Local Spirits: Offering and Engaging

2015/04/14

So I’ve talked about what local spirits are, and why to work with them, now it’s time to talk about how to work with them. Like the last post this one isn’t as Buddhist focused, stuff will be drawn from a variety of places. Also even though I made the case about how the classes explained in the first post aren’t shidak or sadak, the techniques in this post can be used to work with most of these groups too.

First and foremost in how to work with a shidak I would recommend offerings. This is a very Buddhist approach, but it’s a good way to start for a few reasons. If the shidak hasn’t been engaged, or engaged in a long time it’s a simple peaceful way to get the ball rolling, you’re not asking for anything, you’re not doing anything, you’re just giving them something to show you acknowledge them though. Also as hinted at last post not all shidak are very active. Do you work in an office surrounded by people actually stupider than you? By the end of the day you might feel a bit dumb from engaging them at their level. Likewise if there isn’t someone spiritually engaging a shidak, or hasn’t been for a while, they can be inactive, almost like they’re asleep or just half paying attention. Offerings help build the connection with them, but also start giving them a source of outside energy to help begin waking them up.

While the shidak exists everywhere in the area, you shouldn’t just leave the offerings wherever, you should find or make a special place to them. Is there an area that feels different, or looks different? A tree that is older or oddly shaped? A place where flowers grow randomly? If so start with that place. Shidak tend to anchor themselves in a few places, and those areas have a greater connection, usually they look or feel different. (If the shidak has been inactive, you might not be able to sense that spot, and that’s fine, pick a place to work with, and as the shidak becomes more active you can find a better spot to work with.)

If you’re dealing with the shidak your house is on you have a few more options. (This specifically applies to people living in a place that they have control over their property, so not so much people in apartments, though you can tweak it.) If so it is great to make a Wildspace for the shidak, this is an area of your property that you don’t touch. You don’t mow the lawn there, you don’t trim the branches or bushes there, you don’t do anything but let it be. While there are ways to work with the shidak, it’s nice for them to have a spot that is untouched as much as possible. For me the far south corner of my backyard is such an area, and even though it’s only a few square feet you can feel a difference by it. This becomes a great place to leave offerings and work with the shidak. If you live in an apartment you can make a potted Wildspace, taking soil and grass/plants from the area, and then planting them in a pot. I wouldn’t say it’s as effective, but it could still give them an easier purchase on that area.

In terms of offerings I’m often boggled by what some people suggest. I’ve seen so many people say things like “I just pick some flowers, and give them to the local spirit.” What? Remember the shidak pervades the place and all the living creatures in it, including the plants. What you’re saying is “Here, I know you spent time and energy growing and expressing yourself through these plants, let me rip them up and give them to you.” It’s almost like giving a person an offering of their own toenail clippings.

Another offering I don’t get is using local honey. I ranted about it on twitter, and Catherine Mason took my phrase and made me an awesome image.

CBcGQn9VEAAk_px[1]

Again, the bees and the plants are part of the shidak, you’re just returning its own creation to itself. (Also, I still laugh at that image, even though it’s been like two weeks)

What should you offer then? Non-local foods, water, tea, incense. If you’re offering food pick something that won’t be dangerous to animals if and when they eat it, and they will, but don’t worry, they’re part of the shidak, so when they eat the offerings it is still supporting the shidak. So no chocolate muffins, but give bread or cake, that’s fine. Water and tea are great and common offerings. Incense works well.

Some people say you shouldn’t leave anything not biodegradable or that the spirit “can’t use.” I’m torn on this, because some people leave polished stones and what not as offerings, and people complain the shidak can’t use those…as if the offerings of food, gems, and incense to statues are actually being “used” by them in a conventional sense. While I haven’t felt a need to leave a precious stone as an offering for a shidak, I don’t see anything wrong with it.

So how do you make the offering? Just take whatever you have to the Wildspace or the place you identified previously. If weather and environment permit actually sit down with the offering so you’re touching the ground more fully. Place your palm on the ground and reach out and down a bit, introduce yourself, even if you’re worked with the shidak you’re just letting them know who you are and that you’re present. Like when you walk into a family member’s house you still yell who it is, or to the person so they know you’re there. Call to them, either out loud or through the connection of the ground, I usually tap the ground lightly as if to more localize their awareness. Then lay out the offerings, place the food, pour the water, light the incense, whatever. Just talk to them, it doesn’t have to be flowery or formal. “Hi, I’ve brought you some water and incense. Take from it what you will.” My offerings are usually double-sided, so pour your energy into the offerings as you give them.

After giving the offering take a moment to sit silently, let your mind drift and relax, and see if the shidak has any response. In my experience most shidak communicate through mindtouches rather than words. So sensory input, real or imagined, images and urges. For instance a shidak in a more forested area might communicate through your pareidolia using shadows cast by leaves, or the sound of the rustling. I’ve had shidak communicate yes and no answers through scents before. I’ve also had a shidak lead me on a high speed run to find a stang within its forest. I asked for it, explained it, and had this sudden impulse to run a certain direction, I had no idea where I was going, but had these quick urges of which way to turn, and then finally to stop and look under a log, and sure enough found exactly what I wanted. There was not a mental-verbal formation of communication, just the urge of movement and direction. Some shidak can communicate more linguistically, and while I’m not totally sure I suspect that is a function of their interaction and activity, so something they can develop into over years of work.

