Beyond the God-Phone

•February 27, 2015 • 5 Comments

For several years now in various spirit-work communities, the term “god-phone” has been used as short-hand slang for the ability to hear the gods and speak back to them in return. A full explanation and examination of the term can be found here. I think it’s a useful metaphor, for the most part, and it fairly well describes the experience of what is probably the most common level of divine contact for spirit-workers. You are able to talk back and forth, in real time, with the gods or spirits, using a generally reliable connection that allows for understanding on both ends, and can be initiated by either party (although, to extend the metaphor, you might get no answer, or a busy signal, at times). Of course, many things will affect this connection and the ensuing “signal clarity” and it’s not as if you can always pick up the phone any time you want regardless of mental, physical or spiritual receptivity, but the basic principle still stands.

However, there are other levels of divine contact that are just as important for a spirit-worker (or other type of mystic). I think the god-phone is pretty much the middle of the potential spectrum (this isn’t addressing periods of no contact whatsoever, which do happen to everyone).

To one end of the spectrum, we find a process more like mail than a phone. Messages can be sent and received from either party, but they are not necessarily communications in real time, nor do the parties need to be co-present. Messages from us to Them might be in the form of prayers, petitions, devotional acts, questions posed to divinatory methods, etc. Messages from Them to us might be in the form of omens, answers given through divinatory methods, words delivered via another mystic or even an unsuspecting person, etc. This is the level that non-mystics – everyday worshippers – generally experience (although even this takes a certain amount of effort and attention), but that doesn’t make it any less important to a spirit-worker’s practice. Especially because it requires a lot less energy, clarity and openness than other levels – making it more accessible in any sort of circumstance, as well as a lifesaver when we’re going through fallow times.

To the other end of the spectrum, we find an experience more like having a conversation with a person standing right next to you (or in the case of my spirits, behind you, as that tends to be how They manifest with me). If the relationship is a particularly intimate one, it may even be like They’re whispering in your ear. You are co-present, in real time, with nothing between you to relay or translate the communication. They absorb your full attention, unlike god-phone interactions which can sometimes be carried out while engaging in other tasks. You may also see or feel Their presence (depending on how you are oriented) in an immediate way you don’t get with the god-phone. This is the most direct, most personal form of communication.

It’s worth mentioning, that just because we use this terminology that involves “speaking” and “listening” does not mean you will necessarily “hear” Them as such – either with your physical ears, or internally (the way you might hear music in your head). Obviously, as in the mail metaphor, messages can be conveyed through other means. Not everyone is geared toward auditory input just like not everyone is geared toward visual input (which is why not every spirit-worker has visions). Nor are all the gods and spirits going to communicate in the same way.

Sometimes “hearing” is just a convenient way to express a much more complicated or nebulous experience. For instance, there is a certain quality of inspiration that I know, from confirmed experience over time, comes from my spirit-Husband. I might describe such an instance to someone else as “He showed me a mask to make” or “He told me what to do next” but that doesn’t mean I saw or heard anything. I received the information, and experienced the connection nonetheless.

So your god-phone might function entirely through pictures, your mail might be delivered via a sudden lack of balance (we have more than five senses), your intimate conversation might feel more like a synaesthetic dream than a chat with another human. It doesn’t really matter how it happens, just that you figure out how it works for you and for Them, and keep practicing to attain both breadth and depth to your communications.

 

Destash – Deer Bones

•February 25, 2015 • 4 Comments

Decided to de-stash some of my bones… these are all deer bones, but they’re not all from the same deer. I cleaned most of them myself, to varying degrees (as you can see, some are much whiter than others – those that are yellowish can be de-greased and whitened further if desired). 63 pieces in all – a bunch of smaller vertebrae that have been drilled (bottom left), larger vertebrae (right), a couple leg bones, a scapula, some very small bits of antler, and assorted foot/toe and other small bones. I’m putting these up here before listing on my Etsy shop because I think they’re probably of more use to someone for spiritual purposes, although they would be fine for crafts too (most are not jewelry quality, though some of the drilled vertebrae could work). I’ll sell the whole lot for $20 + $5 shipping (US only). Comment here or email me if you’re interested.

IMG_3899

Thank You

•February 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Today my Indiegogo campaign is ending, and I’ve exceeded my original goal, so I wanted to say Thank You to everyone who contributed, and also everyone who helped spread the word or supported me in other ways. I am now able to get my laptop and start work on my new book, as well as pay off a couple important expenses!

In thanks, I am offering a 20% coupon in ALL my Etsy shops from now through the spring equinox. Just use the code GRATITUDE20 when checking out. As a reminder, these shops are:

Goblinesquerie – bone jewelry, incense, my bone-working booklet, art, and much more (just a note too that I will be letting all items in the $5 Sale category expire soon, so if you want something there, now is the time, especially as they all cost only $4 with this coupon!)

Magpie & Rook – vintage treasures, including some great stuff like silver grape-design ritual goblets, an antique tooled leather handbag, a Bavarian hat with hunting charms, great jewelry and toys…

Carnival Talk – my book The Secret History of Carnival Talk with postcards and prints

Avoiding Mental Miasma

•February 24, 2015 • 9 Comments

In Galina’s recent post On Being and Becoming in Devotion (which is worth reading in full), she talks about the potential for miasma resulting from certain sensory input:

“If we can be contaminated spiritually by what we see and hear, by what we experience, then the logical curative is to be vigilant with regard to our senses….How much are we shaped by our experiences? How much might our center be shifted by what we watch, or what we hear, or the settings to which we expose ourselves?”

I feel this more acutely as time goes on. At first, it was just noticeable during and around ritual practice – for instance, a desire to limit the topics of conversation on a holy day to those suitable for a spiritual mindset, or to avoid areas of excessive commercialization when going out for a festival. Eventually, it began to permeate my everyday life, especially as my spirituality more deeply infused every part of my life.

There are things I simply do not want in my brain, and they give me a strong feeling of miasma. These things feel distinctly incompatible with the spiritual forces that I surround myself with. And to a lesser degree – not miasma-inducing, per se, but not conducive to the mindset I prefer – I avoid being in the presence of too many reminders of mainstream American culture and other distasteful aspects of the world I must live in. As Rhyd noted about visiting my home, I do not have much technology there, I try to limit the amount of plastic I have to see around me every day, choosing instead to have reminders of my spiritual relationships and priorities everywhere I look. This even extends to the city I live in – I chose a place where my walk to work each day passes gardens and trees and (in the more commercial areas) a lot of locally owned shops, where the forest is extremely accessible, where the culture is for the most part supportive of my values…I can’t imagine how much my daily experience would change if I had to walk down a loud, crowded street in a big city full of chain stores where, say, fashion and the latest gadgets were the priority of everyone around me.

I think this is one of those things that might have more impact than we think. At the very least, our surroundings, the media we consume, the sights and sounds we are subjected to, influence our mental landscape and therefore affect our ability to dwell in the spiritual world. At worst, there may well be a spiritual-sickness, a miasma, associated with some of this sensory input, that might tangibly harm our well-being.

Galina goes on to consider whether such miasma can be fought by an overabundance of positive input:

“Is it possible to fill the mind and heart so with praises and prayers and devotion to our Gods, fill to overflowing so that every moment of every day as we move throughout our worlds there is no room for corruption or contamination to exist?”

I personally really like this approach, as I’ve used it before as a protective device (i.e., instead of warding or shielding against negative forces, I simply fill myself and the space up with my spirits and Their power to the point where there’s no room for anything else). However, I think it’s a difficult trick to pull off on a constant basis, even if it’s a good goal to have, and it would probably still be more effective in the interim to be culling negative input where possible.

That might mean a somewhat harsh evaluation of what we’re taking in, and why. I’ve found, for instance, that sometimes my so-called “guilty pleasure” activities (say, eating certain foods, or watching certain shows) are actually doing more harm than good, polluting my body and mind in a way that sets me back in my spiritual pursuits – in those cases, it is usually possible to find replacements that are better integrated into my life but still provide needed relaxation and enjoyment. Yes, that can be annoying at times, having to examine everything one does and everything one is exposed to, but it facilitates a life in the company of the spirits. And anyway, I’ve seen the sorts of people who consume what our culture tells us to consume, and I certainly don’t want to be one of them!

Hermes in the Cemetery #2

•February 20, 2015 • 9 Comments

This is the second installment in my project of visiting every cemetery in Eugene in honor of Hermes. This time I had a friend along, and we first stopped at a small cemetery just outside of the city. Then we made our way to Luper Cemetery, a pioneer cemetery reached by a 1/2 mile walk down a gravel path, surrounded by agricultural land uses. Luper had been abandoned and neglected until several years ago, and volunteers have done an amazing job reconstructing tombstones and creating paths and keeping the brambles at bay. It’s a wonderfully unexpected oasis of trees and water and birds in the middle of vast fields. We had tea on a lovely bench made from a fallen branch, and I left a small herm as I will do at each cemetery this year.

A few photos from the first cemetery:

First cemetery - I love how in the wet climate of Oregon, moss colonizes tombstones and fills in the engravings.

I love how in the wet climate of Oregon, moss colonizes tombstones and fills in the engravings.

A close-up of some lovely lichen.

A close-up of some lovely lichen blooms.

A little lamb, for a girl named Gladness

A little lamb, for a girl named Gladness

And now on to Luper Cemetery:

The gate

The gate

This is almost the whole cemetery, it's relatively small - you can see the fields in the distance.

This is almost the whole cemetery, it’s relatively small – you can see the fields in the distance.

Moss takes over everything here.

Moss takes over everything here.

There were several of these and I've never seen anything like it before - like they took a normal headstone and encased it in a bunch of concrete bricks.

There were several of these and I’ve never seen anything like it before – like they took a normal headstone and encased it in a bunch of concrete bricks.

Oak and ivy

Oak and ivy

Another beautiful carving.

Another beautiful carving.

This piece of a tombstone was lying flat on the ground, allowing the moss free reign - Grant Baker's name is entirely made of moss now.

This piece of a tombstone was lying flat on the ground, allowing the moss free reign – Grant Baker’s name is entirely made of moss now.

The tree where we left offerings and had tea.

The tree where we left offerings and had tea.

The stones I left for Hermes.

The stones I left for Hermes.

My little corner

•February 20, 2015 • 5 Comments

Every year when Pantheacon rolls around a get a little twinge, a part of me that thinks I might like to go – after all, I did go for a couple years back in ’06/’07, and I actually did have some important experiences there. That was back when I was running Neokoroi, involved in several other groups, becoming somewhat of a “name” within at least the small online Hellenic community. It was also when I was constantly embroiled in some kind of drama or another, constantly fighting – if only with words on a screen – with various people, constantly draining my energy in order to build something with other people who were almost always a disappointment in the end. Now that I no longer have any interest in merely socializing (which still seems to be the main draw for most people at these events), and I can see that the same drama still happens without fail each year, I’ve realized that it just isn’t worth it. And while theoretically I’m glad people are still finding kindred spirits and trying to create groups that could do important work, I’m happy to be out of that game too.

I often look at it all and wonder, what if we put all that energy, that goes into dealing with other people and hashing out “community” and making organizations and breaking them down again and putting on expensive conventions and making names for ourselves… what if we directed it all to the gods instead? Because frankly, sometimes it seems like the gods are just a footnote to all this very human drama within our religion(s). (I’ve even seen, more than once, people prioritizing dealing with interpersonal issues over actual worship within religious settings, to the point where they have no energy left for Them.) While I can see the potential, at least, that some such endeavors might have to better honor the gods, that more often seems to lose out to all the infighting and egos and chit chat. When it comes down to it, the real work of building cultus for the gods and spirits, of reviving not the structure or appearance but the meat and bones of personal devotion and a living relationship with the divine world, happens largely in the private moments: the heartfelt prayers and offerings witnessed by no other human eyes, the sudden awareness of divine presence during a quiet walk, the omen which answers an important question, the sparks of connection, the ongoing practice of reciprocity.

