My jaw DROPPED when I saw the words to "Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda." In no uncertain terms, these songs directly invoke Hindu deities from a Hindu scripture and implore them for help.
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The other day a friend pointed me to this link, where I ended up learning about Tulpamancy. Tulpamancy is essentially the creation of an imaginary friend who shares your body with you. The practice reminds me a bit of otherkin, only in this case instead of the person claiming they are some type of non-human entity, they instead claim that they are creating a spirit being and hosting that spirit being. Most of these Tulpamancers think of the tulpa as a psychological construct, though some ascribe metaphysical aspects to their tulpa. None of them, so far, as I know, seem to practice magic and this is only significant because they've taken a technique which is magical and applied it to their own lives without focusing on the magical aspects of the practice.
The concept is actually a familiar one in occultism. The word Tulpa originates from Tibet and refers to the practice of creating a thought-form. Whether you know the concept through the label of thought-form, servitor, magical entity, or for that matter Tulpa, what the concept boils down to is the creation of an entity that becomes a spirit ally or performs a specific function for you. The main differences are that the magician typically doesn't house such an entity within themselves, isn't necessarily setting out to befriend such an entity, and may set up a deadline for certain task to be performed, or for the entity to be dissolved....
I am sitting in a classroom with a small group around a large wooden table. We are all in Field Ed, a program of internships that is required during our second year of seminary. It's my turn to begin our class with a prayer. I invite the class to ground and center with me. I begin to pray. While I mostly stick with "God" or "Creator," at some point, I say, "Oh Lord, touch our hearts and help us be present in our work." I finish the prayer and the class begins.
At the break, a good friend of mine stops me. "Lord?" she asks, smiling.
"Yeah, well you all seem to resonate so strongly with the word Lord," I said, "and I've recently realized that if I just add "Ganesh" in my mind every time it's said, I almost always cool with whatever comes next. So, I figured I would just translate for y'all."
One of the challenges with exploring a non-anthropomorphic approach to magical work involves uncovering the anthropomorphic assumptions that show up in your thinking and practice. These assumptions can be quite subtle and yet can create a cognitive dissonance with the work you are seeking to do. At the same time, another challenge we face is the inevitable fact that at some point we need to translate and interpret experiences into something we can relate to. Anthropomorphism is one such route, though it is not the only route. I think that if we are to genuinely apply a non-anthropomorphic perspective and practice to our spiritual work we necessarily need to identify the anthropomorphic assumptions which may come up. Below are some such assumptions, as well as how you can identify them.
Applying humancentric categories or labels to experiences. One of the assumptions that comes up involves seeking to categorize or label a non-anthropomorphic experience. We use labels and categories to organize our thoughts and define the world around us, but the problem with such an assumption is that in our haste to define and categorize we can miss out on being open to experience. Admittedly, it can be argued that we use labels and categories to provide some type of explanation for what we've experienced, but perhaps in seeking to explain it using categories and labels what we lose is something essential about the experience that can't be explained in that way. A better approach would be to take your time with the experience and seek it out multiple times. As you have it, allow yourself to express it without attaching labels or categories. Whether its stream of consciousness writing or painting or music or some other form of expression open yourself to expressing it differently....
Well, the answer, in my experience, is all too often.
The most common problem I’ve encountered is what I will indelicately term the ‘bully factor.’ It’s always deliberate, if perhaps unconscious. It’s simply a fact of life that some voices carry more weight than others. And it has nothing to do with volume....
It’s back to school time, and that has me thinking about those of us who no longer spend much time in a classroom. I’d like to encourage us to think deeply about different purposes and practices of learning so that we can shape our own back-to-school intentions for ourselves. One of the biggest ways to make a difference is to practice what's not perfect.
Recently, my good friend and Daughter's of Evecolumnist, Crystal Blanton wrote a powerful piece for the Wild Hunt about Ferguson, the shooting death of Mike Brown, the riots, and the wider implication this type of systemic racism. She solicited thoughts from Pagans in the public eye about where and how we can confront, heal, and grow community when events of power, oppression, and racism plague our world. There among the many voices were my friends, New York City activist and witch, Courtney Weber and teacher and New Jim Crow activist, T. Thorn Coyle. For the piece I offered this opinion, which Crystal used to sum up the article:
"I really am struggling with this because I want to believe that love is still the law. I want to believe that humankind is better than this savagery that is power, oppression, privilege, and racism. I want to believe that love is stronger than fear, but I can’t help but know that every mother of a brown child lives in fear that her child will be the next Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin or Mike Brown. In times like this I ask how do we as Pagans lead and be vessels for change? How do we become the Goddess’ conduit?...