Many books and articles that I’ve read, as well as some I have written, espouse writing in a journal. Since middle school I’ve not had a class or person require me to keep one, so a lot of skills that I had back then I lost until I became a pagan and I started to practice ceremonial magic. What I write here may not be academic or “the right way” of journal writing, but these techniques have worked for me. What I hope you get from this is both a sense of what to use your journal for, and how to write in it so you can actually benefit from using it.
Physical Journal or Blog?
We’ll first delve into using paper journals, then move on to blogs. This isn’t because I dislike the medium for journal writing, but the purpose of a physical journal as opposed to one online can be and usually is totally different. I look at physical journals as useful because they can act as repositories of everything contained within an experience. I used to be more honest in my physical journals because I’m not writing for an audience, but as I’ve become more comfortable with writing online, this has changed (more on that below). I also tend to record more in the introduction, where I include time, moon phase, and the like, and in the body of the entry, where I tend to include more details. I do this because I’m usually doing my journal alongside or immediately following the magic or spirit-work, lending the journaling itself to being part and parcel of that spiritual work. It can be as much a time to ground as it can be a time to record, write down insights, and reflect on the working.
As for blogs, out of the gate they have a ton of advantages. Perhaps the greatest advantage a blog has is that you have a worldwide audience able to comment on your journal, suggest changes, give advice and provide links for more information, or vice versa. Most are highly customizable, even without knowledge of HTML, letting your design your journal however you like. There are other benefits, such as being able to upload photos of your working area or tools, as well as other media and even polls for some blog sites. Personally, this is the only way some friends will see my journals. Some live too far away or are people I only know online, and for the remainder, my blog tends to be much more convenient than coming over and reading my journal. My handwriting isn’t the greatest, and blogs allow for quick dissemination of ideas and occurrences within your life to an audience you can choose to let in or not, as the feeling takes you.
With regard to journals, the security of your work is also a factor: Do you want this work to be seen, even critiqued? Do you want to deal with questions about “Why did you” or outright rude or abusive statements like “you don’t know what you’re doing”? I’ve yet to receive one of these kinds of statements, but you may potentially have to deal with them in an online setting. The spirits you may work with may or may not want their work with you to be posted online. Another thing to consider is that if your physical journal is lost or destroyed, that’s it, and you may have to write everything over from scratch or memory. A physical journal, however, can be right there with you alongside all your other working tools, it needn’t be plugged in, and it can be another physical way to connect you to what you are doing or have done. I personally do a mix of both. Some things I write may never reach my blog because they are deeply personal, whereas my blog contains some quite personal entries that my physical journals do not because I wanted feedback and it is easier for me to type than write. Ultimately, the choice as to where your journal ends up is yours.
The first thing you should decide on is why you want to keep a journal. I’ll give you some examples below, but I look at there being three main archetypes: 1) Experimental, 2) Experiential, and 3) Multipurpose. Experimental journals are entirely about experiments in spirituality, magic, etc. and are written in a straightforward format that nearly entirely eliminates personal perspective save where it is needed. This is a style that closely mimics a scientific journal. The Experiential style is almost exclusively about subjective experiences, opinions, and observations. The Multipurpose style can be either of the two in whatever amounts you need and the flow in it changes as needed. The writing styles will vary greatly; I’ll show you examples so you can decide which you want to use.
I personally advocate a two-pronged approach to physical journaling. Keep your physical journal, but electronically back it up. Either scan it or write it out in a word processor. If you lose the journal, you’ll at least have a backup, and can print it off or refer to it in later sections of your physical journal. The advantage here is that if you have spelling errors, or large sections crossed out (like spirit-corrected entries of spirit communications) you can put your journal into a more logical, and less messy format.
As the actual content is largely up to you, here are some suggestions:
- Regardless of which style you go with, the journal should have all the information you may want to reference later. Write down anything which may affect a working at the beginning of an entry — information like the date, time, moon phase, astrological time, etc. of the working.
- Write as thoroughly as you can, noting feelings and facts with equal weight. Sometimes those feelings can be looked back upon, and you can note trends, or how your emotions may have affected the outcome of a working. It could also give you ideas of how to do a working better next time.
- Do not censor yourself. This is so incredibly difficult, but keep in mind no one needs to read this but you. This is your work, your private journal if you make it so. The details you put in here may help you when you least expect it, so honesty really may help you out some day.
- Nothing is inconsequential. You have feelings, reactions, instincts and intuitions for a reason. It is good to reflect on them, even if they prove wrong later on. Again, as above, your honesty can help you fix or avoid problems altogether.
- Have fun or, at the least, do not make this a chore. If you really don’t like journaling on paper, find another medium. If journaling is going to be a help, approaching it with The Death March playing in the background won’t endear you to it.
DR: OR: RR:
Today begins with a meditation to Hela, then Odin. After getting my breathing and heart calmed, I did square breathing for 15 minutes and slipped into trance state. I went utiseta (out of body).
The DR, or Daily Rune, can also be replaced with DC or Daily Card if you’re using tarot. The OR is Outworking Rune, and RR is Results Rune, and all can be labeled according to what you need. The PDS is the Planetary Day Sign and the PHS is the Planetary Hour Sign, all of which can mean something according to what system of magic or spirituality you are working in. These are just suggestions as to what you can record. To me, anything that you record during these workings can be of value.
Some Sample Activities to Journal On
Sometimes you get settled with doing activities that you can journal on, like spiritual events, spells, and the like. What do you do when you’ve hit a dry spell? Here are some things you can do and journal on to give yourself something to write, and perhaps jump start a low period in your life or spirituality.
- Write on a spell you’ve done that did not work. You may be surprised to learn that the spell worked in a way you didn’t think it did, or you may uncover why it didn’t work.
- Revisit a topic you thought you’d mastered, even something relatively simple like basic energy work. Refreshers can help you spiritually, and going back over it can show progress or give you some new tricks to play with.
- Commune with Deity, noting particulars like how they might appear to you, what they’ve said, or information they’ve told you that their myths, legends, and lore doesn’t cover.
- Commune with your Ancestors; learn a skill or insight into your family tree from them.
- Write a tune, chant, mantra or ritual for a God/dess or spirit.
- Do research on a God/dess, spirit, spell, ritual, or religion and write about what you find.
Comment here if you have suggestions!
©2010 by Sarenth.
Edited by Sheta Kaey.
Sarenth has been a Neopagan since 2004, on and off as a solitary eclectic. His personal practice consists of NeoShamanism stemming from the Norse pantheon, but he also engages in ceremonial magick and works with a variety of other gods. He is a co-founder of the Pandoran Society. Visit his blog here.
It’s late, I’m tired, and my body is creaking from the day’s work. I sit down on the edge of my bed, stretch and feel my back crack. I look up and there is a see-through old man, standing, with tears in his eyes. He wears a button up white shirt, black pants, and his face is crinkled with age lines. He asks “Can you help me?” I want to sleep, but I stay awake, listening to him as he describes a long, hard life with kids who all but abandoned him when he was on his deathbed.
Spirits aren’t always on our time schedule. Sometimes they come to us when we least want to see them. Other times, they make come when we need them, but we refuse to recognize it. And yet some others may simply come to people because they are bored and are looking for company. Too many people react to the latter two kinds of spirits negatively, without analyzing what is going on and what may have prompted a visit. It is like me coming to your house and asking for a cup of sugar, only to be screamed at and bounced out.
I propose that we treat spirits, human or not, more humanely. Have a weird, eerie spirit that lurks around your closet? Maybe it likes the energies you put there, like my books and mementos. Maybe it wants you to notice something about yourself, your surroundings or your life. More than likely, in my experience, it wants you to notice it.
Here we can find several questions: What kinds of spirits come to call? What should we do when they come to call? How will I know if I am dealing with a spirit or something else? If I don’t want spirits in my place, what should I do?
To answer any of these will require you to have an open mind about the existence of spirits, whether earthbound former humans, elementals, or just that eerie sense of a presence. If you simply can’t believe in spirits, it’s likely that most will leave you alone. If you’ve closed yourself off to them, your energies will tend to be inaccessible, and there’s not much in you to attract them. While there are exceptions, you generally have to be open to a visit to receive one.
For those whose spiritual, religious, or metaphysical outlook can include spirits, your experiences reflect how you view the spiritual world itself. If you think that most spirits are out to get you, then that is in no small part what you will attract, or at least see everywhere you look. If all you are looking for is an external enemy, someone to blame for your problems, or a fight to be had, that is all you’ll find, because you’ve narrowed your focus and energies to accept only these into your life.
If you are to more than simply throwing spirits off your spiritual front porch, I would recommend a more balanced approach, one which engages the spirits around you. There is a knowing that you have boundaries which are not to be crossed, but still allowing them to be crossed when you know a spirit is not intending ill will to you or loved ones. There is also temperance in the treatment of the spirits that you allow across that boundary, knowing that one experience with a certain kind of spirit may not translate to another. Just as humans are individuals so, too, I have found, are spirits.
