Book Review: Dion Fortune’s Book of the Dead (Crossposted)

I am crossposting this on both of my blogs, since the subject matter is germane to both of them in different ways; I have different subscribers on both blogs, so I wanted to make sure no one missed it.

Dion Fortune’s “Book of the Dead”
published by Weiser Books
Amazon link: Book of the Dead

This book, which is probably better called a “pamphlet” at it’s very short 77 pages, was originally published in 1930 under the title, “Though The Gates of Death”. It’s not usually listed among her works due to its brevity, but I was lucky enough to stumble upon it while searching for new books to read on my Nook. This version was originally published in 1995 by the occult group she founded near the end of her life, “The Society of Inner Light”.

You’ve maybe heard of her before, because she was a strong influence on authors and occultists who created the Pagan traditions and thea/ology that we take for granted today. Diana Paxton and Doreen Valiente both credit her writings as a go-to when they were beginning what we now call Wicca. She’s also written one of the best books ever on the subject of psychic self-defense, titled “Psychic Self-Defense”. That is a book I frequently make students read and digest.

She was very active in the burgeoning occult underworld in the 1920’s and 30’s. Interesting to me, she had a nervous breakdown and went into a psychiatric institution right before she began having psychic and other magical experiences (madness path, anyone?). She studied various occult systems, including Crowely’s Golden Dawn, the Freemasons, and the hottest parlor religion, Spiritualism – a form of Christianity that held strong beliefs about being able to contact and interact with spirits of the dead and astral travel. She was also a “lay psychotherapist” (not far from what I do, sometimes) who had taken classes on the roles of psychology and psychic phenomenon from the Theosophists. And if that isn’t cool enough, there is scuttlebutt that she was one of the occultists the British government employed during WWII.

Needless to say, I was thrilled to find an E book version of her Book of the Dead. Working with spirits of the dead, and traveling to various other planes of existence, is something Ms. Fortune was very well known for. I was eager to hear what her thoughts were on the process of dying, and what the living can do to assist the dying in their crossing over.

These are the two things that the book focuses on the most – what the body and soul go through when one begins to die/what the soul can expect upon severing itself from the body, and what the living can do to assist the dying in making a gentle transition from life to death.

The first place that felt like a slap in the face (there were a few) is that she very strongly felt that there was no way that “natural death” could occur before “three score and ten years” (70). She explicitly states that dying from disease was not a “natural death”, because it meant that you were less than vigilant with your body. I believe this, like some of the other things I strongly disagree with her on, is a product of her era. This was before cancer was really known or understood, and although there still lingers some attitudes that some cancers are the patient’s “fault” (lung cancer, I’m looking at you!), I think our society’s view on those who contract terminal illnesses has radically changed since the 1930’s.

She describes three stages that a soul goes through after the last breath is released. The first is the disentanglement from both the “clay body” (your physical form) and the “etheric double” (how you envision yourself when you’re not looking at your body, basically). This can be assisted by those present at this stage by attempting to connect telepathically with the dying and give them permission and encouragement to move on. Also, having a source of prana (energy) present is useful – thus, the tradition of lighting candles and spreading flowers for the dead. Otherwise, the dying may use the prana from someone present, which she says explains why loved ones who suddenly feel tired shortly after the last breath have no explanation for it. I don’t know if I buy that entirely, since I know there’s a release of stress and energy when you know someone you’ve been sitting with is finally dead, and that might be confused for “stolen prana”. But it can’t hurt to have a good source handy if you’re sitting vigil for someone.

The second phase she calls “Purgatory” (remember, she was still seeped in Christian framework, even though she was an occultist). Supposedly, the soul is shown visions of their unrealized or unsuccessful desires. She talks about Karma a lot in this section, but I wonder if she only uses this term because it was the one accessible. The soul either has to overcome its attachment to these desires and failures (and thus move on to become a Master on the Higher Planes) or be reincarnated in order to live out another life to learn how to overcome them. Interestingly, Fortune states that while souls are in this phase, which starts “a few months after death”, they are not contactable, and cannot hear the summons of their loved ones on earth.

The third phase, “Heaven World” depends on what the disposition of the soul is – it can either ascend and become a “higher being” – a soul that assists in God’s work, or works with other freshly dead souls, or some other purpose – or you prepare to be reborn into a new incarnation. There is a time between phase 2 and 3 where a soul may be communicated with again, but Fortune warns that if you continually contact a soul in this phase, or bring them to mind/heart on a regular basis (like on their birthday, or an anniversary), you may be inadvertently keeping them from moving forward. If the departed does not feel like their old life is sorted, and their loved ones can move on and live their own lives apart from them, they cannot either ascend or be reincarnated. This meshes with some of my experiences working with dead who have been trapped due to similar circumstances.

I found many of her insights incredibly interesting, especially her thoughts that those who are psychically or magically aware have a much different death experience from those who are unused to fairing forth from their earthly bodies. She gives very veiled references on some exercises one can do to make that transition easier, and to retain consciousness during these processes. She attributes that most people cannot remember past lives, or what the after life is like, because their souls were “asleep” during them, and they attribute the experiences to a dream. She points to those who have a good handle on who they were in past lives as being more magically gifted in one way or another, because they are closer to becoming “masters”.

However, there was some stuff in there that I just found wacknutty. As I posted on Facebook, she states forthrightly that if a soul is severed from their body traumatically, like in a car accident, that soul will find itself inside the body of a baby about to be born. She claims that it is old midwives wisdom that if a baby is born with “old eyes”, it will die prematurely. Yes, she says that the traumatically severed soul jumps into a baby’s body so it can die properly, shortly after birth. I really wonder if she had a friend/friends who had lost children and were looking for some occult reason for it, and this was what Fortune came up with. Otherwise, it just seems too cruel, even for me.

I found this to be a really great read to get me in the mood for Samhain, which I will celebrate this weekend. It made me think very hard about what it must be like for a soul to leave a body and find out that it is more than the flesh, and gave me much to think about not just about where we go when we’re dead, but how we get there. It also gave me some incredible insights on things I can do should I find myself sitting vigil next to someone who is terminal. Some of it is definitely a product of the era it was written in, and there’s a lot of Christianity to translate to your own belief system, but the translation isn’t that hard. (She might have even been using it because it made it easier to publish in that time.) I suggest giving it a read, and it’s super short (77 pages). If you are a Nook user and wish to borrow my copy, complete with my own notes and thoughts, drop me an email and I’d be happy to lend it out.

The Invisible Third

dedicated to my boyfriend “His Boy”, because he asked for it, and then waited and waited…

You tend to end up dating the kind of people you hang out with. Spirit workers and other spooky-woo types tend to hang together, because we live odd sorts of lives and it’s nice when you don’t have to explain all the weird jewelry and what a geas is and how come you wear a wedding ring but I haven’t met your spouse. It’s convenient to find yourself in situations and telling someone they need to ground and re-shield and they can just do it, rather than need you to launch into an hour-long lesson on what that means and how to do it.

It’s like any other profession – it’s comforting to know that your experiences, frustrations, and jargon are understood by others. And although not all engineers date other engineers, you tend to find that left-brained people tend to drift towards other left-brainers, and vice versa. I’m not saying this happens every single time, but it’s not uncommon.

With that said, it’s no surprise that I have found myself in a V relationship – that is, where two people are dating the same person, but those two people aren’t dating each other. But that’s not the unsurprising part – it’s that the other branch of the V is an Invisible Person. Yes, my boyfriend has a sexual and romantic relationship with his God, and that relationship, as you might expect, is his primary commitment.

Now, to those who haven’t been around people in these sorts of relationships – God spouses, consorts, whores, etc – you might be thinking that it doesn’t affect my relationship with His Boy all that much. I mean, for most people raised in a mainstream religion, what you do with God happens either when you’re all alone, or when you’re surrounded by others who believe the same thing. That’s not how this stuff works at all.

This Invisible Person, whom we affectionately call Mr. Mister, is as “real” to us as any other person. Mr. Mister has wants, needs, desires, boundaries, and faults. He makes demands on His Boy’s time and life, and sometimes those demands rub up against things I may want or need from His Boy. Like any other poly situation, you’d think the answer would be to negotiate and communicate. And sometimes that works, and sometimes that can be more problematic.

In our situation, it happens that I have fairly accurate signal clarity. I don’t say that as a boast; it’s something I’ve been told by countless clients and colleagues over the years. His Boy strains to hear the very smallest whisper from Mr. Mister, and even then his faith is at a point where he second guesses himself a lot. So there’s a lot of talking between Mr. Mister and me, and me relating messages from His Boy when appropriate, and some of His Boy talking to Mr. Mister, but not a lot of Mr. Mister talking directly to His Boy.

It took some negotiation on my part to create strong boundaries around this – Mr. Mister started “showing up” uninvited, either by just being energetically present in the room, or sending me messages to pass on, or in one case, taking over my body with no warning. I had to make it clear to him that I honor he is a part of this relationship, but that there needs to be a strong foundation between His Boy and I that exists separate from Mr. Mister’s influence. Mostly, I asked that he attempt communication with His Boy directly first, and then if that fails, to come to me and I’ll pass the message along. If he wants to be present while we’re spending time together, I just want a little warning so I can prepare, and that it has to be proportionate to the amount of time I get to spend with His Boy without Mr. Mister.

One last little tidbit about our specific situation: this is the first human relationship His Boy has ventured into since making his oaths to Mr. Mister. Everything has a “let’s try this and see if it works” atmosphere to it, and we’re both trying to fail on the side of being too cautious, rather than too lax. It seems sometimes I forget a rule or push a boundary, but overall I’m very aware of what I am free to do with him, and what belongs only to Mr. Mister. It can be tricky sometimes, because a slip of the tongue or a errant touch has put me in Mr. Mister’s sights, and that’s not really somewhere I want to be.

The first step we both took when we decided we wanted to experiment with this relationship is that His Boy spoke to Mr. Mister about it. Well, that’s not entirely true; he sorta agreed to be my boyfriend before asking Mr. Mister if he was allowed to have human relationships. His Boy is still new to this whole God-consort thing, and hadn’t yet fully explored what was now off limits because of his new relationship. When we realized we had forgotten this fairly important step, His Boy did what he could to apologize and then ask. I was in fear for a while there; we weren’t assured that Mr. Mister was going to say yes. Not only had they not discussed human relationships and what was allowed, but His Boy had gone ahead and agreed to the relationship without permission. It’s an odd feeling, knowing that an Invisible Person holds the power to tell your potential partner that sorry, this relationship that you’ve just screwed up all your courage to ask for isn’t in the cards. There was some nail chewing and mental pacing while His Boy communed with Mr. Mister about it.

Then it was my turn. I sought out a diviner, so my signal clarity would not be influenced by what I so desperately wanted. I asked if this was okay with Mr. Mister, what I should be wary of, what belonged to Him vs. what was available to me. It was made abundantly clear to me (and to His Boy through different channels) is that marriage is out of the question, unless there’s a silly legal need (like health insurance) or some other earthly need for it, but no romantic oaths of living together forever. This works well for me, since I am pretty much done with the concept of marriage anyway. It was also made clear that although both His Boy and I find power exchange attractive, we could not enter into any sort of permanent power exchange relationship. And for me specifically, I could not either collar him or be collared by him. Basically, the message was that we could do nothing that might confuse His Boy about who is on the top of the hierarchy of his relationship structure.

I was also told that there were some skills I possessed that Mr. Mister was very interested in, either me teaching His Boy or providing for him. I balked – I have a strong personal rule that I don’t date “jobs”. I did it once, and learned the excruciating way that I can NOT keep my feelings locked in a box, even if I know going in that the relationship is a spiritual setup, rather than a romantic or recreational one. And usually, when the Gods are interested in me for spiritual “dating”, part of the “job” is to force them to come to terms with their issues around relationships, and that always ends in a terrible horrible break up, and most of the time also includes the “client” spreading horrible rumors about me because they can’t deal with how many buttons I was forced to push. I hate it, a lot, so I have asked Him Who Owns my Head (Loki) not to send me more jobs like that. So when Mr. Mister seemed interested in “employing” me as a tool in his relationship with His Boy, I was more than hesitant.

However, I spent about a month communing with Mr. Mister about exactly what he wanted from me, and what He was going to do in exchange. As He is not someone I have taken oaths to or am sworn to work for, there’s absolutely no reason for me to bend my neck and just do what He asks without something tangible in exchange. I also made it clear that “getting to have a relationship” was not enough of a poker chip – it was a big one, no mistake – but for the amount of things he wanted from me, it wasn’t enough on it’s own.

It was made clear at the end of the month that He and I had come to an agreement. I would serve as a sounding board for His Boy while he strengthened his own signal clarity, and when the time is right, I will assist in “fixing” his connection with Mr. Mister so His Boy can hear Him more reliably. I would encourage His Boy to do things in public that Mr. Mister wanted him to do, and remind him when it was appropriate. There was a sexual technique that Mr. Mister wanted me to introduce His Boy to (well, His Boy knew what it was, but he had no experience with it), and since it meant taking a cherry of His Boy’s, I was pretty okay with that. Finally, He was very clear with me that I was to keep a vigilant eye on His Boy’s mental health, and if he slipped into being more symptomatic, went off his meds, or made some other change that would affect his life negatively, I was to put on my Madness Shaman hat and get His Boy back on track. I’m not so pleased about this, as a recent relationship of mine came to an end because no matter how much I tried to assist my partner with their mental health issues, they ignored me and continued to make bad choices until I had no choice but to leave.

