This is going to be a complete ramble:
My last post got me to considering my previous beliefs, before I jumped onto this occult-y thing, and how my beliefs have morphed over time. I always identified, and still do to a certain extent, as an agnostic. It’s not even as simple as that, but let me just start there. What I think of as agnostic is believing that the mysteries of the universe are ineffable (and “ineffable” is an interesting word to use here for its meanings are so fitting, and a little deeper than they seem, leading to other lore about taboos against speaking names of gods which is another rant). I still believe this. That said, I also now believe that there are certain mysteries that we can experience and through that experience we can gain a certain kind of personal gnosis which I think of as wholly individual, uniquely suited to the lives only we live and can know, but which also lies along hidden strings of lives or DNA that lives within us and is made up of everything that once was, and that also know or partially know our experiences. So, in this way, there is archetypal information transmitted that extends beyond a purely individual concept, and yet a person applies it uniquely through their own lens of experience. I know that I am given or receive information in my dreams about deities and entities or spirits that I had previously zero knowledge about, and when researched, found out the lore related to these spirits. I also know that when I mentally journey (excitatory or inhibitory) into the realm of the subconscious, unconscious, Other or Unseen, I encounter beings that seem to come to me and engage with me of their own accord. When I meditate or do something methodically or trance-inducing (excitatory or inhibitory), I have sometimes witnessed events or gained knowledge that later comes into being. When I have scryed, I have received information through a language that is no language known to humans, but things were expressed to me and I understood it nonetheless. I have detected diseases in people, I have known pregnancies before being told, I have even “seen” or “felt” events happening that were later confirmed as having happened, I have sensed catastrophe before it has manifested. I’ve blogged before about the ways in which I see, hear, feel, sense, know things, although I can’t find that post now. It’s an important distinction, I think, so I might try to find that one and re-post it.
Consciousness & The Living Cosmos
I am still not willing to commit to any one idea, but I will say that I do not believe in a single god that exists only outside of the human sphere for purely the purpose to manage our lives as if a puppeteer. The idea that there is a single source consciousness, that may be a multi-faceted consciousness that includes us and creates one out of many, is maybe as close as I get to a godhead figure. I think that consciousness is something that is not at all like human life and thus cannot be personified simply as being human-like. It would probably best fall under the title “pantheist” in that the world and cosmos itself is/are alive and conscious as is everything within it. I am heavily influenced by the theories of Maria Kvilhaug in this regard. I have envisioned this belief as being the cells or blood in the body of the cosmos. There was an episode of Futurama where they explored this kind of idea…it was pretty awesome, and of course, Bender becomes god for awhile 🙂 The idea of fate is a tricky concept, and I guess the way I see that is that within this living cosmos is the ability of time to actually act as a fluid and changing force within itself. That time and distance are not rigid, they move and morph and slip through cosmic cracks. I think because of this or in relation to this, that IF events are happening now and in the past and in the future (because the future is then just part of a continual past that has not happened yet…talk about a mind-trip), and IF there are infinite possibilities because of this, this could be a certain way to view the idea of the fate map, and the time-space continuum and whathaveyou. I still think that the whole thing is like making ice cream: the fate is the ice cream. The human is the ingredients. At the end of the whole process, the human will be something different, it will be the ingredients blended and transformed, but the flavors it has, who can tell? The flavors are free will. They are the things we do to flavor and spice our lives in myriad ways. But in the end, that little string of fate will pluck, we die, and we become ice cream and we mix our flavors with other dead ice cream. Maybe we end up as pistachio or chocolate or vomit-tasting ice cream, but we are ice cream. I guess whenever I can liken a deep, complex cosmological concept to food, so much the better 🙂
Death, Oblivion, Unconsciousness
I used to believe that at the time of death, a person simply ceases to be aware. I’ve been knocked unconscious and lost consciousness due to blood pressure drops many times, and the experience is unnervingly nothing: one minute I am awake and aware, then there is a period of nothingness, I know nothing, see nothing, hear nothing, feel nothing. I am suspended somewhere, not in sleep, not in waking. Then, I am coming around and sometimes I can tell it has only been a very quick momentary thing and I feel out of sorts but overall ok, and other times it has felt as if I’m waking in some completely other time or place, and it takes a minute to remember what even happened. Once when I had a particularly harsh pressure drop, I ended up falling backwards into the porcelain tub and knocked the shit out of my back and neck, and my hubby was there trying to catch me as I fell (although I had no awareness of even losing consciousness, usually I get some inkling that I’m going down). I came around with only the ability to feel pain throughout my entire body. I could not see or hear, just feel this terrible pain and mutter, “I hurt, I hurt, I hurt”. Then I could hear my husband saying, “What hurts? What hurts?” and I could hear myself reply, “Everything”. Then slowly I could start to see things come into focus. It was some time before I could stand up, and as it turned out, hubby must have stepped on my foot in his attempt to catch me and broke one of my toes! Anyways…for a long time, even though I had had experiences with what are commonly called ghosts and the weird happenings I could tune into, I really had no concept of spirituality or any theological ideas at all. I knew I didn’t believe in the Christian mythos, but I didn’t know what or if I believed in anything, really. I was quite confident that death meant the end of knowing. The end of the consciousness that I know as ME. That concept was always quite comforting to me. My views on that have radically changed as I’ve studied different theological and mystical theories and my views on death are much less comforting now, but I feel as if I’m getting more open to accepting what things might actually be versus what I want them to be. Or a better way to phrase that might be, to understand the nature of things and processes that might not be exactly the same for every single thing but similar. And hell, none of us know til we get there, right? I have since begun to think that if something we believe is comforting to us, it is probably an illusion.
I was recently visited by my most recently deceased uncle as I was swimming (the pool is a common place for me to receive ancestral woo-woo) and I asked him specific questions about how he is experiencing death. I asked him about the death itself, and he replied, “It was long and hard.” One thing I thought was interesting was when I asked him if there is a “judgement” period (which I’m not overly-concerned with, but had just been reading about the judgement that is such a common thread among death lore in all traditions that I’ve read about) and he said, “It’s more of a judgement of the self, of the life we have lived, how we feel about it and how we want to continue.” Since he is so recently deceased (just about 3 months ago), his thoughts and feelings were almost too chaotic to make sense of because he was thinking and feeling so many things at once. I was most struck, of course, by the emotional content that he expressed for his surviving family and my sorrow was very mixed up in all of it. He was very concerned about his daughter who mourns him so fiercely, and he wanted me to share with her that he “got there” ok (which I have wrestled with…how do you tell someone, “Hey, your dead father was talking to me while I was swimming the other day, he wants you to know things are A-OK!” Yeah, next thing I know, the dudes in the white coats would be banging on my door). When I tried to discern his feelings about his wife (my mother’s sister), he was very protective of this and he seemed to put a wall around it so that I could not penetrate those feelings. They were very much in love and had been together for over 50 years, and I understood that it was too painful to share and he is still processing this grief.
Since I started the shamanic journey thing with staving, I have most certainly met the consciousnesses and energies known in the Norse pantheon. These entities are scary, massive, sometimes very elusive and sometimes totally present and visible. I know I’ve blogged about this, but I’ll just reiterate for my own sake because it is good for me to recall these experiences. The way I perceive the wells and the nine worlds is both simple and complex: the three wells are intense places to draw energy up, Urðarbrunnr and Mímisbrunnr are drawn up through the legs and Hvergelmir, the Gaping Void is drawn up through the perineum. This Gaping Void is one of the most fascinating places and I have had interesting moments within it. The lower worlds are all dark, and yet I can feel and see things more clearly there than anywhere. I perceive clearly the walls of flame in Hel, and I feel the iciness through my feet though I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the ice. The female entities that reside in Niflheim are extremely kind and welcoming, and I have felt their embrace. I have been inside and along the hillsides of the Mountain of Medicine, I’ve seen the huge fields that grow there and I have been given healing and medicine and recipes to treat my physical conditions. I have drank the mead from the horn and been dipped in it, as was my entire matrilinial (sp?) line. My sisters eye was removed and filled with the golden mead when she was having eye problems. I have slid down stone water slides to get there, been vaulted through an enormous tube of water, and been taken down on the wings of my Huginn (Thought), a giant eagle. It is there I finally met my Muninn (Memory), a komodo dragon. My fylgia shows itself to me most readily in the dark realms and walks with me and inside of me as I journey. My mentor led a specific journey to assist a friend of ours who had just died with escorting her allies, we perceived the many dragons she worked with, and I saw very clearly a little, white baby dragon curled up in Hel’s realm, and it seemed the dragon slept near the place where Níðhöggr resides, and my mentor cooed to Níðhöggr and the other dragons. Svartalfheim is where I have engaged in some other very intense healing for my mom, and one “dark elf” or “dwarf” assisted me in what I can only describe as us both packing together dark, muddy material in what resembled a giant colon, which is the physical area that my mom had a severe infection that would not heal (this was by far the most difficult journey physically for me, and my mentor had to massage my legs and hands afterwards as they were “stuck” in a strange kind of paralysis). I have experienced huge, ominous forces in the area known as Jötunheim which is near the throat/back of the neck, and I do not linger there. The higher worlds are light and airy and at once clear but obscured. I can see for miles and miles it seems in the meadowy “people field”, and I can see and feel the great tree that stands always behind me, which I think is a burr oak. I see clearly the enormous goat who sits atop a green rooftop at what I think is known as the High Seat, which I assume is my own High Seat (the area of the third eye). I have seen the dead of all time lying around in the field, in what I understood to be both Valhöll and Fólkvangr where I have perceived both Freyja (many times) and Óðinn (once). My mentor generally does not call on Óðinn. I can see Vanaheim to the right, where stands of birch trees line a golden path of birch leaves and green moss, and a dark line of pine trees to the left whose path leads to the lower worlds. I have seen enormous black cats and small cats that stride alongside the feet of Freyja. I have been cloaked in bear pelts and linen. I have received birch leaves. I have experienced whole universes inside individual snowflakes which as I have mentioned was experienced as Heimdallr. You can find my posts about the other beings I have met and worked with. I cannot reiterate enough how much of an honor I consider this work.
Experience & Faith
What does all of this mean? I do not know. All I know is that experience is more real than theory or lore that sits on a page that one reads in a book. Experience eclipses belief, and yet, one must still have belief, faith. It is a curious thing, faith (and a word that still makes me squirm). When you can release your fierce hold on all that you know or think you know, on all that you believe or think you believe, you can enter this very interesting place that is like when someone tells you to close your eyes and fall backwards into a group of people’s arms. Are they going to catch you? Are they going to let you fall? You don’t know until you just let yourself fall backwards with no sight, no knowledge. Only faith.
Here’s a really fantastic fire and drumming thing: