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Carving Out a Space

I had an awful dream last night.

In this dream, I was taken place to place by other people, not exactly following but not exactly leading, but ending up in situations not of my choosing where I always seemed to meet pain. Sometimes this pain was the form of people trying to get me to leave. Other times it was a more literal pain where I was being made to carry something with pins sticking out of it. In every situation, I may initially try to fight back, to draw a boundary out for myself and declare my needs and safety, but every time that declaration was ignored and met with more testing of those very same bounds. While the dreams were largely nonsensical, when I reexamined them upon waking, I found that there was a lot of my own experiences in them. A lot of me wandering around life, being forced to exist in a way I didn’t like, and never finding a way to really claim or enforce what I’ve needed.

When my health tanked, it took my ability to dream with it. I mean that in about every sense of the word “dream” — in that I no longer dreamed while asleep, and I no longer had any dreams while awake. I lost all purpose. I lost all direction. Upon starting EMDR treatment, my dreams returned to me, albeit in a patchy sort of sense. And upon switching over to Brainspotting therapy, my dreams have turned this sort of hectic mess of pieces and parts all taped together in a slightly incoherent fashion. I believe it’s my brain trying to grapple with the situation that I’ve found myself in. I think it’s trying to process while I’m asleep, to find a way to accept what is around us.

Acceptance is a common theme in therapy as of late. My therapist urged me to consider finding a way to use my voice to find some acceptance with my past. I’ve never really liked the word acceptance — it’s often been used as a bludgeoning tool (right up there with ‘forgiveness’) where people are actually less concerned with my acceptance of a given situation, but are more concerned with me being quiet so that they can be comfortable again. They don’t care if I actually accept a given situation, they only care that it appears like I’ve accepted it so that they can move on.

Further, the off-shoot to “acceptance” is usually “letting go.” “We need to find a way for you to be able to let go of your past trauma,” she’d tell me. However, the notion of letting go of something I’ve kept so close to my chest for all these years invoked a panic within me. The idea of losing the only thing that I do have, however painful it might be, was too much. And some portion of myself just couldn’t bear the notion of letting go as being a good thing.

In light of this, we have begun to call it “changing my relationship with” or “coming to terms with” instead. How can I find a way to change my relationship to what I’ve experienced. How can I come to terms with what I’ve been through, and yet still make a path for myself that is more enjoyable and content than where I’ve previously been. There is no pressure to feel things I don’t feel (acceptance) and there is no pressure that I’ll have to endure more loss through “letting go.”

Of course, the next question stirring in my brain was: how can I find a way to enforce those boundaries that I tried so very hard to grapple with in my dreams? How can I find a way to reject the pain that others repeatedly thrust and forced upon me while still maintaining some amount of relationship with them?

My therapist suggested that instead of focusing on the how, I spend more time looking at what it looks like and feels like to be in that space, that space of acceptance and understanding. I thought about that for a couple of weeks and came up with an incomplete list of what I imagine it would be like to be free of my past:

  • I would no longer be bound by fear and anger from my past.
  • If confronted with similar abuse or situations that mirror my past trauma, I would be able to maintain a clear head and stay present in the moment with minimal inner turmoil/upset.
  • I would be able to interact with people who are similar to my abusers and not carry their baggage home with me.
  • I’d be able to define my needs and enforce them. I’d be able to enforce boundaries as needed and leave situations that don’t serve me without guilt.
  • I’d be able to live the life I want, without feeling pressured to be what my abusers wanted me to be.

While I expect this list to grow and become more involved as I get further on this path, it at least gave me an end goal to reach for. It gave me a sort of destination or target to try and hit.

And more importantly, it gave me a mental image of where I want to be, and I’ve been using this mental image when I feel myself becoming worked up by my trauma. I’ve found that when I start to get caught in old trauma-based patterns, I can ask myself “is this where I ultimately want to be? Does this look like what I expect my new relationship with my past to look like?” and if the answer is no, I can try to realign myself to what I am looking for in myself. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but all in all, it seems to be helping.

Ultimately, though, this is leading up to what I am calling “carving a space.”

