Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Spiritual Life

First of all, I want my readers to know that I am going to be taking a short sabbatical for the next couple of weeks and will be returning to my regularly scheduled blog on 8 July. I have the opportunity to go to Japan and I am seizing the day with hopes, amongst other things, of returning with some interesting blog material and, if I am feeling really daring, I may actually try to post some pictures.

As preparation for my journey, I have been reading on Shinto but I have also been taking a good look at Orion Foxwood’s The Tree of Enchantment: Ancient Wisdom and Magical Practices of the Faery Tradition. I am about halfway through the book at this writing and have stopped for some time to begin incorporating some of the exercises into my daily practice. I am already seeing results from this change – something I may discuss more at a later date.

One of my favorite quotes from the book so far is:

The distinctive qualities of Faery Seership are grounded in an understanding that being spiritual is about seeking your place and role in the spirit world.

Orion Foxwood. Tree of Enchantment: Ancient Wisdom and Magic Practices of the Faery Tradition (Kindle Locations 474-475). Kindle Edition.

I have been struggling for some time to actually articulate this thought in my own life. For many moons, I had thought of spirituality as something “out there” that I had to seek and which slipped through my fingers like an ephemeral mist that I just could not quite get a handle on. I thought that if I could just attach myself to the right Power I would begin to feel that sense of connection that the shaman and mages and mystics talked about. While I have always been sensitive to the spirit world, what I often call the Other World in these musings, it had never occurred to me that spirituality actually began with spirits. I thought of the beings that appeared to me either as nuisances (or worse, in some cases) or sources of information and/or power.

I was making the classic mistake of a human being raised in the Western Judeo-Christian paradigm or even in the scientist/materialist paradigms. In both ways of thinking, a human being is a separate entity, either a spirit striving to overcome its body and rise to heaven or a meat puppet whose consciousness arises simply as a byproduct of neuro-chemical processes. While I had experienced moments of connection with something Other, I had continued to think in terms of being a separate entity trying to tune in or establish a relationship with this Other World.

Reading Foxwood, I have finally found a model of the human soul complex that makes sense to me and is helping, slowly but surely, to erase that sense of separateness which has limited my spiritual quest for so long. In the Faery tradition as Mr. Foxwood interprets it, we have a spirit that is a part of the Creator (however that looks to the person) and a soul complex that he calls walkers. Those parts of our soul actually live in the three realms of the tradition and it is through attuning ourselves to the walkers and using those walkers as vehicles of transport and communication in the three worlds that we come into communion with the multitudinous beings in those states of being.

It is through this communication and the building of relationships in the three realms that we come into closer attunement with the Sacred Land on which we live and begin to understand our place in this realms. This approach to spirituality is probably not going to work well for everyone but it seems to be working quite well for me and I urge anyone interested in earth based spiritual practice to take a hard look at The Tree of Enchantment and, as a prelude, Mr. Foxwood’s other book The Faery Teachings. I can honestly say that I have learned more about establishing an earth based spiritual practice from these two books than I have from a host of other tomes I have read in the past.

I’ll stop here and pick up on the other side on 08 July. May everyone have a joyous Summer Solstice and, for my readers in the US and Canada, enjoy your respective independence celebrations. Take care all and “see” you soon.

The Slenderman Meme

While I am in the throes of preparations for a major trip overseas, I felt that I would be remiss if I did not comment briefly on the craziness that has been going on around the Slenderman meme this past week or so. From the horrific stabbing in Wisconsin to a possible second attack in Ohio, interest in this internet urban legend has never been greater. Now, we are being told that the Las Vegas man who took part in the slaying of three people, two of them police officers, was known to cosplay the Slenderman. I have heard that even the normally staid Washington Post has published an article on the origin of this character.

For those who are not familiar with the Slenderman and his origins, I refer you to the excellent work of Cat Vincent, one of the contributors to The Daily Grail.

The Slenderman: Tracing the Birth and Evolution of a Modern Monster

Killing Slenderman

Both The Gralien Report and Mysterious Universe have offered extensive thoughts and commentary on this issue. I encourage interested readers to definitely check out these podcasts for some insightful commentary on this situation.

It has been my position, throughout these pages, that our western scientific materialist modality, while extremely useful, is not the be all and end all of knowledge. I have stated over and over that there are other ways of accessing knowledge and other powers of the human being that science, as we know it now, simply can not explain. That failure to ‘explain’ does not make make these powers any less real.

When dozens, or hundreds or maybe even thousands of people bend their minds toward creating something designed to scare the hell out of people . . . when the creators of that fiction begin to have nightmares about their creation . . . when the writers about this being begin to incorporate the idea of the tulpa or thought form into its ‘back story’ . . . when people start to spontaneously report seeing this being . . . then, my dear readers, something way off the reservation has occurred.

