Monthly Archives: July 2013

Thanks and Opening to the Spirit World

The packing and shuffling of my life continues as I prepare for the Great Trek north but I did want to stop for a moment and make a small post so that everyone would know that I am still alive.

First of all, during the course of the moving madness, I gathered my 20th follower for the blog. Now, I know that there are blogs out there that have a heck of a lot more than 20 followers but I do not do any sort of promotion or market to increase readership so I think that 20 is a good number for a few months of blogging. I am also rapidly approaching 2000 views of the blog – again, not a huge number if measured against traffic at other sites but evidence to me that some people are interested in this topic and willing to search it out. I offer my heart felt thanks to all of you who follow the blog and all who have visited. I am truly honored that you take the time out of your busy schedules to spend a little of that time reading and thinking about what I have written.

To the topic at hand . . .

I recently finished reading Orion Foxwood’s excellent book The Candle and the Crossroads. For those of you interested in the magical arts, this book is, in my opinion, a must read before venturing into any of the branches of Southern magic (conjure, hoodoo, etc).

Many of the books that I have looked at on this subject are what I call recipe books – they give extensive lists of spells and supplies needed for same but operate on the assumption that the person reading already knows how to power the magic. Mr. Foxwood does not make this assumption but, instead, begins with the basic elements that a person would need to know to practice in this area of magical tradition. His explanations of his subject matter are clear and, at times, almost poetic and the quotes from teachers and practitioners at the beginning of each chapter are sure to bring a smile to those who have worked in the magical realms before. While I am not particularly attracted to conjure practice, I did find Mr. Foxwood’s words on working with ones own spirit, for instance, to be quite thought provoking.

Time is short, though, so I thought I would offer a quote from the book as a way of giving the reader an idea what it is about:

P. 195 in the Kindle edition
(Blogger’s note: Foxwood is describing a rocking method of light trance induction used by some of his elders in this section) I have come to realize that this was a trance, but I think it is that and so much more! My experience is that it is an actual opening between the human spirit and the spirit world. It is a change of perception, a change in spiritual presence, and an encounter with spirit beings that are alive, powerful, and often just beyond the reach of our everyday senses.

This door can be drawn closer to our consciousness by techniques designed to reach for it. We may use prayer, chanting, psychotropic drugs and alcohol (which are more dangerous), simple rites, and conjurations. This chapter is about taking what we have been working with in the previous chapters and adding some simple and powerful powerful ways to work with threshold power . . . these are thresholds into the human and human-focused levels of spirit. The next levels of threshold work are with nonhuman beings connected to principle forces (the roads of spirit and good fortune) and the power of conjure itself.

I have spoken, on a number of occassions, on this blog about the concept of magicians opening doors to the other realms. If you are at all interested in the how of these sorts of workings, then taking a look at this book will give you a better grasp of the concepts,even if you are not interested in working with magic yourself.

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Missing 411

As I mentioned previously, I am in the midst of packing and moving to another state so time has been at a premium but I could not resist commenting briefly on Beyond the Edge Radio’s interview of David Paulides.

Mr. Paulides is a former law enforcement officer who, during the course of his Sasquatch researches, was tipped by a National Park Service employee to a series of mysterious disappearances in the national parks. Many hours of research later, he has published a series of books called Missing 411 (a play on the information number for most phones and the original number of cases that he looked at). The research turned out to be so massive that he had to divide the books into Western US, Eastern US and then North American and beyond.

Please do listen to the interview for details of some of the cases and Mr. Paulides criteria for including a case in his study but suffice to say that this gentleman is investigating disappearances that occurred under mysterious circumstances in the wilds, first of North America and now beyond. As a former search and rescue volunteer, I was somewhat skeptical of Mr. Paulides’ work until he began to detail some of his cases. A mountain climber who literally disappeared from the end of a rope. Hikers at the end of a line of trekkers who disappear without anyone noticing their sudden absence. A child whose disappearance is so rapid that the swing he was playing on is still moving.

Many of the people in Mr. Paulides’ cases are never found. The “disappeared” who are found only deepen the mystery. Many times, bodies are found, laid out as if for display, in places where the searchers have looked or traveled extensively. Other times, only traces of the victim are found, such as a shoe or the person’s clothing. If the person happens to be located, they are often found in a place where no one would have logically looked for them (such as a small child being found several miles from the disappearance site through impossibly mountainous terrain). The disappeared who are found seldom have any recollection of how they disappeared or where they have been. Interestingly though, the victims who are recovered and do have some memory of the incident have varying memories of what happened, including talking to robots and talking dogs.

