Charlotte Rodgers is one of those artists who uses their artwork to express symbolic spiritual concepts using objects that have various layers of symbolic meaning that is enhanced and transformed by it new arrangement.  Rodgers creates talismanic and totemic art using various found objects such as animal remains, antique finds, and repurposed items of modern industry.  Many of the objects that are the focal points of the pieces would be looked at as detritus to a mundane eye, but Rodgers is able to see the occult meanings underlying each component, creating a new synthesis when assembled.

Rodgers identifies herself as an animist, believing all living things to contain a spirit and all objects also contain a type of spiritual energy that is tapped into when she prepares her work space, laying out the individual components of the assemblage allowing them to speak to her.  She is also an author and blogger, having published multiple books with titles like, The Sky is a Gateway Not a Ceiling; Blood, Death, Magic, and Transformation; The Bloody Sacrifice and A Contemporary Western Book of the Dead.  Amongst other published works her blog and photos of her artwork can be found, Here.

The size and composition of the pieces would make poignant focal points on an altar or shrine.  Many of these pieces are talismanic in nature, described by Rodgers as spirit vessels and/or conductors of particular forces.  Combining energies of life, death, and transformation these objects have powerful impact creating a kind of mental gateway by the simultaneous existence of their opposing forces assembled in a strange unity.

“Everything hold life-force, energy and potential.  I work with the memory held in remnants of the dead, the forgotten, the discarded and the rejected.  I honor these memories through acknowledgement, then use the past as a foundation for new directions and realities.”  – Charlotte Rodgers

Mother. By Charlotte Rodgers.  Assemblage of magpie and armadillo remains, and cloth from her deceased mother's clothing. Used with permission.
Mother. By Charlotte Rodgers. Assemblage of magpie and armadillo remains, and cloth from her deceased mother’s clothing. Used with permission.

Above is one of my favorite pieces by Rodgers.  I love the delicate nature and the reclined position.  It is meant to be a representation of the archetypal mother and her love.  I imagine this was a very personal piece for the artist to create, and you can feel that power when looking upon its image.  The imagery upon first glance is more deathlike than maternal, but something about the welcoming pose and delicate nature tells of a strange sense of comfort.


All of the artwork of Charlotte Rodgers, including her blog posts, and written publications will be found at her website. Charlotte Rodgers

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