Whether the Slenderman is a powerful thought form wreaking havoc on the minds of those that pay attention to it or a creature of the Other Side that has found a convenient form and portal for entry into our world or simply the mass hallucination of a lot of overwrought minds, it is time to send this horrible thing back to wherever it came from. Cat Vincent mentions the power of laughter in his article on killing the Slenderman (cited above). I agree. The Slenderman survives because people have taken his creation so seriously. The whole purpose of the thing was to create fear.

Let’s not give in to fear. Light a candle, turn on the lights or start a bonfire. Laugh, love and generally step out of the darkness for a little while. The nasties, whatever they may be, abhor such behavior.

Paranormal Experience and the Physical Brain

I have been meaning to write about this article from Mysterious Universe for some time and am finally getting around to it. As usual, I will trust my readers to peruse the original article. The author, Martin J Clemens, brings forth some very interesting information about the the brain and the effects that electrical stimulation of the brain can have on perception. I have an issue with Mr. Clemens, though, when, while talking about a paper entitled “Induction of self awareness in dreams through frontal low current stimulation”, he states:

They used a variation of the TES procedure, called transcranial alternating current stimulation or tACS, to target areas of the frontal lobes, which are considered integral to the neuromechanics behind dreams. This, in and of itself, is extremely interesting, and it seems, at first glance, that it answers some long asked questions about dreams and how they work. It also seems to provide even more evidence for the deterministic view of biology, which says that all features of mind are the result of nothing more than the mechanical processes of the brain (the opposing view is dualism, which asserts that the self or the soul are separate from biology). It also raises a few questions about our current knowledge in these areas.

This statement is, honestly, the worst sort of debunkoskpetic hogwash since it completely fails to take into consideration arguments which could be made for the position that the brain is, in fact, a sort of receiver for consciousness and that changes to the brain will, of course, effect what the brain receives. So, far from ‘providing even more evidence’ of the deterministic view, this interesting experiment simply indicates that electrical stimulation of the brain can effect perception, specifically in dreams.

Granted, this is interesting to those involved in more scientific approaches to the paranormal since it suggests that all those EMF fluctuations detected at haunting sites and other sites of paranormal activity may be effecting the perception of the witnesses and the investigators. While I think that EMF levels are a valid route of investigation, I would point out that experiments like those mentioned in this article involve direct application of electrical stimulus to the brain i.e. there are electrodes attached to the skull or implanted in the brain, in more extreme cases. This direct application of current to the brain is a far cry from the sort of weak EMF fields detected in most paranormal sites.

I don’t think that we should completely discount the effect that EMF has in a paranormal investigation but I do think that we need to stretch our minds a bit before jumping on the EMF bandwagon. Remember, for example, that some paranormal events are accompanied by physical evidence that something untoward took place in that location. Tracking sign, photos, video, audio etc., while not proof positive, point to the idea that, at least in some cases, the witness statements and their perceptions are not the only evidence of an event.

In addition, if we want to lump all witnesses into the “perception effected by EMF” category, we have to overcome a significant problem. If I were to create a pin map of paranormal sightings, I suspect that the map would have pins stuck in places all over the country. Are the proponents of this theory of electromagnetic influence on perception seriously advocating the idea that each and every one of these witnesses happened to wander into an area of EMF activity during the course of their sighting? Honestly, I think this is a bit much for even the debunkers to swallow. As with all ‘explanations’ of things paranormal, I believe that the EMF theory certainly helps to explain some events but it is not going to be the unified theory that the the debunkoskeptics are looking for.

I’ve lived with perceptions of the world that stray outside the norm all my life and my magical training has only increased that faculty. I’ve been told that it was “just my imagination” or “just a dream” or that I am full of crap so many times that I do not share my experiences with people unless I know that they are open minded enough to cope. In my experience, people often try to put a scientific gloss on paranormal phenomenon so that they can maintain their world view that tells them that there are no things that exist outside of the senses and instruments of human kind.

In some ways, I do not blame those who want a ‘scientific’ explanation of the paranormal; my own perceptions and deep spiritual experiences are constantly setting me on my ear and I would love, sometimes, to just settle into a particular set of beliefs and say “this is it, I need nothing further”. But, referring back to my point about, if I were simply having my experiences as the result of contact with EMF fields, then someone invisible is following me around with an EMF generator and monitoring me closely enough to know when I am going into meditation or otherwise opening my other senses – at home, in the forest or even at my local grocery store.

