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"

1 comment: