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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in spirit work

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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A few weeks ago, in a conversation on Facebook with several of my customers about negative Spirit activity, one of them asked me which process I used for cleansing and protecting my own home. Since I am a professional Spiritist (professional as in making my living out of it), I get this kind of question almost very day – and I think my answer always disappoints them.

I spiritually cleanse my house weekly, using seasonal but simple elements like Salt, Sage, Resin Incense and Blessed Water, always caring that they are of the best quality possible. I go from the front of the house to the back, and then from the back to the front, saying a simple prayer that banishes negativity and encourages peace, protection and abundance – not more than two or three lines, that I can learn by memory quickly. If I feel a particularly negative energy I will choose a prayer from any of the prayer books I use, but that is very rare.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

So far I've been spending my time here setting the stage for introductory spirit work. But what about the spirits themselves? Who and what are these incorporeal beings that we're trying to communicate with in the first place? The answers to those questions, in complete, are much longer and more complex than I can cover in one article. So consider this a very brief and incomplete overview of some of the sorts of beings in the spirit world.

Ancestor Spirits: These are the spirits of humans who have passed away. Some people feel the ancestors still exist in this world with us, unseen but around us all the time. Others believe they inhabit their own afterlife-world, but can be called on for advice or help in times of need. Depending on who you talk to, any family member, friend, or other important person in your life can be considered an ancestor—in fact, since we are all of the same species we all share ancestors. Others are more strict, keeping it specifically to one's own immediate family and direct predecessors. Ancestor spirits are generally seen as protective in nature, though they can be angered if not propitiated properly (and, not surprisingly, what is considered “proper” is not universal).

Nature Spirits: This is a fairly broad category, since it includes not just the spirits of animals, plants, and fungi, among other natural things, but also spirits which are more abstract representations of natural forces. For example, one of the main parts of my practice involves working with animal totems. These are not just individual animal spirits, such as a gray wolf or a least tern, but archetypal beings that embody all of the qualities of the species Gray Wolf and Least Tern. Some people also consider faeries and devas (often taken out of their original cultural contexts) to be nature spirits, though the fey are also often thought to have originally been ancestor spirits, and the New Age conception of devas has deviated quite a bit from its Buddhist and Hindu roots. (This, incidentally, is part of why mythology and other cultural materials need to be part of your spiritual research!)

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Work of a Godspouse

I'm sick (the normal cold/flu type of sickness everyone gets, in addition to my chronic stuff) so I'm not sure what a good idea it is for me to expect coherent writing of myself, but this topic keeps coming up and every time it does I have the urge to pick at it a little, because it touches on some underlying issues of my own. So, since it's Hunt season and thus the ideal time of year for cleaning out dark corners and hunting down internal demons (as well as external ones), here we go.

If you haven't already read this, as well as the post my partner, Jolene Dawe, wrote in response to it here, go do so now--I'll wait. The original article is, by and large, a fairly well-reasoned exploration of the divisiveness among Lokeans as a “community” (if you could apply that term to such a diverse group-within-a-group), and for the most part I have no quibbles with it. For one thing, I'm not a Lokean, and for another, I too have witnessed the issues the author writes about and I don't disagree with many of his/her (forgive me, I'm not sure which) conclusions. However, the section of the post dealing with the Lokean sister-wife culture made me squirm for two reasons: 1) as has happened in previous posts by other people, here is yet another non-godspouse telling godspouses what their proper conduct as well as their work in the world “ought” to be, and 2) the assumption that being a godspouse is about “work,” per se, in the first place. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I mentioned in my past two posts that you can cleanse yourself before and after spirit work, and banish spirits as need be. Some of you may already have your own cleansing and banishing practices, but here are a few basic ideas to start with.

Cleansing Self, Space, and Items Beforehand

Some people feel better about their ritual work if they cleanse themselves and their ritual area prior to getting started with the rite itself. Cleansing is at least as much about getting yourself into the right headspace for ritual work as it is about removing unwanted influences from your working space. The best cleansing rituals are not just physically active, but psychologically convincing.

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  • G. B. Harte
    G. B. Harte says #
    Hailings.... Cleaning & Cleansing. Cleansing & Cleaning. I read your article with great interest. There is much I would like to

So in my last post, I gave a brief rundown of why you might wish to communicate with spirits in the first place, and also offered up some ideas and an exercise for spirit communication using tools like spirit boards, pendulums, scrying tools, and the like. Now I'd like to cover communicating without using tools other than your own mind and spirit.

