I have moved to http://dreamsbeforeflowers.wordpress.com. All previous entries have been transferred to the new blog. I will no longer be posting in this one. Please update your links. Thank you!
I try to accept new information gleamed from my journey-work with grace, but I’m not very good at it.
The color gold first began appearing in my journeys in 1998. It came as part of a matched set, and was on equal footing with red, black, and white. I didn’t understand of the symbolism of the four, either separately or together, nor did I particularly want to do so. The four colors were associated with a group Over There that I tried to avoid at all costs. Though there was a reason for the group’s deeds within the context of war, their work horrified me. That they were sworn to a god who I believed to be the cause of all evil only further convinced me to stay away, and I didn’t even consider filling in the gaps in my knowledge for a long time.
In the years since, my thoughts on those events have changed. The acts of war don’t horrify me any less, but in working to build peace I’ve had to try and understand why it happened from both sides’ perspectives. Their symbolism had to matter to me because it mattered to them, regardless of my original aversion. It wasn’t easy to break this bias down, and the god in question had to come at me sideways, in forms I was comfortable with first simply because my belief system was so deeply mired in religious propaganda. Eventually gold became a symbol of good in my mind. In general I began to associate it with the courage to face hard truths, while a very specific shade of it now brought illumination, knowledge, clarity immediately came to mind. These were all traits that I associate with the god I once hated. I considered this his color.
Yet over the last couple of weeks, when this color has begun to appear in my journeys again, he is nowhere to be found. Seeing myself clearly has again played a role, and I have definitely been seeking clarity, but when I prayed to see him another being intervened. Though I associate her with the color red, every scene she showed me incorporated gold and wings in some way–his symbols. Looking back on previous encounters with her point to symbolism I missed involving hard truths as well, truths I would associate with golden illumination, not red. Still, she is red, through and through.
I long associated offerings of heart in bowls with her, as grisly as that sounds. Is he the immolation of those hearts? Is that how it fits together? I need to know, and I need to know now. I find myself searching endlessly on the internet, through mythology site after mythology site. I read about gods and color symbolism, about gold and now red, and I cannot see the shape of it. With all of this new information, I lack patience. I lack grace.
It’s been fifteen years since gold entered my life. Why can’t I be at peace with it yet?
[My apologies my Pagan Blog Post is late this week. My http://www.goat-willow.com domain is set to expire fairly shortly, which I am fine with, as the name no longer suits me. However, finding another wordpress name to use is proving near impossible. Everything that suits is taken. Any suggestions would be appreciated.]
I have said more than once that this blog is self-serving. A quote from The House of Leaves tops every page of it: “This is not for you.” Perhaps that seems like a rude reminder to present to my readers each time they visit, but the reminder isn’t meant for them. It is meant for myself. This blog is meant to detail my spiritual path, period. It doesn’t matter if it touches anyone else, or if anyone else appreciates the writing. All that matters is that I can go back, look at what I have written later on, and see where I once was and compare it to where I am now. That is its meat and potatoes function, and anything beyond that is just gravy.
At least that is what I have told myself. That is how I justified continuing writing here after I figured out that the ADF wasn’t for me. At that point the blog had become redundant, as I no longer needed a place to post my Dedicant Path essays. Looking back, I’m not sure I’ve used it that way at all, though I admit it’s possible I might be being too hard on myself.
I enjoy writing these Pagan Blog Posts. I haven’t written fiction professionally in a long time, and I miss the day-to-day of being at the computer, working with words. These entries give me brief glimpses of that, for which I am grateful. They are also the lone ideas that present themselves in a lengthy enough form for a blog post rather than a wee Tumblr snippet. Still, I can’t say I am writing about my practice per se. I just tend to write about whatever topic comes to mind, just like I am doing right now. Very, very rarely have they been about what is going on in my spiritual life in that moment. I keep asking myself why.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it is because I don’t have much of one, at least not in the way I used too when this blog began.
When I started this blog, it was for a purpose, as I said. I felt at that time as if I had a purpose as well. I was going to finish my ADF Dedicant Path work. Shortly thereafter, the first “July Is For Loki” celebration came along, and I threw myself into a month of creating daily devotional works for that too. Between the two, I had lots to do: reading, attending rituals and coffee meets, writing, making art, etc, etc. The etceteras themselves seemed to be vitally important, because I was bursting with ideas, one after another after another. I felt incredibly inspired.
Then July came to a close. I continued with daily devotionals for quite some time, even though Loki was beginning to sound off and I our exchanges were becoming strained. I thought perhaps our relationship was merely changing, and that this was a new realm I would have to explore. At the same time, I was growing even more uncomfortable with the ADF, not only at a distance but face-to-face. Though I enjoyed the Dedicant Path work, I had problems with the organization itself, particularly my local grove. I kept pushing at that too, because I wanted the structure of a defined work path. As my unease with both situations grew, I kept telling myself that my gut instincts about them had to be wrong since I had been incredibly happy only a couple of months before. It took me until late October to realize I hadn’t been talking to Loki at all. I quit the ADF then too. I’d dragged both things out for much longer than I needed to in both cases, and I felt completely disillusioned because of it, just completely and utterly burnt out.
Maybe I still feel that way. Much of my practice is in my head now, i.e. journey work. I don’t have a functional altar anymore, and I write prayers or create devotional art. Almost all of my hands-on work has stopped.
Since then, I have had what I would call ‘divine’ moments. Some of my journeys have been intensely powerfully. I don’t normally have physical sensations cross over into my earthly body during them, yet that has happened several times. I’ve brought lingering pains home and had to work through them. Spiritual events have definitely had impact. The thing is, the more impact they have had the faster and farther I have often felt like running from them, especially if they put me outside the ‘norm,’ whatever that is.
At the moment, the spirits that keep poking me and that are making my heart sing come from outside of any traditional mythology, and working with new gods and pop culture deities is regularly pooh-poohed in the pagan community. I’ve seen such worship frequently lambasted on Tumblr, and the arguments are cyclic and often nasty. That makes me want to avoid them at all costs. That makes me want to keep my experiences close to my chest and never share them with anyone besides my most trusted friends, as they have also experienced such spirits and would understand. Yet that is the very problem. Such closeness can cause an interbreeding of ideas and a tendency to not look at facts as critically. You need to reach beyond the circle of your loved ones for validation.
Or at least I do. Despite what happened last summer, I still have a terrible time trusting my gut instinct. I say things like, “Why weren’t the clues stronger? Why didn’t they come sooner? Why was I blind so long?” I continue to need to have my ideas pulled apart by others to gauge whether or not they are on the level. The problem is that I have also become overly sensitive to all the hate going on. On that my gut is very clear.
It churns after I post a particularly detailed journey in my Tumblr. It knots as I go over the events in my mind, wondering if they will question this one or that, if I will be seen as a faker, a special snowflake, or have some other name slung at me. I wonder if I will be called crazy, and specific aspects of the otherworld that I have related will be seen diseased portions of my psyche on display.
And then, more often than not, I receive a handful of likes, and about three comments. I never know what anyone thinks, or if they believe any of the things I fear, and I go through the ritual I reminding myself over and over that “this is not for them” until my gut quiets again.
Be very careful what you ask for, gentle readers.
Early on in my days of witchery, I learned that I was pretty damn decent with money spells. I once needed exactly $21.26 to pay a small bill on time. I did a spell for some quick cash, and had a friend pay back twenty dollars that I couldn’t remember lending him the next day. I also found $1.26 in an old coat, no more and no less. Bingo! Bill paid! I’ve used similar techniques with similar results since, but it was during one specific spell sixteen years ago that I learned how important it is to be precise.
I was married. My spouse wasn’t Pagan. He mostly thought my witchery was a “horse and pony show,” but he wanted bread on the table as badly as I did and agreed to help me out with a little sex magic. We needed more cash that usual, so I was pulling out all the stops. I figured that when things, er, reached their peak, that I would throw the energy of the event into the spell. This was good in theory.
The thing is, I used to wing all my chants back then and I wasn’t as good at that as I am now. Now I can come up with spontaneous rhyme and meter. It is a talent I’ve honed, and it has taken a lot of work. Back then I just used to say a word over and over and over and chuck it into the cone of power and–I’m fairly lucky anything worked, to be honest.
Anyway… My chant started off as “prosperity, prosperity, prosperity.” I don’t know what happened. I’d never had sex in a circle before. Perhaps the Great Rite was so Great that it addled me a bit, threw me for a loop, but somewhere along the line “prosperity, prosperity” became “fertility, fertility!”
Now, I’m not saying I had a circle baby, but I had a circle baby. I wasn’t supposed to be able to have children, but there he was. I was on birth control to help regulate very messed up female issues, but there he was. I was completely unprepared, but there he was.
Nearly sixteen years later, I am still completely unprepared, but there he is, often monopolizing my living room to play video games. He can consume ice cream like he has hollow legs, and thinks Skype is awesome, and often goes by the name Loki on the internet. I laugh at the last part, sometimes sort of nervously, because what can you do?
So gentle readers, be precise in what you ask for in your spell work. You never know who is out there, looking for shits and giggles.
I own a gorgeous scrying mirror. It is made of black glass, with four cranes etched around its edges in gold and ivory. I adore using it, not only because of how well it works, but simply because of how beautiful it is. None of my other tools are anywhere near as lovely, and I treasure my mirror deeply.
I’m also frightened of it. Not because of the visions I’ve seen in its surface. Truthfully, by the time I’m seeing anything, I am looking beyond the glass, either watching happenings as they occur in a world far away or fully participating in them. More often than not, I will have entirely left my body by that point. It may still be holding the mirror, but I am journeying in the otherworld.
When I am lucky, this happens quickly. Sometimes, however, the moment between picking up the mirror and leaving my body seems to stretch on forever. No matter where I have placed the candles, or how I angle the glass, I will become acutely aware of my own face. I might only catch sight of a small part of myself–the outline of my hair, a cheek–but it will be enough. The stranger in the mirror is back again, peering at me.
