Oneiromancy

  “Dreams are imperfections of sleep; even so is consciousness the imperfection of waking. Dreams are impurities in the circulation of the blood; even so it's consciousness a disorder of life. Dreams are without proportion, without good sense, without truth; so also is consciousness. Awake from dream, the truth is known: awake from waking. The truth is: The Unknown”― Aleister CrowleyThe Book of Lies

One of the earliest recollections in my life was a dream - I was a man dressed in tuxedo tails, waiting for my wife as I finished a cigarette. I was around 4 years old when I started remembering dreams. I would recall them in the morning and tell my family about them, sometimes with sideways glances or eye rolls in response. They seemed so real sometimes: I would wake up with fearful tears, mimicked injuries, found to be wandering around the house or yelling myself awake.  It was around 8 or 9 years old I started having prophetic dreams though. The first one happened the night our pet hamster died: I dreamed my parents divorced and my mother married a cowboy (3 years later, she did). My dreams became increasingly more vivid, controlled and serious. As a curious teen, I started researching dreams to understand this naturally occurring phenomenon; only to find it was something not everybody was able to do. In retrospect, I can see what was really happening... I was engaged in lucid dreaming, soul flight and oneiric prophecy in the patterns of these dreams.

History is riddled with omens revealed through dreams. Some of the most famous examples include the biblical Joseph, son of Jacob, both who dreamed prophecies and interpreted dreams for the Pharaoh of Egypt; King Solomon also spoke with his God through dreams (it seems dreams are the only method of divination approved by YHWH). The deaths of Julius Ceasar and Abraham Lincoln were forewarned by prophetic dreams as well. Dreams, we are told, are a series of images projected by our subconscious mind while our “waking” brain is asleep. These images flash quickly, randomly and with no real sense made until we awake, when our consciousness takes this imagery and pieces them together like a puzzle to create a chronological narrative. Often it makes no sense; all logic and reason is thrown out the door as our conscious minds try to comprehend these strange and sometimes terrible images, projected by our very minds.

"The Dream of Reason Brings forth Monsters" by Francisco de Goya

Readying one's self for dream 'incubation' is a method in which to prepare for intentional dreaming. In ancient Dendera, Egyptian priests and devotees of Hathor slept in incubation areas in the temple, which often revealed answers to seekers' questions or offer healing. Germanic Volvas, oracular women, would eat the food and sleep under the roof of a clients' home in order to divine answers. Where one sleeps has a huge effect on dreams. As a way of incubating, sleeping in an unfamiliar place such as a friends' house or on the floor of my living room, gives my mind the signal 'this is not going to be an ordinary rest'. Abstaining from alcohol, drugs and sex works sometimes; it changes from season to season, from one lunar phase to another.

Seeking out answers is a bit trickier, especially if we want specifics. Just as with any other form of divination, such as tarot, there is a level of synchronistic subtleties which requires extra attention. For example: before sleeping if there is a question I want answered, I will repeat to myself over and over a simple statement or question so it is the very last thing I think of before drifting into dreamland. Once I am there, I do a 'self check' to make sure it is a dream I will be able to participate in lucidly (meaning some control), or something my subconscious is forcing me to work through (in which I enjoy the ride). A test of my natural ability: if I could put my hand in front of my face and look at it in a dream, this was a decision my conscious mind was making in a dream, something I thought I had no control over whatsoever. Everything changed! The nightmares of demons chasing me no longer had the power and control to frighten, as I found I could fly away or banish them with fire. Sure there were some strong inclinations which I had to fight and struggle with, but eventually these types of dreams came to have little meaning except as a way of dealing with stress.

Another trick to inducing prophetic or divinatory dreams is making sure to have plenty of sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults between the ages of 24-65 require on average of 6-8 hours of sleep nightly. Unfortunately most people rarely get this much actual sleep; between television and traffic sounds, a snoring spouse or a bad back, there are so many things that keep people tossing and turning at night.  Relaxing meditation before sleep, being mindful of its purpose and goals is also a way of getting prepared and present. Keeping the bedroom only for sleep and other nocturnal activities maintains the environment as free for exploring otherworldly realms safely and more effectively.

It takes some skill to interpret the images of dreams, but as a witch I find taking the back seat in what is happening, and allowing it to properly unfold, gives greater clarity later on. Writing a dream down really is the best practice, especially since sometimes a dream will not make sense until later reflection reveals the connection. I also find that sharing very significant dreams in a document with friends on social media or dream interpretation groups gives me an opportunity for an unbiased perspective on the imagery. Unlike other forms of induction or divination, oneiromancy cannot be learned in a book. Although it can be practiced through interaction with a patron Deity or spirit which can assist you, this is a natural gift one is either born with or develops over time. Either way, it can be effective when taken with a healthy dose of scientific analysis, another of psychoanalysis and an open honesty of your Self. Patience and serious introspection pays off.

For further reading:

Sacred Sleep: Dreams & the Divine” by Scott Cunningham

Oneirocritica: The Interpretation of Dreams” by Artemidorus

Dreams” by C.G. Jung

"Belladonna and Blades"

A grave grew in the lonely part of a valley, where two hills met. Planted with chips of rose quartz, a thin lead tablet left behind the last bit of my heart, to release a love into all things wild and dusty. It was in this piece I let go a friendship. I suffocated it in the red dirt of those Northern California hills, in that secret place surrounded by running waters, dense skeletal oaks, and smokey skies from early winter fires. The charred trees from last summer were decomposing, the magic of secondary succession transforming death into new life. Mysteries surrounded and protected the stone, letting it harmonize the energies already there as the love was broken, buried and forgotten. I thought about her, my best friend who was becoming more distant to me as I grew in my spiritual life. She tried to follow me, into the darkness of witchcraft and magick. Mara came circling for camaraderie and High Days for frolic. She approached the coven as an exclusive social club which exuded power and prestige; neither of which she had. Mara grew up in a small reservation town, her poor white trash family and over-bite didn't help in matters of popularity with boys or girls. Bullied and bruised, she found promiscuity to be a way of getting attention, dressing in a provocative manner showed off Mara's perfect pear shape. Her hair changed from boring dishwater to long and blonde, nails manicured pink, and clothes too young. Mara wore spiked heels and miniskirts to our journalism classes; even the snowing drifts of cold modesty couldn't touch her.

The night was eerily cold as I slept near the rushing creek. Bubbling sounds of melted snow as it slid through moss covered rocks and fallen branches in the creek lulled me into a deep sleep. It was not until just before dawn, in the coldest, darkest part of the night that I awoke. There was a rustling in the blackberry bushes just outside my tent, the dew clinging to late summer fruits made them appear as purple jewels. I listened for my Lord of the Forest, his hooves wandering around the campground. The early morning light made everything hazy, especially since I had kept my glasses off; I have learned to use my natural sight for spiritual encounters, to trust these visions. Following the sounds and shadows, I came down to the waters edge where a small pebble beach lay open under a canopy of pine; the summer dried needles crackled under my bare feet releasing the musky scent of forest.

We had swam here, Mara and I. One day after clearing brush and berries, the sweet water was refreshing in the hot afternoon. In nothing but sarongs, the waters of the river spirit encircled us creating aquamarine waves, as a cleansing ribbon. Our skin was red and goose-bumped from the freezing mountain waters. Walking with bare feet, it felt as jagged glass when I slipped from algae or some other slimy thing amongst the stones. The slight numbness from the cold reminded me how much worse it would feel once I defrosted. I found a large, flat boulder to lie on. The ancient stone was hotter than anticipated, drying my beach towel rather quickly. Lying in the sun, with head back and pointed toward the Universe, I fell asleep only to awaken with her warm body lying next to me.

I walked out onto the beach, to sit upon a moss covered boulder emitting a mist in it's breath; as a dragon curled sleeping, eyes of brilliant emeralds it welcomed me into the coils of dream. I sat there in the early dawn, looking at my red-stained hands as I washed in the pure river; would the blood ever come off? The sacrifice had been accepted, shed as a snakeskin with the strength to pull dead flesh from a rotting corpse. Because she was already dead...attached to material things and status, what happiness she could fuck or buy, ignoring what oaths bound us all at the dark crossroads in pursuit of her own addictions. The defixio would right what was wronged, sent to her grave, breaking all connections and ties... belladonna didn't act fast enough, but the athame did.

The kisses caught me off guard, as I hadn't expected such a surprise. I was caught in the Beltane current. The green energies of trees, radical sunshine, and her tongue all enraptured me in a place of magic. Mara used the only magick she knew: persuasive passion with heartstrings, confused in a tangled mess from past lives. Finishing the loose ends, it was completed in this one act of love and we allowed it to flow over us. Never did I intuit a possible betrayal, the peace of our shared Grove and Coven about to come to a grinding halt. Mara was too close to me, soul sister and lover from ages past I entrusted all and everything to. Never before had I used my skills and knowledge from a place of darkness, all for the Goddess in healing love or nothing more. This is how wicked witches are born.

