The Otherkin Avatar Project

The Otherkin Avatar Project

The Otherkin community is a fascinating collection of individuals, all of whom feel as if they are differently souled. Although in human form, Otherkin believe that the essence of who and what they are originated elsewhere and can most often be associated with mythical beings, such as elves or faeries, dragons or gryphons. I was first introduced to the Otherkin community on the cusp of the new millennium, and, although I was skeptical at first, I came to accept that there is something to Otherkin claims. As someone who, because of my regularly need for the life-energy of others, has adopted the word “vampire” in reference to myself, I could hardly throw stones at Otherkin elves who explained that they did not believe that they were pointy-eared rangers straight out of Tolkien or D&D, but that the mythic archetype we have come to recognize as an elf best described what they felt their soul originate as. If we accept that the soul exists and, furthermore, accept that it is immortal, then we have to acknowledge that it has probably gone through a multiplicity of genders, races, and forms just on the basis that nothing — not even species or planets — lasts forever, at least not in the physical realm.

I had my widest exposure to the Otherkin community at a small Canadian convention called Kinvention North. From 2001 onward, I often appeared as a speaker there, and my presentations were popular with many of the attendees. When I was asked to do the closing ritual at Kinvention North 2004, I put a great deal of thought into the undertaking. As most people know, I have my own Kheprian system, and while I have ties to the ‘kin, I am foremost involved with the vampire subculture. Kheprian rituals have their own unique energy, and most vampire rituals are don’t really fit when working with the Otherkin. What I needed to do was design a ritual that was completely Otherkin in energy — and this would mean running ritual in a fashion that isn’t exactly normal for me. I’ve run both Wiccan and Pagan rituals very successfully, and so I knew this wasn’t beyond me as a ritualist. In general, writing a ritual in any tradition just requires the ritualist to tap into the unique energy that is the heart of that tradition. Each system has its own symbols, its own language, and its own archetypes. So to successfully design and run the KinNorth ritual, I had to essentially travel to the source of these in the mythic imagination and allow what I found there to flow through me.

To tap into this essence, I started with the symbol of the Otherkin: the Seven-Pointed Star, also known as the Elven Star or the Faery Star. As I understand it, this symbol is recognized by the majority of the Otherkin community, and it serves as an expression of Otherkin diversity. Because Otherkin by nature draw from a wide variety of races, traditions, and points of origin, the Star is one of the few common elements shared by all the Otherkin. As the archetypal common ground, the Star provided a point of entry into the vibration or “flow” of the ‘kin.

Prior to designing the ritual, I did some meditation with the Seven-Pointed Star. These were basically pathworkings where I approached the symbol of the Star as an archetype, and allowed it to speak to me. It soon became clear that there were several voices within the Star — one for each of its points. These were essentially Avatars of elements and races unique to the ‘kin.

To design this ritual, I let the Star Avatars speak to me. All Seven appeared in succession, revealing their forms and sigils for invoking. They each told me their Names and the symbols of office they wished to be represented by. They told me what elements, colors, and concepts they are associated with (although several were associated with common elements, they were never as simple as one element and one concept — the avatars are multifaceted beings, each as diverse as the ‘kin they embody).

Some came forward and spoke right away. These had bold voices that were hard to mistake. A few were less direct with me, even hesitant in their contact. The last one to come forward was the hardest to understand, for s/he was most unlike my own nature and anything I had a context for. But it was contact with this one (called Illana) that convinced me beyond a doubt that I was dealing with essences both unique and outside of me, as s/he was totally alien to anything I previously had known.

The Avatars each have many shapes and many Names, and during our conversations, they frequently shifted from one face to another while still retaining their overall “feel.” I’ve come to associate such flux with the ‘kin, so it really didn’t come as a surprise when it was a fundamental part of the avatars. The complexity and diversity of the Avatars was also in keeping with what I understand such avatars to be — which is essentially an embodiment of a higher emanation, a fragment of divinity that is more complete and closer to the Source than you or me.

As I had originally planned to only invoke the Avatars like Watchtowers at the Quarters, I asked the directions they were associated with — and in a few cases, the answer came as a surprise. The traditional Pagan directions are abandoned in favor of what the Avatars themselves declared. The least traditional of any of them, of course, was Illana, who seems to embody the most “other” element of all of them.

The Avatars had their own idea of how the ritual should proceed, and they didn’t hesitate in telling me so. As I had already agreed to serve as a channel in this and not impose my own expectations or traditions upon it, I let them speak freely. The resulting rite gives a great deal of time to the Avatars of the Star, and I have been assured that they will fill in the blanks when the time comes. During our interactions, they had made a number of other statements which, while mysterious at first, later proved to be true — so I’ve definitely learned to trust them.

The whole experience has been fascinating for me, as I don’t usually go talking to so-called “higher powers.” For my own rituals, I draw everything from my Self, and Kheprian rituals also draw only upon the Selves of those involved. But this is not a Kheprian rite I am running, and the ‘kin do not function by Kheprian rules. My role in this is purely as an intermediary and mouthpiece. I’m fairly certain that the things I tapped into were already there, and I’ve done my best to be a clear channel for them, allowing the information to come through with as little distortion as possible.

What I see before me is a very powerful rite — one that I think will be inspiring for those who participate in it. As we are dealing with Avatars and giving each of them a chance to speak, the real outcome and message of the ritual is an unknown and can only be experienced. I’ve built the framework, but the Avatars themselves will tell us what needs to be known. They’ve been very interesting to work with, and I look forward to future interactions with their energy.

Finally, because I know there will be a widespread interest in it, I am making this ritual available to the general community. Others who wish to experiment with contacting these Avatars are encouraged to do so. I am very curious about how they might manifest to other people and how harnessing their energy might serve to help and empower the community of Otherkin.

What I would especially like to see are rituals that integrate the Avatars in smaller group work. While a ritual that involves 70+ people is impressive just by dint of the numbers, there is often little chance for group participation all around. It’s very difficult to make time for everyone present in such a large ritual to directly participate in the action. Smaller rituals with ten to fifteen people have always seemed more personal and more ideal to me because everyone can play some role in the preparation and ritual action. I would be very interested to see the difference between this invocation run in a large group and how things play out in a smaller, more directly involved group.

Open Letter to the Avatar Hosts

2004-03-27

This is the letter that went out prior to the ritual to the first and second choices for the Avatar hosts:

“I’ll need you to meet with me about an hour before the ritual is actually scheduled to start. Come prepared to this and already wearing most of what you’re going to wear as the Avatar. We can touch up the costumes at this time, make any last minute changes, etc.

“Each Avatar has a sigil. I’ll apply this to your forehead with body paint prior to the ritual. This will be a minor invoking — kind of priming you to the energy but not fully calling the Avatar down. I’ll have veils to drape over each of you and, once you’re ready, you’ll be arranged around where the circle will be formed. Stand still, like a statue, and wait until you hear your Avatar called at this point. I want to build the mystery a bit, and I’ll have the rest of the people come in and form a circle around you, building energy in the center of the room.

“I’ll talk a little bit, doing the intro to the ritual, then I’ll call the “quarters.” When I call the Avatar you represent, pull off the veil, leave it where it falls, and step forward to the center of the circle. There will be a small table set up there with the Avatars’ symbols of office on it. Pick up the one that’s appropriate to you, and then stand in the center facing out toward the larger circle. All seven of you will stand in a tight knot at the center of the ritual space, almost shoulder-to-shoulder, looking out at everyone else.

“I’ll talk a little more, and then I’ll do the full invoking. This will involve me Calling the Avatar with a larger description and scribing the sigil in energy before you. The energy of the Avatar will wash over you completely at this point, and it will be like draping a robe of office over who you already are. You will hear/feel what the Avatar wants to say, but you will also have influence of how this is ultimately expressed. You will not lose your sense of Self totally unless you allow it; if you wish to surrender completely to the presence of the Avatar, that will be a matter of personal choice.

“The core of the ritual is that each Avatar is asked for his/her advice on a matter of importance to the ‘kin community. I’ll go right round through all of them, then dismiss them. When the Avatars are dismissed, step back out of the inner circle and move to a point close to the outer circle again, as the energy of the Avatar slips off of you. If you feel compelled to do or say anything before the Avatar fully departs, go with it — I have a feeling they have a couple of surprises for us.

“Attached is the full ritual in MSWord format.

“If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me. I’ll be traveling a bit with the band the next few days but will make every effort to check my email in case there are any inquiries.”

Details of the Invocation

2004-03-27

This is a letter which explained my vision for the Avatar Invocation. It covers what I was aiming to accomplish with the Avatars, how I approached the KinNorth ritual, and what I expected from those individuals who would be hosting the Avatars.

“I am going to be a little more elaborate and organized with ritual this year than previously. The time we are in I believe calls for this. To this end, I would like to request your help with the ritual.

