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.

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 still contact me at doorunderground at gmail dot com, although I may be slow to respond.

Extra Ways to Use the Girls Underground Story Oracle

•September 21, 2018 • Leave a Comment

I totally forgot to mention that there are several extra ways to use the GU Story Oracle cards besides as a divination system, which are outlined in the accompanying Guidebook.

  • As a focal point for working magic, setting intentions for the next development in your personal Story, etc.
  • As a writing prompt.
  • As a collaborative story-telling game for multiple players.

For those primarily interested in it as a divinatory tool, there are also three different types of card readings suggested: Fortuna, Norns and Taliesin (you’ll have to get the Oracle to find out how these work!).

[P.S. 87% funded now! You guys are amazing!]

Kickstarter Update – 75% and Counting!

•September 14, 2018 • Leave a Comment

With 16 days left to go of my Kickstarter campaign for The Girls Underground Story Oracle I am now at 75% of the needed funds! Getting close, but still need your help to make it to the finish line and manifest this project! Please check it out and spread the word!

View the campaign on Kickstarter.

September 2018 Cartomancy Dates

•September 3, 2018 • Leave a Comment

This month’s dates for readings are:

September 12
September 19 session full
September 26

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

Kickstarter Launch: The Girls Underground Story Oracle

•August 22, 2018 • 3 Comments

Some of you may be familiar with my Girls Underground project. Basically, I’ve been tracking examples (in novels and movies, mostly) of a story archetype I identified many years ago – a girl’s initiatory journey complete with otherworlds, adversaries, companions, trials and tribulations, and ultimately transformation. Often the girl (or woman) travels literally underground, hence the name (and because I am deeply attracted to all things chthonic). The archetype has its roots in mythology, especially Persephone, Inanna, Ariadne and Psyche.

For years I have wanted to do something special with this concept, something more than a blog, and finally the inspiration arrived. See, this archetype is in many ways my own, too, and I have often used Girls Underground stories to guide my spiritual journey and provide insight into what was happening in my own narrative – for I strongly believe that Story is something real and powerful that we can all tap into. So I decided to combine it with one of my other long-time passions and create an oracular system – specifically, a deck of divinatory cards, each one containing a part of the Girls Underground story in its essence. You can pull just one card to get the next plot point, or you can pull several and let the cards tell their own story. Story-telling and fortune-telling, it seemed a natural combination.

In order to make this project a reality, I need your help! I have fully designed the deck and written the accompanying guidebook, but now I need the funds to produce and ship everything, so I’m launching a Kickstarter to pre-sell the oracle, with a few added perks as incentives. I hope you will all go and check it out and hopefully it will speak to you enough to contribute. But whether or not you pledge, I would be extremely appreciative if you would help spread the word by sharing the campaign anywhere you think is appropriate.

Much more detail on the oracle can be found on the Kickstarter page, including a short video trailer I made (also embedded below), mock-ups of all the various components and perks, etc. I plan to have this ready to ship before Yule so it would make a great gift, too.


One last note – while this archetype is definitely focused on a (usually adolescent) female protagonist, I personally believe it can be meaningful to anyone, and I welcome all who are interested, regardless of gender identity or age!

Kharis Anniversary

•June 20, 2018 • 11 Comments

In a couple weeks, it will be the 10 year anniversary of the publication of my first book, Kharis: Hellenic Polytheism Explored. (Technically, this is the second edition, the first having been printed several years prior with no ISBN, before print-on-demand really took off, but to me it’s this latter version that really counts).

I just checked my stats, and Kharis has sold over 1,000 copies in the last decade – not bad for a little self-published primer on an obscure religious tradition! (According to WorldCat, there are also copies in four different libraries in the U.S., so you can even interlibrary loan it!) I’m happy that my book appears to still provide useful information and guidance for folks on this path.

In honor of this anniversary, I have permanently reduced the list price of the book from $15.99 to $13.99. This new price is now live on Amazon. I hope this helps make it even more accessible for those who need it.

Rivers as Persons

•April 5, 2018 • 4 Comments

It’s about fucking time:

For 140 years, the Māori Whanganui iwi (tribe) negotiated for the Whanganui River to be recognised as their ancestor. Last year, in a world first, the New Zealand Parliament finally agreed that the Whanganui is a ‘living entity.’ And just a week later, the Yamuna River and the Ganges were recognised by a high court in India as having legal rights, meaning the rivers have the same legal rights as any other human would have. In Colombia, in another revolutionary ruling, the Constitutional Court of Colombia decided that the Atrato River is a living being, a legal entity with personhood rights. The ruling says that the Atrato River, which had been heavily polluted by gold mining and left with mercury contamination, is now to be restored to health.

from The Amazing Legal Movement Giving Water a Voice

Spirit-Worker Art – A Story About A Very Special Book

•May 1, 2017 • 5 Comments

Let me tell you a story.

