Avoiding my Ancestors

Ancestor work is one of those things that’s been in the back of my mind for awhile now and by awhile I mean about seven months. I’m at that point where I know working with my ancestors is something I need to start doing and I know I will eventually bite the bullet and get to it. But I fell like voicing my frustrations and hesitations is ultimately an important step in understanding my relationship to my ancestors.

I am by no means uncomfortable around dead people. I started working as a psychopomp around four years ago. Any discomfort I had faded pretty quickly and unless the dead are being super rude, I actually like hanging out with them. It isn’t like I never talked to my family members that have crossed either. If we visited their grave or they were hanging around I would chat with them. It was, and in many ways still is, a bittersweet thing, but still something I enjoyed doing.

Despite occasionally working with and chatting with the dead, the idea of actually setting up a space for my ancestors never really crossed my mind until this past Fall. My University’s Pagan Student Association was just getting on its feat and we decided to do a Dumb Supper ritual in October. It went really well, but I was only expecting to chat up my grandparents that I was already used to chatting with. I wasn’t expecting, near the end of the meal, to get a very clear, collective voice telling me “one of your grandfathers will be joining us soon.” It was at this point focused ancestor work was really put on my radar. I was still very much confined to dorm life but I definitely took more notice of ancestors when they came up in blog posts or books.

True to their word though, my grandfather’s cancer came back a few months after that ritual. I was at school the majority of time he was getting worse. However, several times I found myself being pulled out of my body before going to bed to visit him. One of my greatest fears with all of this was that I would be the one who would cross him over. But as the weeks went on, I was more sure that was what was going to happen. He ended up passing while I was at home over Spring break. I did end up helping him cross. It hurt. Still does. My mom was the one giving him hospice care so we were able to bond and talk about what we both experienced.

With my grandfather’s passing came one of my biggest hesitations with fully committing to ancestor work, namely the Christian God. He and I have never really gotten along. I had a begrudging understanding with him and the archangels when I was working more actively as a psychopomp. I spent a little time having a bit of a mentor relationship with the archangel Uriel as well that Loki, who I am oathbound to, was always wary of but never interfered. But around the time of my grandfather’s passing, that already shaky relationship pretty much dissolved. I’m not upset about that relationship being over. The Christian God and the archangels were basically my bad ex that I kept going back to. However, it does make it a bit awkward now when I want to work with my ancestors who were devote Christians. In the back of my mind, I’m worried that those spirits will interfere or something like that.

One of my other main concerns is just who out of my ancestors is going to show up. There are some really disgusting people in my family’s history and I really don’t know what I would do if they showed up or if I would be willing to deal with the emotional burden of helping them change. I know that it is a common concern with ancestor work and my other ancestors would more than likely prevent those particular individuals from just popping in.

Regardless, ancestor work is going to be a learning process for me. I’m working to learn more about Norse ways of working with the ancestors as well as a more generic practice for my Christian ancestors. The gods are also pushing me to look more into seidr. For now there is a tiny altar set up in mine and mom’s shared meditation room. Currently it is focused on my grandfather, whom we both desperately need right now. I also know that regardless of tensions with certain spirits, that psychopomping is still going to be a part of my life.

No new practice is going to be painless.  But I’ve got to start somewhere.

Sometimes Ritual needs to be Quiet

Earlier this week, I lead my University’s Pagan Student Association in a ritual celebrating the coming of Spring. Myself and the other leader of the group had been planning the ritual since February. We planned it assuming we would be outside but once we got closer to the date, I realized we should prep an indoor version as well. The two rituals were very different in tone and the indoor ritual didn’t look like anything I had ever experienced. But inspiration had struck hard for both versions so I wasn’t going to question it.