Now, I am certain that some of these disappearances could be explained by natural forces. The wilderness can be an unforgiving place and even the most experienced outdoorsperson can make a mistake that costs them their life. Bodies, subject to the many creatures seeking food in the woods, can disappear in a matter of days, clothing and bones scattered to the four winds and almost impossible for any but the most skilled to find. Add to that the fact that some people choose to disappear, are taken by animals etc and I am certain that a percentage of these cases could be explained.

But not all of them and certainly not instances like the climber who disappeared from the end of a rope with witnesses holding on to the other end, an individual who happened to be a world class mountain climber. In those cases, one has to look at other, more arcane explanations.

Like Mr. Paulides, I doubt that any one explanation will provide an answer to all these disappearances. The first thought that popped into my head on hearing about these cases, given the wilderness locations of the disappearances, were the faerie abductions noted so often in the Middle Ages and into more modern times. The Faerie (most likely those of what the Scots called the Unseelie Court) have a known penchant for kidnapping humans and taking them off to their abodes or for mis-leading people into dangerous areas and leaving them to die. This certainly seems to jibe with what Mr. Paulides is describing.

The involvement of the Fae would also account for things like children disappearing and then being found miles from their original location without sufficient time for even a skilled adult to make the transition. The folklore clearly states that travelling even a short distance in the land of the Fae can have unpredictable results when one emerges back into the physical world. Also, the Fae clearly, in folklore, have the power of glamour and can make humans see things like alien robots or talking dogs if they so wish.

So, I would certainly put certain elements of Faerie on the suspect list. In addition, faerie lore tells us that there are openings into the land of Faerie throughout the wild places. I suspect that some of Mr. Paulides’ cases could very well be instances of people who wandered inadvertently into that land and were unable to find their way out. Even if these unfortunates did eventually find their way into our world again, the lore tells us that time in the Otherworld is not the same as ours and that the individual often emerges weeks, months, years or centuries after they went in. The person finding their way out of the land of Faerie might emerge into a world where everyone who ever looked for them is dead and, often, the years that have passed fall on them and they literally disintegrate into the dust they should have become years before. Not much chance of finding them then.

This article references faery lore but I will note, in passing, that the Unseelie are only one of many types of Intruder that could take the blame for some of these disappaearances. In any event, it appears that soon I will be within striking distance of one of Mr. Paulides’ clusters in the Adirondacks. I will do some etheric reconnaissance and report the results here once I am settled.


Hiatus

I am going to be moving across country again in a little under two weeks. As a result, between work demands and the demands of getting my household ready to move from Georgia to New York state, I am going to take a little hiatus from blogging so that I can attend to matters closer to home. Depending on how things work out with arrival of furniture and internet set up, I should be back on in early to mid August.

Until then, warm regards.


Manwolf Episodes

Those who have been reading for a while may have discerned that my favorite folkloric creature is the werewolf and that I am quite interested in the werewolf’s modern day iteration, the Manwolf. I have written about this creature previously but wanted to offer the following to readers who might be interested in some interesting video. I have provided links below to two of my all time favorite episodes of the old MonsterQuest series.

American Werewolf

America’s Wolfman

MQ was a show that aired on the History Channel from 2007 to 2010 and, while some of the shows were obviously the result of the writers being stumped for something to put on that week, many of the episodes were quite interesting and, dare I say it about a TV show, even informative. Other than these episodes, about my favorite monster, the series did several episodes about Sasquatch that bear watching if the reader has an interest in that area of cryptozoology.

The episodes linked here are based, for the most part, on Linda Godfrey’s second book Hunting the American Werewolf. Several of the witnesses from that book appear in these videos and some of them even consent to take a lie detector test to determine the veracity of their claims. Interestingly, the examiner, who appeared to have good credentials, was certain that the witnesses he interviewed were speaking the truth. If we do not take the “skeptical” path and dismiss the testimony as a hoax or mis-identification, either these folks saw something really unusual or they at least believed that they had seen something unusual.

So, I recommend taking a look at these videos. They give a good overview of Manwolf phenomenon, have some interesting witness stories and the 3D computer generated recreations of the creature might just give you the chills. If you are interested in the Manwolf phenomenon, Ms. Godfrey has two other books out that will entertain and fascinate you: Hunting the American Werewolf and Real Wolfmen: True Encounters in Modern America.

Happy howling!