What kinds of spirits come to call? Depending on you and your personality, as well as that of the spirits, a wide range may come. I’ll give some basic archetypal names, definitions, and examples that I have experienced to help give common ground.
- Earthbound Spirits
Definition: Spirits that once had a living body on Earth. Ghosts, specters, and many haunting human spirits are attributed as Earthbound Spirits, but they may also be animals and plants that once inhabited a space. Their “age” can range from the recently deceased to the ancient dead.
Example: An old man who had died recently came to me just as I was about to lie down, wanting to tell me about his life. He was “passing through” and stopped by to pay me a visit. He scared the hell out of me; I almost threw him out of my place because he didn’t know to “knock” on my boundaries (more on this later).
- Ancestor Spirits
Definition: Spirits that are related to a living person by blood, familial, or metaphysical ties. These spirits tend toward guiding, guardianship, or simply part and parcel of being part of a family. Experiencing ancestor spirits tends to depend upon one’s view of blood relations, family, and whether metaphysical ritual do or do not place one into a lineage or spiritual family.
Example: I have blood relatives that contact me, especially my sister who passed on before I was born. She does not guide me or guard me in any overt way, but we speak on occasion.
- Elemental Spirits
Definition: Spirits that are tied to the elements, such as gnomes (earth), sylphs (air), salamanders (fire), and undines (water). I know that some look on these aforementioned archetypal spirits as faeries, but I differentiate the fae from these, the former being a kind of spirit all unto Itself.
Example: The woods near my home have several spirits of earth that reside there, both in the ground and trees. Some prefer to be called tree spirits, noting that while they may rooted in the same element as earth spirits, dirt is not a tree and vice versa. These tend to be communicative when I am quiet or dead silent, and I “listen” with intent.
- Spirits of Place
Definition: Spirits that are the overarching spirit of a place, a being composed of the various energies of an area. Spirits of Place can be a grove of trees as much as they can be an entire city. City blocks, even if the city has an overarching Spirit, may have its own Spirit of Place. Similarly, it can be seen how neighbors contribute to the spirit of a neighborhood, whether by their attitudes, how they treat their homes, how safe people feel there. Like with an environment, even the decor of the place can influence how the spirit of the area is formed, or what parts of a spirit of place people interact with.
Example: The spirit of my nearby grove of trees is peaceful overall, concerned with keeping its area clean and growing. The spirit of my town is concerned with a growing drug problem, its streets having more homeless on it, and its degrading streets and sidewalks because of reduced work on them. The former is part of the latter, but is autonomous, existing within the energy pattern that forms the spirit of my town.
- Spirits of Purpose
Definition: A spirit that exists to perform a specific function, such as protection, guidance, etc. These spirits can be sent from a God/dess, be part of another spirit.
Example: As an example, spirit purely of growth exists to make things grow for good or ill, whether it is a tumor or a patch of grass. Another example would be a spirit of blight, who feeds on and seeks to expand it within its area.
- Constructed Spirits
Definition: Spirits who are specifically constructed by magical practitioners. These tend to have specific functions, but there have been efforts made to create whole spirits who have personalities and motives all their own.
Example: I have created a spirit to protect my car and its occupants from harm, fashioning them out of my own energy. A great example of creating a spirit was carried out by the Toronto Society for the Paranormal (TSPR), “The idea was to assemble a group of people who would make up a completely fictional character and then, through seances, see if they could contact him and receive messages and other physical phenomena — perhaps even an apparition. The results of the experiment — which were fully documented on film and audiotape — are astonishing.”1
- Totemic Spirits
Definition: Spirits that are the overarching spirit of an animal or entity that is revealed to a person. It can be representative of the qualities humans see in the being, or may inherently possess the qualities dependent on the spirit and human involved.
Example: A totemic spirit of the Dung Beetle came to me a few months ago in a meditation and has worked with me on rolling the “poop” in my life up and making use of it. In this role, it guides me and helps me out, and I honor it by giving offerings and listening to his wide range of bad poop jokes.
- Spirit Companions
Definition: A spirit that develops a deep connection to a human by intent of the human or spirit. It does not necessarily mean a romantic connection; it can also be a friendly or specific purpose-driven connection.
Example: Calling up a spirit, befriending it, and no longer calling upon it. Being able to call to it and speak with it, and vice versa, and letting it go when it wishes.
- Deity Spirits
Definition: A spirit sent by or representing a Deity.
Example: This could be something like a fae messenger from the Tuatha De Danaan. Alternatively, it could be something like the Metatron or Hunin and Munin from Norse mythologies, who are the spirits of Forethought and Afterthought that sit upon the shoulders of Odin.
