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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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Silent Gods

It’s pretty safe to say that most of us spend our lives unaware of the layer of Unseen that penetrates the world around us. We don’t have access to a lot of the goings on in the Unseen, and so we don’t really notice the spirits or other entities that may be around us at any given time. For all intents and purposes, we’re blind and unaware of our surroundings when it comes to non-physical beings.

But just because we are blind to them doesn’t mean that they are blind to us. So many people have stated that “looking back on things, I can tell that my god/s have been around for years now, and I just didn’t realize it” or something in that same vein. Just because we don’t notice when our gods are hanging around us doesn’t mean that they aren’t hanging around us all the same.

So if the gods are hanging around, why on earth would they be silent to us? This is especially hard to figure out if you’re in a place of pain, frustration or confusion, and could really use some reassurance or assistance in your life. And of course, I’m sure that there have been plenty of times when someone has sat around and tried to reach out to a god who is actively listening to them, and yet they remain silent for years. Why?

One of the most overlooked factors is timing. It’s a pretty common saying that “timing is everything”, and it’s a statement that is pretty accurate. To understand my point, consider your own life and your own growth. Think back ten years ago. What were you like? Were you an awful lot like who you are now, or were you very different? Have you become more mature since then? Have you learned anything new? Have you grown at all?

Odds are, the person you are now is pretty different than who you were ten years ago. It’s par for the course that we all grow and change as we age, and the gods realize this as well. If a deity is wanting you to do work for them, it’s possible that they’re waiting for you to reach a certain level before they step forward and begin to work on you.

For those who realized that their gods had been hanging around them since they were kids, it’s possible that your deity watched you silently through your teenage years because they knew that you wouldn’t be ready until after college. Maybe they felt that pushing you while you lived in your parent’s house would cause unneeded and unhelpful stress and strife between you and your family members. Maybe your teenage years were before the Internet took off, and even if the god did reach out, you wouldn’t know what exactly was going on or even what to do about it. Perhaps it was better to wait until there were more resources available to you. Maybe it took seeing those resources to make the connection to the god in the first place.

Maybe they waited because they knew you’d need to complete a boat load of shadow work before they can enlist you for whatever job or task they had in mind. So they decided to wait until you were in a place to actually work on the shadow work before they stepped forward. It was pretty obvious when Osiris showed up that I was not ready for his lessons or his methods, and he had to step back again until I was able to cope with what he was wanting. To push too soon might have resulted in our relationship not working out, in trauma on my end, or in my not performing the tasks that he wanted me to perform.

I know that looking over the past ten years of being 100% non-Christian, that I couldn’t have done what I am doing right now ten years ago. If Set would have shown up right when I first decided to look into religions that were not Christian, I wouldn’t have been able to perform the tasks that he needed. I might have been able to make some progress on the Pit, but he would have had to have cultivated me for years before I would have been ready to start working on community work. I also think that my failures through Wicca and my experiences with dysfunctional online Pagan groups have helped me to get a better understanding of what a community shouldn’t do. Every failure can have seeds for success, after all.

Even if my astral partner decided to show up when I was in college (which is where I was ten years ago–and he was around, I just couldn’t sense him), I wouldn’t have been prepared to handle what was coming at me. It’s technically better for everyone that I was forced to wait another seven years until my head broke open entirely, and I could begin to do what I am doing now. Looking over my experiences, I could definitely make an argument supporting the idea that these Unseen entities waited because the timing was not ideal. I could also make an argument that their judgement was pretty solid, and that waiting ended up saving us more time and strife in the long run, crappy as waiting can be.

Of course, some of you may be reading this and thinking “well that’s not how it is with me. I could have handled whatever they threw at me! Why can’t they start talking to me now? I don’t want to wait!” And that could very well be the truth, but that doesn’t mean that the deity in question sees it that way. Just like how we often act based off of what we think is best, so too do the gods. The gods often have a larger scope of things, and use that to discern and decide what courses of action to take. Who is right or wrong is a moot point when push comes to shove, because again, we’re all relatively cut off from the Unseen and it’s machinations, and so we’re often bound to whatever the god feels is the best course of action (for better or worse). If they put up a wall so that you can’t talk to them, it’s going to be very difficult to break it down before they are ready, and breaking it down before they’re ready can have it’s own repercussions.

I think the biggest take away when considering the various reasons why communication with a deity may or may not be happening is to remember that it’s not always because of you that things aren’t moving forward. There can always be a wide variety of reasons behind why a deity may or may not choose to step forward and make themselves known. As frustrating as it can be to be stuck waiting on a god to say hello to you, it’s worth keeping in mind that relationships are a two way street, and sometimes it’s really not about us (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), what we want, or what we think is best. The gods can have their own agendas and motivations behind why they do what they do, and we may never be completely aware of whatever is going on inside of their heads. I have always found that being patient and persistent can be the key to breaking through and being able to communicate with the gods, and that while waiting for said deity to decide that “now its okay to move forward” and “now I am okay with talking to you” can suck, it usually works out in the grand scheme of things. At the very least, I’ve always been comforted to know that it’s not always me being a screw-up that causes a god to be silent. Sometimes it’s other things that are beyond everyone’s control- the gods included.

Have you ever experienced a quiet point with your gods? Did you ever figure out why the deity was silent with you? How did you work around the silence that you experienced?

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2015 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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KRT: Deity Communication

“Communication Breakdown” via Flickr

I have a love-hate with the topic of deity communication. I love it because I love reading about how the gods manifest and communicate with different people. Learning about how others go about communicating can certainly be enlightening. However, I rather dislike the topic because I feel like the pagan community at large spends way too much time focusing on the notion of the “god-phone“. Unfortunately, if you have a pretty clear communication style with the gods and the Unseen, there are going to be folks that judge you for it. People who have “god-phones” are often criticized for being egotistical or elitist by those who don’t. And people who don’t have “god-phones” often feel like they are a failure at their religion somehow.

And the truth of the matter is, neither of these is correct.

God-phones and Pedestals

Most of the people that I know that have a “god-phone” get frustrated with the thing. Having a hot line to the Unseen can have its rewards and its setbacks. It’s great because you can often go straight to the source as a means of clarifying things. I don’t necessarily have to rely on divination or other people to get the information I need from the gods I work with. However, even that has its pitfalls, as many deities seem to like to respond with very vague, unhelpful information. Or, what I lovingly refer to as “wingdings“. A lot of my early communication with the Unseen involved visions and other visual information that I simply couldn’t decipher. The gods may have handed me an answer, but it was so obscured by a language I couldn’t read (wingdings) that the answer was completely lost on me. It’s very maddening.

Additionally, having the hole in your head that often allows you to speak directly with the Unseen can have other consequences. Such as deities and entities giving you input on anything and everything and being a troll in general. It can be challenging to focus at work or in a conversation when you’ve got Unseen entities prattling in the background, vying for your attention.

Conversely, if you ever see anyone lording their “god-phone” over someone else, they are not worth your time. Anyone who places themselves up on a pedestal (as opposed to being placed there by other people) because of their ability to communicate with the Unseen doesn’t deserve to be there. Anyone who chastises or judges another based on their ability or inability to communicate with the gods is not worthy of a pedestal, plain and simple.

God-phones and Doing it Wrong

A lot of people also seem to think that if they don’t have a “god-phone” they are a failure as a Pagan/polytheist. But this is simply not the case. Generally speaking, hearing the gods, or finding really clear means of communication with the gods and the Unseen is very difficult and not very common. It may seem like something that everyone can do, but that’s really not the case. To give you a good example, take a look at your people you know in real life that are Christian. How many of them talk to their god (or to Jesus, or saints or whatever) regularly and actually hear back? I’m willing to bet that most don’t. And if you told them that your gods talked to you, they’d look at you like you grew a second head.

Not being able to sit down and have a clear-cut chat with unseen entities is no problem. And as stated above, if anyone makes it sound like it is a problem, they don’t deserve your time. For Kemeticism specifically, it is not a requirement to have a “god-phone”. You don’t need to have hour long conversations with the gods every day to show you’re a good Kemetic, and anyone that says otherwise is full of crap. Never feel pressured by your ability or inability to communicate with the gods. It’s something that everyone has to work out in their own time, and each of us has our own ways of working around various communication barriers. There is no correct way to talk with the Unseen, and if you’re not that good at it, that doesn’t make you a failure in any capacity.