If you’ve not worked with the shidak before, I’d leave it at that. Don’t ask anything, don’t push, just give them an offering and thanks, and let them be. Do this once a week for a few weeks, and if they don’t go out of their way to engage you, then try gently communicating more directly. Once you get to know them you can start asking them if you need something, or even let them know who you are and what you’re doing, which is especially import if you’re doing magick in their space.

Lastly one of the best things to offer a shidak is taking care of its space. If it’s a public space, pick up litter, if it is your property check your plants, are the bushes in good health, can you do anything? The first shidak that ever made contact with me did so after I took it upon myself to start cleaning up its space. It’s a popular hideout for high school students, so sadly they often leave a mess, and after a few weeks of cleaning it once a week the mindtouches began.

Next post I’ll talk a bit more about sensing shidak and their structures.


Local Spirits: Reasons of Engagement

2015/04/10

jmvDgCG[1]
Before I start this post proper, can I just take a moment to say how awesome this comic is? Catherine Mason, inspired by my explanation of sadak and shidak did a great little comic on them. Her presentation of Louisiana, NOLA, and Bourbon Street is excellent. Check out more of her art here. Also there will be more work from her to come in this blog because she’s already hilariously illustrated one of my rants about local spirits, so stay tuned for that.

The last few posts have been a bit more Buddhist centric in their sources (but I’d argue fairly universal in application), but the next two posts will be less Buddhist directly. They will also draw on more shamanic practices, witchcraft, ceremonial magick, and personal discoveries. I just wanted to clarify here so what I mention doesn’t get misrepresented as a Buddhist theory or practice.

Now that I’ve laid the framework about local spirits it’s time to talk about engaging them. The thing that so many people ask is “Why bother?” That’s why you can have competent spiritual people engage every spirit in their area, but miss shidak, they don’t see a reason or method to work with them.

There are many reasons to engage the shidak of your areas, first and foremost it’s just a matter of understanding and etiquette. After all you’re living in and on them, you’re a part of them and vice versa, you should be more consciously engaged with them. Tied into that idea, not all shidak are exactly happy with the state of our civilization, we’ve dug into their land, built under it, paved over it, forced out plants and wildlife (another symbiotic part of the shidak), and more or less ignore it. When you work with the shidak, and make offerings to it, you’re showing that you appreciate it, as well as by giving to it you consciously give it access to your life. By giving it energy you help it sustain itself in a more vibrant way. A great deal of pagan and paganesque folks I know understand this on a global level and give thanks to Gaia in this way, but then forget about the spirit that was disrupted to build their house.

On practical levels (because let’s face it beneficence only goes so far) shidaks are great to work with. You exist symbiotically with them, if they’re happy and healthy it makes it easier for you to be happy and healthy. You know when you’ve been to a house of someone who is unwell and you can just feel it in the air, pulling on you? Now imagine that subtly spread all through your area, it would slowly get to you. If the shidak is sick or damaged (and that can happen) then it will filter into your life, and anyone else in their catchment.

Insurance, if you’re on good terms with the shidak and you do something offensive to it without thinking (cutting down that old tree in the back yard, digging in new plumbing) it is more likely to be understanding. Otherwise it might actually retaliate, and yes shidak can and do attack. I’ve seen them weaken people by draining their energy and making them sick, and classically they’re known to cause people to trip and injure themselves. Though I’ve never experienced that, one of my teachers started a retreat without giving offerings to the shidak (which is a huge faux pas) and in the first day tripped on nothing he could find and managed to break his ankle and had to cancel the retreat. If you’re on good terms they’re less likely to lash out.

Influence, you’re part of the shidak, they’re part of you, and so is everyone else in that area. If you need to work on a neighbour, good or bad, the shidak is a place to start. Rowdy loud neighbour, angry with you for no reason, see if the shidak can smooth over the rough edges, or even remove them from the area. Sick neighbour, along with everything else you can work with the shidak to keep the energy of their area healthy and flowing to facilitate their healing. For more concrete actions (getting a raise, or zoning permission) you might be better off with the drongdak (city groupmind spirit), but for interpersonal stuff the shidak is a great ally.

Protection, a shidak can work as a guardian for you, not in a dedicated sense, but if they’re on your side they might have a sense of who and what to redirect for you. Think of it like a friend, if you’re friends with your neighbours they might do something about someone snooping around, or know someone shouldn’t there when you’re not, or know that you don’t want someone there. The shidak is the same, they’re great at dealing with people in that way. Again the trip hazard can occur, I’ve seen shidak utterly disorient people to keep them from getting somewhere, they can drain/intimidate/weaken people who shouldn’t be there. I’ve had the perverse pleasure in watching a shidak paralyze someone with irrational fear about entering the area (a park) to keep them from me. While visiting a friend of mine I felt psychically dead, in a fog, we realized that their shidak wasn’t sure about me so was dampening my senses/abilities, so I couldn’t do anything, they were protecting the friend by inhibiting me.

In Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism it’s fairly uncommon to do any major ritual without addressing the shidak (and all the other classes that might be lumped as local spirits that I mentioned in the first post). Their influence is recognized as something to be courted, they can help and hinder, either just by presence or intention, so they’re often addressed before a ritual, even if only to say “I’m going to be using this space for a while, please don’t interfere.”

Also with a well-developed shidak (as they can be varying degrees of intelligent and active) they can make connections, so even if it isn’t their area to do something, if they have influence over someone or something that can help, they can direct you to meet.

I’ve encountered a theory that a lot of spirits in Solomonic traditions are essentially glorified shidak, and I think that can extend to a lot of collections of spirits. They’re spirits contacted in a certain place, and out of their element elsewhere. (Not to mention the fact that some gods just seem weaker outside of their regions, is that belief, or are they major shidak stretched too far?) I don’t know if I believe it, or believe it completely, but I bring it up because if it is true it shows the range of abilities shidaks can have. And as previously said, if they can’t handle something they sometimes can redirect you, in the same way sometimes one Angelic type will pass your request on to a more appropriate figure.

One final reason to work with shidak is because they’re accessible and present. They aren’t always as effective or efficient as an angel, a demon, a Bodhisattva, or god, or whatever, but they’re easier to quickly engage in most cases. There is no need to summon, to invocate or evocate, no special tools or ingredients required, because the shidak is already there. It’s as easy (when you’ve developed a relationship with them) as setting out an offering (to be polite) and just chatting about what you want.

I’ll stress this again, because I mentioned how there are so many things they can do, they’re not necessarily the best at the job you want and some other spirit might be a better choice, but they’re there and easy to work with. Your friend might not be the best choice to help you replace the bathroom sink, but they’ll do it for free, and are a simple text message away. A professional plumber is a better choice, but then you have to pay, arrange times, set up a contract, and a variety of other bureaucratic issues. A shidak might not be the best choice to help with a love spell, but they’d try.

Get to know them, don’t underestimate them, but don’t overestimate them either.

Next time, how to actually work with them.


200th Post: Behind the Magick

2015/04/09

WordPress notifies me this is my 200th blog entry, I’m going to take that as an accomplishment. I started this blog four and a half years ago, and I’ve enjoyed my time writing and musing with everyone. I know there are times when I haven’t made it enough of a priority in my life and went too long between postings, but it was never due to lack of interest, but due to having a busy life that I find kind of awesome.

When I started this blog I was just starting my second year of university, having returned in my mid-late twenties in order to attempt to follow my wishes and get the degrees required to get what has been my dream job since the second grade. I had moved back in with my father to save costs while in school. I was starting to take my Buddhist practice more and more seriously, along with the rest of my magickal practices. I always had some degree of seriousness towards my practices, but it was around then I started to take it to another level.

I like seeing the stats and figures behind my blog. Like any blogger I’m sure, I’ve written posts that received far more attention than I expected they would, and written others that it boggles me that people didn’t engage with them. I’ve never been able to predict it, and that intrigues me. For instance my post on tulpas is my fourth most popular post of all time, despite only being six months old. I never expected my rant would get that much attention. My most popular post ever, being twice as popular as the second most visited post, is of course my Sex with Angels post which while I thought it was amusing I never thought it would be the bizarre hit that it is.

The most searched term to reach my blog is of course “sex with angels” followed by “angel sex” and then “sex angels.” Oh internet, I don’t pretend to understand you.

A lot has happened in all this time. I finished university with two degrees, and was part of the Golden Key Society (or the Smarty Pants club). While I don’t have my dream job yet I am currently working at a job I enjoy with a team of people that I like. I’m not upset about not having my dream job because where I live it is literally 8000 applicants per position, so it’s not an easy thing to get into. I now live on my own in a house in a wonderful neighbourhood and while it’s in need of fixing up it’s a nice house. I’ve received training in chöd and adopted it as my primary Buddhist practice for the last four years. (That happened within two weeks of starting the blog, but I didn’t talk about it because the attitude/exoticism around chöd in the West, I didn’t want to seem like I was bragging or cashing in on what is cool, so I waited until I was well established in the practice to begin talking about it.) I completed the Abramelin working sticking very close to the letter of the text and received Knowledge and Conversation with my Holy Guardian Asshole. (In a similar way, since K&C is such a big thing, I didn’t actually let most people know I was working on it, or achieved it, until a few years after the fact when I felt more stable with what it was all about.) Just a few months ago I received a minor Buddhist ordination, which I don’t think I’ve brought up here at all, though hints and comments were put on twitter and facebook. But yeah, I’m now considered a lay-monk, with actual authority and obligations in the tradition…it’s kinda surreal and scary. I’m not just a weird Buddhist sorcerer, I’m a weird ordained Buddhist sorcerer…who thought that was a good idea?

