Bones: A Ramble

I’ve always loved bones. Even as a kid I thought they were cool. Skulls, skeletons, and dead animals on the road. My parents probably thought I was morbid.

I don’t know exactly when I started getting interested in throwing “bones” for divination. It could have been because I’m originally from Las Vegas, and I grew up walking through casinos with people throwing dice.

I know that I started saving bones from my food early on, a few beef bones here, a few chicken bones there. Early in my craft, I mean. I became aware of this side of the world about 15 years ago. And fairly early I was saving bones “for divination” or “for bone throwing”. Even though I had no idea what exactly it was, or what exactly to do to read the bones, I saved some dried cleaned bones in a cup.

Then I forgot about it.

A few years back (maybe eight or ten? Time is kind of weird for me.) I found a blog called “Walking the Hedge”. The specific posts I read at the time have been taken down/replaced or I would link them here. And the writer there (Juniper) has what she called a “casting set”. She used it for divination, tossed it down or chose a few pieces, and then read them with the spirits she was connected to (her gods, and maybe the bones themselves and/or the ancestors, I can’t remember).

One of her blog posts was about making your own set. And she talked about how you “probably have enough things in your jewelry box and drawers” or something like that. And I dug through my stuff and realized she was right.

And that’s when it really started. When I started digging through my things and finding the bones and such that I could use to throw and read.

It’s been, something like seven or eight years maybe? And I keep leaving and coming back to the bones.

So, I’m back again.

Over the last month or so, I’ve been collecting new bits and bobs to go into my bone set. The thing about being a bone reader (at least in my experience) is that the bones, once a set develops a solid personality as a whole, or your ancestors if you work with them, will talk to you all the time. And I do mean All. The. Time.

They don’t have to be near you for them to talk to you. They’re always with you. Poking and prodding. I’ve always collected things off the ground for use in my practice. But it’s much much more pressing when it’s for my bone set. There have been times when I had to go back almost a block to pick up something I saw and ignored, and the my bones and spirits hounded me to go back to pick it up. Right now. My they were not kidding.

That’s okay with me, honestly. Working with Father Change (I call him Loki most days) means that I’ve had someone sitting over my shoulder, a presence behind me who’s always got something to say. They don’t call him Silver Tongue, or Wordsmith for nothing. And Lordy, even when he doesn’t say anything, he still has opinions.

One of those opinions? I am supposed to work with these random baubles and bones I’ve been collecting. I’m supposed to do this form of divination.

He says my ancestors did it, and I am to do it as well.

I’m one of his Truth Tellers, so I basically do what he says. Not mindlessly (he would never accept that) but definitely if I have a calling he wants me to perform I do it. Truth Telling, Bone Reading, and all the other things he’s had me working on.

This blog is one of them.

I feel like I’m rambling at this point (I do that) but that’s okay. I just kind of wanted to bring up bone casting/bone reading/throwing the bones. Mention that I do it. Mention that it’s part of my practice.

I’ll definitely be making more posts about it. Less of a how-to, because the basics have already been posted over and over again on the web. But more of my journey with them, perhaps. Possibly some ways that I do things.

Because I’m supposed to talk about all this stuff (thanks Loki) and as part of one of my taboos that I’ve been slacking on over the years, now that he’s got me writing again, I doubt he’ll let me fully stop that.

This is all of the actual bones and teeth I currently have in my set (to be added to soon)

And this is all the nuts, seeds and shells.

To give you an idea of how bone sets work when you’re connected with them… I took this picture probably less than a week ago… and the flat-topped acorn that’s sort of center left, the pale one? Gone. I gave it to a special place I just found this morning, as an offering. I will continue to travel to this place. Being more offerings. Form a relationship.

But that’s just kind of a “how bone sets change” sort of moment.

Timing

So, one of the deities I work with – let’s call them deities for ease of understanding – is a spirit I work with at-around Imbolc, the cross quarter between winter solstice and spring equinox. I call her Marmoryaba (Marsh Mother, Grandmother Marsh, etc). She’s obviously a deity of the Marshes and Wetlands. She’s a goddess of death (and will pull you right down if you’re not careful), of weaving (wetlands are full of grasses and reeds), and of divination. But she’s also supremely connected to a lot of wetland animals. And her general, as it were, is the heron or crane.

