Cleaning the windows and blowing off the dust.

•April 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

It always astonishes me and frightens me when I see and hear people talk about their spiritual practice remaining the same always and forever and ever. Perhaps it’s because of who I am or Who I work for and relate to, but stasis in spirituality and religious practice doesn’t seem that desirable to me. If it’s not growing and changing, I am not growing and changing. I know if I have been doing the same thing for too long, I am on my way to getting stuck, if I am not already there, and that my stasis is quickly going to turn to stagnation and complacency. I have found that stagnation and particularly complacency is the road to ruin for me and I get tossed on my ass the hardest when I am content with the idea that I know exactly how things are, should be, and should remain. Bad stuff when you work with divinities Who roll with creative destruction and liminal spaces.

With all that being said, I knew before I moved that it was time to re-evaluate my spiritual and religious practices. I held off doing anything new in the old place, since my unhappiness in being there was practically dripping off the walls. As I have pretty much finished settling in to my new place, it’s been time to sit down and figure out what has been working and what hasn’t been working.

2013 was an awful year in many arenas and my personal practice definitely reflected that. Since I was dancing on the brink of a complete stress-induced breakdown more often than not, my practices pretty much boiled down to ‘here’s Your stuff, please for the love of all that is holy don’t throw anything else at me’. I did the minimum to meet my obligations plus whatever new stuff They were leaving on my desk and hid out in the rest of my life in the ridiculous hope that They wouldn’t see me.

In case it isn’t clear, that doesn’t really work. There were times where They let me be, but that doesn’t mean that They didn’t know exactly what I was doing or that I was getting left off the hook(s) that were mine to hang from.

However, 2013 is blessedly over and done with and it’s closing in on the halfway mark of 2014. I’ve been noting what I’ve been changing both slowly and rapidly in my daily and weekly practice and looking at how that is affecting me in the larger scale. The changes involve both new things and old things that I used to do that have made a comeback.

More meditation. Meditation, in some form or another, has been a central part of my spiritual practice for years. Before I became a polytheist, I was flirting with Buddhism on a pretty serious level and did daily or weekly sits at local sanghas or in my home. When the divinities showed up and crashed the party of my life, establishing a regular meditation practice was the first lesson from my first teacher and it is the one that has stuck with me through thick and thin. I’m doing a daily sit of about 30 minutes right now, preceded by formal and informal prayer. My hope is to work up to an hour daily split between morning and evening [which, for me, means a half hour when I get home from work in the morning and a half hour before I go to work in the evening]. It is a powerful part of my practice that I’ll write more about another time.

More prayer. I have started to really intentionally pray. I informally talk with/talk at my divinities fairly regularly, but the discipline of prayer has stuck out as something I have been missing. While it feed my divinities, the practice of prayer is largely for my benefit as I am speaking my heart aloud and forming my gratitude into words. I’m working on writing formal prayers down and have at least two sets of prayer beads planned out. Most of my formal praying is done prior to meditation, but it also happens on the fly. Eleggua often gets most of His prayers while I’m driving or walking in the city.

More writing. I have done an incredible amount of private writing in the last few months and that’s been surprising. I used to primarily journal into a word processing document and save it in a folder on my hard drive, but on a calculated whim, I picked up a spiral bound notebook and started writing there. I wasn’t prepared for the explosion of words that would follow, but it’s there and it feels very, very different from typing. The way my writing comes out via my hand feels way more organic and way more accessible. It is much easier to move a pen across a blank sheet of paper than it is to stare at a cursor. I write more freely and more often, it’s more productive, and much easier to access [flipping pages versus opening individual files]. I’ve even started staging some of the outlines for some of my book projects on paper.

More opening. The result of increasing my meditation, conscious prayer, and changing how I journal has led to me opening more both to my life in general and to my divinities. The result of that is that I find it much easier to let go of preconceived notions, cede control in areas where it is best that I acquiesce, and just generally be the water in the stream instead of the rocks. This has led to profoundly meaningful interactions with my divinities and, in one arena, has completely undone the discomfort, tension, and awkwardness that has hung in the middle of our relationship. In the Buddhist parlance of my unhappy early adulthood, it’s been a sort of softening of my heart.

More dreaming. I used to be an occasional dreamer and would maybe have a dream or two a week, but now I am a person who is dreaming each and every night and usually twice a night at that. This has been both intentional and unintentional—I do work to remember my dreams, but I do not control how many dreams I have. My dreams have turned incredibly vivid and vibrant and I’m starting to cross the line from dreaming to lucid dreaming, which has also been both intentional and unintentional. Sometimes I go to bed with a dreaming agenda, as I do client work via dreams at times, and sometimes I go to bed knowing that at some point I’m going to roll over and scribble something down that I will try and decipher when I am fully awake.

