Monday, January 30, 2023

First Contact (Woo)

[Please remember my disclaimers and rules (linked here) if you'd like to engage this post here or in any of my social media spaces.]  

Despite a lifetime of atheism, in the summer of 2020, I was called by The Morrigan, a prehistoric Irish goddess of war, death, prophecy, and magic. This is my story of being called by Her (and eventually our work together).

You can go back to the last part here

Or you can go all the way back to where the journey begins in the link here

Today I understand more than I did in the summer of 2020.

I don't understand everything—I don't understand MOST things, really—and I've given up attempting to understand those things that seem to exist in the liminal space of what can be quite easily explained with transpersonal psychology, and what in the 21st century we're calling supernatural. These days I can look back on some of what was happening that summer, and at least understand the fundamentals.

At the time, of course, I had no idea.

Learning to close and open ("shields up") was a fundamental shift for me in whatever the hell was going on. I didn't know what I had met in my dreams or if its explanation of what was happening was accurate, but it worked. Whether it was a mindset or actually magic, it worked. I was again able to do simple things like go grocery shopping without being overwhelmed by people's energy. I could sit in a drive-through without sensing everyone's impatience. I could talk to someone I sensed malevolent intentions from without my skin crawling in revulsion. I could go about my life.

But I also had to learn new ways of doing almost everything. I was undergoing a transformation, and my old habits no longer served me. I couldn't eat in the same way I had before. Junk food was abhorrent to me—I could handle some salty, but greasy and fatty would make me sick, and didn't taste good anymore. I didn't dislike sweets, but I'd lost all cravings for it. I could barely stand how bright and vivid colors were and how intense music sounded. Light seemed too bright. Simple tactile sensations felt like almost as much as I could stand.  I came home from work every night, ate bland food and raw vegetables, and tried to figure out how magic worked.

I had trouble sleeping—shaken awake night after night by dreams of a woman (or women) in black. After she taught me how to close myself, so I could (mostly) function from day to day, she went back to saying cryptic shit about how I needed to open my eyes and know her. 

After a month it had begun to pass the point of an oddity and a novelty. I was starting to get desperate. I was hearing voices. My entire taste palette had been scrambled—my favorite foods made me sick. I couldn't sleep through the night. I felt drenched in how unhappy most people were. And the volume on sensation had been turned up too high. 

I was still Chris The Little Skeptic™ at this point. For me, magic was a concentration of will that steered the unconscious. Spells were rituals of focus. Accoutrements were affectations. This all had a perfectly reasonable explanation. And I wasn't quite ready to imagine that something outside of me was trying to get my attention. I thought I was working something desperately urgent out in the deep corners of my psychology at night, and this woman represented something that I needed to grapple with.

But my confidence that I had all the answers was wavering. Magic was working for me in ways that were technically not impossible, but at least seemed implausible in their statistical improbability. I was experiencing more and more events that were not so easy to dismiss as an overactive imagination.  Maybe…just maybe there was something beyond what I could easily and rationally explain as purely natural. One way or another though, I had to figure it out. My life was upside down, and I was sure I was going crazy.

I desperately reached out to all the magic practitioners I knew to help me figure out what was going on, and their advice was unanimous. 

"Something is trying to contact you."

I felt a curl of terror corkscrew up my spine.

All the people I talked to had differing advice about how careful to be and what I should do about something trying to contact me (from warding my bedroom to invoking protective spirits), but they all agreed about what was happening.

"How do I figure out what she is?" I asked one of them.

"Have you you tried asking her?" she said.

I hadn't. It hadn't even occurred to me. I knew how to lucid dream at least to the point where I could control myself. Why hadn't I simply asked?

That night I fell asleep with a mantra going through my head. "Who are you? Who are you? Who are you? Who are you?"

In the dream I stood on an ancient battlefield after the carnage had completed. Bodies and arrows and swords and spears and shields littered the ground all around me, and in the distance a fire burned and curls of black smoke smudged the sky. Crows (or ravens, I thought, but now I know it was crows) stood cawing amidst the bodies, bloodcurdling caws that sounded like screams. In particular five of them began to hop towards me, and they transformed into five women wearing black. The one in the front—the one that most often did the talking to me—wore something between a duster and a dress (with open legs) over leather armor. 

"You must prepare for battle," she said. "You must know me."

I could feel the dream fading away, but I suddenly realized I was dreaming. I remembered what I had to ask.

"Who are you?" I asked. "Who are you? Who are you?"

Her eyes looked at mine. "I am She. I am Queen. I am many. I am all. Among us you can call me…"

I woke up twisted into my sheets, my hands clenched into fists around my blanket, with jagged breaths hitching out of me.

But I had heard it…in those last seconds between dream and wake, I'd heard a name. A name that I had never heard before. 


[More to come soon…]

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Three Gifts and a Lesson—The First of the Great Dreams (Woo)

[Please remember my disclaimers and rules (linked here) if you'd like to engage this post here or in any of my social media spaces.]  

I am a heathen witchcrafty heretic pagan, and I work with The Morrigan, an Irish goddess of war, death, prophecy, and magic. This is my story of being called by Her (and eventually our work together).

You can go back to the last part here

Or you can go all the way back to where the journey begins in the link here

July 2020 was well under way, and I was actively trying to explore what magic could do, could not do, and how it was going to fit into my life. I was still a skeptic trying to fit it into a rational-sounding box. But that was becoming more and more unconvincing.

I was delving deep into "magic" as a function of focused willpower and concentration—more a series of brain "hacks" designed to focus the unconscious than something "supernatural." I didn't need to worry about what was "true" in the claims about why magic worked, because I was putting a lot more energy towards what it could actually do. The unconscious can make connections the conscious mind doesn't, see opportunities it misses, and help guide behavior. We are constantly synthesizing a deluge of complex information and only ever actively thinking about a fraction of it, so by "steering" the unconscious towards a goal, one could change their mundane experience of reality. I didn't care if that was because the universe was sentient and we could get its attention, because there was a supernatural power could be tapped by people who owned a lot of candles and crystals, or if it was the power of our attention and focus used in a constellation of oft-misunderstood techniques that science already acknowledges.

I was beginning to come to the conclusion that trappings of magic—anything from an altar to spells to crystals to wands to candles—served as remembrancers, foci, and zeitgebers. An essential oil might not itself physiologically help a human relax, but if one made it a point to relax every time they smelled it—and it was a pleasant scent all over them—it COULD come to fulfil that function. A wand might not have any actual ability over a random bit of wood, but when infused with symbolic meaning to a person—much like, say, a flag or a uniform is so much more than mere cloth—it could represent much more. As creatures of habit, ritual, routine, and rote, we could surround ourselves in meaningful symbols, give significance to emblems, engage in purposeful visualizations, and repeat our desires in a way that would help us keep our concentration. This would steer our unconscious minds to adjust some of our "autopilot" functions towards outcomes we wanted to see. People might try to explain their magical tools with pseudoscientific terms like harmonic resonances, energy fields, or whatever, but those basically worked as props and landscape in deepening self-hypnosis.

It was all very neat and tidy, and fit cleanly into my understanding of science and human psychology. I could almost forget the things I had been going through that weren't quite so easy to explain away, like my anxiety symptoms shutting off or the fact that I could feel people before I could see or hear them. 

And life was about to get even more messy.

Of course, there were the dreams. Almost every night I would dream about a black-clad woman (or a trio of them or a quintet or sometimes more) who would cryptically enjoin me to know who she was (who they were) or tell me I was "spilling out everywhere" if she (they) said anything else at all. I had no idea what any of that meant or who she was or why she was in my dreams night after night.

It wasn't just my dreams that were going bananapants. In my waking life, I had begun to feel like something was ineluctably following me. I had the distinct sensation of being watched and of a presence in my peripheral vision. Always it was just a shadow or just a weird tree or bush when I turned and looked, but it was becoming more and more frequent. And I know what I'm about to describe is a very subjective feeling, and I'm labeling it through the lens of two years of revisionist interpretation, but it fits. And it fit at the time even though I didn't really think about it in these terms.

I felt like I was being hunted.

There was one other thing happening, but unlike the dreams and the weird feelings, I didn't realize the significance of it at the time, and maybe I'm remembering it inaccurately. It barely pinged my radar, and certainly didn't do so as something extramundane. I was seeing a lot of crows. Everywhere I looked there were crows hanging around. Small groups. Big groups. A few small murders even though it wasn't quite the season for it. They seemed particularly bold—waiting until I was very close to fly off, landing close by to cock their heads and stare, or screaming unrelentingly at me from the telephone wires on which they perched. I didn't think much of it until later when I started realizing how important crows were in the iconography of The Morrigan.

