Tag Archives: experience

Half a World?

There are days, and then there are days, but each day is one.

A day can begin with a phone call that frightens you and makes you feel helpless. That day can continue with doing what little one can to comfort a loved one being assaulted by fear, and then go on to comforting another loved one who has just run out of cope.

That same day can include the smile on a homeless man’s face when I can spare a couple of bucks instead of a handful of coins. It can include a beautiful drive with the sun setting on the right and the moon rising on the left, holding the broad earth and the blue sky between them, and moving me to praise the earth, sea, and sky, the lights of the heavens, and the dead who sleep in the earth. Continue reading

Rain and Glory

I stood in the rain last night.

I’m in California, and we’ve had a very dry year. It’s rained in the previous weeks, but late in the night, and I slept through it. But last night, it rained while I was still awake, and I had to go out and stand in it.

It was a light rain, and warm, each drop a quick touch from the sky. It was glorious. On my chest, in my hair, on my face… The rain wasn’t heavy enough to wet my hair, really, but it was glorious.

I stood in the rain last night, and I prayed.

“Thanks be unto all the gods.” That was it–six words, said twice, with my arms stretched out, and rain falling on my face. With the words and the rain came a feeling of peace, and of joy.

Just a few moments. Less than a minute. And it was glorious.

A Love of Spirit

What have you inherited from your ancestors?

What haven’t I inherited from my ancestors? Genetically, socially, materially… I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t had the ancestors I did. Not just in the simple sense of not having been born without my parents; I would not be the person I am without the advantages and challenges they’ve left me.

But that’s all fairly generic, isn’t it?

My father was an easy man to love, but not an easy man to live with. Growing up, I’d thought he was always disappointed in me, as if I’d failed some test I didn’t know I was taking. In reality, he was dealing with serious depression. Late in his life, he would often talk about feeling he’d failed me as a parent.

I get depression–I got it from him. I know what he went through, and with my own son, I can imagine how hard he tried to keep his depression from affecting me too badly.

Another thing I got from him was a thirst for spirit.

My father, perhaps because of his depression, was a very religious man. For years, I’d thought that our family had always been very involved in the Southern Baptist Church, but talking with family after my father’s funeral, I learned that he was the one who got them involved.

He was passionate about his Christianity, but he was never overbearing about it. I remember a period of my early teens where many of the things I wanted came with something religious attached. The example I remember the best was a DC Comics trivia book I wanted. I showed it to him, and he came back with a Bible study workbook, telling me I could have the one if I also took the other.

I don’t think I looked at the Bible workbook more than twice, actually.

Another thing I remember was the year we lived in Missouri. At the time I had no idea, but having to move away from his church must have been as hard on him as moving away from his family. We must have tried half a dozen churches that year. They were all Protestant evangelical denominations, but I think I owe much of my interest in the diversity of religious expression to that year.

I particularly remember the small church, run out of the living room of a farmhouse. It was folk guitar and barbecue and praying in tongues. Now that I think on it, this probably predisposed me to the culture of modern Paganism.

My father never really came to terms with where I took it, but I will always thank him for giving me a love of spirit.

My lover Ember and I have decided to go through Galina Krasskova’s Devotional Polytheist Meme questions together, over the next several months. We encourage our friends to follow along, and welcome links to other people’s answers in our comments, as well as your thoughts on our answers. Ember’s answer can be found at her blog, Embervoices.

Frequent Maintainance Required

When did it first dawn on you that the divinities are real?

Frequently. As in, I need to be reminded fairly frequently. My sense-memory of their presence fades all too quickly, leading to worries that they were never there in the first place. Until they show up again.

I’ve believed pretty much everything about the gods in the last 25 years, except for the Atheist Pagan view of them as being only cultural symbols, memes running in our brain meats–but just because of that “only.” I think they are cultural symbols and memes, and a whole bunch of other things besides, most of which I’ll probably never know.

When I started on this path, back at the end of the 1980s, I was practicing an ecclectic Wicca derrived mostly from Spiral Dance and Drawing Down the Moon. It was more than twenty-five years ago, in Iowa, and those books were the only contact we had with other Pagans. So, we did rituals to The Goddess, and I did get a feeling I’d come to recognize as divine presence. Not a sense of personal identity, mind you, but we called and somebody picked up the line.

Where it turned around for me was Yog Sothoth.

Yes, the imaginary god from the writings of H.P. Lovecraft and his friends. One night, I decided to try and summon something rather than just call The God and The Goddess. Being mostly solitary at that point, in my early twenties, and smarter than I was wise, I figured that there were enough people who knew of Yog Sothoth, even enough magicians who tried to work with it, that there might be something out there answering to that name.

So I cast the circle as I did every month at the full moon, and when I got to the deity invocations, I started calling Yog Sothoth by all the names and attributions I knew from years of reading Lovecraft.

And I started feeling a presence forming.

And the voice of my better sense, who was apparently down at the pub when I concocted this plan, rushed up and said, “Think this through. Even if all you’re calling up is the collective imagination devoted to visualizing this entity for fiction, do you remember what inevitably happens to people who succeed in calling it up?!?

At that point, I rather hastily–and politely–shut things down, banished a lot, and went to go pet my cat. A lot.

The take home here, other than Be Careful What You Ask For, is that this was my first experience of a sense of divine presence associated with a specific name, history, and personality. Oh, I’d done the thing where one rattles off god-names, thinking that all gods are one god, and had good results as far as that went. I’d even theorized that working with just one mythical god (instead of naming ten or twenty of them at once) might be good, due to tighter focus if nothing else.

But the idea that there were individual entities attached to these names was something that was only theoretical for me. Until I tried summoning Yog-Sothoth.

Don’t try this at home, kids.

My lover Ember and I have decided to go through Galina Krasskova’s Devotional Polytheist Meme questions together, over the next several months. We encourage our friends to follow along, and welcome links to other people’s answers in our comments, as well as your thoughts on our answers. Ember’s answer can be found at her blog, Embervoices.

Answer Hazy, Try Again Later

Have you ever had dreams or visions sent by the divinities?

Well, I’m not sure, to be honest. My dreaming life has been mostly mundane, dominated by dreams of the sorting-out-emotions and processing-mental-debris variety. When I can remember my dreams at all, that is. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the gods aren’t in there, somewhere. Just that, if so, it’s usually so subtle I miss it.


Recently I have been having periods of sleep in which I was fully conscious of being asleep, to the point of being aware of what the sheets feel like and from which angle I was drooling on the pillow, but also fully immersed in a dream. The significance here is that, for years, I’ve had a problem with trance/journey work. Awareness of my physical body has been distracting enough to disrupt my focus on the work, usually so much so that I’d end up just patiently sitting out the meditation time, trying not to get too frustrated with myself. I like to think, therefore, that these periods of being both dreaming and aware of the physical world are a kind of spirit-training, fixing the problem from the Other side.

I may just be having mundane sleep disturbances, I suppose. But I like my answer better, and maybe I am learning something, so I’ll stick with it.

One of the more recent of these involved having to carry the dessicated body of a dead woman down into some twisty catacombs and finding the right niche for her to rest in. And, to add to the strangeness, she was there, walking alongside me. This was one of the most real-seeming dreams I’ve ever had.

Talking to a Ghede, through a trusted medium, some time later, I was told that this was a working dream. That I was doing psychopomp duty, but that I shouldn’t expect it often, or read much into it. Sounds to me like the gods borrowing server time on my sleeping brain, if the computer metaphor doesn’t seem too odd in a mystical context.

There have been others, but they’ve been a bit vague, and I still get the feeling that they’re training simulations of some kind.

Still, I’m happy with it. I know people who have had far more complicated and bothersome dreams (follow the link below), and I’m grateful to have the ones I’ve got.

My lover Ember and I have decided to go through Galina Krasskova’s Devotional Polytheist Meme questions together, over the next several months. We encourage our friends to follow along, and welcome links to other people’s answers in our comments, as well as your thoughts on our answers. Ember’s answer can be found at her blog, Embervoices.

Melek Ta’us: Dark

A Month of Written Devotion for Melek Ta’us, the Peacock Angel

I am in love with the dark. It’s my favorite playground: night, shadowy woods, ruined buildings, gothic music, horror stories and creepypasta… My most common internet pseudonym, Uncle Dark, is partly in tribute to this.

But that’s not what I need to talk about today. It’s fun to find joy in things other people find scary, but that’s not the real darkness. It’s just a trick of perspective. The real dark in my life is depression, is anxiety. Sometimes it’s so bad, I can’t leave my house.

Sometimes, it’s so bad I can barely move in the world at all. My overall health suffers, when I can’t muster the energy to deal with the daily details of my diabetes, with washing, with feeding myself. My connections to others, even to the gods, suffers when I fear reaching out to others, fear that I’m forgotten, unwanted, and worse.

It’s like being in Hell. It’s like crying, alone, in the dark, in pain, until I find some joy again, and it lifts me out.

Melek Ta’us knows this. Even when I cannot feel him, in the deepest dark, he is there.

Knowing this doesn’t often help, but it’s better than nothing.

Ember’s doing it, too: MWD-Dark

Melek Ta’us: Forgiveness

A Month of Written Devotion for Melek Ta’us, the Peacock Angel

It’s only quite recently that I’ve forgiven Melek Ta’us.

At first, I’d thought he wasn’t really listening to me, and that felt bad, but not unusual. Then, he took me, gently but still forcefully, so he could physically interact with someone else. That one burned.

The reasons for that go back quite a ways, and they mostly don’t actually have to do with the Angel himself.

Continue reading

Melek Ta’us: Beginning

A Month of Written Devotion for Melek Ta’us, the Peacock Angel

In Valerie’s Feri class, each of the students was asked to pick one of the gods we’d studied, and write a teaching ritual to introduce the god to our fellow students.

I picked Melek Ta’us because, at the time, I thought him to be the closest of the Feri gods to my beloved Dionysos. It wasn’t until later that I understood that Victor Anderson’s saying, “All gods are Feri gods” meant that I could worship Dionysos by his own name with the techniques I learned in Feri.

But, hey, it got me a new god for my altars, and who doesn’t love that?

Continue reading

Melek Ta’us: Together

A Month of Written Devotion for

Melek Ta’us, the Peacock Angel

I was with my then-lover, now an ex-, in her backyard. She’d asked me to ward while she did some magical work of her own, and I was happy to help. I stood behind her while she did her thing (her story, not mine, to tell).

In my own vision, I was solid and quiet, a wall between her and the world. I reached around her, encircling, wrapping around and above and below. Things were going well.

That’s when I felt an itch on my back. An itch of the spirit, not the flesh. An itch where wings were scratching their way out. What the hell? I thought. But I remembered other times when I’d been warder, and had envisioned wings for myself, to spread around the witch I was warding. Sure, I thought, Let’s go with it.

This is the first important part, the vital part. I could have said no. I felt the beginning of the wings, and I knew I wasn’t doing it, consciously, but I chose to let it happen. For years, I blamed the rest on Melek Ta’us. But I let him in, knowing who was knocking.

Yes, I know how it sounds. Keep reading.

Continue reading

Measuring Up or Measuring At All

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, just between you and me.

I’m a bad polytheist.

The fact is, my daily practice is more weekly, sometimes monthly. Sometimes, doing basic housework is all the spiritual oomph I have in me. Sometimes, I sneak past my altars in shame for my lack of piety.

There are days when I actually don’t think I’m any good at this, that I’ probably not really someone anyone should listen to.

But then there are the days my shit works, when I can muster the will to do it, like the day I hauled my coughing, wheezing ass out of my sickbed to go lead this ritual I’d promised, and a hundred people danced joyously in Dionysos’ honor. People whose judgment I trust tell me I have it (whatever it is), whether I can tell or not.

So maybe I’m better at this than I think I am?

I have great ambitions for my practice (to be put in greater detail in a later post), but my follow-through is not what I’d like it to be. The bit that’s relevant, here, is the question of whether or not part of my problem is being daunted by the scale of my plans. It doesn’t sound like much, to me. Daily devotions to five or six important spirits, putting together a devotional group for Dionysos, quarterly open (if not totally public) rituals…

I mean, reading some blogs, I get the idea that’s downright easy. The Thiasos of the Starry Bull gives regular prayers to at least 13 entities, yeah? The Ekklesía Antínoou have a sanctus to celebrate for almost every day of the year. My five or six (or seven or nine, depending on how fine you cut it), plus ancestors, land spirits, and beloved dead, is hardly anything at all, right?

But there’s this gap between the ideal and the achievable, isn’t there? In reality, my various shrines get a single, all-in-one mass prayer, maybe every few days. My ancestor altar gets attention when I notice it’s a few days past when the flowers should have been replaced.

While I’m trying to do that, I’m also job hunting, editing fiction for a publishing startup, doing housework for a collective household, helping care for a disabled partner, and also struggling with my own depression and anxiety issues.

So… Where does one strike the balance? And how does one tell when one is truly overloaded, or just using one’s load to justify not taking the Scary Next Spiritual Step? After all, I read somewhere that, if one is truly devoted to one’s gods, one will find the energy somewhere; doesn’t that also mean that if one does not or cannot, one must not be truly devoted?

One thing I hear–though not necessarily from the same sources–is that one can’t judge one’s progress by comparison with others. Maybe true, though it sounds strangely convenient. But, damn, it would be nice to have signposts, and maybe maps left behind by the last people to come this way…

But I’m rambling. The main thing here is that I want to be honest about what my practice actually is, what it isn’t, and what I want it to be. I want to talk about the obstacles I face, as well as the successes. To do that, I need to be clear about what I do and have done, and the difference between that and what I have yet to do.

Because, in the end, I’m just one guy. I have some experience, and some wisdom, and a whole lot yet to learn. I’m here in the hope that there are others from whose example and advice I might learn, and to share what I have with the ones who need it.

And to do that, we all need to be honest and clear about what it is we do.

Overthinking Roleplaying Games

Talking to Myself About Games as Fiction

Intellect & Romance

Musings on the Stories We Tell

The Dionysian Artist

Δ, Τέχνη, Λόγος, Λέξις


Spiritual ramblings of a polytheist nature

Tales of the Fox

Musings and Magic From a Silicon Valley Witch

Dany's Blog

In which the blogger rambles about art, Supernatural, and other random junk.

The Green Wolf

Artist & Author Lupa

Pagan Church Lady

How Conveeeeenient!

Walking the Worlds

a biannual journal of polytheism and spiritwork

The Boukoleon

Where the Starry Bull thiasos gathers

Magick From Scratch

Breaking down mystical practice and crafting new ritual tech.

Blog - Banshee Arts

Words for the God of Ecstasy

The Green Wolf

Words for the God of Ecstasy