“The core of this ritual will be an invoking. I shall call upon avatars tied to each aspect of the Seven-Pointed Star. Individuals from the gathering will be chosen to embody these. As the rite progresses, I will invoke the Avatar fully into these people — much like Drawing Down the Moon, only the beings we are Calling are avatars of ‘kin archetypes rather than traditional goddesses and gods.

“The people involved in the invocation have to be comfortable with the idea of channeling something greater than themselves. This will not be like possession, where a deity or spirit takes complete control of your body and you have no consciousness during the events. This will be much more gentle.

“The energy of the Avatar will wash over you, and it will be like draping a robe of office over who you already are. You will hear/feel what the Avatar wants to say, but you will also have influence of how this is ultimately expressed. This is not intended to be possession. You will not loose your sense of Self totally unless you allow it; if you wish to surrender completely to the presence of the Avatar, that will be a matter of personal choice.

“In all cases, I’ve tagged people for the roles because the individuals already embody the archetype that Avatar represents to one extent or another, and in a way I would merely be invoking a greater aspect of their Selves. The resonant energy already present in these individuals will help facilitate the invocation.

“Each Avatar has a sigil, which will be scribed upon each person’s forehead, and each Avatar also has a symbol of office, which the person embodying that Avatar will take up once the Avatar is Called.

“Key things for this ritual to succeed: I need the people who will embody the Avatars to really get into their roles. For the ritual, I would want them to dress the part, adopting attire more elaborate than usual to help really build the ritual atmosphere. This rite is a little more theatrical than what I ordinarily run, and there is a conscious heightening of the mystique of the work that should help create an atmosphere appropriate for drawing the Avatars down. I want the ritual to really speak to people, and I want to allow the Avatars the freedom to speak in whatever manner they deem most appropriate for the time, the people, and the place of the rite.

“If there is time, we might experiment with an invocation of the Avatars for the “Come as you really are” party to see how it feels/works.”

Sigils and Descriptions of the Avatars

2004-03-27

The following is a list of the seven Avatars that manifested to me during pathworking on the Elven Star. Fenecai was the first to make contact, and true to his nature, he came on like a ton of bricks and was amazingly hard to ignore. Once I was certain I’d contacted something that was truly outside of me, I did further pathworkings to determine what directions the Avatars were connected with, their respective colors, metals, and other associations, and the qualities that defined them. All these are listed here, along with the sigils for each Avatar.

Fenecai (FEHN-nuh-kye)

Sigil of Fenecai
  • Title: Lord of Fire
  • Gender: Dark/destructive masculine
  • Element: Fire
  • Direction: West
  • Color(s): Red, orange, black
  • Symbol: Rod of Kingship or pole-arm
  • Metal: Brass
  • Planet: Mars
  • Races: The fierce dragons of the heights, phoenixes, stonewings, and sons of the forge.
  • Essence: Destruction and renewal; cataclysmic change.
  • Appearance: Big, broad-shouldered Draconian warrior with outspread wings. Wears armor and carries a halberd-type weapon. Shifts occasionally to a phoenix of flame. Sometimes in his draconian form, his wings and talons trail fire. Moves ponderously but then lashes out in sudden, powerful strikes. An alternate form is the Forge Lord, a fierce dwarven warrior with flame-red hair and beard.

Elerian (ay-LAY-ree-ahn)

Sigil of Elerian
  • Title: Lord of the Shining Host
  • Gender: Feminine androgyne
  • Element: Light
  • Direction: Above
  • Color(s): White, yellow, silver
  • Symbol: Musical instrument (lyre or flute)
  • Metal: Platinum or gold
  • Planet: Sun
  • Races: Elves and all fey
  • Essence: (Positive) magick, beauty, creativity and song
  • Description: Lithe and fine-boned elf with pale skin and long, reddish-blond hair. Wears a long, flowing robe that is an almost luminous white shot through with gold and silver thread. Wears a collar or torque of gold. Carries a lyre, lute, or flute. Dreamy, flowing movements — exceptionally graceful.
  • Hss’tah Feliss (huss-TAH feh-LEESS)

Sigil of Hss’tah Feliss
  • Title: Huntress-Priestess
  • Gender: Dark/destructive feminine
  • Element: Darkness
  • Direction: Belo_
  • Color(s): Gray, black, indigo
  • Symbol: Small curved blade
  • Metal: Silver
  • Planet: Moon
  • Races: Felines, and all who are children of darkness and shadow
  • Essence: (Dark) magick, night, shadows, mystery — that which is hidden or obscured from view.
  • Description: A petite, wiry felinoid whose short, soft fur is the color of deep shadow rippled with true black. Wears bracers of soft leather inscribed with designs. Minimal clothing, also of leather &ndash deep brown or black. Carries at least one small, curve-bladed knife. Sometimes appears covered head to foot in a soft black cloak. Moves gracefully, but in an almost threatening way — like she is constantly stalking something and just about ready to pounce. Has a dark sexual allure and this is visible in the way she moves as well.
  • Gwidorian (gweh-DOHR-ree-ahn)

