Powers Bluff and the Splintered Self

As many of my friends and family know, I’m on a spiritual quest. For so long in my adult life, I wasn’t exactly sure what that quest actually meant and how it related to becoming a spiritual person. The path I’ve taken in the last few months has twisted and turned in water-drop-275938_640some very unexpected ways and lead me to understand that the very first step is to become a whole person. While this insight is wonderful…what does it mean? How does anyone become a whole person and how does one recognize when they’ve made that transformation? I had so much more questions that my Gods, physical teachers and spirit guides merely smiled knowingly and asked me more questions so the answers could come from myself instead of another person.

However, when I ask myself questions like this, hard questions that will result in consciousness shifts and change being the outcome, I don’t always get the answer straight away.  Sometimes I think it’s my own mind that can’t quite face these uncertainties without a trip to the woods or work on the inner plane of the Astral world. water-464953_640I’m often visualizing my answers in the form of memories and pictures so these two mediums are my best sources of expression. So I got the privilege of taking a trip to Powers Bluff, just south of Marshfield, Wisconsin with a very good friend! 

If you’ve never visited Powers Bluff, I urge you to do so with your thoughts reflecting clear intent and your heart in a place of reverence and respect for the powerful forces of nature that are alive and well and dwelling large numbers around every piece of bark and stone. When I went there, I didn’t know I was searching for something outside of the questions that have been whirling around my head for the past year. I stepped out of my friend’s vehicle and watched as nature greeted me from all angles. The crisp green grass under my feet, the way the tree branches broke and spiraled down next to me and the way the golden sun rays kissed my face like a Grandmother who is excited to see how much her grandchildren have grown in the space between visits. I was welcomed and I felt welcome.

Then it hit me like a ton of unruly hay spilled down from the top of a barn loft by my childhood friend. Actually, it took one of my physical spiritual teachers to say this to me in a way that has been said to me time and again by others. She has the wisdom to speak in a language I readily understand. A language of artistry and visualization, both gifts leaf-183283_640which have emanated in my life in tremendous ways however I always took them for granted. What have I lost and how do I know I’ve lost it in the first place? I took a few deep breaths and walked along a path, listening to the jingle of bells around my ankles and occasionally, my own heart beat pulsing in my ears like soft thunder. Life force, connection, deep childhood memories and the urge to walk a path that has twisted and turned so many ways that sometimes I get dizzy when I look back on my life.

A memory of being a very little girl, perhaps six-years-old in age, in the heart of the Poconos, my parent’s summer home just outside of Jim Thorpe, pushed its way in front of the scope of my mind’s eye. I saw her, the whole person, dancing in the rain with a tiny stick painted with red and black stripes and topped with a turkey feather I had found while roaming my parent’s property. I remember creating the tiny staff with a clear rainbow-436171_640sense of purpose and intent. I hadn’t read a single book on Paganism, psychology or any other school of thought I am engaged in as an adult studying to be Clergy. I had only seen pictures of Native Americans and while I could read these words, they weren’t from any acclaimed Native American author; they were books that came from a library in a Catholic school in New York, one such Catholic school that forever changed the course of my spiritual path.

My youthful intent danced around the fact that I loved Native American culture and that even though I knew I was not born Native, I loved them so much, I wanted to imitate their ideas so that I could share in who they were on a personal, expressive level. Yes, I actually thought like this as a child and when I created that tiny staff, it began to rain. I sky-1494656_640first danced in utter glee at the thought that I had reached some Native American spirits and they were honoring me with an unforgettable experience. The funny part is that it rained for days after my little rain ritual and I wanted to go camping with my father. I asked the rain to stop and it didn’t. In my exuberance, I snapped the staff in half and threw it into the woods. An hour later, the rain ceased. From that moment in time on, my father who was watching from the house called me Rayne Drop. Throughout my entire high school experience, I went by the name Rayne as a way to honor the memory and him as he had passed on towards the beginning of that time period.

As I’m walking through Powers Bluff, surrounded by a host of childhood memories and the very real images of our collective human history, I am listening to the woods. They are speaking to me in every way that nature can speak to you. The trees are swaying and dancing, releasing a myriad of sound and symphony with a bark crescendo that explodeslaburnum-anagyroides-115758_640 into a leafy solo. The rocks around me seem to have faces peering from them and as I throw a few handfuls of rose petals, I bow my head in respect for the people that touched the land before me and left their whole selves behind.

Their whole selves… my mind reels again. I think to all the times that we as a culture, the American culture, have to label and point our fingers at external sources of pain and suffering. I think to how this has affected me in my own life. That slowly, by being female, being depressed, being a Pagan, being a lesbian or demisexual or whatever new word there is to express desire for the being of a person instead of the physical form, all of the therapy terms and political correctness puked on me from every angle that all of this took away from me just BEING. And labeling myself every way so people can better understand my path and direction. It’s pointless…and even destructive because it further splinters the self into more pieces.

The lesson I took from Powers Bluff is that there was a time before all of these terms existed and people just were. They didn’t feel the need to overly explain where they were coming from – they just did. They sought to understand the natural world around them plant-2675396_640and each other by asking questions with thoughtful intent and keeping their minds open to what was plainly around them. By using all of these terms to describe mental illness, one initially seeks a way to build an understanding. Our words are very powerful processes and they shape not only the world around us; they also shape the internal work within that we’re trying to accomplish. We essentially build a cage for ourselves that can be very hard to escape if we’ve spent a life time culminating this reality for ourselves and never going past what those diagnoses and labels are – we think we’re expressing ourselves when all we’re doing, ALL I’VE DONE, is further splinter me.