I guess I should talk a little bit about our group. We are pretty interfaith when it comes to what we believe. Those of us who are Pagan all work with different deities from Norse, Celtic, Greek, Near East, and even Japanese sources. We also have Christian, Baha’i and Atheist members who are interested in interfaith and learning more about Paganism. As a result, planning a ritual that includes all of us can be rather difficult. Our solution has been to format our rituals through a more animist lens (albeit with some Wiccan formatting for the ritual itself). All of us can get behind the sacredness of nature in some form or another. However, one of our other challenges was that none of us ever frequently attended group rituals. Myself and the other leader of the group were the only ones who had, and even then our practices were more solitary than anything else.

So in crafting this ritual, we wanted it to actually connect with people. We wanted a ritual that anyone from any tradition could participate in and get something from it, but still have it be clearly Pagan.

What ended up happening was actually really beautiful. Instead of calling the elements in a very loud invocation, we described what reminded us of each element on our campus. For Earth, we talked about the grass being green from all the storms, and everything coming into bloom. For Air we talked about the smells in the air and the little wind chimes one of our members had hung in trees all over campus. Fire was the warmth of the sun but also being able to walk around at night without freezing. Water was a lot of talk of storms, especially one that woke us all up a few nights earlier. Spirit we divided into two parts. The first was a silent remembering of the ancestors and those who had left our life followed by silently acknowledging the new relationships that had come into our lives. Then we went around the circle and out loud welcomed for ourselves the forces that were guiding us. For many of us, this was the time we welcomed our deities and for others it was welcoming a concept like ‘new beginnings’. This was all followed by a guided meditation and a discussion of what we experienced.

The feeling of this ritual was wonderful. Everyone in the circle participated and there weren’t any awkward silences of people not knowing what to do. It was a quiet ritual and an intimate ritual. And sometimes, that is just what you need.

 

Ethics & Spirit Work Part 1: Consent

Consent is, I would say, the foundation for the majority, if not all, ethical issues in spirit work. Frankly speaking, consent is incredibly complicated in spirit work, more so than it is in the physical world (and that is saying something). I will not be able to cover every issue of consent that may come up in spirit work. I honestly don’t think that would even be possible. Expect some broad strokes as a result. I am also going to try to keep this post written from the perspective of a human spirit worker in various situations. Some issues that are based in consent and permissions will have there own posts later down the line. Part 2 is one such post and will be dealing specifically with permissions and boundaries such as interacting with realms and spirits that other spirit workers interact with that are more niche or explicitly private to that worker’s practice.

When are you giving consent? 

It is not always clear when you are giving consent in spirit work. Not everything is going to operate by having you sign a contract or even tell you the details of what you are giving your consent to do.

A classic example of this is the Fae. The Fae often work on a system of favors. Owing a favor can be viewed as something unbreakable, that you are absolutely held to. However, it is very easy to accidentally get into a situation where you owe Fae favors. Saying something as simple as “thank you” can demonstrate to them that you would like to repay them for their help via a favor. The Fae also tend to be very aware of their cultural concept of favors and know how to use humans’ tendency  to be grateful, which  can often times be a habitual response more than anything else, to put humans in this position.

The Fae, therefore, are the textbook example of how consent is not always clearly worded but is still binding.  In other cases, even something as simple as not clearly refusing something can be viewed as giving consent by certain spirits.

Folklore and mythology are good starting points to understand how a spirit will approach wording. Obviously though, not every spirit is going to be in mythology. Therefore, as a general rule, neutral wording and clear intentions are a good idea. That doesn’t mean that you can never show spirits gratitude, but rather that you should be transparent with them about how you will show it and what your gratitude means. You should also assume that your wording in conversations may be used against you and plan accordingly.

Conditional and Temporary Consent

Spirit work can be a very situational practice. Spirit workers tend to meet and interact with a wide variety of spirits. These encounters can be frequent, seasonal, or even just one time affairs. Frequently changing conditions in the astral itself, political situations and alliances, and the company that the spirit worker is with can all affect whether or not a spirit will give consent in any given situation.

Universal consent is not something that is frequently given in spirit work. Spirits often have conditions that need to be met in order to agree to work with someone. These can vary in both complexity and transparency. Here are a few examples of conditional consent in spirit work.