Sigil of Gwidorian
  • Title: Lord of the Wilding
  • Gender: Positive/generative masculine
  • Element: Earth
  • Direction: South
  • Color(s): Brown, green, earth tones
  • Symbol: Living Staff (wooden staff entwined with ivy)
  • Metal: Iron
  • Planet: Earth
  • Races: Therians, animal-kin, hybrids: centaurs, satyrs, etc.; all children of the woodlands, wilds, and earth.
  • Essence: Vitality, sex, nature, all primal things
  • Description: Variously a centaur, a stag-man, and a man-wolf. Ithyphallic (i.e., he’s hung and he’s happy). Has a distinct Dionysian aspect, and I keep seeing him with a wreath of grapevines (complete with dangling bunches of grapes) in his hair. If he’s wearing clothing, he wears a long, flowing cloak the reddish-brown color of both dried blood and rich earth. Beneath that, he wears a tunic of deep green (usually with his privates exposed).
  • Sephiriel (she-FEER-ree-el)

Sigil of Sephiriel
  • Title: Storm-Singer
  • Gender: Masculine androgyne
  • Element: Wind (air)
  • Direction: North
  • Color(s): Light blue, gray, silver
  • Symbol: Writing quill or sword
  • Metal: Quicksilver
  • Planet: Jupiter (he says Mercury is not a planet)
  • Races: Celestials, angels, nephilim, children of air and winged ones.
  • Essence: Thought, Will, judgment, the Word.
  • Description: Tall, thin, and sharp-faced with shoulder-length pale (gray?) hair. Wears either a loose-fitting tunic of grayish-white material or the tunic with a breastplate of some non-lustrous gray metal that is neither silver nor steel. Also wears bracers, greaves, and a thin circlet of the same strange metal. A little haughty and detached. Economical but swift movements.
  • Neride Eyooli (neh-REED ee-YOOL-ee)

Sigil of Neride Eyooli
  • Title: Lady of Waters
  • Gender: Positive/generative feminine
  • Element: Water
  • Direction: East
  • Color(s): Blue, green, purple
  • Symbol: Scrying bowl or sphere
  • Metal: Copper
  • Planet: Venus
  • Races: The wise dragons of the depths, nagas, undines, naiads, asrai, and all children of the tides.
  • Essence: Healing, emotion, vision, flow
  • Description: Long flowing hair with beads and shells tied to the strands. Kohled eyes. Wears nets or veils of many colors. Lots of jewelry. Moves fluidly, sensuously. She is also a dancer.
  • Illana (ehl-LAHN-nah)

Sigil of Illana
  • Title: We of the Dreaming
  • Gender: Plural
  • Element: Dream/magick/glamour
  • Direction: Within
  • Color(s): All and none
  • Symbol: Sphere of crystal or a mirror
  • Metal: Glass/crystal
  • Planet: The multiplicity of worlds
  • Races: All, the many-souled
  • Essence: Glamoury, magick, Awakening
  • Description: Veiled in iridescent, translucent colorless material that looks like it’s been spun from rainbows and spider webs. Almost completely covered head to toe. All you can clearly see are her hands. Everything else keeps shifting — and even this form is a compromise, for otherwise they keep cycling through a multiplicity of forms and faces almost too rapidly to see. The most uncanny and “other” of all the Avatars.
  • Invocation of the Seven-Pointed Star

    2004-03-27

    Here is the actual ritual as it was run at Kinvention North on March 14, 2004. The actual words of the Avatars were not recorded and were experienced directly by those present for the ritual.

    Preparation:

    An altar is set up in the middle of the ritual space. The symbols of office for each Avatar are arranged upon this: a halberd or war-axe for Fenecai; a flute for Elerian; a staff for Gwidorian; a quill and parchment for Sephiriel (or alternately a sword); a scrying sphere for Neride; a curved dagger for Hss’tah; a mirror or clear sphere for Illana.