I took a deep breath as the clean morning air began to warm with dim sunlight. A slight frost made the bare trees glisten, a preface of winter soon to come. In this air, I smelled the musky dampness of wet fur. I closed my eyes, welcoming the wild message in whatever form it took. Staying grounded, calm and welcoming, my inner sight showed me the Be-ing whom approached. The antlers of a stag, the face of a man, His arms held back the swarm of spirits which roamed these hills. Taking them under His command, they flew out towards me and then around... I sat in a fortified bubble of my Will, impenetrable and iridescent as soap.

It was easy getting Mara to the old covenstead, getting the potion into her veins proved to be more difficult. Promises of a powerful spell about to be launched were not entirely untrue, piquing Mara's interest with esoteric and tantric terms of transformation only sparked further her curiosity. The fire was made small with little smoke, burning clean and fiercer than my vengence. Waiting for a sign, I watched her sitting across the embers, messing with her cellphone Mara still believed a connection was possible in this liminal space. “You won't get a signal” I told her, point blank. She began asking me where the 'others' were, the Unnamed One and members of our Grove. I watched Mara's pupils dilate as deer in unnatural light, changed as I became predator. The scent of fear was heady on that cold, autumn night. I handed the cup to her shaking hands, “This begins the process of journey”. And with that, Mara took it to her lips and just as quickly spat out the contents.

Before the Gods, Mighty Dead and Genus Loci I stood in that place, ready to answer for the life I had taken. With arms raised, I pushed and pushed my aura out...sending out every bit of soul I could muster to present to these thirsty and hungry and parched and miserable Ones. A gift of vengeance, Love under Will gone sour as the chthonic Earth swallowed Mara whole. I watched from afar, as the Dark One directed them to that shallow grave in the forest. And I watched Mara's long blonde hair now matted with blood, twist and shape into roots...deep into rocky loam. The natural beauty she long ignored was part of the necroscape and I was pleased.

PBP: “Z” is for Zilch

After a two-week hiatus of violent vomiting episodes from various flus, Solstice gatherings and Christmas dreading, the Yuletide is now beginning to ebb and we get down to brass tact. The year of Pagan Blog Project is ending for 2013; I am both proud and bored with it. However, since I did get a late start, and only to be fair, I have to overlap a wee bit with the few letters I missed this time around. For those who are interested, I highly do recommend taking part in some kind of writing project or devotional time set aside to do this kind of work. Purging thoughts and sharing stories with readers is cathartic, along with being highly narcissistic. On that note, I come to where the space is held now, in my body, in my sacred space, in my life. 2014 is starting off right with a Hekatean Deipna and Noumenia at the New Year, super moons, strange winds blowing cold and hot, magnetic poles flipping... it's enough to make a New Agers head explode. But I look forward to it all, embracing the Chaos and finding my center through it all. Over the past few weeks a great working has been underway; starting with an intensive Hermes ritual to remove obstacles, then the burnings, and finally the purgings. Cleaning the house from top to bottom, recycling and giving away of un-wanted and un-needed are top priorities. Simplifying and detoxifying includes not only materially and physically... but also the removal of people who are holding you back or maintain stagnant environments not fertile for spiritual and personal growth.

zero

 

The un-changing part of myself, and of us all really, is mitochondrial: through our Mothers, Mothers' Mothers, the constant variable through the lineage. This is how I got 'zeroed-out', a term used in Algebra and/or Accounting... I don't recall as pushing the agony of mathematics is slightly on the PTSD side. My mother, her mother, and her mother before that all shared this and the middle name of Marie. They were all the eldest of each generation... and it goes on through the names. My maternal grandmother's maiden name is Zilch... a German name with spelling that changed upon arrival in the New World. Catholic and also bearing another matriarchal name carried through a Marie, Beer, this lineage has included midwives, nuns, mothers, educators and intelligence too crafty for others to know about. On and on it goes...to the first women, to the first ones to grow legs from the water and so on.

Reaching Zilch, I re-booted. I am likened to a nesting doll as DNA of the future/past within and of my flesh. Keeping this temple of arcane knowledge in a pure form spiritually is well and good, but the body is in need of repair. If anything, with sickness from the holidays came a clarity of mind and stomach... a clean sate in which to re-decorate the colors of my organs in rosy hues of health and wellness. Clean food, alive food, my food, nourishing food... I will not poison my body any longer. Embracing Apotheosis...