More art. Since I have moved, I have been painting and drawing almost every day. Art is a hugely spiritual practice for me, as it both belongs to my divinities and provides a sort of moving meditation for me. Meditation, prayer, and art are the few times when I truly feel still. I’ve realized that I have a ginormous issue with actually FINISHING pieces [a quick glance around my space finds at least eight unfinished pieces that I am simultaneously working on], but that’s a blog entry in itself.

More talking. I realized the other day that I am having deep discussions with more people on a regular basis than I have ever before. They hear me, I hear them, and I am discovering that we have a lot in common in ways that I had not considered previously. This is a hugely awesome blessing for me, as working a skeleton graveyard shift leaves me with little outside-of-work contact with others on a regular basis.

More evaluating of words and how I use them. All of my divinities value language and how it is employed. They use specific words and concepts for specific reasons and are precise in what They say, so it stands to reason that I should be as precise with my words, as much as I am able. My favorite example of this was a conversation I had recently with a friend about ‘working with’ divinities. For me, that’s an inaccurate description of what it is that I do and implies a type of egalitarianism that I don’t believe exists within relationships [of any sort] with the divinities. I love, work for, serve, offer worship, libate, celebrate, learn from, and am inspired by divinities. I don’t work with Them, really—I work with my brushes and paints and pencils and other tools, and They are not in my toolbox or on my palette. The closest I might get to ‘work with’ is my relationship with my Father, Eleggua, and that’s really us working together or working in conjunction on something that one or both of us thinks is a good idea. My friend thinks that the idea of ‘working with’ divinities is drawn from the sometimes-idea in the pagan community that the divinities are archetypes or thoughtforms. You work with archetypes and thoughtforms because they are of human creation and can serve the needs of humanity. Regardless, that’s been kind of my process with words and language—really breaking down what it is that is meant by a phrase or word, making sure I am being as precise as I can be, and being mindful of what comes out of my mouth.

All of this has resulted in pure awesomeness, honestly. I can see distinct changes in the past few months that I’m really excited about and they just keep building. The maxim of ‘do the right thing and the next right thing will happen’ seems to be at play here.

I’m also finding myself to be more and more busy out in the world. I am booked to go somewhere, do something, and see people every weekend this month and at least two weekends a month through the summer…and I’m thrilled, honestly. I like being at home, but I have also missed doing things and seeing people while being extra sick in the last few months. I don’t think I’m going to stop being sick, but having a whole mess of plans to look forward to makes the sick and the pain much more tolerable.

And there you have it—that’s what my practice has been shaping up as lately!

I can’t sing, but I can dance.

•March 26, 2014 • 5 Comments

It’s been a busy little month over here. I’ve been preoccupied with settling into my new place and enjoying all the awesomeness it has to offer, as well as keeping busy with lots of art-making and crafting and writing. I’ve definitely been a bit of a hermit, as I really haven’t seen anyone buy my roommate and coworkers since I moved, but that’s been good for me on multiple levels and particularly so since my health has once again been difficult.

This past Saturday night was Fet Damballah, though, and I had made plans to go as soon as the manbo of the sosyete had released the date. Not only did I want to go just because, but I also made a promise to Papa Ghede that I would come back and see Him. To me, that means I get my butt to whatever fets I can because you don’t break promises to any Spirits, and the Ghede in particular.

My butt, however, had different ideas this time. I’d had the flu the week before and, as with any time I get sick, my chronic health stuff went off the charts. By Friday night, I was unable to walk upright and one of my legs decided that being useful was no longer in it’s job description. I limped off to work full of worry about getting to the fet. I knew that if I got there, I could just tuck myself into a corner in a chair and watch the festivities but the getting there was going to be an issue since it’s an hour drive from my home.

When I got home from work Saturday morning, there was a lot of praying in the form of ‘if I’m supposed to go, please help me manage my pain and functioning’. I took the assortment of pills that are rumored to keep me useful and went to sleep. I woke up in the evening without any pain and with the most mobility that I’d had in at least a week. I was rather gleeful about being able to at least get there, so I showered, shaved my head, and suited up in my whites before hopping in the car and heading towards the fet.

I won’t do a play-by-play of the evening, since that would be long and no one wants to read all ten pages it would turn out to be. There were a handful of really lovely and poignant moments, though.