    The ritual space is cleansed, and those who will work directly with the Avatars prepare themselves to be receptive to the energy, meditating on their particular Avatar. Once the people who will embody the Avatars are ready, the sigils are scribed on their foreheads. As the sigils are scribed, the throat and solar plexus chakras are opened on each host to facilitate connection with the Avatars. The hosts range themselves around the inside of the circle and are covered with veils. Once they are ready, the rest of the participants enter and form a circle around the inner circle of the Avatars.

    The Gathering:

    First, I want you all to join hands and gather energy. Each of you draw from the essence of what you are, where you come from, all of the elements and forces that feed your soul.

    Now, as a group, cycle, refine, and combine these. Weave these varying energies into something that is greater than the sum of its parts. As you refine it, focus it here, in the center of our circle.

    What we are building now is a Between-space, a place of crossing over. You can envision it as a temple, or simply a glowing, sacred sphere. It is in this Space that I will invoke the Seven-Pointed Star.

    As we work with the Star of the Otherkin, I shall serve as mediator.

    I am Seth, Setem-Ansi, Sem-Asa. These are my Names. I am a Walker-Between, and in this rite, I shall be both Priest and Shaman, serving as the intermediary between you and the Avatars that we Call.

    In this space we will have communion with beings greater than ourselves. I will not call them gods, for I do not recognize gods as most people understand them. We are all emanations of Divinity, and therefore all beings are gods in their own right.

    And yet there is a hierarchy of emanation, and some beings are closer to the Source than others. Avatars such as these I shall call among us today. Now:

    The Calls:

    To the West, I Call thee, Fenecai, Lord of Fire: dragon and phoenix, who burns and renews.

    To the East, I Call thee, Neride Eyooli, Lady of Waters: healer and seer who flows with the tides.

    To the North, I Call thee: Sephiriel Storm-Singer: quick-witted angel whose sword is the Word.

    To the South, I Call thee: Gwidorian of the Wilding: Earthshaker, therian and animal lord.

    Above, I Call thee: Elerian, of the Shining Host: guardian of magick, beauty, and song.

    Below, I Call thee: Hss’tah Feliss: soft-footed huntress and priestess of night.

    And Within, I Call thee: Illana of the Dreaming: shaper of worlds and Awakener of souls.

    West and East,
    North and South,
    Above, Below, Within.
    I Call you here before me:
    Stand with us now
    as our Guardians and our Guides.

    The Time of Changes:

    Now my friends: The world is changing and we stand at the crux of it. We have longed for an Awakening, and now it rises around us like a tide. But as the veils slip away, our true nature is revealed. There is a crossroads here, and we must soon make a choice.

    We can stay in the shadows and hope to hide, or we can raise our voices and show the world our souls.

    By revealing ourselves, we take a great risk, but understanding and acceptance also lie along that route.

    We can choose the path of caution and remain hidden among humanity. But even in hiding, our safety is not guaranteed.

    This is our quandary: caution or risk? And if we risk revelation, do we have the strength and wisdom to succeed?

    Guardians of the Races; Watchtowers, Avatars all!
    We call on your power and wisdom to guide us in this time of change.

    Invocations:

    As each Avatar is invoked, the leader of the ritual scribes the sigil upon the air, sending this resonant energy into the Avatar’s host.

    Fenecai:
    Lord of the Sweeping Flame; Mighty-Winged One:
    Ye who stand on the right hand of Destruction,
    Tearing apart worlds so creation begins.
    We seek your guidance: What can you give us that will help us succeed?

    (Fenecai imparts his message)

    Neride Eyooli:
    She of the Flowing Veils; Mutable One:
    Lady whose deep wells and healing waters
    Reveal Future, Truth, and Consequence.

    We seek your guidance: What can you give us that will help us succeed?

    (Neride imparts her message)

    Sephiriel Storm-Singer:
    Angel of Action; He of the Swift Wings:
    Keen-witted Judge and Guardian,
    Who sunders illusion, captivity, and deceit.
    We seek your guidance: What can you give us that will help us succeed?

    (Sephiriel imparts hes message)

    Gwidorian:
    Lord of the Wild Places; Primal One:
    Ye who call us back to our beginnings,
    Hearkening to instinct and the lusty flow of life.
    We seek your guidance: What can you give us that will help us succeed?

    (Gwidorian imparts his message)

    Elerian:
    The Beautiful; Fair Scion of Light:
    Ye whose music delights and inspires,
    Gifting the worlds with magick and joy.
    We seek your guidance: What can you give us that will help us succeed?

    (Elerian imparts hir message)

    Hss’tah Feliss:
    Walker of Shadows; Lady of the Silent Strike:
    Keeper of all things hidden,
    Whose mysteries may empower or destroy.
    We seek your guidance: What can you give us that will help us succeed?

