For shamanic ceremonies, I always build an altar. It is part of the process of recreating the energy of the space and putting up spiritual protection for the participants.
On the altar are always a lot of animal fetishes, both the stone-carved Zuni kind and the ones I have empowered by using them, as described by Hal Zina Bennett in some of his books. I also usually wear several animal fetish necklaces.
People ask me about all those things, and most of them are shocked when I say they are fetishes. Apparently Americans only know of the word fetish from the derivative psychological term, sexual fetish. So they do not know what I'm talking about, but it sounds naughty.
I am always having to explain the meaning of the word fetish. So I wrote an article about masks and fetishes for my Houston Shamanism Examiner column.
African sacred masks are sometimes fetishes, and Europeans and Americans usually completely misinterpret their purpose, so I discussed masks in the article, too.
You can read the two parts of the article here:
Please stop by, take a look, and tell me what you think. There are photos, illustrations and interesting links, too.