guidance, Spirits

Spirits II

As I have mentioned in previous posts, the Spirit World is as alive and inhabited as is our own physical realm. I am sure my own practices have only but scratched the surface of the various types of entities; good, bad, and indifferent. As the author at Kina’ani has taken it upon him/herself to explain the practice of discernment and likely will do a better job than I could, I have decided instead to bypass that subject and instead veer into the various types of Spirits I Work with or am aware of. Many of these are those that I have encountered once or twice, and a few are those that I have no interest in ever encountering again.

Such is the way of the Spirit realm. Much as our own, not every entity is friendly to us. Few are true predators, but they may range from helpful to curious, to irritated, to angered, to hostile.

The simplest to begin with then, are those of deceased human spirits. As they were previously human, these are Spirits which logic would dictate ought to be the easiest for living humans to understand. Unfortunately, this is not normally the case.

On this side of the “Veil,” we have our own set of difficulties when encountered by or encountering the deceased.

1. Misapprehension, particularly because of popular culture. “Ghosts” have been turned, by and large, into mass-entertainment and widely misunderstood.”Ghost stories” serve to scare young and old alike, and the most horrific of these have been turned into movies which both scare and thrill. True deceased human spirits are rather anticlimactic in comparison.

2. There is also a hesitance on the living’s part to encounter, communicate, or work with the deceased because of soured relationships which happened while the deceased Spirit lived. Sometimes the hesitancy is warranted, other times it is not. A lack of understanding and education is most often to blame. Yes, these Spirits were human. Yes, death rarely changes the personality of the dead. If you had personality conflicts with someone while they were in this realm, it is possible you would have problems with them in the Spirit realm. Possible, but not necessarily true. In fact, death often gives the deceased a certain amount of perspective and a wider view on things which they were not able to comprehend while living. As a result it is normally the living human who is hanging on to these mental issues, and not the deceased. Although normally the case, there are naturally exceptions.

On their side lies an entirely different set of difficulties.

1. Does the Spirit even know they are deceased? Anyone working with deceased Spirits will undoubtedly run into those who have no real comprehension of what has happened, particularly if the death was recent. This Spirit will need to be informed of, and in some cases convinced of, their new state of existence before true communication is possible.

2. Do they remember who they were? Death is not easy for most humans, particularly from cultures where there is a fear of what might come after life. This can cause anything from a temporary to permanent amnesia for the deceased. Encountering and communicating with these Spirits is difficult, and best left to those who have some practice with this type of Work. Leading questions must, at all times, be avoided. As they do not have a memory of who they were or are, they will answer to any name, title, and role given to them. Calling a Lost Spirit by your brother’s name might do no harm to the practitioner, but if the Spirit is not your brother, it will inhibit the Spirit’s growth and ability to find where they truly belong. Also, calling a Lost Spirit anything from Saint Anne to Zeus does not make that spirit into that name. The human Spirit might well try to live up to that name, but will inevitably fail miserably, leaving the practitioner very disappointed in whichever Spirit they thought the deceased person was.

3. Death does change most human Spirits, giving them wisdom and perspective unavailable while they were among the living. Many of the most vile of the deceased Work excessively hard to make up for the errors of their ways, whether it be alcoholism, abuse, abandonment, adultery, murder, gossip, slander, or any of the other hostile actions against other humans and their own kin. These Spirits will especially be interested in assisting relatives that they have in this reality, through intentional or unintentional actions, damaged. It is up to the living relative to open the doors of communication and allow that Spirit to serve their self-imposed penance. If the living does not wish it, but wishes that Spirit to “stew in their own juices,” that Spirit will suffer, but likely so will the living as the Spirit has valuable assistance to give. This is a decision each living human must make when confronted with those Spirits who have offended or injured themselves or their loved ones. It is not an easy decision to make.

4. Death does not change others. There are those that were vile in life and will be vile in death. Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure where you stand with a Spirit is through your own discernment, or having another Spirit to vouch/warn about that particular Spirit. These are what I have referred to in the past as malo muerte, a term taken from Spanish-speaking practitioners of the African Traditions. The term translated means, quite simply, “bad dead,” but sounds much more poetic in Spanish. The bad dead are not limited to members of your own family or bloodline; these are the Spirits from which most of the gruesome, thrilling, and frightening horror stories are derived. They are everywhere. They are the deceased of those who have committed atrocities in life and will commit or assist in atrocities in death. They can not be trusted; although some will Work with them, and they have their uses for those who wish to work on the darker side of things. There is always a cost in such agreements, however, and the malo muerte have their own agenda.

The personality of a deceased human seldom changes much, even as their perspective might. If they were sarcastic while alive, they will be sarcastic in death. If they were cold and aloof in life, they will be cold and aloof in death. Likewise, their desires will not change. If while alive the Spirit enjoyed “rot gut” liquor, they will be pleased with offerings of the cheapest alcohol the practitioner may acquire and will refuse offerings of “higher shelf” liquors. If they smoked in life, likely they would appreciate a cigar, cigarette, or pipe smoked in their presence, and so on and so forth. In that way, an amateur practitioner might be able to make guesses about which Spirit is contacting them. However, until the practitioner learns discernment, or are able to consult with an Elder who can advise them, it is advised that they refrain from Working with the Spirit.

Of course, all the advise in the world will not prevent people from doing what they wish and stumbling through what hey ought not to mess with. I have spoken my truth. What the reader does from here is ultimately up to him/her.

Standard
guidance

On Discernment

A most excellent post, although I am sure this blogger does not need me to say as much, and certainly has a far wider reader base than I, so does not need for me to re-post this piece. It’s a difficult topic to approach. I have, myself, wrestled with the idea of exactly how to explain what discernment is and how it works. That it does work, I know well. I use it all the time. Explaining it is far more complicated, similar to explaining music to a person born deaf. They might be able to feel the vibration of the music and thereby sense it in some way, but simply explaining music without a person’s ability to hear it is difficult in the least.

My only critique is that this piece is perhaps a bit long, but then who am I to criticize someone for that? I, myself, have a tendency to wax philosophic for far too long, and find myself consistently revising my writing in the vain hope of reducing and condensing sentences to be more brief and coherent.

For those few who are truly interested in pursuing a Spiritual path that will undoubtedly take effort on your part, I highly recommend this post.

http://tessdawson.blogspot.com/2014/02/buttonson-learning-discernment.html

Standard
Commentary, pagan

The Flaw Lies with the Teacher

An interesting post floated across my screen today. I wouldn’t have normally paused to read it, it’s not an author I have ever followed. For whatever reason, I found myself with some extra time on my hands, and perused some of the WordPress post offerings under different tags.

As per blogging etiquette, here’s the link to the original post:

http://thetwistedrope.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/how-to-art-or-pagan/

Aside from the post having something of a flippant tone, the author did seem to, at first, have an interesting point.

First off, this whole situation reminded me of many of the questions we’d receive at Pagan101. When people become more experienced at the whole polytheism thing, I think they lose track of just how far they have come. Because you might not exactly realize the progress you’ve made, you can lose scope of where newcomers are coming from, and we inadvertently end up inundating them with too much information, or information that is too complex. We think its simple because we’ve been at it for a while, but they are not us. To draw the parallel to the art scenario above, I thought that it was simple and easy to point to a broken down human figure and say “draw like that”. But in reality, we didn’t even start drawing people until the second or third quarter at school. I have completely bypassed what it took to even get to that point.

The problem being, as is true of most of these flippant posts, the author is wrong; wrong about teaching “pagan,” at least, and I would suspect as well wrong about teaching about art. This author wasn’t, in her example, attempting to teach a subject, she was pointing her finger at various available resources and walking away.

So the first problem with the post therefore is the author’s perception of teaching.

The second problem is a problem with the teacher. No teacher should assume a student requires more than basic information to begin with. In fact, assessing where exactly the student stands in their learning is essential. The subject matter is not here at fault, the teacher is. Even in the (rather abysmal) public school system, a basic assumption of education is presumed to have occurred before any child enters a specific grade, and therefore the teacher knows where to begin. Still, the best of these teachers will attempt to assess the students as a group before beginning the year’s curriculum; if not to find students lagging seriously behind, then at least to see what was forgotten over summer break.

Unfortunately, the author was correct in that, this does seem to be the most common method of teaching among those who are considered “elders” in pagan circles on the Internet. They simply point to some resources and tell the student to figure it out, if the student is “lucky.” After all, they had no teachers, no one willing to help them; they’re only giving back what they themselves were given in turn. Or they will charge ridiculous amounts of money for your tutelage because, after all, they spent all that time and energy surfing the web, cutting and pasting various disparate bits of information into a somewhat-cohesive attempt at forging a curriculum.

Excuse me if I sound a bit cynical. I’ve witnessed both these reactions in the “elders,” both online and in the real world. I do understand why they eventually begin to become these anti-teachers. But that’s an entirely different subject for an entirely different post.

“But more importantly, I realized that “I can’t teach you how to art. No one can.

And if you swap out “art” with “pagan”, you’ve got the same situation.”

Herein lies the next problem with this post. You can not teach “pagan.” Well, no, and I would have thought that obvious. I am sincerely hoping that the author here is simply using the word “pagan” instead of whichever tradition(s) s/he is familiar with. Because there is no “pagan,” that could possibly be taught. No single person who claims that title agrees with any other person who claims that title as to what it’s definition is. You can certainly not teach pagan. Much as you can not teach art. You can teach a person the tools involved in art, the methods used in creating art, but art itself comes from somewhere within the individual. You either have an artistic vision or you don’t. The comparison, the metaphor holds, but I believe for reasons contrary to, or different from what the original poster intended.

However, it is general blanket statements like this that bother me the most:

“Religion is much the same way, especially the less institutionalized religions of the Pagan umbrella. When someone comes to me and asks me how they become a Kemetic, all I can do is show them a bunch of information on what Kemeticism entails and hope that they can figure it out themselves. There is no ‘You do XYZ, and now you’re a Kemetic’. Sure, we proceduralize some of the methods- for instance, if you are a member of Kemetic Orthodoxy, you take the informational classes, you undergo the RPD, you receive a name, and now you’re Kemetic Orthodoxy. But even then, you might only be Kemetic Orthodoxy in name.”

The above is true in, as the author states, “especially the less institutionalized religions.” Eclectic Wicca and Chaos Magic immediately spring to mind. It is specifically not true in many of the “pagan” and alternative religious paths that have more institutionalized education. There are quite a few that insist upon specific initiations, classes, and tests before continuing forward. Admittedly, many of these are less popular because our society tends to want “instant gratification.” Most people I have encountered would rather read a book or two, be told by “elders” with 2 years of experience that whatever they want to do is perfectly acceptable, and go on their merry way. That is most, not all. There are some diligent seekers out there, who push themselves even without the aid of an “elder” to tell them what to know, do, or say. Perhaps more people would be so inclined if there were more gracious elders in the community, willing to take the time to nurture interest, to educate about specifics of the path they are on. Any sort of movement in that direction would most certainly aid to reduce the amount of mis-appropriated, badly thought out, bordering on destructive religious “practices,” which are at best 1/3 guess work, 1/3 poorly researched information primarily from even more poorly researched websites and books, and 1/3 information gleaned from fictional books and incorporated into a spiritual practice.

Between pseudo-gurus, a lack of elders with a desire to teach, and an over-abundance of both terrible teachers and terrible resource materials, the student does, indeed, have quite a challenge. It does not surprise me in any way that there are so many out there claiming both the title of “pagan” and “elder” who have no idea what-so-ever what they are doing. All you really need to be called “elder” these days is a blog and a couple of years of experience. Everything else, apparently, can be faked.

Standard
guidance

To Be a Good Divination Client

Many excellent books, websites, and blogs have helpful information on divination. Whether your interest lie in the direction of Tarot, Runes, I-Ching, Palmistry or other more esoteric or less popular forms of divination, the average seeker is bound to find more information available than would be digestible in a single lifetime. It would, therefore, seem pointless to add my voice into the millions; it would never be heard above the din.

Instead I find myself more interested in attacking the question of being a good querent. Because as a person who has practiced several divination techniques for decades for the public, I have found this type of information to be sadly lacking and most desperately necessary. This is the beginning of the list, I expect more cautions and pieces of advice to Querents will occur to me, likely as soon as this post is published. I reserve the right to edit and update this post as I feel necessary.

1. Do not attempt to read for yourself, especially as an amateur. It is tempting to buy a deck of cards of any type, whip out the handy little manual included, and start immediately assessing your own future. However, it is almost impossible to successfully read for one’s self, not without many years of practice and the ability to stay reasonably objective. It isn’t that it is impossible to become proficient enough to read one’s own divination; it’s that it is difficult to stay objective. You know, better than any reader, what is going on in your life. Therefore, in a way, it could be perceived as simpler to read for yourself. Unfortunately, because you do know there is also the tendency to read things into the divination that is not there. To make mountains out of molehills, substance out of shadows, good news from bad and bad news from good. If you do decide to read for yourself, my advice would be this: Write it out as objectively as you possibly can manage. For instance, if using Tarot, take a trusted resource and write out their definition for each card. Keep this somewhere and review occasionally. You may find you missed a message or misinterpreted a card after putting a bit of a distance between yourself and the reading. If at all possible, however, I recommend not doing it at all. It as difficult to read for yourself as it is to psychoanalyze yourself.

2. Find someone you trust, and stay with that Reader. Psychic shopping is one of the most annoying tendencies in querents. You will not always get what you want from a reading. The messages will not always be “good news.” In having a Diviner that you trust, however, the messages will always be accurate, which is more critical than happy. In working with a Diviner who is able to give you accurate information, you then have the power to make your life what you will of it. Seeing more than one person for divination will only end in confusion, and cost the querent money, time, and energy which is undoubtedly better spent otherwise.

3. The Reader Doesn’t Want to Hear the Other Psychic’s Opinion. Querents who psychic shop have a tendency to throw things back at a Reader, especially when some other psychic (or many other psychics in some cases) make contrary statements. First, there is no reason to consult with that many Readers. Second, because a Reader has a Big, Shiny Website or has published 20 books about whatever metaphysical topic is popular today, does not mean they are more proficient than a psychic who works at the local spiritual supply shop. It doesn’t mean they don’t, either. However, hearing the opinion of any other Diviner is not likely to change the reading being given, and will only serve in the end to annoy the Reader being consulted. Annoying one’s Reader is not recommended as negative emotions do have the capacity of throwing off a reading, and occasionally irritating the Reader’s spirits who then will be less upfront with spontaneous information.

3. Don’t play trick the psychic. Honestly, if you don’t believe don’t bother. There are many skeptics who play this game for simple fun, there is nothing to be done about that. As a Reader, when I encounter one of them I smile and take their money. Nothing I will say will change their mind anyway, but their money spends like any other. If you truly are seeking for answers however, it does neither you nor the Diviner any good to hold back information, to school your face, or to go so far as to outright lie about personal details. I personally have found that the majority of querents who attempt this who are not skeptics looking for fun, are people who have not found a Diviner they trust implicitly, and feel the only way to do so is to “test” the Diviner’s ability in this way. A much better way of finding someone is not to search online, or through ads in metaphysical-oriented magazine, but through word of mouth. The best Diviners have no need of self-promotion; you won’t find them in newspapers, magazines, or Etsy.

4. Don’t blame the reader. Just because someone predicts x, y, and z to happen and it does not does not mean it was an inaccurate reading, and that the Diviner doesn’t know what they are doing. Look at the entirety of the reading before throwing it away, and demanding your money back. Did the Reader understand the entirety of the situation? Were they able to tell you details you omitted or didn’t know, but were apparent later? Did they seem to have a working knowledge of the present but what they told you of the future was inaccurate? Don’t blame the psychic/reader/diviner. Ultimately, you have control of your life and no one else. The future is in a constant state of flux. So something doesn’t happen exactly as your Reader said. This is most likely your own fault. The future may have been changed because in receiving messages from the Diviner, you modified your routine or decisions, thereby changing the outcome. Often querents also have the tendency to bring these negative occurrences into their lives through worry. What this means is that despite being told by a Reader that some terrible thing is not going to happen or that some wonderful thing will, the querent worries about it to the point of actually bringing the non-desired result into reality. Self-defeating behavior is not something the average reader/diviner is responsible for. Look to your own life.

5. Don’t read over the Diviner’s shoulder. Querents who read professionally as well as people who have only just picked up their first deck of cards are both equally guilty of this behavior. It is wonderful that you practice these things. I recommend strongly that each and every practitioner has some sort of divination technique they are proficient with. However, each individual has their own interpretation. Yes, there are books that will tell you this card means this and that card means that. I hesitate to say that these are advisory because I’ve seen too many a person attempt to redefine cards with little or no practice and little or no genuine capacity for divination. The result is not pretty. However with practice, talent, and Spiritual guidance experienced diviners will have different definitions than the “authorities” who have written numerous tomes on the subject. Also, it is wise to remember that many Readers are not only receiving messages through the cards, coins, or whatever physical devices they use. The most talented of these practitioners are also receiving messages directly from whatever Spirits they work with, and these will tend to veer away from the strict definitions as published.

6. Don’t Haggle or Groan. Despite the easy availability and multitude of books published on virtually every form of divination, it is not easy. Yes, many Diviners have a natural gift. Many also have years of experience which have also honed their skills, and many more still are continually studying their craft. Aside from that, however, a true Diviner who is receiving messages uses an incredible amount of energy in the process. It looks easy. The books make it seem easy. The truth is that in performing divinations of any kind of any worth, the Reader must maintain a connection to the Spirits s/he works with. This is what will take a great deal of energy; energy which must be replaced. Symbolically and metaphorically, money is used to replace this energy. Follow this reasoning; you work and expend your energy performing your job to receive money as compensation for your effort. You then hire a Reader and compensate them for the energy they expend with the money you received in exchange for your energy. This is why money is referred to as currency. If a Reader is not properly compensated for the amount of energy expended, there is a deficit in their own personal energy, one that can be difficult to replace. This may leave a Diviner feeling burned out, vitamin depleted, tired, and even occasionally cranky, all of which disturbs their life. Admittedly there are some Diviners who require a disproportionate amount of currency for their work, and some who require less than adequate. If you cannot afford a particular diviner, keep looking. Don’t simply try to haggle them down or repeatedly groan about the expense, or whine excessively about your own money problems until they relent and drop the price. The old adage, “you get what you pay for,” is, unerringly, true.

7. If the Diviner is Not Available, Don’t ARGUE. Your emergency does not necessarily imply an emergency for your Reader. If the Reader/Diviner explains that they are unable to read for you due to illness, family situations, current mood, or exhaustion, accept it and move on. Pressuring, bribing,  or otherwise attempting to force a reading from a Diviner who feels in no place to perform that particular talent will do no good whatsoever. The reading will be, at the best, inaccurate. If necessary, request a referral to a different Diviner from the Reader; every professional diviner is aware of ten or more other practitioners. If s/he feels unable to assist you, if s/he is worth their salt, s/he will be more than happy to refer you to another trusted diviner.

8. A Second Opinion is NOT Psychic Shopping. If it happens that the Diviner is unable to get a proper read on a subject, or perhaps the querent doesn’t feel the reading is accurate, a second opinion is always an option. Again, requesting a recommendation is the best method of finding someone else to speak to. If the querent feels so uncomfortable with the reading that s/he doesn’t trust anyone the Reader would recommend, then they should not be patronizing that particular Reader and should question trusted friends and family for a referral to a different reader altogether.

Standard
guidance, Uncategorized

Knowing

Many people involved in “alternative religions” make the mistake of learning first, not knowing.

“To know,” is often quoted as the first part of the infamous “Witches’ Pyramid.” “To know, to dare, to will, to keep silent.” Practitioners often equate “to know” with “to learn.” They are not often synonymous.

You can spend hours, days, weeks, months, years, entire lifetimes learning. Being a convert to a religion is intimidating, and there is a endless stream of facts and figures the practitioner feels compelled to learn. Holy days and holidays, incantations and invocations, prayers and chants, rituals and rites, rights and wrongs, rules and regulations, the names of countless deities, entities, spirits, even foreign languages are new and confusing facts to be learned and memorized. Yes, many of these things need to be learned, need to be known. But these are not, by far, the most important.

Know Thyself is the most important. Learn your own mind, your own needs, learn who you are and what you believe away from the influence of all else; yes, even the Spirits. Know your psychology, your reactions, your loves, your fears, your needs, know even your numerology, your astrology, and all the influences that could push your mind in one direction or another. Know their theoretical effects, know how they effect you. Know your own Will. Know how to counter the effects of outside influences and stay true to that Will. If you do not know thyself, you can not to thine own self be true.

In this battle, many emphasize the need for what is often termed “shadow work.” Whether this will be necessary or not is generally between the practitioner and his/her Spirits. Some Spirits will pull a practitioner through a psychological meat grinder, processing and reprocessing, pushing them to their utmost to face their fears, find new fears, and face them down as well. Other practitioners do not have this burden. This will depend on what the practitioner’s role in any given religion is to be. It is the Mystics and the Shamans that will face the worst of these confrontations, whereas the confessors, priests, and spellworkers seem to get off more lightly.

For the rest of us, “Shadow Work” is much, much simpler. We have two choices when we find something we perceive as “negative”:

1. Embrace it, accept it, assimilate it, and learn to use it.

2. Change it. Face it, confront it, get rid of it.

Everything will fall into one of these two categories. Alcoholic? Change it or use it. Yes, alcohol dependency can destroy your life and the lives of everyone you care about and everyone who cares about you. However, there have been many prolific and influential artists of all kinds who were little more than functional drunks. What do you want out of your life? Do you want human relationships? Do you want a long life? If it is your Will to pursue a drunken stupor for the rest of your life, so be it. Don’t pretend otherwise. Do you have an anger management problem? Change it. You can. I can’t change that in you, you can. If you don’t want to change it, don’t. But don’t hide it. Claim it. Use it. Channel it. Find a career with a destructive aspect; demolitions, for example, and harness your anger productively.

Not every “shadow” within oneself will be simple to get rid of or simple to embrace. Some may take a lifetime. One day at a time, as they say in most addiction therapy, is how you live. Acknowledging these weaknesses–this is the first step to truly knowing yourself. Ignoring them, pretending they don’t exist, or knowing they’re there but living a lie; these are not options if you truly wish to be self-actualized and self-aware.

Why is self-knowledge so important? More important than knowing the names of the gods, which days to worship, and which offerings they require? More important than taboos and memorizing religious ritual?

If you do not know your own mind, you do not know who or what is speaking to you. You may not even know they are speaking.

How can you tell your voice out of thousands, if you do not know what you sound like? How could you hear the voice of a Spirit if there are thousands of your own voices babbling in your head?

You can not.

The knowledge of your own mind is absolutely necessary in order to be able to discern between your voice and those which may be of a Spirit. Many make the mistake of hearing their own voice and claiming it’s knowledge as “UPG,” when it is nothing more than wishful thinking. Of course, it may be worse if it is not their own voice deluding them.

There is another, deeper, and more sinister danger involved.

If a practitioner was, indeed, hearing their own voice and claiming it came from a God or other Spirit, that would be “harmless” enough. The only real harm would be to the practitioner and to those silly enough to believe that the practitioner’s “UPG” was some form of prophecy or truth. The chance that any Deity or Spirit would be offended enough at the claim to actually do anything to the practitioner is slim. That the Spirits frequently ignore the offender as the person is beneath their notice or care. No, the more difficult problem comes if there is something malicious whispering in the practitioner’s ear.

The Spirit world is teeming with life. There are as many different entities there as there are in our own physical realm. Animal, vegetable, mineral, thousands and millions of different Spiritual species. Some benevolent, some mischievous, some malicious. This is all from our own human perspective, at least. Many of these Spirits have their own motivations which are essentially incomprehensible to us. To some of them, which we often will refer to as demons or devils because we perceive them to be the epitome of evil, we are nothing more than ants on a sidewalk which occasionally they may step on. To others, we are ants and they are 9-year old children with magnifying glasses, setting us on fire in the sunlight for a moment’s distraction.

There are also Spirits who were previously human. Some of these know who they are, and are little changed from how they were in life. Some have changed for the better, understanding their failures and wanting to make amends. But still others are lost, not even knowing who they are, or what they are supposed to be doing. If a practitioner encounters one, and asks who the Spirit is, they may not be able to answer. If the practitioner pursues this line of questioning by asking or assuming that the Spirit is a particular entity or God, they will often answer in the affirmative. Because whatever name you call them by, you see them and know them, so therefore that is who they must be. Unfortunately, giving this Spirit a name does not make it so. Calling a Spirit Loki, Brigid, Zeus, or any other Deity’s name will cause all sorts of misfortune both for the practitioner as well as for the Spirit. This has less to do with knowing yourself and more to do with discernment between different types of Spirits, but these topics are related. Once you have been able to isolate your own human voice, it becomes simpler to be able to sense when a Spirit speaking to you is/was also human. This is important.

The mischievous Spirits will play with us. Push us, pull us, taunt us, all for no reason at all but that we entertain them momentarily. They will delight in everything from hiding our keys to causing us to run off the road in a motor vehicle accident. The malevolent Spirits work in similar fashion, but take more delight in even more destructive activities either because of some hatred of humans in general, because of some error committed knowingly or not by the practitioner, or because they were recruited in some fashion by another practitioner.

Yes, that happens.

In the end, whether the Spirit maliciously and intentionally attacks, mischievously plays, or unintentionally harms, the methods are similar and the best defense is, naturally, know thyself.

How many times have  you changed your mind at the last minute, and done something you had no intention of doing? How many times have you turned left instead of right out of “habit”? How many times have you called someone because they “popped into your head”? How many dreams have you dreamt of people you haven’t seen for years? These are the small, subtle, harmless ways Spirits can get into your head. So many thoughts flit through the consciousness at any one given time, some screaming for attention, some content with slipping silently into the darker recesses of the mind. All Spirits work on a different plane; they are not inhibited by the physical. They do, can, and will, affect your thoughts. Sometimes because the Spirit feels like it, sometimes because another practitioner, consciously or not, directed them there. You may get a job because a Spirit influenced the prospective employer, or not because someone else’s Spirit got there first. The police officer might not give you a ticket because a Spirit whispered in his ear. A clerk may forget to ring up an item or two because they were distracted by a Spirit. A Spirit might be encouraging you to take another drink, grab a bottle of pills, or jump off of a bridge as well.

To KNOW THYSELF is both the best way to meet the Spirits, understand and truly commune with them as well as the most important advice on self-protection and preservation that I could possibly give. It should be the absolute first step for anyone plunging into a mystic life. More important than anything out of any book. More important than anything from any website. More important than any supposed “UPG.”

If you haven’t started, it is never too late.

Standard
Spirits

Spirits

Spirits. This is the word I will normally use when I refer to the entities I work with. “Work” is another term. Considering we all have different names and terms for each and every aspect of our individual practices, I thought I’d take a moment to define many of the ones I use. After all, our practices will seem even more different if we don’t ever stop and explain what we mean about these things.

There’s only so much information I could put into the “About” page after all, and I imagine even less that you would read…learning as we go along seems to be a fairly normal procedure with these blogs.

I use the term “Spirits” because it seems to me the best all-encompassing word for entities of a non-physical nature.  Best all-encompassing and friendliest. “Entities” seems impersonal, sterile, and even a little scientific. Too distant. Any other word doesn’t seem to fit; and to list off each and every type of Spirit that is involved in my practice, would just wear my fingers out prematurely.

There is, after all, a difference, between Gods, Demi-Gods, Saints, Orishas, Lwas, Animal Totems, previously incarnated human spirits, elementals, land spirits, etc., etc., etc.

And even within each of those categories, and the many that I’ve missed, and all the culturally different versions of each, and all the different words in all the different languages, there are subtle differences. For instance–Elementals. I have seen people use this word in reference to Spirits of pure elemental energy, man-made “helper” spirits (although I prefer the term “fetch” for those, there are still others that use the word “fetch” to refer to a ghost), or spontaneously created Spirits (normally used in reference to non-human appearing Spirits who seem to appear primarily in locales where a great deal of negative emotion has taken place). Which one would you be referring to if you used the word? And which elements would you be referring to? Are you using a system with three, four, five elements, six or seven elements, or something altogether different? Would you believe it possible that there would be Elementals of combined elements–steam, smoke, mist, or mud for example, or is that too RPG for your tastes?

Just one term, and thousands of permutations.

The same could be said of “Work.” I will use that term because “Worship” is not appropriate with all the Spirits that I Work with. The previously-incarnated humans, for example, are definitely “Worked,” not worshiped. There are offerings involved, and prayers are offered, but the prayers are for them, not to them. An important difference, in my mind. In return for the energies that I give them, they help my and my loved ones with some of our life challenges. And it is truly amazing what these Spirits will do for me. There are Spirits who are “Worshiped” and others who are simply “Reverenced.”

“Practice” is another word you’ll undoubtedly see me tossing about. Practice makes perfect, right? Well, again, it’s easier than typing out a litany of activities that are involved in my daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly spiritual activities. Particularly when you work with as many Spirits as I do.

So to answer a question that is, as yet, unasked, I do feel that each and every Spirit I work with is a separate individual. My Gods/Goddesses have definite personalities, as do the Orishas, and Lwas as well. Which would certainly throw me into the Hard-Polytheist camp.

However…

I do not think of my Gods as, well, Gods as the modern definition would seem to be. They are not perfect. They are not omniscient. They are not omnipotent. They have a certain range of coverage. Inasmuch as your household, medical, and vehicle insurance all cover specific ranges with a mild amount of overlap (vehicle and household insurance will pay for medical bills in certain situations, for example), so too each and every deity I deal with has a specific domain. If I need something not covered by my Patron or Matron…well, I either have to find someone else or ask them to negotiate with a different deity on my behalf. That’s just the way it is for me. Sometimes, the answer is a resounding, “NO.” This is because I have found that Deities, as opposed to other Spirits, are more inclined to attempt to teach lessons and encourage personal growth.

Although my husband has gotten a particular butt-kicking from Papa Legba a time or two, as well. I have found with the Lwa that most of the time if you immediately apologize or demonstrate you’ve learned the lesson, they do lighten up and help you out of whatever chasm they’ve allowed you to fall into. Normally. I have watched people fall into bottomless pits because they repeatedly screwed up the same thing over, and over, and over, and despite all the offerings and spells on their behalf never did learn their lesson so they were allowed to fall. That’s the way it goes sometimes. And of course, some Lwa and some Orisha…and some Deities as well…have higher expectations of their children than do others, as well as different expectations from different children on different paths.

We are all individuals, and believe it or not, they do seem to understand that.

Which is what makes Practice so tricky. It is often very individual. There are traditions to work within, naturally. I believe wholeheartedly in assimilation not appropriation, or I should probably say misappropriation. When a Spirit demonstrates S/He wishes to be a part of my life, I commit to studying that Spirit. I learn what is needed, what offerings to give as well as what not. If necessary, I find representatives of specific faiths in order to carry out those offerings. For instance, I am not qualified to sacrifice chickens or other animals in either Santeria or Voudoo (Vudu, Voudoun, however you prefer to slice it. My practice is more New Orleans than Haitian, but in truth is neither). Should an offering, sacrifice, or cleansing be necessary, I need to find a person who is qualified. I play by the rules, always. Anything less is disrespectful to those Spirits. Unless, of course, they ask for something else.

And that is a post for a different day.

Standard
gurus, truth

Facing the Truth, and Giving it Voice

I have been silent now for far too long.

I grew weary, reading so much absolute nonsense on the Internet, in the blog world. Futile hostility, intentional misinterpretations, seriously dangerous advice given by people who don’t know better to people who don’t know at all, and I grew weary. Weary of reading it all,, weary of worrying, weary of trying to help.

And in those last days of weariness, I set up this blog. The idea was that I would have a place to give voice to the truth. One tiny corner of the Internet where I would not be overrun by other voices, each shouting from their soapbox over the din of thousands of other ill-informed voices, each one less helpful than the next.

But it was too late. I was too weary, and seriously, seriously burned out from actually caring about those being led astray.

I sound like an evangelist, don’t I? Well, I’m not. But I suppose there is a common bond in that I truly want to help, I believe I can help, that I have the knowledge that so many could benefit from. Yet I came to the realization that no one was listening. They didn’t want to listen, or couldn’t. The pseudo-gurus are so much more sparkly, so much more coddling, so much better for the fragile ego.

Of course, the pseudo-gurus will only keep you sick. As the wise people of Louisiana will tell you about local practitioners…you don’t go to the advertized practitioners. They’ll fix your problem, then make you worse again or curse you with something else, so you’ll be a constant source of income. Not that these pseudo-gurus are making actual cash money from the hundreds of desperate amateurs out there; but there are other kinds of currency. Currency=energy, as most true practitioners understand. Money is one form of energy, which is why we call it currency…but there are many others.

Attention is a very addictive form of currency, and one most of these pseudo-gurus can’t get enough of.

If you think you’re being reeled in by one, look at the subjects they cover in their blog. Do they start trouble, or solve it? Are they looking for common grounds, soothing over disagreements when they are found, or are they pouring gasoline on the fire? Do they jump into each and every Internet spat, voicing their opinion (which must be heard because they are, of course, always right about everything), commenting on every post on the subject, and banding into little (or large) cliques of hate-mongers, in order to intellectually circle-jerk and stroke each others egos about how amazingly right they are and how incredibly rude, ignorant, racist, uninformed, misogynist and whatever-other-unflattering-adjectives they can come up with their opponents are?

Look for the drama-free writers, they don’t need the attention kicked up by drama. Look for the writers who have calm lives, productive lives, and who take their personal problems well. None of us have truly easy lives, we all have our “crosses” to bear. But the attitude of a blogger, and their faith in their beliefs, is revelatory of their nature. If they don’t have faith in their beliefs, why should you have faith in them? Why would you take their advice?

I would also be verrrrrrry skeptical of those using the term “UPG.” In my experience, 95% of the people using this term are pulling things out of their nether regions. All true practitioners have their intuitions; the direct messages that come from a source outside their own minds and imaginations. These, however, are not put into play without being verified. No, not by other humans necessarily, whose opinions are likely as flawed as our own, but through some sort of divination…through normal channels, such as Tarot and other popular forms, to the silly like flipping a coin. Gnosis is always personal, the “P” is unnecessary. And no gnosis should be accepted without verification.

Unverified messages are exactly how malo muerte, and other Spirits without your best interests at heart get in. Good fences make good neighbors; verification makes for good information. Of course, the closer you are to your Spirits, the more you know their “voices.” Just as with humans, you can tell one from the other, the “flavor” each has when the messages come. But that does take time, and even after so many years of practice, I still verify on anything that is more important than asking for their daily oblations. Which is just about everything, as I am fairly good at taking care of the daily needs of my Spirits. Better safe than sorry. I have seen what malo muerte and other Spiritual Invaders can do to a person’s psyche. I have no intentions of becoming a victim as well.

An ounce of prevention beats a gallon of holy water. 😉

Somewhere, I got sidetracked. Let me get back to what I was saying; I was burned. I saw what was going on, saw people flocking to pseudo-gurus in droves, and as a person who truly does care (even with people I only know through the cyber-realm) and it broke my heart. I thought I would be able to sidetrack myself through starting a blog, and I did try. But it was too late. I had to step back, and allow myself time to recover.

With enough distance between myself and the past, I am ready (I believe) to re-begin this blog. Hopefully, I’ve learned the lesson; not to become personally attached to people, no matter how well you think you’ve bonded. Sometimes you have to let them go and make mistakes. It hurts, its hard, but if I don’t speak, no one will hear me. If I speak my truth, there is always the chance that someone out there will benefit from it.

Let this be so.

Standard