Sunday, November 8, 2009
I don't often stress about that subject, being sworn to Freya, one of the Vanir, usually means I have enough.
I don't have a lot, but it's enough to cover my bills and make sure my son and I eat well and eat organically, which in today's society means expensively.
I'm not wealthy by any means and I work hard for what I have.
But things were tight, some important checks bounced and I panicked. It happens.
I sent out a prayer to my beloved deity of choice and boy, did she reply!
Within an hour, I had more jobs lined up, both house cleaning and writing.
Now, in my experience that's how my beloved deity of choice works.
I don't win the lotto, find out I'm the heir to some long lost but wealthy relative or find money in the street, rather I am given opportunities to make money.
And I've never been afraid of hard work.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
However, my... I'm not sure what to call it, my vision of what is right in the universe, or my conscience or my honor, let me know that despite my early modeling, relationships with the people you worked on weren't right.
My mother was a mental health worker and when I was in my late twenties I picked up one of her books on ethics. Surprise, surprise, there where some great guidelines on the worker/client dynamic and relationship. It gave me a starting point to construct some personal guidelines.
1)There are intense feelings that occur between worker and client. You are sharing energy and experiences that are painful, sorrowful and transformative. It creates a bond. But it is your responsibility as the worker to know that bond is NOT romantic in nature. And I know this from personal experience, if you try to turn that bond into a romantic relationship, you will not be happy. Pity kills love just as surely as if you stabbed it through the heart.
2) There are some people that you just can't help. Not because they are bad people or you are a bad worker, but because there is some sort of energy between you, good or bad. Rather than get elbow deep in the problem and find you are stuck, take a step back when some one comes to you for work, meditate on it, ask your gods or wights or spirit guides if this is what you should be doing. If any indications come back to you in the negative, refer, refer, refer. That's why you have a network of colleagues, even if its only your local Pagan Meetup.
3)If you get stuck in a dual relationship(and it happens, despite your best intentions) ask for help to get perspective on it. It doesn't mean you are a horrible person. You made a mistake. The sooner you confront that mistake and work out how to make it right, the less damage you will do, to yourself as well as your client.
Now, I have the added sticky wicket of using sexual techniques to heal. That makes feelings harder to separate out for both parties. And despite the honest stated and exhaustively discussed intentions that this is NOT relationship but healing oriented, people's feelings still get tangled up and that euphoria of pain relief,either emotional or physical, or depth of gratitude gets confused with love. If that happens, stop using sexual techniques with that client. If it continues to be a problem, refer, refer, refer.
And get help yourself. It's easy for us to blame ourselves when things go awry. We assume because we are the workers, we should never make mistakes.We do. So own up to it, work to make it right, learn from it and MOVE ON. There is nothing sadder than a worker that has crippled themselves or stop working because they made a mistake. We are just as human as our clients, with all their needs and desires. We try to treat them with the utmost compassion and care. We need to treat ourselves with the same.
But what if you are both energy workers that are trading work back and forth?
This one is more of a grey area for me.
We live in a society where finding a person that doesn't think we are totally and completely whackadoo is difficult and fraught with the twin perils of scientifically based disbelief and spiritual apathy. So that other person or people we find as helpmate and lover usually work with energy/spirits/gods/wights also.
My current beloved is a ceremonial magician, Reiki Master and massage therapist. He teaches me as much as I teach him. Dual relationship? It could be construed as such. But we didn't approach the relationship as worker/client or teacher/student. The relationship is primarily romantic with working aspects on the side. The intent is different, therefore to me, it makes the relationship different.
Your mileage will most certainly vary.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
A Wiccan priestess and mental health care professional that I respect very much is
asking the question, "how do we live in a alterni-culture that expects a lot from us, and mostly for nothing. I know this has been an ongoing discussion in the larger community for years, and I'm not looking at the idea of money so much as what happened to gratitude and the notion of caring about our priestesses and how they live. Or what about gratitude and willingness to be aware of give and take, and how do you convey that to students in ways that work?"
For the record, I do not have an answer. It's been something I've been thinking about lately. One of my colleagues is writing about guidelines for practitioners and healthy boundaries between energy workers and clients, so obviously the thought is in the ether and therefore should be addressed by as many people as possible.
I'm not Wiccan now. I'm technically a priestess( I preside over rituals both seasonal and transitional), but most of the work I do now is more personal rather than congregational.
I did get my 1st and 2nd degrees in a Neo-Gardenarian tradition, so I know how the student/teacher paradigm works. It is a very solemn, oath sworn teacher responsible for student relationship with strict controls over what the student is doing magically and spiritually.
I realized that paradigm didn't work for me as a student(stemming from my own lessons about control, cults of personality and discernment), so I have been reluctant to impose it on anyone else. So I started a study group a few years ago. Since heathery is described often as the religion with home work, the first year was split equally between studying the Norse world-view and elementary energy work, sensing energy, sensing auras/chakras/wheels/energy centers, grounding, shielding, centering. The second year we spent studying the world view as it applied to present life, runes and more advanced energy work, sensing auras and working with elemental energies. Now in our third year, we've moved on to spell work, journeying and healing.This evolved practice has resulted in I don't have formal students along the Wiccan paradigm as much as I have students-colleagues.
I teach the skills I've learned over many years of trial and error, supplemented with books like Diana Paxson's Trance-portation or the Eddas or Blain's Nine Worlds of Seid Magic. They read, do the work and come to me if they have problems or issues. But there is no intimate life entanglement that I have seen and experienced with the Wiccan teacher/student model. They take responsibility for what they do and they try to work out their problems themselves first. I only get consulted or asked for help if they can't find their way through the issue themselves. Sometimes that makes me nervous, sometimes that makes me relieved. I'm still working it out in my heart.
So what does this have to do with the original question?
To be fair, the person I'm quoting is a very prominent person in the local community. Therefore I'm sure she gets called upon much more often than I do, as I am not a prominent member of my local community, either Wiccan or Heathen.
I believe there is a great deal of gratitude shown by my colleagues, just by the fact they continue to show up to rituals and classes. They are all professional people with very busy lives. If this wasn't important to them, they'd find something else to do.
As far as give and take is concerned, I get as much as I give. They are all kind, generous people that are willing to help me out if I have any problems or issues. The year and a half I spent unemployed they were all very encouraging. I got job interviews with two of their companies based on their recommendations and my son and I never went hungry.
Perhaps the reason that my colleagues understand the give and take is that they were not students in the traditional Wiccan sense. That by leaving them with their sense of self-reliance, they are then more able to and comfortable with giving and taking as part of learning.
Or perhaps my colleagues are different from normal people. Aliens or higher evolved beings or Colorado School of the Mines alumni :)
Like I as at the beginning, I don't have an answer.
As usual, your mileage will most certainly vary.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I started my journey in this life from an ordeal space. Trials to overcome and work through include but are not limited to; mental, emotional and physical abuse, abandonment, rape, depression, paranoia, heartbreak and despair.
I'm much better now :)
A colleague of mine is doing a wonderful thing. He's taking a mental health inventory of all the land mines and razor wire that lie buried in his psyche.
He's embarked on an ordeal that will make him a better person. And I am very proud of him.
At the same time, I am obscenely grateful that I am not in that space now.
Mind you, I still go through periods where I get complacent and the universe has to clue by four me with hideous amounts of pain. Or where I take things for granted and the universe then proceeds to yank those things out from under me.
But the ordeal is not my current primary mode of learning.
It doesn't have to hurt to be meaningful.
That may seem like a no-brainer to most people. To me, it was an epiphany, a revelation so fundamental to my self and my practice that it stole my breath.
I am at this point in my life surrounded by hedonists. My beloved is a hedonist, many of my friends are hedonists and a whole new world has opened up to me.
For ecstasy is their goal.
Not ecstasy that is from a loss of will or consciousness, but rather a deepening of the awareness of the spiritual in all things, in sex, in food, in joy, in avoiding pain.
It has illuminated a deep conflict in myself. I work with ecstastic trance with my shamanistic techniques, to travel to other worlds, to retrieve parts of people that they have lost or left, to see the web of Wyrd as it surrounds us, permeates us, ties us together to the gods, to wights and beings and to one another. But that was the only place where that kind of letting go, feeling deep joy was permissible.
If it felt good, it couldn't possibly be meaningful.
Yet now I am surrounded by people that can reach that deep joy regularly.
That make everyday life ecstatic and in touch with the spiritual through simply
making a fantastic meal.
Or having fun sex.
It is an interesting and illuminating experience for me, an experience that made me really look at my definitions of joy and laziness, pain and ecstasy.
So I wish my friend well as he journeys on the ordeal path.
And dance with joy as I journey on mine.
As always, your mileage on your journey will most certainly vary.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
And it's only because of the time of year in which Hloafmas falls.
Late summer when I was a child on the ranch in Montana was a busy time of the year for work, bringing in hay, harvesting vegetables, canning, smoking, salting, preparing for winter. Because on a farm or ranch, you are always thinking about how you are going to get through the winter.
In my adult life, summer has become a busy time of year for spiritual work.
That is, spiritual work that involves others. Summer is a time when people come for house wardings, curse liftings, wyrd readings, all the rituals and workings that make people and families feel safe and warm and prosperous.
So, in the spirit of first fruits and reaping what has been sown, health, wealth and happiness to all on this sacred day. Hope your celebrations were wonderful.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
To me, the following values flow from one another through one another until they are one river of conduct, but to break them down-
Courage- As a friend of mine wrote once, courage is not A virtue, it is THE virtue from which all other virtues flow. Courage to face all challenges both internal and external is vital to any kind of meaningful spiritual practice. Courage enables us to look deep into our inner darknesses and learn. Courage enables us to be honest with ourselves even when we don't want to. Courage enables us to call ourselves and others on BS and walk away from it. Courage enables us to be independent when all around us people are clamoring for us to be part of the herd. Courage enables us to manifest joy. Courage also enables us to stand up and model what we believe in.
Self knowledge/self honesty- Know thyself. If you don't know yourself, it's hard to be honest with yourself about what drives you, what frightens you, what angers you, what you love, what weird prejudicial land mines that live in your mind and heart. It should be an ongoing process, because no one knows everything about themselves always. We are too changeable as human beings. And be honest. There are unpleasant messes in the best of person's psyches.
Discernment- When you are brave, self knowledgeable and self honest, then the little BS detector that every thinking adult must have is in place. Use it. It's like a tuning fork, someone tells you something and you listen for the pitch. Does it resonate with you or fall flat? Be responsible for your own discernment, rather than relying on the thoughts and words of others.
Independence-Many heathen constructs are community based, putting the welfare of the many over the welfare of the few. And I'm a believer in community. But if you can not stand on your own and stand up for your own opinions, then you are not living to the fullness of your potential. Independence in thought, word and deed is a good thing.
Joyfulness- There is so much energy, work and time expended in a spiritual practice. If your spiritual practice doesn't lift you up, inspire you, fill you with joy and great gladness, STOP DOING IT. Move on, find something else that does. Now, not every spiritual practice is happy-happy-joy-joy all the time. Some life lessons are hard and painful. But it doesn't have to hurt to be meaningful. And if it hurts more often than it heals, look elsewhere.
In my experience. Your mileage will most certainly vary.
Friday, June 19, 2009
And at some time in the heat of the moment, everyone wishes they never met that other person. Everyone wishes they could do something that would make the pain go away.
But that doesn't mean everyone should sever the tie. Because severing a tie between you and another person is serious and permanent. Let me repeat, SERIOUS and PERMANENT.
Instead, there are two intermediate steps, knotting off and filtering.
Knotting off entails envisioning the tie between you and that other person(I have people visualize a cord or a thread that runs between) and tying a knot in it to restrict the flow of energy, emotions and thoughts between you and that other person.
A helpful focusing chant for me is "I knot away from me all energy that is negative and harmful to my well-being".
You can also use the Isa rune to freeze the connection.
This will give you the time and space to figure out how to solve the problems in the relationship without the constant negative energy input/output between you and the other person.
However, this is only temporary. If you leave a knot too long, a form of soul-gangrene will occur, just like if you left a tourniquet on your physical body too long. So find a way to solve the problem as soon as possible.
Filtering entails envisioning the tie between you and that other person and installing a screen. I like to think of window screens, but I've had people use force field and engineering imagery as well.
