Friday, February 27, 2015

Finding the Tribe of the Outsiders: Black and White

Years ago I was given a vision.  Sometimes, when I’m in a trance state I go deep to places that are not me.  My inner sight shows me things I do not always understand and I am presented with mysteries that echo through my life.  These are the threads of image and form that bind and separate my ideas, guiding me.  I consider these visions to be gifts from the Gods.  Often they are deceptively simple.


In this case, I saw an image of a white circle.  I felt within me a powerful urge to look at the circle and it stayed in my field of view for an extended moment.  Then it flipped in an instant and became a black circle.  Again the form of a black circle held itself in my mind for a long breath.  I felt within me how important this vision was.  I knew that I must attend to this, that there was a meaning here that far exceeded the simplicity of what I was seeing.

So I watched.

I watched as the circle began to flip again and again.  Back and forth, black and white like a spinning coin in my mind.  With each change it accelerated.   It was both ebony and ivory in that moment and neither of them, too.  The crispness of the black versus the white was important as well.  The message that came to me was that they were separate, and yet the same, never becoming grey in my mind.   I had no idea why this was significant.  I came out of my meditations feeling like I had been given some great gift, except that I had no idea what that gift was.

Fast forward to Yule this year, and I’ve been gifted a book penned by a Sufi teacher of the Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya Order.  It’s called The Darkening of the Light  by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee and is a compilation of essays about his visions of the birth and death of a new Earth-soul that is the beginning of an era of non-materialism and unity.   These essays span the time from 2004-2012.   It is, in many ways, a beautiful book.  He writes about the Light overcoming the Darkness and how we must all come together in unity against the Darkness of greed, commercialism, and destruction.   He speaks eloquently against our global need to consume vast resources and waste our children’s future.   Slowly he descends into frustration as he watches the newborn Light of the World weaken, fade, and finally disappear. 



I feel his pain in many ways.  Ecological degradation, species extinction, and dwindling resources should be on everyone’s mind. But like many other spiritual leaders I have met or learned from, he cannot understand why everyone isn’t just WAKING UP!  He wants to know why everyone hasn’t just gotten on that bandwagon, taken up the call, and got busy saving the gosh darn planet!? I think there are a lot of reasons. 

One of them is Darkness.

Darkness is a metaphor.  We see it constantly.  The Dark is selfishness and greed.  It is big corporations trampling the little guy.  It is the man in a suit, the demon, the devil, death.  Darkness = Bad. Every time I read it I cringed.

I know now a part of why my vision was so vastly important to me.  Evil does not equal Darkness.   The same discomfort and unhappiness that I feel when someone says the word Nigger trails after the word Darkness.

Except everyone uses this one.  It’s the Dark side of the Force.  It’s the Dark before Dawn, It’s there in our words, and in the words of the ancients.  The pre-Hindu peoples of the Vedas were obsessed with the light:

Bring us the light
The heavenly light
And all things that make us happy
Make us more perfect
Rgveda 9.9.2

Day after day we come to you
Who enlightens the darkness, O Agni,
Bringing with us our prayerful vision
Rgveda 1.1.7

Where the unfailing light shines,
In which world the sun is placed:
Place me in that immortal world beyond harm, O purifier.
Rgveda 9.113.9

Darkness totally freaked them out.  Again and again we see metaphors for the light as positive and the dark as negative.

But this is a polarizing viewpoint.  It creates a mentality where there are two options and only two.  One of these options is good, and one bad. Again, we see this everywhere.  Republicans and Democrats, war and peace, science and religion, even Coke versus Pepsi. 

But we know this to be incorrect.  There are limitless answers in the universe. People go to war out of love, people are inspired to study the world by religion and frankly I don’t like Coke or Pepsi.  Life is so much more complicated than that. 

The world is so vast and both the Darkness and the Light need room to move and be explored as metaphors for beauty and strength.  As either end of a spectrum of visual understanding they represent both the beginning and the end.  Both are important.  So the next time that someone talks about Darkness as Evil try to think of a different metaphor.  Stretch your mind to reach into new territory.  As pagans we are the ideal tribe to do so.  As ritualists and word smiths working within a young religion we have the room to create new visions. Is this not the job of the Tribe of the Outsiders?

Certainly I am not the first person to say these things, and I hope I will not be the last.  I would charge each person who reads this to find ways to speak of hope and life in metaphors of darkness.  Both the Light and the Dark are essential to the coming days. I felt pity for Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee’s vision of a loss of soul and sacredness of the earth and her people.   But I know in my heart that real change doesn’t come from visions unless vision drives action in this world.  Just like people who cast money spells but don’t fill out job applications, we can choose to live in apathy and fear or we can choose to see our world for what it is and do something about it.  I choose to embrace the Dark.


I will leave you with a poem I wrote some time ago, may it be pleasing to you, dear reader:

In the darkness all things abide. In the light all things collide.
I am one, I am all, I am the sacred nothing.
I turn through the wheel and see to the very edge of all things. 
So far away, so far away.
I am connected to my self by a thin silver line of hope.
So far away, so far away.
I go into the darkness, I go into the light,
I go into the eternal fight
so far away, so far away.
I am tattered feathers lost in flight
I am battle blessed, it is lost and won
I am the many, I am the one.

So far away, so far away.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Tribe of the Outsiders


 I have spent some time reading about the race issues at the rather infamous Pantheacon. I’ve never been there.  I’ve heard a lot about how important stuff gets discussed there.  How the pagan panels and deep discussions forge the future for paganism.   

On reflecting upon my own experience at Convocation I wondered why I didn’t really feel that kind of energy there.  I wondered if we needed to make a space for “Persons of Color” or POC (which is a phrase I am still getting used to).  Personally, I would find such a thing to be a fine idea if it helped people. 

Apparently people shouted, “Racist!” at the people who were in that suite for pagans of color at Pantheacon.  I can’t really imagine it; the rudeness of it. I tried to imagine that happening at my own home convention of Convocation.  I really did.  All I could imagine was that if someone actually did that, there would be a host of people shushing that foolish individual who obviously must have been drunken past all understanding.  I imagine compassion for this crazy person who called strangers racist.  There would have been support for the people in the suite who had to hear it.   Hugs and reassurance of love for those who needed it would have been available.  Convocation has had a reputation for a lack of focus on “serious paganism” but not for insanity, at least not of that sort.

I wonder if my inability to imagine that sort of racism is because Convocation is hosted in the shadow of Motown, a city known for powerful black leadership.  I wonder if I’m just na├»ve and this sort of thing does happen.

I was in the ballroom on Saturday night when our very own awesome DJ Tommy Toony spoke movingly about the killing of both black and transgendered individuals.   I was shocked and thrilled as he spoke about action and coming together as outsiders to the majority culture.  I was even more thrilled as the crowd of costumed and masked individuals shouted out their approval of his words.  I stood there, listening, as a priestess of the earth: a person who tries to walk in balance. I am the daughter of a transgendered person, the godmother of a person of color.  A friend and ally and member of the growing movement of the Outsiders and I was proud of us in that moment.

This is one of the secrets of our path.  One of the things that unify us is, in fact, that we are not unified.  We stand together in glorious diversity.  A rainbow of skin color, hair texture, Gods worshiped, paths walked, genders both chosen and un-chosen, family found, kept, and made.    We are a tribe and we know our members when we meet them.  Heart to heart we walk to an inner drumbeat that echoes through our veins.

We were sweaty and loud, and in that moment I felt the power of our wild abandon.  We were drunken revelers, shouting our cry to the Gods, balancing both joy and pain on the knife-edge of life.  We are the Tribe of the Outsider.  Our power is that of the trickster and the fool, the sage and the hermit.

In my tradition, at the beginning of every rite we give offerings to the Outsiders.  
The Outsiders are all the gods and spirits who won’t be included in the ritual.  This is a broad category.  This group includes the troublesome spirits that might disturb us, the wild titanic forces of chaos that could destroy us, the strange unknowable spirits that we don’t understand.  But we don’t cut them out.  Rather than building a barrier by casting a circle against them we offer them gifts.  We ask that they enter into relationship with us.  “Here,” we say, “take this thing from us and do not trouble us.”  It works surprisingly well. 

I find it ironic that in the larger world of culture and politics we are the Outsiders even while we give offerings to them in our own rituals to keep the peace with them. The paradox is that each of us is both the outsider and the trusted friend who is welcome at the fire.  It’s all a matter of perspective.

So I hold out my hand to the stranger, I speak my mind with compassion and truth.  I am part of the tribe of Convocation, a unity of diversity.  A polytheist who believes stridently that there is more than one right answer to any question and is proud to be part of the Tribe of the Outsiders.  Won’t you join me?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Earth Mother Kickassery: A Tale of Hannahannas

So I'm going to let you all in on a little secret.  I'm working on a book about the Earth Mother. This is an excerpt. Enjoy!

The Hittites are old: like Bible old.  Their empire was concurrent with the Assyrian Empire.  They were forerunners of the Iron Age during the Bronze Age.  Their chariot tech impressed the Egyptians and they sacked Babylon.   These people were around almost 4,000 years ago.  This means that when we talk about the Hittite Earth Mother we are getting a glimpse of something very, very old.   I can hear you saying that the Greeks are old too, right?  Yes. But they lasted longer.  That means there was more evolution of their goddesses.  One thing that you learn by studying history is that the gods change.  They change because the climate changes, or the people worshiping change, or the people think new thoughts and their gods reflect that.   By learning about the Hittite Earth Mother we get a glimpse into something that is very old and didn’t have time to change.



The Hittite Earth Mother was called Hannahannas.  What we know of her is fragmentary at best, but we do have a story to consider.  The tale goes that the Storm God’s favorite son is missing.  His son is the God of Agriculture, Telepinu, who plows the earth and plants the seed.  According to the ancient glyphs He has had a giant temper tantrum and has wandered off.  This is unfortunate, since he’s the god of growing things and when he wanders off people start getting hungry. 



When this happens the Sun God steps up and offers a feast. He is the ally of the Storm God, who is clearly the boss in these parts. Unsurprisingly, that wonderful spread of plasma and sunlight isn’t very filling and the Storm God complains.  So the Sun God sends out his eagle to search for the prodigal son, Telepinu.  The eagle searches  high and low, spying all with his clever eagle’s eye, but alas, no Telepinu.  The Storm God is clearly miffed at this point and does what he should have done in the first place.  He goes to the Mother of All, Hannahannas.  So the Mother of All agrees to help, and like most mothers probably gives him that look that makes adult children feel totally inept.  At any rate, she sends out her sacred animal, the bee, to search for her grandchild Telepinu.  Of course, the bee finds him.  Then the bee begins to sting his hands and feet and then wipes his eyes and his hands with beeswax. 

After stinging her grandson into submission like an old woman beating a thief with a handbag, she gives her son, the King of Gods, some good advice to pay the bride-price for the  Sea Gods daughter to wed Telepinu, because what is better to settle down a cranky young God of Agriculture than a lovely young Goddess? Grandma knows best. 

Entertainingly, it’s not just the young folk who have been known to wander off in a fit of pique. There is a tale told of Hannahannas' anger as well.  We don’t know what happened to cause her to become enraged, but we do know that she wandered off too. Maybe she got tired of fixing everyone’s problems.  Maybe it just runs in the family. 



While she’s gone sheep and cattle begin to die off and mothers no longer take care of their children.  This time however her anger is banished to the Dark Earth and she returns full of joy.  I’m sure that her children were very grateful for the improvement of her mood. We aren’t told how this banishment of anger was achieved, but another method is to burn brushwood and let the vapors enter her. 

So we know a couple of things from all of this.  We know she is the mother of gods, connected to mothers, sheep, and cattle, and her sacred messenger is the bee, an insect that provides sweet honey and is connected with agriculture.  As I mentioned in the introduction, the bee is connected with Demeter whose priestesses are called the Melissae, or the bees. 

It seems likely that Hannahannas is a reflex or has evolved from the earlier proto-Indo-European cow goddess.  She has been reconstructed through linguistic detective work and appears to be a goddess of plenty and generosity.   *Gwouinda is a created name that linguists think might have been the real name of the prehistorical cow goddess of the pastoralists that became the progenitors of many of the languages we speak today including English, French, Greek and Hindi.  All of these languages have a common root through these crazy horse riding, cow grazing, wagon toting ancient peoples.  So by trying to understand the commonalities between them we understand our own beginnings, and we also find out that kick ass old grandmas have been around for a very, very long time.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Lion’s Roar: Druidic Meditation Part II

Winston Churchill said this before he began his work as Prime Minister of England during the dark times of World War II:

“I felt as if I were walking with Destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial. Eleven years in the political wilderness had freed me from ordinary party antagonisms. My warnings over the last six years had been so numerous, so detailed, and were now so terribly vindicated, that no one could gainsay me. I could not be reproached either for making the war or with want of preparation for it…Therefore, although impatient for the morning, I slept soundly and had no need for cheering dreams. Facts are better than dreams.”

Most of us will never be in such a momentous occupation.   Most of us will live far simpler lives.  If we are lucky, we will be blessed with the classic Celtic trio of Health, Wealth, and Wisdom.  There are times in life, however, when even the dental assistant, office manager, or java programmer needs to ready themselves for a daunting task. And so I give you part two of my Druidic Meditation series.  This is a simple exercise for gearing yourself up for something scary or intimidating.  

Don’t think that just because it’s simple it won’t be effective. I have found that particularly in moments of stress it’s the simplest things that work well. 


Exercise Two: Moving From a Low Energy to a High Energy State

Sit or stand with your feet squarely on the floor.  Roll your shoulders back and make sure you are not hunching them.  Imagine you have a thread attached to the top of your head pulling you upward and let your neck and spine adjust accordingly.  Take note of your breath and your heart rate for a moment, but do not try to change anything, just notice where you are at.  If you are feeling panicky it may be worth it to practice Exercise One first.   Once you are feeling fairly calm focus on making your breath even calmer. Let it be light and easy, maybe even a little shallow.   As you continue to focus on your breath let each breath be a little deeper and stronger.  Again, focus on the out-breath.  The in-breath will take care of itself.  With each exhalation push air out more forcefully and intensely.  You may, if you like, lean a little forward at this point as if you were about to burst into action.  This does not need to be a huge motion to be effective.  As you breathe, think about the thing you are going to accomplish, either on the final outcome, or the first step that you will take to accomplish it.  When you are ready and feel full of energy and excitement allow yourself to move forward with a burst into whatever it is that needs doing.

This can help with folding laundry as well as defending your country or achieving another huge task. I actually did this meditation before I began to write this post.

Certainly it's a simple technique.  You may even think to yourself that it is foolish for me to devote a whole post to such a thing.  But I would ask you, have you tried it? Have you ever had a morning when you felt like the last thing you wanted to do was to get out of bed or a moment when you wondered if you would be able to do a thing?    Simple techniques are effective because when you are in a moment of stress or strain it’s hard to remember to do anything at all, let alone some esoteric pattern for calming the mind.

I would like to close this post with a quote from another great man, Thich Nhat Hanh:


“While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. At first glance, that might seem a little silly: why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that’s precisely the point.  The fact that I am standing there and washing these bowls is a wondrous reality. I’m being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There’s no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves.”


If you find that you've been helped by what I've written and you'd like to support the work I do, please think about checking out my redbubble site and purchasing one of the many fine wares with my artwork on them.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Druidic Meditation Techniques (Part 1):

Sometimes inspiration comes from funny places.  I’ve had epiphanies driving in the car and powerful spiritual experiences while folding laundry.  Kids have taught me many lessons.   One of the techniques I’ve learned in attempting to change my state of consciousness is that you have to start where you are rather than where you would like to be.

I first observed this reality when I was a young mother trying to put irritable children to sleep.  I noticed that if I matched my breathing pattern to their breathing pattern I could then slowly adjust their breathing pattern with my own.  The breath that I would create was shallow and quick, barely inflating my lungs.  After a minute of that sort of breathing I would gradually and incrementally slow my breathing watching to make sure theirs was slowing as well. By linking our breathing patterns at a faster rate I found that they would follow my lead and slowly calm their own breathing pattern.  Eventually as they calmed they would drop right off to sleep.  I noticed in my own self that there inevitably came a moment a few minutes before they totally fell asleep where I would feel an intense sleepiness in my own body.  The connection went both ways!

That experience taught me many things.  First, that people can create a powerful connection through matching breath.  Second that creating calmness works much better by first matching intensity.  This second part is incredibly useful for meditative practice.

Many meditative practices focus on ways to still the mind. 
I believe that there is a much broader range of outcomes that can be created.   


Sometimes you need to bring your energy up as well as down.  Calm and peaceful isn’t the right state of mind before an interview for a job.  Enthusiastic and on your toes might be a better option.   For a peaceful evening after a difficult day, you would need a different tool. These are different states of mind. I tend to think of it as energy states, rather like an electron.  Electrons are constantly in motion around the nucleus of an atom.  We never know exactly where one is and they are notoriously hard to pin down. However we do know that they move in specific patterns, and when energy is added to a system they can jump from a pattern that is closer to the nucleus to one that is farther away from the nucleus.  This is called an excitable state. We also have excitable states, of many different sorts, both positive and negative. The joy of a party of friends, or the stress of a hard job can create an excited state. Sometimes the goal needs to be to calm down.


Exercise one:  Moving from a higher energy state to a lower energy state. 

Sit or stand with good posture, both feet placed on the floor shoulders back and imagine a string from the top of your head pulling your spine straight upward through your head. Don’t stick out your butt and let your belly relax.   Then take a deep breath and push out the air with all your force. This is the important part. You really need to shove that air out.  Keep breathing like that for a few repetitions, maybe 5-7 times.  You will most likely find that the out-breath is longer than the in-breath. Slowly push the air out less hard, making the length of the in-breath and the out-breath more equal in length.  Finally breath a few times where the intensity of both the in-breath and the out-breath match and are gentle and calm in manner.

Meditative techniques can create different results for different people and experience is the best teacher.  I suggest noting how you feel and what you are thinking both before and after trying a meditative state.  It’s important to know how the exercise affects you personally.  Generalizations are great, and certainly human brains are all fairly alike.  However we each have our own personal biochemistry and experiences and it’s important to listen to your body’s wisdom as well as the wisdom of the ancients.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Meditating on Genderqueer and Tools for Healing

Transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, intersex, non-gendered, third gendered, gender-fluid.


Read those words again.  Let yourself feel how you react to them.  Are they comfortable words or words that challenge you?   Each tells a different but related story.  All too often these words tell stories of pain and misunderstanding.  Words have power and these words are powerful indeed.  They have the power to kill, and the power to change a life for the better.

I have known a number of people who had a gender identity that was not either male or female, or that changed their identity in their lives.  One thing I have seen, again and again is that these people are truly expressing who they are in a world that has no place for them.

To identify as genderqueer is to be excluded, silenced, hidden, hated.  It is to be killed in the dark alone.  It is to be unable to find a place to fit at work. Never mind the challenges of attempting to be honest about who one is and how one fits in the world when the honest answer is something that is so unacceptable to the average human.

I am not genderqueer or intersexed, but I have family and friends who are.  One thing they’ve all had in common was pain and hurt from the misunderstanding and cruelty of their fellow man.  Often from their parents and those who should have been closest to them.  I was talking with my Joanna one day and I wanted to share what I had learned in my decades of studying mysticism and spirituality.  I wanted to teach her the skills that I had learned because I saw how badly she needed them.  I have used meditation, trancework, and devotional practices in my own life and shared them with many others.  Even though I am not genderqueer I am a priestess and I can teach those skills to those in need.

Thus was an idea born, to teach the skills of the mystic to those who live in liminality every day.

And so, starting next month I will be teaching a monthly class at the Pagan Pathways Temple.  I hope to create a safe space for all who are exploring a fluid gender, found a new one, or are just interested in meditation and transformation as an ally and a friend.

I will be running a six week course in Meditation and Trancework for Healing focused specifically on the needs of those in transition, who have transitioned or those who have experienced or are interested in gender fluidity.  

We will be focusing on building fundamental techniques that are proven to create calm and healing.  Each lesson will build on the last and will culminate in a healing ritual designed by the participants.

Participants will learn:

Counted breathing techniques
Anchoring emotional states
Multiple styles of grounding and centering techniques including tree of life and energy wheels.
Introduction into trance visioning
Galdoring and vocal entrancement
Astral body work including healing and protection techniques

Those who participate will be given access to recording of all guided meditations,  copies of ritual work and handouts, and access to a class Facebook support group where at home practices can be shared and learning can continue. Please share this with anyone you believe might be interested in this work.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Whistling in the Dark: Some Ideas Toward a Method of Trancework

Recently I had a interesting conversation with an ADF member about her new friendship with the local river spirit.  She had been getting headaches and was trying to figure out if that was connected to her spirit workings or not.  I hope I gave her a couple good ideas, but the thing that I really carried away from that conversation was Science. 

I have noticed a theme with pagans.  We like science.  We also feel stupid for believing in fairy tales and invisible friends and science all at the same time.  The thing is, Science is not the Theory of Evolution.  (Which is true folks, get over it.) 

Science is a methodology.


That means it's a grouping of tools and a way of thinking logically about the world. This can be applied to anything. Even invisible friends.  So as I continue sharing my thoughts on trancework I will occasionally be pointing out when scientific method might be useful as a way of assessing this nebulous timey wimey world of spirit.

In a previous post I mentioned that I have noticed two main categories of trouble with trance.  In the first category are the people who want to experience all the cool imagery the feeling of the divine watching over you, the synchronicities and seeing what never was and what might yet be.  But they can’t. They get so far and no further.  It all seems hazy and nebulous, like a bad game of lets pretend.  There’s those moments when you close your eyes, see the back of your eyelids and wonder when the fireworks will start. 
           
Then there’s the people who can’t seem to find the off switch to this roller coaster ride.  They space out in the car, in the grocery line, or during boring lectures in school.  They have super realistic daydreams about weird shit that they wouldn’t really choose to imagine if they had the choice.  What do you do when your imaginary friend talks back?

Interestingly, I’ve found that many of the same techniques work for both folks.  It comes down to one word:

Practice.


Yep.  Like learning an instrument,  a science, or a martial art, it takes practice.  This means that if you want to get good at trancework you’re going to have to do it. Frequently.  This goes for the people who are bored by staring at their eyelids as well as the people who can’t get the vision faucet to turn off.  The point in either case is to gain control.

The trick is to keep the practice interesting. 

So. Let’s start by breaking down the skill sets:

I see them as: envisioning, emptying, connecting, maintaining the signal, getting clear signal, knowing the lore, building relationships, and doing the work.

Envisioning: 


This is the daydreamers ability.  It involves being able to make pictures in your head.  When you read a book and imagine what the characters look like, this is envisioning.  It’s a good one to start with and easy to practice anywhere by simply closing your eyes and imagining anything.  Starting with basic shapes is good. Try making a circle, then change the color.  Then make it a sphere.  Turn it into an apple, or a globe, or a tennis ball.  This is a fun game that only has your imagination as the limit.  It’s Minecraft in your brain.

Emptying: 


Welcome to Zen Buddhism, Dorothy, but know that the yellow brick road is an illusion, just like everything else.  This is the “empty mind” and I am aware how annoyingly impossible it is to achieve. It’s like trying to empty a sink while the faucet is running.  But total success isn’t important.  The ability to reach for and find stillness is an incredibly important skill when you’re trying to figure out what in this trance thing is you, and what might be Someone Else trying to chat.  Plus, when you’re trying to consciously fill your mind up with one specific thing, it’s a lot easier when it’s not already filled with your work task list for the next three weeks.

Connecting: 


You know that transcendent thing that people talk about?  That connection to something larger than themselves?  This is what I am talking about here. Psychologists have researched the phenomenon.  There is a specific part of the brain that is triggered.  This is the part of trancework that is about getting out of your own head and into something greater than yourself.  The first two are about getting control of your own brain.  This is where you jump like a fool into the unknown!

Maintaining the Signal:


Do you remember when you started learning to ride a bike?  There’s this moment in the process where for a moment, a beautiful glorious moment, you have it!  Then you fall over. Trancework is like that too.  That balance of focus and openness can be hard to achieve.  Learning how to make it last, how to shut it off when you don’t want it, and how to make it flow well is all part of maintaining the signal.

Getting a Clear Signal: 


We all have doubts, fears, and hopes.  We want things, we desire things.  Sometimes we’re not even aware of what we want. Our shadow selves sneak into our workings and tell a convincing tale.  For trancework to be useful we need to know how accurate it is.  Are we actually reaching anywhere or anyone other than ourselves?  Divination is a big part of this one, as well as are skills that teach us how to discern our own ego from that which is not ourselves. It also leads into the next set of skills.

Studying The Lore:


Because making it all up just isn’t good enough.  Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had some amazing, empowering, transformative experiences that had absolutely no grounding in the lore.  At first.   As I delved more deeply into primary sources, reading scholarly articles on Gods and Spirits that ranged from Irish Celtic to Proto-Vedic I’ve become aware of patterns I did not know of before.  I know everyone can’t spend their life researching this stuff, but part of studying the lore is networking with those who can.  Read what you can and at least try to know enough that you can gauge whether an expert has expertise or is just another loudmouth with an agenda.  By knowing the lore, or knowing someone to ask, you can find the context for your work.  I have become increasingly convinced that the ancient knowledge wasn’t compiled by a bunch of idiots and fools.  It’s a resource, and a powerful one.  The Gods and Spirits certainly can and do change, but just like you want to know the history of your boyfriend you want to know the history of your Gods.

Building Relationships:


I work in a paradigm of polytheistic pantheism.  I encounter Spirits everywhere. They have personalities, likes and dislikes.  However, They are not human.  The Wind really doesn’t care about a lot of the things you and I care about.  A tree takes a lot longer to talk than a cat.  Each plant, rock, and bug has a story to share.  Each God and Goddess has many aspects, skills, and desires.  It takes time to build any relationship, and it is worth the time and effort.   So reach out.  If you see an image of a cats eye, leave some catnip on the stoop.  Record your efforts and look for patterns.  Leave offerings.  Pretend it’s all real, even when you doubt it.

Doing the Work:


Once you’ve got all the cool toys, the wands or stones, the spirit friends and impressive list of Godly buddies what do you do?  If you spend all that time to train yourself you will eventually get to the point where you can reliably go into trance. You will find that there are some things you are good at, and some that are harder for you.  Having acquired the skills, then you have to use them.   Will you use them to heal the land or to help the people around you?  Will you use them to create beautiful poetry or make magic?  The answer is dependent on your skills and inclinations, but you’ll only find out if you keep at it.


In the following weeks I will be posting about each of these categories, sharing what I’ve learned and what I’ve seen that’s worked.  I will be pulling on modern psychology, neurological research, and experience to help people find out how to get to the second star to the right and straight on til morning.


Thanks for reading!  If you liked what you read, do me a favor and pick up some of my swag at RedBubble!  Not only will you get neat stuff, but I will make a little money with which I can buy some of the weird ass books I want on Lithuanian culture, pastoral counseling, and women in the ancient world.

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