Over on Tumblr I get to see a number of asks submitted to various users across the Pagan-sphere. One of the questions I see posed fairly often is “How do I do X?” secondary to that would be “I tried X, and its not working. Why?” We often discuss methods to attain astral access, develop god phones and find deities and spirit/non-physical guides and leave it at that.
But this post is not about the methods to get things done. This post is about how each of these things has a learning curve.
For some of us, that learning curve is a nice shallow curve.
For some of us, that learning curve is like a brick wall.
And you will never know which of these curves you’ll be on until you try stuff out. Repeatedly.
For example, I discuss my religious practice (which includes crack laden donkeys) on this blog regularly. Most of you know that I have two main deities that I focus on and that I work with non-deity entities of the non-physical variety. But what some of you might not know is how long it took me to get this far, and that even now, I still have limitations.
That is because there is a learning curve involved in everything. I was not perfect at this when I started, and even though I’ve been doing this for a little while, I’m still not perfect. And that’s okay. When you start out on your practice, you will find that some things come naturally to you, but that other things take forever and a day to pan out even slightly. And that is okay.
Allow me to give you a few examples on learning curves and the limitations I have personally experienced over the years. My hope is by showing you how long it took me to get where I am now, others will understand that it does take time and become more okay with where they are at in their practices. For ease of reading, I’ll bold each section with common questions/topics that I see around.
But I want a patron! I need a main deity!
It’s a well known fact that I work with Set and Osiris. However, I don’t think people realize how long it took me to settle down with these two deities. My initial dabble into polytheism started in 2005 with a stack of Cunningham books and Wicca. For the first two years, I wouldn’t have a single deity in my practice. I worked solely with elementals and non-deities for casting my Wiccan circles.
That’s two years without a deity.
Then Anup started to pester me in my dreams. I couldn’t tell what he wanted, but he wouldn’t stop bothering me, so I bought a statue of him and placed it on my altar. I didn’t do jack with that statue, or with Anup, really. But I had a statue and that was that. That was in 2007.
I wouldn’t hear from Set until 2009. That’s a total of 4 years from starting my “Pagan” path. So as you can see, this was not an overnight affair. And finally, I didn’t figure out that Osiris wanted anything to do with me until about 2011. I wouldn’t begin working with him formally until almost 2012.
From start to finish, it took me 7 years to find both of them and start actually doing work with them. And frankly, I think it worked out better that way because 7 years gave me time to get out of my Wicca phase and get more serious with my Kemetic studies. It allowed me to grow and mature in my outlook and my writings and it allowed me to get my life straight so that these two could do what needed to be done, and so that I could do their work properly.
Time is important.
I meditated/went vision hunting and nothing happened D:
Meditation and vision questing are tricky in and of themselves. There are people who spend their whole lives perfecting the art of meditation and there are more ways to attempt vision questing than you can shake a stick at. So I think it goes without saying that these things can be fickle buggers straight out of the gate.
My experiences are no exception.
I began dancing for long amounts of time in high school. I don’t remember why I used to do it, probably because I wanted an excuse to move around to bad 80’s music and I was too young to go clubbing. Our local radio station used to stream in a local club’s music feed for about 3 hours every Saturday night. So every Saturday night I would lock myself up in my room in the dark and dance to 80’s music for three hours.
Nothing magical ever happened in high school, but I think that the 6 months of dancing like this was inadvertently prepping me for my vision questing methods I’d develop later.
I began formally meditating in my first year of college (2004). I’d listen to this cd and zone out. I never tried to focus on anything. The goal for me was to just listen to the music. Again, very little happened. I’d almost always fall asleep. However, I perfected some of my letting go technique by doing this.
This means that I’m currently at 2 years of meditating off and on with no results.
I’d continue to dance off and on to music during college. This time, I was doing it to relax and to let go. I had finally discovered that dancing grounded me out and helped to clear my head. However, I wouldn’t figure out that I could get visions from my dancing until some time in 2008.