So now that we have some definitions to work with, what do you do once you and a spirit meet? Well, be cautious unless you absolutely know the spirit and where it comes from. Essentially, treat it like any other stranger you would. Ideally, with respect, caution, and a give-and-take conversation until you know each other better. But how would you even talk with a spirit?
To start spirit communication, you should be able to do a few things first:
- Be able to ground your subtle energy, center it and your focus, and direct your subtle energies reliably.
- Be able to mark out spiritual space for yourself, such as casting a magick circle, or creating an astral temple.
- Having some method by which you can interpret abstract input / stimuli or input / stimuli from outside yourself; not everyone uses vision for this, though this method dominates most books. Some people “hear” the spirit world, whereas some may “feel” it. I use quotes because many rationalize or have translation from their subtle body/astral body into physical sensation so they can process what occurs in the spirit world. It differentiates from physically seeing an object in the spirit, to spiritually “seeing” it.
- Have a person or people with which to share the experience. Sometimes the best thing to have is a sounding board for your experiences. They can not only keep you grounded, but if you are stuck, can suggest ways of working with your circumstances, and help find solutions to problems you may have down the road.
- Be willing and able to set boundaries. Spirits should not feel they can wake you at all hours of the night, nor should you feel obligated to let them. You should also know when not to communicate with the spirit realm, and when too much is too much.
With that out of the way, what about some actual methods for spirit communication?
- Communication on the astral plane. If you know how to do this, you can project yourself into a protected neutral space and carry on a conversation. For tips on how to do this in depth, I would recommend picking up a guide such as Ted Andrews’ How to Meet and Work With Spirit Guides, or Christopher Penczak’s Spirit Allies: Meet Your Team from the Other Side.
- Communication by talking board. One of the most maligned ways of communicating with spirits, but in my opinion, in can be one of the most effective if you use it right. Using it wrong is calling out to any spirit with no protective magick circle or knowledge of how to clear out entities from a working space, and accepting whatever the spirit says to you, with this or any other method, as gospel. Using it right would be spiritually cleansing the area where you will use the board, casting a magick circle for protection and guarding you in the circle, and having items for a quick clearing spell for the circle on hand.
- Communication by fire, smoke, water, or similar means. Perhaps more abstract than the previous two, I have found this method works best when you elementally align it with the spirit in question. This is because, in my experience, beings like elemental spirits might be more apt to respond via a physical representation of their element. Simply lighting a candle and gazing into it may draw out imagery that you can interpret for yourself as to the intent of the spirit.
- Communicate via a medium. Someone who can help interpret the spirit world can be a great aid, or a great detriment. Open and honest communication (i.e. you respecting their boundaries, they not sugar-coating messages) can empower a great working relationship that can deepen both parties’ spirituality and depth of experience.
- Communication by manifestation. This may sound odd at first, but think of it like this: you want proof the spirit you think is reaching out for you is real. To prove to you that something is trying to communicate, you ask the spirit to give you signs and coincidences that speak to you that others may not catch. Although this takes a bit of open-mindedness and practice, the results can be very interesting. I will caution that this way is probably the hardest and has the slowest way of bringing out results from working with or communicating with a spirit. However, when deity spirits have gotten in contact with me with this method, the messages have been unmistakable and direct, placed in such a way that I know for me that it is not my subconscious.
There are far more means of contacting spirits than I have listed here. Almost every culture has had some way of speaking with the dead and other spirits; even Catholicism appeals to saints for a wide variety of reasons, from protection to selling your home.
The greatest challenge you may have once you open this door is learning to close it. So long as you have established boundaries, such as making sure spirits know what times are off limits, and keep to them, most spirits should leave you alone as you ask. Let’s say for the sake of argument that a spirit won’t stop coming around at bad times for you, or is trying to intimidate or control you; what do you do?
Take a passage from Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “Don’t panic.” The worst thing you can do is feed into the spirit’s ego, or empower it by giving it your energy by freaking out. There are some tried and true methods I have used to make spirits leave if they will not do so of their own volition.
- Rebuke them. That’s right; the power of Me compels you. Or the power of your God/dess, your dishsoap . . . anything that gives you the feeling of power and control of the situation. Using an empowered object by your Will, magick, what have you, and projecting energies that assert your authority, in my experience, are highly effective. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Whatever you do, it just needs to either remind the spirit (or yourself) that you are in control of your body / place / etc., and / or that it has no power over you. The rebuking itself can be as strict as a demand followed by a spiritual boot to the ass to leave, to a simple “No, this is my space.”
