Patreon Topic 17: Journey Work

If you want to submit a topic you would like me to write on for this blog or my Patreon, sign up for the Uruz or Thurisaz level or above here on my Patreon.

From Elfwort comes this topic:

“Regarding the topic idea we would love it if you would discuss journey work.”

Journey work is spiritually traveling from one place to another. It is usually done with some kind of end goal in mind. It might be visiting a realm to establish contact with a spirit, develop a relationship, or to learn some kind of spiritual skill. Journey work may be used to diagnose or treat spiritual illness, maladies, injuries, or soul loss. It may be engaged in to learn secret things, engage in spiritual combat, or to do healing work on one’s own behalf or on another’s behalf. The uses of journeywork as a tool in one’s spiritual toolchest are many.

There are a number of ways to engage in journeywork. For the sake of brevity and staying in my lanes of experience, I will talk about Heathen forms of journeywork. First we have utiseta, to sit out. Often this was done over a gravemound or grave to contact the Dead, though sitting out in and of itself can be meditative exercises without the journeying component. While it could be argued it was more of the Dead coming to you, some modern Heathens do utiseta as part of journeywork to Helheim or the Dead. Then there is hamfara, or sending out your hamr, or spirit double.

When most folks talk about journeywork they are talking about your consciouseness leaving your body, aka hamfara. Generally, this is spiritual travel with your hamr. This is dangerous work for a few reasons, not the least of which is that once we get out of our bodies and into the wider spiritual World(s) it turns out there are a lot of Beings out there far bigger, nastier, and competent than we are at existing in the other spiritual Worlds. No matter if you are hamfara here in Miðgarð (our World and/or our World’s spiritual double depending on who you ask/read) or in Jötunheim (not something I recommend to anyone who does not need to, eg is invited and has reason to be going there) spirits pose potential dangers to you.

If you approach, say, a wolf spirit’s den in Miðgarð without permission you have opened yourself up for an attack just like kicking in someone’s door. If you are invited? Maybe you gain an ally or you get to experience some aspect of a wolf spirit’s life or lesson for you. Maybe you gain an obligation to the wolf spirit and Their family. As with a lot of things in Heathenry, having a good, established relationship first is key.

I generally do not recommend folks journey unless they have a clear reason to. In part it is because of the dangers of being out and about in your hamr, and the other is that we can do so much in our bodies to interact with the spiritual worlds that while it may be a cool or powerful experience, it may not be needed. Engaging in hamfara or utiseta unless you need to also keeps you from taking on obligations you may not need to.

I used the example of a wolf spirit earlier, so I will return to it here. Let us say you make an offering to the wolf spirit because you want a lesson in some aspect of the wolf spirit’s expertise, eg tracking. So the wolf spirit teaches you to track in spirit, perhaps even showing you how to transform your hamr into that of a wolf. It might ask for more offerings, prayers, and other obligations to show and teach you that vs a request to help you track in the flesh. Now, learning how to do this in your hamr may be more useful than learning to do it in your lyke (physical body), but some spiritual lessons and learning will open a person up to more obligations than those learned another way.

Think about this from the wolf spirit’s perspective: they are opening themselves up in a vulnerable way to you, to teach you a skill or even a whole set of skills. This is cultivated over the course of a lifetime, or if the wolf is a representative vaettr of a pack, that of several lifetimes. If this spirit wolf tends a den, as I mentioned in this example, it has several vaettir that it tends and by working with you, also opens them up to vulnerability. This wolfvaettr serves a community, their pack, and you may be operating independently. Humans have not had the greatest relationship with wolves over our history, and yet, our species are tied quite intimately in many ways. Perhaps it is willing to overlook the transgressions of certain of our Ancestors, with no small amount of reasonable caution. You may be the first human in generations to work with a wolf spirit at all, let alone respectfully. You are doing so in a hamr, a spirit shape, and depending on your Ancestors, very few of Them may have ever done something like this, let alone reach out to a spirit they do not know very well.

Consider, then, this case with every spirit you could come across, some of which may be more or less hostile to humans. So, patience, care, and respect are watchwords whenever the subject of journeywork comes up around me. If you find it is going to be a useful part of your spiritual toolchest work with it, understand the risks and rewards that come with its use, and take care in how and how often you work with the practice.