1) Your friend, who is also a spirit worker, introduces you to a spirit that they have a partnership/agreement with. The spirit, because they are with your friend, agrees to work with you as an extension of their partnership with your friend. You would not be interacting with this spirit had your friend not acted as a middleman. You do not interact with this spirit unless your friend is around and if you do ask for the spirit’s help on your own, you get no response from them. This is an example of conditional consent. Here the friend is the condition because they are giving consent as well as their spirit partner. The spirit is primarily concerned with the partnership they have with your friend and working with you was doing something for the friend rather than just for you. This is a very common situation in spirit work, yet many people do not understand this boundary.

2) A few months ago you worked with a race of spirits. They allowed you to come to their realm and learn from their healers. You visited their realm rather frequently for a few weeks but your mundane life became very busy and you haven’t visited that realm in about two months. Last month however, you made a contract with another race of spirits. You feel a strong connection to them and were invited to become an honorary member of their society. You accepted and went through a small ritual. There is now a marking on your astral form’s hand indicating that you are a member. Later that week you decide to go back and learn from the healers. You are stopped before you can enter the realm’s city. They tell you that because of your alliance with the other society, that you are no longer welcome to learn this society’s techniques. This is a very simplified version of how alliances can affect consent. Alliances are not limited to being on opposing sides of a war. You might not even be aware of a conflict or contention existing. Ultimately though, especially in cases of learning something valuable and unique to a society, you need to respect their wishes regarding your access to the society.

3) You are in a difficult situation. None of your normal techniques or spirits you work with are able to help and you have become desperate to take care of this problem. You read in passing about a spirit that you think can help you. Not wanting to risk being rejected at this point, you prepare a very elaborate offering and evocation of the spirit.The spirit comes and helps you and then leaves without a second word. You were amazed by how effortlessly the spirit took care of the problem. You try to contact them again with less of an offering and do not get a response. You try again with a grander offering. The spirit appears and said that it only helped you the first time because it was bored and your offering looked appealing. However, if you want its help in the future it will demand an intense commitment from you, akin to strict worship otherwise it has no interest in you. This is an example of consent being in the form of self interest, consent being a one time deal, and consent being used to set up a much larger deal between the spirit and the human that may not have the best intentions.

These were only a few of many, many different situations a spirit worker can find themself in regarding consent. Conditions apply to nearly every agreement that is made in spirit work. Understanding what the conditions are, if you are able to know, helps you understand why spirits hold certain positions as well as how your own actions as a spirit work can affect spirits. Our actions do not exist in a vacuum and neither do the actions of spirits. We need to be aware of these ever changing conditions and be able to think critically about consequences. We also have conditions to our own consent and need to make sure that they are demonstrated.

Oaths, Bindings, and Promises

The last issue that I would like to touch on are serious promises made to spirits, occasionally known as oaths. I am talking about situations where a spirit worker has become bound in some way to a spirit, either through a promise or an oath that has now created a contractual binding between the two individuals.

Possibly the worst way (and also the easiest way) that a spirit worker may become bound to a spirit comes from language (similar to what happens with the Fae). The phrases will likely sound familiar: “I will do anything so long as…” “I don’t care what you want just do…” “Whatever I need to do for this I will, please…” Phrases like this normally come from moments of desperation. However, spirits might not always care about how your emotional state is affecting your vocabulary. To many of the types of spirits that look to make deals with people in desperate situations, anything means everything. They will take you at your word to give them whatever they want to help you and spirits can have long memories and creative minds. Your consent can very easily be manipulated and place you in a terrible situation that may be none to easy to get out of. Bindings like these are none too easy to get out of either and often take significant negotiation, banishing and magical work to break the binding, or making a deal with someone else to get rid of the first deal to remove them.