There's nothing inherently wrong with tools, of course. I have run into people over the years who thought that tools were just training wheels, and that a true practitioner of spiritual arts is someone who can do everything empty-handed. In my experience, it comes down less to how good someone is at what they do, and more about personal preference. For some people, tools are like Dumbo's feather--they train your mind to be able to perform amazing feats, but the tools themselves eventually aren't needed even as a reminder. For others, the tools have a life and spirit all their own, and these spirits become allies in the person's magical and ritual work.

So talking about tool-less spirit communication isn't a value judgement--it's just a stylistic preference, ultimately. Why might a person wish to forgo tools? For some, tools may feel cumbersome and distracting, like "Wait, what do I do with the pentacle again? And I'm not sure why I have a wand, and the incense is making my sinuses hurt..." There are also people who may not have a lot of space or time or money for acquiring an assortment of tools, or who like to do their spirit work in more remote areas where it may be inconvenient to haul along a bunch of magical effects. Whatever the reason you have for not using physical tools, you still have options for communicating with spirits.

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In my last post, I talked about how to sense nature spirits. Once you've found a way to sense them that works for you, the next step is to try communicating with them.

Except...why would you want to? And why would they want to talk back?

There are plenty of reasons. For one thing, spirits have insights that we may not have. They exist in a different manner than we do; some of them represent or embody natural forces that we can only observe and interact with in a limited manner. My work with animal, plant, and fungus totems is a good example. These beings are intermediaries between their species and the rest of the world, to include humans. When I work with them, I can find out more about the living beings that I share my world with. For example, I discovered when cleaning up the stretch of the Columbia River I adopted that while the totems of animal species like White Sturgeon and American Robin are concerned with litter that their physical counterparts could accidentally eat or become entangled in, plant totems like Black Cottonwood communicate to me more about water pollution that the trees and other plants can absorb into their roots through the soil.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
On Being a Maker

This is mostly from a discussion group I'm on, and I wanted to post about it here to make sure that my thoughts on the subject are saved, partly for my own future reference, since this seems to be something I keep forgetting.

The concept that poetry and prophecy both spring from the same source had come up; I very much agree with this idea, and for me, of course, they are both wrapped up in Odhr or Wod, Odin's gift of inspiration. (I also see Gunnlod, who I believe to be not only the Guardian but also the Brewer of the Mead of Inspiration, as a Seeress as well as a Maker; and She is the mother of Bragi, the Lord of all poets.)

I don't talk about this a lot, but when I began my oracular seidhr practice it wasn't primarily for the purpose of passing messages along to other people; the line of thought that if you can hear the gods you are obligated to help them reach people who can't has never been a driving force in my Work. It is not something Odin has required of me. He did strongly encourage me to begin practicing oracular seidhr, but with a different goal entirely: in my seidhr sessions, I intentionally pull the worlds closer together so that part of Asgard overlaps with part of our physical Midgard (because I am a sacred queen and have the key to that world and physically live in this one, this is something I am able to do). This is part of my Work of being a bridge between the worlds, and if I do it often enough that connection becomes more solid. This is the real reason why I increased the number of seidhr sessions I am offering this year.

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So you wanna be a Godspouse? (some plain talk)

[Cross-posted from my primary blog by request.]

First, an announcement: as of today, January 1st 2013, I will no longer be available to answer either seidhr or divination questions along the lines of "Does Deity X (fill in the blank, but Loki and Odin are the usual suspects) want to marry me/sleep with me/date me?" or even, "What does Deity X want from me?" in which the unspoken subtext is, "Does He/She want to marry me?" Once again, any seidhr questions or reading requests that follow some variation on this pattern will be refused, and a link to this post given.

This includes any similar questions that I have already tentatively indicated I would try to respond to, as of this date.

The reasons for this decision are many, and frankly they include the preservation of my sanity, since in the past couple of months this has become the most popular variety of question sent my way, not only for seidhr but just randomly dropped in my inbox via email or Facebook, even after I had posted a notice in the sidebar of my blog, months ago now, that I would not be able to answer ANY free questions outside of my regular posted seidhr schedule. Even being in the midst of Yule, the holiest time of year for me, or days before my 10th anniversary in one instance, has not hindered people from doing this or prompted them to consider that perhaps they should wait, that perhaps their approaching me at such a time might be inconsiderate or disrespectful. It has seriously been annoying enough to make me consider putting my seidhr practice on hiaitus altogether for a bit, and I was set to do exactly that until I saw how many people I was able to help in unexpected ways during the Samhain and Yule sessions (this last being one of the primary reasons I began my oracular practice in the first place).