Through the blog itself I’ve met some awesome people, some are just casual contacts, and others have become friends. It’s been interesting to get feedback on posts, to be challenged either to defend my ideas or think differently. The interaction with others is what really helps with the growth. As people have commented on my blog, linked to it, and reblogged it I’ve had the chance to expand my resources and followed and met even more people, with even more neat ideas to think about.

While I’m not living a perfect life, I’m living one that I love, with clear signs of where I came from, and where I’m going, always going the way of my wishes.

So thank you all for being part of the journey, and I’ll be curious to see what develops over my next two hundred posts.


Local Spirits: Clarifying Sadak and Shidak

2015/04/06

A week ago I started defining local spirits and what gets lumped as them. This week I’m going to talk about sadak and shidak in more detail. Last time I mentioned that the Tibetan terms for local spirits are sadak (ས་བདག་) and shidak (གཞི་བདག). Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably, but there is a difference. This might be a bit long, but there is no good place to divide this into multiple posts.

Sadak means Earth Lord. As a spirit the sadak tends to be very limited in scope, and very rooted into the land. While any local spirit could be upset if you started to dig without asking permission, a sadak is so rooted into the land that it thinks of the land as its body, and when you dig you’re actually pulling it apart. If you think of the soil as literally being ensouled, then that’s a sadak. I’ve never heard it said how big sadaks are or could be, but I’ve never encountered one that embodies an area bigger than a house property or two in the city. The average person could stand in the centre of a sadak’s influence and throw a tennis ball well beyond their control. I would also say in my experience that sadaks are not that intelligent, far closer to an animal than a human. (Yes, humans are totally animals, you know what I mean)

Shidak means Ground Lord, and is probably closer to what most people think of as a genius loci. A shidak lives in a certain area, and as a certain area. While tied to the land, they don’t tend to identify in and as the land in the way that a sadak does. The human analogy would be that a sadak is a person who thinks they are their body, and that’s it, while a shidak is a person who knows that the body is a part of them, but one of many.

The shidaks really are a soul of a place, a spirit that lives in and permeates an area. They’re the energy that envelops a region. A shidak is immovable within an area, or perhaps can only move slowly as the land itself changes. Saying they live as an area is meant to imply the level of connection they have to it. While the shidak could be considered the soul, and the area the body, you have to understand everything that makes up the “body.” It’s not as simple as the dirt, any more than our bodies are just as simple as a lump of flesh. The lay of the land, the positive space of hills, and the negative space of valleys are the body. The water of the area, the wind over the place, everything is part of the shidak.

Odd fact about the human body: We’re composed of roughly 1 trillion cells per kilogram, but our gut contains roughly ten times as many bacteria cells as are in the rest of our body. Meaning by the numbers our body is more composed of cells that aren’t us, than cells that are, by the numbers we’re more inhuman than we are human. This is another human parallel. The shidak is the land, the water, but they’re also the grass, the plants, the trees, but one step farther the shidak is in many ways all of the living beings within the space. The shidak is the insects crawling in the dirt or buzzing in the sky, the squirrels and raccoons in the tree, and yes, even us.

This is where a lot of people have issues thinking of shidaks, but we’re part of them, and they’re part of us. I don’t mean we’re an expression or incarnation of the shidak, but when we live in a place we’re connected to it, we’re symbolically linked, and while you might think of yourself as flesh and the shidak as dirt, the division between us can be really hard to find. If you have trouble conceiving how this works think of the shidak as the energy field of a place, rather than a sentient spirit. The energy of our neighbourhood transcends us, it moves through us, and shapes us, as we shape it. We draw on this energy, and we release our energy into it. In a lot of ways the “vibe” of a place is an aspect of the shidak. The bacteria in our gut has different DNA, it’s not us, but it’s in us, and we “feed” it when we eat, and they break down our food so that we can process the chemicals in it to fuel our body, and that makes it oddly tricky to clearly divide us. This isn’t a perfect analogy, as shidaks can and do survive without people, but it illustrates the level of connection we can have, and I feel that there is a quality to a “living” shidak that has an living biological component, and ones that are more barren of life.

Now to make shidaks a bit more nebulous, they come in different sizes and placements. So while only one human can occupy a single point in 3D space, more than one shidak can embody the same spot. I don’t necessarily mean a complete one for one, but an overlapping pattern. It’s less a clear cut map, and more a sequence of catchment areas. A shidak has a “core” area, but along the fringes, where their presence is less defined they can actually overlap with another shidak, both living in and as the same place. To go back to the human analogy, while physically only one person can occupy a single space, if two people are standing near each other their auras (or radiant heat) will have an area of overlap. So in the same spot you can actually be able to engage several shidaks of the same magnitude.