The Nature of Communication

The truth of the matter is, communication can be very touch and go, both here and in the Unseen. The same way that one day you and the people in your life are able to convey thoughts quickly and easily through talking or emailing one another, and yet you end up sticking your foot in your mouth the next day and everything you end up saying blows up in your face. That’s how it goes with the Unseen, too. Many times the communication can ebb and flow depending on your mental state and how good of a connection you’ve got that day.

Additionally, communication can be so much more than simply swapping words back and forth with the Unseen. The same way that we often rely on subtle things here in the Seen- body language, eye movement, posture, etc. that can convey smaller details to us. The same goes for the Unseen: there is more to communication than simply hearing things in your head or relying on divination. Its just that most of us only focus on the obvious choices.

Figuring out the communication style that suits your needs and traits best can take a while to hammer out. The most important thing to remember with deity communication is that it takes time, and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Take your time with it. Let it grow and develop in its own ways that are tailored to you and your needs. Don’t worry so much about what everyone else is doing and focus on you and your practice. I know it can feel alienating and weird when you’re trying to figure all this stuff out- but each of us does things slightly differently. And there is beauty in that diversity (and is part of why KRT is even a thing).

So in short: if you have a god-phone, cool. Just don’t lord it over people. If you don’t have a god-phone, cool. Just don’t get angry at those who have them. Figuring out your communication style takes time, so don’t sweat it if you don’t have it all figured out yet. Remember that just like in the Seen, communication can be finicky, and that’s okay. Just keep doing what works for you.

To see other responses to this prompt, please check out the KRT Master List.

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2014 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

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Building Relations

via flickr

One of the most common questions I see thrown around the Pagan-o-sphere is “how do I develop a relationship with XYZ deity if I don’t have a ‘god-phone’?” Developing a relationship with someone in the Seen is challenging. Developing a relationship with someone in the Unseen is even more difficult, especially if you don’t have a solid way of communicating with one another, as is referenced by the “god-phone” above.

So how do we develop these relationships? How do we get to know the gods and entities that we want to work with? In what ways can we get to know our gods when we’re unable to speak to them directly?

The answer to this question is not as difficult as it might seem on the surface. I treat non-physical relationship-building the same way that I treat physical relationship-building: you do stuff together and you learn about one another. Through doing things together and developing common interests and sharing your past, your relationship begins to grow and you form a bond with one another. But even that may seem a little daunting, so let’s break it down even further!

Read a lot.

But don’t read just anything. Read about things tied to the deity or entity that you’re working with. Learn about their history and the culture that surrounded them. Learn about what they like or dislike (historically). Read their mythology and stories. Learn about their conquests and failures. Learn as much about them as you can. Ideally, you’ll want to learn from both historical and modern sources. Gods can change over the years, so keep in mind that not everything that is from the history book will be applicable for your relationship, but learning how things started and how the deity behaved in antiquity can give you a good foundation to build upon.

If there isn’t a lot of historical material out there on the deity or spirit you’re working with, try reading stuff that is tangentially related to them. For example, if your deity is big into bread, maybe look into how you would make bread, or the significance of bread in the culture that this deity hails from. Or you could look into gardening and raising the grains that would be involved in the bread making process. Don’t limit yourself to just the historical aspects of reading.

Reading will help to give you a basic foundation to build off of. It’s the equivalent of learning what your friend likes to eat or what kind of family they were raised in. You can learn a lot about potential quirks or problems you may have in the future, as well as gauging some of the basics of their personality as well.

Digest what you’ve read.

Reading is important, but learning to mull on what you’ve read will help to bring you the most benefit out of what you’ve taken in. When you’ve read a story about your deity, mull on what that could mean for that particular god. In my case, I often talk about Set’s felling of Osiris. What would make Set do such a thing? What could cause him to fell his brother? Conversely, how must that feel to be the one who was felled? Did Osiris know it was coming? How would that change things? Would he stare it dead on and walk into it unflinching? Or would he be scared and upset by his fate? Could they have found another way around felling him? What does this mean for the rest of the pantheon or for their relationship before and after the felling occurred?

