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How to Build a Heart: Creating a Base

If there’s one thing I can say about this entire process that I’ve gone through, it’s that you can’t and shouldn’t underestimate the power that physical items can have on the Unseen. I usually felt like a lot of physical items were there to mainly help myself visually make connections with what I was doing. But that ultimately, a lot of the power was coming entirely from me. However, as I’ve gone through the process of trying to heal Father-Lover, and upon failing that, pushing Father-Lover out of my life, I’ve found that items can definitely do a lot more than I had originally given them credit.

The more I looked through comparisons between what was going on astrally and the items that laid around my house that were connected to astral people, I found that moving items in the house could have an effect on what was going on Over There. So as I began to move forward with rebuilding myself, I knew that I needed to be particularly careful about what I did with the items that I was attaching to myself and to my purpose/goal. To treat the items carelessly could very well undo a lot of the work we were undertaking.

When I first decided that I was going to rebuild my heart, I was pretty excited. I thought the notion of being able to rebuild myself into whoever or whatever I wanted to be was pretty cool, and I looked forward to tailoring who I was into someone more like what I wanted to be. However, I found very fast that this is an incredibly daunting task, and once my health tanked a month after starting this project, I found myself bitterly hating even coming up with this thing.

The first thing that I did was work to establish my ib jar in some capacity. Since it still smelled of weird cherries, I decided that the scent was the first part I needed to work on. Smells are important in Kemeticism, after all. The fine scent of incense is what draws the gods close to us, and I felt that having a nice-smelling heart might help to attract my inner divinity back in.

So first I placed a bunch of coffee beans in the bottom. I was hopeful that they would help to neutralize any remaining cherry smell that was in the jar. I then ground up several flavors of incense and placed them in the bottom of the jar as my base. On top of that, I added some salt for purity purposes, and some of my MMJ tea to help keep myself calm on all levels. I let this steep for a week or so and eventually added another kind of tea that reminds me of my family and considered the scent portion good.

I also added a ma’at feather, to keep myself balanced, and I placed my Ptah pendant in the bottom. I felt that both of these items could help to keep myself more balanced, and to help drive myself to become better at handling my various moods and emotions.

But then I was stuck.

On the astral, we had run into hiccups with my healing. There were several reasons for this, most of which are irrelevant, but the main takeaway was that I should have either woken up and “resurfaced” into my body by this point. Or I should have been able to create an interior space for myself where I could begin to heal. I was still sitting in a black void, though, which meant something wasn’t quite right.

I was urged to embody myself in some capacity. Take a form (whatever I’d like!); create a space to call my own (it can look like whatever you want!); or make some sort of item that reminded me of myself (any shape! any size!). But in every attempt to do these things, I found that I couldn’t. The more I tried to figure out who or what I was “supposed” to be, the more upset I got. The notion of trying to create a space that was all to myself sent me into a panicked frenzy, and it got to a point that even bringing it up made my chest tighten. For someone who knows themself so well on the physical, I apparently don’t know much about myself on the astral. Trying to recreate myself after eons of being merged with someone else was causing me a lot of mental hell.

And I stayed in that hell until the middle of May.

I got so frustrated with my project that I had to put my ib jar away for a while. The simple act of looking at it would make me so upset that I couldn’t stand it. So I thought that some space would be helpful. I still couldn’t see anyone in the Unseen, either, and that was not helping. Usually when I get stuck, I go and talk with the gods or converse with one of my menz or contacts to see what they’d suggest on the matter. But I was still locked in the darkness with everything cut off from me. I would have to figure it out on my own somehow.

Some how.

I would love to tell you that I pushed myself until I really got a deep understanding of who I was or what I wanted to be, but that’s not really how everything went down. It happened very suddenly one day without a whole lot of explanation, when I was kicking around ideas about how to proceed with all of this. At first, I was telling myself that creating my own space wasn’t really that bad, and that I should look at it like being moved from a cubicle jungle to my own office. It’s really not that scary, and nothing says that I have to spend the rest of my time alone because I’ve made my own space (a huge fear I seemed to carry was that I’d be all alone). So think of it like a new office! I just need to figure out what I want my desk to look like.

I continued to kick this idea around until I could suddenly find myself standing in the darkness. Once there, I almost forced myself to envision what I thought my core might look like, and I fine tuned it until I could at least tolerate what I was looking at. And when I finished, I was pulled into that item into an interior space. It wasn’t much, but it was a start.

I also got very lucky while out shopping one day, in that I found a piece of jewelry that screamed “this is it” to me. And by this is it, I mean: this is the piece that will represent yourself. I wasn’t sure if it was correct, and I worried and stressed that I was picking up the wrong thing. However, I was pushed to get it anyways, and so I did. While I still wasn’t sure what exactly I was doing, I at least had enough to get going.

And so the building actually began.

For this project, I decided to take a multi-pronged approach to rebuilding myself. First was to create a sort of “trap” jar that would capture anything harmful that was coming after me. I was in a period of instability, and I wanted to make sure that I protected myself during this time. This involved taking a black jar and filling it with grounding materials and a magnet, and then placing an item inside of the jar that is “like me, but isn’t me”. I then placed it in a safe spot to attract all of the negativity away from me. This way, I wouldn’t have to worry about dodging punches while I healed.

I then made another container that allowed me to let go of some of the negative stuff that was happening around me and stressing me out. I used some of the basic ideas in the post that I got the idea from, but modified it a bit. I chose to use salt and rice as my base, as I consider both to be soothing. This would hopefully allow me to stay calm while I worked on letting go. I used hematite beads that I had laying around in a craft bin, and then I wrote things that I wanted to let go of on paper strips. This included things like the names of people whose negative words needed to leave my mind, bad anon-hate, negative things I tell myself, doubts I had, etc. I left this out in an open place so that I could shake it whenever I felt these things taking hold of me.

grr_jar

Through making both of these items, I felt like I had made a level base to get started on the real work at hand.

I took out my ib jar and added several more things to my scent and ma’at base. I added in pieces of paper that had phrases and sayings on them that I wanted to keep in mind as I moved forward. Things like “You exist beyond someone’s perception of you” or “I am able to connect with myself and those around me”. Things that I felt would help keep the negative self-talk down, and allow me to better exist in the world around me. I also added origami stars to my jar that had dreams and things I’d like to achieve written on them. And for a final touch, I added in a small (fake) fish to eat any negativity that happened to slip in.

I then created a shrine for the jar to rest upon. Everyone needs a place to rest and to recover, and that’s what the shrine was meant to embody. As such, I was careful in what I chose to place in the area, trying to keep in mind that everything here could have some sort of unforeseen effect on the work I was doing.

And with that, the first phase of recreating my heart had begun. But how far would it actually carry me?

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How to Build a Heart: The Curious Case of Father-Lover

This is a series that I have been working on since 2016. Some of the parts of this series were written back in 2016, and other parts were written here in 2018. This series will focus on astral work and the heka I’ve been experimenting in tandem with said work. Abuse will be discussed, as such, viewer discretion is advised.

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There is a saying about times and measures and desperation. In the astral, it seems like rocks and hard places are always the norm. This is a story of when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, and the aftermath that comes with it.

This story is long, and so I am breaking this into a series of posts for your ease of reading. This work is still ongoing, and as such, it may be a while before I am able to draw any heavy or final conclusions about certain aspects of what will be discussed and its possible that there will be long breaks in between posts in this series as I wait for things to develop/happen. In many ways, you can consider this series to be similar to my Mysteries and Cycle series back in the day.

Late in the summer of 2015, I wrote about losing an astral partner that was close (and yet oh, so, far) to me. I bring this up, because as it turns out, there was another part of this person running around on the astral at the same time. Lo, this other shard had been around just about as long as the person I lost (about ten years our time), and was still hanging around when my partner finally passed on. The biggest issue was that I didn’t realize what or who he was until after the other piece had passed on. I didn’t realize a lot of things until after that person passed on.

Nothing brings families together or tears them apart quite like death.

I had learned that my mentor was not only a shard of the person who had passed, but was in fact the creator and source of that person. To say that the man we eventually called “Father-Lover” was a shard of the person who had passed was technically incorrect–the man who had passed was actually a shard of Father-Lover.

As I began to sift through the history between all of us, I found that this goes deeper than just that. The mentor that I had been working with since college was far more than just a father-figure to me once upon a time. Oh no, just being a mentor is not enough for this dog and pony show. We call him Father-Lover for a reason, for he was more than just my “father.” He had been a lover of mine once upon a time, too.

But wait, there’s more!

It turns out that he and I used to be one, except at the time, he was whole and complete and looked like someone else entirely. But after he lost too much of himself, he changed. The problem being that we were still attached at the hip and technically have been ever since. My musings about my heart feeling literally broken after Rosetjau suddenly made sense to me: when I had “reset” my mentor, I had inadvertently reset part of myself. Killing him meant killing a part of myself.

There are many take-away lessons that I could pass on to you from trying to heal Father-Lover.

One is that you should never place your most important bits into someone else. It’s a surefire way to be screwed over. If not by you, by someone else. Ultimately, you need to be responsible for your own well being. No one else should do it for you because eventually that someone else will be compromised, and its just easier to keep track of yourself when you contain your most-important pieces.

Similarly, cutting yourself off from yourself doesn’t work, either. Like magnets, eventually you will attract yourself back into yourself, and if you’ve been trying avoid that scenario, the results are usually pretty catastrophic when the inevitable comes to pass. For those of us who can’t literally cut ourselves into smaller beings that are separate, the equivalent would be ignoring parts of yourself that need addressing. Repressing feelings and issues that need to be worked on only works until it doesn’t anymore. And by the time that it doesn’t work, things are usually going to be in shambles.

Another lesson is that you should never put all of your eggs into one basket. Trying to push off the work because it’s too painful only goes so far. As I found out, Father-Lover had been banking on my partner to “succeed” him, but when my partner firmly refused because he didn’t feel it was his place (him being a shard, he felt it was more proper for the source to have that honor), two wills clashed and my partner’s won out. Father-Lover had spent so much time banking on this other person doing the heavy lifting that he was nearly crushed by the weight of his choices.

And keep in mind that if he is crushed, I get crushed, too. Being one person will do that to you. His actions not only affected himself, but myself and others that are contained within me or attached to me. That’s a lesson, too: things rarely just affect you. There is always collateral damage. You should be considerate of who you are screwing over in the process of saving your skin or avoiding work. The main reason my partner could never heal is partially because his source refused to heal. None of our attempts ever took because we were treating symptoms, but never addressing the source. Separating himself (my partner) from himself (Father-Lover) wasn’t stopping the bleed-through from occurring. If anything, it just made the healing process more difficult.

Once I knew who Father-Lover actually was, and what role he played in all of this, I set out to finish what I had started with my partner. To an extent, my partner’s death didn’t change anything–we still needed to fix the source of the problem in order to un-knot all of the threads keeping us here. My partner dying didn’t relieve Father-Lover of his duty. Instead, it forced it upon him.

I began working on him at the end of 2015. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to suddenly learn that someone you’ve thought of as a father was actually your lover before Things Happened, but it makes for awkward situations and tension. Even if Father-Lover had been intent on fixing himself (he wasn’t), I think we would have had issues doing the work simply because his facade had been destroyed. He could no longer hide who he was, or what we were “supposed” to be. It’s like when Christine pulls the mask off of the Phantom. By removing his veneer, I had changed the relationship permanently.

While our relationship as mentor-mentee was pretty smooth and drama-free, as soon as we began to shift into whatever-this-is-supposed-be, I found that he became drastically more and more unstable. As he worked to take up his “proper” role (that is to say–as an equal, and not so much as a mentor–the lover stuff was only as relevant as we wanted it to be), I found that he began to bleed into every other area of my relationships. He’d co-opt songs and symbols that had already been claimed by other menz. He’d infect, claim, and overlay onto others bond lines without consent. He’d have bouts of jealousy and anger where he lashed out at my other menz for being around me, or at me for being around them.

For all intents and purposes, the act of healing him was doing the exact opposite. But as I’ve mentioned before, if you don’t want to heal, odds are you won’t.

As the weeks began to span into months, his actions got worse and worse. I soon found myself locked in a black space where I couldn’t get out and no one else could get in. His being a part of myself was becoming my downfall as he had access to every part of me. It wasn’t hard for him to control things from a deeper level because he had his hands in nearly everything, and to a degree, knew my innards better than I did.

By the time that April 2016 rolled around, I knew that something needed to give. I just wasn’t sure how it was going to give. This is that rock and hard place, those desperate times and measures. In the same way that the unstoppable will of my now-dead partner collided with the immovable will of Father-Lover in 2015, my unstoppable will to survive this was about to collide with Father-Lover’s immovable will to heal or let go.

I took actions into my own hands. Well, asleep me took action into my own hands.

I went to bed on Saturday night, and everything was fine (as fine as being locked in an endless vat of black can be), but by the time Sunday morning rolled around, I had found that I had had some sort of altercation while asleep. There were Taint stains on my hands and shirt, and it was obvious to me that something had happened.

It would take most of the day for me to figure out what exactly, though. The short version was that I was tired of Father-Lover’s waffling on the issues at hand, and in order to force a change, I removed all of his pieces from myself. Now, for those of you who don’t know much about bonding, this process is usually not easy or fun. After my partner died, I had to go and have everything removed from my person for safety reasons, and it was a thoroughly-planned week-long affair. This, on the other hand, was done very haphazardly, and it wasn’t just bond lines. As I had mentioned above, we were merged on a core level. Which means that removing him from my person involved removing the bulk of my core and giving it back to him.

I had essentially ripped the heart out of my chest and given it to him. That way, he had everything that was “his” (what truly is “his” or “mine” when you are technically one being…) and I was no longer liable to fix his problems. And before I even hit the floor from the pain, he had left.

Ultimately he never came back. He drew his final breaths a few months later when things truly drew to a close for us.

This, of course, left me wondering what to do about my missing core-bits. Losing small chunks of yourself is not a huge deal, but this was probably well over 3/4th’s of my core that I had forked over in a possible fit of spite. I had people who could help me on the astral for stabilizing myself out, but the bulk of the work would fall to me. You can’t rely on someone else to make you, after all.

It was on the very same day that I had woken up a complete Taint-stained mess that my partner (in the physical) had found an old jar in the cupboard. When I looked at it, I knew that I wanted to use it for an ib project of some kind. And by the end of the day when I had figured out what all had transpired, I knew that which ib project I would be relegating it to. Now I just had to figure out how to actually make it happen.

 

 
 

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Edge Effect

As I’ve been learning about permaculture, I have found that many of the concepts presented often line up with aspects of Kemeticism. There is one section that discusses the idea of “patterns,” which is a sort of self-contained entity that often exists inside of another system that is often its own kind of pattern. And because of the nature of these patterns, you can often see similarities that unite many patterns in unique ways.

For instance, as a person, I am made up of cells, each of which contains several patterns or similarities. I am self-contained, and yet I exist inside of an even larger pattern — a desert. And that desert is made up of its own components, each made up of their own patterns, and all of these entities is constantly interacting with the other entities and patterns around them. To take it a step further, this desert sits inside of a country, which is in many respects its own pattern that interacts with other counties (aka other patterns.)

The author then goes on to discuss how the boundary between patterns and systems is an area where events love to occur, simply by the fact that two separate “things” are being forced to interact together. This creates a space that is nothing but an overlap between two systems, and yet is a system unto itself. As described in the book: “Special physical, social, or chemical conditions exist on the boundary, because of the reaction between the adjacent media. As all boundary conditions have some fuzzy depth, they constitute a third media, the media of the boundary zone itself.” Because of this, boundaries are considered to be species-rich and usually have more resources available. Put another way, it’s a liminal space.

For example, where a forest meets a pond, there is a border where you’ve got both land and water. Because both ecosystems are represented in this singular area, you’re going to have a more complex system that combines both. “At interfaces, species of both systems can exist, and in many cases the boundary also supports its own species.” He calls this concept the Edge Effect.

Due to how special boundaries are and how beneficial they can be to an ecosystem, the author instructs the designer to create as many boundaries as possible. This way, you are increasing the amount of diversity and resources available. And while this was originally created for a natural/outdoor space, I personally think that it can apply to our own lives in many ways.

I’m sure to some extent, many of you are scratching your head (as I certainly am on my medicated reread of this post) as to what boundary interaction has to do with anything beyond agriculture. What I’m trying to suggest is the idea that if you consider the personal boundary that is your self, and if you make your boundary interact with lots of other boundaries, you might see an increase of resources or benefits within your life.

Put another way that is specific to my genre: I question that if you are struggling with interacting with the Unseen or its inhabitants (which live on the other side of a very thick boundary) that by going out and either increasing the amount of times you attempt to interact with the Unseen or their structures (aka, religious materials, rites, rituals, etc.) or by going out and having new experiences in general, that you might have an uptick in ability to interact with the Unseen.

First of all, I’d like to say that this concept isn’t new or original by any means. Therapists suggest it to depressed people. Life coaches suggest it to CEOs and creative types. If any of you watch Steven Universe, you might even recognize this concept already:

 

Though from a permaculture standpoint, it’s less about being random, and more about increased frequency of interaction.

This increased interaction can happen any number of ways, mind you. You could attempt to increase the amount of times you try to interact with the gods or the Unseen, and see if that helps you to get a better feel for them or have more interactions with them. It stands to reason that by doing more of a thing, you’re going to increase your chances of success at it, and rites and rituals are no different. Several authors have talked about the idea that by doing rituals in the same way over and over again — whether it be years or generations, that it helps to build up a sort of “Unseen Highway” that you can tap into and touch some deeper meaning or energy from those who came before. And while I can’t say that I’ve ever somehow stumbled upon some sort of arcane, unknown knowledge by doing rituals, it doesn’t change the fact that by doing, you’re genuinely increasing the likelihood that you’re going to have an interaction with those you are dedicating your time to.

But I would also like to posit the idea that increasing your interactions with other experiences in general could also help in this matter — even if the experiences aren’t directly related to your religious practice.

The main reason behind why is the simple fact that experiencing new things changes our brains. Simply by actively engaging with something, you are causing your brain to change, and those changes can lead to new and unexpected places. This is partially why its not unheard of for therapists to recommend those with mental illness get out and do something — because it’s going to force you and your “boundary” to interact wit others and their “boundaries” and those interactions can improve mental health, even if you’re not entirely thrilled to be doing stuff.

I think that this is also why so many of us recommend reading books or doing things that make you think about the gods/religion during fallow periods — because it allows your brain to learn new things, and make new connections. And that can not only refuel our desire for practice, but it can also lead to an increase in participation or interactions within a practice.

Have you ever considered making “outings” a part of your religious practice? Have you ever noticed an improvement in mood or creativity after a break from daily pattern? If you could use this method, what sorts of experiences would you want to explore or try?

 

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On Making Entities Smaller

Recently there was a post that circulated on my dash that was called “Making the gods smaller?” I didn’t read it and I don’t know anything about what the post entailed, which is why I haven’t linked to it here. It played absolutely no role in this post except that seeing the title got me thinking about what it means to make gods, or other entities, smaller, and how that affects a relationship with them.

Working through all of my crap over on the astral has given me the opportunity to see entities of many scopes and sizes. The variety of what I saw, and how each of these entities interacted with someone such as myself, is largely what skewed my views of what we call “gods,” because I found that many of the entities I encountered were just as big and powerful as our gods, and yet were not called as such. It also taught me that size and power aren’t always directly related, and are usually not static.

The more I mulled on it, the more that I decided that for me, when it comes to an entity’s size, most of us (physical and non-physical entities alike) are All Encompassing, and incredibly small and shallow all at the same time. Allow me to attempt to explain.

I think one of the easiest ways for me to explain this is to use my own experience with myself as an example. As you all know, I am a human stuck on this planet just like the rest of you. However, when I travel in the astral, I can connect with other parts of myself. Some of these parts are very “small” and contained in the same way that my human self is. However, there are times when I will come across parts of myself that are vast and feel very “big” in comparison to who and what I am here on earth.

On the surface, the “bigger” parts of myself may still look very much like the smaller parts. We take up the same amount of space physically, and the representations of choice tend to look more or less the same. So it behooves me to say that on a visual level, you’d never know I was smaller, that she was bigger; though you may guess we are the same in some way or another.

I know that most people seem to look at “making entities smaller” as a sort of bad thing, as though becoming smaller and more human is some awful horrible act. But the truth of the matter is that it does have its place, its benefits. When you talk to the larger form of myself, you’ll note that she behaves differently. She has different priorities and different ideas on how to handle things. In many ways, she’s colder, more calloused, less understanding, and can seem like she doesn’t care about the suffering of anyone or anything. I’ve found that many times “larger” entities are so busy looking at the bigger picture that they forget that the entities they’re sacrificing are living, breathing things with their own autonomy. They’re so busy looking at how everything is going to “come together” that they can become very much the mindset “you have to break eggs to make an omelet.” As though living beings are just pieces on a chess board. A means to an end.

Sometimes those traits are useful. Sometimes you need someone who is capable of seeing the big picture, of not getting caught up on those details. In order for many cycles to complete, you’ve got to sacrifice some things. The same way that none of us would be alive if not for the death of other living things. It makes sense that we sometimes need someone Big to carry out bigger things.

However, those traits aren’t always useful. When I and my partner were first brought into a series of events over on the astral, it seems as though we were both fairly “large” in comparison to humans. However, in order to be able to get out of that situation, we desperately needed to find a way to be smaller. There are certain benefits to understanding life on a physical level. There are certain traits you pick up as you become reduced, as you become more humble. There are certain things you just can’t do when you’re so large.

I believe this can be true for our gods, too. That there is a benefit to being reduced in some capacity. They can learn new skills and traits. They can relate to their devotees in new ways. They can develop a better understanding of our needs, our existence, and incorporate that into their own activities. This can, in turn, effect how things happen on the Duat. They may be better able to relate to the residents of the Duat, to be able to better govern them or help them in their needs.

In many ways, I believe that being able to be both Large and Small at the same time is beneficial. If you’re a fully-connected entity that is tapped into both ends of the spectrum, you can shift your focus from large to small, from big picture to small detail. You can see how to best get from point A to point B (large) while also understanding that minimizing the sacrifice of smaller entities needs to remain a priority (small) — because you’ve been there, you’ve seen it, and you understand that smaller entities matter, too. You make yourself more well-rounded and connected to the world at large.

In a way, a dare say that being able to make yourself smaller makes you bigger — because you can reach things you couldn’t before.

Being made smaller doesn’t mean that you can no longer access your larger self ever again (though its possible to be blocked in your ability to do so.) If anything, it just means you’re able to tap into both, and utilize the skills and knowledge of both.

At least, that’s how I’ve come to understand it.

I think the thing I wish to know most is why is everyone so afraid of coming to meet the smaller parts of the entities we interact with? What is it about being “small” that is so detestable?

 

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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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Spirit Work & Mental Illness

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

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

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

Your illness is really a gift from the divine!

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

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

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

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

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

Medication is bad, m’kay?

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

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

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

Discernment? What discernment?!

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

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

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

Why I consider this to be dangerous.

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

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

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

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

 

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