Magnitude? Did I just introduce another layer of complexity? Damn straight. Not all shidaks are the same size, and there is even more overlap when this is taken into consideration. Shidaks can be as small as single plot of land, or as large as a continent, and everywhere in between. So it’s not a simple matter of similar sized spirits overlapping in influence, but also larger and larger spirits controlling more land which encompasses even more shidaks. Think of it like a piece of paper with all sorts of different circles on it, different sizes, some overlap, some big circles contain an entire smaller circle, or only part of that area.

In this sense shidaks can be like the Russian nesting dolls, each one contained in a bigger and bigger version. Another way to look at it is place and identity. (Sorry for all the analogies, but it’s the easiest way to make the sense of this clear) Depending on scale, I could say I live in Canada, or Ontario, or Southern Ontario, or the St. Lawrence Lowlands, or the Golden Horseshoe, or the GTA, or Toronto, or Scarborough, or the Bluffs, or my street name, or my house number. All of these are right, it’s just an issue of size. Shidaks have a similar thing of overlapping each other in scale.

But while the larger ones are bigger and more “powerful” in that sense, they’re also less present. The larger shidaks are spread over so much that they’re hard to engage or sense, because you’re always in them and they cover so much, the smaller shidaks are more accessible. Like getting help, in a big city you have a politician in charge of your ward, who reports to someone above him, who reports to someone above her, who reports to another person and so on until you get to the mayor, but then above mayor is the Premier, and above them is the Prime Minister. Well if there is an issue with zoning in my area I can’t complain to the Prime Minister, he’s too distant (and he’s a worthless zealot Christian robot), but my local politician could help. Depending on what you’re doing with shidaks, you might be below their notice or reasonable ability to influence, and if you want something they may be too far removed to be of us, so the smaller more local ones are more practical to engage and sense.

Next week I’ll talk about why it is useful to deal with shidaks, and how to do so. I also plan on touching on the structure of shidaks, and more detailed methods of working with and influencing, and working with shidak and drongdak (the city spirits) in unison, as well as some of my personal work with them.


Fiction for Sorcerers

2015/04/02

(My local spirits postings will continue after this post)

Normally I’d be posting a book review here according to my schedule (did you even notice I have a schedule of when I post what?) but I decided this week to finally get around to doing the book meme. When I started this blog the “What 5 Books do you recommend as an occultist” posts were popular, but I never made one, it’s come and gone a few times, and I never bothered with it. What I always wants to talk about, and I will now is such a list with a twist.

What 5 fiction books do you recommend as a sorcerer?

This is pretty straight forward, we’re talking fiction here, not magick books, not mythology, not reference titles, but stories, novels, fantasy and fiction. What makes them required reading for a sorcerer?

Also, after my list, I’d love to hear your own, or if you agree/disagree with any of mine. Really I’m curious about other lists, cause I know a lot of awesome sorcerers read this blog (oh, and you read it too ;-) ) and I want to see what you’d recommend, if only to add to my never ending to-read list.

1. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende.

To those who know me this shouldn’t be a surprise. I’ve blogged about it before, specifically the scene with Grograman, my blog’s subheading “Going the way of your wishes” is taken from the novel, I’ve tweaked a tarot spread to more closely fit the book, and I read it once a year. Every year I reread The Neverending Story, while I might reread favourite books every few years, this is the only one I reread with such enthusiasm. Also, I tell people that it is one of the books they must read if they expect to be in a relationship with me. You want to understand me, read the book. (Books 2 and 4 are also on that list, but this list is about what I recommend for sorcerers, not for potential lovers, though it shouldn’t be surprising there is overlap)

Why The Neverending Story? I think if you’ve ever read the book (after becoming a sorcerer), you don’t need to ask. Also, let me make this perfectly clear…READ THE BOOK. The movie is a horrible adaptation and removes everything that makes the book relevant to sorcerers.

The Neverending Story is the novelization of The Great Work. I honestly think the book serves as an illustration of what the true sorcerer goes through. Atreyu goes through the dark night of the soul, confronts Chronzon at the Abyss, only to cross and encounter his Holy Guardian Luck Dragon. That’s just in the first section, the movie cuts out the entire second half of a novel, which is more important to us. Bastian learns the price of power, that wishes have consequences, he learns to create and destroy, and loses himself in the process becoming No One. Only when he has lost his identity is he able to find his true desire, his purpose, his Will, and reclaim his identity and place in the world.

This is really simplified, and there is so much more, every section has some hidden gem in it for the sorcerous folk to glean from it. I have pages, literally, of quotes from the book in the word file I type this blog in, because one day I want to write a full explanation of the magickal themes, but don’t expect it soon as it’s been on my to-do list for years.

2. wraeththuThe Wraeththu series by Storm Constantine.

While I suggest the entire series, I recommend people at least read the first three books (which are now published as one book, as the novels were slightly short individually, and it is this first trilogy I linked to above).

