Welcome to A Forest Door

•March 3, 2017 • Comments Off on Welcome to A Forest Door

This blog is on indefinite hiatus.

I have left a selection of my old posts active, but turned the comments off. If you’d like to read more of my work, check out my many books shown on the sidebar, especially Dwelling on the Threshold and Between the Worlds, which are both collections of essays originating here. I also have a list on the sidebar of links to my other projects, and pretty much everything I do can be found all together at Bird Spirit Land.

I will continue to make monthly posts here with my cartomancy schedule (sessions are generally every Wednesday with some exceptions). More information on cartomancy services can be found here.

I will also make occasional posts related to new books and other projects as they occur. So please feel free to subscribe if you’d like to keep track of what I’m doing. You can also follow me on Twitter (or just check my feed periodically) which I use mostly to provide updates on my work.

It’s been wonderful writing here for the past 8 years or so, but it’s time for me to withdraw a little further from the world of people and spend more time with the spirits at the edge of the wilds.

You can contact me at dver at birdspiritland dot com, although I may be slow to respond.

Dark Horses

•September 12, 2019 • 6 Comments

Wanted to take a moment here to enthusiastically recommend the new novella, Dark Horses: A Tale of the Arkadian Terror by Suzanne Thackston. I was honored to do the design work on this book, because it represents something we are sorely lacking today – vibrant, powerful retellings of the myths by actual worshippers. So not only are the historical details, especially regarding religious matters, accurately and respectfully portrayed, but the whole *feel* of the story carries with it the familiar edge of real divine encounters – often just as disturbing and terrifying as they are beautiful and life-changing.

I’ve honestly never been as interested in myth as I have been in cult practice, especially compared to other polytheists, but even despite mostly featuring gods I am not close to personally, this book captivated and thrilled me from cover to cover.

Buy it! Read it! Support your fellow polytheists! (It’s available on Kindle too but of course personally I prefer print books, and it’s lovely in that form if I do say so myself.)

Embracing Miasma

•September 5, 2019 • 3 Comments

An extremely important and insightful post from Lo about how to embrace the fallow or miasmic periods we all go through. It took me *years and years* to figure this out in my own practice. It’s also a rather Dionysian approach in a way – going full on even into the “bad” experiences so that you can be fully in the “good” ones later. Great reminder as I myself transition from my own seasonal low time to the one of greatest potency for me.


One of the things that is sorely lacking in the discourse surrounding miasma and spiritual pollution is that there is a cyclical component to its effect on our lives.

Miasma isn’t just random volleys of mundane filth that we get points for dodging, or inherent only in acts of secular, material life. There are greater cycles at work, and periods of uncleanliness are foundational to the very ebb and flow of those cycles. How this manifests in our individual lives will vary greatly, and is heavily dependent on our work/life balance, medication regimens, civic calendars, and even the natural cycles and unique chemical makeup of our minds and bodies. The pattern may depend on which numinous powers you work with, or the positions of celestial bodies. For some of us, it may even be weather-dependent.

Just like how business has slow days and slow seasons, our practice will also have…

View original post 802 more words

The thirty-first of August

•September 4, 2019 • 1 Comment

In the liminal wood,
as the gloaming becomes true night,
I assemble a circular feast
atop dry grass and sticks,
its centerpiece a heap of cold, raw lamb.
Ribbons the color of lapis lazuli
– the color of the deepening sky –
are strung between the ash trees
in this grove within a grove.
A nest of glittering gifts is nestled
amidst lichen covered branches
at a height designed to catch a bird’s quick eye.
With the wind crackling through the leaves
and tugging gently at the feathers in my crown,
I raise the wooden mouthpiece to my lips
and call the crows,
call them to their feast.
The rough notes leave behind an eerie silence
in the wood. From far off, a premonition
of black wings and sharp beaks.

September 2019 Cartomancy Dates

•September 2, 2019 • Leave a Comment

This month’s dates for readings are:

September 4
September 11 cancelled
September 25

As always, read my Cartomancy page for full details before requesting divination.

Results of the Hellenic Polytheist Survey

•August 20, 2019 • 2 Comments

In preparation for my recently released 3rd edition of Kharis: Hellenic Polytheism Explored, I conducted an update of the survey last done in 2007. Full results of this new survey (including demographics and the open-ended questions, as well as some commentary comparing the surveys over time) can be found in an appendix of the book, however I thought I’d share some of the results here. Thank you to everyone who participated!

Total Respondents: 606

What religion were you raised in? 

