And it grows darker and darker

It’s been quite a while since I came here. I’m tired. I’m always booked and overwhelmed with work. I had such a plentiful summer in 2014, I thought I would have some relief… But no. Each time I make a step, a new trial come in. Like an unceasing process of transformation and growth. It keeps coming quicker and quicker, whereas I crave for catching my breath. This Wheel of the Year has been really strange. Darker than the usual. Full of gaps. Some Sacred Festival didn’t “happen” energetically, like they were out of the map… The World is changing. There was no break through at “Imbolc” (or else) in February, no lustration, no renewed light. And afterwards Spring was held off for quite a while. And now… I only feel the storm gathering, heavy above our heads, making me so sick I laid in bed for 4 days. Where’s the Great Queen ? And where’s Freyja ? The year is dark. I am sinking into an Ocean of introspection that is never ending.

Only the Dead remain. And Ancestors. Restless. Relentless.

I had the chance of grasping this wonderful and rare tool in order to help me anchor and work with them : prayer beads for Hyndla, our Grand-Mother, the ultimate teacher for me. The Norns are not far, but their work is heavy and they have let me rest till now… I imagine I’ll get something for them too in the near future.

( >click for more pictures< and description by the crafter,
whom I cannot recommend enough)

I’m locked away in my room, and in my mind, drifting. Shifting. Fighting. And then off to work in that ferocious world. And back again, in the room. Reading, writing, working. There are no words available for me to the world yet.

Take care.

Autumn Equinox, Back to Basics

A few words, after so many months of silence on my personal work.

The Equinox has been really harsh on me, physically and energetically. I’ve been sick, and off, and weird, and full of fears. I have just realized how much it means to me, this new transformation, my ultime landmark because it is the sacred date where everything took place. “Mabon” is my faith birthday. I started becoming a Polytheist and acknowledging the Gods on the 2008 Equinox. It is Morrigan and I’s birthday, the so-much-sacred anniversary of our first encounter on the 2009 Equinox.  It is also the date of my first apprentice and priestess step, the anniversary of the opening of my sacred online sanctuary to the Morrigan. It is also a date of death and rebirth, where I found myself strongly sick (auto-immune disease) in 2011 and started my dark night of the soul (became an atheist back for 8 months). Anniversary of my coming back from the dead to life in 2012, after my shamanic initiation and rebirth from the physical disease (and depression).

And this year’s end (in sacred terms, Lughnasad and the Equinox being the last two festivals), it has been very  quick and brutal. I have had an literal white hole from July to August, after my body broke down again (from stress and the brutal ending of my university years and my thesis), and my spirituality was also a blank page since I had been focusing on only my work (I had only the strength to do one thing, and it had to be my degree). The end of the year and my defense literally blew my Self apart. It was the most intense fight of my life, fighting for my self and recognition of my work, fighting against my shattered psyche, Morrigan as watching, and pushing me in her own disturbing way : pushing me from afar without actually applying any pressure, just looking at me and making me understand that I had to take action. After that climax, the culmination of many years of battle, I needed a break. I tried vacations, I tried letting everything go, changing my mind etc. And most of all, resting, letting my body at peace, trying to recover, once again…

But the strangest thing is that during the month of July, there was this super intense astrological configuration (Star of David), and I started feeling the cogs of the machinery moving. My blank page became a page to actually write, and I kind of thought and made a wish… which took literal energy and form thanks to this weird opening in the Sky. I was at this hinge in my life, and without fully realizing the implications, I put the machinery into motion towards something very specific which I may not have been ready to take on. Anyway, I started realizing that these ideas of living a full spiritual life, and living spirituality “as a living”, may just not be wishful thinking. I have begun to discover that it is where I stand most centered and radiant. And then, my Spirits pushed me back, again, in the direction of my “Work”. Write write write. Divine divine divine. Everything came back and started taking shape. I had to give shape to those ideas, to start acting. And the machinery ran.

