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.

C for Communication

I wanted to participate to the circle of thought since last year, but it seemed I was never inspired to do anything, and not in time. So I dropped it. I wrote my own articles. But it may change with time, I may participate in a chaotic way. When I can. And so came a first post, unexpectedly. I’ve been pondering lately, with brand new experiences piling up, new debates on the sphere… What is divine communication, how does it work ? Nothing new under the sun I guess, but I wanted to just gather my own thoughts here.

Divine communication takes time and work 

I’ve always wondered how was organized the spirituality and practice of people who don’t hear things. Do they work a lot with their Gods ? In terms of hours when they do, and in terms of regularity ? I worked my ass off. I was an “atheist pagan”, and one day, following the signs, I decided to be Pascalian and have a test : I let myself a year, a full year of “suspension of disbelief” to see if the Gods existed and responded to my call. It was followed by six months of preparation (I had to wait until I entered a sort of pagan online class, more like resources). And they did. After 6 months, maybe even less, they responded. At first I felt nothing, nothing while speaking or praying, nothing when I did offerings. Really nothing. But one day, as I was lying outside on a bench, I had my first encounter with the old Gods : A Goddess made a step toward me and touched / activated my heart-chakra as I called her. I was so surprised that I couldn’t believe it. I observed myself and around me, I touched my body… but no there was nothing that could explain this sudden warmth and vibration inside of me. It was not summer yet, and it was the end of the day, it was rather cool. She had answered, and produced the only response I could accept : not an omen, not a sound, but a physical sensation. That was my sign, and from there I turned into a polytheist and never let go of them.

But I didn’t make it all in one day. Even this sign was really subtle, and I didn’t start having tons of them afterwards. I still continued doing offerings when I didn’t feel anything, and prayed. I was blind for so long. But then I started feeling the essence of the Gods : first it’s the intellectual understanding of who they are, meditations. I read others speaking about their relationships, on forums and blogs yes, the famous ones, etc etc. But for me, only then it turned into very small energetical hints. I still practiced “blindly” even though I knew they responded in their way. I was energy blind for a long time, but sometimes I could still get signs and omens from my Gods. Synchronicities and all. So yes, we “communicated”. I’ve put work into it, and all my heart.

So I wonder – was I “priviledged” as some people say ? Did I get a response because I have the “natural wire” ? Or was I just persistent enough ? I have no answer…. but I believe, or hope, that people just don’t work with enough heart sometimes, and mostly that they just don’t recognise the signs. I hope it won’t sound condescending, I really mean it in a positive way. I was a newby for long, it took me 5 years to get where I am now, and I still have many difficulties. I couldn’t hear, I couldn’t feel energy, I could not correctly look at the right omens etc. But now I do. And I think that people are rather “blind” to their own signs, as I will see below.

Divine communication is multiple and personal

To put it shortly :

  • it depends on each person
  • it depends on the Gods
  • it depends on your spiritual phase and energy
  • it depends on time
  • it depends on the nature of what you are looking at
  • it depends on your observations skills

First things firsts. When we talk of “communication”, we all think about conversation, because of the godphone metaphor. People have already talked about how it is highly different from conversation (like Del did here but I also found other posts here and there) but I want to stress that pattern. Everyone should just remember their own language and good sense : “communication” does not only mean verbal communication. Communication is wide. Communication is like an atom : it is a pattern, a movement, a back and forth. Waves. It can be energetic, it can be musical, it can be colors… anything that vibrates. Your body, physical sensations. Visions. Chakras. Etc.

It depends on each person. You have to experiment, and “know thyself” ! How do YOU work ? How does your brain work ? and your spiritual part ? Are you a visual or a kinetic person ? Auditory ? Or do you respond to smells better ? Yes, it depends on your observations skills. Observe. Observe, observe, observe, because the first trick is to know ourselves. And when you try to do that, you are actually in the right receptive mode : receptive to observe, but also, in fact, receptive to receive. That’s when the Gods will start getting at you, if they want. Because you’ll be in a position, I think, where you look at things for what they are. You’ll look at signs from the exterior, without doubt or certainty : the signs will be facts, and you’ll analyze them, and only then will you decide what to do of them.

It depends on the Gods of course. Each God will speak in very different modes, don’t expect them to speak in a specific way, otherwise you won’t get the signs they send you. It depends on the nature of what you are looking at: it took me time to get rid of expectations and observe how differently I worked depending on the Gods. Working with primal Gods helped me a lot for example. It taught me how to get rid of verbal language and make room for other languages. I worked with Jormungandr mainly, “He” is just different in any way. He helped me get in touch with my primal / animal side, and thus to feel things. It is how I work most of the time in fact, but I was not aware of it, and thus I was blocking it. He helped me feel, with my body, and my senses, and my “sensors”. Sometimes I got images, but everything with him was feeling through my senses. A taste in my mouth, a shudder on my skin, a physical sensation of the body. Another recent example is the Egyptian God Nefertum : he opened my olfactive sense. I have always been a very “sensual” person, and my sense of smell is developed, I got it from my mother. But until recently, I didn’t use it in my practice, and it just didn’t make “sense” (bad joke). They were just smells you know, they didn’t mean anything. But He came in, and I was assailed by smells ! They were sent my way non stop. And thus, I realized that smells vibrate just like colors, and that they can carry information, and thus make sense. Be a full language, and not only sensations. Now my work with Nefertum uses this bridge, and it can be used with other Gods.

It depends on your spiritual phase and energy + time. We should not forget that energies are by essence moving. Ours, and everything around us. Thus, we should not expect to be written in stone, like : I will always communicate with the Gods through vision, or I will always communicate with X Gods through hearing. Nope, that doesn’t work that way. We shift. It’s natural. It can be just temporary, or we can have very long phases of 10 years (for example), depending on what shifts : our persona, our brain, …. Sometimes we are not receptive in the same way, and so we have to adjust our conscience and our observation point. Contrary to the other Gods with whom I communicate through signs, synchronicities, visions, etc, The Morrigan is the Goddess to which I am totally wired. I can hear her, in many different ways. Either internal like telepathy, sometimes I guess with words. But she will just not communicate this way with me all the time. Depends on the phase of my development (and also depending on which aspect of herself she shows). Recently, she’s started to speak to me just like Jormungandr, through my body and my guts. It works like that with any God or Pantheon. Sometimes, we are not in the right “mood”, or energetical position to open the door to them. For a long time before a month ago, the Egyptian world was closed to me. I loved them, but it was intellectual and I got no response from them (except for one Goddess). But now I’m moved forward in my development, back to the body and the senses, or whatever. Anyway I had my “Egyptian break-through” ! Now the door is open, and I’ll be able to get there when i wish to or if they need to. And in months, I may not be able to see the door because my energies will be different, but I’ll just have to wait now the door is open. It evolves all the time.

Well, I think that’s pretty much all I had in mind.

EDIT : I should add as a conclusion that once you’ve started knowing yourself, how you work, and how your gods communicate, it will also help you find what your tools are ! No one needs to have everything on an altar, practice should be so personal and not necessarily material. What materials you need, and also how you work, what your offerings are, your ritual frames…

  • If you work through the sense of smell, think about what triggers you most : lively plants in jars ? dried plants ? Incense ? essential oils ? etc.
  • If you work through vision, find your own support or make them : tarot cards ? pictures ? drawing ? paintings ?
  • If you work through body sensations, practice sport. Martial art or chinese Qi Gong and Tai Chi are excellent to develop body consciousness. Or anything that works with you.
  • If it’s more “touch” than body, find cloths, woods, stones… textures than triggers you.

EDIT 2 : to complete this article, I found a post  on the language of omens.
EDIT 3 : a long summary about “godphone” and not, how / what you do, good articles etc. + an article that explains how to be cautious with signs and omens (even if I don’t necessarily agree about everything).
EDIT 4 : an excellent method to check your so called godphone

Honor Month to Loki

I read a post that I still can’t quite grasp, about an organisation banning Loki from public rituals. There seems to be a lot of blurring about the issue, and yet, even if it is not properly said but implied, I find it shameful. Since when do you choose to restrict a cultural and spiritual pantheon to only a fraction of deities ? To say some are not worthy or else to be worshipped ? Being a very strong polytheist, I just can’t fathom the idea. It sounds far to Christian to me, to judge that a God is “bad” and should be shut down / banned.

Anyway, I’m getting away from my post. Galina Krasskova established for herself and all those that it pleases an Honor Month to Loki this July. I think it is a good idea, and I am going to try to follow it.

– to meditate on this very special family, to which I am attached by my strong connexion to Jormungandr

– to meditate on Loki himself, try to feel by myself now that I’ve read so many others speak about him

– see if there is anything I can do to honor him, and it seems I have an online friend who  could need my help on this matter

It sounds so interesting to go look for myself into the mysteries of a God I never approached directely. Plus, recently Northern deities are so strongly present in my life (Odin, Jormungandr, Mimir, …) so it must be a good timing.