The #DoMagick Challenge Day 5

Raido

Raiðo (Wikimedia Commons)

Today I did galdr with Raiðo.

As before, I smoked Großmutter Una to cleanse and prepare myself.  As before, I did the prayers to prepare and flowed into a good, clean whole self when I did.  Tonight it is both blustery and cold.  My mind wanders to the lands where the ancient Heathen Ancestors would have called home.

As I breathed in to prepare, three times, I felt a kind of needing to move in my legs.  Not from the cold; I actually feel far more comfortable at these colder temperatures than anything above 60°F.  A kind of wandering, or wanting to go to a place.

When I galdred Raiðo the first time, my tone was warm and loud.  I echoed across the countryside.  It’s one of the reasons I enjoy doing galdr outside: I can be quite loud without disturbing my neighbors.  As I galdred, the pipe held in my hands, there was the sensation of going somewhere, of having a destination and slowly getting there.

The cold seemed to press tighter as I smoked and breathed cleansing breaths between.  As I prepared to galdr I could feel, hear the march of feet around me.  Bracing against the cold and marching on.  Determination.  A war march.  I galdred and it seemed that I was marching alongside them, and who they were changed.  At times I heard leather soles and chain mail, others gear in webbing and the soft sound of boots on grass.

The next round of galdr my first came out guttural, fierce, and I felt the march quicken, the destination coming nearer, the steps quickening.  Excitement and anticipation as the gap is closed.  More, though: the destination that one has worked so hard, built up so many resources, done so much planning is in sight.  Relief, joy, fierce pride in having made it to where you need to be.  The next part of the round of galdr, and my voice came out high.  I felt called to turn my gaze up to Mani.  The carts of the heavens, the every-turning wheels that make night, day, that make the days and nights of all the Worlds, that blanket of darkness that is Nött, Nött’s gift, with all those burning stars and the Star People.  The last part of the last round was low, deep, the echoes of all the feet in the long journeys so many have taken that I could be here.  The Diaspora, the Migrations, the Journeys of countless Ancestors on countless feet on countless soils and here I am walking on my own.

It was then the cold got too much, and I felt I had to seek a new destination: warmth inside.  In the garage I cleansed and purified myself as I had the previous nights, thanking Rúnatýr and the Runevaettir for deepening our connection and our relationship.  As I cleaned out my pipe and came back to normal headspace, I thought about all the journeys that had gotten me here, and where I was planning on our family heading to next.  The wheels that take us here and there, and the work needed for us to move into the next stage of our life.

Link to the Daily Ritual for the Challenge.

#DoMagick

The Jaguar and the Owl

I have been a co-host on The Jaguar and the Owl for the last year, but it did not occur to me that I had not been providing updates about it to my blog.

Introducing The Jaguar and the Owl:

This is a show and podcast about shamanism in it’s living form. We will explore it’s history, but also what it is like to be a shaman here and now. The challenges you will face, the advice and techniques that I and others use. Join me around the virtual sacred fire as I and other shaman talk about what the Spirits ask us to talk about. Are you the one the message is meant for?

We are on every other Tuesday on Para-x.com’s Live Broadcast at 8pm.  Our next broadcast is tomorrow, 9/29/2014 at 8pm.

Our most recent podcast is here, where we interviewed Galina Krasskova and talked on Ancestors and leadership in the communities we share.

 

 

The link to the Jaguar and the Owl WordPress is here, where you can download and share the archived episodes of the show.

The link to the iTunes podcast archives for the show are here.

10 Years

Today marks 10 years that I have been a Pagan.  I started this journey as a nominally polytheist/duotheist Neo-Wiccan, using Scott Cunningham’s book as my major guide for the first two years.  I became solidly polytheist after experiencing Anpu, Odin and Thor, and Jesus Christ in a guided meditation.  That meditation prompted me to become Anpu’s priest, and while I did not pursue following Odin at the time, it introduced me to Him.  I voraciously devoured anything I could get my hands on regarding the Egyptian Gods, ritual, practice, beliefs.  I have, to my embarrassment, forgotten far more than I remember.  I became a ceremonial magician, and studied evocation after doing a solid year of LBRP every single day in the shower.  I was unaware of Odin, for the most part, excepting He was a God I was nervous, if not fearful of.

After three years of serving only Him, Anpu told me that our relationship would be on the back burner while I learned from and served Odin, much to my shock.  I did much the same as I had with Anpu when Odin came around, grabbing sources, and reading and studying as much as I could even as I moved into worshiping Him.  Shortly after He pushed me to develop a deeper relationship with my Ancestors, and the landvaettir.  While gnosis and personal interaction have become and is a large part of my Work, I still remember how eagerly I devoured copies of the Havamal, and books on Norse myth just to learn a bit more.  I knew so little of Him.  Some days I feel I still know so little!

I have, in that time, been through many groups.  I’ve screwed up hard and done well hand-in-hand.  I’ve become more lax in some areas, more strident in others.  I went from being a ceremonial magician and only a priest of Anpu 8 years ago, to being all but thrown at Odin and becoming His priest as well as a shaman in the Northern Tradition 5 years ago.  I was adopted into the Anishinaabe 3 months ago.  In these 10 years I have become a father, and have raised my son with pride.  He has blessed my life each and every day, teaching me patience and sharing with me the simple pleasures of being a Dad.

I am part of many communities now.  I am a Wiccan Youth Minister at the Crossroads Tabernacle Church.  I am a member of House Sankofa.  I teach on the Northern Tradition, holding monthly lessons and building a small community here in Michigan.  I teach workshops at The Wandering Owl and ConVocation.  I am starting to get involved in Rendevous, a group that does historical reenactment from the fur-trapper years.  I am not where I thought I would be when I first started walking this path…and I am very grateful for it.

I have been blessed with a supportive and loving family, tribes, and people from many walks of life.  I have supportive, caring Elders, and communities that love me for who I am, and appreciate me for what I do.  I have many people I hold dear, many who are not blood family I now call family, Brother, Sister, and Mother.

The Gods, Ancestors, and spirits have blessed my life.  Hail to the Gods!  Hail to the Ancestors!  Hail to the spirits!  May the next ten years be as powerful, and full of blessings.

Thank you, all of you, who have walked this path with me.  Blessing to you and yours.  May your Gods, Ancestors, and spirits bless you, and walk with you.

A Note on Doubt, Patience, and Follow-Through

Read this description of, then watch Dakota 38, a documentary film on Jim Miller, a Native American leader and Vietnam War veteran and those who journeyed with him:

In the spring of 2005, Jim Miller, a Native spiritual leader and Vietnam veteran, found himself in a dream riding on horseback across the great plains of South Dakota. Just before he awoke, he arrived at a riverbank in Minnesota and saw 38 of his Dakota ancestors hanged. At the time, Jim knew nothing of the largest mass execution in United States history, ordered by Abraham Lincoln on December 26, 1862.

“When you have dreams, you know when they come from the creator… As any recovered alcoholic, I made believe that I didn’t get it. I tried to put it out of my mind, yet it’s one of those dreams that bothers you night and day.”

Now, four years later, embracing the message of the dream, Jim and a group of riders retrace the 330-mile route of his dream on horseback from Lower Brule, South Dakota to Mankato, Minnesota to arrive at the hanging site on the anniversary of the execution. “We can’t blame the wasichus anymore. We’re doing it to ourselves. We’re selling drugs. We’re killing our own people. That’s what this ride is about, is healing.” This is the story of their journey- the blizzards they endure, the Native and Non-Native communities that house and feed them along the way, and the dark history they are beginning to wipe away.

This part in particular sticks out to me:

four years later, embracing the message of the dream, Jim and a group of riders retrace the 330-mile route of his dream on horseback from Lower Brule, South Dakota to Mankato, Minnesota to arrive at the hanging site on the anniversary of the execution.

It took Mr. Miller and those who joined him four years to complete the work put before them.  Four years to prepare for the journey.  It took him, and those who rode with him 16 days to make this holy, healing journey.  330 miles on horseback.  They did this for their Ancestors.  They did this, despite how long it took, the hard ride, all of it.  They did this ‘to take their spirits back, to the homeland”.   Around Day 5 they ran right into a blizzard.  They kept going when it passed.  Later they were hit with another, and rode through it to shelter.  They did not stop.  They kept going to where their Ancestors were hung.  They came to bring peace to their Ancestors, to their people, and to offer new peace with the town.

Hail to the brave people, to Jim Miller and all who followed his vision from Great Spirit.  Hail to all who helped them on their journey.  Hail to the 38 plus 2.  Their names are here.

How can we do less for our own Gods, Ancestors, and spirits?  This, among a great many reasons, is why I say you can never offer too much to the Gods, Ancestors, or spirits.  You can never give too much for all the blessings They give us.  Should we give up doubt?  No.  We should embrace ourselves, our doubt, and our path with patience, and follow through on our commitments to the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits.  Hail to Them All.

In the spring of 2005, Jim Miller, a Native spiritual leader and Vietnam veteran, found himself in a dream riding on horseback across the great plains of South Dakota. Just before he awoke, he arrived at a riverbank in Minnesota and saw 38 of his Dakota ancestors hanged. At the time, Jim knew nothing of the largest mass execution in United States history, ordered by Abraham Lincoln on December 26, 1862.

“When you have dreams, you know when they come from the creator… As any recovered alcoholic, I made believe that I didn’t get it. I tried to put it out of my mind, yet it’s one of those dreams that bothers you night and day.”

Now, four years later, embracing the message of the dream, Jim and a group of riders retrace the 330-mile route of his dream on horseback from Lower Brule, South Dakota to Mankato, Minnesota to arrive at the hanging site on the anniversary of the execution. “We can’t blame the wasichus anymore. We’re doing it to ourselves. We’re selling drugs. We’re killing our own people. That’s what this ride is about, is healing.” This is the story of their journey- the blizzards they endure, the Native and Non-Native communities that house and feed them along the way, and the dark history they are beginning to wipe away.

This part in particular sticks out to me:

four years later, embracing the message of the dream, Jim and a group of riders retrace the 330-mile route of his dream on horseback from Lower Brule, South Dakota to Mankato, Minnesota to arrive at the hanging site on the anniversary of the execution.

It took Mr. Miller and those who joined him four years to complete the work put before them.  Four years to prepare for the journey.  It took him, and those who rode with him 16 days to make this holy, healing journey.  330 miles on horseback.  They did this for their Ancestors.  They did this, despite how long it took, the hard ride, all of it.  They did this ‘to take their spirits back, to the homeland”.   Around Day 5 they ran right into a blizzard.  They kept going when it passed.  Later they were hit with another, and rode through it to shelter.  They did not stop.  They kept going to where their Ancestors were hung.  They came to bring peace to their Ancestors, to their people, and to offer new peace with the town.

Hail to the brave people, to Jim Miller and all who followed his vision from Great Spirit.  Hail to all who helped them on their journey.  Hail to the 38 plus 2.  Their names are here.

How can we do less for our own Gods, Ancestors, and spirits?  This, among a great many reasons, is why I say you can never offer too much to the Gods, Ancestors, or spirits.  You can never give too much for all the blessings They give us.  Should we give up doubt?  No.  We should embrace ourselves, our doubt, and our path with patience, and follow through on our commitments to the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits.  Hail to Them All.

Sigyn Project: Day 9

You Who Does Not Forsake

(For who can say You have not tended the Flame?)

Please hear me!

Please, teach me Your Constancy!

 

Whose Spirit is Mountain Insurmountable

(For who can say they have conquered the Summit?)

Please hear me!

Please, teach me Your Resilience!

 

You Who Does Not Deny

(For who can say You have not seen the Horrors?)

Please hear me!

Please, teach me Your Witness!

 

Whose Love is Journey Eternal

(For who can say they have seen the End?)

Please hear me!

Please, teach me Your Faithfulness!

 

You Whose Name is Victory

(For who can say You welcome the Surrender?)

Please hear me!

Please, teach me Your Perseverance!

 

Lady of the Staying Power,

Goddess Great and Gentle,

Hear my prayer and may I be

worthy of Your Blessing!

 

A is for Anubis

With Anubis coming back into my life in a big way, the Pagan Blog Project has given me some inspiration to write here.  I am coming late to this, so I am playing a bit at catch-up!

Anubis’ effect on my life has been profound.  He came into my life in a time where I was uncertain of myself and my path, and helped set me straight.  When He entered my life again some years later, calling me to His Priesthood, He pushed me to change.  His Presence in my life is a constant blessing.  I am learning something from Him, even when He is silent, sometimes especially so.  For a recap of how where we’ve come from, look here.

He has largely been quiet these last four years since I began my Work with Odin, but now He is back in the fore of my life, and Odin is moving more to the side par the moment.  My Work with my Ancestors has picked up, with prayers being made every day to Them, and offerings as often as I can.  He seems pleased by this.  My work with Him at the moment is largely about small prayers, and making offerings to Him.  In my experience, He is not as in-your-face as Odin tends to be, and His lessons with me have been more subtle.  He seems to have a kind of infinite patience as you paddle about in circles, waiting for you to get it.  

A small statue of Anubis in His half-human form stands on my altar right next to my statue of Odin.  He is about half a pen in height, is made from cold-cast resin, and is well-detailed with little bits of gold flecking His black face.  When I give offerings of food and water to my Gods, as best as I can, I feed Him and water Him as the ancient priests would have done.  While I cannot do this every day in the morning, due to my school schedule, it is powerfully connective to me.  Feeding and giving my God, through this statue something to drink.  Does He need to be fed, watered, or bathed as a God?  No, but, it is such a connective work.  I used to think it was a small thing until He asked me a question: “When someone gives you food, water, or bathes you, is that a small thing?”

I think that is a great lesson from Him: the seemingly small things belie great things.  The small, everyday gestures of love, devotion, and worship are more important than the large pieces of work.  The small things make the big things possible.  In reorienting my life around these smaller things I’m better able to do His Work, and life comes at me in a way I can handle a lot better.  I’m not scrambling around for help, or  wondering what I should do.  There is a foundation of Work already there, to rely on and to call on.  I am just beginning to find the benefits of this slower path as Anubis has come back to the fore in my religious life.  The far slower pace I have with Him this time is letting me hear His Voice much deeper, and clearer than I used to.  It is a work in progress, but His patience with me and my Work taking on a more slow pace gives me room to stretch and breathe, like the difference between stretching with Yoga and speed bag training.

He is a guide, but He does not shove you through the door.  He has waited, with His incredible patience, to get to the point I am at.  I am just beginning to relearn about Him.  To regain that deep familiarity with His Voice that I had when I was His priest full-time.  To deepen my devotion work with Him.  I look forward to my journey, and pray for patience.

Hanging

I made this song listening to Skrillex and Innerpartysystem.  For some reason Odin’s Hanging on the Tree kept coming to mind, so I wrote this.

 

Fervent fever

Blood burning

Ligament lashing

Muscle mashes

Teeth tremble

Skin slackens

Eye erupts

Brains bombarded

Heart hammers

Feet fetter

Hand hacks

Tongue tastes

Blood blackens

Panting panic

Noose knotting

Spear shaking

Breath billows

Body breaking

Eye extinguished

Tree triumphant

Dark descending

Death demarking

Hanging hallowing

Gap gushing

Runes rushing

Power pressing

Enlightenment erupting

Life leering

Vying vicious

Hands hit

Bark bites

Feeling fulminous

Eye easing

Blood beating

Rope ruptured

Runes rapturous

Ground greeting

Spear sentinel

Blood beckons

Grip grasping

Feet finding

Legs locking

Body bending

Knees kneeling

Eye earnest

Lungs leaven

Form freed

Spine straightening

Feet follow

Legs lengthen

Stride seeking

Hands heaving

Reigns reaching

Mouth moving

Runes responding

Words whispered

Designs drawn

Movements made

Blessings born

Curses created

Sacrifice sanctified

Holiness haggard

Death deterred

Road rejoined