Imagine, if you will, that between the Seen and the Unseen, this world and the astral, lies a barrier. A membrane that helps to keep both worlds separate and functioning. This membrane, for the most part, is translucent- so sometimes we can see through it and look into the Unseen, and the people on the other side can see through to our world as well. This membrane is thick. We need it to keep us separated, so that both worlds can continue to function properly. It’s thick, but if you and another entity, such as a god, stands on either side of the membrane- you can sort of yell back and forth at one another- loud enough to be heard through the membrane. And if that doesn’t work, sometimes you can play charades or draw some big pictures on a piece of paper and show one another- to try and get your point across.
But sometimes. Sometimes that doesn’t work. Sometimes a god gets tired of playing charades and pictionary with someone via this membrane. Sometimes a person gets tired of this life and wants to escape to the other side of the membrane.
Sometimes things just happen.
And when things happen, this membrane gets punctured. Or perhaps in that moment, when you push against the membrane, it tenses up and instead of being punctured, it more accurately gets smashed. And everything from the Unseen comes rushing in around you. You stand there, dazed and confused, and your life is never quite the same again.
This, in my experience, is what it’s like to gain a high functioning god phone or gain regular access to the astral.
And based off of what I’ve read in Carmen Blacker’s book, this notion is not a new one. According to her, traditionally, Shamans, ascetics, mediums, and other spirit workers by the very nature of the beast needed to be broken before they would be able to gain their skills. As per her book:
Such people usually begin from a state of despair or disgust with their ordinary human life. A succession of miseries and calamities reduce them to the condition known in Japanese as happōfusagari, all eight directions blocked, or yukizumari, the feeling that you are up against a brick wall. The death of a husband or a child, a long and debilitating illness, hopeless alcoholism and its attendant financial ruin, miseries such as these are often cited as the dōki or motive which convinced them that their lives as hitherto lived were inadequate and meaningless and drove them to seek another kind of life in religion.
Whether the impulse comes from his own will, however, or from some apparently external spiritual being … he can only acquire the special powers he needs to bridge the gap between the two worlds by certain ascetic practices. These measures are known in general as gyō. In so far as they are painful, exhausting or wearisomely repetitive, in so far as they remove both body and mind from their accustomed habits, in so far as they require very great strength of will to accomplish, they may properly be described as ascetic. … They are the means of building up a store of power, which can then be channelled into the required direction. Continuous application to these disciplines is needed, moreover, if this store of power is to be maintained. Once let the shaman relax his ascetic effort and his power will dwindle, grow flabby and eventually disappear. These disciplines can be broadly classified into three: fasting, cold water and the recitation of words of power.
In addition to this, there are even situations where the primary kami responsible for bringing the person into this type of lifestyle requests that they give up their possessions or house, or that they live their lives wandering from place to place, etc.
In truth, it’s not all that uncommon of what some of our gods and guides ask us in this day and age (Blacker’s book was written back in the 70’s).
But in truth, this brings an interesting point to my mind: the notion that it’s very uncommon (if not to some extent- impossible/improbable) to be able to access the astral regularly, do spirit work, or have a functioning god phone without some portion of you being broken. This concept is often presented as “no such thing as a free lunch”, but I think its so much more than that.
I think it’s that membrane that needs to be broken in order for you to hear or see or access those parts that our human minds and our physical world blocks off for us. I think that membrane is there for a good reason- but sometimes it needs to be eradicated. And when that plexiglass in your mind shatters, something is usually taken out as collateral.
Many people learn to access the astral on their own because they ran “into their minds” to get away from abusive parents or depression or what have you. I learned how to run away from the physical realms because I suffer from debilitating migraines and stomach/intestinal pain. And when it came time to gain a more stable connection to the astral, my associate made me dance until my feet bled and I could no longer breath. And when that wasn’t enough, I was run through an emotional mine field to give me the extra “push” that I needed to finally break through to the other side.
Everything has a price.
And the more you run into your mind, the more that you play pictionary with some non-physical entity- the more you beat on that membrane, the more it tenses up.
And then one day- poof! it shatters and you’re left with a gaping hole. And through that hole will flow in any number of entities, gods, spirits and crack laden donkeys. These things will settle into your mind and brain space, into your bones and flesh until one day, you’re not really you anymore, and your life isn’t what it once was.
And because you shattered the membrane, it’s very difficult to close it back up again, to fill the hole that now stands where the plexiglass membrane once was. Even if you manage to successfully patch the hole, you will find it difficult to live as you did before. Your life and your person are changed by such experiences and its almost impossible to go back to the way it was before (think Frodo trying to return to the Shire).
The astral, the gods, non-physical contact and entities- they demand a price by their very nature. Everything comes at a cost, and when it comes to things of this nature, that cost usually is exacted in the form of pain. Many astral walkers and spirit workers have medical issues and physical ailments. Their health suffers, and so their jobs, relationships and general life suffer. This sort of work demands a fee from you that will not be exacted once, but annually. And even after you have tried to close up the hole and effectively shut down your account, you will still have a maintenance fee taken out every so often because the astral bank likes to nickel and dime you.
Now, this post isn’t meant to “fear monger”. This post isn’t meant to tell people not to try to access the astral. This post is trying to tell you how it is and what to expect if you intend on doing this regularly. Much like any mundane situation- where if you want to be a professional weight lifter you will need to expect some pain, sweat and tears as you strength train, you can expect that this type of work requires much of the same. You can’t expect to break through to the other side of the membrane without some heavy lifting and possible damage to your person (whether mentally or physically or both). There seems to be an unspoken trend (and to some extent, a long history) of people who get pulled into these type of experiences and end up effectively “broken” because that’s how the whole thing works.
No pain. No gain.
Whether the gain is worth the pain is a decision that you’ll have to determine on your own. But it is something you should consider before you start pounding on the membrane, because once its broken there is no going back. And once you open an account in the Unseen’s bank, its only a matter of time before the fees start rolling in. And if you’re trying to open an account with the Bank, and they won’t give you a loan to do so- maybe there is a good reason for it.