From the post:
I started spending too much time in my head, and would retreat into it as a defense against the anxiety, stress and other nasties that had plagued me for so long. I thought that if I could just tell my life story a little more clearly, I’d somehow be free of it, once that final piece was laid into place.
That’s not how it happened, of course. I just obsessed over my past more and more. More destructively, I was judging and measuring and nitpicking my every move and thought and trying to determine “Well, why am I doing this?” I was my own special little lab rat. I’d do a thing, and then I’d analyze it to death, and then I’d write up the “results”, usually on Livejournal. I don’t even want to think about how many pages-long posts of agonized processing I word-spewed onto the update page (thankfully hidden under LJ-cuts to spare my followers who didn’t give a crap what was going on in the deepest convolutions of my gray matter). It can basically all be summed up as “I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS THING FROM MY PAST BECAUSE I DID A THING NOW THAT REMINDED ME OF IT AND NOW I’M GOING TO TAKE AN EXACTO BLADE AND SLICE IT UP INTO TINY BITS AND SCRUTINIZE IT UNDER THIS MICROSCOPE AND LOOK AT HOW DEEP AND INTROSPECTIVE I AM EXCUSE ME WHILE I GO MEDITATE AND REFLECT AND PROCESS IT SOME MORE IT’S NOT MUSHY ENOUGH”.
So what happens when emotions get a little too processed? Read the rest of the post here.
A New Look at the Magic of Trees
While I was writing the first draft of my new book, Plant and Fungus Totems, I did some research into existing books and websites on related sorts of spirituality. I wanted to see if there was anything I could cite as additional reading material for people who liked my book once it was out, and to inspire me to keep writing, too!
Not surprisingly, I ran into a lot of “Here are the magical properties of this plant, and that fungus, and here’s what they ‘mean’, and here are the secrets of the flowers kingdom” and so forth. Which are all good things in their own right, but they weren’t exactly what I was looking for. I don’t especially like stereotyped “meanings” for beings of nature, especially since “meaning” is such a subjective thing, and what I may learn from observing the cherry trees outside my apartment (or their totem, for that matter) isn’t what another person might learn from the same.
Furthermore, my spirituality over the years has dug its roots more deeply into the physical world than in abstracts and symbols. Hikes are my sacred rituals, and the heart-piercing feeling of overwhelm at the sight or smell of a wilderness spot is one of my most treasured sacraments. I am here in this world, and I want to be as fully in this world as I can be for as long as I have the privilege to do so. I don’t want to chase down dreams of an afterlife and miss out on the miracles that occur here every moment, with every breath. Trees are one good example of a miraculous sort of being.
Sometimes, I consider the newest wave of fresh-faced young occultists, with their easy access to so much information. I am often impressed by the way they know so much of the secret knowledge . I remember scrabbling through rare books when I could steal glimpses of them. Everything was so hard to find, twenty-five years ago. Now, every grimoire ever written can be found with a few strokes of the keyboard.
I always find these kind of things disingenuous. For goodness sakes you had it so much easier than the generation before you did too. And the generation before that and certainly better than the dark ages. Were you any less serious than a 19th century occultist? There have always been folks exposed to the occult and only took it as a curiosity and never took it further. And there have always been people who took it all the way and died or went totally mad—and there have always been a number of folks in between. There may be a bigger mass of us now, but there are more humans period. This is a renaissance of information, sharing and innovation. Not unlike the 19th century actually. I think its worth embracing.
I can liken this kind of sentiment the op made to a ridiculous Miranda Lambert song where she laments the long lost days of shaking your polaroid to make it come up compared to the instantaneous i-phone pictures…Wow things were so much more meaningful when you had to wait 3 minutes for a photo rather than 3 seconds…. Give me a break.
Hipster occultists represent!
But seriously, I agree with you on this. I think the greater accessibility to information is a bonus. For one thing, it means a person can be more widely-read and widely-studied before they start practicing and as they expand that practice.
Moreover, it means they have more basis for comparison, which increases the possibility for critical thinking. No longer is it “Oooooh, these hidden tomes are spooky and mysterious and anything in them MUST BE TRUE!!!!” Now we can examine the grimoires in the context of the times and places they were written, as well as the people who wrote them when we have that information.
For example, look at p. 18-19 of The Black Pullet:
"These two precious objects, my son, are destined to make you loved by the most beautiful portion of the human race. There is not a woman who would not be happy to please you and who would not employ all possible means to be successful at it."
So supposedly by using a particular talisman and ring a (male, we would assume) magician can get any woman to jump in bed with him. O RLY? I know some sleazy pickup artists who would LOVE something like that. And we can, in fact, look at that part of that grimoire and see that it’s just another manifestation of some guy’s desire to get laid without making any effort toward being genuinely attractive—hardly a unique thing.
And I like that we can easily have discourse like this because the grimoire is no longer in some shabby tome passed along in secret, but instead it’s in the public domain, neatly packaged in a .pdf easily available for free on the internet. We can tell newbies who take it too literally “Look, it’s a big effin’ waste of time if you think that making this talisman and ring will get you laid. Let’s look at your social skills instead; maybe it’s just in how you approach people in general, not just women.” And so forth.
Riding on the momentum of my last post, I’d like to trot out one of my pet peeves: the notion that this world doesn’t have any magic.
It’s a sentiment that I’ve heard here and there over the years among pagans and others. It generally starts with a discussion about how we can’t actually fly without support or shoot fireballs or change the color of our eyes with a spell, and complaints that there aren’t any dragons or unicorns or telepathic horses running around. This sometimes devolves into speculation that, as in some urban fantasy novel or White Wolf RPG, this world once had magic but somehow lost it when technology took over. Of course, no one ever provides any compelling evidence that this was the case in the past, and the speculation is usually defended with “Well, you can’t prove it wasn’t that way, so I believe it was!” This is then postulated as being as real a reality as that explored by science over the centuries, and no one can dissuade the speaker that there isn’t some huge government conspiracy to hide magic from the commoners.
(Source: College Humor)
If only I had an apartment full of zombie animals that would pick up after themselves, do the dishes and laundry, and unpack the last of the boxes from moving.
Well, okay, I do have the animals, but they’re more inclined to sit around and stare at me than lift a paw to help with mopping the floor. On the other hand, hides and bones don’t shed much, so I suppose we’re even.
(Note to self: Get better at practical necromancy.)
From the The Green Wolf. This is a silver fox mask and tail that I plan to use in my daily practices as a form of clothing but also to induce a form of shapeshifting to loosen the hame from the physical body so that I may fair forth in hamfarir
Oh, lovely pics! I’d love to hear more about your work with them over time.
[Another article, this one published on Llewellyn’s blog last month (didn’t want it to get lost in the holiday craze!)]
Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Lupa, author of New Paths to Animal Totems.
This is a quick guide for working with “found” animal parts—naturally shed fur and feathers from pets, farm animals, or wild critters; bones discovered in the woods; and so forth. It’ll work with other animal parts, too, but found ones are relatively low-impact, don’t cost anything, and are relatively easy to find.