Patron Topic 54: The Calling of Many Paths

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From Maleck comes this topic:

“How to handle the calling of different paths at once, especially initiated or mystery traditions. It’s often the case that people will be called to initiate into/carry more than one tradition or path at once.”

This is where divination is hugely important. Perhaps more than any other time, when it comes to whether or not a person should initiate into a given mystery, practice, Etc divination provides the way forward. It is the way by which we commune with the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. It is how we have an active conversation, not only between the Ginnreginn of a given mystery, practice Etc, but with those we already hold. It is also how we have an active conversation between these Ginnreginn.

If you are being called to multiple paths at once you’ll likely have to negotiate at least some territory, such as how to handle obligations, holidays, what were things you can do with in a given system, what taboos you might hold, what things you may or may not be able to do in terms of things that you want to do. There’s really no way across the board to determine this. It is deeply dependent on each initiate and the particular requirements of each path. Especially if you’re coming into a tradition or practice, a mystery or a pathway that has been established, the expectation is on you to be able to hold to them and the obligations, requirements, and responsibilities within that way. The long story short is whether or not you’re establishing a new tradition, mystery, etc or not, generally you are bending to the requirements of that tradition, mystery, Etc, and not the other way around.

You need to figure out whether or not the various mystery Traditions are going to conflict with the current relationships you have. If you’re interested in a mystery where the god in question has an active ongoing conflict, which is something you as a follower engage in alongside them once you initiate, you need to weigh your current initiations and obligations against it. It may be with divination you can figure out ways to work with, or to avoid conflict with where you are, but it is worth understanding that there are certain relationships that might close or be diminished in the face of an initiation.

You need to determine, if you can early on, whether or not you can handle the requirements and responsibilities of the given mystery tradition, let alone walking multiple problems at once. It might be that your desire to walk multiple paths will bring conflict with one or other. You have to determine whether or not you can meet the requirements, and that you can hold to the particular path obligations within a given mystery or initiation. Far better to determine that a path is not for you then to get years into a teaching, mystery, path, etc, and find out that you cannot do this anymore, and that you have set yourself up for heartache, loss, or more than you/your loved ones can handle.

To that point, it is hugely important that if you have loved ones, whether family or close friends, community and so on, that you talk with them about these things. Your initiation and your ongoing work before, during, and after it, can bring you into serious conflict depending on what the requirements are and how they end up shaking out. This is why figuring out as much as you can in pre-initiation negotiation and conversation is vital. You need to go into the situation with your eyes fully open and rose-colored glasses completely off. It may be that if you follow a given path or tradition long enough you may have to give up things that your family needs from you in order to live well, let alone live comfortably. If you were the sole breadwinner and your path requires you at some point to engage in intentional poverty that will be a big problem. So, part of figuring out if you’re going to initiate or enter into a mystery or path is whether or not your loved ones can afford for you to engage in it, and if what you would be giving up or doing would be worth it to them as well. Now, at the end of the day you have to weigh this and what you are called to, so your obligations, and the way you feel are going to be different depending on your circumstances. In my case, I have a wife and children that depend on my primary source of income and its benefits. If, for some reason, I was called into a path where I had to give up my day job that would be a problem, and I would be far less likely to initiate or follow it. We simply cannot afford that.

Unless you’re being called into a mystery, tradition, practice, or path where refusal is a threat to your ongoing physical, mental, and/or spiritual well-being, and I would call this particular calling rare, then you have the ability to refuse. Even if refusal threatens your well-being in some fashion, you still retain the right to refuse. You just have to deal with the consequences. For some of us we are called to service, and whatever else we wanted to do is nice, but there is work to be done and it’s ours to do. Even so, some folks still refuse to call the service, and accept the consequences of that refusal. It is an option.

Once you figure out that you can meet the obligations of the given mystery, tradition, Etc and you engage in them, then you need to buckle down and do the work. Whatever the work is, depending on the particular requirements to meet the initiation, to engage in the practice, whatever is required you need to actually do it. If you’re going to engage in multiple paths at once you need to do the work of them. I would say in a way you need to take more care than a person engaging in just one path, because you need to be aware whether or not what do you do for one path translates to the other. Perhaps you can do your cleansing work of two paths together in the same rite, perhaps you have to do them separate. Maybe you can do your prayers all together at once, or maybe you have to do them at separate times, and really schedule out your life from there.

Speaking of scheduling, you may need to develop ways of interfacing between your paths so that you can get all of your work done. To that end I highly recommend getting familiar with the Google Calendar and similar apps. Between Google Calendar and Google Keep these have been life-saving and transforming tools for me. The spirit work I do tends to be scheduled well in advance, so that both I and my family know what kind of time I have coming up. This is why I release my monthly reminders a few days before the new month: so folks can get topics, Q&As, and spiritwork requests to me.