    (Hss’tah imparts her message)

    And Illana:
    The Many-Souled; They Who Exist Within and Between:
    Whose glamour is both madness and revelation,
    Throwing wide the gates of consciousness and worlds.
    We seek your guidance: What can you give us that will help us succeed?

    (Illana imparts their message)

    (A moment of silence, to pause and reflect)

    The Avatars have spoken. Let us take their counsel and their gifts. Let us each carry these things within, so we may draw upon them when next in need of wisdom, strength, and guidance. Armed with these things, let us walk boldly forward toward the future we have conceived.

    Dismissal:

    Avatars! Watchtowers! Guardians of the Star!
    We thank you for your guidance,
    And for joining us in this space.
    Depart now freely and in peace.

    Fenecai and Neride:
    Peace, and depart.

    Sephiriel and Gwidorian:
    Peace, and depart.

    Elerian, Hss’tah Feliss
    Peace, and depart.

    All you who are Illana:
    Peace, and depart.

    (as the Avatars leave, they break the circle from various points. Those hosting the Avatars take some time alone to release the Avatars’ energy and recover themselves)

    This ritual now is ended.
    Peace, and depart.

    FIN

    (All depart)

    Michelle Belanger is the author of The Psychic Energy Codex, The Psychic Vampire Codex, and Psychic Dreamwalking, among others. You can read her blog here and visit her website here.

    ©2008 Michelle Belanger
    Edited by Sheta Kaey

Into the Aethyr #2 – Belief and Metaphor

Into the Aethyr #2 - Belief and Metaphor

The first step to expanding your reality is to discard the tendency to exclude things from possibility. — Meridjet

Paradigm Shifting and Reality Tunnels

“‘Paradigm shift[ing]’ has found uses… representing the notion of a major change in a certain thought-pattern — a radical change in personal beliefs, complex systems or organizations, replacing the former way of thinking or organizing with a radically different way of thinking or organizing…1

Robert Anton Wilson uses the phrase “reality tunnel” to describe looking at reality from a certain perspective2. In occultism, these two concepts, paradigm shifting and changing one’s reality tunnel, essentially represent the same thing — changing your point of view in a profound way that influences your overall belief system, whether temporarily or permanently.

Within the spectrum of alternative spirituality, there are many beliefs that could be (and often are) labeled “unusual” or even “strange.” Anything from the Otherkin phenomenon to past lives as someone important, to believing one has a special destiny, and so on. It could be said that even Aleister Crowley bought the myth about having a special destiny, and if there’s one reality tunnel that I’ve seen in play with most consistency across great numbers of occultists, it’s the belief that one has some greater role in the shifting of humanity’s collective consciousness. There are people who believe they are angels incarnate, here to initiate great change. There are people who believe that they are going to become some powerful all-knowing guru/leader who will single-handedly shift the dominant paradigm.

We’re on a Mission From God™

Most commonly, there are people who believe that they’ve got something important, as yet unknown, to do in the overall change to a New Age or a New Aeon. These people typically believe that not only will they have an individual role, they will also be part of a small collective of super-VIPs. This typically evolves with a group of close friends, who will have a prominent collective role and purpose, even if they don’t know yet what that purpose is — and typically as friends are dropped or gained, the people playing the individual roles in the group change. Again typically, rarely does someone within the chosen few dare to question why this occurs. They tend to chalk it up to mistaken identity with regard to the rejected individual.

He who is rejected or who grows in a different direction from other individuals and thereby finds himself alone or with new friends will often face hurdles in adjusting his paradigm in a way that allows him to retain both a sense of purpose and an acceptance of past beliefs — beliefs that he may now view as “inaccurate.” He may feel that his former viewpoint was illusory and must be rejected as false, to allow full acceptance of the new viewpoint. He may feel that his earlier beliefs were silly, juvenile, or “fluffy.” Along the path of individual evolution, however, inevitably there comes a time when what is important now necessitates releasing something that was important at an earlier stage of your personal growth. When that shift concerns a key aspect of your personal mythology, such as what you believe to be your higher purpose, then there can be a great disillusionment. It’s difficult to evolve a core belief without feeling you must deny or dismiss the former view outright, either from embarrassment or from the simple need to distance yourself from a perspective that you feel is less evolved than the current view.

Does Change Have to Mean Rejection?