I’ve been working with her for at least half a decade now. And from almost the beginning she was ruthless and unforgiving. And when I wanted to learn something, or needed something, I got a sound and sharp lesson from Heron. A quick jab from his face-blade and a single word that I was supposed to be working on.

For the longest time it has been timing.

And I feel like after half a decade after I first got beak-stabbed by him, it finally, and truly, is making sense.

For this, a mundane garden story.

I heard about Chip Drop ages ago. I signed up to get free wood chips from them some time a few years ago. But I never asked for any chips to be dropped off. Too stressed, too much going on, too complicated to get chips, too whatever.

And this year, as the buds on my ripe old elm tree flower and fall (we call him the Tree God, because he’s just that old and big) I am working with the clock that nature provides. The timing that the world around me gives. And I realized it was time for me to prune my trees. And so I said, “hey, if it’s tree pruning season, would chip drop have more access to wood chips?

So instead of stressing, or taking myself out of it, or overthinking it, I took the timing as a sign and asked for a drop.

It’s been about a month. And maybe you can’t wait that long for wood chips.

But I have about 20 cubic yards of free chipped tree in my driveway that I didn’t have to pay for and I can now at least get all of the paths spread with wood chips. For now that’s fantastic. Because I didn’t have to do anything other than ask, at the right time.

Heron is so, so unbelievably smug right now.

Signs of Spring

So, all my life (or all of it that I really remember) I’ve wanted snow drops. There was just something about them that I really loved. The beauty. The early budding, before anything else. The fragility and strength.

I heard somewhere that they were one of the flowers associated with Imbolc, and with Brigde in her associations with the same day.

Now I know why.

Last autumn I purchased some snow drops (though how I managed anything in the conflagration of 2019 I have no idea) and succeeded at getting them planted.

A month or two ago, I was packing some mulch around them to ward off my annoying Bermuda grass and I saw bulb spears poking up above the soil.

Imagine my delight.

Over the last few weeks the snow drops have grown and sprouted and finally bloomed. And it fills me with such unbelievable joy.

There is something so perfect about it. In a world of pouring rain and wind storms, grass and leafless branches, these tiny fragile powerful flowers claw their way up out of the earth and say “I’m here, and the sun cometh with me”. Because these are the harbingers of spring-now and summer-to-come. They come up just at the cross-quarter between the solstice of winter – the start of the Rough Nights – and the equinox of spring – the beginning of the year for some, and the time when my Mother of All Work claws her way up out of the winter and bares her bloodied teeth to the world in a fierce grin.

More on her in a future post.

For me, I do still celebrate Imbolc, though it’s more secular now. I celebrate for spiritual purposes, stay up the entire night, keeping lights lit in vigil for the returning sun. But it’s always on the 1st to 2nd. And the actual cross quarter falls some time between the first and the sixth, depending on the year. So I celebrate on “Imbolc” with family, and do some more personal practices on the actual cross quarter day(s). Although they may fall on my birthday this year.

Also, with the dark of this moon was the start of a new month for me. I still use Anglo-Saxon month names for now, until/unless my deities and I work or something else. Pretty sure this one is Solmonath. And wow does “mud month” suit the semi-constant rain we’re having here.

More later, I think, on the cross quarter days. What they mean to me. What I do for them, maybe. And for now, have a series of snow drops growing up.

January 19

January 25

Uncertainty

I’m not sure where to go from here.

I’ve got two major aspects of my life that I want to sort of share and keep track of.

First, is my spiritual path. I want to write down all the steps and bumps and successes and fuckups I stumble into as I go along my journey. I want to make sure that people can see someone screwing up, and also see someone doing what I do, and maybe find the same sort of “oh hey that’s like me!” excitement that I have seen when finding similar paths to mine.

I also want to keep track of my home, and land. I live in roughly 1/3rd of an acre. I want the whole thing eventually to be planted in a permaculture way, primarily food plants, but also for bees, and magic, and medicine. And I want to share that with people, because frankly, trying to commit to permaculture design when you have adhd (or any neurodivergence) is so so incredibly hard.

So maybe I’ll do both?

I am striving to have my magical life fill my life more. Perhaps I’ll just hat about both things whenever I can.