I am very lucky in that the initiation work that I have done as a Heathen spiritworker and as an initiate of the Toys of Dionysos have not conflicted with each other. If I had to choose between one or the other, I already know it would be the Heathen spiritwork. Knowing this, I have a clear hierarchy of obligations between various Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir, and a clear distinction between what paths and requirements are non-negotiable to my life, and will have the greatest bearing on it. Rather than taking time away from one another, both paths have built on the experiences of one another. Sometimes folks will have that happen, and it is my fervent hope this happens with more folks than it does not. These can make our experiences more rich because we can apply lessons we’ve already learned, deepening our understanding and experiences from them.

Walk into a given initiation, path, mystery, etc with as much information as you can possibly get. Do as much preliminary divination as you are capable of, ask folks who are already in the path as much as you can if possible, and talk with your Gods, Ancestors, vaettir, and community members. Especially if you were initiating into many paths do as much research as you can, and be sure of what you do and do not want to sign up for. Be sure of what you were willing and are not willing to give up in order to follow a single path, let alone many. Negotiate within the bounds of what is yours to negotiate if you are going to follow a path. Be very clear on what obligations, responsibilities, and work is yours, and be very clear on what is other people’s.

Be very clear if you are initiating into a path with spiritual specialists like priests, spiritworkers, or any other hierarchy, what your role is, and what their role is. Is the spiritual specialist a container of the mystery or merely a transmitter? Is the spiritual specialist expected to take on certain roles within your training, or up to a certain point are they to provide guidance of a kind? If so what are their obligations to you, and what are your obligations to them? Are you willing to accept these agreed upon upfront? If the spiritual specialist is at all vague about this I would reconsider that spiritual specialist, and perhaps any teachings, initiation, etc they purport to have. They should be able to tell you in clear language what their role is, what they do, and what their obligations are to you and vice versa.

If you are initiating on your own, you need to be especially careful that you are not crossing boundaries by trying to initiate it with system you are unqualified to enter. This is, of course, part of doing your own research and due diligence, but it’s worth repeating here. If initiating on your own, then divination and checking in with peers, colleagues, spiritual specialist, and trusted members of your communities is vital. If you are doing all your own divination, all your own preparation work, you could end up hurting yourself, or overextending yourself unnecessarily. Having a spiritual support network, especially for new initiations and paths is needed. Far better for you to be over cautious than not, especially because you might be the first person to see different mysteries and traditions interacting in this brand-new way. Walking carefully can be a huge bonus for anybody following after you because you have blazed this trail successfully and avoided enough pitfalls to spare people coming after you a lot of hurt.

Whatever your calling, take yourself and your paths seriously enough to fully consider the implications of walking them together. Think hard about what obligations and complications can come out of each. Be careful and considerate to the paths, your communities, your loved ones, and yourself. Do the as much as research, divination, and negotiation as you can. If you accept multiple paths, then do your best to walk them well. Good luck and blessings to you.

Patreon Topic 8: On Ordeals

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From my first Ansuz supporter comes this topic:

“Ordeals. I know you’re not an Ordeal Master, but I’d still like to hear your thoughts.”

Ordeals are part of life. The act of being pregnant and bearing a child is an ordeal. Birth itself is an ordeal. The trials and tribulations we go through in order to be human are ordeals of some form or another, though in American society these tend to be more oriented around displaying the grasp of a study subject -or the ability to bullshit paperwork.

The OED says an ordeal is “A very unpleasant and prolonged experience” or “An ancient test of guilt or innocence by subjection of the accused to severe pain, survival of which was taken as divine proof of innocence.”. It comes from the “Old English ordāl, ordēl, of Germanic origin; related to German urteilen ‘give judgement’, from a base meaning ‘share out’. 

When we use ordeal in a more modern sense we’re usually using it in the first sense. In a religious or spiritual context we’re usually using the second in a modified way. Rather than testing innocence or guilt, we are being tested to see if we can rise to an initiation, new station or to undertake some new spiritual technology or work. The capitalizing of Ordeal speaks to this; this is not some mundane test of pain or the experiences of everyday life. This is whether we are ready and/or worthy to engage in a given path, to go to the next level, or to offer something new to our Gods, Ancestors, vaettir and/or communities.

Ordeals are not innately cruel. They are tests. I think one of the best science fiction descriptions of one is the test of the pain box and the gom jabbar from Dune. It is a test put to Paul Atreides, the main character, by Reverend Mother Gaius Mohiam of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood. She explains that they do this “To determine if you’re human…” and later asks Paul once he has passed his Ordeal “Ever sift sand through a screen?…We Bene Gesserit sift people to find the humans.”

So why do this? “To set you free…Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.” She then goes on to explain that this is done to provide a level of continuity to humanity’s bloodlines and separate the humans from the animals. In a very real sense the Gods, Ancestors, vaettir, and even our own communities, may require this for similar reasons.

The spiritual technology of Rune reading is available to everyone. However, if you wish to take a relationship with Runatyr and the Runevaettir deeper you will, at some point, likely need to go through an Ordeal: encounter Them in ritual, give a blood offering that ties you to Them, and formally deepen your relationship with Them. I hedge this with ‘likely’ because I am not Runatyr or the Runevaettir, and whether They give someone an Ordeal for a given person to develop this deeper relationship is up to Them.

In another way the use of hamfara, faring forth, is open to anyone, as is utiseta, sitting out. What is not available to everyone is entry into the Nine Worlds. There are tests a given God, Goddess, Ancestor, vaettr, and/or human community may give before you are cleared to do certain kinds of spirit work, these included. In my own case, while I do not incorporate Ordeal into this, before anyone who studies from me goes into any deeper spiritual techniques, they have to have at least a year of devotional work with Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. Likewise, they also have to have done at least a year spiritual preparation work which includes doing cleansing, grounding, centering, shielding, and ward work among other things.

There are some spiritual technologies and initiations shut off from us unless we have gone through Ordeal to attain them, or attain access to them. Yet, generally, the point is not the Ordeal itself. The Ordeal is a sift. The goal is to get through, endure, overcome, or pass through it, to be sifted so that you (or the Gods, Ancestors, vaettir, and/or Elders) can be sure you can handle the spiritual technology or the initiation. It is also to accept that should you fail, that you accept this. Sometimes an Ordeal can only be given once. Other times we can approach it again and again. It depends deeply on the Ordeal and the Work. Some Ordeals are more intense than others, or in different ways. So if you come to an Ordeal, be sure you have done all the preparation you can, make sure you and anyone working with you on it have done all your due diligence in approaching it, and take care in undergoing it. It is not a thing to be rushed into or to grasp for. For those things that require it, it is a necessity to undergo. As I am not an Ordeal Master I do not feel I can comment any further on it.

The #DoMagick Challenge Day 24

Othila

Othala (Wikimedia Commons)

Today I did galdr with Othala.

Today I was distracted internally quite a bit.   I did extra cleansing, and emphasized deep breathing even more, doing deep breath work up to nine times in a row before moving on between parts of the galdr work, and 9 times between each round.  It did the trick.

In the first round of galdr, the first part I experienced with an ancestral home of some kind, possibly ancient Ancestors as I did not recognize the landscape at all except that there was a grove or forest on the land.  The land was mostly plains or expanses of grazing area.  I felt very at home there despite the lack of a standing home.  I remember some kind of mountain or rocky outcropping nearby.  The next part of the galdr I experienced standing before an Ancestor’s grave.   Then, as I looked at the grave, the land around me changed and I found myself standing still but the scene around me changing, as though someone had hit ‘shuffle’ and was standing in a lot of different graveyards simultaneously.  The last part of the first round I was standing outside in my grove at the home I’ve lived at most of my life.

In the second round of galdr, the first part I felt compelled to sing with a high note, and suddenly felt the crush of Disir around me.  I knew some of Their voices, and heard others’.  The next part of the round I had an even tone, and Ancestors of my lines came forward, all speaking excitedly, some talking to each other.  The last part of the second round, I sang the Rune in a deep, resonating voice, and the Väter arrived, in similar fashion to the Disir.  It was being utterly surrounded by the Ancestors…and it felt very warm, familiar, and safe while also feeling like a bit of a kick in the ass.  In this month I will start doing small, 5-15 minute sessions of prayer each day for the Ancestors.

In the third round of galdr, the first part I saw how to bring landvaettir into one’s own fold.  Making oneself and the particular landvaettir or landvaettr part of each other’s Ancestral lines.  I will not describe what I saw or how to do it here.  It seems…improper to do.  The next part of the third round I saw how to honor landvaettir of the place one lives in, especially land that is inherited and is truly Ancestral land.  In the last part of the round, I saw how to inter the Dead into the land, to bring the land and the Ancestors together in the mound.

I did quite a bit more cleansing with the Sacred Fire and a few more prayers than usual this time around.  When I came out of the Runework headspace, I felt quite clean, and very good.

Link to the Daily Ritual for the Challenge.

#DoMagick

Initiation by Anpu

Once a Way was Opened for me

My body was shaved clean

Was wrapped head to toe in linens

My Mouth was Opened

He bore the scalpel and the was staff one after the other

As I was prepared

With spells and oils

With those gentle, kohl-furred hands

Was my soul lifted

Tender and brotherly

From my corpse

 

He raised me up and spoke

What remains between us

Then set me down, a child

Newly born into his body

 

Oh there was pain as

He stitched my soul back

Bleeding and begging

For any ointment

Any thing

That would dull the pain

 

O, Mercy is in Him

So too is respect

for sacrifice

for work to be done

So He wrapped my organs tight

in my living corpse

and raised Open the Way

So I could rise again