I’ll be posting new stuff soon, once I get the site names sorted out.
Has your prayers and devotionals gone stale?
This is more for the ones of us who have been following Hekate for some time, but for beginners who are first starting, being unsure of how and what you do to honor Her can be confusing and sometimes, what you come up with will just feel off.
The purpose of our prayers and rituals is to help us connect with Hekate, to help form a deeper and more satisfying relationship with Her. Unfortunately, all relationships have their ups and their downs.
Its not unusual to feel things going stale when you do anything repeatedly. When you are with a human person you can stop and ask what’s wrong but with the Gods, it can be frustrating. The way they communicate with us is subtle and often confusing.
I think it has to do with the two types of relationships people have with spirits like Hekate.
In the first type, for what ever reason Hekate appears to you in your Life in a personal and direct manner. And you know it too. Major signs, visits in your dreams, actions which let you know that She claims you and you better get ready for something major.
There’s less likelihood your devotionals and prayers will feel stale because you are receiving feedback and guidance. She’s there telling you what She wants from you.
The second type is where a person seeks out spiritual contact, guidance or help without a direct contact by the spirit. They go looking for a mentor and decide that Hekate is the one they want. Sometimes there are signs that She is the one, sometimes not. There’s just a feeling that She’s who you need.
This second type, of which I have, can lead to the impression that your prayers or devotionals aren’t right, especially if your contact back from Hekate isn’t intense and personal. Its easy to second guess yourself then.
I have my thoughts on why the difference but that’s for another post.
The good thing is, devotionals that feel stale can be corrected. The first step is realizing that it can happen, that is not the big problem that it might seem, and that you want to work through it and make things better.Here’s a good article which will give you some suggestions
For the past few months, I’ve had a similar staleness to my relationship with Hekate. I could say its because I’ve retired and am doing a ton of construction at the place I’m going to live going forward. I’m building an apartment in my sister’s basement and putting 400 sq feet of raised garden beds. My days are 7-8 hours of hard work, then a hot bath and often bed, 5-6 days a week. I could use that as an excuse but it would be untrue.
Honestly, my prayers and devotionals have gotten into a rut. I recognize there is a problem, and know I need to work through this to keep a relationship I care about. That I think is why the article caught my eye.
Perhaps it is Hekate’s way of saying “Do better”.
So have you had this happen to you? And how have you gotten through it?
“Sometimes an Omen is an Omen, and sometimes its just random stuff that happened…”
If you are new to the occult and dealing with Hekate or other Spirits, then one big problem you have is telling when those Spirits are trying to tell you something. Unless you have a close relationship with Hekate, and even then, She won’t normally just come out and say what She want you to know. Often, I would say more than often, the communication will be subtle and confusing. One of the skills you need to learn then, is how to interpret the signs She send us.
There is a name for this, Augury.
This is the type of divination where you look for signs and messages from the Natural World. This could take place in the animal or plant world, with the appearance of unusual types or numbers of either, or signs can be of unexpected weather or natural occurrences. Earthquakes or eclipses were seen as messages from the Gods in ancient times. We know more about science and how the Earth behaves now but still, while the Gods and Spirits have the power to cause things to happen that scientists would attribute to natural occurrences, a skilled occultist knows they have a deeper meaning.
The problem for us is that neither we, nor the Gods like Hekate necessarily see the World in the same way. How then can we help cut down on the confusion?
We need to establish a common language between us.
“Sailing Ships and Messages at Sea”:
Humans have sailed the oceans and seas of the World for thousands of years, and yet radio has only been available for a little over a hundred years. Before that we were left with primitive methods like lamps, torches or shouts across the waves. As ships got bigger and nations developed navies, the need to be able to send complicated messages and commands between ships became very important. What developed was a system of brightly colored flags, each of which meant something specific, which were displayed among the rigging of a ship and could be seen from far off through a telescope, or just by a sharp eyed lookout.
What we need to do, is come up with our own “colored flags” which both the Gods and we can use to make our communications clearer.
Consider the Tarot Cards. If you are like most of us, you have a set of cards which you use to do divinations and figure out what influences are going to affect you and your future. Depending on which cards you turn over, will have different meanings and foretell different situations.
You can’t just pick up a deck right out of the box and expect to get good results, can you? It takes time and practice. One of the important things I suggest to new occultists, is be sure to read the book of card meanings you get with your cards. In fact read it several times, and let the meanings soak into your unconscious, or if you are good at memorizing, your conscious mind.
You want to do this because having a common understanding of the meaning of each card, allows the Spirits to pick what they want to tell you. And more importantly, allows you to understand what they mean. Just like the signal flags of old navies, both of you then have a common language, even if you must do some personal interpretation. Reading up on the original creator’s choice of meanings for each card is especially important if the deck is a non-standard one.
“First Step, Get In Touch With What Is Normal”:
Now the Natural World around us doesn’t come with a simple instruction manual. What you will need to do is write your own.
Consider this, if you stepped out of your door tomorrow morning, and found two crows watching you, what would this mean? What if one flew away, and one stayed?
Would this be unusual?
The animal world, especially of birds, offers a good way for Spirits to communicate with us, through a wide variety of messages. Whether you are in a city, in the suburbs or out in the country, birds are all around us. Bird augury is one of the easiest to start with. Once you learn how to see signs and omens via birds, you can adapt the methods for other animals, or plants, or weather and other things around you.
How do you start then?
Well the only way to tell what is unusual in the environment around you, is to know what is not unusual. That means getting out there and studying Nature around you.
Finding out what birds are native to your area. Finding out what their habits are. Do they show up first thing in the morning, or do they favor the afternoon or evening? Do they come in groups, or are they solitary? Try and identify the birds who are in your neighborhood. Take a few pictures. Sometimes you can identify individuals who come back on a regular basis. Read up on the Internet. These will be your messengers from the Spirits.
Remember those two crows I mentioned earlier? Supposed my neighbor came out of his house one morning and saw them, what would he think? Crow is associated with magic, and with warning. The number Two, can signify harmony and balance. With one crow leaving, and one staying, perhaps the message is a warning that your balance is out of wack, or faces problems soon.
Or it might just mean that I had changed the time in the morning when I feed the birds in front of my house. Which I recently did. I found that I was staying up until 2 or 3am, and then waking late in the morning. I began to intentionally turn in around 11pm, and rise at 6am. While I’m having my first cups of coffee in the morning, I put out a variety of bird seed and nuts on my driveway. My cats and I then get to watch which birds show up. I get to see black birds, doves, finches and sparrows, along with those crows on a daily basis.
I also occasionally see a pair of cardinals, the male bright red mostly and the female less so. And once a hawk decided that all those other birds might make a good snack, though she didn’t get one. In the evening its not uncommon to hear owls, and in the Summer, hummingbirds in the garden.
Along with the many birds, I also have squirrels, a woodchuck who sometimes sleeps under the neighbor across the street’s side porch, very early morning possums, nighttime raccoons, and the occasional deer at sunrise. Knowing how and when the wild life in my neighborhood come by, lets me know when something is out of place and deserves my attention. Then I can see if they have a message for me.
BTW, feed your local wildlife. Not only does it encourage them to come by and visit, but its polite and shows respect for Hekate as well as for Nature and the Spirits who are using those animals to communicate. Start doing it, please.
“You Knew There Would Be A Journal, Didn’t You?”:
Seems like every time a beginning magician takes up a new skill, someone is telling them to start writing things down. Learning to read omens and signs is no different. As I opened this post sometimes and omen isn’t an omen. It may be days or even weeks before you understand what a message sent to you by Hekate means or understand the situation you’ve been informed of. She doesn’t have the same sense of Time as we do.
Second, you’ll want to see how accurate your interpretations are. Different messengers can have different meanings. Crow is thought of as an indication of magic in your life, but it can also give warning. Most of the omens you receive will only be understood in hindsight. Its only as you gain experience that you will start trusting your intuition as to what a sign is, and make the correct interpretation. Its going to take some time and a lot of writing things down before then though.
Third, a dedicated journal for your work with omens, will save you time. If you come across a messenger today, which you remember encountering 6 months ago, you can go back to that entry and see what possible meanings it had for you then. Even see if your interpretations came true. Remember we are coming up with a shared language between Hekate and ourselves. Some signs will be reused and you want this.
Pick up one of those blank books from the occult or specialty goods store. There are dozens and dozens of nice ones out there. I prefer one that is pre-lined but get what works for you.
You’ll want to have some space for general notes and comments, so thumb back 20-30 pages to start your recording of omens and signs. We’ll talk more about just what notes in a moment.
Begin writing down the signs you see today. You don’t have to wait until you have a better handle on the process, in fact, starting when you are still unclear is better. You approach it with less preconceptions. I typically date the entries, then first list the omens I see, followed by any thoughts I was on how I felt at the time. Then later I look up online or in books, what meanings others have found correspond to those signs.
One of the better books I’ve found in understanding what signs mean, is Ted Andrews’ “Animal Speak”. I’ve taken much of the techniques I’ve described here from that book and use it as one of my first references when trying to figure out the messages Hekate is trying to send me.
“Understanding the Messages”:
There is more to a message than just what species of the messenger. An unusual animal or situation in itself is important, but more than that, how the sign appeared, its actions and the environment are just as significant.
Here are some of the ones I note.
1) Number: Magicians have long thought that numbers hold a special magical meaning and the number of messengers can hint at the correct interpretation of what Hekate is trying to communicate to you. I normally only count up to 9. If its more than that, or I’m unsure of the number in total, or it varies as I watch, say its a flock of birds in the sky, or on the ground, then I consider the message is in flux. I often go on to seek more clarification with a divination.
That is always an option. If the message you receive in an omen is unclear to you, consider doing a reading afterwards and ask for more information from Hekate.
2) Sex and Age: In some animals it is easy to see whether the messenger is male or female. Deer are a good example. A large buck, with antlers has a different meaning, from that of a doe and perhaps young. Birds or small animals can be harder to identify the gender but with study you can. Same with the age.
3) Color: Bright colors can reveal the intensity of the situation, though many animals have a subdued color so they can blend into the environment. A brightly coated animal, or one that stands out from its background can signify to you how important the message is.
4) The Landscape: Where did you see the omen? A large deer at the edge of a stand of trees is a different message, than one casually walking across a parking lot. So too are the plants and features of the place the messenger appears. Is it standing on a prominent stone or is it in the branches of a distinctive tree? A squirrel on a statue might mean something different than if its watching you from the branch of an oak.
Also, is this a natural environment for the messenger? Urban landscapes by their nature are limited, but then omens can come on you while you journey through your day.
5) Direction and Distance: Each of the major directions, East, West, North and South, have traditional spiritual meaning but beyond that, did the messenger appear from the right or the left of you? That can change its meaning. So too if the messenger appears in front of you, or approaches from behind. So too in how far away the messenger is when you notice it. Did it appear at your feet as you exited your home in the morning, or was it far off but noticeable?
6) The Activity: Whether the messenger is standing still, or is in motion is also important and can tell you things about the message. Unusual activities especially.
Recently on one of my morning walks, I came across a English Bulldog. My neighborhood is suburban and of houses, duplexes and apartments so pets are a common occurrence. I often have dogs bark at me as I walk, which I take as a sign from Hekate that she is watching me. In this case though, the bulldog was in the front yard, and was sitting in a chair. It watched me as I walked past without barking, then watched me as I walked past again on my return. This was out of the ordinary. The next day, the bulldog was again outside, but this time it was standing on the driveway. It watched me pass, but was gone when I returned.
Each of these clues will have a positive aspect and a negative aspect. You may not be able to tell which applies at first but you should consider as you ponder the message, is Hekate offering me a suggestion or is She giving me a warning? Sometimes it can be both.
I have written small tables of each of these in those first 20-30 pages in my journal. Not huge entries but shorthand notes to remind me of their meanings. Field notes if you want. Later as you become more experienced with the occult, there may be times you have your journal with you, and come upon a suspected message you want to interpret at that moment. These field notes can help you do that.
Remember, the journal is for you and you can put what ever helps you in there. If you run out of room in front, then don’t hesitate to add sections elsewhere in the journal.
“The Most Important Thing”:
All of these points won’t make you the next Oracle of Delphi unless you make a conscious effort to invite Hekate and Nature into your life. Just as a deck of Tarot cards are meaningless in the hands of someone mundane, but a precise tool in the hands of a skilled magician, the signs and omens that She puts before you will fall on deaf ears and blind eyes unless you want them to have meaning.
No amount of book learning is going to do you as much good as getting out of that house and into the natural world outside. Take walks and see what you come across. Visit parks and just sit. Keep a cunning eye out for the ways Nature interacts with the creatures in it, and how it interacts with YOU.
FOOTNOTE: One thing about opening your eyes to the signs around you, and developing your skill at reading the omens that Hekate sends you, is that this communication is not just one way. A skilled magician can use the language they develop to not just passively listen but to also actively ask.
Ted Andrews, the author of “Animal Speak” gives the example of his relationship with his Totem Hawk. That when he drives he can sometimes gain information about road conditions and situations like where the police are waiting, by sending out a mental message and asking for a sign. A hawk on the side of the road, which flies off to the left, may warn Andrews of a situation ahead, where one that flies off to the right may tell him that the road is clear.
This is a bit out of my level of skill right now, but it certainly makes me want to work at developing it.
As always, opinions or comments are encouraged. Thanks.
Today is August 13th, and according to a wide range of sources you can find on the Internet (and books, if you still bother to read such old things) today is a holy festival day for my patron goddess Hekate.
Is it though?
Certainly for a huge portion of the Pagan and Heathen community, the 13th of August (or the 16th, which others say is the true day) is a day that they celebrate their worship to the Goddess of Witches. As someone new to her worship, I naturally want to honor Her, but History has a way of confusing things. Especially things which people hold in importance.
Early History –
Consider how confusion or even translator biases might change what a book says as it passes from library to library through time.
Some of the earliest references to Hekate are from the 8th and 9th centuries BCE, which already show worship of Hekate well established. Its not unreasonable to date her worship to as far back as the 11th century BCE or even earlier. A tablet from the Minoan culture from the 13th century BCE makes reference to “Iphimedeia”, a name that probably an early alternate name for Hekate.
Our Goddess is old.
Some of Hekate’s earliest temples have been discovered in the region of Caria, a Mediterranean coastal state in what is now modern Turkey. From there Her worship spread north to the state of Thrace where it gained popularity, and spread further in the general geographic area of the Middle East.
Early Greece history mentions her, and many cities there had her temples. Greek’s pantheon of gods and goddesses speaks of Hekate as standing outside of it, and yet honored by Zeus himself. She was recognized as one of the Titans, the powerful beings which predate the Greeks own deities.
From Greece, all roads and religions lead to Rome.
Cosmopolitanism Rome, crossroads for the entire world, but especially of the Mediterranean, had followers and temples for every god and goddess on their streets. Hekate had a well know and wide spread place there. The Romans recognized her as a guardian of boundaries and of gateways. Her temples then were often place at the gates to cities.
The first century Romano-Greek historian Plutarch recorded an incident of one General berating another for adorning a city gate with a military trophy, telling him he would have done better to erect a statue of Hekate instead. Her title was then “The One Before The Gate”, and her shrines were even found at the entrances to other deities.
In this role, she was also considered a guardian of people’s own homes. Small shrines called “hekataions” were often found outside of the front door to a dwelling as protection for those within.
Today a modern worshiper might not have such a shrine but the customs and traditions associated with it remain.
“A Guide To The Underworld” –
Hekate was not originally thought of as being associated with the dead and the Underworld. She gains this title from her role in the Abduction of Persephone.
One of the best retellings of this story can be found in the book “Hekate Liminal Rites” by Sorita d’Este and David Rankine (2009), reproduced here:
When Hades abducted Persephone the only witnesses were Helios, the Sun God who saw it all from the sky and Hekate who heard the struggle from her cave. Later after Demeter had searched for her daughter for nine days, Hekate came to her on the tenth and suggested they speak with Helios.
It is perhaps in recognition of Hekate’s standing apart from the Greek pantheon, that she is the only one besides Helios to witness the abduction.
Once Hades was persuaded to allow Persephone’s return to her mother Demeter, Hekate was among those welcoming her back. Unfortunately Persephone having eaten of the pomegranate offered by Hades, required her to return to the Underworld each year. Hekate then offered to guide her on her journey.
It is in this duty that Hekate then became associated with the Underworld and with guiding the souls of the newly dead to their place there, though she was still primarily a protector of the home and hearth.
(This association becomes important later.)
“The Feast of Hekate” –
The best discussion on why August 13th and its associated holiday might not be in honor of Hekate comes from this post:
The Roman holiday on this date was called “The Festival of Torches” and was dedicated to Diana. Women would carry torches in the evening through Rome to a lake sacred to her, and offer their petitions to Diana.
Hekate and Diana were often conflated with each other, as was Hekate and Artemis.
The Greeks had a feast day around this time, where the gods, in particular Artemis, was petitioned to not send violent storms which could destroy the harvest. Artemis being the goddess of hunting, chastity and wild nature. Protecting the harvest was important and I expect that there were quite a few such festivals around this time of year.
Why then would Hekate be associated with storms and harvest, which were not traditionally thought to be in her realm. The answer may come from this quote:
“The goddess Diana as she was worshiped in the groves as Nemi possessed a triple form, not unlike the triform figure of Hekate that is familiar to many modern witches. One of the three was known classically as Hecate or Proserpina, something which has troubled me. Why is a Latin Goddess being called by the name of a different Greek goddess? Is it syncretism, like the conflation of Artemis and Hecate, and Artemis and Diana. CMC Green in “Roman Religion and the Cult of Diana at Aricia” offers this plausible explanation: “The identification of Diana with Hecate (a Greek name) has been made unnecessarily complicated. Diana the Huntress was identified with the moon, as Apollo was with the sun. As the moon grows dark once a month it is inevitable that a moon-goddess will have some part of her identity located in the underworld. Hecate is simply the Greek name for that part of her identity.” The names Hecate and Proserpina were also likely considered safe substitutes for the true name of the Underworld Moon.”
What I suspect has happened is that modern pagan writers and scholars have taken this mis-identification and applied it to Hekate herself.
To Celebrate or Not Celebrate? –
Worship and religion changes over time, and we must change with it. There is great power and emotion when many come together to honor something. Whether or not August 13th was originally dedicated as a feast in honor of Hekate, it has now become a popular holiday for pagans and those who worship our Goddess. A traditionalist might argue against it, but I won’t.
Happy celebrating the Feast of Hekate!
If you are interested in studying the occult and magic, you will quickly run across the “Law of Three”.
Summed up, this rule says that what ever you put out into the World using magic, will be returned to you three times over. Put out good vibes and spells of helpfulness, and you will receive back three times the joy and happiness. Put out curses and ill will, and you will receive back three times the hurt and misfortune. Its repeated some much so in the occult community, especially from supposed wise elders to the beginners you’d almost think it came down from the mountain with Moses.
Its wrong though.
That rule grew out of the 60’s resurgence of paganism and Wicca, as a rather good little bit of public relationship. Remember Christianity burned witches not too long ago, and even in the 60s, if you were living in a small town and got the reputation as one of “those” people you could count on being shunned, if not ruined before being run out of town.
The Counter Culture embraced many things the Establishment disapproved of, including occult practices, astrology and Eastern mysticism as a way to rebel but then not rebel too much that it got them burnt at the stake. True, the push back from the “good” people against those long hair, freaky hippy types was still pretty intense but it wasn’t long before such interests were tolerated. Housewives lighting candles and saying love spells seeped into suburbia.
The “Law of Three” then became a way to differ the good witches from the few that were “bad”. If the Stevie Nicks looking flower child at the corner book store said that if SHE did a curse, it would come back three fold onto her, then obviously she was a good witch. And wouldn’t be corrupting the young people who were patronizing her shop.
The problem is there isn’t any indication in history that is is the case In fact just the opposite. Many of the wizards and sorcerers advising kings were using their magic to bring ruin on that king’s enemies with no sort of consequences. Not only no consequences but actually they were being rewarded. Movies and television only re-enforced this fact.
And yet, there are examples, more than a few, where magical practitioners of recent history have experienced blow back for obviously harmful spells against others.
Where does that leave the occult beginner?
A bit of background for a moment,
Recently I read a discussion on the morality of intent and the raising of power with magic that I think better explains the dangers for a beginner in using magic to affect their reality.
I am in the process of paring down the collection of science fiction and fantasy art which I have acquired over many years of going to conventions. I plan on moving into a much smaller residence by next Spring, and just won’t have the wall space to display my collection.
Many of the pieces I’m selling but a few are ones which have an occult significance. One of these is this piece by the artist Mitch Foust.
The title of the piece is “Morgan LeFey”. She is known from book and film as a powerful sorceress and sister to the legendary king Arthur. She is also a spirit you might as a shaman work with, though in Celtic lore there is some argument whether she is a separate spirit or merely a facet of the larger spirit “The Morrigan”.
For some time, I had been thinking perhaps that the Morrigan was connected with the goddess I worship, Hekate, as a reimage of Hekate in a far off land from her birthplace, Asia Minor. Both goddesses are triplicate goddesses, having three faces and aspects. Both goddesses are considered to be Queens and powerful.
I wondered if this print could then be used in my devotionals with Hekate?
In researching this relationship I picked up Courtney Weber’s book “The Morrigan, Celtic Goddess of Magik and Might”. It didn’t take me much reading to see that the two are separate, unique and the print would be better passed on to another person. If the Celtic deities are of interest to you, and if the Morrigan calls, Weber’s book is a good place to start.
That said, Weber has a chapter which discusses working with spells and magic (she uses a K, to differ the spiritual side from the sleight of hand variety) and its from that chapter that I want to reference about why the “Law of Three” is wrong.
Celtic history is one of great passion, especially on the battle field. It was a place that not only did the warriors fight but also the magic users. Druids and shamans are often seen there, adding their spells and magic in an attempt to sway the tide in their tribe’s favor. The gods too took an active part.
And yet there is very little mention that when a shaman cursed a foe, or made magic to affect the battle against their foes, that their magic rebounded back on them. Especially not in a three times way. If they were not affected, then why would a shaman of today be faced with such a restriction?
There are clear times when people try to do you wrong, and just as skill at arms or intellectual prowess is useful to protect yourself, so too is any magical knowledge you might have. I doubt a war goddess like the Morrigan would look kindly on you for neglecting a sword in your belt just to appear virtuous.
Not that there are not spirits out there who wouldn’t want you to only do pacifistic good.
Weber makes the distinction that it is not the intent of the magic working which causes problems but the underlying issues that the magical practitioner has and has not worked to address.
She likens your mental state to a large concrete room.
In that room are the issues and problems you still have. Are you taking care of your body and mind? Plenty of rest and healthy food? Are you being a good friend to your companions and family? Do you address wrongs you have committed in the past and try to not do harm in the present? Any and all of these can leave clutter in the room of your mind.
And as a magic user, even more importantly, how is your spiritual center?
Are you right by the patrons and allies you work with, or do you neglect or even abuse those relationships? How heavy is your walk on the natural world and your conduct towards the animal, plant and earth realms?
All of this kind of mental and physic clutter will affect the way the forces of magic and the actions of the Spirits have in your life. A life that is balanced and in harmony, is like a concrete room that is bare, well sweep and clean. An unbalanced life though, fills that concrete room with distractions and misdirections.
Magic and the power that Spirits have is like Fire.
Fire is a tool.
It can be a warm fireplace on a Winter night or it can be a hot raging bonfire. Fire can be the gentle flame of a candle, or the spark which burns down your home.
Fire has no morals. When properly handled it can do useful work. When treated without respect, it can do great damage and harm.
Magic is like fire in that concrete room of your mind.
In an uncluttered room, it can be managed well. Magic like a fire tends to throw off sparks at times. In a clean room, those sparks tend to quickly go out and do no harm. The fire in a clean room is there to be put to useful work and purpose.
In a cluttered room, those scattered sparks have a chance to catch and find fuel. Quickly they can grow and spread, and soon they can overwhelm the useful work you are trying to do. The magic goes off track, sometimes with disastrous consequences.
Even well intentioned spells can misfire when you have an unbalanced life. Intent, a magic user’s most important tool, can go off course and cause results you don’t expect or don’t want.
Add to that is the fact that Spirits, especially the more powerful ones like those we would call deities, sometimes have real difficulty understanding humans. Even the ones that love humans. They hear what we say we want, but under that intent are distractions. If you have issues yet unresolved, I can see how perhaps a spirit would wonder if what we say isn’t exactly what we want.
What many have seen then as a response the “Law of Three”, is then not a wrong response to a selfish or evil purpose but a proper response to a desire we didn’t realize we had.
Those of you who decide to walk the dark path of the occult realms, need first to know yourself well and work to make yourself better.
That is the Law you should obey.
Before we get back to discussing Energy Work and Protection, I’d like to take a couple of blog posts to talk about another useful skill that a shaman needs to develop, that is “shamanistic dreaming”.
To do that we must first talk about something we all do, that is sleep.
Unless you have a physiological or health problem, the act of sleeping is something you spend a significant time doing almost every day. Hopefully you don’t.
(If you do, you may want to delay any study of shamanism until you have worked through those. While some shamanistic practices can help with basic insomnia or irregular sleep patterns, you’ll be dealing with altered states of consciousness in your study which should not be attempted lightly.)
Most of us sleep about a third of our life in a sleeping state. I usually average 5-6 hours a day, though I been trying to increase that to at least 8. Not only does getting 8 hours keep you more rested and relaxed but in a time of pandemic, it can keep you alive. Your immune system actually requires a certain amount of sleep to reset itself and work at top form. Scrimping on that sleep can contribute to becoming ill.
Not only is sleep important for your physical health, they are also important for your mental health as well. Your mind uses the downtime to process the day’s events and filter out what’s important and what’s not. Dreams play an important part in that upkeep but how is still subject to much debate.
For shamans, sleep and dreams are an important realm to learn to work in effectively. Remember, I said shamans don’t have to understand “how” something works to use it, just that it “does” work. Dreams are the same, you might not know how or why you dream, but you can learn how to use that time to get stuff done.
Getting a handle on your dreams isn’t something that you can do in a weekend, like the basics of energy work. Its going to be something you will work on day to day for probably a year or so but its an essential skill you should master.
We have all had dreams. Some are just random collections of images while others are detailed and clear to the point we think it is the Real World. Why this is so, is complicated if you ask scientist who study dreams.
What they really means is “We just don’t know”.
Yet you don’t have to know why we dream to use them but it is helpful to understand a bit about the how we dream, primarily the various stages of sleep and how to recognize them.
Most people have heard of REM sleep aka “Rapid Eye Movement”. This is the period where we have our dreams. Its called that because during this period, you can be observed having movement of the eyes under your closed eye lids. Perhaps you are experiencing your dreams as if it were real, and like the Real World, you are looking constantly around.
What some might not know is that during REM state, your mind actually locks the body up from moving. The tossing and turning you do in your sleep happens in non REM states. I’m guessing the mind knows you might get up and wander off if it let you move, lol.
More importantly for developing your skill at using Dreamtime as a shaman tool, is to recognize the two pseudo dream state, the hypnagogic and the hypnopompic state. The first is the state you are in when first falling asleep. Its that semi sleep phase where you aren’t quite asleep. Your mind as it winds down, can throw up images and scenes that seem like dreams but aren’t. The hypnopomic state is the period when you are just waking up, and you can have similar false dreams. Neither of these are useful as a shamanistic tool as lucid dreaming, though the hynagogic phase can help you pre-load a situation you wish to work on into your mind before fully dreaming.
Pre-lucid Dreaming and The “Reality Check”
“Lucid” dreaming is the state in which you are fully conscious that you are dreaming and can affect and direct the outcome of that dream. Most of us only have 2 or 3 such dreams in a year. Often the moment you consciously realize you are dreaming, you will awaken. With practice you can stop that, and even increase the number of lucid dreams you have.
More common is a state of “Pre-lucid” dreaming. A point where your dream is so vivid and real that it you almost question whether it is. What we want to do is cross the divide between those vivid almost waking dreams and the complete package of lucid dreaming.
Strictly speaking, being aware you are dreaming is not lucid dreaming. You can be aware that you are dreaming, and yet be a passive passenger to your unconscious. These dreams can be quite fun, but are not what a shaman needs. There must be a measure of actual conscious control to be able to use dreams as a tool.
One method of taking control, is to train yourself into a habit of questioning whether what you are experiencing is a dream or is it reality through. You do this by intentionally asking yourself “Am I Dreaming?” through out your day, and tying that question into certain events which happen in your Life on an everyday occurrence.
We all use our keys each day. We all open a door each day. We all check the time. We all do many repetitive tasks each of which can be used as a trigger to ask the question “Am I Dreaming”.
James Endredy in his article Shamanic Dreaming: How to Expand Into Higher Consciousness While You Sleep recommends twenty one triggers, but you can make a list of as many as you need. The objective is to have 3-4 easily remembered triggers for each day of the week. Review that day’s triggers in the morning after you get up, then as the day progresses when ever a trigger comes up, stop and consciously ask yourself “Am I Dreaming?”.
Naturally the answer is going to be “No”. What is happening though is you are establishing a habit which with luck, will carry over into your dreams. If one of your triggers is “When I open a door”, and you’ve done that repeatedly for several weeks, when you come across a door in your dream state, there’s a good chance your will reflexively stop and ask yourself “Am I Dreaming?”. This will give your conscious mind the opportunity to take control of the dream.
The more intent and energy you put into performing your reality checks, the more effective they will be. You can even pair them up with a physical gesture. One good one is to immediately look at your hands. Hands are one of those things which you never seem to notice while dreaming. Intentionally making the gesture a part of your reality checks will re-enforce the act.
Try to do the checks about twenty times a day. If you find an action which doesn’t happen much, then replace it with one that does.
Preparing Yourself To Dream
Just as you wouldn’t try and go on a jog without some preparation (and practice), you shouldn’t try and do focused dreaming without some appropriate preparations.
– Bedrooms Are Special
Too many people just lump their bedrooms into the generic “its a room in my house” when in reality your bedroom is the one room you spend the most time in during your day.
Why not treat it as such?
Clean out the distractions and especially get rid of the television or your computer laptop. Get some good sheets and comfortable pillows. Put on some incense. Turn your bedroom into a place you can relax and not some place cluttered with distractions.
– Clean Your Body Of The Day’s Debris
Just as the air outside has a host of contaminates and pollution that’s good to get off you at the end of the day, your mind picks up a load of mental and physic gunk that you should rid yourself of before bedtime. Its actually residue which stains your ethereal body, not the physical but we’ll talk about the different layers you have in a later post.
If you are sweaty and physically soiled from your day, then unless you’ve done it on coming home, take a cleaning shower. Wash up and get the normal grime off you. Make it hot if you like and let the water work out the aches of your muscles.
Before you do though, gather a wash cloth or two, a large bowl, some ice and some kosher salt. Put these on the basin before you shower.
Once you’ve finished your physical wash, and this can include brushing your teeth and other personal hygiene, add water to the ice. Then add a little kosher salt. Stir this up.
Cold water is the best for removing physic gunk, the colder the better actually. Take the wash cloth and begin wiping your body down. Start with the face and neck, rinsing the wash cloth as you do. Imagine it picking up the stresses and interference you felt throughout your day from where it stained your inner body. Rinse out the cloth regularly.
Don’t be surprised if the water in the bowl begins to get dirty. Physic gunk can manifest itself when you do this. Continue down your body until you get it all. I like to spend a bit of time on my feet. One, I’m on them all day long and giving them a bit of tender care is good for them, and two, the World we live in has so much random energy and stress out there, its good to separate our bodies from it.
I’d recommend if you can turn out the light and use a candle to see by while you do the cleaning. It puts you into a more relaxed mood and unnatural light of your computer or television. That light disrupts you body’s natural rhythm and contributes to poor sleep.
Greer recommends you take this water outside, to pour it onto a large and healthy tree. The tree will act to dissipate the gunk and render it inert. Might not be easy, depending on your situation. If you need to, flush it down the toilet. You can say a brief banishing like “May this cause no harm” three times over it if you wish.
– Cleaning Your Mind Of The Day’s Debris
Once you’ve done your body cleaning, you will want to do the same with your mind. Here is a simple ritual which will help you.
(Again, this is from James Endredy in his article Shamanic Dreaming: How to Expand Into Higher Consciousness While You Sleep .)
- Find a comfortable position on the edge of your bed. Begin by just letting your mind go where it will. I like to do some simple breathing, in through the nose, hold briefly, then exhale thru the mouth, hold briefly and repeat.
- When you are ready, begin visualizing the day’s events. How was your morning? What problems came up and how did you deal with them? Did you handle them well or is there something you would do differently, now that you are looking back? Allow yourself the time to process what went on. Forgive yourself if you felt you did it poorly and congratulate yourself on things you did well.
- This second part is something too many of us forget. We dwell on the negatives and not on the positives. This just reinforces that which we give attention. Let go of the negative but by all means give yourself a pat for the things you successfully.
- If a certain problem or event sticks with you, take both hands and put them to your face, palms inward. Imagine the problem as a ball of energy. See it collect in between your palms. Once you have it visualized, cup your hands over it and draw it away from you. Push it out and imagine it gently dissipating in the air in front of you. Do it again if the problem is still in your mind.
- Don’t rush, take your time and try and put yourself in a clear and positive state of mind.
- When you are ready, stand. Take your hands and slowly bring them down your body, beginning at your head and working to your feet. Imagine the stress and energy flowing out of you. Do this slowly or rapidly, what ever feels correct for you. Do it several times until you feel yourself relaxed and refreshed.
Just before you get into bed and get comfortable, say to yourself with Intent “I will remember my dreams tonight”. Say this several time. This will remind yourself to do just that. I add a personal part which is a brief devotional to the spirits who are my patrons and allies, thanking them for their protection and guidance.
You should be ready to dream now.
We’re going to stop here, and continue into “Mugwort and Lucid Dreaming” in our next post.
For now I did want to cover one final thing.
Recently, I began to keep a Dream Journal. You should too.
The act of writing on a regular basis aka “Journaling” has become popular in the last decade for all sorts of people as a way to relieve stress and solve problems in their mental and physical life.
For practitioners of the occult its an even more important activity. Writing down your experiences is a much older tradition, one stretching back to pre-history. Those early journals are one way we know so much about the practices of those who came before us.
Starting your own journal will provide you with a way to go back and review what happens to you. When you start to explore magic and the occult, strange things happen. You won’t always know why they did when they do occur. The reasons and causes may take time to manifest.
With dreams especially, you are traveling an ocean of dark and murky waters at first, and like old seafarers the navigational “Rudder” or book you make will be invaluable.
Buy a journal. Buy a good pen too which you just use to write in it. Keep it handy but also keep it safe where others won’t come across it. Write your name and something that speaks to you on the first page.
For now, just begin by writing what you remember each time you awake about any dreams you had. Don’t worry too much about form or content. Don’t worry if you can’t remember it all, or even if you don’t have a dream the previous night. Just focus on the act of writing.
We’ll talk more about your journal and the things to put in it, in the next blog post. Until then, Dream.
The pandemic threw my plans for a loop back in January. Everything including my further study of shamanism took a back seat to making sure my extended family and I got ready for the disruption and then survived it.
The virus did surprise me. I expected based on early information that the pandemic would be much worse than it was, though the recent reemergence looks pretty bad.
One good thing, long hours of introspection has refocused me and I’m ready to begin my journey again. I hope to begin posting here each Monday, so check back then.
It is important things for everyone, not just shamans, is having some order to your life. There is just too much chaos out there, even worse than a few years ago. Very few people can live in a whirlwind.
We are heading into a “Grand Mutation” later in the year. This is according to John Michael Greer, who wrote the book “Green Wizardry” which my other side is based on. Along with being a druid, he is also an astrologer.
“It’s not just you. The energies are definitely in flux. I’ve made certain changes in my practices over the last year, mostly intended to make use of the changing energies for the sake of my own self-transformative work, and I know other people who’ve had to do the same. Astrologically speaking, we’re about to have a Grand Mutation — a shift of the cycle of Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions into a new element, from Earth to Air — and in traditional mundane astrology that was seen as a major turning point, the end of one era and the beginning of another (The last one was in 1842, and brought in what we might as well call the modern world; the upcoming one will be on this year’s winter solstice; the one following won’t be until 2219.)”
Time to get a little order in your personal life then.
One of the things I’ve begun doing to promote order in my Life is while having my first couple of cups of coffee in the morning, to take time and read from my small library of occult and Craft books. I’ve been neglecting my studies.
I live in a rented duplex, whose driveway leads up to my front door. I have a chair where I can sit and look out that door. I usually toss bird seed, mixed with cat food out first thing. The smaller birds like the seed and my neighborhood murder of covids (crows and starlings) have developed a taste for cat food. They also know when I do it, and are on the electrical wires awaiting me.
I work with a local animal shelter and currently have several foster cats in my home. They like to sit at the door and watch the birds eat.
This morning I choose to read from Raven Kaldera and Galina Krasskova’s book “Neolithic Shamanism”. Its one of my recommended craft books and one that I go back to a lot. I had planned on reading about the herb Mugwort, since I’ve been using it lately as a purifying smudge. Mugwort is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, plant spirits and can be a powerful ally. Grandmother is a little difficult to work with, since she is happy to let you make your mistakes. She has the attitude that failing at something, is often the best teacher.
Instead, I ended up reading about the World Tree Yggdrasil and the squirrel Ratatoskr. There is a huge tree directly across the street from my home, which always reminds me of Yggdrasil. Ratatoskr is one of the three animals who reside in Yggdrasil. The other two are Vedrfolnir, an eagle who lives in the branches above, and Nidhogg, a dragon which lives in the roots below. Ratatoskr lives on the trunk and among the branches and carries messages (and sometimes insults) back and forth between the two.
(The World Tree’s name is pronounced “Ig-Dra-Sil”, the Ygg is like the “ig” in pig.)
As I was meditation on that, the cats sitting in front of the screen door became agitated as they do when a bird or squirrel are close to the house but out of my view. I’d had small birds and some starlings eating, as well as a male cardinal.
To my surprise, a rat ran out from in front of the concrete step at my door. It grabbed a piece of cat food and ran back. As I sat there the rat did this several times.
Now having a rat in the neighborhood is not unusual. I have a small garden at the side of the house and where there is a garden you can have small animals. Rabbits and squirrels are common but rats are showing up more and more. Enough that internet articles on how to deal with them have appeared.
Rats, like squirrels, are prey animals for a host of predators and because of that they have evolved over the millennium to be smart, swift and crafty, watching their environment constantly. Nothing ruins your day like getting eaten. They are very intelligent, a trait which makes them great lab animals. Rats in a maze is a recognition that they know how to get out of a difficult situation.
If Rat comes into your Life, it may be time to look at the dangers in your Life you haven’t been watching out for. Is there something in the background that you have been ignoring. A situation that has you stymied. Someone who might have eyes on you in a harmful way. Time to look around and use your wit and intelligence to find a way out.
Rats are also great adventurers, knowing all the little places to hide and the good places for food and shelter. European rats colonized the New World right along side the first Europeans. Asian rats did the same from their side of the World. Consider what kind of skill it would take to crawl up the anchor rope of an early sailing ship, hide among the bales and bundles of the hold, coming out only when it was dark and the crew was asleep to eat a little food here and there. For weeks you hide and avoid being seen and when the ship arrives in a far off land, you scurry out along the anchor rope to begin your adventure again.
If Rat has appeared in your Life, he may be saying its time to expand your horizons. Time to leave the nest and seek your fortune beyond. Perhaps you have been a bit complacent lately. Get off your butt and explore.
Rats are also considered signs of abundance and fertility. They have been with humans from the first farmer’s huts. When the harvest is plentiful, then rats will breed and multiply. A female rat can have many litters over the course of a year. Some of her young won’t survive birth, some will be eaten by predators or even her own kind, but a few will live and go on to spread their species.
If Rat has appeared in your Life it may be time to review the abundance in your Life and how you can contribute to your Family or your Community. Rat does not hoard, and you should not either.
If times have been tough and the bounty scarce then perhaps you should see where you can join forces with those around you to seek what you need. Rats are not choosy, they use what ever the World offers them. And if nothing is offered, then rats go out and find it.
The Spirit of Rat marks new beginnings. Time to let loose of the clutter in your Life and embrace change.
Final Note: I’ve not seen the rat since that first day. Not surprising because I’ve been leaving food for her at the entrance to the spaces below my front step, so she doesn’t need to venture out during the day. I suspect its a female, with a litter of young. That’s why she ventured out that first day. I have to be careful, since if the neighbor sees her, they will call the landlord and he will put out poison. Rat though will survive.
Recently I’ve noticed that my Patron Grandmother Spirit has been upset with me. Looking back at it I can understand.
See Grandmother Spider came back into my life last Fall when I began rediscovering shamanism and the occult practices I’d let slide years ago. She appeared as a small white spider in my shower, who made a web and a home in one corner of my bathroom window. White spiders being the sign of rebirth.
I began tossing bugs into her web at first as a bit of a “hey, that’s cool” and then later as I progressed in my reacquaintance with shaman studies, I realized she was coming back into my Life.
It was also about this time I realized that Christianity was not longer filling the role it should for me. After some study and reflection I decided to see if I could establish a relationship with the ancient goddess Hecate.
I also decided that with the amount of cat related energy in my life, volunteering as I do at a local animal shelter and having now 4 fosters in my home, that veneration of the Egyptian goddess Bast was due.
I set up a small place of worship in my bedroom for both of these goddesses as well as a place for Grandmother Mugwort, since I was using her extensively as a protective incense during my studies.
The thing is you shouldn’t neglect your old partners for your new one, and that’s what I did.
The spider in my shower I had moved to a small habitat, and into my office on a shelf. And yet I was not giving her the respect I should have been doing, just going through the motions of finding bugs to offer her.
A week or more back, my spider avatar stopped eating my offerings. I would drop them into her webs and she would ignore them til they wiggled loose and dropped to the floor of her habitat.
This week I made her a true altar.
I’d never created a place of worship and veneration for any of the spirits I have been working with before. I should. That’s part of the agreement you make with them. Its a way to show respect.
I managed to find a good file of the picture I put up in my earlier post on avatars and patrons, and had it printed and framed.
I have a good sized bookcase that the habitat had been sitting on, but next to it I had an old printer I wasn’t using. Not the best veneration to your oldest patron, was it. I cleaned the bookcase up, and repositioned it, then put my occult books on it as a library.
I wanted a nice table cloth to go under the various items and on Friday stopped by a large local antique mall. Those places are good because if you walk them with respect and intent, opening your senses you never know what you might find.
I went in looking for a nice linen table cloth and found a knit crochet piece instead. It was among a whole bunch of other ones. Notice it was knitted in a pattern almost in the image of a spider on a web. Eight being the number of Spider.
The little blue candle holder was a really nice piece too. It holds the small tea candles well. I need to find something appropriate for incense, for now I’ve been burning a candle in the evening when I’m in my office.
Monday I’m going to a rock shop I know of and seeing if I can find a piece of polished amber which contains a spider. There are many of them millions of years old. I want something special. My way of apologizing to my first Patron.
Remember, don’t neglect the spirits that have your back.
If you spend any amount of time reading blogs and sites which discuss the occult, you will probably be struck, like I am, on just how wrong everyone is. Well wrong if you go by the comments of a few people.
The Wiccan’s claim the Druids are tree hugging idiots with no respect for the Goddess and are clearly chanting up the wrong tree. The Luciferians think the Christian magicians are heretics and don’t know what side of a stone tablet to wipe their butts with. Pagan Reconstructionist think Modern Pagans can’t tell the time of day, yet alone the time of the century.
Cthulhuans wonder if you have hugged your Shoggoth today?
Now you have Alt-Right sorcerers invoking Pepe the Frog on their rival Antifa wizards, and both of them think the other are totally wrong. The Frog has not given his opinion yet though his PR secretary says a press release is forthcoming.
That’s kind of why I like being a shaman, we gleefully admit we are wrong and state with much enthusiasm to all the other occult practitioners we don’t know which side of a broomstick to ride. We just put our heads down and get shit done.
Let me be plain and honest with you, almost everything I will teach you here on this site, the total of the explanations, instructions and suppositions I ask you to ponder, are probably more wrong than right in the grander scheme of things.
When it comes to the occult worlds, we are all blind people fondling elephants. Most people won’t admit that fact that they are blind to themselves, let alone to any others.
(Careful which “tail” you put your hand on.)
And here is an even scarier thought, even the Spirits we learn from are sometimes wrong too. Spirits, especially the old and wise ones, aren’t omniscience. They don’t know everything.
Every see the movie “Groundhog Day”?
Unless you were born and lived your life under a rock, I sure you have. I like the scene where Bill Murray admits to Andy MacDowell that he has been and is living the day over and over again. Refresh your memory with this clip if you like.
Spirits are kind of like Bill Murray, they’ve been around so long that they know a heck of a lot but there are things they don’t. Spirits can make mistakes, and the people writing down what the Spirit teaches them can make mistakes as well.
So why should we follow or believe anything the various occult practices teach us?
Ever studied a martial art?
I really haven’t except some basic lessons in several different styles. A class in Tai Chi for old people, some karate when I was young and some Japanese kendo here in St Louis a few years back because I really like Japanese swords (and a good friend was teaching the class so I got to do it for free).
The thing that most people who have any experience with martial arts will admit if you press them on it, is that each style has a weakness. They do really well at handling 95% of all combat but there is a small set of encounters where their skill set isn’t right to react to the situation.
“Damned, you brought a sword to a gun fight!” (cue evil laugh) BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
Ok, if everything I learn might be wrong, the how can I be sure its right?
Simple answer: Does It Work For You?
One of the big reasons I recommend anyone thinking of studying occult practices goes ahead and buys Serge Kahili King’s book “Urban Shamanism”, even if they plan on exploring more focused occult variations, is that King lays out a wonderfully simple and yet comprehensive World View that you can incorporate into your Life.
The Seven Shaman Principles and their fourteen corollaries also form a very sound and solid foundation on which to proceed from with your occult studies.
For the subject of this post, I want to discuss two of the principle he lays down, and their corollaries.
The First Principle is: “The World Is What You Think It Is”.
Depending on how you view the World, a glass is half full or half empty. If I go about my daily actions looking for the positive experience in Life, then I will think the World is good. If I go about it looking for negative experience, then I will think it sucks. Your attitude shapes your World.
The First Corollary states: “Everything Is A Dream”.
Along with recognizing the importance of your attitude, Hawaiian shamans hold the subtle idea that we “dream” our reality into existence.
That doesn’t mean that Life and Reality is an illusion. Instead it recognizes that our day to day Life and our night to night dreams coexist and have equal reality.
Think for a moment about some film or book you experienced, to a particularly emotional scene. Did it affect you when you first saw it so intensely that you cried or raised a fist in “Hell Yeah!”? Now rethink upon that memory. If it was very strong, you may find yourself in the grip of strong emotion again.
In Hawaiian shamanism, the Heart Aspect called “Ku” is responsible for memory and has no sense of Time. Memories laid down years ago, with strong enough emotion, when remembered today will be just as emotional.
Dreams are similar. To the Heart Aspect Ku finds a vivid dream as real as a memory from a long ago film.
Extend this further.
How do you know that the reality you experience is shared by me?
The screen you are “seeing” right now, and reading my words, is going through some organic filters. First off the light from the screen is hitting your eyes, and registering in the cones and rods in the back of your eyes. They in turn give off electrical impulses, which travel up your optic nerve to your brain. Then the brain, based on past experiences interrupts what the cones and rod’s electrical signals into a world view.
Now our brain interrupts those signals in a way that its been taught since birth. What is to say that is right, except the peer pressure we experienced growing up?
Every have an imaginary friend as a child? Grown-ups tell us those friends don’t exist and after enough times of being told that, our brains decide to ignore the sight of those friends. They disappear and we can no longer hear them.
What if they were real all along?
As you get deeper and deeper into your occult studies you will find your horizons will expand. You will learn again to dream while you are awake.
The Second Corollary explains: All Systems Are Arbitrary.
To go back to the martial arts. Karate is very much a “offensive” discipline. It responds to attacks by attacking back. Ju Jitsu on the other hand is very much a “defensive” discipline. It responds to attacks by deflecting the energy harmlessly away.
Which better defines the World and its Reality?
Neither and both.
If you accept that the World is what you think it is, and that everything is a dream, then all options are correct, and the ultimate truth is what ever you decide it is. All systems are based then on a limited experience of a few people, whose experiences may or may not be able to be replicated and experienced by each of us.
Then if you can’t be sure of any experience or system based on those experiences, just how do you judge reality.
Simple, does it work for you?
Accepting this World view is very helpful to a shaman because you don’t view alternative systems as true or false, merely as simply different points of view. It allows you to use methods from other occult disciplines freely and incorporate them as needed.
The second of the Hawaiian Shamanism Principles I want to talk about is in fact the last of the seven and is probably the most important.
The Seventh Principle observes: Effectiveness Is The Measure of Truth.
Some may read this as what works is true or the end justifies the means. Actually it says the complete opposite, the means justifies the end.
Violent means produce violent ends. Peaceful means produce peaceful ends. If you act ruthless to others, others will act ruthless to you. Helping others while accomplishing your goal and others will help you.
This also means, use the method that gets the best result.
“To a man holding only a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
A competent shaman never stops learning different ways to do things. Feel free to hop between disciplines looking for the best results. If a teaching says “You can’t do that because it is (insert scary word here)” then question the basic premise.
Maybe the teaching is right, maybe its not.
First Corollary: There Is Always Another Way To Do Something.
Every problem has more than one solution. We live in an infinite universe, so every problem has an infinite amount of solution. And yet, seeking the “perfect” solution means we often overlook a simple solution that is just good enough.
When it is time for it, make a decision and go with it. If it isn’t working out, then change it.
Though remember, not all problems are occult problems. Sometimes, no more times, a problem has real world solutions.
Next week we will do some more energy work. For now, every time you have a problem, stop, think and figure out what other solutions are available to you.
Sometimes a shaman says “Make offering to this spirit to be rid of the problem.”
Sometimes a shaman says “Stop smoking so much and call your mother more often.”
Before You Start: You will need a small ball, something golf ball size or slightly larger. I live with cats and find one of their soft foam toys ideal. You’ll need it as we work through this section.
Hopefully by now, after a couple of weeks practice, you have discovered your energy center and have successfully compressed your energy into it several times.
We want to put that knowledge to a bit of practical use.
Depending on how you are reading this post, either via computer or phone, you want to to take a comfortable seated position. Sit up straight, posture is important. When you slouch you put tension on your muscles. You want to be relaxed but alert.
Hawaiian shamanism, as taught by Serge Kahili King, believes that learned memory is stored in the muscle group which is active or energized during the learning. Good for athletes, because the actions they want to learn use the same muscles over and over again. Genetic memory on the other hand, like speech, is stored across the entire body. That is why someone who experiences a huge trauma and develops amnesia will still be able to talk, and not know their own name.
Less traumatic, when using a learned skill if the muscle group where the learned memory is stored is under stress or tension, it can inhibit the memory. You can literally forget what you learned until the stress is released.
By maintaining a relaxed state during your training, the shaman skills you are going to learn on this blog should then be stored in many places around your body. Making their access later easier and lessen the chance that under stress you won’t be able to remember them.
King, in his book “Urban Shaman”, relates a story of attending a high profile party in Africa that during his introduction to the ambassador, King literally forgot his wife’s name because of the stress he was feeling. It was only when his wife said her name, did the muscles where the information was stored were able to relax and release the knowledge.
Take a few moments to relax then. Close your eyes, breath slowly in and out. Wiggle your body and stretch. Wave your arms and work out any tension you are feeling.
Now pick up the ball you have with one hand (either one to start is fine). As you read the rest of this post, I want you to roll it slowly around in your palm. Each time you change its position, give it a small squeeze. Feel it press into your flesh.
After a few minutes of holding it in one hand, bring your two hands together. Cup the ball between them and slowly roll it around between your palms. Feel the way it presses into them. After a few moments, hand the ball off into the new hand and roll it in that one.
Continue to work the ball with each hand, transferring it back and forth between them after a few minutes. Slowly decrease the time you hold it in one hand and increase the time you hold it with two.
What we are doing is teaching our muscles and brain the sensations of holding a ball in our hands, so that when we don’t have it physically present, your mind has the memory of the sensations.
Its a strange concept, sensation without physical stimulus, for some people to get the hands around it (pun intended). And yet your body doesn’t difference between the actual and the remembered.
Think for a moment on a movie you have seen in the Past, which made you cry. Or perhaps a favorite book. The emotions you felt then were real. As you remember them now, in the Present you may find yourself again crying. Memory has no sense of time.
With practice the memory and physical sensations of rolling that ball in your hand, will be as accessible when ever you need it.
Try this, roll the ball under your bare foot, while picturing in your mind the ball being in your hand. At first there will be a strange out of placeness but soon the ball in your hand will be as real as the one under your foot.
Practical Exercise #2:
For the next week, carry the ball you have been using with you. Every chance you get, roll it in your hand. Build up the memories until you can close your eyes and see it and feel it in your hand, even when its not.
In practical terms what we are doing is developing a “muscle memory”.
Athletes of many kinds have discovered recently, which the ancient world long knew, that practicing a physical action in your head can be as effective as practicing it with your body.
The US Army actually did a study on whether mentally simulating a skill, could help you improve it.
They used the marksmanship training on the venerable US Army 1911, 45 caliber pistol. This can be a hard pistol for many people to learn to shoot well, since it is a large and heavy gun. The ammo is also costly, so anything that could cut down on actual shooting AND produce qualified shooter was something they were very interested in. The US Army took two groups, the first who learned the standard marksmanship training, involving a battery of live firing on the range.
The second group, instead of just firing the weapon, would also spend time just sitting quietly while picturing in their minds the action of raising the pistol and firing. At the end of their respective training, each group was tested for their competency with a live fire session for score.
Not surprising to those of us who have long read Greer, one group did much better. Care to guess which one?
Ok, now that you’ve spent a week building up your muscle memory, lets do a little energy work with that memory.
Creating A Psi Ball
You can form your energy into many different forms, and we discuss some of them later, for now lets learn how to create one of the most basic forms, the Psi Ball.
Psi Balls, also known as Chi Balls, are small sphere of energy, usually formed between the palms of your hand. Typically they are between baseball and softball size, though for this exercise we will make it a bit smaller.
(About the size of a certain ball we have been working with, lol.)
They can though be made much bigger, large enough to contain our body or a space within which to work. The energy then forming a protective barrier and shield. They can be used to do many things.
Practical Exercise 3:
Back to the chair you were using earlier.
Before you do, limber up, do some stretching and wiggling your body to remove any tension in your muscles. Sit down, and pick up the ball you practiced with. Roll it between your palms to re-familiarize you mind with the sensations of doing that.
Once you feel ready, set the ball down.
Close your eyes and image the ball still in between your palms. Let your hands and finger lightly touch. Slowly roll your hands together, imagining the ball between them.
Begin compressing your body’s energy at its center in your stomach. Once you feel it there, let the energy move up to your shoulders and then down into your arms, and then into your hands. Let it slowly fill the space between your palms.
As it collects, imagine it taking the shape of a small sphere. Slowly continue to fill it with your energy. You may begin to feel a bit of warmth (or cold) in you palms. If not don’t worry. We each find our path.
Now slowly spread your palms apart. Imagine the small energy sphere floating between them. Imagine little streams of your energy coming out of your palms and going into the sphere.
When you are ready, open your eyes.
Now only the most gifted of people are going to see a visible psi ball floating between their hands. Especially on the first try. If it were easy, then everyone would be doing it. You may though catch a flicker of something there, perhaps a sense of some movement. Allow yourself to just sit silently, mentally feeling your own energy and the energy of the sphere.
When you are ready, open your hands wider and picture the sphere rise. As it does, imagine it expand and then slowly dissipate.
Take a few minutes and quietly just sit, collecting your thoughts. When you are ready stand up and take a break. Go sit in the garden looking at your plants. Go play with your pet. Recharge.
You may find you are a bit tired. That’s natural. Unlike most people, who will teach you to utilize one of the outside your body sources of energy, like the Earth, through a grounding technique, I prefer to teach you to know the limit of your personal energy first.
For now, practice this once a day.
One Last Thing – Start A Journal:
If you don’t regularly write, begin now. Go buy one of those empty books, that people use as diaries or journals.
Your mind can play tricks on you. Especially when working with something like shaman practices which don’t conform to what regular society has taught us all of our earlier life. Things that are crystal clear in the moment, can fade and become unsure with time. You can start disbelieving you had the experience and feelings you did. Going back and re-reading your observations documented at the time, can reassure you that what you remember was real.
I actually do a couple journals related to my shaman work.
I have one smaller one which I keep with me as much as possible. Its for the day to day, and is filled with a variety of things. Nature observations from my garden, bits of dreams that stand out (jotted down in bed), signs and omens that come to me during my travels, thoughts on techniques or ideas for future blog posts.
I have a second one, which is actually a school notebook. One of those with the binder rings. The paper in it is the traditional lined paper we all used in school. It is the beginning of my Grimoire.
A Grimoire, or Spell Book, is the place you put what you learned, but in a way you can find it if you need to. Mine has some of those dividers with plastic tabs. Each section then is one related subject. As I learn, I write down my experiences and sometimes some things should go together. I put those in the appropriate section.
Also there are tens of thousands of other people who are on similar journeys, many of them who blog or write about it. Its ok when you find a good protection spell, or some background knowledge about a certain spirit which you are interested in, on another person’s blog or book, that you write it down in yours. You won’t always have the Internet.
Having the base material is also helpful. When you do a spell or ritual, what you experience will probably be different from the original writer. That’s to be expected. Write down your observations of what happens when you try it, especially any differences.
We will revisit your energy training in two weeks, when we discuss “Intention and Breathing”. Next week we will look more at Spirits.