This Equinox is another transition and transformation, surely even more important that I have understood till now, and I also realized that when I thought I was disconnected from the Morrigan, and sad from being able to do so, She’s there, again. Is She my alpha and omega ? She was there at the start, will She be there when it ends ? Everything I’ve done since the end of August, now I can see She was there watching all along, and my new project is not only my life project, the project for my Spirits, but it is also fully linked to the Morrigan. She was there too, making me do it. Hail Morrigan, the great Warrior and Prophetess. I am just realizing how tenacious She is, how blind I am to always fear She’s gone. I started by opening the doors to the Gods and Spirits, and everything rushed through. I started with transformation. I started with Her. She’s much closer to me than I am used to think. She’s much closer to the group of “Spirits” I mention a lot, who guide me and ask of me. I am back to what I was at the beginning, and yet melding everything hints I’ve received till then (the writing, the book, the energetic drawings, seership, mediumship, death… but the project is just starting now)

I am a Door to the Otherworld, I am not from here but I am here nevertheless, I am at the Threshold. I’ve always been and yet rejected it. But I am learning, oh Gods, I assure you, I am learning to accept it. And just now, I can see this is how I relate most to the Morrigan. She’s my shadow…

This project is also going to be part of my path to the Morrigan then. Welcome to my Door, welcome on the Threshold.

It’s a work in progress, please be patient (a full website is coming). I’ve painted it red for now, for Her, but the design will change.

Bits about Ordeal and Madness

Disclaimer : I apologize in advance if there are many misspellings and grammatical errors due to “mis-typing”, this post was pretty loaded, and hard to write, so I expect it to contain many flaws.

******

Thanks to an online interfaith community on facebook, I was able to gather some pieces about what ordeals are. I got some remarks by a friend of mine which kind of triggered the realization I might have missed the whole point of my two year diploma. This article by Del is absolutely marvellous, please read it also entirely for it possesses a rhythm and a progression of its own. But I wanted to extract bits here and there in order to show what mattered the most to me, which might help other people wondering about ordeals, and might provide a path to follow for sharing personal stuff.

Many people ask me about ordeal, and they’re surprised when I tell them about my own; we expect ordeal to be physically painful, to be about blood and sweat and tears, and we turn away from that and let it be the story of other people. […] But my story, my ordeal experience, looked nothing like what someone would expect. Many people come to me for ordeals because in their mind, “ordeal ritual” and “hook suspension” have somehow become linked; in the same vein, more ordeal workers than I can count have asked (or sometimes demanded) that I teach them hook suspension, because they feel without that knowledge they are somehow lesser. But my ordeal, my most transformative experience, had nary a hook in sight.

… no black leather, no whips and chains, no sexy dominatrices forcing me to my knees. My ordeal did not happen in a darkened room fitted out to look like a torture chamber or dungeon; my ordeal happened in the middle of a green field, at the peak of summer, during the afternoon.

I had always read that ordeal is personal, no ordeal is like the other. Nevertheless, I was myself subject to those “common views”, I thought that ordeals were close or linked to physical pain. I was looking for definitions because what I experienced, of course, couldn’t be an ordeal. It was all in my head, once again, like everything spiritual…

But what I felt was very peculiar. A feeling, an urge, a need… unidentified, for something greater than myself, some sort of answers, that could only be found through the ultimate kind of test. It is very close to what Del describes here :

Once in a great while, something will come along and afford us the opportunity to have an adventure. But how many times have you heard about something, felt a longing for it deep in your bones, but let the voices of scarcity convince you to stay home? I don’t have enough money. I should be cleaning my house. I need to get more sleep. My body won’t be comfortable traveling for that long. It’s scary and unknown, and I need more comfort in my life.

We yearn for something more, but the yearning passes as soon as we go back to what is familiar. 

 I have enough pain in my life, we tell ourselves, and I don’t desire to be in any more of it.

Something that is entirely unacceptable in the face of Reason with a big R, everyone will talk you down, because it’s not worth it, too uncertain, etc etc. And yourself, you can’t reconcile your good common sense with this urge. It’s antithetical. You have to chose : do you want security, safety ? Or do you want to live this experience ? And the unknowable is weighing on the scale, on your shoulders… those “what if”, what if it’s useless, wrong, what if I fail… It’s a great leap of faith.

We have to find a deeper truth to our lives, in the corners where we do not know all the answers, do not know what to expect, can not set our watches by how long it will take, and most importantly, be in a realm where success is not assured. In order to truly engage in the realm of ordeal, there must be the chance that you’ll never know the real answer. In most ordeals, we only learn that we are asking the wrong questions, over and over again, increasing in volume; if we’re lucky enough to get the answer, it is never a comfort. It only reminds us that we aren’t thinking big enough, wide enough; stuck once again in our boxes of expectation and instantaneous comfort.

It is really about going out of the comfort zone, the control, and the knowing. I wonder how it happens for other people but mine almost drove me crazy.

The interesting thing is that I’ve always rejected physical pain, and I really thought it had nothing to do with that… I focused on the mind. But I’ve just come to realize how wrong that was. It was a double ordeal, or two-folded. It was both physical and psychological. My body started by shutting itself down, bringing me down, to a point of exhaustion beyond anything I had known, and to a point of vulnerability that I couldn’t bear, because those are some things I don’t want to show to people. A part of that trial was to accept that I was sick, highly sick, and that I needed rest, that I was fragile and needed help, and I had to tell people about it, and not hide myself like I’m used to. Then I had to figure out, to waver between two attitudes : accepting that I would have to act despite the sickness, to move forward carrying it ; or, finding a milder equilibrium between action and rest. But the trick is that in both cases I never knew what would come of it. I had to release my wish for control, and to accept that I could fail.

I had had health issues for several years, wondering how I could be so fragile and yet so resistant. So the symptoms, the tiredness… there were a pain in the ass and yet manageable. But there were so many of them yet, that it was a bigger burden that the usual. And then I realized another trick, which leads me to the psychological dimension. The disease, which was first and foremost biological, had also known neurological aftermaths, which started to make me doubts : I started losing all concentration, I could not focus on one thing for more than 10 minutes ; then I started being incapable of reading, putting two words together to form noun + adjective, or noun + verb, and make a sentence in my mind, I just couldn’t ; and last but not least, I started forgetting. Everything that I was trying to put into my mind was vanishing, and old stuff that were there disappeared to. I just freaked the fuck out. It was, and sometimes still is, like losing yourself, like being eaten by a disease, and often you think of Alzheimer – except that I am 24. I was losing all my memories, my knowledge, sometimes I couldn’t even remember my day. Who was I ? How could I be someone when I was collapsing this way ?

And apart from the personality issue, it weighed hard on me, on my project and my “public face”. I was disappearing to myself but trying to conceal it. And more, it was disabling me from doing what I was doing. Who may need concentration, reading and memory the most ? I was, and still am, a student and researcher in literature. I couldn’t read, I couldn’t learn, I couldn’t concentrate. What the hell was I doing in those seminars ? How could I pretend to write my dissertation ? I was losing myself, again, completely. I was cut from my capacities. How could I manage getting in my diploma ?

Ordeal is about showing and facilitating parts of yourself that you’d rather keep hidden; your fear, your rage, your failures, your shortcomings. If you can’t be honest about what those are, the ordeal is meaningless. You must be willing, enthusiastic even, about standing in the fullness of that which you’d otherwise hide. If you’re not ready to bare it in front of witnesses, you’re not ready for an ordeal.

I had to accept to try without being sure I would get it. I had to accept to try and tell other people what was happening. I had to try and do it myself, as I was at that moment, fragile and most, unsure, with my whole being.