Reality is fluid. It changes with your perspective and your personal interpretation. Each person’s viewpoint is unique in all ways — this is the crux of consciousness, the single absolute factor in anyone and everyone’s existence. When you change your perspective and adopt a new preferred reality tunnel, the impulse to ridicule your old one is often irresistible. You can see this online with the frequent dissing of eclectic Wicca by former eclectic (non-initiate) Wiccans, who, for the most part, wouldn’t admit their past alliance in a million years. The recently-coined term “Neo-Wicca” was created, arguably, to set these eclectics apart, so that initiated Wiccans boasting a lineage could distance themselves from these fluffier, uninitiated counterparts — in other words, so they could feel superior.

However, it’s my opinion that when you dismiss a former perspective as stupid or embarrassing or otherwise not fit for public archiving, you cheat yourself out of valuable experience. It may always be with you, technically, but if you don’t embrace what you learned early in your magical history, not only will you be impatient with those less knowledgeable than you, but you will also develop a knee-jerk rejection to anything that smells too much like that old point of view, thereby potentially limiting your future growth.

Meridjet Speaks

Recently, Meridjet (my spirit companion) instructed a friend of mine about my friend’s recent paradigm shift, which was leading him to feel that his former perspective was in error. In fact, no reality tunnel can really be wrong, as Meridjet was quick to point out. . .

“All belief systems are metaphorical, because the reality is beyond your comprehension. This does not make them wrong.

“You are familiar, I’m sure, with various translations of old books, such as the Bible or the Tao Te Ching. Each translation bears the unmistakable mark of its translator. This shows in bias as well as in interpretation of more ‘objective’ concepts. Mythologies are interpretations of interpretations, ad infinitum, that give expression to basic archetypal concepts and beings. These mythologies are living and breathing histories in the sense that they have been infused with so much energy that they literally manifested accordingly. And yet, they remain interpretations, further interpreted by the translation of the mind of the reader or listener.

“The listener or seeker, for example, you, thereby invest your own energy into the personal interpretation that inspires your heart and brings you closer to something one might call “home.” When you bring others, like-minded, into your circle and together further interpret things and choose roles and what have you, this is just as literal as it is figurative — you are also creating your own group interpretation of the mythology. Through your group, the mythology continues to live and grow, just as it aids your growth.

“The figurative portion is what the mind brings into play in reaction to the literal portion, and the literal portion is created on the subtle planes in the realm of ideas by the figurative interpretation [of an experience] that you applied at the start. It’s a self-evolving paradigm, alive and real but also dependent upon a variety of factors for survival as what it is now. If you drop your role as [this person/being/archetype etc], for instance, then the mythology you lived will evolve on without you. This is how it should be. Perhaps a new being will take your place, perhaps not. Either way it does not matter, as the mythology lives through its proponents and vice-verse. What happens to you is that your mythology evolves and moves, perhaps in a new direction than your circle in general — but this is not wrong. In fact, it is very right.”

“So yes, [the events of your past, and their relative interpretations] happened. You can’t invalidate it. But you can, and will over time, shift your view of it so that it might feel invalidated. As I once told Sheta, when we see the past, we see through the lens of today, of now, and that changes the past. You can’t see then through then’s eyes.

“Therefore, allow yourself your growth. Allow others their growth, or stagnation. Allow each to be what he will be — and be yourself, too. It will all bring you closer to where you want to be, if you do not deny it.”

It’s All About the Journey

When you undertake a conscious spiritual journey, you accept the challenges that arise, or you become one of those who can’t cope and so fall away from the trials of the “dark night of the soul” that all must experience at intervals. We learn by experience, and our perceptions of our experiences change with our growth and evolution. The “then” that Meridjet refers to will change in our view with our changing understanding. This is a never-ending process. If you can beat the odds and weather the changes, you will be all the richer for it. In a future column, I will expand on these stages of learning and the challenges intrinsic to them. Meanwhile, just remember — the journey is the reason for the destination… not vice-verse.

Footnotes

  1. Wikipedia
  2. Cosmic Trigger I : Final Secret of the Illuminati ©1977 by Robert Anton Wilson

©2007 by Sheta Kaey.

Sheta Kaey is a lifelong occultist and longtime spirit worker, as well as Editor in Chief of Rending the Veil. She counsels others with regard to spirit contact and astral work. She can be reached via her blog.

The Dictionary Dilemma

The Dictionary Dilemma

Animal magic always has been and probably always will be my favorite form of esoteric study and practice. I’ve been fascinated by critters since I was barely old enough to toddle around on my own; I’ve had many pets, and I was always the kid out in the woods catching garter snakes.