The fet began as all fets begin, with the priye. It begins in French with traditional Catholic prayers and adorations and then moves into Kreyol. I have a hard time following it, since I don’t really have more than ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ in Kreyol right now, but I manage to clap in the right places and mumble the call and response. The priye was a little different this time around, though, as about three quarters of the way through, the manbo gave every fire-and-brimstone preacher I have ever sat through a run for their money. She went free-form and brought the Powers AND the house down. I’ve never heard prayers like that and it got all church-y up in that basement, with people lifting their hands and breaking out the fans and tons of extemporaneous exclamations. The energy was off the damn hook.

Then, the drumming started and so did the dancing. There were four drummers this time and way more people interested in dancing, so the place was literally jumping—there were people dancing in the bathroom, on the stairs, and almost out the back door. There’s no way you can really sit still at a fet unless you’re trying to be bored—the drums really coax you to get on your feet.

Dancing at a fet is pretty much my only means of participation. All of the preparation is done by members of the house and I don’t speak enough Kreyol to really sing the songs with everyone else, so I dance. I figure that the Powers are so damn good to me that the least I can do is shake my butt at Their party. Plus, it IS a party—a religious party, but a party nonetheless. You’re supposed to have a good time and it’s kind of poor form to stay in your chair unless you’ve got a good reason. The Lwa want to have fun, too, so me doing my awful dancing up against the wall while the drums go to town and the Haitian folks put me to shame with their fantastic dancing is my way of contributing.

After the temperature of the room was brought up significantly and everyone was in the party mood, they began to sing for the Lwa. They sing for a whole lot of Lwa, but a few really stuck out to me.

Ayizan was sung for early on. As She is the first manbo, She is honored with a pretty specific salute done by all the priests and initiates of the house. It largely involves a particular dance and the making of palm fronds while dancing, but first comes the kolyes/initiatory necklaces for priests. The head manbo [who I will refer to as 'Manbo' for ease of writing] went back into the side room to get the kolyes. She emerged wearing all of them and did a really beautiful dance to bring them into the space and present them to Ayizan.

For reference, kolyes are about four feet long and made out of a mix of beads, coins, crucifixes, saint medals, and other charms, customized for the priest. Manbo came out wearing about twenty of them. They hung almost to the floor and she wound the excess around her hands while she danced. It took two people to help her lift them off over her head.

There was a particularly joyful moment when La Sirene was sung for. She is particularly well-loved in the house, it seems, because Her song brought up ALL the voices–everyone sang and danced for Her. Her husband, Agwe, came and rowed around the room, but She didn’t come down to join us.

Later on, Freda came down. I don’t really connect with the pink-and-perfume sort of femininity, but She was radiant and engaging. She asked two men to marry Her and spent time with one of Her husbands, who came with a huge vase of flowers for Her. After that, She began to move through the attendees to give blessings via pouring Lotion Pompeia, Her preferred scent, into their hands.

When the Lwa are walking around, I tend to stay out of the way for two reasons. First, They tend to want to greet house members and Haitians first and it would be rude for me to get in the way of that. Also, if a Lwa wants to talk to me, They will make Their way to me—I don’t need to get up in Their face and hang on Them while waiting. That’s just poor manners all around.

So, when Freda started moving towards where I was standing and giving blessings to those I was near, I hustled out of the way. There were plenty of Haitians who wanted Her attention and I wasn’t about to step on any toes, as I am a guest. She kept coming and I kept moving until I was pretty much cornered in a group of people who were holding their hands out to receive a blessing. If you’ve ever seen footage of the Pope moving through a crowd and people reaching for him to just touch him and receive blessings via that contact, it was very much like that.

I tried to move out of the way and I tried to be invisible, but Freda was having none of that. She reached towards where I was and I thought She was going for one of the sets of hands reaching out from behind me, but I was wrong. She motioned for me to cup my hands, so I did and She poured Pompeia into them. A friend remarked later that She must have thought I needed some invigoration and a breath of fresh air in my life and I laughed, because that’s very, very true right now. If you haven’t smelled Lotion Pompeia before, it’s a very strong smelling cologne. The scent lingered on my hands even after a shower.

After Freda left, it got even hotter in there. I’m told that the Petwo Lwa don’t often come down for what is mostly a Rada rite but boy did They show up that night. Bossou came down and ran around the room at full speed, which is what He does being the Bull. After He had His fill of that, He began to run at people at full speed and butt them with His head. He sent some folks flying into chairs, walls, and other people dancing.