Brief synopsis: Wraeththu are a new species of humanity: stronger, intersexed, and more psychically/magickally aware. The novels follow their growth from random mutations, hunted as freaks, to finding their place in the world and understanding who/what they are.

Now, I admit, this suggestion might be a bit of a cheat, as Storm is an occultist, and has published a few books on magick. When you read Wraeththu there is a sense of realism behind it, even though the magick is over the top fantasy in most cases, there is something that is resonant with real magick. It’s as if the books show how fantasy novel magick would work, if it followed our rules in our world. When the characters do magick, sense things, talk about energy, as an occultist you can’t help think that it’s on the right track. When a character does magick, you almost feel like you could follow their steps.

The over-arching mythology of the books, explained in more detail outside of the original trilogy, is also something that is familiar. It has shades of the Bene h’Elohim of Enoch, of Faerie, and the otherworlds.

In fact, there is such a sense of resonance with the magick in the Wraeththu novels that people began working with the deities from the novels, and the techniques within. Eventually this developed into The Grimoire Dehara, the first of three planned books* that are real magickal texts using the language and mythology of Wraeththu.

*Admittedly I’m not sure if the last two books will come to fruition, as they’ve been put off repeatedly. But if you work diligently with the system, as I have, the spirits themselves will take you beyond what is published.

A bonus beyond just the magick and mythology, because the Wraeththu species are intersexed, neither male nor female but both and beyond them, the magick system isn’t as divided along a gender binary. As a genderqueer person that was part of the appeal of the system, there wasn’t anything about males do this, females do this, only X can deal with Gods while Y can deal with Goddesses. You’re something that is both and neither within that system.

3. vellumVellum, and inkInk by Hal Duncan.

Vellum and Ink are two novels. The storyline of Vellum and Ink is really really difficult to explain, even having just finished rereading Vellum a week or so ago and currently half way through Ink, I can’t give a clear synopsis. Basically it is a tale about the War in Heaven, but the “Angels” and “Demons” aren’t warring in some astral realm, but here on Earth, in mostly human bodies. It isn’t that straight forward though. The story is being told in multiple timelines and realities all at once. So the same character/soul/archetype may appear as a tribal priestess, tomboy daughter of hippies, cyber-hacker in the near future, a British girl during WWI, a princess in a post-apocalyptic hellscape, and a Sumerian Goddess. The story shifts back and forth between all of these perspectives (and a lot more) all following the same thread of action, but being played out in a variety of ways. Be warned, it is not an easy read, but so very worth it.

Much like Wraeththu there is a resonance, a reality to it. Not in so much what happens or how it is done, but how it is presented. Vellum and Ink take place in a multifaceted reality, where the same person is expressed in every potential variation, sinner, martyr, saint, human, god, satyr, but always the same person. There is something to this, that my explanation can’t touch on, and can only be read…in the same way as what it describes is only something that can be understood by the sorcerers who have pushed Beyond. The idea of our reality being a scratch on an infinitely large page, that what we experience is one simplistic model of an infinitely complex reality that rests below it, these are the elements in Vellum and Ink that really appeal to the sorcerer. It presents a multifaceted reality where more than one truth can exist, where paradoxes are part of nature, and time, space, and reality are interwoven and more complex than we can imagine. This is something I think a lot of magickal folk can read in the series and nod their head at. Even the most scientific and rational occultists can’t deny the paradoxes of reality and multiple realities/truths, and Duncan really hits on that idea and runs with it.

Another aspect, and perhaps this is more based on my experiences, but an important part of the series is the Cant, the language of the Angels. The universal language of power than underlies all things. The speech that does not describe reality, but circumscribes it, shapes it. The way Hal Duncan describes the language, and the written of it, just really hits me as something right. The descriptions of the letters being eerily close to the xenoglossic magickal tongue used by myself and several people I know.

4. siaslStranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein.

Mama, don’t let your baby grow up to read Heinlein, and this book is one of the reasons why.

Basically the story is that there was a lone survivor of an expedition to Mars, a child who was born there. Everyone died, and he was raised to near adulthood by the Martians. Mentally he is not human, but Martian, and eventually comes to live on Earth and learn how to be human.

The thing that makes this a book for sorcerers, is the philosophy behind it. The Martian named Smith sees the world in a totally different way than the humans around him, and struggles to grok it. And yes, this is where the word grok originates from. He has totally different morals, and a different understanding of life, death, and religion. It’s refreshing to see an outsider look at our culture. This is why it is important, as sorcerers we should be critical of what everyone just accepts. We should challenge the reality we see, and experience, question it, test it. Don’t just assume it is right because it has always been shown as right to us. Sorcerers should push every boundary in their life, question everything, and seeing Michael Smith do that to our culture is a great example and reminder. Eventually the book gets into some spiritual stuff too, and becomes more interesting there. Also, I find the idea of grokking something being part of controlling it an important lesson for a sorcerer.

If you’re familiar with the neopagan group “The Church of All Worlds” that name, and basic ideology was taken right from this book by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart

5. 51w-Wyp-wgL._SL250_[1]American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I feel this one is a bit cliché to add to the list, but necessary.