Another teacher at Deeply Rooted had tried to explain to me that our outward perception as well as who we are internal makes up who we are to the shared reality of the rest of the world. We can think ourselves, great spiritualists, however, if we walk a path of being a jerk to everyone on the outside – we are that in the shared reality of the world. Itflash-2702168_640 does not matter what our internal motivations and intent may be – if you create a rain stick – prepare for it to rain! I’ve been doing this for so long that the memory of myself as a little girl haunted me and was trying to get me to remember what it was like before the madness of being an “adult” in modern America. I never understood what this teacher was trying to tell me until I walked into Powers Bluff and took in all that was around me.

So now, my ideas have changed. I am on a path to eliminate the labels, disorders, and anything I see as more splintering from who I am.  I am just on my path and that thought is exciting to me. I am not depressed. I am just me. I am not bisexual, a lesbian, a married woman or any other label designated for sexuality. I just am. If people need an water-2630618_640understanding of me, I am going to explain myself differently. It’s going to take time to figure out how to do this properly for myself. I am going to need to ask more questions of my teachers and see if they have insight. Eventually, I need to find my own unique way of expressing that idea. That may take some work to untrain my mind of the social conditioning that I have received. This isn’t going to be easy however I am willing and able to take up the work to become better not only for myself  – also those who I will be trying to teach and learn from on my path to Clergy.

Thanks for reading along. These ideas aren’t easily expressed or even easy to share with so many strangers. It’s not the answer for everyone. It’s the answer for me on my path. I share these concepts with you as a way to build an understanding to different thought processes. Thank you again for being a part of that process.

 

A Spiritual Weekend at Deeply Rooted

This weekend was beyond anything I had ever experienced at Deeply Rooted in the six years I have been a member of that community. As the leaves begin their fiery bursts of orange and reds and the wind nips playfully at my cheeks, I am reminded of the turning tee-1698288_640of the Wheel of the Year. We are staring down the barrel of Mabon – a celebration of harvest and for me, a sacred time that represents my renewed commitment to Paganism as a whole and my own personal spiritual structure. Deeply Rooted has been so much a corner stone, a foundation if you will, of that change within me that I can not begin to put into words my everlasting gratitude and utmost respect for the land and the people that have committed themselves to its protection and operation.
When I was in the midst of doing spiritual work over the weekend, I thought a lot about my entire spiritual life up to and including recent events. I felt a sense of happiness that in the pain and suffering of the last year, my understanding of the Gods, Voodoo, mantras, and so many other spiritual dealings rose! It’s been a good year for that alone. I carving-2442286_640am blessed double by the mountains of support from people who are my Tribe. People that have worked hard to guide me spiritually and given me a sense of contentment and safety when the world around me felt very dark. The tribe that stood by me countless times and awakened a sense of purpose within my being. I can now take that sense of purpose of move forward to a future I could not have imagined a few years ago. Gods and Nature please hear my thanks!
Over the weekend at Deeply Rooted, I spent hours with smudge stick in hand, walking the grounds and visualizing the kind of community that I’d like to see. I did this with reverence for the spirit beings, the land, the Gods and also the community that shares these grounds. My visualizations included the thoughts given to me by others that are outside my own needs, however, have a deep meaning to the ones who expressed them to me over these last few months. I buried eggs in the woods as a way of “giving” to the sacred land. I adorned our shrines with rose petals, lavender, cinnamon and other sacred herbs as a way of me showing respect for the entirety of Deeply Rooted. I whispered to trees, rocks and to the winds as I made my way through the wettened wood.
I called to Grandmother Apple, ancestors of Deeply Rooted, my own ancestors, the Faerie Kingdom and also to Grandmother Bear. I see Her as a sacred and protective creature of the wood. At the apex of my workings on Sunday morning by Grandmother Apple shrine, a bear did indeed visit me! I heard the grunting and the foot falls behind me as the bear black-bear-1901957_640circled the shrine. I kept my cool and acknowledged in my spirit that I saw Her and that She had nothing to fear from me. I was here to honor Her. She left me and while I would not recommend the same actions from anyone else for safety sake, I am glad I was given audience by this kindred spirit. Our encounter was chance and in no way did I bait Her because that is a very dangerous practice.
I have been seeing images of Kamadhenu in my mind as I walked around DR over the weekend. She is the sacred “wish giving” bovine Goddess/spirit / Devi of India. You have seen Her as a white cow. I found Her statue in Goodwill and She is now sitting upon my altar. Goodwill in Marshfield where Indian deities are rare. I was floored to find Her in such a way and did some research before placing Her among the other spirits of Mother India. I am not a Hindu in the classic sense nor do I have the understanding that growing up in that culture would afford me however I feel a kinship with certain aspects that is unmatched.
Yesterday I did a ritual with Pan, carnal Lord of the forests and beasts. I was in the woods behind the house in Medford when I made a pact with the Forest Lord. As soon as I came back from my forest stroll, there was a huge storm that erupted behind me. I indian-cow-2579534_640didn’t feel threatened, I felt in awe. It looked as if a HUGE GOD was coming through the trees and making them sway and dance. I did not run into the house. I stayed and stared, letting the rain drop around me and cleanse me. I got very much the feeling that Pan had accepted my offer and would help me. I had, in the past, run screaming from storms like that because I was not looking at them with the eyes of a Pagan.
What’s odd is that when I had appealed to Pan, I had specifically stated that I had wishes that needed to be fulfilled for me to function. They are indeed somewhat selfish wishes however I believe that selfish wishes have their place. I am offering a sacred trust and bond to a deity and expecting no more in return than the commitment that I have given. That’s reciprocal and Gods often have a way of granting those wishes if we are sincere when we have thought them out and expressed them. Finding Kamadhenu in the Goodwill was rather intense of a find for me because I felt Pan had guided me to Her. Lord of the Beasts and Forests introducing me to The Sacred Beast.
Last night I had a dream that involved many people that I know. I was in a giant city being guided by Tyr. Tyr looked like the Norse version of Tyr until He turned to His side and faced away from me and He looked like a Native American man. He was dark haired, beautiful tan skin and the features of a Native person who was clad in light buckskin. I got a distinct feeling that He was more than one God leading me in the dream. Some one even said in passing, “This is the Native Tyr and He is coming to you in a form you understand.”
Kamadhenu was also guiding me in the dream. Her huge brown eyes brought me to places around the city. In each instance, I would visit a place in this city that looked very much like Deeply Rooted. Sometimes it was a faerie glen within the middle of a large retail book store. Every path I took in the city lead me back to a specific group of people buffalo-1436182_640that are familiar to me. One such person was a repeated theme and even a guide through some of the “scarier” parts of the dream that involved being lost in a large crowd of people and being trapped in a subway that opened up into a river as I walked down the tracks to a hidden path. Following that river, I emerged from the city and back to the group of people that kept reoccurring. I felt like the dream went on for many hours even though I know most dreams take place only in the course of a few minutes.
Kamadhenu lead me to a scrap yard in this city where I was taken to buy “parts” to help repair some machine. All of the parts were in the neat little plastic bags that automotive part stores wrap such goodies as o-rings, gaskets, and sealants. When I left the store, I was lead to a park where rusted geese lay dying on the ground. I repaired these mechanical geese only to see them shed their sooty black feathers and spring forward as geese-2415834_640real, living creatures. I am blessed to witness such imagery in my mind.
And so, that’s how I am going to “start” this week. These spiritual beings and mindset that are forever leading me down new paths and back to the same group of people – and the place that we gather – Deeply Rooted. I send you all blessings of light and love and ask you all to look within yourselves as the cool weather hits and we are again inside, facing each other in the long winter months. Let our ideas form into seeds to bring plenty not only to our own lives but to each other. An idea from a person who only had magickal connections to machinery that now extends into nature – the deep roots of longing and purpose of the land we encounter at Deeply Rooted.
Goddess be with you all.