- Calling on deity / spirits / etc. Don’t be afraid to call in family, friends, and / or allies to deal with a spirit that refuses to respect you and your space. From something as simple as wearing a grounding stone to bed or placing it beneath your pillow, to fashioning an egregores to take your “calls,” you have a wider range of options with help. It is not weak to ask for it, and it is not weak to say “I can do this much, and no more.” In fact, that is oftentimes harder, and better for all involved.
- Using a sigil. Sigils are shortcuts, graphics that can be word amalgamations, random scribbles, or made from a standard sigil creator. It can give you a direct line to the spirit involved, especially if a spirit “gives” it to you in telepathic communication or automatic writing. A sigil can empower your Will against or with the spirit it is of, or aligning your energies much more naturally with it because you are engaged with its symbol. This works like a sympathetic link, much like having someone’s hair, or an image of a person, one more way of energetically connecting to a person or thing. I have found the Rosy Cross of the Rosicrucians to be an effective method for making sigils, as I have combining letters into a graphic. For instance, TBL for Table, as shown here:
- Cleansing. From a shower to a full-on ritual with a censer and aspergillium, the rite is to cleanse a place or person of spiritual ties or excess spiritual energies. A shower can double as a cleansing area, whether you perform the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram in it or visualize the excess energies dripping off of your body as you clean yourself. The specifics of it are up to you; if you want to rectify or keep the relationship with the spirit, don’t cut off all ties with the cleansing, but target the rite to help cleanse the relationship itself. Again, using the shower method, you can visualize your connections as colored cords connecting you to the spirit, washed clean but not washed away. If you plan on having a long-term relationship with a spirit, this may simply be good spiritual hygiene on your part.
- Putting up “walls” / empowering your “shields.” Putting up shields is projecting protective energy to make a barrier, preventing contact you do not wish to have, and accepting that which you do. I tend to meditate every day on my shields, through visualization, meditation and other practices layering them up or performing upkeep so they continue to work the way I want them to. Putting up walls is intentionally arranging heavy amounts of your energies, and / or energy body, to block reception and oftentimes the giving off of certain energies. For instance, if you do not want any kind of spirit communication from the outside world, putting up walls (again, through visualization and the like) will block any and all spirits from contacting you. Think about this: you are effectively cutting yourself off from a form of communication. Before putting up walls, weigh the pros and cons. What are you cutting yourself off from? What are you allowing in? What are you keeping in with your walls?
Should you decide to communicate with spirits, your own experiences will tell you best how to do so. This text is just a beginning primer to get your ideas flowing, to ease you into spirit communication, and give you some solid ground to lift off.
- Wagner, Stephen. “How to Create a Ghost”
©2010 by Sarenth.
Edited by Sheta Kaey.
Energy. It powers our bodies, forms thoughts in our heads, helps our vehicles move, and affects every aspect of our lives in some way. Most forms we use come from the resulting reactions between two or more things, such as between sparks and gasoline in a car, though this is overly simplistic. In much the same way, the Shiva and Shakti energies of Kundalini operate in Kundalini exercises: the Shakti-energy that travels up the energy centers unites with the Shiva-energy, producing an altered state of consciousness.
What happens when this process of energy is stalled or blocked? A car eventually burns its engine out when you don’t change the oil, and similarly, people get “burnt out.” Energy work, or at least the healthy communication of energy within, is like an oil change. I recommend you maintain an energy flow and perform unblocking exercises every so often, or you could burn out. But does energy work have to be Reiki, a Kundalini awakening, or another esoteric practice? No, not necessarily. It can be something as simple as talking to someone and sharing an aspect of yourself with them, even your latest obsession or general interest.
Energy communication happens with and within all things, but it is the active engagement of the world around us, as I see it, that makes the difference in how our energies balance. It is one thing to give your car minimum maintenance; it is a whole other thing to take your car in for engine work. For us, having to be rung up at your corner store is like the minimum maintenance, whereas allowing ourselves to become more in tune with or closer to others is the engine work. Communicating with other people allows transference between our energy systems, just as does sharing a meal, having sex, or giving a hug.
There’s always the possibility that your problems are superficial, maybe the result of too much stress or old conditioning needing correction. In my view, humans are a continuous work in progress. That progress can’t be made if we ignore the whole self, and only concentrate on the subtle energies, or on the physical world. Many of us simply ignore our “lower needs” in lieu of “higher things,” whether its denial of sex for purity, denial of food for an impossible body image, while overindulging in another area to fill a hole inside.
I ignored my lower needs for a while, and in the process of doing that, found myself enjoying life less when I thought I should have been enjoying it more. Denying yourself is still denying your Self. I denied myself food and so, had less energy for the things I wanted to do. I tried to fill this hole by drinking energy drinks. I denied myself connection with others, and felt isolated from the world. I tried to fill this hole with work. For every energy I denied myself, I looked for a way to replace it. I found my problems solved when I learned to moderate how much food I ate, by giving myself private time, and time with people I cared for much more equally. By letting others share their energy with me and vice versa, I found a better balance in my life.
Let me blunt and upfront: energy work, energy healing, Kundalini release, and so on will not fix your issues overnight, and will not pay your bills for you. There is, as with any mystical or magical undertaking, a practical aspect that you must initiate. However, I do not feel this means that our subtle energies do not affect us; on the contrary, I think they can be of great effect.
I have had my own experience with energy healings done for me. In general, what I see they do is work within the natural order of how your body is supposed to function. If I am sick and someone does an energy healing for me, it is to help power up my body, mind and/or spirit, as much as it is to help wipe out the virus, sickness, bad habit, etc. Sometimes the greatest thing a healing can do is give you the kick in the ass you need to get over something on your own.
You might ask, “Wait, what about attaining enlightenment or talking to your Holy Guardian Angel or whatever?” Sure, energy work can help you get there, but if you can’t even let go of the world around you, or work within it, what enlightenment would you receive, and what good would come of it? Energy work can help us align with the ideas of enlightenment, whatever yours happen to be. I stress the practicality of energy work not because enlightenment is not important, but because I feel that people should align their lives to better allow that communication. I also stress it because far too many people I know go in search of enlightenment through asceticism and energy work without taking care of the physically real work that needs to be done to allow such a thing into their lives.
In order to host a party for new guests, one needs a clean home, stocked with food and drinks, and have enough space for the guests. Allowing Deity, enlightenment, or what have you into our lives is no different; we should have prepared for it in some fashion, even if every time we go for it we are not at our peak. Not every party goes as planned, or is planned for that matter. Life would be pretty bland without the spark of chaos in it.
For instance, this writing has not gone how I had planned it. I had planned to extol the virtues of working deep within yourself, on how meditation could unwind your mind and let your energies flow more freely. I had planned on writing about how good it can feel to do energy work and healing. It would be partial bullshit, because there’s a balance.
Energy work and healing isn’t always a good thing. Too much and a person runs to it to solve all his problems. Sometimes energy healings touch places with deep, harsh wounds that take a while to resolve, or bring out memories, feelings, anxieties, pains, and traumas that seemed better left alone. And sometimes, healing simply doesn’t work, disheartening the practitioner and recipient alike. Energy healings can take so much out of those involved that they may cause issues to develop, or a co-dependency to form between them. There are just as many pitfalls as there are benefits, more if you go in with rosy-colored glasses about the whole affair.
Despite all the potential problems, work can change perspective, heal us from within, help us move beyond our issues, maybe even enlighten. Just recently, I had an energy healing done. I had been keeping back a lot of anxiety from my loved ones, holding back the stress of losing a job and of not being able to find another. I held to my old conditioning, and didn’t talk about or let it out. On top of this, I had trust issues rearing their heads in my relationships, especially with my girlfriend. My sex drive was all but dead, and much of my enthusiasm for life was gone. My root and sacral chakra were spinning, but the energy wasn’t going anywhere. I had blocks.
I wasn’t thinking about that when my girlfriend asked me to let her do a healing ritual for me. I thought it was the standard “recharge the batteries” work that would get my juices flowing a little. It was a simple ritual, with bells rung about each of my chakra centers to help clear the energetic space there. The effect was dramatic and immediate. I could feel arousal, I could feel that indescribable zest for life, that feeling of “life is good and going to be okay” that I had not felt in months. Was it just a psychosomatic reaction? Was it because of the healing? I’m not a doctor, a researcher or scientist, but whatever it was, it worked. It had a practical end result that pushed me to open up, not just sexually but as a person, and to listen to my intuition. Things have been improving in our relationship and in my relationships with friends and family. I’ve reconnected with people who I otherwise would not have, and have found my “ground” again in life.
This brings with it many challenges that I have and will continue to face: past conditioning, self-image issues, the lack of listening to my instincts, helping old relationships get back on their feet, and maintaining current ones instead of shutting down when things get rough. For you, the work you do with subtle energies may be more or less significantly less challenging, or more, or less utilitarian. It may challenge your views, your long-held habits, maybe even beliefs about yours or the world. I think that is one of the real joys of working with subtle energy: like everyday life, it is unique to us and our experiences.
©2009 by Sarenth
Edited by Sheta Kaey
The Webster definition of prayer is “an address (as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought.1”
Let us assume there are two general categories of occultists: those who work with or rely on only themselves, and those who work with or rely on some Other in their work. This Other could be a God, Goddess, spirit, guide, or other entity. What could prayer mean to the former occultist? What could it mean to the latter?
Going by the definition above, a prayer may seem irrelevant to the occultist who works alone, but I think of it along these lines: If he is self-reliant in magick, then he would be praying to himself, whether the prayer is addressed to his conscious Self specifically or to his Higher Self/ Guardian Angel. This might be seen as a kind of self-deification, but seeing oneself as God/dess can be powerful in and of itself, because the self-reliant occultist must accept responsibility for the consequences of his prayer, for good or ill. This promotes responsibility in general, personal growth, and self-confidence.
Petitioning himself for help may not only make the occultist mindful of his requests, but may also put those requests into a practical context, allowing reevaluation and/or the setting of attainable goals. It may enable an honest dialogue with his Highest Self, or Holy Guardian Angel, or help in Kundalini release and other such practices. In accepting his own prayers, he not only becomes God and takes the driver seat, but the prayer, like a spell for the same, can push him to greater heights or encourage him to go down avenues he may not have otherwise considered.
Of course, it may just as easily send the occultist in question into a cycle of ego and self-gratification, one that does not get him any further ahead in his studies, practice, or life in general. This potentially harmful cycle could continue for a week, or throughout his entire life. It’s entirely dependent on the occultist. If the person catches his error quickly, the damage can be relatively minor and no more than an embarrassment, one that he will hopefully learn from. If he goes on to teach others his ways of doing things, that instruction could range from useless to a psycho-spiritual hazard, perpetuating the teacher’s ego to harmful ends and spreading the attitudes into successive circles of influence. Look no further than the “I am the One who Knows All That Is!” cult leaders for examples of this.
To the latter occultist, prayer would mean he is achieving the same ends as the other, but with the aid of outside entities, such as a God/dess or Spirit. In this case, prayer could be a relationship builder or a boost to the path of the occultist, helping him gather strength or resolve he might not be able to find within himself. Prayers to a spiritual aide for help in contacting the magician’s Higher Self/ Holy Guardian Angel can be every bit as powerful, transformational, and revelatory as going solo. The spirit or God aiding the occultist provides a glimpse of the potential available to the devout, setting an example for personal evolution and providing support for efforts made toward his growth.
Taken down the harmful path of ego gratification, however, the latter occultist uses God/dess or Spirit(s) in the place of self-worship. Instead of taking on the role of avatar, self-as-God, or deity incarnate, the devotional occultist takes on the role of the Mouthpiece. An occultist who takes his role from the point of guide to the point of Mouthpiece tends to overstep the restrictions of personal boundaries into the realm of dictating people’s lives, bullying, and brainwashing. When people come to Priests and Priestesses of Neopagan walks of life, I find they are often looking for someone to be that guiding voice, or to temporarily provide it. Those who take on this role of guide can fall into ego-stroking at the least, or at worst, can turn the relationship between the Priest/ess and the individual into a using-used relationship rather than a giver-receiving relationship.
I feel the easiest way to avoid these and other downfall is to have a consistent check on what I am actually praying for and to be focused in that prayer. I tend to break this up into about four steps:
1. Identify the reason for the prayer.
If you don’t know what you want, why throw out the energy to request it or to make it manifest? Further, I see that knowing the reason for your prayer can better focus you and connected energies for the request, whether you’re requesting it from your Holy Guardian Angel or deity of your choice. The most important part of a prayer is the reason I pray in the first place, then what I pray for. I won’t get into ethics, like those of Kant, here, but the point is to exercise critical thought. For instance: praying for a new computer is fine, under the definition of prayer as a petition, but do I need one? Would a new computer be a worthy use of my time and energies? Why should my Deities fulfill or help me fulfill this request? Is it worth their time and energy to do so?
While the reason a thing is prayed for and what is actually prayed for may look like the same thing, in my experience they seldom are. Case in point: during the hunt for my last job, which I kept for almost four years, I prayed for help in finding a job that fit the criteria of: paying at least $7.50/hour, good hours, a positive work environment, and a convenient or flexible schedule that would allow me to attend class. I got what I asked for; however, it was not the company I had been hoping for at all, but turned out to be the company I needed at the time. It was also the only company that called back, and would not just “make an effort” but would make sure that it did not conflict with my college courses.
My prayer went something like this: “Goddess, God, please help me find a job that won’t interfere with my courses, that has a good environment that pays me what I need to do the things in life I’d like to, like live on my own. So mote it be.” Was I too nebulous? I like to think I was open to what came my way, since in part I didn’t know for myself what I needed. Being vague with the request, in my experience, can open up the doors to different paths that will get you to where you want or, more importantly, need.
2. Decide on what kind of prayer you would like to perform.
Almost as important as why you do a thing, is how to do it. The function of the prayer needs to be served by its form much in the same way you might craft a spell or any other ritual. I see this as doing what feels right to you, or in working out a prayer format between you and your Self, or you and deity, depending on which prayer path you’re working with. After all, if the flow of the prayer doesn’t keep your focus, how effective will it be?
3. Critically think about the reason for the prayer.
Now that you have the “what” and the “how” of a prayer down, this is the point to delve into the “why.” Why are you really praying? What do you hope to get from it? How long do you think your desired result will take to manifest, and will it deeply affect you if the request is not answered in the way you need or want? Is prayer an appropriate means to accomplish your goal? Is prayer what you need? Is the kind of prayer appropriate or what you need in the context of your desire, or deity’s request(s) of you?
4. Perform the prayer and any needed follow-up.
When you actually do the prayer, do whatever following up is necessary. I tend to adopt an open mind with a skeptical bend since I need to be open to the answer for petitioning prayers, but not so open that I lose my critical thinking. I advocate a similar stance for those who pray, regardless of whether it’s to their Higher Self or a deity. I feel you need to be open to the way in which your answer could come to you. If, for instance, you pray for help in getting a kind of job, then you not only need to have your resume, cover letter and so on into companies and databases, but also know that the job you are looking for simply may not come from the direction you are expecting.
While shortcuts might get me to where I want to be, the Gods may choose to ignore a prayer request, and that may be better for me in the long run. The same could be said of your Higher Self; what may benefit you in the short term may get may be outstripped by what you avoid by an unanswered prayer. How many of us have prayed, even in jest, for the death of someone? Or maybe that whispered intonation of “I hope they get fired. Please, please let them get fired.”
For hypothetical argument, we’ll say that you work in an office setting doing paperwork. Let’s say your prayer is answered: your workload increases because you have to take up their slack, the supervisor looks at you more closely because she has one less employee to look after. The person leaving may have had friends in the office who miss him and thus, their productivity suffers, shunting all the wasted energy of those around him down to you and others who have to pick up the collective slack. If your prayer had not been answered, maybe your life would be easier, the workload lighter and the eye of the supervisor less weighed on you.
Then, there is the counterargument: If you had not prayed for their firing, you could have been worse off. The man in question may have been dragging the entire department down with his attitude, lousy work ethic or by passing the buck. Maybe the supervisor needed that extra push to get rid of him, and make a decisive action, even if the push was minuscule. Like ripples from a pebble thrown in a pond, it may be hard to divine how our ripples affect others’, but at least if you have a ripple working for you the emanations of others’ pebbles may be more in sync with your own.
Another way to look at unanswered prayers could be like this: I pray for more money after not checking my checkbook for a week. If I take it as a lesson, an unanswered prayer may teach me better financial responsibility. An unanswered prayer for a computer could make me more self-reliant where my skills are concerned, like how to make my own computer from generic parts, or networking via finding someone who can get me a good deal. Or it may simply teach me that not all prayers are answered, and that I may not be ready or may never know the reason why. There is an opportunity for a lesson, regardless of the outcome and regardless of how you relate to the Divine or your Higher Self. Perhaps that’s one of the best things to pray for.
- Prayer. (2008). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved December 10, 2008.
Edited by Sheta Kaey
Screaming in my heart
Pounding in my blood
Seeping through my skin
Flooding in my eyes
Body twitches to nerves unbidden
Muscles flex and relax with each step
Fingers reach unconsciously
Lips seek soft skin
No thought just feeling
No reason just emotion
No emotion but the need
No need but of you
Let my eyes see only yours
Let my tongue taste only you
Let my ears hear only your voice
Let my heart receive your love
Rocking body, panting mind
Gasping for a moment to think
Time is spirited away as
I reach for you
Arms unfold to bring you near
Legs shake with fear
Throat locks with feeling
Eyes well with joy
Know I need you
Know I want you
Know I love you
Know I fear
Poetic Journeys is a semi-regular column featuring a wide variety of poetic styles. If you’d like to submit a poem, please send your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll happily review your material for inclusion in a future issue.