The root of the problem came out during a discussion with Jolene the other night, and was echoed by a recent comment someone else posted to my blog: entitlement. Too many people among the newest crop of would-be godspouses and spirit workers apparently feel somehow entitled to not only have the help and guidance of those who have been on this path for years, but to have it now, on demand, when they are ready and not when the other person is ready to help them (assuming there is such a time; please see further below for more on this).

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Beth Lynch
    Beth Lynch says #
    Paolo, I have run into a couple of male lovers or spouses of Odin, but you're right, they do tend to be a lot less public about it
  • Paolo Nugent
    Paolo Nugent says #
    It's interesting to me that I have never heard of any men being Goodspouses within the Northern Tradition (don't know much about p
  • Cat
    Cat says #
    Very well said.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Darkest Month

As if seen through the wrong end of a telescope, blurred and dimmed around the edges, the darkness of December beckons as November draws to its end.  For the general non-pagan public in America, December is the brightest month of the year, a gleeful blending of commercialism, family ties, and food comas.  For many (if not most) pagans, it is a conundrum of sorts,  a season when non-pagan family obligations directly or indirectly conflict with the allure of like-minded spiritual gatherings.  Historically, for Europeans throughout the middle ages, especially in northern Europe, it was a time of gathering the family tightly together against the outer cold, of taking in travelers and guests with generosity but caution (for who knew what--or Who--might be wandering out there in the freezing gusts, hobnobbing with the trolls), for lavishly feasting the gods--pagan or Christian, depending on the time and the setting--and the dead, but at a careful distance, ever mindful that the next hand on one's doorknob might not be a human one, that the skeletal scraping against windows might not be the branches of dead trees, that the dead walk this time of year, and that things and People far more dire walk alongside them--or worse, fly through the stormy night skies--keeping careful count of debts accrued throughout the year passed, and demanding Their due.

For me, as for my spiritual ancestors, December is the darkest month of the year, with the traditional twelve days of Yule--the "smudging nights," so called in folklore because you had better be smudging your home with protective herbs against the wild spirits that roamed the long nights--beckoning at its black heart.  It is the most precious month of the year for me--for it was in this month that I took sacred marriage vows to my Husband, Odin, that darkest of gods, at this darkest of times.  But it is also the most dreadful month.  It is a time when the air is filled with ghosts and the trolls spill upwards through the cracks in the earth, freed from their underground lairs to walk among humans.   

For me it is, beyond all else, Odin's month--although that is certainly not limited to December.  Although I feel and honor Him equally, yet somewhat differently, throughout the other seasons of the year, during the period of late September through the beginning of January we see His darkest face, the face of Yggr (the Terrible One) who sacrificed Himself on the World Tree, the face of Wilde Jaeger (the Wild Hunter) who rides His flame-eyed steed at the head of the Furious Host.  Perhaps I am biased, but although I do have special festival days throughout the year for Him, and especially in late September through November, for me December is all about Odin, from beginning to end, even though several of the actual festival days within it are goddess-focused.

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  • Jolene
    Jolene says #
    As you already know, I'm of two minds about claiming saints' days for my own calendar. I've tried it, I don't love it, but I can s
  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    Interestingly, I just read an excellent book by Claude Lecouteux entitled "Phantom Armies of the Night: The Wild Hunt and the Ghos

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

A doll is like an talisman, or an altar statue - its energy starts and grows with the creator, and after it is made the owner also adds his/her own energy. With enough love and energy, the doll becomes something that, no matter that I have been doing this for more than a decade, I cannot fully explain. A living thing? Something with a soul? Call it what you want, but I can tell you what she is not - an empty, inanimate thing.

Since I work only with discarded, abandoned and second hand dolls, they often arrive to me with very strange energies, not always good ones. Children have an extremely powerful way to transfer their own emotions to their dolls, and while I don't believe in haunted dolls at all, I believe in unhappy, traumatized children that embed their sadness, their anger, their pain into their dolls.

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  • Louise Harmon
    Louise Harmon says #
    I repaired old dolls many years ago and had very similar experiences with energy-both painful energy & happy. I love how you help
  • Carolina Gonzalez
    Carolina Gonzalez says #
    Thanks so much Louise!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

             (This is a column I meant to post about eight days ago, when all the other great ancestor-related readings were being proliferated.. but I suppose this is my “fashionably late” addition to the season.)