Guilt versus Personal Accountability

I’m writing this article as much for myself as I am writing it for the people in my life that matter. I am actively pursuing the Clergy path and I feel that sharing my experiences and my inner motivations with everyone in my life is every bit as important as realizing truth for myself. This is a tale of the concepts of guilt and personal accountability as experienced by a Pagan woman who has lived most of her life in a mental construct that acted as a stone blocking a vast and endless river of energy, creativity, and will. I share these stories to chronicle my own journey through my depression, mental illness, and self-defeat, however, I write these articles in the spirit that someone who needs help will feel comforted that there are many people in the Pagan community who go through similar struggles within their own minds. Our greatest battlefield is the one we encounter inside our minds.

Our passions, fears, intellectual thoughts, spiritual constructs, perceptions, conditioning and deepest personal beliefs are all spread before us like some grand chess board. The only person we’re ever playing against is ourselves. Can we reconstruct our minds from toxicity after a lifetime of pain and sadness that we feel has been unfairly cast upon us? While I do believe in dharmic cycles and embrace karma, I have thoughts that are separate of the Hindu tradition of which I am studying. I am not fully Hindu nor am I purely Pagan. There is no such way for me to fully embrace a culture that I was born separate from however I do subscribe to the idea that I can passionately pursue my spirituality in any form that I desire and get some kind of result that will positively impact my entire experience. I’ve often said that life does not bestow sadness or happiness as some form of cosmic revenge. It is not personal in my belief that the universe has it out for us.

We may feel that we’ve lived a life that has been unfair and cruel. A ‘fair life’ is a construct of ego. There is no place in the natural world that says we are entitled to anything ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ In fact, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ do not exist in nature. Karma and the dharmic process are spiritual tools that help us understand how our actions can adversely or favorably reflect the reality we’ve created for ourselves in this life and the next. The only construct of entitlement comes from ourselves. There is the perception of reality within our minds and then there is REALITY, the shared concept of what we are all thinking, feeling, acting and saying that intermingles and dances between order and chaos. We may feel that we are lost to this tide, however, I challenge that as Pagans we are not slaves to fate.

I have long battled with a sense of entitlement that I can trace back to my early childhood memories. I very much wanted a mother who loved me and a father who understood my intentions and supported me in my pursuits. My childhood recollections do not reflect this as truth. For a very long time, the course of thirty-three years on this planet, I wrestled with the pain of that loss and also I strove to better myself as a parent in the pursuit of making my children’s lives ‘better.’  I felt a crippling sense of guilt when these ideas did not play out as I had originally intended for my family.

I felt I was cheated out of this life until I realized that my sense of entitlement was the very battle with ego that I started when I fully embraced Goddess Kali when I became a dedicated Pagan. Entitlement has a very negative connotation and this is where I may infuriate a lot of Pagans who read my blog without knowing who I am as a person or even people who consider themselves to be my close friends. Entitlement is a construct of the ego however it is not a purely negative concept. Wanting to be better than you are and rising above the expectations of others shows a healthy knowledge of self and also the ability to exercise one’s personal will to change reality.

In the pursuit of what I call becoming a ‘wholly person’ I challenged the idea of entitlement in my own mind and sought a way to see how nature and reality play a huge part in having a healthy grasp on what we can change our lives. Entitlement has a very negative connotation and this is where I may infuriate a lot of Pagans who read my blog without knowing who I am as a person or even people who consider themselves to be my close friends.