If you’ve somehow managed to avoid the book, essentially it tells the story of a man trapped between a war of the gods. The war is between the “old” gods, the gods of Egypt, Babylon, Greece, India, the Nordic lands, and so one, versus the new gods of our culture, Internet, Data-based finances, Electrical systems, roads, and so one.

It has a bit of post-modern chaos flair to it, the idea that new gods are developing, that gods are sustained by belief and energy and attention, and shape our world as much as they are shaped by it. There isn’t much in the book I’d say is a must-learn for a sorcerer, but it’s more the cosmology and world it weaves that I find compelling for a sorcerer.

So what about you? What five fiction books would you recommend that sorcerers read?


Local Spirits: Categories and Classifications

2015/03/29

SekkwThe concept of local spirits is something that is often overlooked with magickal folks, and I think not really examined by enough people. Recently they came up on a forum I’m a part of, and some of the questions made me realize there are some gaps in how people think of them and work with them. Local spirits are a big part of my work, in fact other than Mother the first non-human entity I can remember encountering was a local spirit. In chöd, my primary Buddhist practice for the last several years, there is a huge emphasis on local spirits, to the point where I argue that if you only perform chöd in one spot you’re not getting that much out of it, because it’s all about your work with the spirits around you.

First off, what are local spirits? People use the term, but don’t really define it, and it can mean a lot of different things. Unfortunately while it means a lot of different things there is some overlap in the concepts making it a bit more confusing The term is used as an umbrella (purposefully or otherwise), so let’s break it down. Note: While I’m going to be saying several things that get called local spirits aren’t actually local spirits, that’s not any sort of judgment against them or working with them, just drawing distinctions, and there are reasons to work with all the classes I’ll discuss…except the last one.

The first is the most “obvious” of the meanings, what is generally called the genius loci, the literal spirit and intelligence that is embodied by a place. In Vajrayana Buddhism they’re known as sadak and shidak (ས་བདག་ and གཞི་བདག་). I’ll talk more about them later, because despite being the most obvious it’s actually a fairly complex concept. Also I’ll use the term shidak for this classification, not so much because I think it is more correct, but because it is free from a lot of the associations that local spirit or genius loci have.

Something that sometimes gets called a local spirit is more of a group spirit. Over time a place that is unified by a certain idea/identity builds up an energy to it, and eventually that can coalesce into a type of spirit, similar to an egregore. Not necessarily an innate soul, but still a potentially sentient and powerful spirit. In Vajrayana they’re known as a drongdak (གྲོང་བདག་), though the assumption/understanding is that they’re a “real” spirit rather than constructed, and I personally lean more to constructed or coalesced. A lot of cities have this type of group spirit. It isn’t the shidak of the place in a proper sense, but more the expression of the humanity of that place. Toronto’s spirit always shifts, which to me is appropriate for such a diverse population in such a time of transition, but generally feels like a large friendly woman of ambiguous/shifting ethnicity, but with a cautious edge to her. Cleveland’s spirit always strikes me as a grumpy old white man who just wants to read his paper in peace. These spirits are built up of the culture of the place, the attitudes, the feel and interaction. Old buildings with a lot of use can create something similar. I’ve been to a museum that has a sort of spirit curator, who isn’t/wasn’t a person, but is more of decades of tours and field trips slowly solidifying into a personality. Even though I wouldn’t classify them the same as a shidak, this does not mean I think they’re any less important or powerful, just different, and useful in different ways. In some cases the group spirit might be an interface for the shidak, but generally I perceive of them as distinct entities with an overlap in influence.

Related to the group spirit and the history of a place are ghosts, and ghosts sometimes get labelled as local spirits. Here, for simplicity’s sake, I mean some sort of remnant of a human, whether or not it is an actually spirit bound in a place, an energetic echo, or a cast off shell that has been animated. These might be spirits that are local, but are in another class from local spirits. Generally they are not nearly as big or influential as a shidak. I have encountered a spirit once that borders between ghost and group spirit, it was as if over time it subsumed (or was subsumed by) the collective identity of a place. I’m not sure if that’s something that happens with frequency, but I’ve only ever once got that sense from a spirit, and there was a sense that it was purposeful (on their end or someone else’s I can’t say). When you do offerings to a shidak, you may also be offering to these ghosts, and there is nothing wrong with that, but again I just want to have the terms a bit more clear and thought out. I say that specifically because I’ve seen people confuse a ghost with a shidak, simply because they didn’t know better, and the shidak didn’t want to be engaged so they assumed the only spirit in the area had to be the shidak.

There are guardian spirits that are tied to places. Again, this is something I could subdivide into its own post, but for simplicity I’ll just run through it quickly. Place guardians can be “natural,” for some reason or another a place has generated another spirit to watch over the place, almost like an assistant shidak. Other times a spirit “adopts” a place and watches over it. Sometimes the spirit is brought there by a person. How many sorcerers out there have set a spirit to guard a place? What if you die and never released it? Or it liked the place and stayed of its own accord. I separate these from shidak because they’re more specific, they protect a place, and dwell in it, but they don’t seem to permeate it, and exist in it in the same way, nor do they have the influence in the area that a shidak has.