So while some of you are out there in the fray, I will be over here in my little corner, worshipping spirits that no one else even knows, making those connections, trancing out, and staying the hell away from other people and their distractions. If you’re burnt out by all this constant conflict, I invite you to join me (metaphorically of course – I cannot emphasize enough the part about being away from other people). Never think that your spiritual work has to be public or socially involved for it to matter. All of these human constructs will fall (most of them very, very quickly), but the offerings will still need to be made, the libations poured, the veil parted, the gods honored.

Interactions and Intersections

•February 13, 2015 • 5 Comments

One thing I’ve always had some trouble with is my tendency to put my gods and spirits and other elements of my practice in little boxes (in my head) that make sense to me, but limit my understanding and experiences of Them. For instance, when I first started on this path, about 15 years ago, I had a strong division in my head between what I considered the Religious and Magical parts of my practice – in other words, the devotional and spirit-work sides. I thought I had to be doing either one or the other at any given time, and that, in general, gods belonged in the first box and spirits in the second. Well, They all took no time in disabusing me of that notion! The more I let these two sides intermingle, the more powerful my entire practice became. I should have known better from the beginning – after all, Dionysos clearly had opened the door for my main group of spirits to come into my life, even though They had previously had no connection to Him or His tradition – but you know how stubborn we can be about our little preconceptions.

So over the years, I’ve made a deliberate effort to stop doing this, and to integrate my spiritual life more and more. But it was Pointed Out to me recently that I am still keeping some of those boxes intact. For instance, I still seem to have difficulty in allowing for the full extent of interaction and intersection between my various gods and spirits. I think on some level it disturbs me a little to realize that in some cases, the only point of connection and commonality is, well, me – and yet, there it is. Whether it’s about experiencing more than one entity within the same ritual and seeing how They interact, or even finding new perspectives where They overlap in a syncretic sort of way, sometimes the only reason They are doing so is because I worship Them both/all. This is, I suspect, how it’s always been, at least collectively – for instance the Greek gods being introduced to the Egyptian gods via the migration of Their respective worshippers – but it’s still a little strange to consider.

It’s all well and good when Hermes spends a year or so stealing all of Dionysos’ festivals (this happened – we decided to call Him “heortokleptos”), or comes to me in a dream alongside Odin (hey, at least They’re both gods, and similar ones at that) but when I see a face of my spirit-Husband (who has nothing to do with the Hellenic tradition, is not a god, is not even known to anyone but me) that looks an awful lot like Hermes… that is still a little hard for me to process. And frankly, even with some of the more familiar or “natural” intersections, I’ve been shutting my mind to them as I dedicate time to only one or another god or spirit, thinking erroneously that it was more proper to give a holy day or ritual wholly to the designated entity. That might seem reasonable, but I have been Told that it is never the right choice to be shutting any of Them out, for any reason.

That instruction may not actually apply to everyone but just specifically to me because of my spiritual/magical role, but I think sharing this stuff is useful in case it resonates with someone else. I don’t even know if anyone else has this problem – I mean, it may have a lot to do with my overall tendency to be more comfortable with one-on-one interaction rather than even small groups, which seems to apply to divine as well as human situations. But I would hazard a guess that at least some other people are also putting Them in boxes, maybe different sorts, and we could all use a reminder not to confine the gods with our own limited ideas of Them.

As I am loosening up about this, I am finding some really fascinating intersections between my gods and spirits that is teaching me a lot about Them both individually and collectively, and bringing me closer to Them. And that is certainly worth a bit of discomfort. Anyway, I wouldn’t be a Dionysian if I didn’t challenge every boundary I found within myself!

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 546 other followers