Again, we are looking at over 5 years of off and on practice before I got any visions at all. And even then, my visions were sporadic at best. Sometimes I’d dance for 10 minutes and fall in the crack pit. Other times I’d dance for 2 hours and get nowhere at all. Visions and meditation are fickle.
But with each failure, I’d learn something about my technique and my limits. Each failure has the capacity to teach us something.
I want to astral anything!
The meditation bit above feeds into my astral travel. I’ve already discussed how my dancing led into my astral travel, so I won’t bore you with those details. What I will bore you with, though, is how my astral interactions started vs where they are now.
My original astral location was essentially a prison. It was like being trapped in a tiny little bubble of space. However, once I broke out of the bubble and fell into what I call the ‘astral proper’ I found that my senses were completely overwhelmed and I was a big pile of fail for a long, long time.
When I fell into my partner’s
house room, I was unable to see well. My vision was so bad that I wouldn’t realize we had a door until nearly 6 months after we left that place. I was unable to hear him and unable to talk very well.
Deaf, mute, and blind. That’s essentially what I was.
When I first fell into his room, I required something of his to get in. I kept a stone that he likes on my person at all times and I had to hold onto it and focus on it in order to gain access to the astral. Sometimes I’d focus and still wouldn’t be able to get in, and any amount of distraction would usually pull me right back out. It would take me about 3 months of daily practice to be able to access his room without any form of assistance. It would take about a month and a half to be able to start to discern basic shapes (I literally had to feel up people’s faces to figure out who they were for quite a long time- I still have to do this regularly). And I couldn’t have a decent astral conversation for about 5 months. Even now, my ears only partially work.
I’ve been actively working on the astral thing for a year now (I fell into his room at the beginning of last October) and I’m still in the middle of my learning curve. I still can’t see very well. My hearing is patchy at best and I can’t multi-task to save my life (which means I black out on that end regularly). We combat my short comings with patience. My astral household realizes my limitations and works around them. Anyone that wishes to work with me astrally has to understand that those limitations are there and they must be okay with handling them, or they don’t work with me. It’s as simple as that.
All good things take time and practice to perfect.
Okay, so there is a learning curve, what do I do about it?
I think the moral of all of these stories is twofold. First, realize that all things take time, and the best way to get better at anything is practice. If you try something once and it doesn’t work out, that doesn’t mean that you’re horrible at it. It just means that you need practice. Keep trying. Keep doing. Did you try to reach out for the gods and not hear back? That’s okay. Sometimes it takes time to develop those connections. Sometimes we have to consistently reach out to the Unseen before we hear something back. If you fall down, get back up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward. As Dori says “just keep swimming”.
Secondly, we need to realize that we’re not going to be perfect at everything. And that’s okay. We’re all good at different things, and that’s part of the beauty of all of this. Even the ancients realized this. In Egypt, you didn’t have one person who did everything in temple. You had someone whose only job was to shake the sistrum. Another person whose only role was to carry the offering tray. Another whose only job was to read the words on the papyrus scroll. But in today’s modern era, we seem to think that we all need to be able to do everything.
We don’t. And we shouldn’t.
A jack of all trades is a master at nothing, as they say.
Be patient with yourself. Be easy on yourself. You’re not a failure if you can’t hear gods. You’re not a failure if you don’t have 934859346 gods that you work with. You’re not a failure if you can’t astral travel. You’re not a failure at all. We each have our niche and it can take time to find that niche. That’s part of the whole “journey” thing. It takes time to figure out where you need to be. And that’s okay. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re lesser because you haven’t figured everything out yet.
Even the masters had to start somewhere. We all do. Don’t be afraid to try and fail and try again. It’s only through persistence that you can break through the learning curve.
- What makes a devout polytheist?
- If there is no struggle, there is no progress
- Formal Execration: The Learning Curve
- Know Thyself