I have always had a hard time recognizing the person in the mirror as myself, for as long as I can remember. Terms like ‘gender dysphoria’ and ‘dissociation’ have helped me understand why that is, but the solutions that discussions focused on such topics suggest rarely seem applicable to me. My health condition makes full sexual reassignment impossible, so I cannot manifest my ‘real self’ in that fashion. Even if I could, my body structure would still be wrong, as would my eye and hair color, etc.
I know this because I have seen myself in the otherworld. That world has mirrors too, and I have stood before them many times, examining myself There at length in a way that I cannot bring myself to do Here. The gulf between my two forms has often caused me enough pain that I have considered transitioning in the otherworld, if only to close the gap once and for all. After much soul searching, I decided against it because I realized it would be an invalidation of who I truly am.
Some people might scoff at that statement, and judge my otherworld form as nothing but an escape from reality. After all, when I’ve chosen pictures that capture some aspect of it, haven’t they been flattering? Of course they were. I want to be seen as attractive, just like most people. That said, my partner has expressed distress more than once at the picture that I feels sums me up better than any other. It shows a man with a mess of strawberry blond hair, with serious five o’clock shadow on his face, in a frumpy cable-knit sweater and t-shirt. He looks… I don’t know. He looks how I feel most days. I never sleep well, and I understand the prominent shadows beneath his eyes, but they make my partner distinctly uncomfortable because zie sees a man who looks beaten up. Even if I don’t see that, others might, and I agree that’s not the energy I want to send out in the world. Like a million people of FaceBook, I continue using the best selfies I have.
I know I’m not alone in this, not just among others with similar earthly conditions, but among those who visit the otherworld so often that it has become as second home to them. While not every traveler looks different on the other side of the hedge, over the years I’ve seen many pictures of these astral selves. They have been cobbled together from pictures gleaned from the internet, or drawn and colored in painstaking detail. Sometimes they have been presented shyly to a select number of friends. Other times they have been posted for the entire web to see with ‘no fucks given.’ Either way, the need to be truly seen remained the same.
Even if an otherworldly shape is not a traveler’s ‘real body,’ painfully different from the physicality they are forced to wear on earth, it is still an important extension of self, especially for those who spend a large amount of time in the astral. To ignore this second face is an enormous part of who they are. Perhaps they will only have two sides, like a coin, or have as many as a D20. Each is essential, regardless of how difficult some may be to look upon.
You expected a Rose:
Pink, frilled and pretty,
Petals spread like lace,
Like a lady’s dress,
Pollen the jewels
Of my crown.
But a Briar grew instead,
A wild Flower Maiden,
Petals in the knots of her hair,
Her dress in tatters
From the Maenad dance,
Her thorns bloody.
You will not prune me,
Will not slice off
The limbs that offend,
Scratch and prick and claw
Each time you reach
For what was never yours.
The wind may toss me,
The sun may burn
And the soil grow dry,
But I will grow sharper
Than any shear
You will ever know.
In the last two weeks, I’ve tried to buy The Dictionary of Demons several times–tried being the operative word. Despite the fact that my local bookstore supposedly has copies in stock, I cannot find it on the shelves. I’m familiar with this bookstore too; I’ve not only haunted its aisles for years, but also worked for the chain. Sales clerks can find it either. The strange thing? The number of copies in stock keeps increasing, yet none of them can be found. Each time one comes into the store, it disappears.
I wish I could say that this is the first time that I’ve seen this happen. In my city, it’s common practice for smaller stores to keep titles relating to the darker aspects of the occult behind the till for exactly this reason. People simply tend to walk off with them if they are not kept under lock and key. Unfortunately, the only outlet carrying this nefarious tome is a large chain store, and they don’t bother with that sort of thing. Even more unfortunately, many of the small Pagan stores in my town wouldn’t carry this book if you paid them to do so. Worse yet, in the eyes of many Pagans demons are linked to Satan, and Satan is linked Lucifer, and Satanists and Luciferians are in no way Pagan. At all. Period. End of Discussion.
Is it because these entities have had terrible acts committed in their names? Many gods have had terrible acts committed in their names, Pagan gods included. Indeed, many of the gods that modern Pagans worship have committed some fairly heinous acts themselves. Mythology is full of them, yet the gods are still considered eligible for worship within the Pagan community.
Is it because they are connected to Christianity? That is true, but Satan and Lucifer also exist outside of Christianity, Lucifer in particular as a Pagan deity. Arthurian mythos is frequently connected to Christianity too, but many Pagans still incorporate its symbolism into workings without being persecuted or erased for it.
Why are Satan and Lucifer the exceptions?
It is one thing to say “I do not worship Satan or Lucifer” and quite another to say that no Pagan worships them. It’s a fallacy. It is erasure. Moreover, it’s hypocritical to say that anyone worshiping them is actually practicing ‘reverse Christianity’ and yet cry out when gods such as Loki, Set, and Kali are commonly demonized within the Pagan community. Both are equally as wrong and both show a gross misunderstanding of the entities involved.
I’d love to have a really snazzy way to round off this post, but I think the following gif sums up what I want to say better than anything else could.