Elementals can easily be grouped into local spirits and confused as them. Arguably many of them I’d be more likely to say are shidak than the other classes discussed. Elemental here is a vague term for the spirit of an element/quality of a place. Rivers, for instance, often have some spirit tied to them, the size/influence depending on the size/power of the river. While I wouldn’t call them a shidak, they do live in and as the water of a place, so it’s harder to make the distinction. Trees are another great example, but also that nebulous area. Trees can have individual spirits, trees in close proximity can also have a hive spirit. Again I wouldn’t call these a shidak, but more a spirit living in/on the land. It’s hard to draw the line between them and some shidaks. What makes it more complicated is shidaks often focus themselves in different areas, and large, old, or distinct trees are a common focus for them. So even if I don’t think tree spirits are shidaks, some shidaks focus their essence into a tree, making that division harder to identify.

A classification that I find in Vajrayana, that I’m only including for sake of education, is the naydak (གནས་བདག), which is the Sacred Place Lord. As far as I can tell they’re shidak of sacred places. While I’ve never encountered one I can’t say for sure, but I assume they are no different in structure/function from a shidak, but set apart because they inhabit a holy area, rather than a mundane one. Perhaps they’re more of an “angelic” type spirit occupying the place, it’s hard to say. They’re rare, apparently only living in the most sacred of places, so not every temple or powerplace will have a naydak.

Last, and certainly least, would be fae-things. I’m saying fae-things to avoid having to make long, complicated explanations. While we might quibble on details, you have a rough sense of what I mean. Elven, fae, faerie, and the like. While not human spirits, I’d say they’re like ghosts, in the sense of they might reside in a place and be local, but that’s not the same as being the local spirit, the shidak. Though their interaction is a bit more complicated. While a ghost exists in a place, the fae-things actually live there and consider the space their own. Even though they’re free to move on in a way that a ghost or elemental couldn’t, they can be more possessive/protective of the area because it’s their home and chosen land.

This is just the cursory break down of things that get classified as local spirits. In the next post of this series I’ll talk more about shidaks specifically.


Shapeshifting Saviours, Meditation, and Logic

2015/03/25

Mercury WebDue to the convergence of newage and Buddhism I’ve seen the so-called “non-violent” communication for a while. I’m fed up with it, and I’m not the only one. Here is a look at how non-violent communication is just as violent, if not more so, than normal communication.

Why is rape such a central element in many religious myths? This came up at dinner this week actually, it’s more than a bit unsettling to modern sensibilities how the mothers of Zoroaster, Jesus, and Buddha never gave consent to become pregnant, it was just placed upon them.

Speaking of that Jesus fellow, the first written description of him calls him a magician. Not surprising to most occultists, but still neat. Also not surprising if you’ve read Jesus the Magician by Morton Smith.

A later text about Jesus calls him a shapeshifter. While I would never have labelled him such, it’s an interesting reason and covers a small hole in the Gospels. (And I don’t mean the ones through Jesus’ palms…too soon?)

Want some great life advice from five awesome female mystics? You got it.

Like a lot of sorcerers I collect tools, but I like to know the whys and hows, and histories of the items. Here is the start of a great in depth look at magickal blades, which helps fill in some of that.

I’ve wanted to talk about ancestor work for a while, because I keep getting more questions about it, and why I do it, and how do I make peace with the idea. Brother Moloch addresses the common question of why to work with ancestors, especially if your family was less than stellar.

Believe it or not the Onion wrote an article about me. Or at least it sounds like how many of my friends talk about me.

Speaking of meditation, TUM talked briefly about a short meditation retreat he did and how it’s not all fun, games, and stress relief. Let me say to those curious about his experience, that’s just the tip of the rabbit hole.

Continuing on meditation, I know I always complain about those scientific studies explaining the benefits of meditation…we get it, it’s good for you…the American Psychological Association says it helps fight depression. It’s also good seeing it from a serious source, not just random blogs or papers pulling info together.

On the flipside here is a list of 10 things science will make you happy. Bacon must have been 11th on the list. It might seem initially odd that I’d share this, but remember I think a sorcerer is judged not achievements, titles, tools, or training, but by the life they live and if they’re content and productive.

I also think a sorcerer should be firmly grounded in reality, which is why I advocate for more scientific rigour in practices, and scientific literacy. So, to kill a favourite pet I see among pagans, an analysis of 240 different studies shows that there is no notable health benefit from organic food.

Keeping with reality, here are eight common mistakes in how we think, and how we can avoid them. Some of these are even more an issue to those who follow magickal forms of thought.

Another problem with how we think is how often we ignore omens, and how the majority of deaths are caused by such ignorance. Totally true fact.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 744 other followers

%d bloggers like this: