Cartomancy in December

•December 2, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Just a periodic reminder that I offer divination via trance-assisted cartomancy (or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, cartomancy-assisted trance) every Wednesday, for $20 per question. More details here. Dates for this month are:

December 7 – SESSION FULL
December 14
December 28

No session on the 21st because I will be celebrating Yule.

Nov. 30th is Lost Species Remembrance Day

•November 26, 2016 • 3 Comments

This strikes right at my heart, and I plan to do a small rite of mourning and remembrance this year, and work on something more elaborate for next year with more time to prepare. As someone who works very intimately with dead animals, this feels like an expansion of that calling. Maybe some of you will join me.

rotwork

Premonition by Jan Harrison

I may or may not get a chance to collaborate with someone on some kind of mourning ritual/project this year, but either way, I will be observing it. I have it in my head to make papier mache masks of recently extinct (or due-to-soon-be-extinct species), and either ritually burning them or keeping them and, when my Year is up, honoring them as part of the dead.

It’s interesting to me that this date was chosen when it was – in the midst of Wild Hunts and so near to mumming season, so I may incorporate the mourning ritual with other veil-lifting, Otherworld-related ones I will otherwise be having next year. Anyways, this is all very related to the body of praxis I’m calling “rotwork” – a sort of meditative practice focused on quiet contemplation; the reincorporation of grief; radical acceptance; performing physical work; witnessing decay in all…

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Music for Woden

•November 25, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Today I trekked through city streets and wooded paths while the skies darkened with clouds and the winds blew furiously, and I felt Woden strongly around me, and the Hunt riding. Inspired me to share some of the songs on my playlist for Him:

And finally, this one is amazing but only available to stream on bandcamp:

Hail Wotan Within the Wood by Lasher Keen

Available now

•November 23, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Just finished working on this amazing book! Highly recommended. Lots of solid discussion I haven’t seen much of elsewhere on topics like ethics involved in divining for others, confirmation bias, discernment, ritual purity, how to handle things getting intense, plus a ton of really interesting and creative divination methods with a Dionysian focus. Where else are you going to read about egg cleansings, nefarious toys and an oracle based on the words of David Bowie all in one place?

The House of Vines

hwfront

The mantis (diviner) straddles the gulf between the hidden and the seen and makes known to their community the sage counsel of the Gods and Spirits.

When everything is out of balance, illness and misfortune afflict the people, the holy has been profaned and the land cries out for justice – that is when the mantis steps in and untangles the threads so that all may enjoy felicitous relations once more.

Drawing on over twenty years’ experience as a Dionysian diviner, author H. Jeremiah Lewis (who serves his community under the name Sannion) has put together a manual for those who would take up this sacred vocation within the Starry Bull tradition, as well as curious outsiders. He not only lays out the proper foundation and protocols for this work, but introduces a plethora of brand new divination systems specifically tailored for Dionysian practice.

Available now through Createspace and Amazon.com.

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Gods Beyond Functions

•November 8, 2016 • 7 Comments

I was listening to an interview about polytheism with Galina Krasskova and Edward Butler (found here, and very much worth listening/watching), when a question was posed about the idea of each god being limited to a certain function or sphere – like people tend to think of there being, in any tradition, a “god of love” and a “god of the ocean” and a “god of vegetation,” etc. Oddly, I had just been talking with my (Heathen) partner about this, and how it’s not a particularly useful or accurate concept when describing real, living polytheism, either in the past or present. Edward had this to say in response, which I transcribed because it was so great I thought it needed to be preserved:

“I would say this is a typically modern misunderstanding of polytheism. For someone who is the particular devotee of a certain deity, that deity is – at least potentially – all things to them. For someone who is only peripherally concerned with a particular deity, that deity may be concerned with some narrow function, that they only need recourse to in a particular circumstance of their life, for instance.

It’s one of the artifacts of our modern perspective these days – one of the misleading artifacts of that perspective – that we tend to look at all the deities from this peripheral perspective, and see them as having these narrowly circumscribed functions, and that again is partly because of an excessive reliance on the poets. It’s also because of other intellectual and conceptual confusions and distortions that have arisen over time.”

This is one of those things that, while I understand it and even exemplify it in my personal practice, I still find myself mistakenly slipping back into that erroneously simplistic conception especially when thinking of pantheons and gods I’m not familiar with. Which perhaps makes sense, as those would be deities who I would only be, at best, peripherally involved with, and therefore I see Them through the lens of those limited functions. But it’s good to keep in mind that every god is so much more than the “god of X” and can and will fulfill many roles in the life of Their devotee.

That’s not to say that They are all the same or interchangeable, or that They don’t each have areas of specialty. I may go to Dionysos for help with a problem totally outside His usual realms because we are close, but He’s still going to be the most helpful and most responsive with issues that are near and dear to Him. Still, He’s much more complex than just “the god of intoxication” or even “the god of liberation.” And plenty of other gods are involved in those things too, in Their own ways.

It’s true that we have been unduly influenced by the poets and storytellers, because (as Edward also pointed out) it’s not as if we can directly experience the living cultus that existed for our gods when it was thriving, and see how it might have differed from the myths that came down to us – we can reconstruct with the evidence we have, but we’re missing something crucial that I think will best be restored simply by practicing the living cultus today. It’s going to take time to recapture that mindset.

It’s important, though, to take note of these mistakes in thinking, especially because in some ways they can perpetuate harmful underlying concepts, even just subconsciously. For instance, the interviewer went on to ask, if the gods overlap in Their abilities and areas so much, what is the point in having more than one god at all? And see, that is a common response that reveals a critical assumption (again, even subconsciously): that gods are ultimately an invention of the human mind or culture, that people made up these gods of various aspects of life, and therefore one can question the point of having them overlap. Because it’s true, if it were just an invented system, it doesn’t always make sense or seem very elegant. But Galina’s wonderful response was that the point is, They exist. They exist and we are privileged to engage with Them. So you see, if you get too caught up in the mythology-book idea of the gods fitting into neat little boxes and each fulfilling a human need, you are subtly relegating Them to the position of human inventions, as sure as any anthropologist or psychologist might. The real gods are messy and complex and multi-faceted.

This more encompassing view of Them also kind of dismantles the reasoning behind thinking of gods as equivalent to other gods of similar functions. Hermes and Odin might both be gods of travellers and magic, but if you’ve gotten to know both of Them beyond Their functions, you’ll see how They are individuals with many non-intersecting areas of interest, strength, influence, etc. (This isn’t to say there can’t be useful syncretic practice, when done thoughtfully and carefully, but that doesn’t make those two gods the same, it just focuses on the places They overlap and intersect.)

Like Edward said, in antiquity people would have approached many if not most gods on a relatively simplistic level when they had occasional need of Them, seeing Them mostly through the filter of Their most well-known functions, and that’s fine – it is unnecessary and impossible to delve more deeply into all the gods, even just within one pantheon. But it’s good to remember that those depths exist, with all of Them.

The Dreaming Month

•November 2, 2016 • 5 Comments

October is finished and I am exhausted. As many of you know, October through December is my “high woo” time, my period of most intense spirit-work all year. October is dedicated in particular to one of my closest spirit allies, who most significantly holds sway over my dream life, which is a large part of my practice. So among other things, I have been doing a little set of ritual actions each night to draw closer to him – lighting the candle on his shrine to light my way into the dreamworlds, wearing a certain piece of jewelry to bed to keep me connected to him, etc. Early in the month, I had a dream that I found a certain object at a crafts market and bought it for him – when I woke, I looked on Etsy and found pretty much that exact item, just as it looked in my dream, and was able to get it for him “for real” and have been using it all month (carrying it with me each day out in the world, and then putting it under my pillow at night). That kind of bleed through from dream to waking life has kept me in an altered state nearly the whole time, which has been productive and powerful and also very draining.

Another thing I did with my dream spirit this month has been an experiment with melatonin as an entheogen. We produce this chemical naturally and it helps regulate sleep. Taken as a supplement, one of the “side effects” is vivid dreaming, so I’ve been taking it most nights this month to induce more dreams, and it has worked spectacularly. I probably had more notable dreams in the past 31 days than I have ever had in a similar period of time. I am still sorting through all of them and processing what they have shown me.

Some other highlights from this month…. getting a tattoo of one of the Icelandic magical staves in a very powerful and painful spot that further serves to open me to the spirits…. working on two very significant dead animals that have come to me, including cleaning bones, mummifying remains and preserving organs as well as creating a shrine to house them in once complete… taking Amanita muscaria and suffering quite a bit for it… creating a magical “poison water” using the principles of flower essences, to connect with certain dangerous forces in a relatively safe physical way…. spending 90 minutes floating in a sensory deprivation tank on my birthday…. celebrating the Hermaia Propulaia by leaving a series of offerings in some holy places in my super-local environment…. several visits to multiple cemeteries…. viewing a Day of the Dead art exhibit…. attending our local mushroom festival…. turning 39, which all signs point to being a very significant year in my overall spiritual life…. a magical walk through alleyways in a nearby neighborhood to further explore the local landscape…. making and leaving out several big glamourbombs, including my customary special one for All Hallows Eve, which act like gateways for my spirits…. attending a Rasputina concert near Halloween in full costume, dressed essentially as my magical self, an interesting way of both masking and revealing myself at once…. furthering work (both in creating art and collecting certain items) for a large devotional project I’m working on this year…. a trip to the university library where I found some good books on fairy folklore (recommended: Children Into Swans: Fairy Tales and the Pagan Imagination)…. and Halloween night itself, with offerings to the city’s dead in the cemetery, carving pumpkins, procession of the cart of Nerthus, and a sumbel held by firelight.

I am taking a few days to try to recover (not just mentally but also physically, as this sort of work takes a toll on my health, which has never been that robust to begin with), and celebrate Looking Glass Day, and then I jump into the work of November, when dead animal spirits and dark fairies and the Wild Hunt come to the forefront.

Less like people

•October 28, 2016 • 1 Comment

I just re-found this quote I’d saved and it seems like a good time to post it, considering it’s that time of year.

I’m not in tune with the dead, generally speaking – I think it’s because I’m not in tune with humans, dead or alive. I don’t tend to sense dead spirits, even though I’m easily able to sense and communicate with other types of spirits. But… as students of folklore know, there’s a certain amount of crossover and ambiguity between the dead and fairies, and fairies are something I deal with quite often. I’ve always wondered, what makes some dead become something other than just a former human, what might transform them or meld them with the local nature spirits. This might explain it:

“They could be ghosts,” he said.
“The dead can’t speak….”
“Maybe not when they’re newly dead. I had a thought about that. When they’re newly dead, they can’t speak, and they look like themselves. And you can make them speak using blood, like in Virgil….Later, they draw life from things that are alive, animals and plants, and they get more like them, less like people, and they can speak, with that life.”

(Jo Walton, Among Others)