And then, I started running straight into a a brick wall. If I don’t look at my issues properly, there were strengthening the brick wall, and I was the stupid wolf trying to blow it away. My issues unknown, deep in my subconscious, were gathering strength and beating me down ; also, acquiring irrational energy, and creating angst.  The writing of my dissertation started getting the worst out of me : it put me into uncontrolled altered states of consciousness, it loosened my grasp on reality. It put me on an alternative madness road. It was excruciating. It is one the most intense and long-term pain I have ever encountered in my life (two years). I was paddling vainly, rather sinking deeper and deeper. It was torture. I wanted to flee, and yet I had to try and do it. But the fact I could fail was killing me. Every attempt was a torture. Uncertain. Vain. Getting my fears and angst stronger. Weakening my mind and my body. I started feeling very fragile : I felt insecure, in the very sense my life was like in danger. My sanity was in danger, when I was getting to my studies, I was unsure if I would slip never to return again. Why “return” ? I experienced the exact same process as the madness that watched me when I went through my shamanic ordeal.  In put me like in another world, in altered state, and every day I was doubting myself, feeling I would be stuck there and lose reality for good. And I felt really, really weird, for I was working on this such brilliant mind, I was feeling closer and closer to this woman of old times… who was sinking and sinking into depression and losing her grasp. Who one day decided she couldn’t stand it and drowned herself. Where was I myself ? Wishing to be brilliant, to deliver some achieved form.

And during this time, I had the impression that the Spirits were letting me cool off. Letting me rest in peace… Was I ? No, in fact,  they were witnessing the whole process, which was part of my spiritual / personal path. Something different was at stake, needing the whole space and discharging me from my death work.

The Spirits are teaching me about myself, about my weaknesses and strengths. About being oneself 100% without shame. About pushing oneself further and succeeding without many handicaps. They are also teaching me about being “bigger”, taking more space, asking for what is mine, wishing for something more, wishing to achieve great things. And they are, once again, to my surprise, teaching me to write. I still can’t accept that but I’ve written about it before on this blog, and I have opened the devotional site they wanted, but I still have no faith in myself and in this message. I assume they will push me harder until I do. And I will try to learn, I have a monograph on the way, I will try to get back to my devotional Death Work pieces, and more. I’m following the stones along the way.

Shadow Work Basics

//UPDATE// This post will be a gathering of resources links (videos, articles etc) about what is shadow work and how it can be practiced.

1°) A small talk that I found very useful when I began taking action, actually practicing shadow work. A definition and some personal examples. Thought it could be useful to some passerby people.

See also these two videos about triggers :

2°) And here is an article about someone’s view on the matter.

3°) Here is an article of mine about ONE portion of shadow work.

4°) Here is a series of 4 articles by Duskenpath about shadow work : Losing TouchI “little deaths”, II about types, III about timing.

Looking for the Wild / Shadow Self

“The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious.
If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door.
If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door.
If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.”

Women Who Run With the Wolves
— Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D

 

D is for Darkness, Diving and Descent

Quite late I know, but as I said, I’m going to participate very “freely” to the Pagan Blog Project.

I have found a marvelous article that revists the meaning of “dark” and “darkness”, giving great quotes as it goes. I thank this person for having written it. I was very astonished, because it indulges into paths that really do not correspond to my own (goddess spirituality, or at least a very sexually feminine oriented  view of things), but it still provides much food for thought. I found there hints at what my most intense experiences of the last 2 years were. I advise you to read it, because it really was my starting point, and it has an important frame of reference (feminine spirituality). The following diverges from it, and gets out of a feminine paradigm entirely.

Just a short example, this movement is what called to me :

In the book Meditation Secrets for Women, Camille Maurine writes about the idea of descent and “going down” into one’s own dark places:  “There are times in a woman’s life when the call downward is a transformative journey, a summons to the depths of the soul. People tend to think of spirituality as rising upward into the sky. In the traditional (male) teachings, enlightenment is often described as a flight from the lower centers of the body, the instinctive and sexual places, to the upper centers in the head and then out. By contrast, a woman’s spiritual quest at some point leads to a soulful sinking down into herself. Everyone fears this descent, this sinking down. Yet sinking down connects us with the earth, with our personal ground, with our foundation. There is a secret in ‘endarkenment.’” [p. 210, emphasis mine]

But I do not share the *”sexist” view which it contains (*view regarding sex). The division it evokes does not exist in my personal frame, and regarding traditions in general, I’m not sure it does too… But anyway, my point is as follows. First, I think we all emerge from the same place of darkness, and that anyone should experience this downward movement no matter what their sex/gender is (maybe it could even be a way of bringing us all together). Second, the problem she describes is even wider to me :  in our modern revival of the spiritualities, everyone is “taught” (or thinks wrongly?) that they should strive towards the spiritual, thus dropping the body and all.

So, here comes my brooding.

Darkness is not only a place of chaos and destruction. Here is another great quote from the article :

The Dark Goddess need not automatically associate or translate into “bad” or “suffering” or “negative” or “shadow side.” I think of the darkness as a cocoon. I think of the womb. I think of germination. I think of a place to rest, to wait, to be still, and to transform. Emergence. Deepness. Rich earthiness.

I have to skip goddess, dark goddess, and womb, because it does not speak to me, but it works. Darkness is the Void which contains all possibility (rather than the matrix of the womb then). It is the Void of the Norse culture, which surrounds the Worlds and Life (and Death too!), the Void where Wyrd springs from. It is the Night before Creation, where the primordial isle springs from (and here you have a part of my work with Ptah and Nefertum). It is like the darkness of the cave, where mushrooms proliferate ; the darkness of the undergrowth of the wood where mosses run wild… Where small life swarms. It is a very place of fear, because it is the ambiguous place where life and death meet. A place where life springs from the humus from death and decay and rot. She quotes a woman who puts it very nicely :

In the same book, Maurine describes the soul in very different terms than in classic Christian conceptions:  “The realm of the soul is not light and airy, but more like mud: messy, wet, and fertile. Soul processes go on down there with the moss and worms, down there with the decaying leaves, down there where death turns into life.

It is a place of generation and regeneration. That is what primal mean to me. It’s full of senses, smells, touch, colors, textures… It is full of wild life, insects, animals, … It where I met the primal Spirits and the primal Gods – where I re-discovered myself, when I get back on track with my whole being, body and soul.

This is what I meant by “diving”. I think doing what we call “shadow work” is not only the Jungian study of our repressed emotions, our fears, etc. It’s not (only) about anger and such. “Shadow work” in my own path, my UPG (maybe I should stop calling it shadow work?) is “primal work” : it’s about getting to the floor, getting to the mud. Understanding the power of creation in the widder sense. The Creation of the Cosmos, the creation of beings, birth, … Understanding the place where you came from, and how you came to be. Understanding that the power that was put to create you can be channeled, and re-created, at will. This work is about diving into the depth of your own being were your most inner mysteries unfold. Into your mud ; into your body ; your raw emotions ; your animal core ; etc.

Dionysos was the first to lead me there. He was very efficient, and guided me through very painful soul fragment reintegrations. He may have been very happy too, because he passed me to the hands of other primal Gods, like Jormungandr, who made me dive even deeper. The Descent is not always to Hell, diving into the Dark maybe diving into the unknown, but in fact it is known for it is ourselves, our cores, that we just refuse to acknowledge. The “know thyself” I took in this sense. Diving into your darkness and the darkness of Creation. But as a fellow literary student said to me very bluntly (I just love my literature seminar!) : the Dionysian paradigm is two-folded ; it takes you back to the body, to very earthy thing ; but only for a time, because it then transforms them, and makes them unearthly. And that doesn’t only means weird, that means literally not from the earth, but transcended. It is diving into the bottom of the sea, and tapping to get back to the surface and beyond.