In an attempt to figure my own situation out, I have been watching other people’s experiences in regards to changing their diets and dealing with depression and chronic pain. A set of videos that has stuck with me are the few that Simona and Martina have released about her chronic pain and her subsequent depression. In her mind, there is a practice that she calls “building a ladder,” which is basically where she wakes up in massive pain, and tries to build herself a ladder out of the pit she woke up in. I could understand what she meant, even if it didn’t quite work for me. But as the weeks have gone on since watching that video, I have found what has begun to work for me — carving a space.

In my dream, I was a passive participant in everything going on. I only chose to speak up or act with initiative upon receiving pain, and with any amount of pushback, I would quickly devolve into sadness and anxiety. I was never good at enforcing what I need in the face of adversity. In many ways, my life has also been this way. I have felt like I’ve had no options, and that I was always stuck to the whims of the world around me. And while it’s true that children often don’t have options, as an adult, I have more choices and more freedom to create a life that I want, not one I was thrust into.

Of course, there are some things that can’t be changed very readily. For instance, I can’t easily move from this location. The idea of being in a place that is near the ocean or green and wet has always appealed to me, but I will likely never be able to do that on a permanent basis. The most I can hope for is to visit such places. Similarly, I am stuck in my body, for better or worse. While the difficulties that come with having this body are challenging and frustrating, at the same time, I need to find a way to work with my body because it’s the only one I have. Or in other words, I understand that I have options, but sometimes my options aren’t feasible or reasonable anytime soon. As such, I need to learn to work with what I have to get what I want.

Carving a space originated (for me) during a session with another person, wherein they were shown an image of their body. Their body was not shaped in a way that made living inside of their body easy. It was the equivalent of trying to fit your foot in a shoe that is 3 sizes too small. The metaphor here was trying to communicate that this person needed to find a way to make their body fit them better — through whatever means was best for them. Whether that meant exercising or taking better care of their body, or decorating it in a way that felt more genuine — they needed to find a way to mold their body to fit their actual shape.

I began to look at my life in the same way. It’s a shape that has been partially formed by others, and is partially beyond my control. However, I am able to work to carve out a me-shaped space in my life that makes life more bearable, more livable. This began with looking for things that made me happy, and partaking in those joys whenever I could. I began drawing again simply because it brought me joy. I began to do things that were only for me, and didn’t necessarily suit anyone but myself.

I have slowly begun to expand this practice to things I don’t necessarily want to do, but know that will ultimately help me do things that I want to do. For example, I want to begin backpacking so that I can go to parts of the state that are greener and have more water. And to be able to do that, I need to work on improving my health and stamina so that I can walk longer and go further. In the meantime, I visit smaller places that have things I enjoy, such as ponds that have ducks and other birds, to keep my brain happy with what is readily available to us in the here and now.

I feel like I have spent the majority of my life building things for others. Working to help others improve their lot and get to better places. For once, though, I am taking the time to improve things for myself. In a sense, it’s a matter of committing myself to the fact that I am alive here in this place, and that this is a life worth investing my time into.

For years, I have pondered on the notion of using the Self, your own body, person and life, as a shrine to devotion that can ultimately serve the gods. In a way, I think this is a part of that. I can’t claim to be a shrine for the gods and not take care of that shrine. I can’t claim to be living to the fullest for their sake if I’m not even willing to invest in myself, in my own life. I can’t expect to serve as a useful shrine, or even devotee, if I’m spending every day miserable, wishing my life was something that it’s not (or wishing that I was dead). Nor can I wait anymore for the currents of life to take me to a destination that is better. Instead, I’m finding it’s easier and more fulfilling to try and get there myself. To carve into the life that I have, and make it more livable and suitable for my needs. In a way, it’s like decorating my house, finally putting some paint on the walls and investing in furniture. It’s reminding myself that life doesn’t always have to be awful, and that I don’t have to always take what is thrust upon me.

I’m not entirely there yet, and I’ve still a long way to go to really truly embracing that on all levels, but I think I’m at least taking the first steps to getting there. And every journey has to start somewhere.

What do you think about carving space into your life to make it more enjoyable? Do you find it hard to invest in yourself or your life? What ways or methods could you use to change that?

**As a post-script, I would like to know if any of my readers would find any benefit in more posts like this that discuss either where I’m at along this journey, or what I’ve learned from therapy that you yourself may find useful in your own life. Or would you rather things stay more Kemetic/pagan driven? Thoughts?

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Questioning Your Way to a Solution

In terms of my religious practice, I have spent the better part of the past year aimlessly wandering. This may surprise some people (maybe?) as I’m sure that most would consider my conviction in regards to Kemeticism to be pretty rock solid. But the fact of the matter is that sometime in the past year or so, my interest in most things suddenly disappeared without a solid reason, and as a result I have been left with a void where my passion for religion used to live. This has caused me to spend a lot of my time questioning what this means and what I should do about it.

I have seen people suggest that having periods of questioning (or perhaps better referred to as “crisis of faith”) is somehow bad, as though you’re personally offending the gods by examining your place within your religion or relationship with them. However, I personally think that there comes a time in everyone’s practice where they run into a period of being lost or unsure; where they aren’t sure why they’re doing something or whether they should continue to do it. Like many topics that are considered “bad”, I find the lack of resources for sorting such a situation out to be unhelpful, not to mention that the semi-taboo nature of the topic doesn’t allow for people to openly search for answers. This is a problem.

Over on Tumblr, I will regularly get questions about how to handle situations where a god isn’t responding, where a practice is no longer fulfilling, where a person is unsure how to move forward, and each time that I receive such questions, I often tell people to self-reflect to see if they can better ascertain an answer for themselves. My logic behind this has always been a case of “how can you know what to do if you don’t know how you got here?” If the religion used to fulfill you, what happened that caused it to become unfulfilling? Examining where you started and comparing it to where you are can often times be enlightening.

That being said, I have been doing a lot of self-reflection this past year as I’ve looked for answers to my suddenly disappearing enthusiasm.

When I first noticed that I suddenly gave zero cares about Kemeticism, my gut response was to freak out. I think any of us would initially become concerned if something we used to be passionate about was suddenly of no interest to us, and I was no exception. It’s not something that usually happens overnight, but for me it felt like it did. As though one week I was interested in doing the things I had been doing for years, and the next week I suddenly no longer cared about any of it.

On the other hand, I wanted to ignore that I noticed a shift in things. I wanted to believe that it was a temporary issue that would resolve itself over the course of a few weeks. This is not uncommon for me, as I often burn out on a lot of what I do on a regular basis. However, as the weeks dragged on and nothing changed, I realized that something was definitely up. I now knew that I needed to shift gears to figure out what was causing these issues.

The Process

For me, there is a process that is involved with picking apart problems:

  • First is to notice that there is something that is off or different.
  • The next thing is to stay calm about it. This doesn’t necessarily mean ignoring the issue (as I had) as much as it means not running around like a chicken with your head cut off. Remember that these issues can happen to anyone for any number of reasons, and nothing says that the current feeling or situation is permanent or necessarily indicative of a problem. It’s easier to troubleshoot something if you’re calm.
  • From here, I recommend a potential period of observation to make sure that what you are feeling or perceiving isn’t a momentary sort of thing. Things you could think about include: What do you notice about what you’re feeling? Does it come and go with your mental health, mood, or stress levels? Or is it consistent? I always find its best to wait and make sure that it’s a long term “thing” and not a spur of the moment misunderstanding.
  • Once you’ve ascertained that the issue is not going away, then you move into the questioning phase.

It’s also worth noting that I will often switch between periods of intense introspection/questioning and observing/waiting. I don’t think it’s mandatory to do everything in one go, and I think it’s very likely that most of us won’t find all of our solutions in a singular round of questioning. Being able to pick up your “problem” and inspect it from a bunch of angles, and then set it back down for a while before coming back to inspect it again allows you to process and consider other angles you didn’t think of earlier. Just like any sort of shadow work, none of this needs to be absolutely linear; I’m just trying to give some general guidelines for those who are new to this method of working.

Asking Questions

When it comes to reflection on a particular topic, problem or situation, I don’t think that there is necessarily a right or wrong way to go about it. You can sit and mull on all of these questions at once, or you could mull on them one at a time. You could try writing down answers to these questions or simply go through the answers in your head. You could even pose these questions to a sort of divination deck to see if you’re overlooking something about the topic in regards to the situation.

This is definitely not an exhaustive list of what could be asked, but is simply a place to get started on mulling your way to a possible answer or solution to any particular situation you’re in. I have organized the questions based off of general topic, and as such, some of these questions are redundant. However, I find it easier to mull when I’m not trying to parse apart several questions that have been stacked into one.

Questioning a deity relationship:

  • What first attracted you to this particular deity?
  • What about the relationship did you enjoy? What didn’t you enjoy?
  • Has anything changed recently in your life or in the relationship that may be causing a shift in feelings?
  • How often do you reach out to this god? When was the last time you attempted to communicate with them? What was that communication like?
  • What is considered a normal level of communication with the deity? Has this changed recently, if ever?
  • Has the deity expressed any signs that would signal that there were any issues present? If so, what were they and did you ever ask for further information from the god when it happened?
  • What sorts of things are you looking for in a relationship with a god? What are you hoping to achieve by developing a relationship with a deity? If currently in a relationship, what of these things are not being met, if any?
  • What does your deity expect of you, if anything? How does this make you feel? Are the expectations realistic or feasible?
  • What feelings do you get when you think about said deity? Are these feelings different from when you first started out, or when you felt the relationship was stable (if applicable)?
  • If you could tell your deity anything about your current feelings/status with them, what would it be? Why would you wish to convey these emotions/thoughts to them?
  • If your deity could clarify anything for you about your relationship, what would it be and why would it be helpful?
  • When you think of no longer having a relationship with your god (or when you think of changing the nature of the relationship with your god), how does it make you feel? What could that indicate?

Questioning your place in a religion:

  • What first brought you to your religion?
  • What do you enjoy about your religion–whether the religious practice, community, or structure, etc.? What don’t you enjoy about it?
  • When did your feelings about your religion change? Was anything going on at the time that could have caused the shift in feelings?
  • What do you hope to get out of your religious practice? Is your current practice meeting your needs? If not, what could be done to help your needs be met?
  • Are there any external factors that could be causing a shift in feelings about your religious practice?
  • Have you talked to the gods about your shift in feelings? What have they said about it?
  • What makes you hesitant to leave or join [insert particular religion]? Why?

As I had stated above, this list of questions isn’t exhaustive, and they may not cover exactly what each person who reads this is looking for. However, I feel that they indicate the nature of the questions I typically ask when I’m trying to figure a situation out, and as such, can be used to formulate other questions of a similar nature for other situations.

I’ve answers some questions… what now?

This is the hard part, in my opinion. Its easy (sometimes) to sit around and mull on some questions, but figuring out what to do with the information you uncover is a different story. Generally speaking, I like to ask questions so that I can get a feel for my thoughts on a situation, and then use that information to make an informed decision on what to do in said situation. However, it can sometimes take several rounds of questioning and mulling before I actually arrive at a decision that I’m comfortable with. Remember that none of this has to happen all at once, and sometimes you may ask yourself a question and find that you don’t have an answer to it. The whole point of the questioning is to really get to the heart of the matter to better inform yourself on what you really think or feel about a particular situation. And then to use that information to make a better decision.

Do you find that questioning helps you arrive at a decision in a difficult situation? If so, what sorts of questions do you typically ask yourself?

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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When One Door Closes…

I think it’s pretty obvious that I have fallen off of the wagon this year. I don’t even know if I could call it falling off the wagon, as it feels more like falling off the wagon and log rolling down the hill next to the wagon and into the bottom of the canyon that lies below. And then I fell into the river at the bottom of the canyon, and floated three states over.

I’m at that level of falling off the wagon.

As with most fallow times, I quit doing a lot of my work for the gods. I haven’t really done any work or rites since Wep Ronpet, and I’ve even gotten bad about opening my shrine so that I can at least look at the gods (and so the gods can look upon my wreck of a life house in return.) Over the course of the year, I’ve done less and less in regards to religious stuff.

So imagine my surprise when couple of weeks ago I got the urge to give an offering. It was an offering of cookies to O, and at first I thought it was more myself being petty at a past slight over cookies and Osiris, and so I ignored it. But the urge didn’t go away, and eventually after a few weeks of ignoring it, I decided to give in.

cookies_osiris

I’m sure many would expect that in this paragraph, I would talk about how I gave these offerings and suddenly felt the love of the gods. That they rushed forward to me and said “finally, you came back, we’ve missed you” or something equally pretty, but it would be a lie. Instead, I laid the offerings out, wafted the incense inside of the shrine, told them about what had been going on with me, gave well-wishes for their current affairs, and stared at the shrine box for a while before moving onto other things. I know this sounds boring, and it is. But it’s also realistic.

If I could sum up 2016 in terms of my Kemeticism, I’d say it was largely uneventful, just like my offerings above. It wasn’t uneventful by choice, but my body decided earlier in the year that it was Not Having Anything, and everything had to be put on hold in the wake of my health deteriorating. I’ve dealt with having spoon shortages in the past, having to muck through weird new health “things” while I held down a job and continued all of my extracurricular activities such as religioning, astral work, writing, etc. But this year was different. This time, my body went headlong straight into the ground and took me along for the ride.

By the time the summer hit my ability to do much of anything was gone. Not even gone like it used to be, where I mentally was ready to do everything but my body or time limits were preventing. Oh no, this is full on gone. Where even trying to construct sentences or read paragraphs of text is challenging. Where there are virtually no ideas in my head to even mull on, let alone the energy to mull upon them. Where trying to do housework is hard. Where trying to do much of anything is proving to be challenging. This is a whole new level of gone for me. This is completely unexplored territory in my life.

At first I tried to fight it. I figured I just needed to will up the nerve like in the past, and that I could push through it. “You can do things, just do them slower!” I’d tell myself. Until I found that just doing meant that I literally could barely function for a few days after the fact. “You can do things, just start the process and the rest will come!” as I try to write, but three paragraphs of barely legible sentences was enough proof to show me that it wasn’t something I could push through so simply like I could in the past. “You can still interact with the community if you just limit how often you go online!” as my eyes continued to glass over at the words on my screen, none of which were actually being processed. Every work around only succeeded in making my situation worse. Eventually, I had to give into the fact that this was my new normal for the time being, and that fighting it was doing me no favors.

They often say that when one door closes, another door opens, but that’s not necessarily true. Sometimes one door closes, and you’re left in a room with nowhere else to go. Sometimes life throws you a sucker punch, and your only option is to lay passed out on the ground for a while.

To put it in a more Kemetic context–sometimes your ma’at is running around smiting isfet all the time. Sometimes your ma’at is doing daily shrine work. Sometimes your ma’at is just surviving. Not everyone can do everything all the time. Sometimes we must retract ourselves from the world around us while we sort things out. Sometimes we need to prioritize meeting our bottom line of survival before we worry about other things. Sometimes a fallow period is very much a part of maintaining balance.

At the end of the day, this post has no real point to it other than to illustrate that “nothing” can happen to any of us. That life can throw a wrench in the works and sometimes we need to step back, and that that is okay. And further, that sometimes you will take a step back towards the gods, towards your religion, towards what you used to do before and not find an immediate reaction, and that that is okay too. A lack of response doesn’t necessarily mean that you messed up. The gods know, too, that fallow times have a place and a purpose. They know that sometimes we truly need a drop-everything-and-do-nothing sort of break.

This post is a reminder to be gentle with yourself when life hits you in the face and sends everything to a grinding halt. It’s a reminder that sometimes we have no choice but to sit down and be patient while we do next to nothing. A reminder that Kemeticism will still be here when you get back to it. That the gods will still be here when you get back to it, even if it’s not immediately apparent.

It’s a reminder that sometimes surviving the day to day is all that we can muster, and that there is no shame in that.

Relevant Posts:

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2017 in Kemeticism

 

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The Only Choice

This week has been a long, hard week.

Like many of you, I spent Tuesday night pensively watching the election results flow in. Like many of you, I spent Tuesday night feeling worse and worse as more and more of the US map was painted red. Like many of you, I woke up Wednesday morning concerned and afraid about what the future would bring.

Like many of you, I am still concerned and afraid about what the future will bring.

At first I found myself in shock. I’m not surprised that Trump won, but I was holding out the possibility that he wouldn’t (hint: there is still hope that he won’t, however faint it might be.) And so when the news came in that he was officially our elect, the shock set in that this was really going to be something I had to live through. Something that we all have to live through. I won’t try and tell you that things will be okay, because they won’t be for many of us. Many of the people in our country have a hard road ahead, and I know that some of those people won’t make it.

Some people do believe that this sort of response is overreacting, but I’m going to assure you that it isn’t. This isn’t a petty case of “oh no, we didn’t win and now I’m upset.” This is bigger than that. This is a case of someone who built their entire campaign upon hurting others and spewing fascist rhetoric left and right now having the loudest voice in the country (with a VP pick that is almost worse, if you can believe it.) This is a case of someone whose follower base is going and committing hate crime after hate crime after hate crime after hate crime. All within the first 72 hours after the announcement was made.

fffffffff

For many people in our country, this is just a small taste of what we can expect to come in the future.

As my shock gave way to wanting to take action, I realized that I should probably be saying something, even if it wasn’t much. I know that sometimes people will look to others for comfort or direction, and all things considered, it probably would make sense to at least attempt to offer one or the other. I feel that trying to comfort people at this point would be disingenuous. As I mentioned above, there will be people in our country, and possibly even our community, that don’t make it through the next four years. To tell people that “we’ve made it through worse” is a lie, and I won’t disrespect you with such things.

Since I can’t really offer comfort, I’ll opt for direction instead.

In the final hours of the election, posts began to roll in about what we should be doing if Trump actually wins. What would the NTRW do? What is the correct action in regards to ma’at? What does Kemeticism say about moments like this?

If I had to sum it up succinctly, I’d say that it’s this: Don’t give up. Don’t stop trying. And look after one another.

We all know that the gods fight isfet every single day. Every night, they climb onto the barque to drive back a/pep so that Creation can be renewed and start the next day over again. The gods continue to fight even when they are tired, even when they want to give up. They never stop, and they never back down. If we are to emulate their actions, then that means that we, too, should not give up or stop.

building a new boat(source)

 

divinek(source)

nasadii(source)

There was once a time when I was feeling particularly beat down. I asked Osiris where he found the urge to continue to push back isfet day after day. He returned my question with a question. He asked me “what choice do we have?” To him, the only choice forward was to fight. To give in and to give up was to die or stop existing. He knew that it was hard, but that he had no other options that were worth considering. I believe that this is the same for us. We have to keep moving forward, we have to keep fighting, and we have to take care of one another. It is a core tenet of ma’at to take care of those who are oppressed. Those who are without. Those who need assistance.

As we move forward into this uncertain territory, I ask that each of us do what we can to assist those who need help. Particularly those who belong to marginalized groups.

In the spirit of helping with this, I’ve gathered a bunch of links and other resources to try and help us to push forward. If you happen to have good resources to add to this list, please let me know.

How to be an ally, things you can do to help moving forward:

Charities that have pledged to fight the loss of rights, healthcare, etc. and/or need donations to continue to do so:

Resources for people who are at risk:

Protest Organization and Attendance Resources:

Other posts about this topic from other Pagans/Polytheists:

 

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2016 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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Lights in the Dark

Once upon a time I wrote about how accessing the astral is a bit like punching a hole through a membrane. In this metaphor, I had created a scene where the Unseen and all of its trappings are on one side of a very thick membrane, while we all live in the Seen on the other side of the membrane. And when we humans go to try and talk with any beings that exist in the Unseen, we are essentially playing a drawn out game of charades with this membrane in between us and those we’re hoping to speak to. In the case of astral travel, you’re essentially puncturing a hole into the membrane so that you can begin to access the Unseen more readily. Sometimes this hole is gigantic and easy to pass through, sometimes it’s more like turning the membrane into something that is permeable, but not removing it entirely.

All of these metaphors are still accurate, but they are all coming from the perspective of a human trying to get to the Unseen. That begs to ask–what about the gods who are trying to reach us through this membrane? What is it like for them?

While it’s entirely in the realm of UPG, it’s my belief that the gods are also living inside of a membrane just like we are. They live in whatever place that they happen to reside (for us Kemetics, that’s the Duat), and they go about their daily lives just as we do. They may be aware of the membrane that separates us from them, but they may or may not pay a lot of attention to whatever is going on on the other side. To draw a more physical parallel–I’m aware of Mexico being to the south of where I live. My state even shares a border with this country. But I have little to no in-depth understanding or knowledge of what is going on there–political or otherwise. Just because two planes, countries, or civilizations are close to one another doesn’t mean that they are actively paying attention to what is going on outside of their immediate sphere of influence.

There are times when I think the gods aren’t paying a lot of attention to us (whether that be humanity as a whole, a specific group of people such as religious practitioners, or earth in general). This is especially true after the religions and civilizations that pre-date us fell. I imagine that the gods paid a fair amount of attention to at least some of the goings on here on earth, but after their devotees dwindled down to nothing, they quit paying attention to us. It’s like watching a tv that is showing nothing but static–how long before you get bored and do something else?

That, of course, isn’t to say that all of the gods quit paying attention, but I think many of them started to pay less attention to what was going on with us. As such, we’ve got a lot of gods who don’t know a whole lot about the current state of affairs in our world. Much like astral travelers having a learning curve in regards to acclimating to whatever plane they’ve landed in, the gods are likely experiencing some level of learning curve with us.

Unlike us, the gods can’t punch a hole in the membrane and start walking around here on earth. They can do that in the less-physical layers of our existence, such as dream states or things like that. But to take on a physical form and start walking around like they’re one of us? Not likely to happen. So if the gods can’t break through the membrane in the same way that we can for them, how are they ever supposed to learn about how earth has changed in the past 839586 years?

I ended in up a conversation about this with O a couple of years ago. I didn’t really care about how the gods got their information at the time, but he was insistent on me listening to him and understanding the role that devotees can play in a god’s reality. The theory I’m about to posit to you is what he told me.

We all have a perceived reality of what kind of world we live in. We have a perceived reality of how others live, and all of the biases that can come along with both of these things. In many ways, a lot of us tend to have a small circle of people that we frequent and discuss things with. And this circle tends to form a basis of our reality.

When the circle of influence is small, the reality stays small with it. You don’t know what you don’t know. But if you push yourself to widen your circle of influence so that your horizons are broadened, you may find that your reality shifts with it. The more views and information you take in, the wider your understanding tends to become, and your perceived reality of the world and its workings will shift with it.

The gods can’t punch a hole in the membrane that separates them from us. But they can utilize us, the humans and devotees that live in this world, to widen their circle of influence and broaden their horizons. By interacting with humans across the globe, or from different backgrounds, they can begin to get a better understanding of how our world works, and what our world (and therefore it’s residents) needs in order to improve. In many ways, we can become a vessel for the gods, we can help them to better understand this world, and help widen their perceived reality.

In the imagery O showed me (because there is always imagery), our world was nothing but a big vat of darkness. You don’t know what you don’t know, and when you don’t know much, it can seem very dark. But then these tiny little lights started to pop up in this darkness. Each light was a devotee that had dedicated time, space, or something else to the god in question. The more devotees the god had, the lighter the world got, and as such, the more their understanding of the world deepened.

I recently talked about how we can create stability for the gods so that they can better exist within our plane. I feel as though this takes that stability even further, because our perceived reality of this world influences the reality that the gods have of our world. They learn about this place through us both directly (such as through conversations with us, through listening through our ears, etc.) and indirectly (by being given stable places to manifest, it’s possible that non-physical entities can manifest in a house and soak up information that is nearby, or listen in on conversations, etc.), and as such, I began to wonder what sorts of messages I was sending to my gods when I talked to them. Was I telling them important stuff that would help their understanding? Was I bringing up important information about the state of not just my life, but the world around me? Was I doing enough to explain to them more complex or nuanced situations that are occurring so that they can have a better grasp of what is going on around me?

If you found out that your reality directly influences the gods’ reality, and that your conversations with them help to round out their understanding of our world, what would you change? Would you talk about different things? Would you include more peripheral information to widen their understanding? Would you include topics that you didn’t consider originally?

What do you think about the concept of a god’s reality being influenced by our reality? Do you like the idea of the gods utilizing devotees to learn about our world, or do you find the concept to be too much pressure? Do you feel that there are other ways that non-physical beings learn about our world?

 

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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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