Entitlement is a construct of ego, however, it is not a purely negative concept. Wanting to be better than you are and rising above the expectations of others shows a healthy knowledge of self and also the ability to exercise one’s personal will to change reality. I would challenge the notion that what I am speaking about isn’t really entitlement as it so much is an expression of will that I don’t have a better word for at this time.

The truth is, I was never entitled to a life that was ‘better’ than what I received. If I am to fully embrace my spirituality, I have to understand and accept that whatever has befallen me is something generated by my karma from either this life or one in the past. That does not mean that I have to succumb to abuse and pain either perpetrated by my own ego constructs or the constructs of personal influences. Putting it as simply as I know how, I’m saying that my life, full of sexual, physical, emotional and spiritual abuse only had to go on as long as I allowed it.

As a child, I could not get away from my family who seemed to be actively working against me however as an adult, I chose to enter romantic relationships and friendships that generated that same violent and abusive atmosphere. It was all I knew until I allowed myself to see that I had something to contribute and therefore, with that as my end goal, I destroyed the ego concepts within my mind that kept these cycles of pain from continuation.

It’s hard work. First, I had to separate what was guilt, which in my definition is a state of being in pain caused by one’s actions that either belongs to them or not. Sometimes we feel guilty for the actions of others however I see that as paying car insurance on a vehicle you don’t own. Would you, the reader, be paying for some one else’s car insurance if that person would not pay for yours or even appreciate the fact that you were paying for it? Most of you would probably answer ‘no.’ I had to ask myself, WHY THE HELL AM I PAYING FOR THE ACTIONS OF MY PARENTS? I am not my parents. I have not forgotten their faces however I do not wear their face. I wear my own face and I wear it without a mask.

So why am I continuing the perpetuation of these self-destructive actions? Ah, here enters personal accountability. If you are able to recognize that your actions are your own and you can only personally blame your parents or anyone else who’s harmed you for so long as you can until you recognize that you are following hastily in their footsteps, then you have entered the realm of personal accountability. This is a terrifying place if you’ve never encountered it before and can keep you up crying into the wee hours of the morning when you realize that your parents or whoever abused you in the past, only did it as long as you allowed them to do so and your actions in spite of theirs caused you to lose a part of yourself in the process. It does not mean that this lost self is gone forever. It means that you now have the tool to take back what you allowed to be taken from yourself. 

Living this lifestyle does not suggest that you are now going to be ‘perfect’ in the sense of how humans understand and accept perfection and never make mistakes again. You’ll stumble, you’ll fall on your ass and you may even take three huge steps forward only to slide back two steps one day while you’re wrestling with your own mind. This happens to me frequently and all I have to do is keep reminding myself that I have the will within myself to change my circumstances for my own personal benefit and also the benefit of those around me if they are willing to engage in such a change.

It takes a huge amount of courage to face the real demons that have been living inside of you since you experienced this pain. Having courage comes from experiencing and acknowledging the fear that we all have within our minds. It can be a fear of failure or success. In my case, it’s a very real fear of success without having an ego construct to contain my urges. We all share in the pain even if our circumstances are different and we all have the ability, if we will it, to change our situations and ourselves so that we can adequately function and survive in a world that offers us no guarantees other than these two ideas.

Things will change. It will happen. You can not stop this from happening. Order and Chaos dance together throughout our universe and eventually, no matter how well you’ve planned or thought things through, they will find you and change you.

You will die. Your life will cease and everything about your existence will eventually vanish into the flow of time and destiny. How you are remembered by those you have touched is entirely up to you and within your control. It will be hard and painful to make that sacrifice however it is rewarding if you desire to be remembered a certain way. You may believe in an afterlife and I do as well, I believe in reincarnation, spirits, and an Underworld. I believe in Gods and Goddesses and I have had personal interactions with all of Them at some point or another. Death is not the end for me and I will myself to live in the face of this certainty that will inevitably find us all.

And more importantly, I see the guilt that was put upon me as a child in the visage of spirituality (Catholicism) and adults trying to justify their actions. I do not subscribe to their guilt or my own guilt over my life choices as a state of being. I made a very powerful decision to accept my actions and the consequences of those actions as reality and change reality by facing the ugliest parts of myself that I hid from the world unknowingly. I am actively changing my life even if it means that I have to sacrifice all of the pawns on my own personal chess board to save the Queen. Myself.

I’ll end this by saying that this journey is my own and these reflections of my meditations work only for myself and the life that I have lived. I’m not preaching this to anyone outside of myself. If my writing reaches you and gives you a different thought process that helps, I am happy to be of service. If my writing angers you, that’s alright too, you have an opinion in your mind that may be fact because it works for you. Only you, the reader, can make that decision. No member of Clergy, political official or even a therapist can completely understand what you are going through and the kinds of tools and gifts that have been bestowed upon you.

Vulnerable and in Hiding Plain Sight

I am vulnerable and I’m at peace with the idea that I’m not always in control of every situation. There have been many terrible things that have occurred in my life in the form of physical, mental, sexual, intellectual and yes, even spiritual abuse. For a time, I hid in plain sight of abusers and friends alike. I do not have walls because I found that the walls I would put up would limit my creativity. I do not worry about being hurt because I know and accept that pain will come just as the laughter and good times ebb and flow in mine life. Pain is very much what we make it be for ourselves. At the source, the core and truth of it, pain hurts. Pain is pain for a reason. You can doll it up with words but the essence of pain is hurt and that does not change because human beings work their ego magick upon it.