There was a lot of dismissing these feelings and events because of the pandemic. I thought maybe I was jumping at shadows and suffering from an overactive imagination. I had read stories about people dreaming intensely because of the stress and isolation. I even thought the crows were just enjoying the fact that there were fewer people out and they…uh…ruled the roost…so to speak.

In mid-July I had a dream. It was the first of many dreams where the woman/women who had been haunting me spoke in words that were less cryptic (though far from straightforward). I was standing on a branch of an enormous tree so large and wide that I could have played a game of doubles tennis on it without ever worrying that I'd fall off. It was only one woman this time, and she wore a black sheath dress with deep slits on either side and a pattern that looked like overlapping feathers, combat boots, and a black jacket with the same pattern. 

"Open," she said, and I could feel her energy. It streamed off her like a crackling power plant. 

"Closed," she said, and her energy tamped up. I could still feel it, but it was like a humming power cable wrapped in insulation. 

"Open," she said. I could feel her again, pouring out energy.

"Closed," she said. I could barely feel her. 

"Now you," she said.

"I don't understand," I said. 

"Close yourself," she said. 

"Close what?" I asked.

"You've been open for weeks, bard," she said. "You're attracting attention. Your magic is powerful. Your theory is sophisticated. But you're making incredibly basic mistakes. You have to learn to close your energy off and close yourself off from all the energy outside of you. You're spilling out and attracting attention. And not everything out there is…benign."

"Wait…don't you usually just tell me to know who you are or something?"

"YOU WILL KNOW ME IN TIME!" she snapped, and for just a moment I could see a deep and timeless power behind those intense eyes. "But right now you need to learn to protect yourself because I won't keep doing it forever."

"I don't understand what to do," I said.

"Imagine a wall between you and the world. Visualize it. Give it your energy and purpose and will. Much like your other spells, it will depend on your visualization, but this one is quick. Easy. Become practiced at it. Make it second nature. You want to be able to protect yourself at a second's notice. Open yourself to be sensitive. Close to go about your mundane life or protect yourself. Open. Closed."

"Okay…" I said.

She took a step towards me. She was fierce and fearsome and terrifying in ways I'd never experienced, but I sensed a tutelary motivation behind her eyes.

"I already know you won't trust your senses. You won't believe what is happening if you can't readily explain it. I've understood your skeptical nature and accepted its…disadvantages. I chose to approach regardless. But I also know that right now, you do what works. And working with me will WORK, bard. I can assure you of that. So let me give you something that will make this a lot easier. Let me give you something that works, and then you can trust me even if you don't understand me. Three gifts. Yours no matter what you decide…

"But I think you'll be back," she finished.

I nodded. Somehow that's all I had in me. The dream had a surreal crispness to it, and I could barely speak for the sense of gravitas around the interaction.

"And stop using yourself as the energy battery for your spells," she said. "That works in a pinch, but why not avail yourself of better means if you have the time? You'll just be exhausted the entire next day. Learn to use other sources."

"What should I use?" I asked.

"In time," she said. "All in time."

And then I woke up.

The next day—and I'm still sensitive to how outlandish this feels…even writing about it two years later…even after all I've seen and experienced—I noticed three things as I went about my day. First, I no longer needed my reading glasses. At all. I could read without them. At the time I was needing +2.50 magnification to make out anything smaller than a title or heading. (In the two years since this event, reading glasses of +1.25 magnification have gone back to being helpful with small font.) In ten years my eyes had only ever slowly gotten worse, but then overnight they improved to the point that I could read without any correction. 

Second, I regained full motion of my left leg. My hip had always popped when I raised it sideways. I could get it up pretty high for a front kick, but never had that sideways range of motion—even back when I did martial arts, I had to let my instructors know that a sidekick off my left side was never going to go higher than my hip, and one off my right side would be limited by how much my left hip had to get involved in the bend. But suddenly I could move it without issue. 

Third, an old injury disappeared. There was a car accident I had been in when I was nineteen or so. I was driving a minivan (full of people, I'm chagrined to say) and I rear-ended another minivan (also full of people—it was terrible). It was probably one of the most mortifying experiences of my life, and it left me with an abdominal injury. The airbag deployed into my torso, and the explosive impact caused me internal bleeding and a life of low-grade chronic pain just below my rib cage, especially after core exertion.

That was gone. 

I've sat around and wondered about this a thousand times since. Every possible rational explanation has crossed my mind. I even wondered if I healed during the pandemic and somehow now my unconscious sort of "let me know about it," but in the WEIRDEST possible way. Maybe it was the placebo effect? Covid? I can't imagine what could make three unrelated things better, but something did. 

The next day I started to practice opening and closing. My "Yoda" friend helped me by telling me that it could involve any kind of protective metaphor that worked for me—energizing a circle, building a wall, putting on a suit of armor—and I quickly settled on Star Trek shields. My love of Star Trek is formative and deep. A quick "shields up," and I could SEE the bubble around me glow with activation and fade into transparency. Soon I realized that when I was "closed"—or when my "shields" were "up"—I could handle the world and crowds and go shopping and deal with people again. Open, and I would be sensitive to energies around me and people's "vibes" and could kind of be in tune with the ebbs and flows of magic. 

I had the ability to live a pragmatic life again, even as I explored further whatever the hell was happening to me and what new worlds I was finding the edges of. She'd taught me how to do the most basic magical protection so that I could live life again. 

There would be more dreams. (So many more dreams!) And more experiences. And eventually I would learn what was haunting me…and hunting me. But that was to come as summer wound into fall and will be another post…


Monday, January 16, 2023

Dear Fellow White People Invoking MLK

Let's get something straight my fellow history-whitewashing, tender, gentle, fragile white people: 

MLK would not have hugged this out. MLK would not appreciate All Lives Matter. MLK would not have been a big teddy bear spewing platitudes about equality that make us feel good about doing nothing other than thinking burning crosses is bad, not using the N word, and waiting for the "arc of history" to do the hard work for us.

MLK would have resisted authority. MLK would have broken unjust laws. MLK would have gotten arrested again and again. MLK would have been "no angel." MLK would not have just "obey[ed] the fucking law." MLK would have died an enemy of the state. MLK would have fucked up your commute home. MLK would have gotten in our face. MLK would have put his protests where we couldn't look away. MLK would have told us to stop talking and stop telling black people what is and isn't their own oppression. MLK would have harshly censured anyone who wanted stability and peace over equality and justice. MLK would have told anyone practicing respectability politics about that they were a bigger obstacle to justice than outright, drunk uncle, Trump loving racists. MLK would have spoken vociferously against capitalism because of its perpetual need for an underclass to labor. (Yes, THAT capitalism. The capitalism most of us think is the best, most moral system there could be and makes the world a better place and is more about human nature than that dirty communism. The capitalism upon which the star spangled awesome US of A is built.) MLK would have condemned the capitalistic gains and white supremacy born of perpetual foreign wars. MLK would have seen right through the claim that you would only listen if his protests somehow became so quiet that you couldn't hear them and didn't have to see them. MLK would have said he could not condemn violent rioters even if he himself used non-violent civil disobedience. MLK would have told us that our silence made us complicit in white supremacy every damned day. 

Because he DID do all that stuff. 

Please let's quit loving him because of the one sound bite from the "I have a Dream" speech and that love/hate quote that sounds so cuddly.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Spaghetti at the Wall (Woo)

Used with permission.

[Please remember my disclaimers and rules (linked here) if you'd like to engage this post here or in any of my social media spaces.] 

I am a polytheist pagan, and I work with The Morrigan. This is my story of being called by Her (and eventually our work together).

You can go back to the last part here

Or you can go all the way back to where the journey begins in the link here

By the middle of June 2020, I was an atheist trying to understand what the fresh fuck was going on, in any way I could that wasn't a "magical awakening." And I wouldn't realize until late summer who it was, but I was dreaming about a pre-copper age Irish goddess called The Morrigan almost every night. 

These days I look back on my sardonic skepticism with a bit of amusement. I was trying SO hard to explain everything away. It took me years to realize that it didn't matter whether I was having a conversation with some complicated inner archetype of my own personality or a really REAL™ spirit, ghost, deity, undigested bit of beef, blot of mustard, crumb of cheese, or goddess of war, prophecy, magic, and death. But at the time, all I could think of was that this needed to be framed in an explicable context, and that in some way, some long-dormant part of my psyche was directly trying to get my attention in some sort of psychologically unorthodox way. I didn't really know what it was or what it wanted beyond my attention, but it was haunting my dreams night after night, sometimes twisting them into nightmares. Usually a woman in black or group of women in all black (sometimes sisters—sometimes aspects of a singular). 