Many years ago, my spirits told me that I would eventually learn to integrate my magical practices and artistic pursuits, that I would begin making “spirit-worker art.” This concept appealed to me but I had no idea at the time how it would actually manifest. I knew it wasn’t just a matter of making witchy-looking stuff (there’s enough of that anyway) but rather a deeper level of utilizing Art to open Doorways. Eventually I came to rely more directly on certain spirits for artistic inspiration, and began seeing an increase in ability too – what They wanted made, got made, even when I didn’t think I possessed the necessary skills. There were masks, and puppets, and many glamourbombs.

And then, over a year ago, They dropped a concept into my head and it grabbed hold of me. It was a book, with glossy black pages, and in it there were antique photographs of gentlemen (elegant, fine, but perhaps a little strange or sinister as well) representing one of the faces those spirits use, and there were also Polaroid photos – with their hazy, vintage feel – of liminal places I knew and of some of the other magical art objects I’d created, representing Their otherworldly home. And these would be placed together with poems – possibly fragments of some of the poetry I’d written about Them in the past. And all of this would somehow express just Who these spirits are – it would be an introduction to Them, a doorway for Them, and an offering to Them.

I had only just acquired a vintage Polaroid camera (also on Their insistence), and I knew nothing about collecting antique photographs, but I dived right in. And over the course of 13 months, that vision came to fruition. I spent countless hours hunting for unusual portraits in antique stores and flea markets (and online), and I took my camera on many numinous walks, attempting to capture the odd little places where I felt the veil was the thinnest. I even made a special trip to a run-down fairytale amusement park and battled rain to get shots of the giant witch and the haunted house.

As I did this, the vision became clearer, I understood better just what I was making. All the smaller details came into focus. However, even as I was wrapping up the images portion of the book (this was back in early February), I still didn’t know what the words would be. Nothing I had written before seemed quite right, but no new poetry was coming (which wasn’t surprising, given that I rarely write it anymore and have only turned out the occasional poem over the past decade).

But, I trusted Them. I followed a set of signs and synchronicities, and it led me to some powerful inspiration, and then one day, I wrote something – or rather, something came through me, because it didn’t really feel like I created it – different than anything I’d done before. A short, rhyming piece that felt more like a wicked nursery rhyme than anything else. And it fit. And then I wrote another. And in 10 short days, 25 of these poems came through me, just enough to fill the spaces in the book. They filled my mind, I could think of nothing else that whole time. And then the ink ran dry, and I haven’t had an idea for one since.

I arranged the images and words across the pages of the book (with all kinds of arcane symbolism and references that make it more meaningful to Them but are probably invisible to anyone else), and I even hid a spell of sorts within the arrangement of the poems (which *can* be found by any reader). I began and ended it with two quotes from the poetry of Jim Morrison, whose words were an early guidepost for me when I first met these spirits as an adolescent. Then, after the books were printed, I hand-carved a rubber stamp (a riff on the all-seeing eye, a symbol of Theirs) for the endpapers, and hammered out the title on copper plates – the title which had come to me at the very start of the project, a line from an old poem of mine, an invocation to the spirits:

“Gentlemen, madmen, things that are not men.”

And finally now I can bring this to the world, although the story behind it will only be shared here. Today, this May Day, marks an important milestone in my life with my spirits, and this is my “senior project” as it were, and one of my most potent pieces of spirit-worker art thus far. Aside from the photographs (many oblique) that appear on my art blog, this book will only be experienced in person, physically – I will not be posting the Polaroids I used, or scans of the old cabinet cards, or sharing most of the poetry. It is a tangible object and it needs to remain that way.

Some might call them fairies, some might call them monsters. They look like gentlemen but they are anything but gentle. They live underground, but they prowl our streets. Every shadow may hide a doorway into their topsy-turvy, twilight land.

I am offering 11 of the 13 copies of this limited edition for sale in my Etsy shop (under a new pen name, D. Venatrix). More details can be found there. The book costs $75 (which frankly only recoups the cost of making the physical book; I consider the purchase of antique photos and expensive instant film as just the cost of being a spirit-worker), and for an extra $25 I will also include three original Polaroid “outtakes” from my adventures (I have been posting some of these to my art blog recently).

Just like with the glamourbombs I leave out while never knowing who will find or see them (or if any human will at all), I have to trust that these books will find their way into the right hands. They are doorways to a strange, uncanny place. Will you open the door?

The mound is cold but beautiful
It sparkles in the candlelight
The revels can be endless here
For underground, it’s always night
But as the flames die one by one
The time has come, their favorite part
When all the lords and ladies
Take their masks off, in the dark