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The Importance of Stability

I feel that all of my astral travel has really given me an appreciation for some of the difficulties that gods and spirits probably face when trying to interface with our world:

  • “I’ve finally managed to get to the other side, and now I can’t get anyone there to pay attention to me. How do I talk to people?”
  • “I figured out how these beings communicate, but I can’t get any of them to listen to me. What am I supposed to do?”
  • “Why am I in this house, this is not where I intended on showing up.”
  • “Oh where did all of the doors in this house go? Why did all of the furniture move?”
  • “What the hell is that? And will it hurt me if I touch it?”

I feel like all of these statements could easily be uttered by a god trying to get some human to listen to them, and they are all statements that have fallen out of my mouth at least a few times while trying to travel. I’m sure that interfacing with foreign planes is probably not as challenging for some non-physical beings, as they have more power and practice than I do, but there will always be challenges when you’re trying to interact with beings on a foreign plane.

As I’ve worked to get better at my astral travel (and with communicating with my menz and gods over here), I’ve found that there seems to be something that helps everyone get on a little bit better, and that is stability. I mentioned in my post about working with unknown beings that stability can be useful for establishing a solid connection with non-physical beings. However, I didn’t go too terribly in-depth on what I meant by stability, or how to incorporate it into your practice. Today, I’d like to talk about two kinds of stability–stability that we can create for non-physical beings here, and how we can incorporate stability in astral travel to better our success rates while traveling.

Stability While Traveling

I feel that it’s better to start with stability as it applies to astral travel, because I think that it helps to round out the picture about how stability here can benefit beings that don’t really live here. You see, when you’re traveling in the astral, you’re effectively doing what the gods do with us: you’re taking a non-physical portion of your body or Self, and taking that portion to places that you don’t (typically) fully live in. While it’s true that I have a form that lives with my astral household 24/7, the human portion of myself doesn’t really live there 24/7. That portion comes and goes as I split my focus between here and There. And while the gods may indirectly always reside in our physical layer of earth, on the by and large, they aren’t living here fully, either (which is why Open statues are helpful, which I’ll cover in another post).

While I don’t pretend that my experiences are the same sort of experiences that all travelers have, I wouldn’t be surprised if my experiences aren’t entirely unique, either. And with that being said, my experiences have shown me that the process of getting from here to There can be convoluted. Sometimes it’s really simple, and I look inside, and I am instantly there and ready to move around. But most days, there is a sort of acclimation process that occurs as I move from here to There. For those who have never traveled, imagine waking up in the dead of night after having taken some medication. Someone flicks the light on, and your eyes haven’t fully adjusted to everything. You can’t really see well, you’re not very steady on your feet. You’re not sure where anything else because your brain is still fuzzy.

There are days when “waking up” Over There feels similarly.

And when you wake up in the middle of the night and need to move quickly, part of the reason you’re able to move quickly at all is probably because you know where you’re at. You know that you’re in your bedroom, and you subconsciously have an idea where the furniture is, and where to move or not move, etc. Your pre-existing knowledge of your house gives you the stability to know where to go, even when your brain isn’t running on all cylinders.

Now imagine that in an astral setting. You finally are able to connect in, but you’re not sure where you are or who is around. Your hearing is doing pretty poorly, so even when your bestie reaches out to talk to you, you don’t necessarily hear it or register it. The house shifted while you were gone, and you’re not sure where any of the furniture is, or where you’re supposed to go. You may not even be certain which room you fell into when you woke up.

You have no stability to know where to go or what to do.

Stability is key in these examples for being able to hit the ground running. In my household, we know that I have certain things that need to be done in order to visit regularly, and all of these things lead to more stability for me as a traveler. For those who might be interested in incorporating some of these ideas into their astral households, here are some of the things we keep in mind:

  • Keep some of your housing the same. The rooms that I get put into always have beds and doorways in similar or the same locations. That way, I always know which way to head to reach a door. Similarly, keeping the furniture to a minimum can be helpful.
  • Keep walls and/or space to a minimum. Whenever I’m having issues with connecting, we will remove walls, or shrink the size of the room that I’m in. That way, I don’t have to try and process as much information when I come into the room. Just like with video games, I can usually only process so much of a given space at once, and if the space is smaller, it’s much easier to move around because I can process the entire space in one go.
  • Keep a schedule, and utilize a partner. One of the best ways that I’ve found to make porting into the astral easier is to keep to a schedule. If I tell my menz that I’m going to be arriving at XYZ time in XYZ location, they know to keep an eye out for me and can assist in helping me to acclimate to the location that I’m shifting into. This also helps because you’ll know exactly where you’re going, and you won’t have to utilize as much energy or time trying to figure out your surroundings.
  • Get physical. I’ve found that when I’m having a particularly hard time hearing, seeing, or just being in an astral space, that touching someone’s face, or holding something and focusing on the physical sensations that I get can help to ground me into my body well enough that I can start to move better.

Stability for the Unseen

As you might have noticed, most of these things involve giving the person who is traveling some predictability in where they are going or what they will be doing. And when we are trying to facilitate stability for our non-physical compatriots, you’re essentially trying to do the same for them. Obviously, some of the situations listed above don’t necessarily happen all that often. We don’t have to worry about walls appearing or disappearing here. We don’t have to worry about rooms being reorganized, and most of us aren’t moving every few weeks like some nomadic astral people might. However, there are still things that we can do to help make our experiences more stable and predictable for the entities we’re reaching out to.

  • Create a space that is just for them. This is usually going to be your shrine area, but it doesn’t have to be a shrine per se. Having an item or a space within your home that is specifically for the entities you’re hoping to interact with will help to give them a solid place to settle in whenever they come over. This allows entities to saturate items with their energy, or place markers and other identifiers into their space that will allow them to transition into our plane much smoother. Using items that they readily identify with will help make it easier for them to ground into the space, and settle into their “body” or a vessel/item that can contain a portion of their energy.
  • Keep a schedule. Just like with my family preparing things for when I arrive, it can make it easier for the entity you’re trying to communicate with to manifest if you’ve got a regular schedule. When some sort of schedule is kept, it makes it easier for them to time their efforts for trying to communicate with us, and it makes it easier for us to hear them because we’re both working towards the same goal at the same time. I often feel that devotees end up playing this never-ending game of phone tag with the gods, and figuring out a schedule for everyone to work around can help combat that.
  • Start off sessions or rituals with similar dynamics. These dynamics can be any number of things. It can be playing the same song before your ritual. It can be saying the same words at the beginning of each ritual. It can be wearing the same thing for each ritual. Or sitting in a certain way. Anything that can be repeated regularly can help create a trigger that can help both you and any spirits you’re working with transition into a different mindset before communing begins. In the same way that a bell primed Pavlov’s dogs to be fed, starting off your sessions or rites with the same thing can prime your brain (and your gods or spirits) for astral work.
  • Provide energy. Traveling across planes takes up energy, so if you can give some sustenance to your spirits or gods to utilize during travel, it can help them to become more prominent within the space. Energy can be in the form of food, but it can also be the energy you raise in ritual or energy you give of yourself, etc.

When all of these things are met on the regular, you essentially create a predictable schedule that the entity can plan for, which will occur in a predictable space that the entity can settle into when they arrive. By having familiar items and sounds around, the entity should be able to grasp onto these things and settle into the space with less issues. And the easier that it becomes for the entity to settle into our physical world, the more likely they are to do it more often. And further, I believe that it helps the gods to better understand us the more often that they come here.

While this is certainly not a definitive list, I feel that these are the staples for creating more stability for non-physical entities to alight within a space, and if you end up trying any of them, I’d be interested to hear how they work for you.

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Side Effects of Astral Bleed-Through

I don’t know if my experiences are considered “normal”, but I’ve found over the years that it’s really only a matter of time before your astral life starts to bleed over into your day-to-day life. In many ways, I expected it, as you’re essentially immersing yourself into a separate culture, and creating something of a second life that you live. Though I suppose how much this second life effects you will largely depend upon how much time you spend traveling, and how different the world that you fall into Over There is from over here.

For me, the process of bleed-through hasn’t been exactly linear, but it’s definitely occurred. At first it was relatively small things, and they were things that I either expected (such as problems coping with traumatic experiences, or the inevitable learning curve that comes with astral work) or purposefully worked to pull into my life (such as changing my clothing or buying new items that remind me of my family, etc.)

But then it started to get worse, this bleed-through. I started having issues with not saying “oh where I come from, we do this” because I knew that if I did, someone would want to know where exactly it was that I came from, and I wouldn’t have an answer for them. And then I found that my accent from Over There started to show up more and more over here, which I constantly have to battle now. And then it became things like saying words that belong to a language that I don’t even have a name for. As I caught the words in my throat, I anticipated having others ask me “oh what language is that”, and the resulting embarrassment of going “I have no clue :)”. The more bleed-through I began to experience, the less control I had over it.

And then I noticed a lot of my fundamentals began to change.

The more work I did in the astral, the more people I met, the more my ingrained views were challenged and scrutinized. The more experiences I had, the more I was forced to question how things are done here, and whether those methods are truly for the best. I found that we readily accept a lot of things as truths, as being “the only way” of doing something, but when you get far far away from home, you find that there are actually many ways to do things. And sometimes the way you know best isn’t necessarily the best way.

I found that my ideas about ethics for things began to shift and morph as I learned about other places. I found that my distaste for certain things went down in some ways, but went up in others. I found that I became more and more frustrated about the limitations of this planet that we live on. I found that my new methods of approaching things might not make other humans thrilled or happy.

I found that through the act of traveling, parts of myself had begun to change. The me from Over There was really beginning to bleed into the me that is over here, and I was left figuring out how to reconcile the two. Or more accurately, I was left figuring out how to reconcile living in this world with the new knowledge I had gained from traveling.

This opened up an interesting dichotomy for me. On one hand, it’s readily accepted and acknowledged that entities that live Over There might operate differently than humans. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen people mention that gods might behave differently than us because their ethical structures are different than ours. I’ve seen the same said about fae as well. It’s more or less accepted knowledge that entities that don’t live here don’t always behave in ways that we expect or would prefer. And the sentiments that usually accompany this thinking is that we shouldn’t try and change their methodologies just because they’re foreign to us.

But on the other hand, what about the people who consistently work with these beings? How long can we expect practitioners to rub elbows with entities who aren’t from here before they start to act more like the beings that they’re rubbing elbows with? What of the bleed-through that spirit workers will (likely) inevitably experience? How should spirit workers and/or astral travelers be expected to handle such bleed-through? What about situations where a spirit worker’s actions grate against their own morals and ethics (because sometimes you are not in control of yourself when you are traveling), how do they cope with the gap between the two? What are our collective expectations for such situations?

This is especially important because there is a lot of double-bind logic going on within the pagan community. Based off of what I’ve read, a lot of people would tell you that you shouldn’t go into someone else’s culture and try to change it. In that respect, we should respect that the gods do things differently than we do and that we shouldn’t push our human methods onto non-humans. Makes sense and seems respectful, right?

But then on the other hand, if a spirit worker has picked up traits from Over There that belong to that culture, but clash with our more human mentalities–what then? If you’re not supposed to change the astral culture you live in, you’ll be forced to more or less assimilate into the culture in order to get along, fit in, and get work done. But you’re also not allowed to bring it over here because it’s foreign or weird or is considered immoral by humans–what do you do? Currently, the answer seems to be that you shift your mindset from here to There and back again as you travel, but is that causing harm to the spirit worker’s health? Are there better methods to doing this? We won’t ever know unless we can openly discuss such things.

Speaking purely for myself, I have kept most of my bleed-through entirely to myself. I don’t talk about it publicly very much, and I’ve found that I’m able to keep a lot of the shifts and changes I’ve experienced to myself. I’ve learned to split my brain apart even more, to remind myself that “when you’re here, you do X, and when you’re there, you do Y” so as to not make anyone uncomfortable or weirded out. But just like with anything that lives in a closet or compartment, there are always days when it’s harder to keep such things hidden. There are days when I’d like to openly discuss some of the weirdness I’ve picked up along the way, with the hope that maybe I can network with others and learn from them about how they cope with maintaining separate mentalities for here vs. There.

Bleed-through was completely expected, but the way in which it’s manifested has taken me by surprise (at least a little bit). I’d certainly love to hear if other spirit workers have experienced bleed-through or shifts in their life because of what they’ve picked up while traveling or working with spirits. And if you do experience such things, how you cope with them or handle them.

 

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Worshiping the Unknown

Figuring out how to worship, venerate or work with a deity can be challenging. You’ve got to read up on their mythology, their history, and the culture and religion that surrounded them back in the day. And once you get through the mountain of reading material, you have to sit down and figure out how to work everything that you’ve read into something practical and useful that will look remotely like a religious practice. But as challenging as figuring out what to do with known gods can be, there is something that can be even more difficult — trying to figure out how you’re supposed to venerate unknown entities. Whether unknown gods or entities that aren’t gods at all, it can be nerve wracking to figure out how create a practice or routine when there is virtually no reading material at all. And if your unknown entity isn’t from earth or doesn’t have a known religion or culture that you can read up on, the challenges can become even more daunting as you try and figure out what to do.

I’ve had the pleasure of finding a whole host of entities whose names will never be known on earth. Their names will never grace a text book. Their cultures and places of origin will never cross a human’s lips. For all intents and purposes, they are unknown to humanity. Getting to know each of these entities and their back-histories has taken quite a long time and a heap of effort on all of our parts. My experience has been that getting to know non-physical entities takes time and energy, regardless of how well known they are or aren’t. However, there are definitely some unique challenges to each side of the spectrum (known vs. unknown).

Stepping into the Unknown: Creating Stability

I think the biggest challenge for working with unknown entities (as opposed to known entities) is that there is no history or stories you can glean from in order to get a sense of who they are or how they act. With a bigger name god, you can read up on them, learn what they like or don’t like, or get a feel for how they handle situations or problems. You can read their mythos and learn if they’re a hot head or if they stay cool under stress. You can learn about that one time they overdosed on that concoction that they like and work that into your relationship with them. With unknown entities, you are starting from ground zero and have to rely solely on your own intuition and discernment based off of what the entity may or may not tell you. It’s very daunting to know that there is no one you can cross reference your information with. There is no text book or historical record that can confirm what this entity told you. Working with unknown entities can definitely put your discernment to the test in the way that known entities might not.

I’ve found that one of the most important things for success when starting from ground zero is to create some level of stability for both you and the entity you’re communicating with. Interacting across planes of existence uses up a fair amount of energy, and entities that don’t have hundreds or thousands of devotees aren’t going to have a lot of excess energy to interface with this realm. Working to create a place of stability for interaction can help to make your interactions easier and hopefully will require less energy from both parties. This can manifest in a number of ways. You could work to meet up at the same time every day or week, so that the entity can create a sort of schedule to work around. You could always meet up in the same location, to make it easier for them to manifest in whatever space you’re in. You could keep a certain deck or space in your house for them, so that it’s easier for them to alight from said space or utilize and “own” whatever items you might be using for communication (this is particularly useful if you use decks of cards for communicating). Or you could start each communication “session” with the same sound, song, scent, actions, etc. to create something very stable for the entity to latch on to.

I truly can’t overemphasize how stability and repetition can help an entity gain an easier entrance/access to this plane. If you can find a way to create a stable place for you and the entity to interact, it’ll make your interactions much more frequent and more productive.

But how can I create a stable space or practice if I know nothing about them?

This of course is the crux of so many things. It’s the ever present paradox of how can you create a space if you don’t know what they like? How can you communicate with them if you can barely communicate at all? How do I know what to offer if I don’t know what they like? How can I do anything without ensuring that I don’t upset them or make a social faux pas? There are multiple ways to tackle these problems, and there is no single right or wrong method to overcoming these challenges, but here are some recommendations that I can give.

Take Copious Notes

Even if you aren’t very good at communicating with your unknown entity, there has to be at least some level of communication in order for you to know that they exist. Take a close look at what you recall from the communications you’ve had with the entity. What did you notice about your interaction? What can you remember from it? Some things to take note of:

  • Clothing, hair style, form, manner of dress. Were they humanoid? Something else?
  • Location cues: where were you when interacting? what can you glean from the background/surroundings?
  • Were there any scents? How about sounds? Utilize all 5 senses when recalling an interaction
  • Did they have any mannerisms of note? Are they uptight? relaxed? Are they immaculately dressed or were they in the equivalent of “street clothes”?
  • What formats do they use to communicate with you most often? What can you glean from these methods?

Look at every angle of any interaction you’ve had with them, and write down as much as you can. I would recommend doing this for every interaction you have with them until you feel more comfortable with things. This will form the basis for everything that follows.

Apply Your Notes

The next step is to look at what you’ve written down and use them to create your stability. There will likely be no ready-made icons or statues that you could use for your unknown entity on a shrine, but you may be able to use something that already exists instead. If the person looked humanoid, you may be able to find a picture of a human that looks like them, print that image off, and use it as a sort of icon on your shrine space. If you’ve got art skills or know someone who can draw, you may be able to create an art piece depicting them, or commission a piece from someone else.

Alternatively, you may be able to look at what they’re wearing and include other things that are part of their ensemble. For example, I have a menz who loves high-end suits. So I might be able to use various fancier suit-bits in a shrine setup (think cuff links, tie bars, etc). I’ve got another entity that wears nothing but black and silver, and so his shrine space is quite literally nothing but black, silver, and white. I’ve got another menz who loves coffee and leather, and so I use those items to lure him into talking to me.

Use all of those notes that you took to find different things that you think might be helpful in creating a shrine/stable place that they might like. Keep in mind that this could change as you get to know the entity better. It’s entirely common to pick slightly off-base things when you first start out. That’s fine. The most important here is to find a place to start. Things tend to fall into place as you progress and get better at communicating.

Bridging the Gap

Speaking of communication, it’s worth noting that it may be very rough at first. When I first really started to try and work with my menz, communication was really really patchy. I couldn’t see worth a damn and I could barely hear on top of that. I’ve mentioned in the past that this sort of work has a learning curve, and so it’s important to remember to be consistent and persistent. It takes time and consistent effort (on both ends) for this sort of thing to work out and get easier.

When it comes to communicating with unknown entities, I’ve found that there are a few things that helped me bridge the gap. First is that I always brought some kind of energy or sustenance for the entity. Sometimes that involves raising energy using my body. Other times I would use music or sound as a form of energy. Other times it would be offerings or food. And sometimes a mixture of all of these. The reasons for this are two-fold. First is that the entity will possibly be inclined to work up the effort to come meet me because I’m giving them sustenance for their effort. I’m essentially paying them for their time, so they will be more inclined to prioritize seeing me. The second reason is that I’ve found that it often helps me to communicate better. This is less the case with food, but music, dancing or words of power will often help put my mind into a specific space that is ideal for working with the Unseen. And if both I and the entity are listening to the same thing, it helps to sync us up for better communication.

As mentioned above, I also found that consistency of timing helped, too. All of my menz know that I am available to talk during my lunch break, my walk home (which used to be my drive home), and after I have taken my nightly medication (all of which happen at about the same time every day). Back when I had more time to dedicate to the Unseen, I also had meditation/dance sessions regularly during the week during which we’d be able to talk or communicate with one another. Consistency helped all of us, because they could plan their day and include me in their planning/schedule. The consistency meant that we could sometimes dedicate one day to menz A, and another day to menz B, and everyone would get relatively equal attention and time. It also created something predictable, and if something came up on either side in terms of a conflict of schedule, we’d be able to notify the other that we wouldn’t be able to make it. That way, no one was left waiting around wondering why the other wasn’t showing up.

In many ways, it’s the same as having a relationship with a human. You usually make plans and plan for a certain time to meet up. I have found that using this system works for the Unseen, too.

But what if I get it wrong?

I think the biggest fear and hurdle so many people who worship unknown entities have is that they’ll screw up royally and ruin everything. Speaking as someone who has gotten it wrong several time over, both with known and unknown entities, I’d definitely say that getting things wrong is not the worst thing in the world. It’s normal to mess up. It’s normal to possibly not get things exactly right the first time you do stuff. Most entities that aren’t well known on earth come into relationships with an understanding that humans are limited in what they can glean from brief interactions with the Unseen. And if the entity you’re working to get to know gets cranky that you’re not up to speed fast enough, remind them that you’re doing the best, and possibly ask them if they have suggestions to make things easier for the both of you.

Sometimes entities will be able to give you better ideas than what I’ve given here. Each relationship is different, and entities from other parts of the Unseen may benefit from other methods than what I’ve listed above. These are simply guidelines to help get you started. If your entity has other suggestions, I recommend looking into them, because they certainly know their specific situation better than I would.

Have you ever worked with a relatively unknown entity? How did you build your relationship with them? What challenges have you faced that are different from working with known entities?

Related posts:

A note: A lot of these posts do focus on known gods, but the concepts are applicable to non-gods and unknown entities as well.

 

 

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Spirit Work & Mental Illness

Alternate title: Quit romanticizing my illness.
Alternate title #2: Quit demonizing my treatment.

Every so often I will see little flare-ups in the pagan community that center on two fairly unrelated topics: spirit work and mental illness. Don’t get me wrong, these topics can be related, but they aren’t necessarily related, though many people try to make them out to be. I’m sure many of you have seen articles like this and this that go on and on about how we’re killing our spirit workers because they have mental illness and are not handling it “properly”. And if we’d only just learn how to “properly” handle these “gifts” that we’ve been bestowed, we’d suddenly find that our problems would poof out of existence.

Being a spirit worker myself, I read these posts and feel my jaw clench shut as I find rage welling up in my stomach. These posts are so damaging on so many levels, to both spirit workers and the mentally ill (as well as mentally ill spirit workers), and it really bugs me that so many people don’t see what is wrong withposts like this. There are so many flaws with these kinds of posts that it’s almost impossible to know where to start when critiquing them. But here are a few of the main problems that come to mind whenever this sort of stuff shows up on my FB wall or dash:

Your illness is really a gift from the divine!

One of the first issues that I see popping up with these kinds of articles is the idea that  your mental illness is not actually an illness or a problem, but is really a gift from the gods. And if you’d just learn to accept that, you’d feel all sorts of better! This is also sometimes presented as “if only our society would see the inherent worth and value of your mental illness, you would feel all sorts of better”.

The truth of the matter is, most of the spirit workers I’ve met who are also mentally ill don’t feel like their mental illness is “divine”. I’m here to tell you that I don’t perform as well as a spirit worker when my mental illnesses are flaring up and ruining my life, and it seems like many people feel the same way. Even if society were to somehow make it a-okay to be depressed and anxious all of the time, I would still feel pretty miserable regularly, and wouldn’t be able to operate at maximum capacity.

Mental illness is an energy suck. It sucks the life out of you and leaves you feeling drained, tired, and miserable (most of the time). I can’t imagine how anyone would find this to be divine in nature. Quite honestly, I would expect being tired, drained and miserable would be the opposite of being divine. And no amount of outside support is going to change that my illnesses leave me feeling like crap on the regular. You can’t sunshine and rainbows away mental illness. You simply can’t. And implying that this is a gift is like spitting in the face of every person who has to work really hard to function despite their mental illness/es. Implying that someone with mental health issues doesn’t really know what their illness “actually” is is also ableist. Of course, if you are mentally ill and wish to make it a part of your spirituality, or find that it is a source of power for your spirit work, that’s fine. But it’s one thing to believe that your particular mental illness is a strength for you, and quite another to imply that everyone else who is mentally ill should operate the same way.

I’ve also never understood why so many people believe that mental illness always makes you a spirit worker. I have been depressed and anxious for as long as I can remember, but spirit work wasn’t really a part of my life until I was in my mid-to-late 20’s. And truth be told, my mental illness didn’t really play a role in my becoming a spirit worker (and based off of what I’ve read, mental illness was not a common indicator of spirit work in some cultures in the past- physical health was another story, though). If anything, my mental illness often gets in the way of doing what I need to do Over There, and there are many times when I get really frustrated with the constant interruptions that crop up from my brain deciding that it needs to tank my mood right when important work needs to get done.

There are many mentally ill people who are not spirit workers, and who don’t want to be spirit workers. Conversely, I’ve met plenty of non-mentally ill spirit workers. I’m not sure where this idea originally came from, but it’s an idea that needs to stop propagating. You can be mentally ill and a spirit worker, you can be a spirit worker who isn’t mentally ill, and you can be mentally ill and not a spirit worker. None of these things is necessarily related.

Medication is bad, m’kay?

The other factor that I see constantly brought up in these articles is the idea that if you’re using western medicine in any capacity, you’re drugging your abilities away, or ruining the gift that you’ve supposedly been given.

For anyone that has been following me for any amount of time, you know that I have worked on finding ways to medicate myself, and that I’ve had a fair amount of success with it so far. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t want to go back to pre-medication me. Medication can take all sorts of forms, and since mental illness can’t really be cured, we really have no place to judge what works or doesn’t work for another. So long as you’re being responsible and healthy about your medication choices, that’s really all that matters. The idea that medication is somehow going to ruin you is so damaging, and prevents people from seeking out treatment. It causes people to be miserable because they fear seeking treatment, or they feel like treatment makes them weak as a person.

Everyone really needs to stop implying that medication is inherently bad (you are treating an illness, after all. And if you’d take medicine for a physical illness, you shouldn’t be chastising someone for taking medication for a mental illness). There are so many people I have met (spirit workers and non-spirit workers alike) who have become better and more stable because of their treatments. I have met spirit workers who feel like their medication makes them better spirit workers. Because, wow, you can actually get more work done when your brain isn’t working against you.

Discernment? What discernment?!

Something else I’ve noticed when these kinds of posts are trawled out is that discernment seems to go down the tubes. In many ways, people seem to believe that if you happen to “see” something that “isn’t there”, then it must be a spiritual experience, and can never be a symptom mental illness.

The truth is that many spirit workers who have mental illness will tell you that there is a definite difference between the symptoms of their illness, and what they experience as a spirit worker. I have met people who have told me that their hallucinations have a very different look and feel in comparison to their astral visions and travels. I’ve met others who tell me that the non-existent things that they hear sound different than when a spirit is talking to them. I’ve met others who tell me that their medication has shifted their experiences (sometimes good, sometimes bad) and that once they took a closer look at their experiences, they could tell what was more induced via medication, and what was genuine.

However, when these posts start throwing the baby out with the bath water, and assume that all visions are the same- regardless of your “gift” of a mental illness, then we stop focusing on discernment and learning how mental illness and spirit work actually play together. Because they can play together, and there are distinct differences between the two for most of us who live with both. When discernment goes out the window, you’re creating a recipe for disaster, because discernment is key to staying safe while working with not only the Unseen, but within our community itself.

Why I consider this to be dangerous.

I personally believe that these sorts of ideas are not only incorrect and damaging, but I personally believe them to be entirely dangerous. They are dangerous because they don’t create an atmosphere where people who are mentally ill can actually seek out treatment that works well for them. The notion that all Western medicine is inherently bad and will completely screw you up often demotivates people to consider all possible treatment methods, and may cause people to skip over a particular treatment type that works for them. It may also be a strong enough argument to convince someone to stop treatment, even if it is working for them. And when people who are mentally ill don’t receive proper treatment, we often run into other problems that causes a decline in our quality of life. Buying into narratives that perpetuate this will cause people to get hurt in very real ways. I have met people who believed that they could spirit work their mental illness away, and let me tell you that the results were often not pretty, and in many ways, produced the exact opposite effect of what they desired.

This is also damaging to the spirit worker community and the wider pagan community as a whole. It causes people to feel inadequate in some ways, and gives people power that they wield poorly in others. The idea that all mentally ill people must be spirit workers creates a rift within the community, as those who are mentally ill, but not spirit workers may feel like they’re doing something wrong. “If all mentally ill people are supposed to be special, but I’m not getting anywhere, then I must be a screw-up, right?”  And if you happen to be a mentally ill spirit worker who is undergoing therapy or treatment, you may suddenly question if you’re also doing it wrong, because apparently these things will prohibit you from being as “good” of a spirit worker as you could be. Not to mention that it makes the spirit workers who are not mentally ill feel ostracized in a community that is already pretty small, niche, and hard to get into.

It sets up this expectation that most people will not meet, and that people shouldn’t have to meet, and yet people continue to push this narrative as if it’s 110% absolute truth. These ideas hurt those who are already vulnerable (mentally ill people) and inadvertently sets them up for a very likely failure. It takes the conversation off of important topics that could actually benefit mentally ill spirit workers (topics such as: how do I tell the difference between a spiritual experience and my mental illness, how do I tell the difference between the astral and a hallucination, how do I work around these crippling symptoms I am experiencing from my illness, how do you manage spirit work and mental illness, etc.) and puts the conversation onto a useless topic of “your medication is bad and everything would get better if you’d just become a spirit worker”.

Yes, it is true that our society doesn’t handle mental illness well. Yes, it is true that we would all benefit from having a society that accepts mental illness and treats it like the illness that it is. But I still don’t believe that spirit work is the cure for all mental illness (quite the opposite, really). I don’t believe that spirit work will make every single mentally ill person feel better (I’m still mentally ill), in the same way that I don’t believe that every mentally ill person is meant to be a spirit worker, or is even necessarily having a spiritual/Unseen experience (many of my symptoms have been exactly that- symptoms, not genuine spiritual experiences). In many ways, mental illness and spiritual experiences can have some overlap, but they aren’t inherently the same thing and it’s better for everyone that this becomes a more recognized and understood thing. I would love to see more discussion on their differences and similarities than the constant “they are all the same” that you seem to get in the posts linked above as it would actually help the mentally ill people that everyone is so intent on discussing.

 

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Loss

For years I couldn’t shake the feeling that once upon a time, a very very long time ago, I was a part of something that had fallen apart. I knew in my mind that things went south in a bad way, and I knew that I needed to find a way to fix it no matter what the cost. It took years for me to tease out some of the details of what might be pulling at my heart strings even from a young age. And even now, I am still trying to figure these pieces out so that I can put them in their proper places so that the group of people I am with can finally move forward and no longer be held in an eternal holding pattern.

The years before I figured out what exactly had gone so wrong, I always had this person in my mind that always gave me an overwhelming sense of loss. I couldn’t place who it was for many years, but once I did, it was like everything became hyper-focused. I was acutely aware of this person, and even more so, acutely aware of the pain and hole that they had left behind. This person was dead at the time that I learned of them, and I never expected to see them again. Each downfall has casualties. This was mine to bear.

I kept vigil for him for years. I didn’t really know what else to do, other than to keep the memory alive within me. I allowed the pain to fuel my actions, to push me to keep moving forward. It’s possible that you could say that the loss drove me to keep trying to fix what had gone awry. I had this person that I had loved that I needed to fix things for. Even if he wasn’t around to enjoy the end results, I was moved to right the wrongs that he (and others) had suffered all those years ago.

I spent so many years fixated on him that it really took me off guard when K-Pop showed up less than a month after I broke out and said we had been a “thing” several times over. I had spent all of this time keeping a light for this other person that I never even took a moment to consider if I had ever had other people in my previous lifetimes beyond him. It’s weird to say that, though, given that I had never really met the man that I was so attached to. In a way, I guess you could compare it to being consumed by a ghost or a memory, and I had been swallowed entirely.

As I began to move forward and explore the past so that I could figure out the future, I began to see wisps of him everywhere. There were times when he almost felt alive again. There were moments when it felt like we had found a tiny little bubble of the past, and we could sit in it for a while and pretend that things were okay still. But always, that bubble would disappear, and I would be left with the gaping hole that I was in before. I’ve said many times that death is not straight forward on the astral. Things rarely die permanently, and even when someone is confirmed dead, there are still ways that you can see them and reach out to them, albeit briefly. Much like dreaming of someone who is now gone from this world, you can find small pockets of reprieve from the reality of the situation. But much like that dream, once the reprieve is over, the pain is often so much greater for having cheated the system.

I tracked down every thread I could regarding this man. I hunted down pieces and stories and lies trying to find him. For a glimmer of a moment, it looked like I might have managed to reset enough pieces that they could converge to rebirth him. Both I and my partner were both nervously hopeful that maybe we had found a loophole that would allow us to fix this story once and for all.

And for a while we did. He was around and in my life, but you could tell that his smile was a thin veneer. You could tell that everyone in the house knew that the inevitable was coming. We all knew it, but never wanted to say it.

The truth of the matter is that you can’t always fix things. Sometimes you can fix them, but not for another 83856 years. The timing of things can not be overstated enough.

What’s worse is that the timing was right. It was right for bringing him back so that we could send him off again. There are many reasons for this, but I won’t go into them here. Just know that sometimes pain is the point. Sometimes you only need a spark to cause everything to set on fire. Sometimes short stints are the point, as is the pain that follows. And I can’t ever forget with him that the ends have always justified the means.

We struggled to keep him around, to battle whatever illness had befallen him. To this day I can’t ascertain if he was sick from the beginning, or if something happened somewhere along the way. He was never very upfront with me about what was going on behind that thin veneer he had, and for all I know, he showed up knowing that it would be very short-lived and he neglected to tell me for reasons. I worked as hard as I could to fix everything, to do right by the person I had waited for for so many years, but it was for naught. It was in late winter when he finally fell and light filled the sky. I thought that maybe it was over then, that I could put the wounds to rest, but I was wrong.

Entities can die several deaths in the Unseen that culminates in one final “real” death (or to use the “reset” metaphor above, you have numerous soft resets that culminate in a hard reset). In many ways, it’s like a series of false starts, except these are more like false endings. After I was told that our attempts were not working, and that we’d have to send him off, I was sad, but I understood why it needed to be done, and I accepted it for what it was. It hurt, but for some reason it was something that was painless enough that I could ignore it most of the time. However, I soon found myself being haunted by his memory. There were many times when I’d go Over There and find myself with parts of him. I had visions of the past, flickers of memories that careened across my vision. There were dreams and songs. Things that popped up on the internet. For someone who was supposedly dead, his memory antagonized me way more after his “death” than at any other point in time in my life.

There is a lot to be learned about death and loss in the Unseen. It’s not nearly as straightforward as human loss, and sometimes that is a blessing and sometimes that is a curse. In the Seen, when someone dies, that’s it. You can’t magic them back to life. You can’t go back in time to stop them from dieing. Once they are gone, they are gone. And the only thing you’ll ever have left is their memory and their stuff. This is good in that it allows for closure. You know what has happened, and there is no denying that. The person is gone and they are never going to come back.

The Unseen is less straightforward. You can lose someone, and then they come back later. It’s not uncommon for people to die and then return weeks or months later as though they never left. You can pull strings and work magix and bend time to change things. There is always this hope that people may return somehow, or that you’ll manage to find the one magic method to bring them back to you. This is good in that you can sometimes bring people back permanently- I have done this a few times with some success. But the downside to this is that you never really get closure. You are always looking over your shoulder and giving yourself a false sense of hope that somehow you’ll figure it out, even if the logical part of your brain knows you’re in denial about a situation.

Even though I knew that the writing was on the wall yet again, I still wondered if maybe I could find a way out of this. The memories plagued me for months, and I felt like I was always going to be haunted by this person. Who knows, maybe I wanted to be haunted, maybe he stuck around because I couldn’t let go. Maybe he couldn’t let go. Maybe we were both to blame. What’s worse is that I had another menz who was supposed to be helping me fix this situation, and he was not fairing well in the process. I began to worry that he’d be taken out, too.

But one evening I was sitting at home working, and suddenly the man that I had been honoring for all of these years showed up. But I knew that this time was different. He was completely aware and “with it” that night in a way that I hadn’t seen in months. I’ve heard stories of people who spend days or weeks in comas or slightly deluded states, only to wake up and be completely cognizant and aware right before they die. This was a moment like that.

He came to me and told me the inevitable. The thing that I knew had been coming from day one. The truth that has always been true between us. The fate that we have been working to unravel so that we no longer have to bear it. He came and told me what everyone in my house already knew to be fact.

The thing is, the fact that you know what is coming doesn’t make it hurt any less. There is a relief in knowing that the end has finally come (inasmuch as any real “ending” happens in the Unseen), but let me assure you that that doesn’t make the end any less difficult.

I’ve found that coping with death in the Unseen is very different from handling the death of a physical person. With a physical person, I always found that it was much easier to really recognize that someone or something is gone. You no longer see the person/animal/entity anymore. There is a very visible hole where that person used to be, and it’s so much plainer to you that someone is gone.

When an Unseen entity dies, it feels so much more abstract to me. There is this deadening, this emptiness, but you can’t really place where. Visually, nothing is different. Your house is as it always was. No one around you in the physical is mourning. No one recognizes that anything is amiss, and I personally always feel guilty for mourning someone from the Unseen in the physical. It’s one of those huge downsides to being close to anyone in the Unseen- if they die, no one knows. And if you tell people “I am sad because my non-physical friend died yesterday”, people will think you’re weird or possibly need to see a mental health professional. In many ways, I feel like mourning a non-physical entity is a lot like mourning a character from a story. That person may have had an impact on you, and so their death has left an impact on you. But the world doesn’t stop for it, and if you talk about it, people get uncomfortable really quickly.

In many ways it’s a lot less visceral and due to the lack of surrounding visible cues, you’ll probably feel kind of stupid for feeling sad. In many ways, it’s like this general malaise hangs over you, and you can’t place it’s origin and you can’t figure out how to fix it. You know something is missing and something isn’t right, but hell if you can pinpoint exactly where or what it is, let alone what to do with it.

Death is not beautiful. It’s messy and painful and generally leaves things in a state of disorder. Loss is painful, whether it’s on the physical plane or the non-physical plane. And it is equally messy as you try and figure out what to do with yourself now that there is a gaping hole in your existence. I have no beautiful succinct ending for this post. I have no final paragraph to sum up all of the learning points (hahaha what learning points). I have nothing to show except 2100 words about someone that none of you ever knew, and a mess on my metaphorical floor.

This is what it’s like when you look behind the curtain at TTR. This is what it’s like to live the dream.

 
 

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Getting Your Astral Ducks in a Row

via wikimedia commons

via wikimedia commons

I have spent a lot of time talking about how dangerous the astral can be. I’ve tried to drill home the fact that the astral can be fickle, and that it isn’t something to be trifled with lest you accidentally bite off more than you can chew. When it comes to the astral, I’ve always tried to present a realistic view of what you can expect. I try not to make out to be 110% scary, but I also try to ensure that everyone knows what they could be getting into before they start to knock on that proverbial door. I’ve always felt that it’s my responsibility as a traveler to represent the facts as they are, both good and bad, and to let everyone else make their own personal decisions about whether they want to take the risks of trying to get Over There.

Something that I realized this past week is that I never bothered to go into the things that could make your transition into astral work a bit easier. Someone had asked me what reasons one might have for waiting before trying to astral travel, which I interpreted as “what things you might want to have taken care of or accomplished before you try to travel”, and I felt it was a topic that was worth exploring more in-depth. So for this post, I’m going to talk about what you might want to tackle before you try to astral travel.

Why would I need to tackle anything?

The first thing you may be wondering is why you need to do anything before you try to astral travel. Most people don’t seem to talk about prerequisites for astral travel, unless it’s mastering the method of traveling itself. But the truth is, there can be some beneficial aspects to getting your shit together before you try to go traipsing through the Unseen. Just a few of the benefits of having your ducks in a row are: you may sustain less trauma when you get there, it can allow you to be less easily duped into things, it can make navigation easier and it can allow you to protect yourself better. Not to mention that having your ducks in a row can allow you to travel smoother and more readily in general.

While you certainly don’t need to have everything in order before you start to attempt astral travel (and truth be told, most of us aren’t perfect before we start to travel- sometimes the astral just won’t wait), it is certainly worth considering marking off at least a few of these things before you start to regularly attempt going to the Unseen.

Consider your location.

One of the first things I recommend that people consider before trying to break into the astral is their living situation. As it turns out, where you live and what kind of people you live with can greatly influence how successful you may or may not be in astral work. When I was living at my mother’s house, I was always so miserable and stressed that trying to relax long enough to even attempt to travel was pretty much a no-go. On top of my stress levels, I was always worried that someone was going to walk in on me or disturb my session, which made my attempts even less effective.

If you’re wanting to go a lot of astral work, you’re probably going to have to make multiple attempts at regular intervals. For some people this is a weekly event, for others it’s an almost daily event. If you don’t happen to live in a location that has the space, quiet, or predictability for you to practice traveling, you’re probably not going to get very far very quickly. On top of that, if you’re already capable of astral travel, moving into a location where you can’t go through the proper steps or motions in order to gain access to the astral, you’re probably going to see a drop in your abilities. Having the proper space in which to do your work is important, if not vital to your success in being able to travel. And if you’re living in a location where peace and quiet don’t exist, you may be better off waiting until your living situation changes before you try again.

Consider your mental and physical health.

Another thing to keep in mind is your mental and physical health, as both of these can influence your ability to travel as well as your discernment. For those who have mental health issues, I’ve found that bad mental health days often result in lackluster experiences Over There. I often have a hard time connecting to the astral, and that can result in an inability to move well, see well or hear just about anything. I’ve also found that bad mental health often results in less ability to discern what I’m seeing, and I’m more prone to falling into brain vomit than falling into the actual astral. And of course if I’m having a bad mental health day over here, and I fall into trouble Over There, my ability to cope with whatever is happening Over There drops dramatically. However, if I wait for days when I am somewhat mentally stable, I tend to be able to cope a lot better with whatever is going on. If you’ve got mental illness, it’s worth taking a look at how your illness effects your experiences so that you can begin to learn your own patterns and use those for discernment and planning your “travel schedule”. But if you’re just starting out, it may be best to make sure that you’re in a somewhat stable state of mind before you go anywhere. Otherwise you may be making your situation harder than it needs to be.

Physical health was always a big deal for me because I used very physical methods to travel when I first started out. Dancing until you can’t stand definitely takes its toll on your body, and if you happen to be sick (whether chronically or only for a short period of time), you may not be able to travel worth a damn until your body has healed up. This can be trialing if you’ve got chronic illness, and in those situations, I recommend that you experiment with less physically-taxing travel methods to see if you can find something that doesn’t stress your body out too much.

Much like with the living situation, if your mental health is in the garbage, or your body is unable to keep up, you’re likely going to be hitting quite a few walls during your traveling experiences. Making sure that you’re in a decent place mentally and physically before you take on the possibility of traveling can open you up for greater success and less frustration over all.

Be conscientious of your limitations.

Getting into astral work can take a lot of energy and time, and I think it’s important to keep in mind the limitations that you may or may not have before you attempt to make astral travel a regular part of your life. Having limitations isn’t necessarily a bad thing, we’ve all got them. However, starting to do work that you know you can’t maintain long term isn’t something that I can truly recommend. It’s important to remember that if you’re doing the work, on some level you have to accept that what you are experiencing is real. And while the relationships we develop in the astral may be a small part of our larger lives, that may not be the case for those who are living full time in the realms that you visit.

It is my personal and unpopular opinion that it’s not fair or responsible to travel over to the astral, begin to make a life there or develop relationships there, and then stop going all together. Obviously, life can have many twists and turns, and it’s entirely possible that things can happen here that you didn’t foresee. However, if you’re trying to do astral work, but know you’re not going to be able to maintain it in a long term fashion, I urge you to consider if it’s really a good idea. Is it really fair to anyone you befriend Over There to only travel during the summer when you’re not burdened with college? Is it fair to travel when you know you’re only going to be able to work at it for three weeks before your depression takes you out of the picture for 6 months? Is it fair to your family over here if you are already strapped for time, and are trying to fit another time-intensive activity into your waking life? Is it fair to you? In the same way that you wouldn’t want your friend, lover, or parent to disappear for months at a time, your astral companions may not be pleased to have you suddenly stop showing up because life got too difficult for you over here. Being aware of whether you can actually juggle life here and life there is incredibly important before you walk through the door to the Unseen.

Being aware of your limitations is important, not only for you, but for those you interact with- both over here and Over There. It’s not fair to anyone (yourself included) to only half-ass this type of work, and you can’t expect to get very far if you’re not willing or able to put forth a solid, consistent effort with traveling. Being aware of how your living situation, mental health, physical health, and other life requirements will play into your ability to travel is incredibly important. Taking note of what you can and can’t handle long term, and keeping an eye on your potential pitfalls will allow you to have more success when you attempt to travel, and better relationships both here and there.

Limitations are not necessarily a bad thing. They can often lead to interesting new methods of doing things and can drive innovation. However, not taking stock of potential problems is often a recipe for disaster. By taking the time to lay out some groundwork and getting your ducks in a row before you attempt to travel regularly can increase your chances of overall success.

Did you have your astral ducks in a row before you started to travel? If not, do you wish you actually had them in a row before you traveled? Any advice you’d give to people who are looking to make astral travel a part of their practice?

 

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The Astral and PTSD

I am pretty sure by this point, almost everyone has heard about the new movie Jurassic World. I’ve heard almost everyone I know (that is under the age of 55) talk about it in some capacity, and it’s even made its way into our Kemetic Fandom over on Tumblr. It’s so popular that it’s even made it into my workplace. I distinctly remember listening to my coworker talk about this movie last week, and referring to it as nothing more than, “A movie about dinosaurs eating people.”

You’re probably looking at the title of this post and wondering what the hell Jurassic World has to do with the astral or PTSD. And truth be told, that’s kind of the point. On the surface, it’s got absolutely nothing to do with PTSD or the astral. It’s “just a movie about dinosaurs eating people,” after all.

But that is the beauty of PTSD, triggers, and sketchy brain functioning. Sometimes the most tenuous of topics can set you off. Even movies that are about dinosaurs eating people.

Over the years I’ve tried to warn people about the dangers of jumping head first into the astral. I’ve tried to illustrate that the astral fucks with your brain a little bit, and that even those who have the best lives ever Over There can end up with a few mental quirks. And so you should be careful before you sign your life away to the astral bank because you never know what kind of mixed bag you’re going to be handed on arrival. You never know if the astral bank is going to charge you a 5 cent monthly fee or a $5,000 monthly fee, so you better make sure your pockets are deep enough to handle whatever comes your way.

I’ve talked about these “fees” and things like PTSD in abstract terms and hints and concepts, but I’ve never really laid it out in specifics before. I’ve never really sat down and talked to all of you about any one particular instance where my brain short circuited and I was left in a ball on the ground (it has happened a few times).

Today we’re going to talk about an incident more in-depth. If you don’t think you can handle discussion of a dinosaur movie causing a PTSD flare up, then you may want to skip this post. For the sake of those who haven’t seen the movie yet, I will be doing my best to ensure nothing overly specific is mentioned, so that nothing is spoiled. Please proceed beyond this paragraph at your own discretion.

The truth of the matter is, I wasn’t overly interested in seeing this movie. Dinosaurs are really not my jam, and I expected to spend two hours staring off at the wall out of boredom, not staring at the wall because looking at the movie screen was just too painful for me. I can’t even begin to express my own surprise and disgust that I felt towards myself when I realized that my mind was running itself through the ringer, and bringing up all of these images and sounds and feelings that had absolutely nothing to do with dinosaurs, especially given my sentiments about the movie on arrival.

The thing I’ve learned about having weird trigger moments over the years is that there is rarely one single thing that sets them off for me. There are times when I have been set off and I couldn’t tell you what exactly about the situation made my brain make a connection that caused me to be curled up on the floor. There seem to be some people who know exactly what their triggers are, but I don’t really seem to be one of those people (with only a few exceptions). There are times when I can see something and be okay, and then other times it sets me off; and who knows exactly why it happened as it did. All I know is that it caused something to snap inside of my head.

Jurassic World was no exception for me. I can’t tell if it was my connection to a species that had been wiped out, and was then brought back to life simply to be exploited and studied by foreign captors. I can’t tell if it was simply seeing dead or dying things that did it for me. Perhaps it was the volume of dead things that bothered me. Or maybe it was more about sound and ambiance, and maybe they used the right mixture of gun shots that made my brain snap. Maybe it was all of these things. Maybe it was something else entirely.

It can be frustrating not to know what exactly it is that caused my brain to slowly fracture and break into pieces, as I have no clue what to avoid in the future so that I don’t set myself off again. Do I need to start avoiding dinosaurs all together? What is it about this movie’s portrayal of violence that was so different than all of the other action movies I have seen? Do I need to be avoiding this director or soundtrack composer instead? What exactly caused this?

Not knowing what exactly caused this to happen made me feel even worse as I closed my eyes and watched the gunfire through my eyelids, because all I could then hear in the back of my head was my coworker chiding this movie for being nothing more than “dinosaurs eating people.” Nobody else in the theater was having problems. No one else was crying because dinosaurs. (I used dinosaurs because I didn’t really know what was causing this reaction). And all I could think to do is waffle between “This is all I see Over There” (‘this’ referring to violence and death) and “How the hell can you be so stupid to get upset over dinosaurs?!”.

Going through such an episode was a very surreal experience. In a way, my brain felt like a cacophony of thoughts and senses. On one hand, I was caught in the past, inside of memories of standing amongst a sea of dead people. Feeling blood dripping down my hands and the dirt under my finger nails. The drag of dirty hands across sweaty and dirty hair as I tried to calm the person dieing on the ground. I was caught in the smell of death and the unnerving silence that falls after the guns quit shooting. It’s like you’re simultaneously caught in the middle of the past, wallowing in the hell that your brain is putting you through, but at the same time, I could hear the very logical and reasoned parts of myself trying to tell me that this is just a movie, it’s fake, it’s not real. I could hear parts of me trying to calm myself down. And at the same time, I could also hear my very chastising self getting irate over the fact that I was “freaking out over dinosaurs”.

The other thing worth mentioning is that sometimes there were no overwhelming visuals that coincided with my meltdown. Sometimes I would close my eyes and simply see black. But that didn’t stop my body from tensing and tightening up as though I was in the middle of a war zone trying to stay alive. You don’t always need to see something, apparently, to experience it all the same. I think this is particularly worth noting because there are many times when I wake up and don’t consciously remember a single thing I did Over There. But it would seem that even though I am not consciously remembering things, that doesn’t mean my body isn’t still taking notes for me. I’ve brought up the fact that bodies are like libraries and indexes of what we experience throughout our life, and this can include things you don’t remember. Repressed memories and experiences that lay dormant in your brain meats can be brought back to life if the right buttons are pushed. And if I wasn’t punishing myself for getting worked up over dinosaurs, I was punishing myself for getting worked up over memories I can barely even recollect or see.

For those who have never had the pleasure of experiencing something like this, the end result is a complete and utter depletion of your energy. My hands were rather numb. I was shaking and couldn’t find a way to stop. My stomach was so upset that I was on the verge of vomiting (something that rarely happens). I can only imagine what everyone else in the theater thought about the weird chick who “cried over dinosaurs.” And when I was asked about it by the person I had gone to the movie with, the first thing I could bring myself to utter was “You’re going to think I’m incredibly stupid.” (btw, they did not think I was stupid).

The thing is, PTSD doesn’t give a shit about what sets it off. Your brain doesn’t care if it’s dinosaurs, or crabs, or penguins, or eggs. Sometimes it’s a smell or a song. Other times its a facial expression or the way someone’s hair lays that day. It can be literally anything, and it isn’t always consistent. It’s not logical, and that’s the point. When brains break, they lose their ability to be 110% logical. The whole take home message of mental illness is that it is out of your control, and falls outside of the realm of logic.

When you read people warning you about going onto the astral because you never know what will happen to you, we’re warning you because of moments like this. Imagine yourself going to a movie and freaking out to the point that you’re barely able to keep it together until it’s over. Imagine if you’re with friends or family, and can’t explain to them why you’re freaking out, because if they knew that you were caught up in some sort of war zone in another plane of existence, they’d look at you like you needed a padded room and medication. Even if you go by yourself, imagine having to coast past the fact that “yeah, that movie gave me a mental breakdown so I don’t want to talk about it” when someone asks you if you liked the movie. Yeah, you can just brush it off, but it can be challenging to do that when the mere thought of the movie brings all of the memories of your episode back to the forefront of your mind.

The worst part about setting up an account with the astral bank is this: even if you aren’t sure if all of this is real, the astral will prove to be real in very real ways.

Even if I’m just playing around in my head, the breakdown that I had this past weekend was very very real. It can’t be denied. It manifested in such a way that I was physically ill and it left me pretty useless for quite a few hours after it happened.

And what’s worse is that you will spend the entirety of your life being told directly and indirectly that you’re only traveling to garner attention from everyone else. That you’re delusional and making it up, that you need “help” and that you’re just trying to lord this over other people or use it as a power play. You will spend your life wondering if you’ve lost your mind, and plenty of people will gladly jump in to tell you just how not-sane you sound.

And despite that, you will have moments like this that are so real that it’s really hard to believe that you’re making it all up. Of course, you can’t really talk about those moments, because people will really begin to question your sanity because now it’s making you cry in the middle of a movie about fucking dinosaurs.

This is the trade off that Unseen travelers and workers have to deal with. When I tell people to please be careful, this is exactly why. This is what you’re possibly looking at for the rest of your life. You never know what lies on the other side of that door, and once you open it, there is no going back to who you were before. Sometimes you’ll walk through and nothing major happens, and it’s kittens and rainbows and life is great and the astral bank only charges you a .05 fee every month. But you’re also just as likely walking into the middle of hell and everything that you thought you were is going to change into something else completely foreign and the astral bank wants to charge you $5,000 a month, and you have to learn to contend with that.

No one seems to want to associate PTSD with astral, but I’m hear to tell you, you can only see so many people hurt and killed before it takes it’s toll on your mind. We all want to believe that the astral is only “sorta real”, but your brain doesn’t make that distinction even if you consciously try to do so.

For those out there who like to constantly remind everyone that “people who ‘travel’ to the astral are full of themselves and delusional”, I ask that you reconsider your stance, or learn to keep your stance to yourself. Even if the thought of traveling to the Unseen somehow seems too far fetched for you (even though you seemingly think that gods can be real), no one who does this kind of work is dumb enough to not know how crazy it all sounds. You’re not telling us anything we haven’t told ourselves.

For those of you who are considering astral travel as a “thing”, please consider heavily the price that you may have to pay if you are successful. Make sure it’s really worth it to you before you try to open that door.

And for those of you who are in the same boat as me, you have my sympathies and remember to take care of yourself, because I know how challenging this lot can be.

 

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