"Know me!" she would scream (or they would scream in unison…or one would scream while the others looked fierce), and I would jolt awake trying to figure out what the fresh hell a woman/women in black might symbolize within the twisted labyrinth of my mind.

I was still quite the skeptic at this point. I figured I was unconsciously working something profound out. After all, we were entering the third hard month of Shelter In Place, I was spending more time alone than I ever had in my life (even as a power introvert), and I was probably doing more mental and emotional processing than I ever had. Nothing had quite happened yet that couldn't still be explained by some level of self-hypnosis, focused willpower, and the placebo effect of belief. I don't think kids can jump higher BECAUSE they're wearing Spiderman Underoos either, but if they think they can, they try just a LITTLE harder. 

And then maybe they DO jump a little higher.

This was a strange time for me. Strictly speaking, there isn't, like, a school of magic out there for awakening peeps even on the BEST of days, but this was in the full fury of Shelter In Place, so I was trying to work out almost all of this shit on my own without even being able to meet up with a local coven or some woo-woo friends. I had some zoom calls with someone I lovingly call "my Yoda," but mostly I was trying to figure out what magic could do (and what it couldn't) completely on my own. I have to admit trying a few things that would blatantly defy science as I understand it. (Of course, they never worked.) 

My rubric was always "Does it work?" That was all that mattered. If the cocktail of confirmation bias, magical thinking, and cognitive distortion was going to help me have a steamy hot date, I didn't really care if it was because I lit a red candle first. If I was able to focus on writing for five hours, I didn't care if it was "really™" the fluorite that did it. But I also wanted to strip away dogma and cultural baggage from the spiritual systems that entwine most mysticism. I was particularly averse to any kind of religious trappings. 

I was showing up in good faith for most things, but I was definitely throwing all the spaghetti I could at the wall. If something didn't stick, I wasn't going to keep trying it. In the interest of not fucking up my own ability to do magic by being such a hardcore nullifidian, I would proceed with the best faith I could. I would research spells extensively—usually finding that 15 practitioners would offer me 30 ways to do the same exact spell, so I would break it down to the things they all seemed to agree on—do all the rituals one was supposed to do (light the candles, call the directions, use the special ingredients), do all the visualizations involved, and be a good practitioner. I left a LOT behind right away or after a couple of tries. And while I don't want to be that person who sits there and says, "I'm working with an Irish Goddess, but I think astrology is bullshit" (or something), there are some things I definitely took one look at and knew weren't for me. Maybe they might offer meaningful insights to people or be written in ways that cause people to reflect on their relationship to others and the world around them, but they stand against—as in not just unproven but antithetical and mutually exclusive—what I understand about science.  

Still I ended up with a robust list that had enough on it to devote several lifetimes of work.

  • I got into Tarot a lot. Probably because there was a lot of Rorschach-inkblot interpretation to the cards, they could almost mean anything someone wanted them to. They created focus and meaning and sometimes gave me something to think about that I was avoiding.
  • I enjoyed creating magical foci like wands. I hand-carved a couple, and got into the woodworking and effort. I figured if these things helped concentration and I thought they worked to enhance a spell, they would.
  • I enjoyed casting spells that focused on me. Anything that would make a positive change within myself or that would manifest my desires by focusing my attention  on them (in a way that my unconscious would then seek out opportunities to fulfill). To me these kinds of spells seemed both more realistic and rationally plausible (as well as consequential) when compared to, say, trying to get a good parking spot or come into money.
  • I was also getting into the idea of consciousness that existed outside of the physical world. Be it unconscious manifestations (which I thought my dreams were) or some kind of spirit or entity that had some sort of ability to exist outside of a physical, living brain.
  • Charms (including crystals) became absolute fetishes to me. They were useful even though I knew they were Dumbo feathers. They really worked only if and when I thought they worked, and I had my doubts that they did  anything but help me point my attention. So I tried to use them to focus on what they intended, knowing that they were simply pointing the focus of my personal magic (focus, attention, willpower) on what they symbolized.
  • Ritual was important only if it the act of doing something by rote was feeding the higher levels of concentration and attention. Otherwise it was dogma, and I had zero interest in it.
  • I got DEEPLY into meditation, biofeedback, and self-hypnosis. Although, I use almost no traditional methods for any of these. Quiet and mindfulness tend to make me scatter MORE quickly because of my ADHD, so I focus on things like running, ecstatic dance, or Tai Chi. Strictly speaking, these are more physical/psychological than alternative/magic/woo-woo, but they definitely straddle that line.
  • My meditation work dovetails with energy work, which is a much harder application to explain within any sort of rational framework. But it was also probably the most profoundly tangible to me. Meditation made me feel like my own energy became positive. Feeling the energy of people or a room was part of everything that was happening and this whole awakening. Moving energy was something I could feel (or thought I could if you wanted to be a skeptic). I had learned Tai Chi and how to create a "ball" of energy perhaps a decade prior to these events. Suddenly this extensive system of sensing and moving energy had a new application. 

During much of this exploration, I visualized it as trying to make a mental map of a dilapidated castle or a mansion in pitch blackness where you can only feel for a minute or two each day. You couldn't see, and you couldn't draw what you felt, so it had to be completely by memory. Some of the rooms were uninhabitable. Others barely so. You had to remember where the comfortable ones were, and try to figure out how to find your way back by memory and feel. I had only the vaguest sense of the shape that the whole thing took, and my recollection of entire wings was almost certainly flawed. With limited time to explore each day, I could spend days to have a good sense of a small area, or a vague sense of a larger one, but I often had to keep going back over things I'd hastily already done to make sure I hadn't missed anything. If I could SEE, of course, I would realize that I had missed a door to a whole other room, confused a hallway with a pantry or something,  or discovered that my idea of the layout was all wrong, but being entirely limited to other senses, I only understood the broadest brushstrokes.

Mysticism is a convoluted path through cultural touchstones, and I was intent on stripping away the cultural baggage that didn't serve me. I wasn't going to mess with anyone's closed magical systems, but I didn't want to get caught up in the anachronistic trappings of an open one either. To that end I learned very quickly that what WORKED (actually "worked") had little to do with oils, wands, charms, rituals, specific words, or anything else. Those things could be useful, but only in as much as they served to focus attention onto what was happening. And what was actually happening was an act of sheer willpower. The more willpower that could be brought to the focus, the better the magic worked. If I could give it hours of concentrated attention, the magic would work almost perfectly.

There's one thing someone with ADHD hyperfocus can do, and that is give something hours of concentrated attention.

In July of 2020, I started to be able to hear myself use a different voice.

It happened the first time speaking a manifestation. I heard my own voice and it didn't sound right. It sounded deeper and resonant, and I'm sorry to use such a goofy pop-culture image, but what it made me think of was Saruman chanting to bring snow over Celebdil, Caradhras, and Fanuidhol in The Fellowship of the Rings, or perhaps even better recognized, when Gandalf calls out Bilbo for trying to keep The Ring and yells at him (not to take him as a conjurer of cheap tricks). My voice sounded deep. Resonant. It almost echoed. I paused and listened and spoke a few more things, but the moment had passed.

I hear "the voice" from time to time now, usually when my concentration and willpower and attention are absolutely laser-focused. I speak the words of what I want and it's like they draw upwards to a new echelon of power. One of the reasons I rarely use my voice when I'm casting spells—rather than just focus and concentration—is because in addition to a failed "voice" being kind of a distraction, it almost feels like TOO much for a lot of spells. Like setting a bonfire to cook a S'more or using a lightning storm to charge an iPod. 

The power that coursed through me after these spells was phenomenal. I entered alternate states of consciousness and would sometimes feel crackling energy for hours afterwards. The sheer ecstatic peak of that meditative concentration could be its own reward, but also, as I started to be able to focus harder and for longer, the spells themselves became more and more powerful. Meditation and writing I had struggled with for years started to come to me as easily as scratching my nose.

I didn't realize it, but I was exploring a very modern interpretation of magic. Some of what I was trying to do is almost word-for-word what 20th-century Chaos Magick is all about. 

I also didn't realize I was making a lot of mistakes that an early practitioner who has absolutely no guidance would make. I might have been intellectually stripping away the cultural dogma from mystic ritual, but something very simple like having a basic protection invocation between myself and the world around me was covered in the 101 class I never took.

I was still oversensitive to crowds and anyone with aggressive or choleric energy, and I could barely stand to be around another human, never mind crowds. I was having trouble just going into the grocery store to get food for the week, and I would feel overwhelmed after even an hour or two of being out. My job of watching a kid involved interacting with the parents, and it was difficult.

But there was something out there, trying very hard to get my attention. And even before I would fully know what it was, it was going to start teaching me about this new ability I was exploring…

Continue with "First Contact"