Oaths are another situation where consent becomes rather binding. Oaths are a much more conscious effort (usually) than the “anything promise” discussed above. Oaths also traditionally fall in the realm of deities and other deity-like beings who, even if not explicitly religious, spirit workers have a decent chance of rubbing shoulders with at some point in their practice. Oaths are much more contractual and ritualistic promises. (Worth noting again that I am painting broad strokes from my own experience) Oaths are something that need to be well researched and well thought out. They aren’t something that are intended to be broken or even have an explicit “out” if things go south (usually). They also have a good chance of not expiring, even after the spirit worker dies. Thus, it is best to take extreme care when considering an oath that has been offered or even collaborated on. It is a situation where your consent is tying you to another being in a very intimate way. Although this is only a very, very brief discussion of oaths, it is a reminder of how serious a situation we can willingly put ourselves in by giving consent.

In Summary

Consent is rather hard thing to pin down in spirit work. You might not be aware that you are giving your consent in a way that may bring about some hefty consequences. The conditions behind spirits giving you their consent might not always be obvious. There are ways that your consent can tie you to other beings.

In terms of ethics, awareness is the best policy when it comes to consent. This is in regards to both what you are asking of spirits and what they are asking of you. You also need to be able to respect the choice that spirits have to revoke their consent as well as your own choice to walk away from situations and not consent to things. Everything is going to be case by case. Consent is not that hard of a subject to grasp. However, the lessons established through consent based issues are the foundation for much more complex ethical situations that arise in spirit work.

Paganism, Service Work, and Activism (Part 1 of ?)

Part 1: Where is there a place for service work and activism in paganism?

It’s no secret that I am a huge advocate for interfaith work. It has really worked to define my life as an undergrad. Service work and activism play essential roles in interfaith for me. When I first started doing interfaith work, my own religious foundation was shaky at best. I was the most general type of pagan out there, not following any gods or claiming to be a part of any specific group and not having a “real” practice of my own yet. So my own motivation towards service work and activism was honestly only based in following the herd. My group was planning an event and I was going to participate. There wasn’t anything religious motivating me. It has been a few years since then and I am a much more established person in a lot of areas, including my faith.

What got me thinking about paganism’s relationship to service work and activism was a combination of a few things. The first was, again, a more solid foundation in my own practice and better knowledge of other practices. The second was being aware of what was going on in the world. I lived in a bubble in high school and college made sure to pop it. The past few years, and certainly this past summer have forced me to look at issues that are normally not in my social spheres or things I concern myself with. The last thing, and what really put all of the pieces together was reading Eboo Patel’s Acts of Faith. It was on my reading list for the summer and really served to inspire me to look into my own faith and find faith based reasons for service work and activism.

Now we come to the heart of the matter. Where is there a place for service work and activism in paganism? The answer is actually….a lot of places. Paganism does not have as direct a call to service work that other faiths have, at least to my admittedly imperfect knowledge. However, looking through our myths provides plenty stories that push us in that direction. The most prominent call to service work that I’ve found in paganism, broadly speaking, is hospitality.

Hospitality is a pretty common theme in mythology. Many people are familiar with stories of gods disguising themselves as beggars or travelers and going door to door to test their worshipers’ hospitality. The people that do accept the disguised gods are considered to be incredibly devout and in many stories are rewarded for giving the gods room and board. Conversely, those that refuse the gods are in many instances punished severely. Translating hospitality into a modern context is well…service work, at least in my mind. Modern hospitality to me goes beyond opening a single home, but rather opening the community. Food justice and housing (to name a few causes out of many) are the modern equivalent of giving a beggar some supper and a roof over there head. Hospitality, as I see it, should not be given because we fear that the person in need is one of our gods in disguise, who will punish us if we ignore them. Rather, we should understand  that hospitality is something that the gods want us to give by default. However, it is something so often forgotten that they are forced to ingrain the lesson into us.

Offerings and sacrifice are also widely accepted practices in modern paganism. Service work can be a staple offering for people. You can be specific to your deity’s sphere of influence, such as working with veterans as an offering to deity’s associated with war. Again, however, community is such a core value in paganism that I have yet to meet a god that will not accept service work as an offering.

I have brought up community many times. I believe that a community should be welcoming to all people. That includes my local community, my state’s community, and my nation’s community. However, I know very well that my communities are not a welcoming place for everyone. Activism, for me, has been my way of trying to change that. Raising awareness and causing people to look at inequalities is how I, at this stage of my life, can do something. I draw upon the stories of deities and outcasts as well as the many people under sphere’s of influence that are not being treated equally in my community.

Philosophical concepts in paganism also lead towards service work and activism. Ma’at comes to mind. (Something I hope to eventually write an entire post on). Service work and activism seek to balance the world and keep Ma’at. The Wiccan Rule of Three, reads to me like a ripple effect. Service projects and activism can be a place that serves to inspire others. Or that what a person has, should in some way be given back to the community. Those are only two examples and I am sure there are more that could easily be applied to these topics.

This is getting long and preachy but here’s what I am saying. Service work and activism do have places in paganism. Faith can be a motivation for helping the community and does have textual support for it in mythology. I have only scratched the surface of this issue from my own theistic pagan background. I hope to delve further into my own motivations for service work and activism in later posts.

Ethics & Spirit Work: Introduction

Spirit work, regardless of whether it is done on the astral, in the physical, or in that strange in-between, tends to bring with it many ethical conundrums. If you have been doing spirit work for any significant amount of time, you should have some understanding that human rules, customs, and ethics don’t exactly apply neatly into spirit work all of the time or even most of the time. (Though the idea that there are universal human ethics is a conversation topic in and of itself.) Quite a lot of ethical topics have come up in my practice lately, both in situations I have been placed in, my friends have shared with me, or that I have just casually read about in passing. So, I thought it was high time that I write about these issues both for myself and for others to have an archived well-articulated response to the issues.

Obviously, when I am writing about these topics, I am writing from my perspective and my own ethical stance. I am not claiming that what I write is the absolute law of the land (though on some issues I cannot in any way see the other side’s perspective and will freely admit that). I am also not going to be able to cover every instance and variation of the topics I am discussing. In some instances my statements will likely sound harsh and cold. I assure you that there is a reason behind my positions, many of them difficult lessons. It is also worth noting that I am an anthropology major and as a result my discipline is going to come through in this series rather strongly. That will often mean siding with the spirit, the local culture, and its customs rather than the side of the human, the outsider. Spirit work requires research and caution, a lesson that the majority of spirit workers learn the hard way but is an essential one nonetheless.

Because I cannot cover any of these topics in full, I am also open to conversations about all of them. Ethics & Spirit Work conversations have been some of the most philosophical and enjoyable conversations that I’ve had with people.

Vacation Reflections: Water Spirits

Reflections and ramblings from my 2016 vacation in Florida.

I’m at the point in my practice as a spirit worker that my senses are pretty much always on or are very easy to access. Sensing spirits is like turning on a switch for me. There are instances where I turn off my senses, either out of respect or for my own safety or both. However, since I was on vacation, I figured that I was allowed a bit of sight seeing of the spirit variety.

My first day, or rather evening, in Florida made it very clear that I needed to respect nature in this place. I had landed after a delayed and turbulent flight, not exactly in a decent mood. However, it is tradition that we go out to dinner on the beach the day someone arrives. The restaurant was on the beach, and looking out towards the ocean. I have never seen such a picturesque image. The full moon was rising and was an unobscured beacon of light. Behind it large thunder clouds produced heat lightning. All of this was reflected on the ocean waves, rough because of riptide conditions, crashing against the pier. It was perfect and it was a reminder of who was in charge here.

The next day, we rented a boat and traveled along the inner-coastal. Canals weave together like alleyways in the city with rather expensive housing on either side. Soon after we left the docks, I spotted some merfolk. The looked more annoyed at us than anything, likely preferring the quite now that tourist season is mostly over and the canals mostly empty. Later in one of the areas where you were allowed to speed up, I spied water horses swimming to keep pace with the boat. I don’t think that they were hippocampi but I’m not familiar enough with water spirits to know one way or the other. I think that they mostly enjoyed the large wake of the boat more than anything.

Another day we went to the Everglades. I did not see any specific spirits here, but I did feel something. I have felt dying plant life before. I once made the mistake of trying to connect with a dying tree and the experience has stayed with me years later. The Everglades….felt a bit like that. They felt like decay, but not in the natural way. It was a reminder that nature can only take so much. Places that are considered natural wonders are not immortal. It was a somber reminder that I will not soon forget.

My final encounter with water was towards the end of my vacation. I have noticed that when I am outside and deeply connecting with nature, that I start singing and humming a song that was sung at a Lakota sweat lodge I participated in. I don’t remember much of it except a general tune but it’s a signal all the same. We had gone to the beach around dusk. I left to walk the beach on my own for a bit and began humming that song. I noticed that this beach had more tumbled stones than it did shells. One of my goals had been to find hag stones. I try to be aware of the environment in my craft though. I am teaching myself to only take what I need, and not what I want. I had picked up a fair few stones when I heard a spirit say “No more.” I agreed with them and stopped searching. Oddly enough, my grandmother, who had caught up to me and was actually combing the beach a ways ahead of me, also stopped looking at this point. On our way back I looked out toward the ocean. The spirit I saw could only really be described as a genius loci, a spirit of place. I feel like he was the spirit of the beach rather than of the ocean itself though. He was giant, easily a mile shoulder to shoulder. He was also very serious. I gathered that he was not happy with all of the people that took too many shells and stones, or left their trash in the sand to float out to sea. We didn’t talk much, this spirit and I. I doubt he has much interest in humans. Out of respect for his domain and a general respect for the land as a whole, I kept my word to take no more. I was tempted a few times and sternly reminded.

That was my last distinct encounter with water spirits on my vacation. Overall they left me with a clear message. One needs to have the highest respect for the land, wherever they are. It is not our role to take until there is nothing left, or to ignore the consequences of our lifestyles. The land is not immortal and it is not infinite. We need to be aware and be active in sealing the wounds we have torn open.

Vacation Reflections: Catholic Mass

Personal reflections and ramblings based on my 2016 vacation to Florida

This past week I was on vacation at my grandparents’ home in Florida. They are the side of the family that is very firmly in their faith, that being Catholicism and for younger members Evangelicalism. Now as I have briefly discussed in other posts, my relationship with my Catholic upbringing was complicated. For much of my teen years I hated everything that had to do with the church. However, my stance has since softened for several reasons: interfaith work, biblical study for my degree, Pope Francis, and even magical practitioners using Catholic traditions. This past Sunday though, was my first time attending a Catholic mass since my more hateful days. This service is what I will be talking about in brief here.

I should note that to my extended family, I identify as agnostic/spiritual. It saves me headaches and they tend to not ask further questions, believing me to just be the scholarly type. My reputation for adoring the fantasy genre since childhood serves to take care of any odd imagery I might be wearing as well. So I was not going to this service with them expecting me to participate as if I had never left. They understood that I was going in as a neutral observer, which was true.

In my nostalgia I have often said that if I were to ever return to being Christian, I would go back to being Catholic. Now, this does not mean returning to weekly mass, as community in religion has never really appealed to me regardless. I’ve often enjoyed remembering the mysticism that Catholicism holds and I was a bit disappointed that this church was more modern in design. However, it was the content of the service that had me interested.

I like to joke that being Pagan has made me much better at Christian theology. I really think it has though. It is easier to pick out the weight behind what is said during mass and the oaths that make up prayers and songs. As a pagan, you tend not to take omnipotence and omnipresence as a given with deities. You are usually taught (or learn the hard way) to watch what you say and who you make promises to. Deals are carefully considered matters and it is not assumed that the gods will take care of you. Having this perspective and being so used to being aware of my words truly made me appreciate all of the devotion behind a Catholic mass. It made me appreciate the praise they sing to their God and the oaths they renew weekly.