Overall, however, it wasn’t too much to ask for, and most of it was something that I thought fell under the category of “being a good boyfriend” anyway. He and I ended the negotiation by me making it clear that if He wanted something else, He had to have a tangible benefit for me in His hand. As Mr. Mister is very “negotiation” oriented, He could appreciate this.

(Not the first time I was happy that Loki taught me not to fear Gods, but to stand up to them and talk to them with moxie, for sure.)

Now His Boy and I have been together for a little longer than six months, and it seems to be working out. Mr. Mister has made less surprise visits, although sometimes He drops little messages in my mind – like recently we were at a party and He told me to give His Boy a good time – and I think His Boy has gotten an unexpected side effect of all of this. He has been much more diligent in setting up and working with Mr. Mister’s altar, sitting in reflection more often, and in general keeping Mr. Mister closer to his heart and head and an active part of his life.

I do believe that at this time in my life, who I date or have relationships with is not really in my hands anymore. I do have some choice, and can say no, but ever since I surrendered the reigns of my life over to Loki, every relationship I’ve had has had some spiritual meaning, lesson, or exchange that has been important in my progression. However much I am angry at the STBX (soon to be ex) at how things ended up, I recognize that without his relationship I would be in a radically different place than I am now. And in some way, maybe that’s an example that His Boy needs in his own life, how to engage in romantic and sexual relationships while balancing that he has a job to do, an Invisible Person who takes precedence, and it’s not something he can hide in order to get laid.

Both His Boy (whose blog can be found at Rock of Eye) and I are hungry to hear from others who have Invisible People in their relationship life. How do you deal with communication, negotiation, boundaries, and other typical relationship issues? Have you figured out interesting ways to acknowledge Their presence in your life and in your relationship? Are you just starting out and want to talk to others who share the same experience? We’re both hoping to hear from people with an entire spectrum of experience, from those who are just figuring this all out, to those who have done it, and maybe even those who did it for a while and then went back to being monogamous to their Invisible partner. If you don’t feel comfortable posting publicly, you can contact me at awesome.del@gmail do

What is “Spirit Work”?

In the theme of writing Spirit Work 101 essays, I figured I should probably back the truck up a bit and do my level best to explain what spirit work is, exactly.

The issue I face is that people use the term in a variety of ways, and there really isn’t a good definition out there that sums up the vast experiences, relationships, and devotional work that one might define as such. The first time I heard it applied to the kind of spiritual stuff I had been doing was by Raven Kaldera, a controversial person in his own right. The term sometimes gets sullied or maligned by his association with it – as though if you define your spiritual vocational work as “spirit work”, somehow you are in lockstep with him on his beliefs and practices. This is not the case.

Again, as always, I want to clarify that I am only going on my own experiences and discussions with others who call themselves spirit workers or who use the term spirit work to define their devotional practices. I invite those with alternate points of view or experiences to leave comments so as to expose readers to an array of ideas on the subject.

In the vaguest of ways, spirit work is a kind of spiritual practice that deals mainly with interactions between humankind and the world of spirits and Gods. It is different from other kinds of devotional work in that there is some form of communication between spirit workers and the spirits/Gods they work with or for. Usually, it also incorporates actions and practices that Spirits/Gods ask the spirit worker to do – as mundane as “carry this brick for two blocks and then put it down again” (an actual example), or as metaphysical as “spend nine days in a trance state exploring a specific place on the astral realm” (another actual example).

It does seem to require the ability to have, at least, one-way communication between the Holy Ones and the practitioner. One must be able to discern what the spirits may want, or want us to do. For more information about hearing the Gods and other spirits, I point you towards a different post of mine that addresses that subject. It is possible to do spirit work without this, but it usually requires having someone else in your life who has this ability, so they can help you figure out what the Gods want you to do. It is not uncommon for spirit workers to go through periods of feeling blocked, or having bad signal clarity, or in some other way find their “Godphone” or “Godradio” broken in some fashion. I’ve been there from time to time, and it didn’t stop me from being a spirit worker or doing the work of my Gods – it just made me rely harder on my own faith and the work that had been outlined in the past. I have another post on the way that addresses this subject in more depth.

The way that spirit work manifests in a person’s spiritual practices varies, depending on several factors. Usually, a person is chosen to do this sort of work based on the skills and talents they already possess – a spirit might choose a seamstress to create sacred costumes, or choose an artist to create devotional works of art for a spirit’s followers/devotees. It also happens that sometimes a God or spirit will embue a person with the ability to do the work they require; many people gifted with oracular or possessory abilities tell tales of being “rewired” so they can do these things reliably and with more ease.

Spouses or consorts of Gods sometimes consider their relationship a form of spirit work, since it usually comes with some sort of public devotional work. Some find themselves writing publicly about their spouse (books, blogs, essays, etc), while others become priests and help others who have a devotional relationship with their Consort. Some relay messages to those who cannot hear the voice of Gods, and others do social justice or other charity work in the name of their Deity. However, some Godspouses/consorts keep their relationship private, and this may play into whether or not they identify as a spirit worker.

At the core of the defintion is work. Although praying, writing, keeping shrines/altars, and other spiritual pursuits can be a part of a spirit worker’s life, the filter between “devotee” and “spirit worker” is when you take on tasks specifically at the request of the Holy Ones. It may be hard to discern whether you erected that altar to Kali Ma because you felt a deep connection with Her and Her mysteries/mythology, or because She herself asked you to. I know that when I began, I knew I had crossed over from devotional work to spirit work when the things the Gods asked me to do were things I would not have done of my own choosing, or things that changed my every day life and routine.

Some spirit workers work solely with the spirits, which can muddy the definition I gave above. These people find themselves in deep communication with the Holy Ones, and even though their work may not be in the public eye, it may still be defined as spirit work. I usually link this to those who work as a bridge because sometimes their private work benefits others in an indirect way. For example, a spirit may ask you to erect an altar in the middle of the woods, far off the beaten path. The person does it in solitude, not telling anyone about the altar or its location. However, two years later, that spirit leads another person to the altar, to give them some assurance that what they’re feeling and hearing isn’t madness.

Others find themselves working primarily with people, but for a spiritual cause. Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes the spirits ask their devotees to work in social justice or other charitable places in order to help the spirit’s “people”. A devotee of Baphomet, for example, might volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen because Baphomet has a warm heart for “the forgotten”. Dishing out stew may not look all spooky-foo, but the fact that Baphomet requested the person do it makes it so.

One of the struggles of some spirit workers is that Gods ask different things of different devotees. This can create everything from jealousy to downright derision. There are those who state that the Odin they know would never ask someone to do Ordeal Work in His name, while there are others who do exactly that. Once again, Gods are bigger than our brainmeats can comprehend, and the reason They take vastly different kinds of “workers” is because They are in need of a wide array of services offered in their name. Personally, when I “came out” as a child of Loki, many of his spouses derided me for not being chosen for that sort of relationship, and I felt discouraged and jealous. However, as time as gone on and I have gone deeper into the work that He and the Others I work for, I know securely that it is the right place for me to be, and to be anything else would distract me from my Purpose.

Now, for me, the differentiation between a “shaman” (essay forthcoming, co-authored by Wintersong Tashlin) and a “spirit worker” is that “shamans” have undergone some form of traumatic transformation in which they surrender their wyrd, or destiny, to the control of the Gods. In exchange for this surrender, the Gods bring the person back from their traumatic experience a radically different person, now focused on making the Work their primary focus. So although there may be full-time spirit workers, unless they’ve physically died, gone completely insane, or in some other way lost touch with our consensual reality, and as their solution accepted a Spirit’s dominion over the rest of their days, they’re not a “shaman”. Some people confuse the taking of clients as being a difference between spirit workers and shamans, but that’s not the distinction for me or those I know who identify as either shamans and spirit workers. Now, like me, there are some that identify as both; there are others who shy away from the word “shaman” because it has a complicated history (I promise, essay soon!) and so they use the less contentious “spirit worker”.

In a similar way, the word “priest”, in my lexicon, is someone who leads others in the worship of a Deity or Deities. If someone identifies themselves as a “priestess of Aphrodite”, then I expect them to be working directly with other seekers and devotees of Aphrodite in creating and participating in worship and work for that Deity. One need not be a spirit worker to be a priest, but one may be both a priest and a spirit worker. Have I lost you yet?

The word “devotee” is what I use for someone who has taken to worshipping a particular Spirit or Deity. They may have cultivated a feeling of close relationship, with or without the ability to discern the voice of that Spirit for themselves. They may have a shrine or altar to said Deity, do good works in their name, and witness to others about their particular Spirit. However, usually the word undertaken by a devotee is of their own volition, or a product of researching what devotees of a certain Deity did when the culture of that Deity was more alive/active, instead of being at the direct behest of that Deity. It could be that a devotee was told via a third party as to how to go about doing said devotional work, but unless the devotee is offering that sort of counsel/communication to others, I would not call them a spirit worker, per se.

But then, I am not one to go around investigating people’s claims to whatever word they feel defines their Work. I may ask questions if I am planning on doing work for them or with them, but in the end, I believe that if you take on the label of “spirit worker”, at the very least you should be able to speak to, and understand in some way, the Holy Ones. You should also be doing some form of actual Work on their behalf, in whatever way that particular spirit or God asks of you. You may work for one specific Deity, or a pantheon, or for any inhabitant of the Other Words, as your personal practice and relationships develop.

I hope I’ve given you some insight into how I define “spirit work”, and what a “spirit worker” does. Again, I encourage those who disagree, or who define these terms in another way, to add their conversation to the comments. Please be respectful and engage in polite discourse; I know this can be a touchy subject for some.

More Talk About Possession

Maggi Setti has written a very interesting article that goes along nicely with my post Possession, A Rant on a Rant, over at, one of of the oldest Pagan websites. Her take, called Faking Possession, A Deep Concern for the Pagan Community looks at the problems raised with more Pagans becoming interested in trance possession.

First, she addresses her own fear, one that I’ve heard many times. Some people seem to think it’s fun and easy to just hand all of what makes you human over to some other Entity, sometimes known and sometimes not, and let them do whatever they want for as long as they want. There’s also the opposite side, however, that some fear losing that kind of control so much that they can’t relax into an experience that might be beneficial for them and their community.

The real reason I wanted to write about this article, however, is that she takes a point that Elizabeth at Twilight and Fire started this off with – that some people use the concept of possession as a way to cause trouble, call attention to oneself, or to make someone(s) put more weight on their words than if they just said them as an everyday person. She likens this behavior to other ones that show a similar lack of reverance to the Gods and respect for those leading a ritual:

There are also a disturbing number of people who come to festivals and exhibit over-the-top attention seeking behavior. Such behavior could include inappropriate acting out in someone else’s ritual, hysterical mob behavior, inappropriate substance abuse during fire circles and rituals, and fake possession (whether in ritual or not)…

In the best scenarios, only the ritual leaders are aware of issues and the participants are left to their experience, unaware of such disturbances. In the worst cases, the public drama of the event disrupts attendees, stresses out organizers and medical staff, and scares children and newbies. If I had been an observer to some of the hysterics that happen at Pagan festivals early during my path, I would have hightailed it back to the mundane population and my engagement of the occult would have immediately ended. We are going to lose people that potentially might be our future leaders if we allow this ridiculous behavior to continue! This is why when people who are psychically sensitive see this sort of thing sometimes assume that all ritual and magick is a hoax. It is time to call out this behavior and have it stopped in a calm way that does not promote public drama and lead to gossip.

Ah, but therein lies the rub. I have been a part of such a “calling out”, when a possessory rite happened at an event, and afterwards several of the attendees decided that the person undergoing the possession was faking it. Even though this happened several years ago, the community in which this happened is still somewhat broken along the lines of “those who thought it was real” and “those who thought it was faked”.

When I work at a public trance possession rite, I do my best to open all of my senses – not just the psychic ones – to be aware of subtle shifts and changes that tend to happen around actual engagement with Deity/Spirit. And sometimes, even when someone truly believes they are possessed, it isn’t because they wish to be a “fake”, and actually, more often it’s a case of the person feeling “drunk” off all of the energy in the room and they become slightly disassociative.

But still, I’m open to ideas from anyone as to how to have the conversation with someone about a false possession without creating needless drama. For now, I tend to allow them their experience, and let the people present make their own judgement as to whether the experience felt “real” or not. However, if someone asks for my professional opinion, I tell them the truth. I just lack a tried-and-true way to initate a conversation with someone who continually has disassociative experiences that they call “possession”, but lack the oomph of touch of Gods.

National Coming Out Day

This is an old joke, at least for me, so I apologize to all of you who have heard it a million times from me before.

October 11th is National Coming Out Day. 38 years ago, I celebrated by emerging from my mother’s vagina, some time around 3:13pm.

In case it needs stating, which I hope to Gods it doesn’t, I am queer. Not only do I use that term to help reclaim it from those who use it against QUILTBAG* people, but I also use it both because I do not limit who I create intimacy with by gender identity (including and especially those who specifically create their own), but because I reject the socially expected concepts of how relationships “should” be defined, instead allowing whatever emotional and physical intimacies I create with other people to become whatever feels most comfortable for us. All of my close relationships are queer in some way – a life partner I am not married to (nor do I plan to marry), a boyfriend who has a primary relationship with a Deity (which I promise I will post about very soon), a girlfriend who is a sacred whore, a slave with whom I have delved into a 24/7 power exchange relationship with (before she lived on her own and although our power exchange was always there, she didn’t experience submission as a daily activity), and many more I’m still trying to figure out the right words for.

I am also completely and totally out not only about my queerness, but about all aspects of my sexual orientation and gender identity. Last year on this day, I dropped the most recent bomb on my blessed mother – she had already weathered learning I was queer, poly, kinky, spiritual in a non-traditional way, a hook suspension artist, and a published author on these topics; however, I had yet to tell her about my masculine identity. She supports and loves me, but it’s been a tougher thing for her to come to terms with. She just recently called me to ask me how to spell my new name, because she still uses my birth name; and she still uses feminine pronouns and referential words for me (like “daughter”), but she’s working on it.

I am not ashamed of my queerness; in fact, I embrace it. I believe it is a spiritual imperative for me – I am the real word, tangible representation that people can actually come out to their loved ones about whatever makes them different or strange compared to the completely invented ideal of “Joe Average” and survive.

One of the hidden blessings of my marriage breaking up is that the last places I had to subvert who I was for someone else was stripped away. Although his parents knew I preferred to be called “Del”, they did not know about my gender identity, and I do not believe it was ever his plan to inform them. Also, at work, I was still his “wife”. I never judged him for his decisions, but I do feel a bit more free that I will never again have to hide who I am in order to make someone else feel more comfortable about being in a relationship with me.

What I love the most is that I feel like the concept of the “queer life” didn’t really exist in the zeitgeist when I was coming of age. I came into my homosexuality in a community that was very gendered – not just “gay boys go to this bar, lesbians go over to the other bar”, but even among lesbians it was very butch/femme. This confounded me because I was a butch who was more attracted to other butches, which was a complete no-no. And don’t get me started when I started sleeping with men.

I am so happy with my life today, not only because I’m getting ready to enter my fourth decade with a clear vision of who I am in relation to other people and the world; I have a grip (if not a clear view) on what my Purpose is and how to manifest that in my life and in the lives of those I wish to serve; and I have come to a place of comfort with the kind of life I want to live and think much less about what random people who aren’t a part of my life think of my choices.

So regardless of whether you’re Queer, Unsure, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender/sexual, Bisexual, Asexual, or Gay (that QUILTBAG thing I referred to earlier); or if you’re kinky, polyamorous, gender variant, a cross dresser, drag royalty, or some other sexual or gender minority, tell someone. Even if it’s just being truthful with yourself and maybe the intimate people in your life.

Maybe you haven’t told someone about your spirituality, or that you’re a Godspouse, or a spirit worker, or a Pagan, or a High Priestess, or something else that you’ve been afraid to admit to those who desperately want to love you. Or maybe it’s something like being a gamer (like that woman in Maine who was just outed by the Republicans as being a WoW player), or a LARPer, or a furry, or an ageplayer, or secretly paint murals at night.

Everyone has something a little queer about them. I encourage you to post your queerness in the comments, to share with the world in what way you stand out from the heternormative assumptions about humanity.

Breaking Energetic Ties

At some point in our lives, we find ourselves with energetic and spiritual bonds to people, places, and things that don’t serve us anymore. Maybe we’ve had a breakup, or are moving to a new location, or giving away an item that has a lot of sentimental value.

Sometimes these bonds are even created without our knowledge or consent. If you find yourself thinking about a person, place, or thing on a regular basis, it may be that somehow you’ve formed a bond with it. I find, in working with clients, that sometimes traumatic events that we ruminate over, or items lost in a tragedy (like a house fire), or people that we dislike but spend too much time and energy disliking them, all of these things can lead to an psychic tie merely through repetitive action. I mean, that’s how beneficial ties are formed too – we spend time, energy, and focus on binding an item to us, or forming a relationship that you expect to last a long time, or a place you find yourself visiting over and over again.

Magicians and will workers find that creating these ties can make a tool stronger not only by using it for the same purpose over and over again, but they can ensorcel an awareness into it – “awaken it”, if you will – or work with the spirit that already resides in it. Yes, this requires a bit of an animist theology, but I’ve seen this philosophy across many belief systems – chaos magicians, Wiccans, neoclassical shamans, etc. Sometimes you just pick something up, and it “feels right”, and then the more you use it, interact with it, work magic with it, that feeling of “rightness” grows.

For example, I have a thing for keys. I collect “keys with no purpose” – keys to people’s old apartments they never turned in, dead people’s keys, keys found on the street, antique keys, heck, I even have a “skeleton key” carved out of bone. So it made sense to me to find a special key that would represent “home” to me – that would immediately ground and center me should I find myself in a trance/possessory state that needed to end abruptly. I happened onto (what I’m pretty sure is a reproduction) a huge victorian looking gate key – it’s about as big as my palm and painted black. It has a good weight to it, which helps with the feeling of “groundedness”.

So I spent about six months carrying that key around with me everywhere I went – yes, even to the bathroom. And when I found myself with some idle time, like in the car or waiting for something, I would take it out and hold in it my hand and just push some of my personal energy into it. I tried doing this in a variety of situations I regularly find myself it – in a doctor’s office, at a ritual, at a campground I visit on a regular basis, in my bedroom (yes, sometimes during sex), when I was experiencing a range of emotions, so it would know me as intimately as a person who spent every day with me. In fact, when I decided to stop carrying it, I missed it’s weight in my bag/pocket/hand. But as those who have seen it used, or thrust it in my hand when it was needed, it works very well. In fact, I later decided to ask Gatekeeper (my name for the key) if it could help others if they found themselves in similar states. It doesn’t work as well on them as it does me, but it does have enough “skill” to assist in grounding and centering a person who is in between trance states.

As many people know, I am recently separated. At first, I was pretty upset about the situation, but in a relatively short amount of time, and a ton of perspective, I have found myself more than ready to sever the energetic ties with my former partner (whom I sometimes refer to as my STBX, shorthand for “soon to be ex”). He’s made some choices (and lack of choices) that I disagree with pretty strongly. Let’s leave it at that I’m more than eager to break any energetic ties we might have shared. Not only because I need to move on, but because until I do this, I get little kicks of spiritual ickyness when he breaks a vow or something else that accrues that “ickyness”. (I hope that’s clear, because I’m not going to go into more detail than that.)

The first thing I did was to change my last name, legally. Even though we’re still technically married (silly Maryland divorce laws) I wanted to shed myself of that public association with him. It didn’t hurt that I had been very strongly desiring to legally change my first name and this seemed like a good as time as any to do it. I wanted to make a statement to myself, to him, to the people who know us, and to the Universe in a very-difficult-to-undo way that I was no longer a part of his “family”. It’s a long process, as the county clerk processes these applications in batches, so you have to wait until there’s a critical mass before they approve it, but the process is almost finished. When I left the county clerk’s office, I took a moment in quiet and physically and psychically wiped my body down, like I was whisking away lint from my outfit. I did this three times, the first time shedding my sorrow at the end of the relationship; the second time was to wipe away the bonds formed with him when we were happy, and then finally to state to the Universe that I was done with sharing that tie with him.

Now, in no means do I feel that a little body car wash will wipe along ten years of bond. When I took my things from the house, I took nothing that made me think of our time together. If it had another use/reason to continue to be a possession, I washed it down with either sterile saline or salt water. If it was appropriate, I also held it in my hands and visualized that when I wiped it down that I was erasing those old associations, and then clasped it to my heart and spoke to the spirit within the item, telling it what the new reality was.

Then, today, I went back to the house we used to share to gather more of my belongings. While I was there, I made sure to de-activate all the areas that used to hold spiritual significance to me, not only by deconstructing them, but cleansing them spiritually as well and closing any spiritual doors I had opened around them. Even though I’ll likely be there again (I could only take one SUV’s worth of stuff this time), I also pulled any psychic “roots” I had planted there, any sense that the place was my “home”, and took them within myself. When I got back to my temporary “squat”, I went to my little temporary altar here and deposited the excess energy I was carrying – embuing the items on it with those feelings of “home” so that for now, until I find a more permanent place to live, to grow, to settle down, I can remove them for those items and replant my energetic “roots” there.

Sometimes that’s the best route. We can’t go around severing all ties with anything and anyone and just walk around with a bunch of dangling cords dragging on the ground. We all need to feel connected to something bigger than us – an idea, a concept, a Deity or pantheon of Deities (even if that pantheon is cobbled together across different cultures, as mine is). In extreme cases, I’ve been known to throw all my ‘connectors’ to a single Source for a short period of time, just to strengthen my ‘pipeline’ with that Source. I did this during my wedding, which is why I know that severing my ties with him is going to be more than just moving all my stuff out and changing my name – there is an energetic part of me that was completely invested in the Idea of what we wanted to build together. Our ceremony was very much a magical working to create familial bonds, not just with each other, but with all our friends who were there. That’s something that is going to take a long time to break, soften, or change – I don’t necessarily want to lose my whole family-of-choice, but my relationship with them needs to subtly change – I need to be seen as Del, a wholly different person who has gone through significant changes since that ritual, back in 2007 – and not Ninja’s wife/spouse, not part of that unit, not building my future as part of that ideal. Things are going to change, have already started to change, and like any long term relationship that ends, some people will end up closer to him, and some closer to me, and some who will just back away altogether.

So, how does one sever a tie with something that is over, done, changed, different, moving into a different phase?

First, you have to admit that it’s time for the tie to be severed. This sounds simpler than it is for most people. You have to admit that something that really mattered is no longer part of you, and won’t ever be the same again. You can’t harbor a secret wish that it will return, somehow rebuild itself, or that she will eventually come to her senses. If you are giving something away, you have to spend some time looking at the item as though it was the first time – like it’s an alien thing, something that you’ve never seen before. You need to develop a sincere detachment in your mind and heart, and be brutally honest with yourself about this. If there’s a glimmer of hope that it will someday come back, you’re not ready to do it.

And it’s okay to be in this liminal space for as long as you need. It can take years living in a different state before you start telling people you live in New State, rather than Where You Used To. Humans need time to mourn loss, and that can be a process, and you can’t really rush it. It happens at it’s own pace. If something traumatic has happened to you, you have to sit with it and let yourself heal. You might need to see a therapist, or construct a ritual, or journal your fingers off, or whatever you do when you are working through your feelings. Doing these things is the beginning of recognizing the tie exists, how powerful it is in your life, how much of your energy you’ve been spending on it.

It helps tremendously, too, if you know the specific way this psychically manifests. Do you feel an actual cord coming from a particular part of your body or head, or does it come in waves (either like sound waves or ocean waves or even a breeze), or do you experience it as a specific taste in your mouth, or a sound you hear (or type of music), a consistency of space (like the air around you feeling like jello, or saran wrap, or egg whites, or a cement wall), or a physical sensation (an ache in your heart, or a shiver up your spine, or a warmth in your stomach). Take some time to really focus on the thing you want to separate from, and allow yourself to fully experience how that connection manifests in your mind, body, and spiritual space around you. That’s the connection you’re tapping into it.

I always take a moment to thank the connection for all the goodness it has brought into my life. I mean, I didn’t form the connection for no reason; even if it is bourne of a tragedy, it helped you go through a healing process successfully, and you have likely learned important life lessons during that time. So once I feel that connection in its strength, I cultivate a sense of gratitude from the bottom of my heart, and let it permeate the space around me and travel from me throughout the bond. To act in accordance with this step, you may want to write something about all the positive things that came from the connection – and if you are so inclined, share it with the person/place/thing by reading it to them, or sending it to them in some way.

When I feel that the message of thankfulness has been sent and received, I slowly start to pull the part of the connection that is formed of my energy towards me. If I am experiencing this as a sound, I will make that sound as best I can with my voice/body; if I feel it as an emotion, I envision the emotion slowly becoming more internal rather than external. If you can “see” it, then you can “pull” on it until it snakes back in your direction.

As I said earlier, it’s not healthy to wander around with a bunch of disconnected cords that “dangle” from you. In a psychological sense, this sets you up for desperately wanting to fill the void with the first available thing – the first person who expresses interest in you, the first apartment you find, the first job offer you get, the first replacement for the item you’ve lost or given away, etc. We all know that most of the time, those connections don’t last, because eventually we just feel in our bones that it isn’t the same; we realize that we jumped too fast, before getting all the available information, or before we knew what the other person/place/thing would want from us over time.

So the next step in the process is either finding a temporary home for those bonds, especially if you think you’re going to want to foster a similar bond with something/someone else. I stored my feeling of “home” in my temporary altar, because eventually I will find the place I want to settle down, to live for an extended period of time, and I will want to route those loose cords out and “replant” them at the new place. It also helps make the temporary place I’m staying in feel a little more “homey”, a little more comfortable, without laying down longterm roots so that when we move in a few months it won’t be a big emotional upheaval.

If that’s not appropriate for the connection you’re completely done with – for instance, I do not plan to ever marry again, which may someday be its own post – then it may be time to cut that sucker off completely. You may push whatever energy you still feel as your own part of that connection to something that will eat it – the wind can take it in the breeze, fire can burn it away, water can wash it away, or you can bury it in the earth (but I’d ask the land vaettir [spirits] first, because it’s the one who is going to have to break it down). You can take a sacred bath – beer works wonders on cleansing psychic gunk off of you – or a shower by preparing your cleansing solution and then dump it over you.

You should, again, do something in your life to act in accordance with this as well. Maybe hold a ritual where you declare your sacred intent in front of your friends, so both they and the Spirits can hold you accountable to your new change. Make it impossible for you to make the same choice again – move to another state, or stop dating those sorts of people, or don’t buy similar items or go into stores that sell it. Write something about it and post it either on the Internet, or somewhere in your house where you (and others who visit) will see it so that you feel obligated to live up to it.

Finally, do something else. This is the part where a lot of people trail off and forget to finish the work. If you’ve cleaved yourself from another person, you need to block them on social media, not read their blog/journal, not break down and write them an email at 3am, or go on incessantly about what a terrible, awful person they are. You need to let it go, all the way, and move on. It might feel odd at first, because we’re all very curious about what happens to a person/place/thing once we’re removed from it. When I was fired from a job I loved, I kept reading the website and usenet groups about it for a few months afterward, both following the office politics that lead to my leaving, but also hoping that in some way my name would be brought up. However, in order to focus on finding a new job, I had to let that go. I made a magical act out of it by purposefully using the time I had spent reading that crap to look for a new job. And shortly after that, I landed a better job where I could make more of a difference in the world, and I never looked back.

To sum up (TL:DR), you need to be really ready to end your connection with the person/place/thing you want to part with. Then you need to focus your energy/Will to really feel what that connection feels like, be fully aware of the bond and how it manifests for you. Then pull your energy back from it, and either store it in something else temporarily or destroy it. Make some sort of declaration about your intent to leave it behind, and then live up to that like it’s an oath.

If you have questions about connections you’ve tried to sever, or maybe find difficult to end, or find repeating over and over again like a cycle you can’t break, let me know. Either I, or one of the other wise and experienced people who read this blog, may be able to help you out with some ideas on how to move on. Or maybe you have a story about a bond you’ve successfully broken that you’d like to share as another example. Anyway, I encourage you to add your experiences and wisdoms to this post.


At some point in your teen years, you come to the realization that you want everyone to like you. You might be willing to change your clothes, your interests, the kinds of music you listen to, in hopes that you’ll become more palatable to the peers you’ve decided matter the most to you. For some people, this feeling never goes away, and they spend their lives doing whatever they can to show the peer group they wish to be integrated with that they are already a member – just look at the car they drive, or the hobbies they engage in, or the way they dress.

There are others; there are those who make the harder decision to just stick to whatever they like, and they don’t really care if all the cliques ignore them or make fun of them. In the digital age, it’s likely they can find friends and like-minded fellows via the Internet, which has made it a little easier to walk the road of the iconoclast.

When the late teens/early 20’s hit, all of a sudden it becomes much more appealing to be your own person. There is a struggle between wanting to be a unique little snowflake, but still be a part of a pack. Your world gets a little larger, and it becomes a tiny bit easier to find fellow weirdos who are your flavor of weirdo. You feel more free to break away from the behaviors of “childhood” and explore.

My life followed that pattern to some degree. I definitely stuck out in high school – I was fat, red headed, geeky, poor, and Christian (and not “wear a cross”, but “go to church several times a week, teach Sunday School, and lead retreats for other high school students”). I didn’t really fit in anywhere. However, over time, I found that I had enough charisma to attract other students who had their own odd interests, and we became our own clique. It wasn’t until I had graduated high school and was talking to a friend that she forced me to realize I had been “popular”. I always thought of the preppy kids as being the “popular” ones, and I was far from that. However, that’s not the real definition of popularity – it’s having a lot of friends and acquaintances. And that, I had.

In my 20’s, I played with identity. You can look at pictures from various portions of that decade and be astonished it was the same person. I had a grungy butch dyke phase, a gothy SM phase, a “ooh I’m a witch” phase, and a geeky gamer phase. There are threads of uniqueness that you can trace through each identity, but I had different friends and engaged in different hobbies and dated different kinds of people, depending on whatever crowd I had integrated into.

By the time I reached my 30’s, I had already started to find those threads, those parts of Del that had lasted throughout the different hairstyles and music collections, and began building something that was a little bit of all of it. No one would call me a goth today, but I do fancy black clothing and can still be found rocking out to The Cure, NIN, or Marilyn Manson. I’m not really involved in LGBTQ community, although to say I’m not queer would be a gross misjudgment. I don’t wear giant pentacles and go by some spooky sounding name (like, oh, “Wintersong”), but let’s have a laugh together at the assumption that my Pagan beliefs aren’t an intrinsic part of how I move in the world. And although I haven’t LARPed or rolled dice around a table for friends for quite some time, I still tell war stories and make geeky references with the best of them. It’s all become a part of a much more diverse, multifaceted person.

Now, I revisit this concept of Del-as-rock star. For those of you who haven’t been keeping up, lately I have had this title lobbed at me in both positive and negative ways. I’ve been accused of being a leader of some “cool kids club” that is snarky and hard to penetrate, and I’ve been praised for having a stellar reputation that brings fun and dynamism into anywhere I show my face. So don’t think this is some ego-stroke I’m giving myself here – I am actually more interested in talking about the part of rock stardom that most people miss.

See, when you see a musical act in concert, 90% of the audience are people who are self-selected “fans” of that person or group. Maybe 50% of them have all the albums, the tee shirts, the memorabilia, the magazine photos, etc. Some may be more casual, owning a couple of mp3s and like their stuff on the radio/MySpace/YouTube. And then there are the 10% who are there because their lover brought them, or because they just wanted to go out and have a drink and found out a band was playing, or who heard a single song on the radio or caught a video of the group and are a little curious.

However, the part we miss is that there are hundreds of thousands of people who are doing other things. They’re at the mall, or driving cross country, or playing tennis, or watching television. If you play that act’s music around them, they will curse at you and cover their ears and maybe even throw things at the source of their torture. Maybe they hate them so much that they visit websites that have conversations about how much they hate the band, or even actively protest them when the come into town.

I saw this a lot when I was a more active Marilyn Manson fan. There were protesters at just about every concert I attended – some with great big signs alerting us to the fact that Manson was the devil, or the quiet everyman handing out flyers about a Christian rock show next weekend in hopes that we would convert through music. There were sometimes altercations between fans and protesters that were violent enough to need police action.

I’ve only been actively picketed once, and it wasn’t really me as much as something I was a part of. But that’s a different story for a different day. However, I do have anti-fans. I have people who think I’m ridiculous, or actively hurting people, or a sham, or some combination of all of that. There are those who accuse me of appropriation, those who say that I use my social cache in the Pagan community for my financial benefit, those who think the sorts of spiritual things I engage in are bad, wrong, damaging, egotistical, narcissistic, or outright fraudulent.

Let me make that plain for you – there are people that are to me what the Westboro Baptist Church is to…well, everything fun.

Most of the ire I receive these days comes from my association with my close friend and colleague Raven Kaldera. Sometimes it’s transference – just because I’m not actively against him, therefore I must be exactly like him – which isn’t the case, but there’s nothing I can do about that. I do credit him with giving me a lot of direction and courage when I was first coming to terms with my role as a shaman and spirit worker, and he continues to be someone I consult with on a regular basis. I contribute to his books, I assist him with rituals, and I’ve taught classes at his events and for his Church.

What amuses me is that some people go so far as to think if Raven told me to jump, my feet would leave the ground of their own volition. This is not the case. There are lots of areas in which I disagree with Raven, and he’s aware of most of them. We are very different people who are called to very different kinds of service to community, and we have had very different spiritual experiences that brought us to where we are today. There are times he says or does things and all I can do is put my head in my hands. There are other times I have been proud to have been a part of something he has done.

In a slightly wider accusation, I am sometimes called “a Cauldron Farm person”. This is so ridiculous as to be factually incorrect. Cauldron Farm is not an organization, not a cult (as some have posited), not some secret club with handshakes and decoder rings. Cauldron Farm is a place of residence in western Massachusetts. It would be physically impossible for me to be a “Cauldron Farm person”, as I live in Maryland, hundreds of miles away. However, that’s not what the people who use that phrase actually mean.

There is a loose collective of spirit workers who mostly reside along the East Coast who frequently correspond via the Internet, refer clients to each other, work together on projects, and who generally lend emotional support to each other. There is no real name for this group, as it’s more of a clique than anything else. There used to be a gathering at Cauldron Farm where we used to get together once a year and chew the professional fat, but it’s been years since there’s been one. However, since there is no official name for this clique, many have taken to the “Cauldron Farm people” phrase as a way to refer to us as a whole.

What’s hilarious to those inside the clique is how much we don’t get along, how many of us do not like Raven or think his whole “Kingdom” thing is a little silly. Suffice it to say we have as much or more drama than any other medium-sized social clique with little more than a profession in common usually has. So to think and refer to us as a unit is amusing, since we rarely act like one.

So that’s one way in which I have serious detractors.

There are others in the Pagan and Heathen communities who disapprove of me because my practice is heavily steeped in UPG. That is, I trust my own intuition and my communication with the Gods as much or more than I trust historical or academic documents written about how the Gods I worship and work with/for were interacted with back when they had adherents. Don’t get me wrong, I do a lot of research and reading about my practice – not just the historical records of how people who interact with the same Gods I do (which, I’d like to point out, aren’t all Norse in origin) – but also those who engaged in the same kinds of spiritual Work that I do. I’ve read about the use of ordeal in spiritual and religious communities from around the world, about rites of passage, about mysticism, about the use of rhythm, about trance, and even about the neurobiology of spiritual experiences. Because my Gods don’t limit themselves from one source, I do not look to only one source for my inspiration.

This brings a lot of disdain from those who do spend a great deal of time trying to accurately recreate the kinds of practices that were used when the Gods we worship in common were more actively worshiped. This is not my personal philosophy at all, so it would make no sense for me to do that, and I’m not very sorry about that, either. I believe my Gods as I experience them are alive and active in the World, and although They may not understand every human nuance and invention, they do not need ancient languages and outdated rites in order to be an intrinsic part of my modern experience. Maybe that’s something they ask of others, and I support those for whom academic research is one of the ways their spirituality manifests. That’s just not my thing, so to speak.

Before anything – before being a Loki’s person, or a spirit worker, or an ordeal master, or a mystic – my belief is rooted in the idea of the imminence of Deity. That is, that the Gods are alive and active in the world today, and They are just as happy having Iphones named after Them than They were having important farming tools dedicated to Them. If this makes me a heretic, then so be it. I’ll play my electric guitar while you build an historically accurate instrument from the 1200’s and play that.

I don’t make any claim that what I have to say about the Gods I work with or the ritual I create have any basis in history, and in fact I usually make it clear to the people I serve that the opposite is true. If being honest about how I believe the Gods move in the world makes me a fraud, then I am a proud fraud.

After all, in the end, I only have these concerns:
-am I obedient to my Gods?
-am I living my faith as I understand it?
-am I serving the communities who seek me out for my service faithfully?
-am I at peace with the choices I make, both in my mundane life as well as in my spiritual one?
-when I die, am I ready to answer for the choices I made in life?
-am I enriching people’s lives with the services I offer them?

If I can say yes to all of those, then I am doing the very best I can to live my spirituality to the fullest. It doesn’t matter if only one person, or hundreds of thousands of people, disagree with me and want to call me names on the Internet. It doesn’t matter if there are whole forums set up to denigrate my name. It doesn’t matter if I am constantly followed around by “yes men” who tell me how great and awesome I am, so as to crowd out any negativity. I know in my heart, I am doing what the Gods want me to do, to the best of my ability to discern it.

And really, that’s all I can ask of anyone. If you are doing what your Gods want of you, then there should be no reason for jealousy, or to attack others because they’re doing it differently than you’d like them to, or differently than you. The people of Earth need all kinds of spiritual guidance, in millions of different ways, and so the people I serve aren’t going to be the people you serve, anyway. Even with someone who is supposedly very alike me, Raven and I have had very little crossover in people who have sought us out.

Honestly, I would be doing something wrong if everyone I knew agreed with me all of the time. It means I’m not making bold choices, I’m not pushing myself to the deepest and darkest places I can go. If I’m offering bland, neutral, dispassionate spiritual services, who is going to want that? They are drawn to me specifically because I have worked hard to be excellent at what I do, and because I am unafraid to live the life and do the work that has been set before me, regardless of what people may think of me for it. After all, in my mundane life, it’s not like I’m some average joe wearing khakis and doing brunch on the weekends, either.

So I am at peace with the fact that I will always have detractors. I will always have people who think what I do is bad, wrong, awful, hurtful, damaging. I will have people who will pass me by on the side of the road and laugh at my misfortune. I will have people who are happy when my medical situation worsens, because it means I’m closer to death. I’m totally okay with that, because it means I’m doing something right.