All of these questions help to get under the skin of each deity. By analyzing the mythos, I can begin to understand how each deity may act or react given a situation. I can begin to understand their separate roles, their roles together as brothers, and their roles within the pantheon as a whole. You can do this more tangentially as well. For example, Hathor is tied to music and dance. What would being tied to these two things mean about the deity? What can we glean from these associations about her temperament and priorities?

Let the material that you read be a starting point. Allow your own mental cogs turning to take the reading material to another level so that you can begin to understand your deity/s even more.

Interact with others.

Interact with other devotees to the deity you’re looking into. Find out some of their experiences and methods of communicating with the deity. This may help to explain some of your own experiences or confirm your own findings. As an example, many people get worried about not hearing back from Anup. However, it’s generally regarded in the community that Anup tends to be quiet, which could explain the silence on his end. Another example would be that Set has a knack for disappearing on devotees pretty regularly. Sharing and confirming experiences with other devotees helps to build the community and can help you to understand or relate to your god. However, if your experiences don’t line up with everyone else’s, don’t get discouraged! Remember that everyone’s relationship is different and the gods can approach us and appear to us in different ways. The only way we can explore the different sides of the gods is through discussion with one another.

Don’t forget to interact with your god/s, too. I know that this is kinda what this whole post is about, but I mean it in a sense that you should consider sitting down and talking to your gods regularly, even if you can’t hear them respond. Let them know where you are at in your life and with your religion. If you’re getting frustrated with your relationship with them, or with a lack of communication on their end. Or let them know about what you’re learning in your religious pursuits, or things you’d like to try or do with your gods or community. Talk to them about whatever comes to mind. You may not hear back right away, but talking with them at least opens the door for communication and allows them to get to know you. It also increases your chances that you’ll eventually hear something from them.

Remember that just because your first few messages got put onto the message machine because they were out doesn’t mean that the next time you show up to talk with them that they won’t be home and actually pick up the phone.

Get out and do stuff.

If possible, I recommend devoting at least a few different activities to your deity as a method of getting to know them. To use my example above, if you’re got your eyes on that bread deity, maybe try actually making some bread. For gods that are related to death, you could try cleaning up or tending some grave sites. I have known people to dedicate gardening to Osiris, blood donations to Sekhmet and cleaning house for Tawaret. While it may not seem like it would help you to understand the deity better by doing such things, it can allow us to step into their shoes for a moment and to understand what it is that they are a patron of or how it relates to them on a more personal level.

For example, let’s go back to that bread deity. Making bread will show you that you need patience, because making bread is an hours long affair. You need to be gentle with the dough, lest you overwork it. However, you will also need to be firm in mixing the dough, otherwise it won’t get to the right consistency. If we go back even further in the process of making bread, you’ll see how you need to be very specific with growing the grains: again, we’re looking at moderation. Too much water and the plant suffers. Too little water, and it dies. Threshing grain and grinding grain require strength and coordination.

By working with these items to make your own bread, you can begin to embody and process aspects of the deity that you may not see otherwise. By doing activities associated with the god you being to pick up on the smaller nuances of the god that you may miss otherwise.

Don’t be boxed in.

Above all, I think its important to remember that gods are complex beings just as we are. They are very multifaceted and their capacity is beyond words in many ways. So it’s very important to ensure that you don’t accidentally box yourself in when you’re exploring your relationship with them. Just because it’s not canon or a popular view on the god doesn’t mean that it’s wrong, and you may find new things out about your gods in ways that you didn’t originally anticipate.

Gods will reach out to us in whatever ways that they need to, and their fingerprints on our lives won’t always appear in the ways or places that we expect. Be open to the ways that gods can reach out to you as you explore building a relationship with them. And if you ever discover other non-god-phone related methods to reach out to the gods and to get to know the gods, I’d love to hear about it!

Relevant Posts:

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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Before and After: A Comparison on Being God Bothered

I originally wrote this for the Gods’ Mouths Project. I’m not sure if this project is still running, but I felt that this post could still be useful for my readers.

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Once upon a time I was not god bothered. My god phone was, for all intents and purposes, shut off. There was a time when I only checked in with my trapped astral self once every few weeks or so.

There was a time when I wasn’t living all these lives at once. There was a time when I was more “normal”.

That time is gone.

Back before this roller coaster started, my day started like most- the alarm clock would go off at 6. I’d hit snooze until about 6:30 when my partner and I would finally get up and rush to get ready to head off to work. We’d spend all day at work, doing our thing. Same ol’ same ol’. And then we’d go home and eat dinner and spend the rest of the night talking, surfing the internet or playing video games. On more special days, we’d go out and do stuff. It was the typical life and my religious life didn’t really factor into anything- it was more or less non-existent.

But then my brain broke open and things changed.

Telephone Keypad by Chris Campbell via Flickr

Now, my day is supposed to start at 7, but it usually starts before that. You see, my partner gets up at 5:30 and in the midst of being half awake and half asleep, I end up sometimes astral tripping for a while. I get caught up in conversations with my astral partners, or I find myself sitting at some table talking to someone I don’t even know (I wander while I’m asleep sometimes). Sometimes I wake up tied to a chair. Other times I wake up with my family in bed.

But it almost always happens before the alarm clock goes off. It’s just an ideal mindset for traveling- half awake and half asleep. I often accidentally fall into it,and end up staying there instead of falling back asleep.

For the good days, I will drag myself out of bed at 7. For the bad days, it can be closer to 7:30. I am constantly fatigued and tired, so its a chore to get out of bed. Once I’m up, I head to my computer and turn it on. As a means of being more attentive with my shrine, my kar shrine now lives on my desk, and when I sit down at the computer in the morning, I open it up as a way to bring the gods more into my day to day stuff.

And the fun begins.

I try to leave before 8:30. I will spend this hour to an hour and a half trying to check all of my feed on Tumblr and other forums. In between this, I will try to eat, pack a lunch, and check in with any astral crap that may have happened over night. Sometimes it’s a quick check and I manage to get everything done. Many days I forgo eating for getting the other “more important” things done.

I walk to work. Usually while walking I get sucked out into dancing with one of my astral companions. It’s something I can’t help. If the song has a beat, I inevitably end up on a dance floor with him. Once I get to work, I will spend my day trying to stay on task. But in btwn projects I will work on WP posts, astral and dream logs (which can run into the 10K word count range) and keep an eye on all of the social media I participate in – just in case anything important is going on there. Plus, if there are any astral pictures I need to jot down for my logs, that has to be done before I leave work- as my computer at home can’t hack it.

Sometimes its a quiet day and I’m able to focus more on my job and more on my work. Other days shit hits fan on the Otherside. Gods get in my ears and tell me that X needs to be done now. Or the writing bug will show up and I end up typing into WP for a few hours because the perfect string of words happened into my head.

Sometimes I feel cut off from things and I’ll stare at an open Photoshop canvas for hours waiting for something to inspire me. Sometimes I’ll do the same with my WP editor. It really depends.

This whole broke open head thing – it’s fickle. You can never tell whether its going to be a “I can’t hear myself think” or a “I can hear crickets in my head” day.

Once my 8 hours of servitude are up, I walk home, doing the same thing that I did on the way to work- dancing and astral stuff. I go home and work on getting something in my stomach. I maintain my house chores as a means to keep my sanity. And then I sit right back down to the computer and continue to read and write and discuss until I can’t keep my eyes open longer. On busy nights, I go between this and laying down and astral tripping for a while- because the astral is a honey badger, and sometimes I need to lay down and focus on what I’m doing, lest I screw up.

And once I decide I need to sleep, I lay down and sometimes I pass right out. Other times I end up at the River with Osiris, or sitting across from Set’s desk for more work. Or I will get into a conversation with one of my partners and end up staying awake for another hour or two to handle those sorts of things. It’s just how it goes. Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and end up staying awake for the same reasons.

I’m sure to the outside viewer this doesn’t seem like much. I’m not spending a lot of time in front of a shrine, but I am doing devotional work. Maintaining a regular blog takes time, and writing these posts can take days for me. I have a list of ideas that I keep with me at all times- so that I can add to it if something strikes me. Even when I decide to ‘take a break’ and watch a movie or some tv- I end up focusing right back on my Kemetic practice.

Indirectly, everything comes back to Kemeticism. And when I stop paying attention to my practice- to my community, to be more specific, the gods show back up to remind me where my place is.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized how much of a toll this type of life takes on you and your relations. I live my life to do this. That means my time is very limited to do anything else. My focus can wander away for a little while, but it will always end right back up onto this path. It makes it hard for me to sit down and enjoy anything for long, because I get itchy hands and an itchy brain. It always comes back to this work.

It effects my relations because sometimes there just isn’t enough of me to go around. My physical partner understands that I have an astral life to maintain as well as a community to work on. My astral partners get that I have a life here and a 40 hour job I need to keep up with. In the end, being with me means that you’ve got to make sacrifices. Even my job can suffer when I’ve had to stay up all night handling business, or someone decides they need my attention while working on a project with a tight deadline.

In order to survive with the hole in my head, I’ve had to learn a lot about prioritizing and cutting away stuff I don’t need. I don’t go out much, because it eats up spoons. If it eats up spoons, I can’t get my astral work done or write about things. I’ve had to learn how to balance multiple relationships across multiple planes. I’ve had to figure out how to balance my family life there and spending time with my partner here. It’s been a huge lesson in give and take, and its a lesson that I’ve failed many many times, and will likely fail many times again before this is all said and done.

Above all, I think that becoming someone who is ‘god-bothered’ has taught me about juggling and prioritizing. Once your head has been broken open, there is no way to go back. Once the gods have decided that they want to stick their fingers in your proverbial pie, there is no way to go back to the way it was before. For me, the longer I’ve worked with Unseen entities, the more entities I’ve collected, and the more impact they’ve had on how I live and how I operate on a day to day basis. Because of this, I’ve really had to figure out what is most important for me and how to work within the parameters that they make for me. It’s not been easy, but it certainly has taught me a lot about my limits and what I’m capable of.

I may never be able to go back to the way life was before, but I can certainly learn to make the most out of what I have going now.

 

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Musings on Pain and Astral Travel

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.

 
20 Comments

Posted by on September 18, 2013 in Astral, Crack, Hypnosis & Inner Work, Rambles

 

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Gods and God-Phones 101

I’ve recently been working as a mod over at the Pagan101 Tumblr, and one of the topics we get asked about a lot is basically summed up as “How do I gods?” This topic includes things such as “How do I approach the gods?” “How do I know if a god is interested in me?” “How do I hear the gods?” “How do god phones work?” “How do I make my god phone work better?”

All of those things that we all wonder when we first start out in the Pagan-sphere.

So I thought I’d gather some resources and some ideas and put them all in one place for everyone to use and share. If you’ve got more resources for this post, leave them in the comments section, and I’ll add them!

I’m new to this whole Paganism/Polytheism thing. I am interested in learning about some gods, or finding a god to call my own or work with- what do I do?

I think this is where everyone starts. When you first dip your toes into Paganism, you find that everyone is talking about gods. Gods this, gods that. X god said Y to me. It seems like the entire point to all of this is gods.

And so many people want to work on finding gods as quickly as possible.

There is nothing wrong with this, but I recommend doing a couple of things when you first start out:

  • Research. Research anything and everything that looks good to you. Learn about all sorts of religious paths and gods. Learn about different cultures that are tied to these religions.
  • Talk to people. Talk to followers of these gods. Talk to people who are in different religions. Ask questions to these people (though remember that no one is obligated to answer your questions. Always remain courteous and respectful).
  • Get into discussions. Throw ideas around. Take your knowledge that you’re gaining and try to apply it when you’re talking with others. When you find new concepts and ideas that work better for you, don’t be afraid to throw old ideas that no longer suit you out.
  • Question. Question what it is you want out of your religious life. Figure out why it is you are looking for a relationship with a god. Question if you need one or want one. Ponder everything.

There is a lot to Paganism and polytheism. Taking the time to read, learn and discuss can help you decide what you’re looking for, and where to narrow your search when considering deities. Lots of people think you can’t practice a Pagan religion without a deity- but in truth, you can. And sometimes taking the long way around to finding a god is helpful – because you’ll know what you want when you find the right god, and things will likely click a lot better.

Two good posts on figuring out if a source is good or not:

Okay, so I’ve read and thought about it. I still want to find some gods to talk to.