Pain shreds at our energy being like a serrated steak knife. If you become nothing but pain and wall up the pain inside, the serrated blade cuts things so harshly that it can leave giant gaps in our outward disposition. This causes misunderstandings and breakdowns in communication. We only need to say what hurts us and what we’re willing to do to transmute that pain we’re experiencing. The walls we’ve put up to keep the pain in or out act as an electrical fence, disrupting portions of our daily lives and eventually isolate us to the point of madness. We do need other people as much as we need water or sunlight but when the emotional ties to people become so deeply rooted in our past that we can no longer see what is in the present or future course, they become twisted and corrupted. How can we change this? Understanding of how we interact with pain sheds light on parts of our personality that we’ve left in the closet.

I deal with pain by consuming it and changing my reaction. Yes, I feel the intenseness of the burning sensation in my mouth but I chose to focus on the joy it brings me when I have bested yet another hybridized pepper sauce. I have always liked the hot sauce. I have joked with others that there has never been a hot sauce made to beat me and that if there was, I’d still down it with a grin albeit shaking with the intensity of a thousand suns burning my soul. I handle pain by taking it in and letting go the hurt, tears, and snot that it conjures and see my friends make a face of wonder and terror. It brings me joy to know that I can walk through that fire and come out stronger for it. I trust myself. Sometimes I realize that there might not be a hot sauce that can best me but there can be situations that have bested me.

Losing key people in my life or the addition of darker energy paths have definitely left their mark upon my psyche and my public disposition. Sometimes it manifests in the form of studdering, other times I can be like a wild horse who is being penned, bucking and biting at anything that I perceive as a threat. Horse magick, energy/ medicine are very much a core part of my character. Study a stubborn horse and understand what it is to be in the world of Kim Frank. There are darker times still when I run like a freight train away from a situation because I feel that there is nothing good I can contribute and that my own madness bursting through will only serve to hinder the situation. It’s not a bad thing, actually…

Knowing the limits of one’s strength is fine and dandy, the vulnerability and our peace with the idea that we can not control every force are what truly makes us strong. Sometimes it’s our decisions to step back and take a break or do something healing for ourselves that is not reliant on the support of other people. Bringing others down when you’re down is only serving to confuse and frighten already hurt people who are trying to understand the situation – not attack you. A horse that will not jump over water can not be beaten into jumping.

A steady handler who whispers reassuring words to the horse helps the horse understand that what it perceives as an unconquerable chasm of death is only a tiny stream that is physically effortless for the horse to vault through. Sometimes a horse can’t be reached that way but a trainer doesn’t give up. They continue to lead the animal through perfectly natural situations until the horse makes the connection that all they need to do is what they can already do –  with much more practice! You’re good at writing? GOOD, KEEP WRITING. You’re good at taking pictures of rust? Good…er, keep doing that – I guess – find a way to connect people with rust and show them a side of spirituality that they could never imagine. 

It’s about reinventing yourself into who you already are and stop hating or being angry with yourself for the things that make you vulnerable. My crux has always been in the emotional situations I involve myself in with people I consider my family or tribe. When my family is not right, I burst into action. It’s not an inherently bad idea but when you add pain to the mixture, the pain makes me feel inadequate and I end up running away. Now that I have recognized that by admitting the emotional vulnerability I experience, I can now see that sometimes my actions alone aren’t enough to change a complex situation. Yes, I still need to act but I need to find people and supports who can help the main idea. Running away only manifests the pain deeper, isolates and makes me the very worst version of myself – NON-CREATIVE.

Because I do not fear to be vulnerable I can readily identify that my worst fear and challenge to overcome is the feeling of being inadequate. Now I will be inadequate for the needs of others but for those that recognize who I am and what I am trying to do, I’m more than enough. More importantly, I’m more than enough for myself. I was created by my Mother, Kali Ma, to be a student of the creative and destructive extremes of natural and unnatural forces. Instead of hating myself or isolating based on that realization, I have been studying in the direction of Clergy. My emotional ties are to the land, the Gods and the spirit world. I realize that humans in the physical world can not meet all of my demands. My demands are almost wholly spiritual. I live to build shrines, altars, have dreams, draw deities and most importantly, talk about my spirit family – the legend and lore of the Pagan Gods.

Is this received well by others? Well, most people really like my approach but not everyone sees the value in allowing yourself to show vulnerability. Honestly, I’m to the point that I realize that some people will come along because they make the time to understand my viewpoint but others actively work against themselves and show no such self-discipline in their path, yet. Those people I can not reach but I don’t have to reach them. They are not my power center nor my foundation. My foundation is in my loyalty and devotion to my Gods and to my faith. It has always been about family and while I have been blessed with five of the most beautiful daughters the Goddess has ever imagined, I am all about the Gods and my relationship to Them. The best thing I can give the people I can’t reach is for them to see how I handle, by example, being vulnerable and hurt and how I flourish in the midst of my limitations – not crippled by them.

I hide in plain sight with a warm smile and enthusiasm for life. I will not feel sorry for being that way nor will I change that approach until I hear a better one. I am all ears and eyes to the teachers that have cropped up in my life in the most unlikely of places. I am thankful to the Gods, spirits and other entities in my life who have brought me to this place. Thank you again, Universe, for this peace and contentment. And now I’ve given that gift back to the Universe by reaching out to anyone willing to hear and moving forward in both pain and pleasure. Namaste.

Whisker and Hoof – A Modern Connection Ritual to Spirit Animals

A Vision of the Beyond

Where My Soul Dwells

Overlooking the glacial lake beyond my gaze is the towering masses of sheer granite an quartzite mountains, the waves of said lake are whirling and fawning at the richness of the liquid gold afternoon. The glittering auspicious orb in the sky leaves a luminescent trail on my neck and dances along the entirety of my spine with a gentle reminder of comforting heat. Leaves in every hue of fire rain down from the sky and across the landscape as if King Midas had been there to cast out his plush bounty of coins upon the earth. The brisk wind of impending autumn whips through my mane, mildly impeding my field of vision as I gallop towards my ancestral herd. exchanging quiet embraces and knowing looks, a feeling of contentment, purpose, and belonging overtakes my senses. A scene just like this one is carried out in my mind every time I wish to connect to my inner spirit animals.

Do you need an animal guide to identify as a functional Pagan?

No, most certainly not! This article is for those who wish to explore and find out if this facet of spirituality is right for them. Confusingly, the “brand” of Modern Paganism includes the spiritual practices of many ancient cultures which are sometimes taken out of context or glazed over to

Not everyone has a guide, but the adventure is in learning as much about who you aren’t as who you are

the point of losing their inner meaning. Native American Shamanism has been working its way into the mainstream world and provides a new outlook on how we understand the many levels of our personalities. To be perceived as a “functional” Pagan does not mean that you must be the master of every spiritual practice instantly and that you must relate with all tenants of the distinct paths. This is just one way to challenge yourself personally and learn something of the long-forgotten secrets which are sitting out in nature, free to us.

Long regarded as a sacred symbol and connection to the land, spirit animals have been a part of many cultures throughout the landscape of human culture. There’s much that’s been done and said on the subject regarding the Native American view of these powerful totems but this is a more modern approach to finding, connecting and establishing a working relationship with your spirit animal.  It’s quite possible that not everyone has a guide at all and certainly not a necessary path to take when identifying as a Modern Pagan. Can you have more than one spirit animal? Yes of course! I have 6 main animals I work with regularly. If you do feel a connection or pull to certain animals or you wish to find out if you have a guide, keep reading, I may have just the right combination of Magick to help you find whisker, hoof, paw, feather, fin or antennae.

Know the Signs, Rites of Passage, and Expressing Yourself

Some of my earliest memories of childhood are enjoying the feeling being in the saddle of a horse. Before my back-injury occurred, there was no greater joy than feeling the speed associated with bringing a horse to a full gallop and winding through the paths of the fields. I collected My Little Ponies, drew every imaginable version of cartoon horse that one could possibly imagine and in my teenage years when I discovered the Furry and Otherkin Community, I explored many avenues of what it meant to be a horse by their definition. Now that I’m an adult and able to see connections to my spirituality through channeling that horse personality, I want to help others identify what benefits soothing the inner beast can have on our mundane lives.

The Rites of Passage are few and far between in our modern society. Gone are the Vision

Body Modification is one expression of the rites of passage

quests, fastings and powerful displays of faith. There are of course exceptions in the form of extremist religious or smaller acts such as getting your ear pierced. Body modification in the form of piercings, tattoos, and scarification is one expression of how we on the inside see our bodies and extend our spirits through to our outside world. What about modifying the personality to even further express your unique beliefs? That’s where animal guides can help us!

How to Use Your Animal Guide to Your Benefit

You can go to half a dozen wonderful websites to find the attributes of almost every imaginable animal. I’ll list a few down below. Find an animal you’ve either been drawn to your entire life or one that you need to channel a certain trait from to attain your end goal. You don’t need a Shaman, an online quiz or to pay a ton of money to tell yourself what you already know as long as you’re honest. Think about what you need in life or what animal you have been consistently drawn to because of its beauty or another trait you admire. The very worst thing that can happen is that you perform this ritual with an understanding of who you AREN’T so you have a roadmap to discover WHO YOU AREthat’s the adventure of active spirituality! 

Pros, Cons, and the How to Connect

Every spirit animal has a pro and con to their personality just as does the channeler. Being aware, for example, that the horse guide is very good at putting the blinders on and charging at a project full force is wonderful for getting a single goal done. The horse can have issues

Connecting to Your Guide is all about connecting to Your Self.

excelling at multitasking and become scared easily and run for the hills. That’s often been a reoccurring theme in my life, so instead of becoming depressed over it, I learned to tame that mare by having a better understanding of the behaviors involved. Making a list of your own personality traits, pros and cons and the like can not only help connect you to your spirit animal but give you a better understanding of the self-portrait one tries to paint when they are spiritual beings.

Now you want to connect with that chosen animals and you aren’t sure how? Well, we know that our ancestors didn’t have cell phones, the internet, video games or even books for quite some time. What they did do with their time was WATCH, WATCH, WATCH. They watched each other’s social behaviors and became a stronger tribe, they watched the animals to learn their habits, feeding patterns and secrets and they watched the sky to create the monolithic temples that still stand today. If you can’t watch your spirit animal in the wild, then use the internet for your benefit. There are tons of documentaries, animal music videos, and pictures of every imaginable animal. See if you can obtain a piece of the animal such as a claw, tooth, or some hair. Carry it on your person. TOUCH IT and learn the patterns in the whirls of fur or the sleekness of the fang. If you can’t have a piece of the animal, build a small shrine to that animal and include pictures, symbols, statues, and toys.

On to the ritual!

