Astral Appointments with Gods and Spirits

alice-in-wonderland-1253474_1280Astral travel as I see it is the process of projecting one’s consciousness out into realms and worlds far from, adjacent to, and/or overlaid upon this one (readily accessible, easily acknowledged, consensus reality). In my own practice, I most often refer to astral travel as journeying or faring forth. When I plan to fare forth and its on my own timetable, I like to prepare by igniting rich resinous incense and lighting anointed candles. These acts serve two purposes. First and foremost they are initial offerings for the Powers who taught me to journey and who support the work that I do on those journeys.  Second, pretty smells and warm lights signal to my busy mind that stillness is needed. When taking a planned but somewhat leisurely trip to the otherworlds, I take these early moments of preparation to focus on my destination and any Powers I need to meet and greet in that place.

When I have time to prepare, because I am journeying on my own schedule, I prepare offerings for the denizens of the worlds I plan to visit. My offerings are sometimes simple, taking the form of bread and wine and fresh flowers, or sometimes elaborate requiring two or more hours of cooking, arranging, dressing, anointing, and pouring. These things I place in sacred space along with the candles and incense.

When I fare forth on my own schedule, I also enjoy taking time to slowly ground and center. I draw my awareness to my body by wiggling my toes and fingers, rolling my neck, flexing my muscles. I settle into my own skin and the wonders of corporeal existence. I bring my awareness to my breath, to the steady rise and fall of my abdomen as I take in and release measured air. I allow myself the simple pleasure of humming a haunting melody, whatever creeps into my mind at the time. I feel the vibration of my voice as it resonates through my bones and blood. When preparing to fare forth, I take stock of exactly where I am in this world that I might more easily find my way back.

alice-30615_1280When it’s time to then fare from here to there, I allow my body to sway, my breath and voice to summon a spirit song, and my mind to reach out in search of a road, a path to carry me there. Sometimes the way is smooth and clear, sometimes its crooked and narrow. My fylgja comes with the song and rides it with me into the otherworlds. It may sound like I’m in charge but in fact he leads the way. Oftentimes he is so sure of the place to which we journey. Sometimes not. But he leads all the same. And with the flapping of his wings we end up exactly where we need to be, having a chat with exactly who we need to talk to. Sometimes he stays with the Powers and me, other times he wanders off. Over the years it’s become a gauge for me of how safe I am with the spirit or deity I connecting with. Safe equals fylgja flying free, doing whatever he feels like doing. Less safe equals fylgja practically perched on my face. He and the gods who charged me to travel the worlds nevery promised me absolute safety. That would be silly, and impossible. What wisdom is ever really wrought by safety?

When our audience is done, my fylgja leads the way back home. With a whoosh of my own breath I am back in my body, wiggling my finger and toes, checking my mind, body, and spirit for impurities, broken or lost bits, and hitchhikers. Good times…when I have time.

alice-29775_1280But over the last two years, with changes in the professional demands on me from my doctoral program I didn’t have as much opportunity for leisure, planful strolls through the otherworlds. However the calls to journey across the hedge kept coming. My fylgja visited his sense of urgency on me and shouted every call from the Powers That Be that I had let slip with an Alice in Wonderland White Rabbit-like ping in my left ear: “You’re late!”. What? Then I was dragged off into the otherworlds while on the bus, watching TV, cooking, or at some other inopportune time. If I was lucky, an unplanned trip happened while winding down for bedtime.

When the pings first started happening on a semi-regular basis, I tried to delay the powerful pull into trance. I would ask my fylgja to buy me more time, usually a few hours, so that I could wrap up what I was doing and then cross the hedge. Sometimes I would try to delay things even longer, especially if I knew it was a big call. I did this with a call from Hekate once. She was 47 kinds of pissed, so needless to say, I stopped procrastinating and started turning the damned stove off, having a seat, and letting the trance come. When I strolled through the otherworlds more regularly, this sort of thing still happened but was less often and was oddly less surprising when it did happen.

alice-in-wonderland-276452_1280When I was journeying more regularly, I felt the call more urgently and was ready – in mind, body, and spirit – to make the trip. But when I started traveling less, each call felt less urgent, and it was unexpected, so I found myself less ready to travel. Of course astral travel/journeying/faring forth skills take spiritual and psychic muscles, and I had let myself go a bit for about two years. So it’s not really any wonder that the gods and spirits started pushing harder. Of course my fylgja had to grab me by the scruff and drag me to the appointed meeting place with the spirit or power in question.