I’ll never be a regular blogger. I’ll never be able to keep to a schedule. That’s not in the cards for me I think. (Never say never?)

But I would like to share what I learn, and what I’m doing on my path. So I think I will try that.

Eyes open for future posts. Hopefully more often than once every couple of years.

I don’t need a forest…

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So, for the last decade and a half I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest. Gorgeous green, growth, nature, watershed. Beautiful right? And oh, so spiritual.

But I’ve never been able to really get to a ‘forest’. And all the witches and hedgewitches I follow or read blogs by all talk about going out into their nearby woods, or travelling to the ocean they live by, or trekking across town to the forest at the edges of their town.

I’ve never had that.

The closest thing when I lived in Portland was The Grotto, which is a chunk of the Portland forest that was simply fenced off and left to grow, with a stations of the cross path through it but little else done to change it.

It was really nice, and I loved to go there but I don’t drive, and taking public transit there was sometimes annoying.

Now I’ve moved away to a small town in the Willamette Valley and am surrounded by farm land. Even less opportunity to find a forest close to me, and the public transit is way more annoying.

But as I was reading another ‘I go into the woods and commune with my trees that I see every season’ story, I suddenly visualised the ditches alongside the country roads that border the farms. The shrubs, the grasses and brambles. The patches of trees left to grow. The rows of trees planted as windbreaks all those years ago that have been left to reach magnificent height.

And I realise something.

I don’t need a forest.

I don’t need the woods. I don’t need some space deep in the wilds.

I have all the wildness that my Urban Witchy Self will ever need. Crammed between back road highways and huge hops fields and massive patches where they grow onions, brassicas and flax. Stuffed in the areas around tiny natural ponds that got planned around when the farms were made, and along the small streams and rivers that wind throughout the entire Willamette Valley as part of this massive watershed.

So, when you think you can’t practice because you don’t have enough nature or enough of the right kind of nature, give your neighbourhood a second look. You might be right for your practice, and you may need to go somewhere special any time you need to do big practices. But you may be wrong. You may have something perfect for what you need right in your back yard.

Good hunting.

Balance, for the Equinox

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So this is not going to be very in depth, or very articulate.

I’ve just had a thought one time too many and I’m throwing this out there for the purpose of venting.

Balance means both sides of something are equal enough that one is not higher than the other, or heavier than the other etc, etc.

So, I find it very irritating in racism and sexism, when the minority talks about having essentially the opposite version of the same problem.

I’ll focus on sexism, since that’s fractionally less likely to inflame a wall of flames, and it’s something I have personal experience with.

So we currently have sexism that favors men.  True.  Fact.  Socially most of the world is easier for men to live in.  I’m going to just state that sexism, regardless of the gender that is on top, is harmful for both genders (assuming gender binary) in both the way men and women are raised, and in the social and individual expectations placed on the person’s shoulders based on their role as a man or a woman.  See as an example: emotions.  Men don’t cry and are supposed to be tough.  Women are overemotional, and tend to have completely hysterical days based on their completely uncontrollable hormones.

That’s just a start, and it’s as far as I’m going with that idea, just because I could go on for far too long about it.

But the thing that actually annoys me when I read it.

When I’m reading something and it basically talks about “the olden days” when women were at the top of the heap.  And how those days were better because women were “in charge”.

That’s just the same problem as the current form of sexism.  It’s female-focused sexism.  Women on top, men beneath them and neither of them balanced.

If you look at cultures that are around that have a relative balance, the first one that springs to mind, that keeps the concept of “the good old days” in mind is hunter gatherer tribes that still live: the Hadza, the Australian aboriginals, etc.  Women gathered and men hunted.  The men got to go out and use their strength and testosterone, and got to bring home the bacon, and got to feed their family and community.  Women got to use their nesting tendencies, keeping the home fires burning, straightening the sleeping space, protecting the children, and gathering most of the food.  Up to 90% of their food on any given day was the nuts, fruits, vegetables, trapped meat and vegetation that women and children could gather in the day.

That’s a good balance.  Both parents feed the children and the grandparents.  Both parents supply protection and shelter, in different ways.  The men gather important food, but less food, and the women gather more food, that doesn’t give as much essential fat and proteins.  Both are needed.  Both are important and useful and committing a task that is not less than the task the other gender is practicing.  It’s just different.  Neither men nor women are more important than the other.  The fact of the matter is without an equality based on balance of differences is the only thing that helped us get to the ability to sit here and read on the internet at all.

Just to sum up: balance is necessary in all things, and the most important part of that is the difference.  Both halves are necessary for the other.  Without one the other wouldn’t even exist.  No dark without light, no light without dark.  Without women man would be just ‘person’, and women would only be ‘people’ without men (though neither would last more than one generation, without a lot of complicated science 😉 ).  We are identified by our differences between one another, but none of those differences make one group better or worse than the other, and jerking from one extreme to the other is just as unhealthy as the first unbalance.  After all, there’s no need to balance anything, if you have two of the same thing.

Evolution of a Practice: Walking along my Crooked Path

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Ten years ago – or fifteen, or some vague time around then – I first, and finally became interested in runes.  I had grown up in a Christian home, fairly conservative, though not as bad as some people I have heard stories from.  At first expressing an interest in runes, which was something I’d kind of been interested in for a while, felt very naughty.  Very much like someone was going to tell me I was going to hell.  Because like tarot it was one of those witchcraft-going-to-hell kinds of things that I shouldn’t mess around with, or else (fill in this blank with whatever God=Angry phrase you’d like).

Not that my parents ever actively went around preaching to me about sulfur and damnation, but in my later years at home, my dad was actually a preacher at their church, both of my parents were elders at the church and my mom had been raised Catholic.  It wasn’t grim and sin all the time, but it was worked in enough that I felt like there was something wrong with being interested in the runes.

I moved a 20 hour drive away, into an apartment with my roommates – now sisters, then best friend, and person I barely knew – and lo and behold, the new person in my life had been raised by a C and E Catholic who was very into spirits, angels and tarot.  She had discovered Silver Ravenwolf early on in her teens – who people may have a complaint about but who is a very good jumping off point for getting into paganism from a non-pagan childhood, because it’s not like people who read her books can’t read more books and learn the inaccuracies that are in her books, but moving on – and had become what one would call Pagan, though not completely Wiccan, definitely Wiccan flavored, as that is kind of the way of Ravenwolf.  She began to teach us about grounding, and centering, and cleansing spiritually, and all kinds of other things her mother – who still professed to be Catholic – had taught or adopted in her ‘meditation group’.

And thus started my feet on this Winding Road I have been on ever since.

First I thought I was a Druid.  Not the neo-Druids that wear white and cut down mistletoe with a gold knife, but a ‘real’ Druid, something evolved from Celtic myth and the anthropologic study of the peoples of that area in that time, and how they would have practiced spirituality.  Yeah, totally arrogant, I know, but I was still basically a kid, mentally.  Hadn’t quite grown up into understanding the way the world worked, or how to be less of a self-centered ass-hat.

As time went on, I connected less and less with the term Druid, because every time I saw it, I saw it linked to white robes, Roman-created stereotypes, and initiation-only practices.  And none of that really linked into spirituality in my mind.  I began to just think of myself as Pagan.  But not a witch.  While my roommate was a witch, in her mind, I kind of considered myself not to be one of those.  The word just didn’t sit right with me, for some reason.

Then, a handful of years ago I found a book written by Raven Kaldera and Tannin Schwartzstein called The Urban Primitive.  I read it from cover to cover twice in a row, and it just pulled at me.  Called to me in a way nothing else had up to that point.  Everything until then had been a kind of distant fit that didn’t quite fit.  Everything until then had been focused on ‘getting into nature’ and ‘green goddess of the woods’ and ‘the city is a black hole of nothing that is taking over from mother nature and killing our planet’.  And maybe that last is a little bit true.  But when you’re living in a city, with no real way to get out of it on a regular basis, and you feel that god/spirit/universe is in everything the whole concept of ‘everything is god/goddess, except nasty disgusting man-made things that are poison and death’ is kind of repulsive, and disheartening.  Urban Primitive told me flat-out it was okay to worship in the City.  It was okay to worship the City.  Every corner of the land has land spirits, and that includes the neighborhoods and areas of a town or a city or a village, or what-have-you.  And something else it told me was it was okay to be a shaman who used man-made, and non-natural objects and places and things as part of my craft.