The transmutation of bread and wine into body and blood reminded me of many of my own personal rituals, such as the consumption of spent offerings that make me feel a closeness to my own god. Catholics wearing their crosses and crucifixes remind me of how comforting it is to wear my own devotional jewelry. Finally there was a call not to proselytize, but to make their community a healthy and welcoming enough place that people may find a relationship with God and comfort within their walls. I am oathbound to Loki because of the home I have found with Him. It has impacted me so much in such a positive way that I sincerely hope that people can have that relationship with a deity or faith. I saw the same urge reflected in that church.

This Catholic mass turned out to be a private exercise in interfaith for me. I saw much about what I love about my own faith reflected in the essentials of Catholic mass. Their passions were much like my own. Though I have no intention of ever returning to the Church, I believe this experience served as a reminder that religions do not need to be considered completely alone in every practice and that my own paganism does not exist in a bubble. It has been very much influenced by my Catholic roots. Different religions do not need to be wholly alien to each other.

 

Wheel of Time Pop Culture Work (Part 2 of ?)

Part 2: Post The Eye of the World Reflection

It has been a few days since I finished The Eye of the World, the first book in the Wheel of Time series. I’m holding off on the next one until I am on vacation and have some very long plane rides. There was a lot of note taking about how the magic system in general seemed to work. However, that wasn’t really the focus of this book, but I know it comes up more in the second.

The most practical technique I got from The Eye of the World was the Flame and the Void exercise that I mentioned in my previous post. I’ve been using it fairly frequently. It has been helping me clear my mind before I astral. It has also been helpful in just generally clearing my mind and helping me focus. I have a really bad wandering mind and the Flame and the Void has been helping me get back on track big time. I find it so helpful that it really makes up for the lack of detailed information on the Aes Sedai and the One Power in the first book.

I’m looking forward to finding more inspiration in the next Wheel of Time book. I remember there being some meditation related things in the second book that I am really looking forward to analyzing.

Wheel of Time Pop Culture Work (Part 1 of ?)

Part 1: Where I want to focus on and where I am at so far

I read the first book in the Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan maybe three years ago or more. I really enjoyed the first book but never kept up with the series after that, despite owning more of the books. I remember finding the magic system in the series to be really interesting and have been meaning to go back to the series.

Now that I have been debating getting into pop culture work, I finally decided to jump back into the series and pay special attention to the magic system and the Aes Sedai in the series. From what I remember, I will likely be able to apply these methods to meditation and energy work more than any other field.

As of today, I am not that far into the first book. I only just got to the event that causes the main character to leave his home town. Not a lot has been revealed about the Aes Sedai or the magic of the world. However, there is an interesting technique that appears within the first few pages of the book.

He was hoping his father had not noticed he was afraid when Tam said, “Remember the flame, lad, and the void.”

It was an odd thing Tam had taught him. Concentrate on a single flame and feed all your passions into it-fear, hate, anger-until your mind becomes empty. Become one void, Tam said, and you can do anything.

-Robert Jordan, The Eye of the World

My practice involves working with fire quite a bit, so I am really drawn to this technique. I look forward to using it as a calming/focusing technique.

I am looking forward to seeing what other techniques come up as I keep reading and plan to record my progress as I go, both generally on here and in more detail in my grimoire.

Scheduling my Woo Work?

If I am a master at one thing, it is procrastination. I am the person that does so much last minute. I have woken up at 5am and written and entire paper for my 9am class. So, I get distracted easily…. The internet or a video game, or a book sucks me in and suddenly the entire day is gone and I have gotten nothing done. It even happens with stuff I am really passionate about like my spirit work and devotional work.

So I am trying something new. One of my friends referred me to the site, Habitica. It’s a task manage site with an RPG twist. I’m not only scheduling everyday tasks, but I am also working in some of my spiritual practices as well. Things like making sure I give some time every day to Loki, meditating every day, astraling a few times a week….That’s really what I am going for.

So far (and by so far I mean a day) it is going well and I am enjoying planning all of this out. It makes me actually want to get things done and get back into habits I really enjoyed when I was newer at all of this.

Looking forward to seeing how this goes and am pretty optimistic about it all.