  • Christianity: 78%
  • Judaism: 3%
  • Islam: 1%
  • Buddhism: 1%
  • Hinduism: less than 1%
  • Hellenic Polytheism: less than 1%
  • other paganism/polytheism/animism: 5%
  • atheism: 10%
  • no religion: 21%
  • other: 7%

How many years have you been a pagan of any type?

  • under 1: 10%
  • 1-2: 20%
  • 3-5: 21%
  • 5-10: 18%
  • 10-20: 18%
  • more than 20: 13%

How many years have you been a Greek-focused pagan/polytheist?  

  • under 1: 19%
  • 1-2: 28%
  • 3-5: 21%
  • 5-10: 17%
  • 10-20: 11%
  • more than 20: 4%

How did you originally come to Hellenic polytheism? 

  • grew from a love of Greek mythology: 70%
  • grew from an interest in ancient history/archaeology/Classics/ philosophy: 46%
  • grew from an exploration of my Greek ancestry: 5%
  • followed a love of one Greek god to the rest of the pantheon: 47%
  • had a direct experience of a deity or deities: 44%
  • was practicing another Recon-type tradition but got called by the Greek gods: 9%
  • was Wiccan or neo-pagan and gradually became focused on the Greek pantheon: 37%
  • other: 8%

What do you prefer to call yourself? 

  • Hellenic or Greek polytheist: 34%
  • Hellenic or Greek pagan: 8%
  • Hellenic or Greek Reconstructionist: less than 1%
  • Graeco-Roman pagan/polytheist: 2%
  • Polytheist: 10%
  • Pagan: 15%
  • Neo-pagan: 1%
  • Hellene: 2%
  • Hellenist: 6%
  • Dodecatheist: less than 1%
  • Hellenic/Greek Wiccan: less than 1%
  • Hellenic/Greek Witch: 4%
  • Wiccan: less than 1%
  • Witch: 5%
  • Animist: 1%
  • other: 8%

If you consider yourself fully dual-trad or multi-trad, what is the other religious path?

  • Religio Romana: 14%
  • Kemeticism (Egyptian): 16%
  • Celtic/Gaelic/Brythonic/Druidry: 19%
  • Heathenry/Asatru/Vanatru: 20%
  • Slavic/Baltic: 4%
  • Babylonian/Sumerian/Canaanite: 5%
  • an indigenous animist tradition (e.g., Shinto): 4%
  • African diasporic (Santeria/Vodoun/Palo/etc.): 3%
  • Wicca: 11%
  • Witchcraft: 50%
  • Christianity: 7%
  • Judaism: 2%
  • Islam: less than 1%
  • Unitarian Universalist: 4%
  • Buddhism: 8%
  • Hinduism: 5%
  • other: 10%

Do you consider yourself a Reconstructionist? 

  • yes: 9%
  • no: 24%
  • my practice relies on both reconstructionism and modern innovation: 67%

Which theological stance best describes your beliefs?

  • Hard polytheism (all gods are distinct entities): 47%
  • Soft polytheism (some gods may be faces of the same gods, e.g. syncreticism): 31%
  • Monism (all gods are emanations of one spiritual force): 5%
  • Duotheism (all gods are faces of one Goddess and one God): less  than 1%
  • Pantheism (the divine is immanent in everything): 12%
  • other: 4%

What are your thoughts on UPG (Unusual Personal Gnosis)?

  • UPG plays a large role in my personal spiritual experience: 36%
  • UPG play an occasional role in my personal spiritual experience: 53%
  • I prefer to rely on historically verified ideas and practices: 10%
  • UPG has no place in Hellenic polytheism: 1%

How do you mainly practice? 

  • alone: 95%
  • with partner: 9%
  • with small group: 13%
  • with large group (more than 10): 3%
  • with various groups: 2%

If you often practice with a group, are the other members mainly:

  • Hellenic polytheists: 33%
  • other Recon-type polytheists: 5%
  • other pagans: 24%
  • animists: less than 1%
  • Wiccans: 5%
  • witches: 12%
  • magicians: less than 1%
  • African diasporic: less than 1%
  • Unitarian/CUUPS: 1%
  • other: 1%

Where do you mainly practice? 

  • home (including home shrines or temple space): 97%
  • public indoor space: 4%
  • temple (not in your own home): 2%
  • other people’s house(s): 7%
  • outdoors (your own property): 29%
  • outdoors (public parks, forests, etc.): 31%
  • other: 3%

How often do you do small devotional practices?

  • every day: 28%
  • 2-5 times a week: 28%
  • weekly: 15%
  • several times a month: 13%
  • monthly: 6%
  • special occasions only: 9%
  • never: 1%

How often do you do longer rituals (at least one hour) or festival celebrations?

  • every day: less than 1%
  • 2-5 times a week: 1%
  • weekly: 3%
  • several times a month: 8%
  • monthly: 17%
  • special occasions only: 52%
  • never: 18%

Do you ever do rituals with other Hellenic polytheists?

  • frequently: 3%
  • sometimes: 12%
  • rarely: 18%
  • never: 67%

Do you ever do rituals with other non-Hellenic culture-specific polytheists (Heathen, Celtic, Kemetic, etc.)?

  • frequently: 5%
  • sometimes: 13%
  • rarely: 19%
  • never: 63%

Do you ever do rituals with other general pagans or Wiccans?

  • frequently: 6%
  • sometimes: 13%
  • rarely: 22%
  • never: 59%

Do you have a patron deity? 

  • yes, one: 30%
  • yes, more than one: 48%
  • no: 22%

Do you mainly do rituals/devotions for all the gods or just a few? 

  • all:  15%
  • few: 50%
  • both: 35%

Do you ever do rituals/devotions for any of the following?

  • nymphs: 28%
  • ancient Greek heroes (Herakles, Theseus, Trophonios, etc.): 26%
  • heroes from your local area and/or modern times: 16%
  • ancestors: 52%
  • the dead (non-relations): 40%
  • agathos daimon: 33%
  • Hestia: 72%
  • Titans: 28%
  • the Muses: 36%
  • other daimones/spirits: 37%

Do you have a shrine or altar in your home? 

  • yes, one: 49%
  • yes, more than one: 34%
  • no: 17%

Do you follow the ancient Athenian festival calendar? 

  • yes, entirely: 4%
  • some of the festivals: 52%
  • no: 44%

Do you celebrate any festivals from other areas of ancient Greece?

  • yes: 32%
  • no: 68%

Do you celebrate any Hellenic festivals created in modern times?

  • yes: 42%
  • no: 58%

Do you work with the lunar calendar and/or celebrate any lunar-determined holy days such as the Noumenia?

  • yes, primarily: 17%
  • yes, in conjunction with other calendrical systems: 43%
  • no: 40%

Do you tailor your Hellenic practice to your local environment?

  • yes, as a significant element of my religious life: 29%
  • yes, to some degree: 51%
  • no, not a concern to me personally: 14%
  • no, I think Hellenic polytheism should be universal in its practice regardless of location: 6%

Do you have a religious name?

  • yes, a Greek name: 11%
  • yes, a non-Greek name: 11%
  • no, haven’t found the right one yet: 25%
  • no, don’t intend to take one: 53%

Do you dress in ancient style clothing for rituals?

  • always: 1%
  • sometimes: 19%
  • major festivals only: 5%
  • public rituals only: 3%
  • never: 72%

Do you know the ancient Greek language? 

  • know a little: 21%
  • familiar: 7%
  • fluent: 2%
  • no, not interested: 14%
  • no, but want to learn: 56%

Do you use ancient Greek in ritual?

  • always: 2%
  • sometimes: 9%
  • a few ritual phrases: 22%
  • no, but I would if I knew it: 45%
  • no, I prefer to only use my native language: 22%

Do you usually observe customs concerned with miasma and ritual purity?

  • yes, as if every ritual was in a temple: 7%
  • yes, at least a token cleansing before every ritual: 34%
  • sometimes, depending on the nature of the ritual: 25%
  • only when purity is a significant aspect of the ritual: 13%
  • no, it isn’t practical in my life: 14%
  • no, I don’t believe those rules are relevant anymore: 7%

Do you practice any forms of divination? 

  • yes: 87%
  • no: 13%

If so, what types do you use most often? 

  • Tarot: 78%
  • astrology: 41%
  • reading omens in general: 39%
  • oneiromancy (dreams): 37%
  • pendulum: 35%
  • cartomancy (cards other than Tarot): 27%
  • runes: 24%
  • kleromancy (dice/lots/astragaloi, etc.): 21%
  • oracular trance/direct inspiration: 21%
  • Greek alphabet oracle 20%
  • bibliomancy: 18%
  • scrying: 17%
  • tea leaves/coffee grounds: 16%
  • augury (bird flights): 13%
  • palmistry: 11%
  • system I invented myself: 11%
  • Homeric oracle: 7%
  • necromancy: 7%
  • I Ching: 3%
  • ogham: 2%
  • other: 9%

Have you ever utilized the services of a Hellenic polytheist diviner or oracle?

  • yes, without payment: 11%
  • yes, for a fee/trade: 13%
  • no, not interested: 17%
  • no, haven’t had the need or opportunity, but might in the future: 59%

Do you practice any other kinds of ‘magic’ (however you define that word)? 

  • yes, ancient Greek methods: 18%
  • yes, other systems: 67%
  • no, don’t know how: 14%
  • no, not interested: 16%

How do you feel about mysticism as a way of approaching the gods?

  • it is part of my practice: 55%
  • fine for others but not interested personally: 38%
  • don’t feel comfortable with it: 5%
  • strongly disagree with its inclusion in the religion: 2%

Do you think Hellenic polytheism should have priests?

  • yes: 28%
  • no: 10%
  • only if we have temples: 45%
  • exegetai (advisors) are enough: 17%

How do you feel about animal sacrifice, assuming it’s done humanely as possible and most of the animal is eaten, as it was done in ancient times?

  • totally support it: 24%
  • fine as long as the animals were already going to be slaughtered for food: 33%
  • not sure: 10%
  • somewhat uncomfortable with the idea: 14%
  • totally against it: 7%
  • against killing animals in any context: 12%

Have you ever participated, even as an observer, in a ritualized animal sacrifice?

  • yes, in a Hellenic polytheist context: 1%
  • yes, but only as part of another tradition’s rites: 7%
  • no: 92%

Have you ever made a pilgrimage to Greece to visit the sacred sites?

  • yes, once: 7%
  • yes, more than once: 4%
  • no, but hope to someday: 85%
  • no, not interested: 4%

For the full results of the survey, including answers regarding the challenges we face and our hopes for the future, see the newly published 3rd edition of Kharis: Hellenic Polytheism Explored, available from Amazon.com or order from your local bookstore.

Third Edition of KHARIS Now Available!

•August 16, 2019 • 3 Comments

I’m very pleased to announce that the revised third edition of Kharis: Hellenic Polytheism Explored is now available! I worked hard to bring this up-to-date in regard to both my own understanding and experience, and the community and current resources. It’s essentially the same text as before, but new readers will hopefully find it more useful than the old 2008 edition.

Can be purchased on Amazon.com, or order it from your local bookseller.

(Stay tuned for a post regarding the results of the survey.)

Disorientation for ASC

•March 27, 2019 • 6 Comments

The Poet makes himself a seer by a long, gigantic and rational derangement of all the senses. (Rimbaud)

There are many paths to altered states of consciousness. Rhythm, movement, fasting, entheogens, breath control, sensory deprivation and the opposite, sensory overload. But one I have not seen discussed much, but which is pretty fundamental to my personal practice, is disorientation. And I don’t mean in the sense of spinning around until you are dizzy, although that can work too of course. I am talking about practices which serve to change your sense of everyday reality in slow and sometimes subtle ways. I find these types of activities, while not always a direct or immediate entry into deep trance on their own, serve to thin the veil between the worlds and prime the mind for unusual experiences. When combined with other ASC methods this can lead into more focused ritual work in any specific instance, but also over time they can serve to loosen the mind in a broad and long-lasting way, making it easier to slip into that headspace on an ongoing basis. (The reason this might not be widely discussed, I realize, is that even most spirit-workers might not actually desire to experience this sort of constant alteration, but it is part of my path, so it seems likely there would be others out there, too.)

Some examples. If anyone else does anything like this, I’d love to hear some more.

  • sleeping in an unusual way – in a different room, at the foot of the bed, at odd hours, etc.
  • conversely, doing things (especially spiritual activities) in the middle of the night, between sessions of sleep
  • thinking in another language you aren’t fluent in (slows your mind down)
  • wearing a mask while doing everyday activities around the house
  • different lighting – colored lights, having only candlelight in a room usually lit with flourescents, blocking out all light in the middle of the day, etc.
  • lying down looking up at the ceiling and visually exploring the house in your mind as if the ceiling were the floor
  • watching a movie or observing people in reverse through a mirror
  • staying silent through an otherwise typical day, or speaking only in a whisper
  • when outside, taking a new route to a familiar location – especially through liminal spaces like alleys – until nearly lost (like this)
  • going through an entire day and night without looking at any clocks, erasing your usual sense of time passing
  • wearing a blindfold during normal (but safe) activities such as having a conversation with someone