What a load off my mind.  Because I’d been collecting random detritus off of the streets and sidewalks of my city for years by that point, with the intent for each piece to mean something, or eventually be used in a crafting.  I have tons of tiny boxes and containers full of random stuff that people would usually call trash.  I call it my Shaman Stuff.  Because it is for my shamanic workings, and it is just stuff.  Stuff that I need, stuff that I use, but not ‘tools’ or ‘artifacts’ or anything else that needs a fancy name.  My practice doesn’t like fancy names sometimes.

And so Raven Kaldera – another author very vilified by many people, whom I read books by anyway – had opened the way for my realization about myself.  Ironically this came with a sudden decrease in my asthma, and a sudden need to stop going to the ER for breathing treatments.  He is very based, however, in Norse Traditions, and I’d never really cared about the Norse Pantheon that much.  But one day, I found Neolithic Shamanism which focuses a lot more on connecting with spirits and elements, and parts of nature that are inescapable, no matter where you live.  That was beautiful for me, because I’d already started to realize that my paganism, the spirituality that felt right for me, was far older than anything I was finding in books, or online.

Along this crooked path, I always, always, incorporate the study of the people who lived in the spirituality that I am interested in, because the only way to discover the context of their spirituality is to look at everything around them: daily life, weather, landscape, neighbors, histories, myths, culture, art, music, et cetera.  And one day I was watching Time Team, on you tube (seriously go watch this if you have any interest in archaeology at all) and I saw one entitled Britain’s Drowned World – which I am watching again right now.  I learned more about the marshy land between Britain and the Continent, that had been lost to the waters eight and a half thousand years ago, or so.  It clicked with me so very fiercely that I couldn’t stop myself researching the probable culture of the area for months afterwards.  I looked up everything I could find online, anything I could find that would give me a hint to their culture, their technology, their religion.
And I know, from speaking with my ancestors that some of my bloodline lived there, and escaped the deluge.

Over time, with lots of meditation, and personal studies, I began to slowly find my deities.  Spirits or Gods that would have been desperately important to the people of the Lost Marshes.  I have listed them on previous posts, and they are evolving – have evolved – into new concepts every day, because that’s what gods and spirits do.

Then one day, sort of in the middle of all of this I watched a video by the Four Queens, Six Principles of Chaos Magic.  Which was a topic I had come across before and become interested, but hadn’t really thought it was me.  Something that happens to me sometimes.  I say ‘oh, that’s cool, but not really completely me’ only to grow, and realize later that it’s pretty much who I am now.  I watched the video, and realized that each of these principles were something that I could connect to.  I didn’t jump right on the bandwagon.  I had to let it percolate for a little while.  But one day I re-watched it and I said ‘yeah, this is me.  Oh.’  Followed very shortly by finding a video by Eva’s House of Spirit called Chaos Magic & Me.  And it all coincided to make me realize that, yes I was in fact a Chaote.  Which really, I think Loki found more hilarious than I did.  because he’s a jerk.

And do you remember how I always proclaimed I wasn’t a ‘witch’?  Yeah.  So that’s another one of those things that I thought I wasn’t and one day I just said out loud that I was a Chaos Witch.  And I stopped, and looked at my roommate and said, ‘oh, I’m a witch’.

Which opened up a huge plethora of options for me.  I’d heard a dozen kinds of witch, and never connected to them, because the word ‘witch’ was a word that made me look away automatically.  But reclaiming the word – from my own mind – let me look differently at terms like Green Witch, Cottage Witch, Kitchen Witch, Hedge Witch, Garden Witch, and on and on and on.

Many of those terms seemed to click pretty well with me.  To me the Hearth, the Home, the Kitchen, and the Garden have always been really important.  I have a very Celtic home and hearth mentality when it comes to my spirituality.

Then, re-researching the term Hedge Witch – a term I’d looked up before that linked to a lot of herbalism, green witchcraft, and cetera – I found a website that went over the term haegtessa, and the concept of Hedge Riding.

A concept that came from the ‘witches’ in old England.  A mentality of animism, spirit-worker, shamanism, witchcraft, and a little dash of chaote, that made me look at it and realize that it was everything I had slowly been bringing together, combining into my wandering path.

So that’s me, then.  My Crooked Path has brought me through a long line of high points, and landed me on Hedge Witchcraft, and Hedge Riding, which is something I may eventually evolve from, but for now feel comfortable calling myself a Hedge Witch.

Science, and Magic, and Where They Meet

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Late to the party as usual with The Pagan Experience but I think I’m catching up.  We’ll see. So, magnetism and the Law of Attraction. I’ve never had a problem believing in both.  I’m a very scientific person, read as interested in basic scientific laws and how science continues to explain and discover things that those of us in the magical community have known this whole time. First, magnetism. That’s pretty simple if you look at two scientific concepts.  Magnetism and gravity.  In magnetic pull, two different magnetic polarities are drawn to one another.  North and South on one of those life sciences magnets with the red tip.  This means that certain things that are not always the same are drawn to one another.  Be they ‘opposites attract’ or like-minded people being drawn to spend time together. Next, is gravity.  The basic concept of gravity is that everything is drawn to one another by natural force.  The smaller the object the smaller the gravity.  Which is why on the moon a man can bounce around like he’s on a trampoline but walking on Jupiter would crush him and the ship he rode in on. Energetically what this means is that there are certain things that are just drawn to a person.  But it depends solely on that person remaining exactly as they are.  If they want to change what comes they need to change their polarity.  And also sometimes things just come into your sphere of gravity and stick. That’s nature. Again the best way to find out how to rid yourself of something unwanted is to delve into why it’s there in the first place.  And don’t be afraid to take that trek inside yourself to see what faults lie at your feet.  Usually a person is not solely responsible for their misery, but most often they share at least a tiny bit of the accountability. And moving on to the Law of Attraction.  I used to think this was kind of hokey.  Sort of a New Age-y concept about happy-clappy thoughts bringing you your perfect happy-clappy life.  No thank you. But I always believed in karma.  And the concept of the three-fold law was something that rang true even if I’ve never been one of the ultra pacifist harm none set. And somewhere along the line I realised that my belief of ‘whatever you put out comes back to you’ was an extension of another scientific principle: Newton’s third law. The concept that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Here meaning if you put negative energy out, that negative energy will return to you. If you want to draw in something to you, than something will leave you. These may be as simple as you get angry and honk in traffic and immediately get cut off. Or you put out a lot of energy for a spell to attract wealth, and then someone asks if you want to sell that old lawn mower you have sitting around and never use.  Or obviously it could be more complicated than that, but if you go into every action you take knowing some piece of it will eventually bounce back at you, you’ll probably be more mindful of your actions. Now this doesn’t mean you’ll get whatever you wish for.  That’s a load of crap. What it does mean is that if you put of energy to find a job and add positive thinking and a spell to get the job, you’re more likely to get it than if you went into it thinking that you won’t get the job, or worrying about blowing the interview. It’s all about effort out for effort put in. But let’s not forget the power of the mind. You can give to charity, be kind to others, volunteer your time, and turn the other cheek; but if you think, the entire time you’re doing these things, that something negative will come then it will.   Because your mind is behind every spell you put out, and every piece of magic you work. And even unintentional thoughts are pieces of magic, pieces of your Will that you are sending out to the world or the universe, parts of yourself and your power that are saying ‘bad things will happen to me’.   So bad things happen to you. The most important thing about magnetism and the Law of Attraction is to remember to be mindful. Be careful what you think, and when you realise that you were thinking something negative don’t hold onto that thought or berate yourself for it. All that will do is bring more negativity and hold onto the negativity that’s already there.  If you make a mistake accept that you made it and let it go. Everyone makes them, you will make more mistakes in the future, other people will make them. Anyone that says they have never made a mistake is a liar. Someone who thinks they have never made a mistake is lying to them self. So, yeah. I use scientific concepts to explain magic. Because that’s the kind of brain I have.  C’est la vie.  <editor’s note> I’ll be adding tags and topic markers later today. 🙂

Personal Gnosis: A Balance between Intuition and Judgement

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So, I’ve already talked a little about Personal Gnosis.  And as usual, I had trouble with the prompt from the Pagan Experience.  :p

But it seems, even if it’s a week or two late, I can suddenly be struck with inspiration.  I blame Loki.  We’ll just say that I have to follow his clock, and no one else’s.  Did I forget to mention that in my post about time?  That my time is his time, and sometimes that means I don’t get around to doing something until a week or two later.

So, personal gnosis.

Looking at the definition from just the first page of a google search, gnosis means: knowledge of spiritual mysteries.  That’s probably not greatly in depth, but that’s basically what I always think of its meaning, so I’ll take that.

Now my personal gnosis involves a lot of spirit talking and non-verbal nudges from spirits.  A lot of me listening to or sensing things other people can’t hear.  A lot of me deciding that I’m actually hearing something, and not just listening to a really fascinating play that I’ve created for myself.

Here is where the first part of the balancing act comes in.  Intuition.

The first definition on google was ‘the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning’.  Which speaks very clearly to me about my acceptance of certain things.  I don’t use the logic part of my brain when dealing with all this spirit stuff.  I just sense, and accept, and that light-bulb of sudden acknowledgement goes off and I’m like, ‘oh, that’s a taboo’.  Or ‘how did I not know that a marsh goddess would like to have grasses on her personal space?’

But what must follow is an unfortunate discussion about intuition versus imagination.  Where does the line come between a sudden knowledge of fact – or a quick whisper, a god’s laugh, the brief glimpse of a spirit – and imagination?  Make believe?  Pretend?

We’ve all heard that, I think.  Either recently from people who have no business talking to us about things if they’re not willing to be nice to others, or longer ago, during childhood, when we could see things more easily, and believe more readily, and our parents/elders/guardians told us “what a good imagination you have”.  And they relegated our beauty, and magic, and wonder into something false, and untrue.

But where does one draw the line?  How can you tell what is just your brain making things up and what is really a scar-lipped deity reading over your shoulder as you type and telling you that you don’t need to keep correcting your wording?

Here enters the other half of our balancing act.  Judgement.

Again, trusty google, the condom of the internet, which says judgement is ‘the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions’.

So, to keep from playing make believe, we need to be able to consider, and be sensible.  Sounds pretty simple, right?  Yeah, then you think about all those sensible things people can’t seem to do.  You know, acceptance, unquestioning love, peace.  And yeah, humans have a hard time making sense of much of anything unless they’re researching the ever-loving hell out of something.

What it comes down to is your ability to separate yourself just enough from what has just happened, the thought you have just had, the act you have just partaken in, to become slightly detached, and decide if the recent event is your subconscious, or something else.

A few good tips for this, are as follows:

If it raises you up above others – i.e. making you a priest/ess, or the only child of a god, or the one true heir to something – it’s more likely to be your brain-puppets, and you should set the idea back on the examination table in your mind.  Do divination, search for others with similar spirits to find similar events, give it some time, and see if it fades or still rings true to you.

On the other foot, if it pushes your spirit down, presses at your soul and makes you less than everyone, it is probably not a spirit either.  Sure they’re bigger and more than any of us can ever understand, but that doesn’t mean that the gods wander around dissing people constantly.  They’re not always nice, but rarely do they put people down just to make themselves feel better.

If the spirit or deity surprises you, a lot, it’s less likely to be your thoughts.  More than once, Loki has startled laughter or face-palming out of me, because some days that’s just how he is.

I’m sure there’s a dozen more, but for now I’ll move on to the next point of discussion I have, which is the difference between judgement and doubt.

Judgement is discerning whether or not something is sensible.  Doubt is the disbelief of anything that you hear/think/feel/smell, just because you think you are wrong.

These two are a tangled vine, in which unfortunately doubt generally tends to smother judgement out completely a lot of the time.

I certainly feel my own sense of doubt and disbelief sometimes.  Just occasionally I have doubts, and think ‘is any of this real?’

In those moments, I have to use my judgement again, and strangle down the rising doubt.  I use my past experiences of magic and my gods to press down that weed of doubt, and let judgement come up again, because of the two, if I never had that obnoxious self-doubt again, it would be far too soon.

The balance between all of these is the precarious dance of personal gnosis.  Balancing between the double balances of intuition and imagination, and judgement and doubt.

If ever you find one seems to be winning over another, a good idea is stepping away, and consulting divination.  Better if someone you know can do a reading for you, because they will be less personally invested.  Or you can do a casting of some kind with a distinct yes/no answer.

So remember, be as imaginative as you want, just use your judgement to decide which parts of those crystal clear thoughts are you and which are from elsewhere.  And let your intuition guide you away from the trap of self-doubt, because that’s not going to do anyone any good.

Loki and Me, A Ramble

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I wasn’t certain if I would write about this post this week; which was a week that disappeared on me somehow.  Deity and the Devine is a really broad topic, and I couldn’t really narrow down what I wanted to write about, so I figured, yeah, not for me this week.

Sometimes, however, your deity pokes you in the shoulder about it all week, until you finally decide to just start writing.

My divided year of practice separates each year into sections from one major Sabbat to the next.  This portion of the year, from Beltaine to Litha belongs to Loki, who is my primary deity.  I would call him my patron deity but that, like most labels, narrows what he is to me more than I like.  To me, Loki is my patron, my matron, my mother-father, my sibling, my lord, my lover, my friend, my pet and master, my cohort, my god, and sometimes one of my closest confidants.

I have discovered some things about Loki in working with him the last few weeks, that I didn’t previously know.  Though not more than he normally pops up with information, during the rest of the year.

Recent discovery: Loki connects more with artificial citrine, than with the natural stuff.  I had previously bought citrine for him, a bed of it, and a stone, and some tumbled stones.  My practice relies almost as much on the concept of ‘sympathetic magic’ as it does on the actual innate power an item has.  So if it looks like a citrine and I consider it a citrine, that’s a citrine to me.  But I very briefly thought ‘oh, crap this Loki stone, and this bed of citrine isn’t real?’.  And then, Loki very simply looked at me and said: “This is your birthstone treated with heat until it is a dark, rich orange citrine. This has the energies of both citrine and amethyst.  This is both you and I brought together by extreme heat, extreme change.  Is there some reason that this item wouldn’t be even more sacred to me in our path together than natural citrine?”

Okay, so, sometimes, he just hits me out of the blue like that, and I can’t help but feel blind-sided.  But that’s something to throw out there for anyone who’s listening.  Non-natural crystals are just as valuable and usable as the natural sort.  Your will (wila) is the defining feature of any spell, craft, or practice, and you have the power to make it a powerful item or not.

I’ve been burning candles for him at every opportunity.  Red and green and blue are his candle colors to me.  I actually just happened to find one of each color of those catholic style candles where I work, and that’s something that I’ll need to remember to keep buying, when it comes up.  But I can’t burn them all day every day, because I work 40 hours a week.  It seems to be an understanding between us that if I don’t finish burning them before Litha, I’ll keep burning them for him until these three are done.

Something I have noticed about him during this time that is different, is that he’s hovering closely more than usual.  And he’s bugging me to do some really non-spiritual things.  Today I straightened up and did the dishes at his prompting.  They needed to be done, so he bugged me to do them.  Oddly secular, but that’s how he’s been this last few weeks.  Not there constantly, but much more frequently than before.  He makes comments all day, and nudges me to do things, or makes demands on me far more frequently than before.

I bought a full tang knife by Lars Peterson from Ray Mears’ bushcraft website a while ago, and haven’t put a hilt on it yet.  I finally got the last piece that I need for the hilt, and literally, two minutes ago, while typing, Loki tells me “finish the knife”.  New taboo for me, Loki wants me to finish the knife.  I think, as a part of my practice, since my pantheon is so deeply connected to the origins of ‘bushcraft’ some of my taboos will be deeply connected to the arts thereof.  Having a finished knife that I can carry with me, regularly, is something that Loki wants for me.  Also fire.  I am learning blacksmithcraft.  I am working with archery.  I have a small garden in which I am growing many food plants.  As much as I can each day, I connect more and more with my spiritual ancestors.  Taboo: adapt their daily lives to the daily life you have now, as much as possible.

So, I’m going to get up, and get right on that, actually, because I am just rambling on Loki at this point, and I’m sure that the spotlight will fall on him often enough during the life of this blog, that I can stop now, and he’ll still be satisfied with the attention later.  :p