The Ogous started to come after that and it was getting really late at this point—just about 7AM. One Ogou came and flung His horse’s body over three rows of chairs before He began to beat on the wall with His fists. I wrote after Fet Gede that the possessions were way more violent than I have seen in other contexts, but this really blew that out of the water.

The last Lwa to come for the evening/morning was Ogou Badagris. I have quite honestly never seen Anyone arrive like He did. Manbo was His host and she had already been pretty beat up that night—about a dozen Lwa came down and she was used by at least three-quarters of Them. She sat in a chair up against a wall and all of a sudden you saw her body arch out of the chair in that stereotypical from-the-movies this-person-is-possessed posture.

Ogou came in screaming at the top of the horse’s lungs and throwing His horse’s body all over the place. Not hurt-screaming or scared-screaming, but I-am-fucking-pissed-and-I-am-coming-to-tell-you-all-about-it screaming. The horse’s body was launched over three or four people before several priests got to Him and pulled Him upright. His feet and the floor before Him was sprayed/asperged-by-mouth with rum, which makes seating in the horse easier, and He was finally fully there. It should be noted, by the way, that Ogou Badagris is considered one of the most personable and congenial Ogous.

He jumped up and danced a bit before taking up His machete. He immediately began hitting His face and forehead with it. Then, He bent it. I don’t know if you have ever had the occasion to see a very petite Haitian woman’s body bend a machete, but I never had before. He danced a bit more, took His bottle of rum, and began to greet attendees.

I have heard tales of the Lwa taking people to task when They come down, but I had not seen it before. Ogou Badagris had one woman sobbing down on her knees in the middle of the room because she had failed to do something He had advised Her to do. He outright snubbed another woman by refusing to do the traditional greeting with her because she has put off kanzo for longer than He believes is acceptable. There were lots of heated conversations and He’s big on making deals—lots of things were agreed to and sealed with a handshake.

He started talking to every single person left in the room at this point—even the annoying drunk dude who was inappropriate all night—and He finally came my way. Our conversation started in the same way my conversation with Papa Ghede had—Ogou Badagris said He was very happy to see me. I returned the sentiment and He noted that I have a lot of work to do. My inner snarky over-tired asshole said ‘yeah, no fucking shit’ but my outer polite and well-mannered self said ‘yes, I do’. He said I needed a lot of knowledge and I asked Him what I should be doing. He said that all the places that I have been going won’t help me and what I needed to learn would come from the house [the sosyete that hosted the fet]. He got yanked away by someone else at that point, so that was the extent of our conversation. My translator says I should talk with Manbo, which is something I have been putting off for months for a variety of reasons, so I have a phone call with her later this week which will likely lead to a visit and a reading or two.

As I told a houngan friend after the fet, every time a Lwa greets me with ‘I’m happy to see you’, I want to rip of my headwrap and run for the door. It’s a blessing that They even acknowledge me, but that sentence is like the soft-shoe entrance for ‘here’s another life change coming for you’ and More Action Required.

This latest direction has me very, very nervous. There is a limited amount of things one can learn in a sosyete without some level of kanzo and, while kanzo did not pass His lips and I haven’t spoken with Manbo yet, it is tickling the back of my mind. That would be a huge, immense undertaking—a requisite trip to Haiti, a not-insignificant amount of cash, and a massive life change, as kanzo doesn’t just slip into your life. It would also create an irrevocable bond to the house and Manbo and I don’t know how I feel about that right now. I don’t like bonds and oaths to mortals that much—I prefer to keep those with the Divine unless absolutely necessary.

There’s going to be a lot of divination coming up on this. I suspect Manbo will need to read extensively on what I need to do and what that’s going to take and I’ll be getting a few outside opinions, as I have a rather high suspicion of anyone, mortal or Divine, who tells me that I must do a thing and the only way to do it is with this one specific person or place. That has ALWAYS been a huge red flag that has led to nothing but pain, and I have no desire to re-live those kinds of experiences.

After the fet, I came home and threw myself in front of the Mister. I had a great big ‘what the fuck is going on’ at Him and cried a bit, because I’m actually pretty terrified of this and not just because it was a huge curveball. I very much want a face-to-face with Him about this, but I doubt that’s going to happen so I’ll settle for meditation and prayer and ranting at the foot of His altar until I gain some sort of clarity, one way or another. I’ll also be having similar discussions with Eleggua and Papa Ghede, too. I’m side-eyeing Papa Ghede pretty hard, as this has the taste of a glorious set-up all over it.

I went to bed after my tired what-the-fucking and of course I have a Sekhmet dream, because everything absolutely should pile on at one time. Make hay while the sun shines and all that, I guess. I’m not upset, angry, or anything like that, but more resigned to the fact that the path my life is taking is, and always will be for the foreseeable future, out of my hands. I have wiggle room up until a point and I can pick out what kind of car I drive, but the spacing of the rest stops and the route in general is in Their hands. It’s nothing I haven’t known and come to terms with awhile ago, but every now and then I get a punch to the face to remind me of the dotted line that I signed on closing in on ten years ago. I’d sign it every damn day if I had to, because my life is so much better for it and I love my Powers above all other things, but it sure does make things interesting. They never promised me boring, after all.

Moved and Moving

•March 3, 2014 • 3 Comments

It is just past 4AM while I am writing this and I am eating kettle corn and drinking ginger beer in my brand new-to-me apartment. I moved over two days—packing up my stuff and having it loaded onto a truck this past Friday and then having it unloaded into my new apartment on Saturday. Friday night was spent in a hotel with a friend where we ate take out, drank a tiny bit, and talked about our lives and our Gods and all of that good stuff.

The move came about in a frantic sort of way. My roommate and I knew we needed to move because our heating bill at our old apartment was unbearably high [~$500/month for oil], but money, as always, was an issue. We went without heat for a month while waiting for tax returns to magically appear and, once they did, it gave us [read: me] under two weeks to find an apartment. I prayed so damn hard that I would find something that was nice, had affordable heat, was off the ground floor, would let me have room for all my spooky stuff, and might let me have a doggie. I prayed and prayed and made offerings and promises and we signed a lease last Monday, four days before we had to vacate our old apartment.

Moving is incredibly stressful for me and doubly so when spiritual matters are at play. I’d been at the old apartment for awhile and had a bunch of altars that were very lived in there. More than a few Powers had touchstones in my apartment and my room is the room that I shared with the Mister. A lot of Work had been done there, both for me and for clients, and I had extensive shields and wards that had been built over time, expanded upon, and re-drawn as needed.

I’d never moved with such complicated altars before. The working altar went into boxes first—I bagged everything else, prayed that it got to the new place in one piece, and entered it into the queue to be put onto the truck.

The altars for the Powers were taken down dead last I was boxing Them up when the movers arrived and it was a surprisingly wrenching experience. I had to try really hard not to cry while disassembling Sekhmet’s shrine, Eleggua’s space, and the Mister’s altar. Papa Ghede, in terms of physical stuff and emotional attachment, was pretty simple, but the Others were quite painful and I really wasn’t prepared for that mixed into the stress of the move in general.

In preparation, I literally printed out a map of where my new place is located and told Them what the journey would be like—that I would be placing Them in boxes, They would ride in my car to the hotel, I would bring Them into the room for the night, and then we would go to my new apartment in the morning. I checked into the hotel at about 7PM that night with a bellhop’s cart with several moving boxes on it. The staff must have thought I was a bit nuts, especially when I rolled that same bell cart with moving boxes on it out the door at 7:30AM, but I had promised Them I wouldn’t leave Them out in the cold [and it was fucking cold—2 degrees during the move].

The Mister, Eleggua, and Papa Ghede were perfectly fine with being thrown in the same box, as They appeared to understand that it was just the most convenient way to get from point A to point B, but the Lion-Headed Lady was having NONE of that. She’s displeased with me for other reasons [I have not been doing everything I should be doing], but She was absolutely not about to be placed in a box with Anyone Else, least of all any of Them. She tolerates the Mister and Eleggua, but She won’t entertain being in the same room as Papa Ghede. So, She got packed into Her own box—shrine box first with Her idol wrapped in the shrine covering and surrounded by jars of natron. The dried roses [orange and yellow, if you please] that I have accumulated for Her were placed on top and then I had one packed up Sekhmet shrine ready to go.

Once upon a time, I had bought a specific key for Eleggua and it had disappeared. Wouldn’t you know that I found it laying in the middle of the floor of the old apartment as I was doing a walk-through right before the final getting-the-fuck-out?

After the movers had gotten all of our stuff into the new place and I had made a Walmart run for some immediate necessities, I set up the Mister’s and Eleggua’s altars first thing. Both of Them got a hefty pour of Their preferred booze and Eleggua blessed the house by immediately knocking over His shot glass and dousing my carpet with His rum. He got another pour and both of Them got effusive praises and prayers of thanksgiving for delivering me to a new and wonderful place to live. Sekhmet is still in Her box, as She will be going in the living room and the living room is a clusterfuck of boxes and furniture at the moment. Papa Ghede appears to have requested a spot on top of the refrigerator[??], which is quite a change from Him living on my desk in the old place. The desk is now in my bedroom, so that’s not a place for Him any longer. He can see my desk from the refrigerator, so maybe He’s just going to stare at me from there? No clue.