I’ve been basically done with my doc program (yay!) for the last several months so I am getting back into the flow of journeying.  It’s been rewarding building my spiritual and psychic muscles back up so that I don’t have to be grabbed as often!

In summary, here’s what I learned from being called, shouted at, and then grabbed by my guide/ally and dragged off into the otherworlds:

  1. If you are paying attention, you get notification in advance, or at least have an inkling that a particular power may be calling on you soon.
  2. If you don’t pay attention, you may be man/woman/person-handled by your guide/ally.
  3. By the time your guide/ally is forcing you into trance, find a safe place and don’t resist the lull into trance. You’re late for an important appointment and your guide/ally is just trying to look out for you and make sure you get there while receiving as little flak as possible from the spirit or power you’re supposed to meet with.
  4. After these encounters, gift the spirits and powers (including your guide/ally!) richly, because you kept them waiting beyond a reasonable time frame, which some may read as a sign of disrespect.
  5. Schedule time for regular travel so that you are less difficult to call and meet with.

Happy Astral Traveling!

Sigyn and the Burden of Her Arms

"Loki and Sigyn" by Mårten Eskil Winge.

“Loki and Sigyn” by Mårten Eskil Winge.

Many moons ago, I fell asleep thinking of Loki. It was a Wednesday night. On the edge of dream, I was drawn into the astral. There, in a dank cave – sometime between ages ago and just the other day – I met Sigyn, one of Loki’s wives. The Lady stood worn, on the edge of her hope. Loki was there, bound to a large boulder. Surprisingly, he slept for most of the time that I was with them. He is sometimes able to sleep just after Sigyn has emptied the bowl.

Timidly, I approached Sigyn and the smaller of the two burdens of her arms. I offered to hold the bowl as an offering to her. I could feel the noxious poison accessing my pores and threatening my life even through the bowl. I warded immediately and also projected Elhaz onto the vessel in an attempt to block its corrosive effect on me. Then I attempted to craft a bindrune, both Elhaz and Thurisaz. That one caused the sleeping Loki to stir and the hanging serpent to hiss. Got it. That rune is off limits in this place.

Very soon after that Sigyn gestured for the bowl and she sent me to obtain a glass of water for her from the stream that runs near her hall, which was some ways away. The waters there are incredibly pure and healing. I drank deeply and felt better instantly upon drinking. I brought a cup of that water back and offered it to Sigyn. She drank her fill and thanked me. A strong scent of licorice filled the cave when I asked what offerings she might like.

And then I was gone.

Moon Silver White

Last night, not far from my home, I basked in the glory of the radiant full moon. I made libations, scattered grain, and whispered heart-felt prayers. I asked for guidance and grace from the divine feminine. I raised my voice in song as an offering and allowed her blessings to pour over me. It was a good night.

Blackest Night
Shining stars in the sky
Moon Silver White
Oh sweet mother of life
Blessed am I, O blessed am I
To be, to be, to be
A daughter of your light.

Insight from Ganesha: On Self and Worth

Lord Ganesha

While walking through a local shop, I encountered a statue of Ganesha that spoke to me, loudly. I tried to leave it where it was, but I just couldn’t. I had to purchase it. I stepped up to the counter and paid. I couldn’t stop the smile that spread across my face. Ganesha definitely had something to say to me. When I arrived home, I laid out a beautiful cloth that was made in India. Atop the cloth I placed an incense burner, two yellow candles, the statue I’d just purchased, and a framed image of Ganesha (pictured to the left).

After lighting his incense and candles and saying a prayer from Loving Ganesha, I stilled my mind and allowed his message to take shape. He said – in a rather vivid encounter – “Express your joy” and “Let it flow.” The first message was straight forward. I am an incredibly happy person who sometimes neglects or outright forgets her joyous core. Joy is a powerful piece of who I am and I don’t feel like me if joy is not being expressed freely in multiple forms. Usually in song, but also in thought, speech, and deed. The second message – “Let it flow” – took a few minutes of pondering before I could really connect with its meaning. Basically, I tend to be very guarded when I do not feel heard, when I feel like my Self is not being recognized, understood, and received. This feeling has been steadily increasing for years now. Ganesha indicated that my feeling of being trapped within myself and simultaneously misunderstood by others is not how it has to be; that feeling does not have to persist. Ganesha invited me to let down my guard and let my Self – whoever that Self may be – flow and take shape without derogation or derision.

Love and acceptance poured from him. It was incredibly refreshing and healing. I cried. I was really grateful that he took the time to tell me that Self is a right and it is always taking shape, always becoming and that we need to express that becoming Self boldly, fully, and without shame. However, I was also extremely frustrated that a god had to take time out of their busy schedule to tell me something that I really I should have known already. I did know this already, right? I’m not stupid, am I? Was I born yesterday? Am I not 30 years old? What 30 year old still needs to be told that they are worth while. That’s something we should just know, right? We should, right? When I received my master list of shoulds and should nots from The Office of 30-Year-Old Affairs when I turned 30, I am pretty sure that was on there, wasn’t it?

This is the sort of frustrating line of questioning and self-doubt that happens when only one tiny sliver of one’s being (e.g. the mind) knows and understands an important piece of wisdom but the rest of the being (e.g. body and spirit) does not know and understand it. In my case, intellectually I know that I have a right to be Me, mySelf but apparently I do not believe that – do not believe in the worth of that Self – and so important spiritual pieces in the puzzle get lost or more damaged than usual when the puzzle box is shaken.

I see the pattern, there’s no denying it. Makes no sense to pretend. There it is. That’s one of my spiritual hurdles. Self worth. Arggh! Just when I start to shake it out like Florence Welch, it grows claws and digs in deep. Damn! Now I have to redouble my efforts to truly know on multiple levels – mental, physical, spiritual…yes, down to my core…to accept completely – that there is nothing Wrong with me a being, as spirit-soul. I am worthy. Worts and all. “Without derogation or derision” says Ganesha. Hmm, I have to figure that part out. That’s hard. Too many shoulda, coulda, wouldas, shaking around in my psyche, too much shame. I accept my Self as I become, without derogation or derision, because I am a beautiful part of the divine plan manifesting itself. Wow, that feels weird on my tongue. I have to figure out how to unweird it. I repeat, damn! This is hard.

I recall again Ganesha’s love and acceptance. When I think about how wonderful it felt to have that kind of love and acceptance of my Self, that feeling reminded me of related messages I have received from other deities over the last several months (Freyja and Dionysos, especially). This self worth issue has neon lights around it and a runway strip pointing to it. This is big. This needs attention. No, more specifically I need my attention. Holy Modaka! I have to take care of myself at the spirit level, soul level. Whoa there, back the bus up. What? I repeat for the third time, damn! I don’t know how to do this. Oh wait, They will guide me. Yay! Oh, I have to do the work myself though. I knew that and I respect that, but DAMN anyway! Ok, I’m back. I’m ready. I can do this. I am doing this. It is in the process of getting done. I am making progress. One foot in front of the other.

I see now that because of the self-worth issue I often feel I need permission. A few kind lords and ladies have taken it upon themselves to guide me in sorting through some of the big pieces of this issue. I still find that more than a little shocking and very frustrating because I feel like I am keeping deities from other things. Do they really need to spend time thumping my skull? Ugh! Well, I have decided to trust that they don’t need me telling them what other, better things they could be doing. When they have something to say, they will say it. When they don’t, they won’t. It’s really that simple. If they want to offer guidance, I’m not going to detour them and I’ll try not to make myself feel bad about it.

And so, with my worts and all, I say thanks again to Ganesha (and also Freyja and Dionysos) for loaning me a chisel to shape my inner labyrinth. In the coming weeks I plan to do a larger offering for him of flowers, incense, and sweets. Mmm, modaka :D.