The Spiritual and Practical Ecology of Offerings

In The Spell of the Sensuous, the author shares that when he was visiting Indonesia and learning from some of the Shamans there, he would observe that people would leave offerings outside of their house for the spirits. One day, curious as to what happened with the offerings, the author followed someone, saw them give the offering and then he waited a while. Then he walked over and he saw that ants were carrying off the offerings.

What the author came to realize is that making the offerings had a spiritual impact, but also an ecological one. The ants didn’t show up in the homes where offerings were being made, because the offerings were set far enough away that the ants could get the food and go on their respective way.

Questions of the Week Answers 1-2-12

questionEach week, on Facebook and Google plus I will ask people if they have questions and if they do I will post answers on my blog during the following week. I was asked two questions this week. The first one is: Are there any effects from yoga practice upon the magic development? I think with any form of physical exercise or activity there is the potential for it to apply to magical development. In the case of Yoga, it can certainly help you improve breathing, body posture, etc., as well as help you learn how to meditate using different poses. In fact, I'd say one of the chief benefits of Yoga is that it gets you out of your head and into experience of the moment. It can be hard to think of lots of other things, when you need to focus your attention on holding a pose. A deeper exploration of Yoga can also reveal spiritual benefits in terms of allowing you to access internal energy reserves as well as build up those energy reserves. I think the same applies for Eastern Martial arts, but also any form of exercise you do consistently. Exercising requires you to focus on your body, and it can consequently reveal internal reserves, as well as places of tension and stress.

The Second question was: What do you think on psychedelic drugs in use of magic? Do they help for growing up"?
I think of psychedelic drugs or entheogens as crutch, as opposed to being useful for magical or spiritual development. I think there are exceptions, so for example the use Ayahuasuca in South America for Shamanic rituals could be seen as a genuine practice that contributes to the development of a person's spiritual power, but in that case, that kind of spiritual work has been done for a long time under very specific conditions and with specific practices. From what I've observed in general about the use of entheogens, its an exception, rather than a rule that entheogens will help with the use of magic or growing up. In my opinion, its better to learn how to meditate and do all the other work without relying entheogens to get you there. If you are going to use entheogens, bear in mind that you aren't really in control of the experience, and that makes it harder to do magic.

Why and when I first started Experimenting with Magic

I've told this story a couple of times, but its one that's pivotal to my magical practice and life. I was 18, when I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 depression, otherwise known as manic depression. My family on my mother's side had a predisposition toward depression and I had spent a good part of my life depressed, as much by life circumstances as by genetic predisposition. I knew that such a disorder usually brought with it medication and I was very reluctant to use medication because I didn't want to deal with the said effects. I decided to look toward magic for a solution. I already did daily practice, which included some form of meditation, so that helped quite a bit. Even to this day I still meditate every day, in part because of the mental health, but those benefits alone weren't enough.

It wasn't until I was 20, and now living in State College, Pa, while attending college that I found the solution to my problem. I was reading Hands of Light by Barbara Ann Brennan and Programming the Human Bo-Computer by John Lilly. Brennan talked about Lilly's concepts at length and included an exercise where you could travel into your body as a cell. I thought it intriguing and used the technique to travel to my brain. I then made some adjustments to the reuptake cycle for my serotonin production. This adjustment slowed down the absorption of serotonin, which in turn stabilized the electro-chemistry of my brain. This experiment also started my fascination with neuroscience and magic, which I still pursue to this day.

That experiment taught me to look beyond the conventional perspectives that were available in magical works, but also to look beyond such perspectives within any discipline or tradition. I realized that conventional thinking would always blind people to alternative routes and possible solutions, and that sticking with it would have had me on medication for something that I ultimately could treat through my own methods. I've continued to refine and develop techniques based off that initial working, in large part because I don't believe people should have to suffer because of a biological or genetic predisposition. I do think its important people consult with a doctor or psychiatrist, but I also think there's nothing wrong with trying to find your own answer to the problem, so long as that answer doesn't harm anyone else.

That initial experiment inspired me to start exploring other aspects of magic with an eye toward meshing that magical work with other disciplines. I explored elemental magic with an eye toward applying it to DNA, as an example. Nothing was too outlandish or impossible for me...and even to this day that's still the case. Some people have and likely always will dismiss this as being too open or being flaky, but I think the profound results to the quality of my life speaks much more eloquently than anything else. It's better to pursue your ideas, and your path, than let others tell you how to do it.

A day of ritual work

Right now Portland is experiencing an unexpected snow storm, which has pretty much shut down the ability to travel in the city. I'm not one to spend my time idly, however. So I decided to do some ritual workings today and have another I'll be joining astrally later tonight for the solstice. I first decided to the second invocation of Atem from Meta-Magick: The Book of Atem by Phil Farber. In the second invocation you create a magical circle in which you anchor specific attributes of attention, passion, fitting, trance, language, and making into the formation of the circle. These attributes are used to form the entity of ATEM. By anchoring the attributes into a physical space, the magician not only creates ATEM, but also utilizes a physical space for Atem and the associated entities of the attributes to reside in. It's a clever approach. I like how it ultimately utilizes the physical environment of the person to create a space where ATEM resides, strengthening the connection it has with the person working with it.

I also did another space/time Tarot invocation of my future self, as well as the evocation of Thiede, Purson, the spider goddess of time, and Xah. I've thought about the role those entities have in this type of working. Thiede is my Space/Time guardian spirit, Purson is finder of potential, and the spider goddess is the weaver of those possibilities into reality. Xah, as my personal Daemon, is both the future self I invoke and also the fox spirit that walks alongside me whenever I walk the silver strands of the web of time. With this working I did my invocation and evocations and then invoked Xah, entering into a trance wherein I could interface with all of the entities while letting my future self shuffle the cards of the second deck. It felt odd to shuffle the cards and yet be in a trance...the movement was much less directed, so the shufflking continued for a while...It actually helped increase the trance. The working itself showed me the steps I needed to take...a lot of it being confirmation of some situations in my life...so I think for the meantime, I'll likely hold back on doing further space/time tarot work until those situations are fully taken care of.

Tonight, I'm going to take a ritual bath and use music, chanting, and trance work to synch in with the solstice working...and enjoy relaxing in the comfort of my home while doing it.

Tea Time

My mom is visiting me for this week and today we drove down to Stash Tea to check out their store there. There are a wide variety of teas there. I plan on going back there some time and picking some up, but my mom was kind enough to pick me up some today called Pu-Erh, which is a Chinese Tea. apparently it's a tea which helps the digestion of fatty foods and helps people lose weight. I found that intriguing from a purification perspective and thought I might pick it up. I'm contemplating adding tea to some of my rituals, in terms of setting tone and also as a ritual fluid of sorts. I've used some teas and other liquids before as a way of setting the tone of a meditation, so there's no reason I couldn't do so now. Plus with the wide variety of teas at the store, there's a chance to sample different substances and see how they effect one's sense of physiology.

On a completely different, I find it intriguing that I can tell my mom about some of my spiritual practices without any rancor occurring. I told her about my elemental year long workings in some depth and it felt good to be able to talk with her and share some of my spiritual journeys with her. That's something I've never been able to do before.

Some thoughts on physiology, entheogens, and awareness of time.

I've just started reading Sex, Sleep, Eat, Drink, Dream: a day in the life of your body by Jennifer Ackerman. I'm already intrigued by what I've read, but in the first chapter she notes that there is a set of neurons that comprise the master clock in your brain, which basically dictates the rhythms of time for the body. Last night when I was having my entheogen experience, my perception of time changed drastically. Time felt elongated, slowed down, stretched out. Even my perception of light was stretched so that the light moved much differently than it normally would. My circadian rhythm had been changed by the entheogen. And this interests me, because how one's physiology reacts to any substance can dictate not only the health of a person, or the awareness of time, but also the rhythm of that person. My awareness of time admittedly also might've changed because that was what I brought into my inner journey, but nonetheless I have to acknowledge that my internal rhythms were influenced. This same distortion of time has happened with magical workings and meditation. While not necessarily as visually stimulating as my trip, my awareness of time changes a lot when I meditate. I will sometimes think I have been under for hours, only to find out I've been under for twenty minutes or a half hour. This recent experience as well as comparing notes with my meditations has made me wonder just how much our perception of linear time interferes with the awareness of biological time. When I measure time from a biological perspective, from a rhythmic awareness it seems to be much different from the ticking of minutes and seconds that tells me what time it is on my computer. It's a possible angle for further experimentation.

Speaking of possible angles for experimentation, watching a friend and former student doing her work with with the element of darkness and specifically with Sora from Kingdom Hearts decided me on utilizing the Kingdom Hearts Video games as part of my work with emptiness. Yes, I know quite profane, but also quite useful...the metaphysical aspects of the Heartless and nobodies is untapped as yet, and it could also be an excellent exploration of projective identity and personal narrative as a pathworking, similar to what The force unleashed inspired in me for working with the Emperor as an aspect of emptiness.

Entheogens and emptiness

Tonight I went over to a friend's place and utilized an entheogen. It's been about ten years since I've done it. The first time I did it, there was no spiritual purpose for doing it, but tonight, I had a specific spiritual purpose in mind.  I pulled out my two tarot decks and did a similar working, and while doing that I drank orange juice which contained the entheogen in it. I wanted to see what the experience of walking in the silver web of time would be like with the entheogen. Right now I feel like everything is an illusion, and that seems to have been the tone of the trip throughout the evening. I evoked XaH, Thiede, Purson, and the Spider Goddess of Time as I ingested the brew. I also invoked my future self, the Master of time. As I was writing down the results of the reading, perhaps twenty minutes in I began to notice that it was hard to write. I frantically finished scrabbling my notes and then put my hands into the prayer pose to start working with the silver webs of time. As an interesting note, I noticed that my train of thought became very cyclical and spider web oriented throughout the entire trip. I recall one of my fellow journeyers pointing out that what you brought into the trip is what you got out of it...echoes the sentiment of give to get.

My emotional spectrum was all over the place. I think a lot of my inner demons took the opportunity to come out and play tonight. I saw a lot of control issues and ego issues played out emotionally. Not horrible either to experience those and realize how much they sometimes inform my choices and actions. It actually showed me how strung up I can get sometimes about  the choices of life. Also the spider goddes of time devoured me at one point, or at least came close to it. She ate most of me, but left a small part behind and I regrew. I felt purified after she ate me...it was as if she ate the parts that were trying to control instead of just letting go and feeling the trip.

Physically, I felt like I was getting made love to by the music we listened to. I felt so damn good...it was like having a really good orgasm, except that it lasted for hours and hours. Also my feeling of time elongated, so that minutes seemed to take an infinity to occur. My perception of light became perceptions of web patterns of time. I wasn't so much weaving them as I was becoming them. I became this great spiral of time where I could traverse the web and go to different points.

One thing which really stands out me is that at one point I realized how instinctual every thing is. Basically I couldn't rationalize any of my choices. I recognized the instinct that informed each choice and saw each choice purely as an instinctual response. At another point I noticed how long I took between breaths as well as how heavy my body felt when I took each breath. At yet another point, the light seemed to elongate...and when I smiled or moved I felt incredible.

Remembers another point, where I pointed out to my one friend that he was wearing a sleep mask. He slipped it off and smiled...everyone moved in slow motion, jelly like in the flow of the concentric webs of time.

The final phase, which I'm in now, has been an odd experience. I'm basically observing myself doing things, talking, eating, whatever else. I'm cognizant that I'm doing the action, but it almost seems like someone else is. What's really been odd is that the observer part feels as if it's a step forward in time. So I feel like I know what Lupa will say a second before she says it. It's like everything was rehearsed in the lines of a play. I could predict what would happen and then it would happen. It was an odd experience of time to have because I did feel like an oracle. There's a part of me which is currently questioning whether I'm really writing this post or if it's just an illusion on my part.

I'm feeling really mellow at this point. The emptiness aspect of this experience really involved the inner demons coming out...maybe, or maybe it's this feeling of mellowness, or maybe its something else. Regardless, I feel very mellow, very relaxed. I think I will enjoy that for the rest of this evening. I may try these again in the near future for another space/time experiment as it proved fruitful in terms of experiencing the silver web of time.

Book Release: Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick

Immanion Press has just released Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick by Frater Barrabbas. It's the first book of a trilogy he is offering on ceremonial magic. I really enjoyed his previous book Disciple's Guide to Magic, and also enjoyed reading this one when I copy-edited it.