A helpful focusing chant for me is "No thing negative or harmful will pass this way. Only that which is positive and helpful will pass to me from thee and from me to thee."
You can also use the Nauthiz or Eihwaz rune as a focus.
Unless you add more negativity to the relationship, this is enough for most bad/painful/toxic relationships.
However, there are some ties or some relationships that are so toxic to your heart and soul that to continue them would do you massive,on-going harm.
I advise that anyone contemplating such a drastic step visit a psychological professional or spiritual advisor to help define this level of toxicity.
I also advise that anyone contemplating such a drastic step first try other steps to correct the problem more gently, whether it is knotting, filtering, negotiation, counselling, self-help work, etc.
If all of these things have been defined and tried, then severing is appropriate.
Severing entails envisioning the tie between you and the other person.
Through that tie, you take back all that you put into the relationship. This takes the form of a list of material things you gave, emotional experiences you shared or thoughts you had about this person.
Then through that tie, you give back all that they gave you in the relationship. This is a pile of material things they gave you and a list of emotional experiences you shared.
In both these instances, it is important to be thorough. Both positive and negative things must be taken back and returned.
Then, envisioning that tie between you and the other person, you cut it three times. I use a scalpel visualization usually, but I have used scissors and in one very nasty case, an axe.
A focusing chant I use is, "Once I cut, to break the tie, Twice I cut to for the pain to fly, three times I cut for the bond to cease, from this life to the next, let there be peace."
You can also use Kenaz to burn through the tie.
As with all things I write here, this is in my experience. Your mileage will most certainly vary.
Friday, June 12, 2009
So when I watched cowboys on TV, they confused me. "That's not like so and so, " I would say to my father, who would sing me his rendition of the Bonanza theme, "Nobody ever does any work on Bonanza! Sit around all day, don't get paid, Hop Sing does all the work!" My wise father's code for, "Honey, it's not like they've actually talked to real cowboys. It's pretend."
As I read Stephen King's Gunslinger series, I got the same, "Honey, it's not like they talked to real cowboys. It's pretend."(Not that I didn't like the series BTW, but it was definitely based on what someone had seen cowboys and lawmen on TV and in the movies, rather than real life).
So recently I was a reader of a discussion about shamanism on an Asatru list, prefaced with the question "Is it Asatru?".
BTW, this discussion was part of one of those discussions that makes me angry to the bone, the defining of us vs. them with the idea if they are not us, how should the community condemn them. I find this argument pop up in Asatru thought every once in a while, especially from those that have a personal anti-mystic bias, usually because they were brought up in a faith with an anti-mystic bias and despite conversion to Heathenry, they carry that bias still.
And after years of comparative religious theory, my first thought was," This is someone's TV cowboy definition of shamanism."
"Personally, I feel that people who are into mysticism and such belong on the outside of society. And I think naturally they gravitate towards that. As we get closer to the inngarth of society and social mores, we find laws, customs, and taboos. As we get closer to the utgardth, we find the opposite. You can't run a society of Shamans. A society of people who are in constant contact with the Gods, constantly in Shamanic practice, by definition would not be able to enforce rules, customs, or have taboos. This distorts the purpose of society and the purpose of Shamanism. Both are degraded by their integration. Either you try to apply rules to a Shaman, which destroys the project of Shamanism, or you try to have a society without laws, rules, customs, or mores (which would resolve itself into a kind of dystopia). You can't run a society this way. Shamans need that kind of freedom to do what they do. Society at large can't have that.So, while I can respect the project of Shamanism, kind of like I appreciate the project of the Punk Rocker, or the Dadaist, I do not feel that we can build up a religion around it. It would also be impossible to "reconstruct" Shamanism, since by definition, Shamans can't operate at their fullest within any "construction" . The way that people have described it to me is that they see all Nine Worlds at once, and all Time at once. Try forcing a person like that to draw a map, or make a watch, which circumscribes their experience. It's impossible. This is all my opinion on Shamanism. I can appreciate the project, but I can't see it as a religion in and of itself. "
The writer is correct about a couple of things.
Shamanism is not a religion, with a set of gods and goddesses, a cosmology, narratives and beliefs. It's a practice, which is puts one in touch with the gods/spirits/wights/ancestors as part of an existing worldview. It is a job similar to mystics and prophets, those that talk to and interact with the universe in a direct way.
And as a result, those people do gravitate to the outskirts of society. It's hard to be the voice of other worlds. It makes demands on your time, health and sanity in a way that makes just hanging out with your people a difficult thing.
But after that, I differ greatly with the author.
-Mystics do not belong outside of society.- I realize that's more of a personal preference for the writer rather than a stated fact, but ALL religions have a mystical component. Christian mystics such as Julian of Norwich or many monks in the Greek Orthodox tradition, Hebrew prophets like Isaiah, Buddhist Tibetan mystics, Sufi masters, Hindu yogis etc. inspire the people of their community to a closer relationship with their deities of choice, healing those people, prophecy etc. Shamans are a kind of mystic.
-Shamans can't operate at their fullest in any construction-Shamans are constructed and defined by service to their community, not how they define that community, but how that community defines THEM. Shamans can't just call themselves shamans, their community calls them shaman, with all the inherent rights and responsiblities that comes with that.Some societies have their shamans in the middle of the village, some on the edges, but there is no question that they are a vital part of that community. They are the bridge between this world and other worlds.
I am not a shaman. My practice has elements of the shamanistic practitioner(using the methods and models of shamanistic practice to achieve results) because they work. And deep down, whether you are reading accounts of shamans in the Amazon, or Inuit healers or Sami weatherworkers, shamanism is about what works, not the worldview/religion/philosophy trappings, but the energy/ psychology/practicality of practice that gets results for their community.
In my experience. Your mileage will most certainly vary.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I am a servant to my deities of choice.
However, my experience with them is that the terms of my service are negotiable.
In my experience, my lady Freyja influences/controls/cares for the aspects of life that deal with sex, transformation and death(if you are an astrologer, 8th house issues).
When I first started serving my lady Freyja, I was single, childless, young and attractive. Therefore to serve her by healing the hearts and esteem of others through sex and intimacy was appropriate and fun.
Then, I gave birth to my son. I no longer had the time or the inclination to practice sex magic or sexual healing. My lady Freyja was very loving about my choice and she asked me to work with transformational work, healing the hearts and esteem of others through helping them see other ways to approach their world and their problems. I spent much time counseling others, volunteering at suicide hotlines and tutoring.
Once my son reached kindergarten age, I felt I could again serve in a sexual way. My lady Freyja and I negotiated a different kind of dynamic, more intimacy and less sex, but she was happy and so was I.
Then, I met my second husband. Part of his wyrd was to be monogamous. I loved him, so after going to my lady Freyja, I agreed. She was very loving about my choice and she asked me to work with death, helping others deal with the the guilt, pain, despair and rage that comes with a personal or familial terminal illness. I worked in hospices, hospitals and at the last, I cared for my son's father for the last two years of his life.
And since I divorced my second husband, I'm practicing aspects of all three of the spheres that I've learned. And my lady Freyja and I are both very happy with that.
My experiences with Odin are similar.
When he first came to me, he picked me for my intellect, my writing ability. I wrote for him and about him. I studied comparative religions and taught others about the Nordic worldview.
There have been times when I got caught up in the mundane and didn't spend as much time as I had previously doing the work Odin asks of me. But he's very indulgent about it.
I'm still negotiating with Hel.
Her charge to me during my initiation was to learn and show an alternate view of her. Rather than only the fierce destructive side of death, with a strong emphasis on its physical horrors, but also the goddess that brings an end to pain, rage and despair. She is impatient with my progress, but understanding about my need to understand so that I may serve well.
Service is a sacred task. But I belong to me. And I am responsible for my own choices.
If I decided tomorrow to walk away from all of my deities of choice, I believe I could do it without penalty or sanction.
I'm using "in my experience" often in this entry. Because unlike people of the book(Christians, Jews, Muslims) or people of many books(Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist) we have a limited amount of lore and it all has questionable provenance.
UPG is filling in those blanks. But what if someone else's UPG doesn't grokk with yours?
Then you fall back on "in my experience" Your mileage will most certainly vary.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Each region, each state in the US has a different feeling, a different combination of earth, air, fire and water that make it unique.