So it was no surprise that the very first book I picked up was Ted Andrews’ Animal-Speak. While it wasn’t the first animal totem dictionary (being predated by Conway’s Animal Magick, Sams’ and Carsons’ Medicine Cards, and a few other books by several years) it was by far the most complete book on the topic at the time. It, and the later sequel Animal-Wise, covered the totemic and magical meanings and uses of numerous animals from around the world in great detail. Andrews also provided the reader with substantial material for finding and working with animal totems.

Ten years later I’ve read most of the books out there on totemism and animal magic. I’ve picked through some really horrible animal magic cookbooks of prefabricated spells, and I’ve enjoyed seeing some really innovative twists, too. However, overall I’m disappointed at where this particular field of study and practice has gone in the past decade.

The primary problem is that it seems that just about everyone is trying to be Ted Andrews. His totem animal dictionaries were so popular that other authors have since then tried to cash in on the format. These days the standard book starts off with historical information on totems, then goes into methods of divining and working with your totem(s), and after that includes a series of entries detailing specific animals and their qualities. The order and exact execution of these may change, but they’re almost universally present.

Of the twenty-five books I’ve reviewed on Amazon concerning animal magic, nineteen of them contain dictionaries. Of the six books that lacked dictionaries, only one, Yasmine Galenorn’s Totem Magic, was specifically tailored to the neopagan crowd. Of the rest, one was an early 20th century treatise on serpent worship, two were anthropological studies of animal symbolism in indigenous cultures, one was a book of meditations based on the spirituality of various First Nations, and the last was a psycho-therapeutic system combining totems and the seven primary chakras.

These are just with the books that are specifically about totem animals. This doesn’t include several books on Neoshamanism that included very abbreviated power animal dictionaries. There are also a number of animal totem divination decks out there, most of which are purportedly designed to identify your totem. The books are again dictionaries with prefabricated information, often with even less detail than the dictionaries without cards.

Admittedly, there have been some improvements. Thanks to Andrews’ inclusion of many different species, writers on totemism no longer seem to limit their study to big, impressive North American mammals and birds. I am seeing more books that avoid cultural appropriation of indigenous cultures. Where in 1988 we had the Medicine Cards, which lumped all First Nations people into one group of noble savages (apparently the progeny of Atlanteans), in 2006 I’ve managed to find at least some books that avoid trying to be more Native than the Natives, though it still happens.

In the past couple of years, a few authors have started covering new territory. Galenorn’s Totem Magic is a notable example, as is Animal Spirit by Patricia Telesco and Rowan Hall, both of which go beyond the usual “This totem means this, and this one means that, and now stick a feather on your altar and light some incense,” etc. The latter book particularly perked my ears because it had a chapter touching on the uses of animal parts in magic, breaking a bit of a Pagan taboo. For my own part, my Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone covers a number of topics in animal magic, including a unique look at totemism, practical magic with animal parts, and even a chapter on animal sacrifice.

But that’s really about it. Eight and a half years after I picked up Animal-Speak, nearly ten years after I discovered Paganism, I read Steven Farmer’s Animal Spirit Guides, published in October 2006. I was hoping for something new. Instead I found… just another totem animal dictionary.

This is my challenge to animal magicians, whether you work with totems or power animals, familiars physical or spiritual, animal parts or animal sacrifice: Stop doing the same old stuff! There’s a lot of potential in animal magic, even within a neoshamanic format. For example, try combining totemism with the eight colors of chaos magic to do some inner pathworking. Or do as I did and create new species on the astral plane to help you with your magic. Try working with pop culture-based animals, too, and utilize the mythology in our own culture.

And if you are doing something different, speak up. Share what you’ve discovered with the world. You don’t have to write a book; even an article or a website would suffice. But there has to be something available besides totem animal dictionaries. We don’t need any more. The only reason I’ve kept as many as I do is so that I have some introductory material for the people I lead on guided totem meditations, just to get them started. I’ve stopped keeping the newer ones I acquire once I’ve read them — one backpack full is enough. The rare book I do keep is the one that shows me something new and innovative.

I have 24 books or book-and-deck kits on my Amazon wish list that are related in some way to animal magic, plus one or two books on my shelves I haven’t gotten to yet. About eight of them are more along anthropological lines and another eight or so are book-and-deck kits. Of the ones that are written for a pagan audience, I’m hoping at least one will show me something new. Here’s to that hope.

©2007 Lupa. Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Lupa is the author of Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic, A Field Guide to Otherkin, and co-author of Kink Magic, among other works. You can read her blog at http://therioshamanism.com and see her website at http://www.thegreenwolf.com.

49 queries. 1.358 seconds