PBP: “V” is for Vassago, the Völva and Vulnerability

Vassago

I missed out on an important part my occult education: summoning and conjuration. How is this possible? Well for starters, I never worked with lesser entities (i.e. demons)... always stuck with good ol' evocation and invocation which naively seemed safer. Hell, it has only been in the past 5 years I began including the Beloved Dead in mine Arte. Years of reading fantastic tales and anecdotes about demons and angels controlled by or coerced into a magician's bidding always seemed like more work than it was worth. In my experience, it seemed a waste of energy to have someone or something do what I could otherwise do for my Self. In revisiting classic Western traditions over the past year, I am starting to reconsider these old attitudes or opinions, and realizing they might not serve me any longer.

Servitude and sovereignty are things I have avoided as they seem nothing more than attachments and feeders of ego. However, influenced by a recent blogpost (God-owned or God-slave?), I am wondering if maybe this is just part of the relationship I have with Deity. Instead of Be-ing a 'slave' to my Gods, my role is really more of Regent: secretary of spirits, policing other practitioners who might abuse their abilities, calling out those who exploit our traditions and culture for monetary means...all of these are spiritual roles I reluctantly agreed to do many, many years ago. But what IF I could just as easily summon something/one else to help do other things like warding, prophecies, so I can put my psychic and spiritual attentions on something else? It would be like having a witchy personal assistant, right? But unlike an apprentice or student, this Be-ing would come with a whole skill set surpassing my own, able to do things I have yet to master or try. Doubtfully, I am not the first occultist to consider this thus we have the Goetia and other grimoires of spirit conjuring.

Realizing all these things, I turned to my tried and true favourite “Mastering Witchcraft” by Paul Huson. Yes, here we go again... BUT, in it there are specific instructions and suggestions on working with one of the more approachable of the Goetic demons/angels/spirits: Vassago. I remember seeing this in a movie once, and only later in reading Huson's book did I realize they used his materials in the cult classic Season of the Witch (a.k.a. “Hungry Wives” from 1972), directed by George A. Romero. In it, a bored housewife starts fiddling around with witchcraft and performs Huson's “Conjuration of Vassago”. It's not very clear why she summons this particular Prince of Hell except He is described in most sources as somewhat benevolent and can be persuaded to reveal things of the past and future.

So again, why bother? Well, there are specific questions I have asked my own spiritual guides, oracles, psychic strangers, mambos, pretty much anyone else who provides service for divination, all for which I have not been entirely satisfied with. So, I seek out this spirit and prepare for an adventure of Goetic proportions.

The first step will be preparing for the working, which according to my text is going to include many tools being properly cleansed and consecrated. With herbal washes my blade, glass chalice and thurible are cleaned. One of the best tried and true herbs for this level of serious cleansing is Vervain, also known as Verbena. A pretty little blue flower, it has been called “witch bane” or “holy herb” due to it's protective qualities, specifically in the areas of magical attack. Infusions of vervain were used by the Romans to keep evil at bay, and so I bathe my body as a tool for this craft. Empowering with lodestones, magickal paints and smoking incenses of forgotten scents, the witches' art is finely tuned for the conjuration. Salted water, by Satandar and Asentacer, gathering paper and drawing triangles.

Odin og Völven by Lorenz Frølich. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Odin holds bracelets and leans on his spear while looking towards the völva in Völuspá. Gesturing, the völva holds a spoon and sits beside a steaming kettle. The text "V:14" in the bottom left corner refers to Völuspá stanza 14.

The Völva

Placing the girdle around my waist, inhaling the scent of vetivert, my mind travels to the sacred tree. Into the trunk, through the staircase and into the middle world which surrounds Yggdrasil, the living World Tree, axis mundi. I follow the path to where the a Well waits, with water silver and still. Shown to me by spiritual guides, I know how to ask the questions and see into distorted reflections for the answers.

I am a natural Seer, specializing in oneiric prophecies. Some of the first dreams I ever had I can still recall... in one I remember being a man and my wife was making us late for a dinner party; I was somewhere around 3 or 4 years old. In 4th grade our pet hamster died, that night I dreamed of my parents divorcing, my mother re-marrying a cowboy, and my parents fighting over money (which later happened in 7th grade). That same year, I dreamed of falling into a large snake-infested lake and was bitten on the ankle; I awoke to a bloody wound that morning. Some dreams were epically long, creating an actual series that picked up where the last one ended. The ones my family recall hearing about most were the repetitive 'theme' dreams; in my junior year of High School, I dreamed of Buffalo over and over, only to have an albino Buffalo born, an omen to Native people indicating a period of peace among their tribes. As I developed in my witchcraft during the teen years, I learned to better control these visions, often called 'lucid dreams' but at a price: sleeping walking, talking and general unconscious activity increased.