As American spiritworkers/mystic heathens/shamanistic practitioners with a European set of gods, worldview and priorities, do we work with the spirits/ancestors/wights that live here, or do we call something from somewhere else? Or neither? Or both?
"Wight” is a general term for sentient being, but it is widely used today with specific reference to the spiritual beings who are neither god nor human. Land Wights may be found in any feature of the landscape — a hill, a rock, a tree, a stream; sometimes they may be willing to communicate, but some wights are really not interested and are not at all welcoming."Yggdrasil Heathen Group(based in the UK)
I'm from Montana. From historical accounts, when settlers from Norway came to northwestern Montana in the 1800's (home of Glacier Park), they commented that they felt like they were home. I've never been to Norway, so I can't compare. Was it a case of wishful thinking/homesickness or is NW Montana really like Norway? Did they bring their wights with them or were the wights of Montana just similar in vibe?
My grandmother was German. She would leave little bits of food and drink out for "the land", not in an organized saucer at the back door sort of way, but in a she dropped it on the ground and then dedicated it to the land sort of way. And ALL of her neighbors did something similar, no matter where their ancestors came from originally.
I do some herbal work, not medicinal but more magically focused. I've found that where I live changes not only what I gather, but what I sacrifice to thank spirits of the place for the the plants, rocks and minerals that I take.
In 1999, I gathered salt from the Salt Flats in Utah under a full moon. Eerie, that bone white expanse glowing in the moonlight. And I sensed something there, something feminine, something HUGE. I had a bag full of a variety of possible offerings: pennies, bullets, milk and honey, tobacco, juniper, sage, cedar, sweetgrass, assorted flower petals, shells, obsidian, quartz crystals,etc. My method is to reach inside the bag and pull out the appropriate offering at random. I ended up leaving juniper. Only to find out juniper was used by the Paiutes as a ceremonial purifier.
In 2005, I gathered flowers from Aztalan State Park in Wisconsin, a Middle-Mississipian village and ceremonial site. Again, I sensed something feminine, something very large and yet very different from the Salt Flats, something softer. I left shells there. Only to find out from visiting the museum next to the site that thousands of shells were found at the Princess mound, believed to be offerings.
Those are just a few of many similar experiences. And most of the time, my feeling is that what I'm sensing is what lives there and has lived there for, well, forever. But is it a wight? As close as I've ever met.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
When I started twenty years ago, resources were not as rich and varied as they are today.
Freya Aswinn's Leaves of Yggdrasil was my first guide to the Nine Worlds and my relationship to their residents, followed by Kvedulf Gundarrson's Teutonic Magic and Teutonic Religion. And of course I read all the Eddas and sagas as well as any source that vaguely touched upon Norse thought.
As I travelled the country( I move around alot) I met, practiced with and enjoyed talking with many in the Asatru community. I was introduced to Diana Paxson's writing on the Asatru and I am very impressed by her, but despite my respect for many of the people I met and my bone deep grounding in the Norse worldview, I wasn't Asatru.
Despite my training in magic, I wasn't Wiccan either.
I was doing healings, wardings, readings, lifting curses, cleansing houses, talking to dead people, leading rituals and teaching others, all the things my deities of choice trained me to do.
But I was stuck between sharing the worldview but not the work with Asatrur and the work but not the worldview with other solitary practitioners of things as varied as ceremonial magic to core shamanism.
So my colleague gives me a book by Raven Kaldera called A Pathwalker's Guide to the Nine Worlds. And I'm reading it and saying "Wow, so that's what I've been doing for twenty years! How wonderful someone came up with names for all of this!"
Now, not everything Kaldera discusses is part of my beliefs or my practice. But it's closer than anything else I've seen before. So I'm impressed by the work, even if I'm not influenced by it.
Then my colleague gave me a copy of Paxson's Trance-portation and I'm reading it and saying, "Wow, someone came up with a textbook to teach all the things I learned hit and miss! I can use this and my students' experience will be so much less painful!"
I've also been introduced to blogs and blogging. I'm stunned at how much easier it has become to share experiences and information across a wide spectrum of thought and belief. So I thought I'd add my voice.
Read in peace