Take the culture, religion or deities that interest you– and research some more. Don’t worry so much about why a culture or deity calls to you- just follow what you feel. Sometimes hunches and ideas can really lead us to interesting and unexpected places. Once you’ve got a deity in mind, figure out how you should approach them. Some cultures and religions have taboos, and you wouldn’t want to offend a deity on your first meeting. Try to be as accurate and thorough as possible (if possible). Remember that respect and intent go a long way.

Once you’ve got some ideas on how to approach the deity- do so. We’ve got a simple guide for Kemetics and approaching gods, for reference. Remember that not every ritual or meeting has to be elaborate or fancy. Sometimes the simplest stuff will suffice. Just make sure that you’re doing the best you can.

godphone-meme

I’ve reached out to the god/s that interest me… and nothing happened. What now?

Remember that communication with the Divine (or Unseen, or any non-physical entity) can take time and practice – and you might not receive an answer right away. Sometimes gods are busy, or they want to see how you work and do things before giving a response.

More commonly, though, gods speak in a language that most of us don’t. As brought up in the book Manifest Divinity (which I highly recommend), the Divine is all around us. It’s in everything and a part of everything- but many times, we’re more or less blind to it. Gods can appear in many many ways. For some of us who have astral workings, gods can appear there. For some, gods appear in visions or dreams, or will pop up in messages through the radio. Or perhaps you’ll see a deity in a bill board, a bird flying through the air, or leaves scuttling across the sidewalk. And gods tend to pick whichever messages and means they think we’ll hear the best when communicating with us. Some gods are known for certain types of communication over others- but because they are gods, they can switch it up just for the lols.

Keep your eyes open for omens and signs. Remember to practice discernment when reading omens, though. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes the uncanny things you’re seeing might not be an omen (or they might be an omen that didn’t come from the deity in question). If you’re unsure, you can try to approach the deity again in another ritual, or you could try performing a type of divination to figure out if the god wants you to hang around or not. If the god declines, thank them for their time and continue your search. Remember that gods have their own lives and things to attend to. Try not to take it personally- there could be a million reasons why a god might decline working with you. Remember that there are other deities to look into.

Links for reading on Discernment:

What if a god picks me first?

This happens as well- many times people feel like gods choose them, not the other way around. If a god starts to knock on your doorstep and ask for you to pay attention to them, I recommend that you still follow some of the rules above- research, learn, talk with others, and ask questions. Remember that forming a relationship with a god is a lot like forming a relationship here in this plane as well- you want to make sure that you are compatible and work well together.

Some people do well with more ‘forward’ gods that are strict and firm. Others need a softer touch and might want to stay away from deities that are more pushy. Some people are scared of gods (as opposed to goddesses). There are lots of things to consider- so take your time. You wouldn’t marry the first person you met in a bar- nor should you oath and completely “wed” yourself to a god that you just met.

As with everything in your religious practice- take your time. Get to know the deity. Build up a relationship with them. This is usually best done with rituals and offerings. Sit and talk with them. Pour your heart out to them (that’s what I used to do). Ask them what goals or interests they have in you. Figure out why they are hanging around you (if they have a reason). Make sure that their long term goals and your long term goals sorta line up.

Other posts about when gods come knocking:

So I’ve got a deity that I like, but my god phone isn’t working so hot. How do I make it better? 

The best thing I can recommend with anyone is to practice. God phones do take time to develop, much like any other skill or asset. Sometimes, a god phone will never manifest for the person in question – and that’s okay. You can still have a fulfilling religious practice without a god phone.

Beyond practice, I would urge you to experiment. Gods and the Unseen can manifest in weird ways, and sometimes communication may occur in ways that you wouldn’t expect. Try to remove any expectations you have on communication and allow yourself to be open to different means and methods that you wouldn’t have considered originally.

Also remember that god phones can cut out from time to time. It’s perfectly normal and there is nothing to worry about. Much like with Fallow Times, just keep moving forward as best as you can and usually the connection will re-establish itself in time.

The Road Ahead

As always, this post is not exhaustive. Writing about gods and deity/devotee relationships could fill tomes, but I do hope that this guide serves as a good spring board for people who are starting along the polytheistic/Pagan path.

Other relevant posts:

 
12 Comments

Posted by on July 13, 2013 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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