Now the fun part about this is that the ritual isn’t hard as long as you know what your main priorities are beforehand. For me, I value adaptability and adventure which is another sign the horse and I are bonded spiritually. My ritual isn’t complex or drawn-out although, for the channeler, it could be if you feel the need. When I encounter an issue, I clearly envision my chestnut mare with the white blaze on her nose and four white stockings ( the proper term for marking, not actual stockings.) in my mind’s eye. I think of the challenge before me as a hurdle and jump over it. When I need to carry a heavy load, I’m a draft horse pulling along the problems in a cart as if they weighed nothing, when I need to change my way of thinking, I am the barrel racing pony, diving in and out between different ideas to find a new path. I listen to drumming or thunder, anything to remind myself of the hooves I have in the spirit world and as I am envisioning my mare in her many forms,

The Horse is the Ultimate Expression of the Lust for Life and Adaptability

I think of the challenge before me as a hurdle and jump over it. When I need to carry a heavy load, I’m a draft horse pulling along the problems in a cart as if they weighed nothing, when I need to change my way of thinking, I am the barrel racing pony, diving in and out between different ideas to find a new path. When I’ve exhausted all other physical avenues, my mare transcends and evolves into the Unicorn to perform magick and healing. I listen to drumming or thunder, anything to remind myself of the hooves I have in the spirit world.  I envision my mare in her many forms, overcoming her obstacles, enjoying the work as I think of the physical world problem and how it relates. I get some rest. Often, that’s enough. It’s different for everyone.

Thanks for reading along with this article. It gave me a feeling of contentment to write and share it with you. If you need any help in this field, and I am able, you can shoot me a PM on Face Book or write a comment here. Also, you can privately e-mail me at hickoryrunstables@gmail.com. Have a Blessed Day!

Help Find Your Spirit Animal

  1. Legends of America – Animal Totems
  2. Spirit Animals
  3. Beautiful Souls
  4. Spiritual Gangster – Finding Your Spirit Animal

 

Sacred Sexuality – Athame and Chalice

“You are like a god, like an immortal one,’ she whispered to me one night in our bed, her naked body pressed to mine, our sweat golden and glistening in the candlelight. ‘Oh, my love,’ I whispered back to her, ‘I am more mortal than all. It seems that a part of me dies every night that I lie with you.”
Roman Payne

All sexuality is sacred but not all sexual acts fall under the category of “Sacred Sexuality.” I’d like to take the opportunity to distinguish those interpretations and help define for newcomers to Paganism as well as seasoned individuals.  We will be discussing some different cultural references to the hallowed act of coupling. For me, this article is difficult to write but that’s exactly why I have chosen to do so as a way of confronting the personal challenges that lie within my mind’s deepest recesses. A lifetime of sexual abuse from family members and past lovers almost completely extinguished the passionate fires within my being but I keep pushing on, trying to find my niche in this wholly spiritual act.

When speaking of the act of Sacred Sexuality, it does not matter if the participants involved embody Chalice to Athame, Chalice to Chalice, Athame to Athame or the single aspect of Chalice or Athame. These symbols of divine masculine and feminine do not need to be taken in the original context to be valid. It does not discriminate against the amount of partners or lack thereof contained within the act. What does matter is statue-388896_640distinguishing what is a part of our spirituality and what is not. Lumping all acts of sexuality into the same category does not help define for the practitioner or the outsider what makes an act sacred or not. It is true that what is considered a divine is a wholly subjective process but that does not mean that the concepts of carnal deeds are not discriminatory.

In our mainstream society, the word “discrimination” usually carries a context that is construed as “bad” or immediately associated with the word “hate.” It does not, however change the original  and more archaic definition of the word within the boundaries of the English language.  To be a person who is discriminating in their acts and thoughts is defined by  Dictionary.com as “recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another.” In this context, we are merely setting apart the acts of mundane sex from what is defined as sacred. This is an important notion to follow if we subscribe to the idea of forming a Pagan culture that stands apart from all others in the contemporary arena of practiced faiths. We are often judged by our peers as as well as our perceptions of self based on what we see as true and worthy of our attention. Knowing how to properly answer the question, “What is sacred sexuality?” is just as important as the foundational and ever present inquiry, “What is Modern Paganism?”

I believe to look forward at the future of Paganism, we need to dig deep into our historical roots. While we have lost so much of our cultural roots to the incendiary philosophies of monotheism, we still have cultures who subscribe to polytheism whose ideals embody and capture for us the ideals of our ancient ancestors. While traditionally many Wiccans subscribe to the beliefs of Gerald Gardner, not all polytheistic belief systems align with his unique contribution to Paganism.

It is generally acknowledged and accepted that not all Pagans identify as Wiccans but understand that all Wiccans do indeed identify as Pagans. In terms of other cultures, Gardner stood apart them with his views on woman which by many modern definitions could be construed as sexually biased.  In the process of his famous views on gender roles and acts of sexuality, Gardner empowered many women and created a generation of badass witches. This is not in any way meant to discredit Gerald Gardner but simply saying that his ideas spoke of the time period from which he grew up in and a vision of Paganism and Witchcraft that was many years beyond his contemporaries. To him, we owe a great debt of gratitude but it doesn’t end at Gardner.

Let us also ponder how ancient Hinduism viewed sacred sexuality. The relevance of Hindu Shaktism has a very real and dramatic effect upon our culture as a whole. If 3_Shaktism_goddesses_Devi_collageyou’re not familiar with the word “Shakti” it is translated from ancient Sanskrit as “to be able.” It is often associated with the sub-tradition of “Tantra” which works on the approach of empowering your partner not only through various sexual techniques but also through encouragement, support and meditative challenges. The ancient Hindus were experts at using sexuality as a vehicle to communicate with their numerous deities. Lord Shiva, for example was fueled by His Shakti, Durga (or Kali, or Parvati, etc.) It’s a beautiful concept that does not incorporate romantic love but a deep respect for the powers and uniqueness of the partner involved.

Sacred sexuality does not have to involve romantic love in any way, shape or form. It is distinguished by duty, honor to the tribe and the values of the participants involved that have been aligned for a pure, magickal purpose. During the Wiccan  “Great Rite” a High Priest and Priestess engage in a erotic act that does not necessarily bind them in authentic legal marriage but it does incorporate a sincere respect and appreciation for each other’s strengths and abilities. Each acknowledges the divinity in each other which is the vehicle used to promote the symbolic and actual deed of sexual consummation. This is why we can not lump every single sexual act into the category of sacred sexuality.

So as Pagans we separate, we discriminate what is sacred when we embody our Gods and Goddesses in our most intimate and hallowed acts. It does not matter if we are using masturbation to charge our monthly spell work or engaging in a sexual orgy to empower a larger magickal goal. What does matter is that we engage ourselves or our partners with trust, sincerity and respect. We do not subscribe to the idea that pedophilia, non-consensual sexual acts or any other thoughtform that does not value the individuals involved as a part of sacred sexuality. It is up to us, as Pagans who are reclaiming not only our land but our ideals in the process to have these thoughts accurate. Appropriate responses to the inquiries of outsiders are just as important as what we teach each other inside the community.

Honor your Gods, Honor your mates and partners and most importantly, Honor yourself in the act of sacred sexuality.

Thank you again for reading along! I would love to hear what your thoughts are on this subject or any other subject in my blog that I’ve written about. I consider myself not only a teacher to others but also a student who is painted a lesson from every aspect of this lifetime. Please comment below and don’t be shy! I only touched on some of the assertions of this topic in an attempt to subscribe to word conservation. 😉

 

 

Mental Illness in the Pagan Community

A few years ago a Pagan teacher of mine gave me a very interesting writing prompt. “Mental Illness in the Pagan Community,” During that time, I was unsure how to respond to the literary challenge of writing about a sensitive topic that affects so many of us in our spiritual hamlet. It was a time when I had very different views on the process of identifying and how to even begin treating my own struggles with my mental health. I am by no means a licensed therapist or anyone qualified to diagnose or treat mental illness. Please understand that this article is only a commentary and is not intended to replace the functionality of a professional.

So let’s define for ourselves the term “Mental Illness” because the Pagan application is different than the mundane context. According to the Mayo Healthcare System the official definition for mental illness is as follows:

Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors. Many people have mental health concerns from time to time.

Now that leaves a wide range of thoughts free to the Pagan mind to digest. Consider for a moment the following ideas and how they are received by non-Pagan folk. Contemplate for just a moment the following popular concepts of our belief system:

  • Spiritual fasting – Fasting or abstaining from eating for the observance of certain holidays, rituals and spell work can go on for days or even weeks depending on the circumstances. Diabetics, for instance can not go long periods of time without ingesting food. Severe physical detriment up to and including diabetic coma or ketosis (a kind of kidney failure that is the result of a diet low in Carbohydrates) can occur.
  • Past lives – As Pagans, we have no physical proof that past lives are a real and valid thing. Many spiritually-minded people subscribe to the idea that this is not the only life we can contribute towards and that our actions in this life affect much more than just ourselves. This can very well be interpreted by non-spiritual people as a kind of hallucination or escapism from the reality that is known as our current life. This can be made worse by the fact that those who practice divination and past life regression charge for their work. While there is nothing wrong with this concept, it can appear shady to those who are suspicious of our beliefs.
  • Spirit guides – The concept that we are guided by unseen spirits or “familiars” may be interpreted as a form of schizophrenia. Talking aloud to intangible beings can be disturbing even for Pagan folk who do not subscribe to such beliefs. It doesn’t of course disprove or invalidate the existence of such beings but it can raise questions in certain circles as to the health and wellbeing of those who make the presence of such entities known.
  • Visions, dreams and prophecies – Once regarded as a valuable asset to the tribe, Oracles of yore were believed to have predicted major events such as weather, battles and times of famine or feast. Oracles are still an accepted part of Pagan culture but to the rest of humanity, they’re little more than an interesting plot device in an action movie based on Greek warriors. The ability to see into the past or present is a hot topic issue even in Pagan circles as the conflicting notion of “the future is set in stone” and “we are able to change the course based on our will” is something that science can yet deem provable.

But what about the issues that face the Pagan community such as inherent mental illness such as bipolar disorder, clinical depression, anxiety, borderline personality and a host of other conditions that are now far too many to name individually? Even articulating the common perceptions about mental illness can be a very personal and controversial affair in discussion circles. It must be met with an open mind, a compassionate heart and the ability to look past the prejudice that can be sometimes associated with the beliefs involved.

As a whole the Pagans are desperately trying to reclaim so much of our history and culture and even brainstorming radical new motions to meet with the flow of modern times. How do we keep our culture free from the perception that spirit guides and intangible beings can give us messages and signs that can sometimes alter the course of our destinies without looking like we could be possibly suicidal or riddled with some ailment that is treatable with pills? Paganism to be taken seriously in this world and to form a different world view must collectively ask it’s self these questions and many more that are unlisted.

It’s also good to keep in mind that there are many legitimate treatments for mental illness that can incorporate the medicinal values of our ancestors. It’s important to go over those herbal supplements and alternative methods with a licensed and reputable healthcare practitioner that values the spiritual beliefs of their patients. If you feel uncomfortable with your current medical doctor, a good resource for you might be the AANP or American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. They can also put you in touch with trained therapists and psychologists who will understand the Pagan attitude towards sexuality, medicine, spiritual beliefs and a slurry of other cultural values that differ from the mundane.

What are your thoughts on mental illness and how it applies to Paganism in contemporary culture? Please comment below! I’d love to have some healthy debate. Thank you for reading along and all of the support you’ve given this blog. It helps motivate me to write more articles that are relevant to the interests and challenges faced by our culture.