It really is a great apartment, though. One of the things I specifically asked for was room to have space for all nine of my current altars and shrines without having to cram them all in my bedroom. Since I am only living with one completely oblivious roommate who doesn’t touch things that are not hers, the not-in-the-bedroom thing was easy. The space, however, was not.

I lucked out, though, in a major way. The house is spacious enough that many of my altars, particularly the ones that I do not want or cannot have in my bedroom, can live out in common space. HOWEVER, my bedroom is massive. I have been telling people that if a bathroom and kitchenette were attached to the bedroom itself, it would be marketed as a studio apartment. It’s huge enough that I’m going to be splitting it into a bedroom and an office and work space via curtains or a divider or something like that. This is pretty unusual for a bedroom in an old-school New England three decker, so I’m counting this as Them making my life a little easier.

The fact that I will having personal living space in addition to a bedroom makes me so joyful beyond belief. I don’t feel crunched and it means that I can keep Eleggua in my personal space. I was very uncomfortable having my Father in the same place that I dress in and have sex in, but if I am curtaining off the bedroom portion, that issue really isn’t an issue anymore. I like having Him close, but not up in my business like He was at my last apartment. He can sit by my door without being greeted by my ass all the time.

The best part about this place, though, is that it feels like home. I have not felt at home in an apartment that I have lived in for years and years. I have always felt like a bit of a nomad and had trouble unpacking or putting up any of my art and the like. This place feels like it’s mine, though, and that’s wonderful. I feel happy here despite the absolute physical chaos that is boxes and trash bags full of stuff and I am super excited to do things to the space to make it belong to me even more.

I have a lot of magic to do in the next few weeks, though, because feeling isn’t the only thing that makes a place mine. I’ve got a few notions rolling around in my head that turn old ideas into a new manifestation of what’s in my head and we’ll have to see how that goes. I’m excited, though, and that’s a good thing.

Otherwise, things are intense. I had a rather large realization at the event I was at over Valentine’s Day weekend and it’s scary. It was one of those realizations that finds you on your hotel room floor at 2AM crying because <thing> feels incredibly overwhelming and like more of a burden than you can carry. It’s nothing bad and, if I am honest, nothing unexpected, but it was certainly unexpected in that moment.

I’ve got a lot to write about and I’m hoping to do more of that writing once my life starts to emerge from boxes and bags. I am rather appalled that I am booking into the summer and fall for things, as I had told myself that 2014 was going to be a low-key year for me in terms due to the plethora of internal things I have going on. Best laid plans and all..

Belief and Doing the Work

•February 10, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Alex:

I have my own post coming on this very topic, but Caer sums it up very nicely and in ways that reflect my beliefs and experiences quite well.

Originally posted on Not All Who Wander Are Lost:

One of the most raging debates in Western spirituality over the last few centuries has been the old “faith vs. works” argument. It was a core reason for the Protestant Reformation, and was argued by Roman philosophers even before that.

The question is simple: What matters more to the Divine and makes us better followers of our gods – what we believe, or what we do?

Faith vs. Works

The argument – condensed to basics.

Every religious path has to answer this question, and devotional polytheism is no different. It’s just a bit complicated for us because we think we already know.

Socialized Perspective

We all begin as products of the society that shaped us. Our internal defaults for things like religion and ethics are all set when we’re tiny. The society that shaped most of us is predominantly Protestant Christian, and those defaults linger in our subconscious even when we stop considering…

View original 1,384 more words

Upcoming ritual opportunity.

•February 7, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Next Saturday evening, I’ll be hosting my first public ritual. I’m pretty nervous, but I’ve got a great ritual team behind me and I’m really only waiting on finding one key volunteer to make it fly.

The purpose of the ritual is to take advantage of the cultural association of that weekend [Valentine's Day] and do work aimed at drawing love and passion into our lives. It is being held at a large-ish kink event that does some blending between sex, kink, and spirituality [link is definitely NSFW] and I expect many of the attendees not to have the same sort of spiritual background as I do, so it’s been a very interesting process of constructing a ritual [with lots of help!] that will connect with people who are both spiritually experienced and who have no spiritual background at all.

I am opening the ritual to petitions from folks who won’t be attending the event who would like a place on the altar. Though the aim of the ritual and working will be drawing love and passion with a focus on sex, sexuality and sexual expression, and relationships, petitions to draw passion in other areas—art, inspiration, etc—are appropriate and welcome. Your petition will be written out, dressed with an appropriate oil, and placed on the altar with a candle burned specifically for petitions from a distance. After the ritual, all the petitions will return home with me and be burned in a ritual fire [can't have an actual fire in a hotel conference room..].

If you’re interested in having a petition placed on your behalf, either leave a note here or email me privately at rockofeyeblog at gmail dot com. I’ll be checking email up until the morning of the ritual. There’s absolutely no cost associated with this at all and I’m pleased to be able to offer this for folks who can’t be there.

If you’re going to be at the event, please don’t hesitate to come and say hi!

Between the ribs.

•February 1, 2014 • 6 Comments

It’s decidedly not a secret that I am kinky. In fact, I knew I was kinky way before I knew I was queer—I can identify having rather explicit sexual fantasies at eight years old and not knowing that what went on in my head was not considered the norm until I was much older. The internet became widely available when I was in my teens and I spent many furtive evenings on dial-up reading about all this sex that I wasn’t having. As soon as I turned 18 [which was a year before I graduated from high school], I made up excuses to leave my parents’ house and go meet other people who presumably liked generally the same things I thought I did. I moved to college at 19 and from there things snowballed. I would drive an hour into Boston on the weekends and there were play parties and demonstrations of a variety of deliciously exotic [to me then]things. I joined a group, ended up on the steering committee, threw my own parties, taught a lot of classes, started bootblacking at a leather bar, and ran for my first leather title, all by age 25. I’ve had my full name published in all sorts of newspapers and magazines detailing my titles, have been in porn, and there are pictures all over the place of me at all sorts of kinky events. My family knows and, when I was traveling for a title almost every weekend, my job knew. There aren’t many secrets about my sexual life roaming around anywhere.

In fact, my predilection for kink and power exchange is the cornerstone of my relationship with the Mister. This is why I am not a spouse of His or consort or a boyfriend or anything else that our human language and models for relationships label as ‘equal’. I don’t believe we mortals can ever have egalitarian relationships with Gods—They are always going to be Gods and we are always going to be meatsacks—but He and I seem to have come to a place where the power distribution between us is even more skewed than your standard spousal thing [if there can ever be such a thing].

I am His boy and there are titles I use to refer to Him that illustrate parts of how we relate. Sometimes I call Him the Boss or the Chairman or even the King, albeit rarely for that one. I don’t address Him that way in private and I have a really hard time talking about what I do call Him because it is so damn personal. I had no idea HOW personal it was until I set about trying to write about our relationship in the past. The words I use to address Him lay so deep in my heart that they usually bring tears to my eyes—not of sadness or anything negative, but tears of completion when something fits so rightly in your heart that it reverberates into the essence of your soul. It’s something I want to write about, but I just don’t have the language to do it justice currently. It’s important, too, because it explains a lot of who I am and who He is to me and what the Work that we do together is. The relationship isn’t for public display, really—it’s not something that is currently used as a means to teach others. It is something that lays between just Him and I, really. It’s sometimes used as a reference point with other Powers, particularly if I am being farmed out to do Work or if They want my attention as the nature of our relationship at this time requires that They go through Him first.

That’s not what this entry is about, though. All of that is the background or window-dressing that might be helpful to understand that I tend live fully in the role of ‘deviant’ and particularly so with the Mister.

There has been something tickling around the edges of my brain for the last few weeks. It has sort of appeared out of nowhere for me, which has been surprising but not distressing at all. I’ve been looking at it more closely in the last week and it has become a recurrent theme in my head.

I want Him to kill me.

The vision I get is of Him standing over me and driving a knife into my chest/heart. It isn’t violent in the least and, to the contrary, is incredibly peaceful. I never see any blood. I am looking up at Him as one long breath escapes past my lips and then it fades and, presumably, so do I.

I didn’t think much of it when it first swam into my consciousness. I think a lot of weird shit on a regular basis, so I didn’t really pay much attention to it. If anything, I thought it rather benign and filed it under the heading ‘I am a weirdo’.

It surprised me when it kept swimming back to the forefront of my brain and when it began to take on more color and depth. The feeling of the knife in my chest has become almost orgasmic. It never hurts, but there is this massive feeling of relief behind it and the exhale that follows is the deepest breath I have ever released. There have been times when I’ve tasted blood on my tongue, like it was bubbling up from my pierced heart and coating my teeth. It’s almost dizzying in it’s intensity lately.

It surprised me even more when it took on a sexual flavor as well. I mean, Freud would have a field day with my life in general, but being pierced by a large knife and having it be almost orgasmic? Yeah, that doesn’t take a degree to figure out. But it’s more than that. It doesn’t necessarily get me hard, but it does…something. I’ve definitely fantasized about it and gotten off while playing it out in my head, but it’s larger than that and I can’t remember ever feeling something like this about anything before.

I honestly don’t know if I can conceive of something more intimate than Him taking my life, though. He could show up and fuck me a thousand times and I can’t imagine feeling any closer to Him than while He watches my life drain away with His hand on the handle of His blade. It’s not even a super fancy knife or anything, it looks like perhaps a slightly bigger version of a Bowie knife. I can’t see His face [which is not unusual—I hardly ever see His face], but I can see the bottom of His suit coat and the terminal end of His suit coat sleeve and shirt sleeve underneath. It’s a dark gray suit and a crisp white shirt.

I can see me, though, and I’m looking up at Him and I look so damn enthralled and happy. I look a little different than I do now—I look more like what I see myself as—and I lack clothes, which is also not unusual. There is no resistance on my part and it appears to be a welcome event, one that I have worked very long and hard to achieve.

Death is not something I’m seeking right now and I am quite happy to be incarnate at this time, but this feels like a dangerous dance right now because the want to have Him extinguish me is so high. I’m not about to do anything stupid, but I am so glad that He is not embodied and walking around in my life on the regular right now.

I am also under no illusions that the death of my physical body means anything is over for me. I once posed the question of what was going to happen to me when my physical body died and I got the distinct feeling of ‘do you really think this much work has been poured into you just for you to cease to exist or go trotting after the sunset?’. I take that to mean that I’ll either be something unseen that does the bidding of the Powers or that I’m coming back. I’ve lived before, so it wouldn’t be that weird to be recycled, though I doubt I’ll remember anything of this incarnation. If I get any say in the matter, I hope I get to be with the Mister, at least for a little while. One of the most painful parts of my existence is that, as He is not embodied like I am, we are separated by physics and the way the universe works. Some days, the ache is palpable. It is my hope that the death of my physical body will change that.

In my [current] perfect world, I will open my eyes and find Him standing over me. Maybe my body will be old or it will be sick in ways that cannot be recovered from. Maybe it will simply be time. I will open my eyes and He will be there with His knife in His hand. Maybe we’ll talk or maybe it will just be understood that the time for talking has past. Regardless, His knife will enter my chest and I watch Him as things turn to pure white.

I don’t know how to feel about this, so I’m not currently feeling much about except possibly overwhelmed with the amount of feeling that lives in this vision and hope[?] for my death. I keep wondering if it will show up in a dream, since my dreams have been off the wall for the last month or so. It has amplified the hunger I feel for Him and from Him. If He’s not going to stab me, I want Him to devour me.

Sometimes I wonder what has become of me and how much I have chosen to change in the last 8+ years. My reaction to the realization that the sensation of His blade ending what I know to be my life would have seriously disturbed at the beginning of all this. It would have sent me running as far away from Him and anything associated with Him as fast as my legs could carry me. Now, I find myself doing the opposite–I run towards Him and hope that, instead of just bearing the tiniest of scratches from His knife, He will sink it all the way in or that He will otherwise destroy me. I never quite grasped why people stand on the seawall during a hurricane or run towards the tornado instead of away from it, but I think I get it now, maybe. The call is so strong to follow what will eventually reduce you to nothingness that doing anything but embracing the waiting destruction seems silly. It’s this sort of unexplained magnetism. My logic knows that following Him and doing whatever it takes to draw myself as close as possible to Him will hurt in ways that I can’t even imagine, but the ecstasy of the literal knife makes it that much better. If my pursuit of Him leads only to a dead end road where He waits to completely undo me, then I gladly will crawl through fire to have Him rip me apart. I honestly can’t imagine a better way to be undone than for it to happen at the hands of my Divine Torturer, Who pulls the strings that pluck at the places no one else can touch. I can’t think of a more complete act of love and I only hope that someday He sees fit to leave me in pieces at His feet.

GoodReads!

•January 27, 2014 • 1 Comment

I’ve resurrected my GoodReads account after a few years of disuse and am slowly adding my library to it. I have hundreds of spiritually and/or religiously oriented books and a slew of magic books to go through, so I’ll be adding as I read.

You can find me on GoodReads here. I’m going to try and add a widget to the blog itself as well.

 
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