Waking trance is something I took for granted in my youth. It came so easily in those days, but was suppressed by the usual retinue of parents, teachers, priests. The 'daydreaming' visions, the Wonderland type visits I am no longer banishing from my thoughts. I allow them to come, and occasionally write down. Try to remember this as I raise my own daughter: to keep her imagination alive and the innocence captured only in wisdom as a witch can know safely. This bloodline runs through me and is something not really celebrated in Neopaganism... some have called it the 'witch blood' believed to be passed down, going all the way back to the time of God's Watcher angels on earth, taking human wives. I am not going to deny there might be some kind of ancient connection with people who are naturally adept in the Arte; whether it is an environmental factor, societal or genetic is really all speculation. There has been evidence of certain occupations or talents being handed down through generations of breeding; a good example would be families with many Rabbis or Priests/Nuns... a natural tendency toward spiritual endeavors, perhaps?

Which is where I come around to talking about the Völva. The title is one from Pagan Germanic/Norse culture... a woman who traveled around giving oracles from a high-risen seat. It was similar to the work of the Pythia of Delphi... who's hissing answers, channeled messages of Apollo for aspirants were interpreted by the male Priesthood. Although I am not Hellenic in my genes and only barely in my practice, I don't identify much with that title. I identify more with these ancient Germanic women, who belonged nowhere nor to anyone, except to the Shining Ones. A spokesperson, librarian who knew stories, the messenger who updated news from village to village before written words; Völva knew the songs to call the Gods and remembered for everyone. She would often eat of the livestock and sleep under the roof of a patron, to better learn about the hosts and give better readings. Her power, like my own, was in her visions and voice. I hope to honor my ancestors with this skill by giving service someday. I continue to offer my body and mind to their Will. The blood and bones never forget.

For further information I highly recommend the work of Diana Paxson and the folks at Hrafnar. This is a great craft blogpost about the craft of Seidr and the role of the Volva from a modern practice: "The Return of the Völva".

Vulnerability

The autumn is now into full swing and the Hallows have passed. Themes of 'unity', 'tolerance' and 'understanding' come up at all the Pagan Pride events, intentions at public rituals and shoved in the faces of newcomers, and veterans alike. And that is fine... except it is a two-way street. As I have often written about, I have a bit of a pet peeve with the “we're tolerant to everyone except (fill in the blank)” people. Whether racists, conservatives, Republicans, monotheists, atheists, monogamous... Pagans really do come in flavors other than 'fluffy' and 'recon'. And diversity is what we all love about this community... but there is still this underlying thing everyone is missing the point on. You can preach about community and compassion until you are blue in the face... you can lead a horse to water, but cannot make it drink. Teaching by example is usually the best way, but when the intolerance brigade comes through with their unity flags demanding nothing to be exclusive, everything allowable, just not (fill in the blank) culture or (fill in the blank) religions they are just as bad, if not worse, than those they are 'against'.

I propose a genuiness that is not the authenticity we all pretend to have. I don't need to know the horrors of your life, or who your sexual partners include, or what problems you continue to have when magic is obviously not enriching your lifestyle or mind. We don't need MORE nude rituals, MORE inhibitions peeling away, MORE acceptance and crap piled on top of our otherwise already full spiritual plates. We say it is a safe space, when really many are just waiting to pounce on any original idea, thought or way of precessing something which may not agree with their ideology. The key is not MORE but LESS... simplicity brings about vulnerability.

GET OVER IT. This is spirituality, folks... if we have to put up shields of protection at events, bite our tongues for fear of belittlement in sharing UPG: defensiveness and general righteousness are poisoning our 'religion'. Strip it all down to the bare bones and forget the attachments which keep us from pursuing what is true and pure. It is only when our shells are stripped and we come before the Gods as authentic Self, without expensive velvet/leather clothing, without labels of race/sexual orientation/gender or any other thing of THIS world...  in spirit it doesn't matter. Until we can work in pure form and allow our Selves to really be children of the Multiverse in our naïve nudity, with our wounds exposed  to truly heal, we are just throwing a pretty bandage on it.

PBP: “R” is for Ravens and Vultures and Hawks, Oh My!

Birds are cool, especially the ones who stay behind in the winter. I have a natural knack for Augury: “the art of divination by observing the behaviour of birds” (Bygone Beliefs on Sacred-Texts). And it's not just one type of bird for me, but pretty much any feathered creature that coasts through the air. They have circled above my head in different flight patterns, pooped on my arm at Disneyland as a kid, stood as sentinels at my bus stop, visited my hospital window to witness my newborn baby... I even have a black cat named Raven. I did not choose the name nor was she originally my cat... but regardless, Raven has chosen me for her human. As a kitten, Raven fell three stories to a paved lot below, in the night falling off the rail which surrounded my bedroom balcony. Off into the night she flew... never seeming to touch the ground in that inky summer night. The next morning, we found her on our doorstep, anxious for food and perfectly unharmed. This cat truly has 9 lives as Raven dodged near death several times more over the years. Smarter and wiser, she stays safely near home where the food is. This Samhain my kittie will be 16 years old and lives up to her name as Raven can still fly through the air. I am sure to keep the bird bath and food in the front of our home, as she only goes and hangs out in the garden these days. Raven ironically is also a bird-catcher... and bat. She has no interest in mice except to occasionally torture one or assist the German Shepherd, Cypress who is 14, with killing it.

"Romulus Consulting the Augury". Image by John Leech, from: The Comic History of Rome by Gilbert Abbott A Beckett. Bradbury, Evans & Co, London, 1850s.

I have an affinity for birds of prey and scavengers. California Condors, Bald Eagle, and Red-Tailed Hawks all have been present during prayers and rites for me, both privately and publicly. In the element of nature, I am a guest in their home paying special attention to the messages. One memory that stands out to me most was an omen I received on the infamous September 11th, 2001. I woke up that morning as normal, never watching or listening to the news as I prepared for my one hour commute to university. It was around the time that first airplane crashed a huge Turkey Vulture swooped down at my car, almost hitting the windshield. I watched as it flew to my left... an indication of an unfavourable message. It struck a chord in me as I had a quiz that morning in my Humanities class on The Odyssey. In my head I started thinking about Odysseus, Poseidon, and epic trials the crew faced with them all.

When I arrived on campus, everything was in dead silence. People were gathered near the student union and hugging. I was fearful of something bigger than a Homeric test when I saw the television screens in the halls showing images of people jumping out of windows, running from the cloud of dust... our campus was being evacuated. I immediately thought of my step-daughter who was at school and hurried back to my car for the long, sad drive home. I was glued to my radio and eventually had to stop. As I sat on the hood of my car, the engine warming shaky legs, I looked up into the sky to see nothing... no airplanes, helicopters... the birds were the only ones flying that day and they ALL flew in counter-clockwise directions no matter which way I turned. Since then, I have taken these auguries very seriously.

Sometimes, the prophecy is given through the bird's whistle; or in the case of Corvus the “caw” I love so well. Counting the croaks and calls coming from a nearby tree as I contemplate something is always a sign to me of the presence of divinity... as if they are nearby listening in on my thoughts and communicating through the birds' behavior. Or perhaps they might actually BE that deity, transformed or shape-shifted into anima for the purposes of being among humans. I do not claim to know the why of this talent or even if it is one; I could have a slightly wild imagination or silly superstitions... but it is based on experience and that is something I cannot dismiss.

PBP: “I” is for Indica

I am a stoner. It is a taboo, illegal in some places, shunned by the norm of society, regulated, and probably makes it difficult for me to get a good job... all the things society and my parents wanted me to believe. I smoke legally for medical reasons. This isn't like those young guys who have trouble sleeping and stock up on edibles from the local dispensary for a night on the town. No, I smoke so I can bend over to feed my dog, get out of the bathroom long enough to check on my toddler, and I smoke to commune with my Gods. That's right, I am a Pagan and use cannabis, sometimes with other entheogens, to journey into other worlds for spiritual visions or advice. I never thought it would be taboo in the Pagan community, what with all the other tolerances which are embraced, but I guess every community has a limit. Original book source: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé ''Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz'' 1885, Gera, Germany

Cannabis is an herb, and a powerful one at that. Good ol' Scott Cunningham makes mention of it in his Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, under the safe term 'hemp' in my 1998 edition printing:

“Folk Names: Chanvre, Gallowgrass, Ganeb, Ganja, Grass, Hanf, Kif,

Marijuana, Neckweede, Tekrouri, Weed

Gender: Feminine

Planet: Saturn

Element: Water

Powers: Healing, Love, Visions, Meditations” (p. 121).

Cannabis has long been used in medicine and magic all over the world. In Europe, there was a medieval belief that tossing hemp seeds around a church building to see visions would show one's future spouse. In ancient China it was prescribed to relieve menstrual cramps and burned to exorcise disease causing demons. It was only during the last century in which the 'reefer madness' took hold and became criminalized... a harmless plant that produced three times more oxygen then most trees.

From the mobs and sheep, I can understand their fear. But why, in the Pagan and Witchcraft communities, is it something to be poo-pooed about? I don't see anything wrong, at an open outdoor festival, with smoking some with a little mugwort added to aid in any trance or prophetic work. It doesn't mean I cannot do it without the aid... on the contrary, I can fly like no one's business. But I have a medical condition which, whether I am excited or upset, set off a horrible chain reaction of gastric-intestinal instabilities I am too much a lady to mention... even on THIS, my oftentimes raw blog.

The thing is... it shouldn't MATTER that I am smoking pot. It shouldn't be even an issue if after a good harvest I want to throw some herb on the fire in offering of gratitude to my Gods. Why would anyone be offended? Because there is a stigma behind ingesting or taking into oneself mind-altering substances; I believe for the simple fact it enhances already dormant/active psychic skills and spiritual experiences. Controlling my mind, body, and eventually my spirit will happen no more through shame or hiding. This is an essential part of who I am. The only person who could ever tell me not to would be my daughter; I would never touch it again should she ask me. But I have a freedom over my body, what I put into it and offer to the Gods. Whatsoever grows from the Earth is good and has a purpose. The spirit of this plant gives hope to the very sick, dreams to those who wish for sleep, and the ability to seek out the calm corners of the universe, pull up the starry blanket, and rest in the arms of the eternal Ma. And some chocolate.

Cunningham, Scott. Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1998. Print.

Inflaming Myself in Prayer

I read a wonderful quote that (I believe) is Thelemic in origin: “Invoke often. Inflame thyself in prayer”. It matters not who originally said/wrote it, but I like the concept and have been applying this to my spiritual discipline. And really it can be applied to ANY religious belief system; this is the genius of the statement. It captures the path of the passionate spiritual seeker, forgoes the madness and gets to the heart of progress. To understand and apply properly, I have broken it down into two essential parts: 1) Inflaming Prayer and 2) Frequent Invocation. By examining these two concepts separately, I believe eventually these two sides of the same coin will come together, fulfilling the pursuits and answers to questions long held in my heart. To inflame is to be impassioned, caught in a frenzy of feeling. This is similar to many different ways of being 'moved' or inspired; such as when viewing amazing art, listening to meaningful music, having an orgasm, or anything else associated with a beauteous rapture. It is a trance of sorts, a fleeting euphoria which we try so hard to grasp onto and save for a rainy day. I remember experiencing this for the first time in a religious act. I was learning to say the “Hail Mary” prayer for my catechism class as a kid. For me, practice makes perfect so I kept repeating it all the time: at night when I was laying in bed trying to sleep, walking to the school bus, on the playground when I was by myself.

It wasn't until I made my first confession I learned what it was to be 'inflamed' in the fervor of prayer. I was sitting in the pew, praying with my rosary the penance I had been charged by the Monsignor as the price for lying to my parents (3 decades of 'Hail Mary' and a few 'Our Father' thrown in for good measure seemed fair). As I was sitting there, looking at the large Madonna with Her feet stepping on the snake, candles lit for novenas, that I allowed myself to really think and FEEL the words I was saying. They were not just words thrown into the universe at random, it was a petition to the Queen of Heaven; asking Her to pray for me, and all the other sinners: for as I was led to believe as a Catholic, we all cannot help but sin. I wanted to be like Her: 'full of grace', “blessed amongst women' and to have the Lord with me. My aspirations were too high, but in that moment it felt completely possible. The prayer became a song in my mind, a rhythmic chant of becoming, I was guided to the Goddess within and without at the ripe age of 12. She wrapped Her arms around my spirit, knowing every hurt and mistake, the compassion was overwhelming in my little heart. I knew then my soul was much more capable then what my church could ever offer. And so, before making my Confirmation and becoming an adult in the eyes of the holy Roman Catholic Church, I left Christianity and embarked on a journey to replicate this experience many times over, until I became Goddess. Inflamed in prayer

Invocation is not something taught in most religious educations. I don't even think people quite understand what it means, usually confusing it with 'evocation'; meaning to summon or call forth an being/spirit/deity. To truly invoke is more than petitioning for guidance or help; it is actually inhabiting or becoming a host for the energies of the being/spirit/deity. Evocation is without oneself, whereas Invocation is from within. My experience with the “Hail Mary” prayer was not initially intended to become an invocation, but due to the frequency of petitions it ended up with me experiencing the ecstasy of Her energy inside my little body.

Now as an adult I work with Hekate and whilst I intentionally invoke Her, She remains aloof and outside myself. To become enraptured in Her flames and carried off into the serpentine trances is the easy part; allowing my heart to fully open and let Her in is something which will come with devotion, time and patience. As I repeat my prayers and adorations, the focus does not turn toward petitions which may come in future times. My pagan prayers are filled with more love and reverence than begging to forgive unknown sins. The responsibilities are mine and the compassion comes from within.

A Vision and Lesson...

The following is a vision I had in meditation, when I met my first psychopompic friend, in 2007. I share it as a reminder of how the Otherworld can make connections, all we need to do is reach out for it. As I walked toward the hill, a warm breeze sent shivers all over my body; a white gown was clinging as the wind pushed it against my skin. There were leaves, brown and dancing through the air. To my left, I heard an eagle cry, the sound vibrating off the distant mountains. I could smell the grass, very tender and sweet; like a strange candy.

As I approached the top of the green hill I saw several large does and a huge buck, with an equally impressive set of antlers. They beckoned me to follow, as they leaped over the tall grass towards the far-off woods. Not caring how to keep up, I followed running as fast as I could. As I ran I could feel my limbs turning into graceful legs, and I galloped with a freedom I’ve never experienced. I leapt to and fro, finding my new body much more graceful and agile. My nose was wet and I licked it with my new long tongue. As we flocked along the edge of the tree line, I saw other animals running in the same direction as my herd. There were rabbits, birds, foxes and other small, four legged creatures. At first I was frightened, thinking there could be danger, something chasing us. Then, I see predators running alongside the other animals.

Looking back over my torso I try to see what is driving us all when I realize the figure on the hill is directing us. Using my new eyes, I focused and saw a woman's profile…her red hair whispering in the breezes. She was wearing buckskins, the fringe almost as burnished as her hair. She was directing all the animals towards a thicket in the middle of the vast meadow. A small running brook was the path for the animals to take... there was no human admittance.When I followed the other animals to the center of the wood, a smaller hill rose from the middle. Several standing stones encircled a man-ish creature. I was afraid to approach but was encouraged by my herd to attend. As I walked I returned to my human form again, wearing the white dress.

As I approached, I realized the ‘man’ was of green hue with soft hair covering His entire body. His face and figure reminded me much of my husband: goat-like beard, broad shouldered with a thick neck and barrel chest covered in hair. I found him very attractive, from his cloven hooves which were crossed in a full lotus posture, to the crown of antlers springing out from the top of His forehead on either side. His green glow emanated throughout the circle and He motioned for me to enter that sacred space.

As I stepped in, ripples of energy expanded out in all directions; much as when entering a pool. The waves bounced off the standing stones and returned to His heart at the center of the circle. Without moving his lips, he explained he was the Green Man, Father of all animals and wildlife, keeper of the sacred mysteries from the natural world. He would never harm me and wanted to welcome me, anytime. He explained that I was 'with the deer people' and they had always watched over me. I could call on their presence at any time and they will answer. He touched the feather I had braided into my hair; I could feel the warmth of His hand, radiating like a gentle sunbeam warming morning dew. He told me if I ever wished to return, to touch this feather with my left hand and find the hill again. The deer people will be waiting to guide me back to His forest's heart again.

Since this time I have re-visited the Oaken halls of my Lord Cernunnos, with only recently feeling disconnected. Since I am no longer living in the woods and residing in the urban jungles of the San Francisco Bay Area, it has been difficult to feel His presence. As a wild and hunting God, Cernunnos embodies the same spirit as Odin, Woden, Ogma, Hermes, Mercury, the same sort of unpredictability found in liminal creatures from All Worlds. Why not be a Patron in the city as well? The Romans of Gaul equated him with Mercury; bestowing blessings of wealth, commerce, and a general financial growth with stability; as centers of posterity, cities were a common ground for many Gods with temples everywhere. And so I look to Cernunnos as Dis Pater in the throngs of metropolitan forests; along ghostly roads with shadowy corners, and the streams of commuters as veins in a living collective of spirits. In searching for Him the landscape is where I expected to find Him, when here He is in the humanity of progress.