Ultraterrestrials

I ran across The Vicar’s Lamp blog the other day. The Vicar is an occasional guest poster at Who Forted? and I have admired his thoughtful and magical approach to high strangeness. Reading his posts, one quickly has the impression of a strong intellect steeped in what some call the Hidden Wisdom.

Having said that, I have to disagree with the good Vicar to a degree on the contents of this post. The Vicar references renowned Fortean/UFOlogical authors John Keel, Mac Tonnies and Jaques Vallee in his post and refers to their concept of ultraterrestrials – beings who inhabit this planet, alongside human beings but not always visible to us, who have had a profound effect on the development of our species. What I do not think is true though is an idea expressed in this quote:

The Gray is a humanoid. It is a being from this world, evolved before us and living alongside of us with a possible common ancestor as the root. It built the great megalithic structures we cannot comprehend, and it is responsible for the frequent sightings of impossibilities in this world – the UFOs and USOs, the Bigfeet and Sea Monsters, the paranormal visions and manifestations. Some of these phenomena may be intentional manipulations or obfuscations.

I also take issue with the thought expressed here:

If we doubt the possibility of ultraterrestrials, we choose to ignore the vast and ever-growing body of information derived from contact with the weird and the unknown. We choose to overlook the long-standing factor so essential to the human experience – that very different, very superior creatures seem to interact with us every so often. We cannot get hard, physical evidence of these things with any reliability, for much the same reason that no ant court has managed to charge a human child with genocide and enter a magnifying glass into evidence. In the case of the Fae, the Others, the Air-Lords – we may call them everything and nothing – they are the masters of this, their planet. We are merely other creatures in the menagerie, as compelling to them as chimpanzees are to us – and likely also just as primitive and repulsive. Man is his own zookeeper.

I think that the Vicar, like many others who want to create a sort of unified field theory of the paranormal, has simply used too wide a brush in his thoughts here. Honestly, this surprised me, coming from a person versed in the magical arts. I would think that he would be familiar with the multiplicity of spirits in the magical pantheon and the propensity of some not only to manifest on this plane but also to directly and indirectly effect the lives of human beings. I would think too that he would be aware that these beings are of all different species and would not make the mistake of a non-mage by casting them all under one roof – whether that be called ultraterrestrials or some other name.

I’ve already dealt with the idea of a unified field theory of the paranormal in my thoughts in Guiley’s works on the Djinn so I am not going to repeat myself here. What I want to address in this post is the idea that humankind is simply an experiment by the overlords, that we are the chimpanzees in these being’s zoo.

Again, I am astonished to hear anyone conversant with the Hidden Wisdom even express such a thought. Every flavor of the esoteric that I have ever encountered, even the teachings of the Left Hand Path, includes the idea that human beings have That within them which is special. I have learned, in my own studies, that this special something is the Spark of the Divine which resides within each human being and that it is this Spark which constantly calls us to union with That from which the Spark derives, into a conscious life of co-creation with the Divine (however one sees that). Being the enslaved experiment of a “master race” would, I think, be rather counter-productive to the spiritual evolution of humanity that is taught by so many of the esoteric schools.

While I do agree that certain spiritual agencies appear to have interacted with humans over the course of history, and that those interactions may even have produced some of the megalithic wonders that we still see on the planet’s surface (Stonehenge and the pyramids, for example), I do not think that those interactions necessarily arose from the same source (ultraterrestrials, in this case). Rather, I see these interactions with the Other Side and the beings that manifest from there as a complex interplay of spirits who are able to make the trip from the astral into the etheric and then, for some, into a physical manifestation. As I have said before, many of these beings could care less about humans, some are concerned with our spiritual evolution and well being while others regard us as prey.

Yes, our relationships with those beings has shaped our history, in good ways and bad, but I am doubtful that there has been an over-arching “plot” to subjugate the human race or keep us as zoo animals. Such thinking arises from our own paranoia and failure to take a deep breath and allow ourselves to explore the Other Side rather than adhering to fundamentalist thought that tells us that such explorations are dangerous or that the Other Side and its denizens do not exist or that, because there seems to be evidence that some on that Side want to use us as cattle, this must be true for all spiritual forces.

As I have expressed before, humans tend to be bi-polar thinkers. A thing must be either this OR that. In order to deal with these issues, we must learn to back up and try to look at the whole picture – in this case, the whole history of human and Other interaction – before drawing conclusions.


On the Ancestors in Neo-Shamanic Practice

Anyone who has spent time reading these pages knows that I do not just talk about magic, I actually do it. This post is slightly off topic but covers a magical issue I am passionate about.