             A lot of my time as a spirit-worker and teacher involves helping people to come to a better relationship with their blessed dead – ancestors of both blood and “other-than-blood relation” – and in general addressing many of the issues that arise in the typical 21st century American “spiritual seeker” around such things. My own religious and spiritual work is deeply entrenched in “theism”, but I tend not to default to deity work with most people whom I am seeing as either clients or students. The reasons for this are various, but the main element is that in my tradition, one must prepare oneself before approaching the gods. Many of these preparations should have been undergone in our developing years – e.g. as children and teens going through a process of enculturation and initiation-based rites of passage – but as most of us in America did not grow up with the benefit of a traditional polytheistic or animist upbringing, we need to return to these basic principles as adults. This process, in my experience and observation, can involve years of developing foundational platforms of spiritual and personal/emotional essentials.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Which Voices?

The God/dess/es do not care about your rice krispies nor are their messages to be found in the snap, crackle, and pop. I have had what I believe to be genuine communication with the beings that I consider to be Deities and have experienced a number of forms of divine embodiment, or divine possession if you prefer. As such I do believe and have personal experiences that deepen the belief that the Great Ones do directly affect our lives. However, I regularly encounter people who report a chatty, friendly, rapport with the God/dess/es that they work with and/or worship. I have puzzled about this and in many cases it seems very sincere, but I doubt that beings whose scale of perception and consciousness are large enough to be considered Deities engage in small talk. I will warrant that this may simply be a limitation of my imagination and sensibilities, but I have another thought. 

 

I talk to my dogs, and like so many other doting dog lovers, I also talk for them. There is real communication between us, but there is also much that I add for my own benefit. Many humans are prone to anthropomorphizing pretty much anything as a way of bridging the gap between what we are and what is different from ourselves. This is actually a very sound and useful strategy as a starting point, so long as we remain aware that it is not the end of the process. The same is true when we theanthroposize, when we ascribe human emotions and thought patterns to a God/dess. Once again a good beginning point but one that requires heightened vigilance. This is complicated by the fact that many in this culture have a religion of origin that encouraged the idea of a personal relationship with God. Upon making the transition to some form of Paganism, this concept of personal relationship often remains relatively unchanged and unexamined. This can create another overlay of expectations that interfere with true communication with the Divine. I do believe that we each have a personal concept of the Divine and a personal way in which we relate to the Divine. Accordingly, I do suggest that a full and extensive re-examination of the parameters of human and Divine interactions is a good idea when we move to a new faith.

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  • Diana Todd
    Diana Todd says #
    “I do whatever my rice krispies tell me to do” Is humorous, but it is also unsettling for how true it is for some. Discernment is

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
And so it begins

I've written before here about how, in our household, Samhain starts early.  For us it begins at the end of September, during the week when we've repeatedly lost beloved pets and on the day when, two years ago, I pledged my service to the Wild Hunt.  This year, that day was marked with an inadvertent bloodletting when the Hunt, not satisfied with the efforts I had made thus far on their behalf, aided me in slicing open the knuckle of my right index finger almost to the bone with a pair of sewing shears.  (Followed, of course, with a expensive trip to the emergency room and several weeks of limited ability to do anything--including typing and crafting--with that hand.  The Hunt does not play.)  

It continued the following week when I made a trip to one of the city's oldest cemeteries (and bear in mind that here on the west coast, "oldest" means the 1800s, and the most ancient looking monuments, crumbling with apparent age, are not truly ancient at all but merely rain-damaged).  I brought with me home-brewed mead and bone meal, to feed the dead, and locally harvested apples for Sleipnir, Odin's giant eight-legged steed.  (Eight legs, by the way; have you ever thought about that?  Why does He--the horse, that is--have eight legs?  Spiders have eight legs.  So does a casket, when borne aloft by four mourners.  Sleipnir is, indisputably, a horse of death, a steed to carry one to the land of the dead--which, throughout the Norse myths, is exactly what He does.)  I discovered an area devoted to the Civil War dead, which startled me because it seemed the wrong coast for that, but the monument statue of a soldier in uniform and the plots of the military dead exuded an aura of welcome for me, a kinship with the "once human" contingent of the Hunt, with Odin's fallen heroes.  Here was succor and support, and so it was here that I marked the stones with my blood, freshly drawn from my finger (not the one with stitches!) using a lancet.  (The dead were especially interested in and enthusiastic about the mead, by the way!)

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  • Jolene
    Jolene says #
    Another excellent post! I'm looking forward to both our celebrations, and I'm thinking that splitting them up as we have this year
  • Soli
    Soli says #
    I found a small pomegranate at the store this weekend and bought it, so I should do something. Just no idea what. Some of it is be

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