The Powers I work with are very unlikely to allow me to settle down into set belief so I will continue on my merry way, becoming increasingly aware that this world that we see around us is really not so solid as we think it is.

Centaur Sightings

My 06 May blog covered a Beyond the Edge (BTE) Radio appearance by the leaders of Crypto 4 Corners, J C Johnson and Chief Leonard Dan, and the extraordinary variety of reports that this team investigates in their area. To quote myself:

Listening to the podcast, Crypto Four Corners has investigated reports of the Furry Ones (Sasquatch), skinwalkers, giant rabbit-like ‘rodents’, mini T-Rex, ‘Night Stalkers’ (gargoyle like creatures), little people, centaurs, gryphons, winged hominids and dogman/manwolf. I know, from other reports that I have seen elsewhere on the Internet that J C Johnson has also reported a sighting of a dire wolf or something similar while on a San Juan river expedition.

I noted in that blog that I disagreed with Mr. Johnson’s belief that all this high strangeness did not result from a window or portal in his research area. Given the amount of Fortean phenomena reported in that area and the long tribal history of magical/shamanic practice, I posited that it was almost inevitable that some weak spots might develop in the Veil in that area, particularly since there is also a long history of rogue magic users (skinwalkers and ‘witches’) as well. The gods alone know what those folks might have called through and how well they practice the magical hygiene of opening and then closing the Ways.

One of the phenomenon that seemed to pop up a good bit during the course of the BTE interview was the investigation of centaur sightings in the 4 Corners area. In all the cases reported, witnesses stated that they had seen the classic centaur, half man and half horse. In one case, the witness reported having to stop his car while several of these beings crossed the highway in front of him or her. These types of reports leave even true believers scratching their heads, especially when the witnesses report actually being able to hear the hooves clop as the centaurs go by.

Oddly enough, I found a possible solution for these sightings in a work on Faery lore. Orion Foxwood is an author who has, so far, written two excellent books on the Faery Seership tradition and one book on Southern Conjure. He comes from a line of Appalachian folk who have the Sight and has trained in Alexandrian Wicca, traditional witchcraft as well as his family tradition of conjure. He also studied extensively with noted Faery Seer, R J Stewart. In Mr. Foxwood’s book, The Faery Teachings, he makes the following observation on p. 73:

. . . It is important to note that the Fay may not appear in human form at all. They may appear as an animal, a human or any mix thereof. They can take an entirely foreign shape, even of a species of being that seems right out of a science fiction movie. They can also be seen as balls or streams of light or shadow . . .

Now, most people, when they think of Faery at all, think of the Celtic lands but really we may define the Faery as those spirits who live ‘within’ a specific land. There is a strong interface between the Fay and ancestors (who quite literally live ‘in’ the land when they die) and all these beings live in what Foxwood terms the Sea World, the world that lies ‘beneath’ or ‘within’ our physical world (The Stone World, in Foxwood’s parlance). In the Faery tradition, it is recognized that there are places on the face of the planet where the Veil between our world and the Sea World is quite thin and it is, therefore, easier to interact with the Faery beings in those places.

It is also well known in Faery lore that those thin places in the Veil can be sites of extraordinary activity. There are multitudinous stories of persons accidentally or intentionally crossing over into the Land of Faery and of those, like Thomas the Rhymer, who are pulled into that Other World by Faery beings for initiatic purposes. The lore also indicates that the cross over can occur in the other direction. The most famous instances of this happening are the stories of the Faery Rade, witnesses swearing that they saw ‘the Shining Ones” riding forth from their mounds and hills and trooping across the landscape. Most people, encountering such a rade, would simply put their faces to the ground and wait for the Faery to pass, afraid that, if they looked, they might be swept up and taken off to the Land of the Fay. Witnesses to these events described the ringing of the bells on the horses’ harness and the clopping of hooves. To them, at least, the manifestation was quite real.

Now, we have been discussing this in light of the Celtic Faery folklore with which I am most familiar but I should note that, though I am no expert, I do know that the indigenous people of the United States have their own stories of ‘little people’ and I can certainly recognize the Faery in some of the spirits with which Native shaman work. I think it quite likely that sightings of centaurs and other mythological creatures could be sightings of what I would call Faery.

I can not say with any certainty whether these sightings are physical manifestations or not. It certainly seems to be the case that Faery can manage physical manifestation since there are records of people being struck by them; however, the Faery are also highly skilled at the magic called glamour in which they make something appear to be something else. It is entirely possible that these witnesses are experiencing exactly what the Faery want them to experience – clopping hooves and all – and that the ‘reality’ may be something completely different.