One of the paths that I follow, is modern neo-shamanism – the shamanic journey protocol first established by Michael Harner in his book The Way of the Shaman. I’ve been working with this style of journeying, on and off, since the 90’s and find that it works quite well for me in certain situations. While I do find the ranks of modern neo-shamanism to be swollen with New Agers who are constantly edging toward Native American cultural appropriation, there are also practitioners out there, like Tom Cowan who have derived some interesting and original approaches to working with the spirits of their own culture starting from a modern neo-shamanic base. For those interested in this type of work, I strongly recommend Mr. Cowan’s Shamanism as a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life.

Briefly, the road map for the shamanic universe ala Harner includes three worlds. In the Lower World, one encounters spirit helpers in animal form, often referred to as power animals. The Lower World is the place of recovering the power to live in a sacred manner (my interpretation – I am sure there are plenty of practitioners who would argue this with me). In the Upper World, one comes across spirit helpers in a number of forms ranging from human to what one might call angelic. The Upper World is the place of guidance. The Middle World is the realm closest to our own and is inhabited by all manner of spirits ranging from what one might call faerie to the ancestors. In neo-shamanism, one is most often introduced first to the Lower World and then to the Upper World. The Middle World is introduced, if at all, cautiously and with some trepidation at the end of a basic learning sequence. Part of the reason for this is that the Middle World is the place of the ancestors and, as I have been told by more than one neo-shamanic practitioner, they have “their own agenda”.

This business about the ancestors having an agenda is a nice way of saying that these folks view any interaction with the ancestors with suspicion. Now, I do not find this suspicion of ancestor work in all neo-shamanic workers but it is a common thread, depending on who they learned from. I think that some of this suspicion comes from the fact that ancestors are most often encountered in the Middle World, a place on the shamanic map where anything can happen. While one is fairly “safe” traveling in the Upper and Lower World, it is quite possible to encounter spirits in the Middle World who are hostile to humans and their interests (think for example of the nature spirits who have had their habitat destroyed by humans). Encounters such as these can be frightening and require the practitioner to use negotiating skills or ask for assistance from their power animal or other spirit helpers in order to free themselves from the situation.

I think that this fear of “negative” encounters has filtered over to the ancestors, who are most often discovered in the Middle World. If we change focus for a moment and look to Voudoun or, really, any of the Afro-Caribbean religions, we find a rich traditions of working with the ancestors. I have had correspondence with a priestess of Haitian Voudoun who told me outright that, before one can approach the lwa (their gods), one must establish a relationship with the ancestors. I know, too, that the Chinese and Japanese indigenous religions have strong components of ancestor work. It is my feeling that those practitioners of neo-shamanic work who neglect the ancestors are setting aside a powerful group of spirits who can support them and their work.

In answer to the oft cited idea that the ancestors have their own agenda, I respond positively that, yes, they do. This is why, when you commence ancestor work, you are told to reach out first to those ancestors that you know love and support you. This is just common sense; your ancestral pool is vast and there are bound to be some un-evolved ancestors out there. You want to call to you the people who knew you and loved you in life. One of the foremost ancestors for me is my grandmother, for example.

Different traditions have different ways of approaching the ancestors but I have actually found a neo-shamanic approach quite effective. Basically what I do, several times a week, is light candles and a good smelling incense on my altar. I spend a few moments cleansing myself with a crow feather, sing a medicine song and then get out my rattle and begin some light rattling to take me into a shamanic state of consciousness. I offer honor to the powers of the four directions, Above, Below and Within, and then I put myself in my safe spot in the Middle World. I look out over a vast plain and see all my ancestors there. I offer them blessings from deep within me where the Divine Spark rests. I look closer to me and see the three ancestors who love and support me standing nearby. I offer them blessings as well and, if I have time, I ask for their counsel. I then work a little with various spirit helpers before closing out. The whole process only takes few minutes and really helps get things set up for the day.

What I have found, in doing this regularly, is that my shamanic practice has become more powerful. By that I mean that, in given situations, when I call for help from the spirit world, interesting things happen. I recently worked with a friend, long distance, who was having some major health issues. When I asked for diagnostic help during a shamanic journey for him, a whole crew of ancestors showed up and actually did a healing for him, on the spot.

Working with the ancestors is like working with any group of humans. You are going to get along better with some than with others and you have to deal with their little quirks at times but, as long as you hold the strong intention of only working with those ancestors who love and support you, I see no reason to fear them or regard them with suspicion. At worst, you will simply have to tell them “no”.


Banishing 101

In my post about defenses from the Intruders, I outlined some strategies for dealing with an etheric intrusion – an astral being coming through the etheric (the plane closest to our physical world) and manifesting in a given area. Having a “monster” manifest in your back yard is not the only time when you might need a little magical assistance however so this article will be devoted to a less desperate measure.

Most of us have had the experience of walking into a home or other place and finding that the energy there was just “not right”. A lot of issues can cause that “not right” feel – from a recent argument in the area to the presence of spirit entities who are trying to get our attention from the Other Side. What is clear though is that such energies can consciously or subconsciously effect people and make life difficult until someone takes the situation in hand. Let me give you an example.

Some time ago, in my more openly pagan phase, a dear friend of mine asked me to perform a handfasting (a pagan wedding) ceremony for her and her beloved. I was quite honored to be chosen to do this and, in conference with her and her fiancĂ©e, we put together a lovely ceremony which would be performed at a local state park. I arrived at their home on the appointed day to find the energy in the place a mess and the bride to be in tears. It seems that some of the groom’s family were being difficult about something (I have forgotten what at this point), there had been quite to argument and things were tense. I confess to being a sucker for a damsel in distress so I went into her office and performed the LBRP (discussed below) taking the whole house into my visualization. When I walked out of the room, the energy had settled, the bride and groom were smiling again and the wedding party was assembling amicably for transport to the site.

Now, often the change after a banishing is not quite that dramatic but I use this story as a good example of what can happen when you consciously take your space and infuse it with spiritual presence. Before we discuss banishing styles however, let me add one caveat. Many magically inclined people, on encountering a situation where a banishing might be useful, whip out their wands (or other magical implements) and go to town without regard for what they are banishing. I strongly recommend taking a few moments before doing any banishing to tune in. What is the source of the disquiet? Is it simply negative emotional energy or is there something more? If what you are feeling is a spiritual presence, it does not hurt to voice your concern, tell it that its energy is negatively effecting people and ask it politely to leave. Often, this is just as effective as banishing and does not generate any ill will on the part of the spirit involved. No point giving something the bum’s rush when supplying direction to a new location will do.

In the case, though, where the cause of the “not right” feeling is afflictive emotional energy or a spirit that does not choose to back off, more aggressive taking of space may be required. There are as many different “zone rites” as there are styles of religious and magical practice. I encourage people to become familiar with several of them and memorize at least one. Your choice of zone rite should be predicated on your religious beliefs (if any) or style of magical practice (if any). For example, a Christian might easily use a rite based on St. Patrick’s Breastplate prayer as a very effective zone rite while a Wiccan will certainly be conversant with the idea of casting a circle to ward off negative influences. There is no absolute right way to banish; the important concept here is that the person doing the banishing really believe in what they are doing.

So, what if you are an agnostic with little or no magical background? If you are willing to suspend disbelief for a little while, you can still learn something like the Golden Dawn’s Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagrams (available in many forms online – just search LBRP). Yes, there are god names and , yes, there are archangels, but, if you can suspend doubt for a little while, this is an old and established banishing that has been used for a long time and has a deep channel of energy running through it. It takes a while to learn and needs to be practiced with some regularity but it is quite handy when the need arises. I must stress that, in order for a zone rite to really work for you, it has to be memorized. You may not have access to your books when you really need to use this rite. It also has to be worked regularly so that, when the time comes to use it, the energy is readily available.

In a pinch, you can do this little exercise which I derive from Jason Miller’s work. Imagine a column of white light flowing down from the sky above you, through the crown of your head and down through the center of your body into the ground beneath you. This energy is inspiring. Then imagine a similar column of blood red energy emerging from the ground, striking through your root chakra, and exiting out your crown. This energy is vitalizing. Once you can see the two columns clearly imagine them meeting at the level of your heart and forming a ball of dove gray light there. You can enhance this effect by placing your fist lightly (5 pounds of pressure) over your chest. See the ball of light intensifying and growing in strength until you literally feel that you can not hold the energy anymore, open your fist and then allow the ball to begin expanding, knowing, as the size of the sphere around you increases, that the light is removing all disharmonic and dross energies from your area. Make the sphere as big as you need it and then spend a few moments contemplating it and reinforcing its reality in your mind.

You do not have to become a full-on mage to work a banishing. A zone rite may be the only magic you ever do but it is a piece of magical tech well worth learning.