Rethinking Identity

Eleven years ago I began to identify with the Otherkin subculture. It wasn’t something I pursued because I was searching for a place to belong as much as I had questions and I wanted answers. Since sixteen, I would draw snapshots of scenes with faces and people in action. I knew they were from past life memories. I don’t have all of the details. I never do. But I have the pictures and illustrations. At the time my best answers for why I had these images and why I had these feelings was that this was a flash of reincarnation and I was remembering them from previous lives (and that some of those were non-human lives). This inevitably led me to otherkin circles. Over time the absurdity with its acrid bite was too much to swallow; a lot of people posing for attention in these spaces. I never wanted any attention. I wanted answers to better understand who I was and what I was experiencing.

I still illustrate.  In one illustration, a portrait of a woman I had drawn ten years ago; a woman I only just met three months ago. Its sitting on my shelf as a reminder that these pictures are both memories of the past and the future. The more in invest in my praxis, in my spirituality, in my magick and attempting to understand my own complexities, the more I reach the conclusion that what I saw in Otherkin as a soul condition was just that – a condition or state of being of the soul. And every illustration wasn’t a different separateness, but all souls that are part of the river. In my struggle I attempted to put these memories in metaphoric boxes to categorize them and divide them into different types of experiences but they were all souls; in this river there is only a collection of souls. And it is through form that we are granted the body’s consciousness.

Initially, this series of thoughts arose from a conversation in which I had a knee jerk reaction to Otherkin. I didn’t used to feel that way. Why should I start now? Maybe I was still angry at what I never managed to get out of it. I wanted to get things done and not waste my life with people who were trying to fit in. Others have suggested to me the foolhardy endeavor of throwing out years of investment because of what other people do and they’re right. The Otherkin subculture saw me through many difficult years with crippling depression and debilitating loneliness. It gave me a focal point from which to study my dreams and memories. But we all reach a time and place when how we see ourselves changes. And change is self-initiated growth, without which we might wither and die. I recognize that what I gained from the Otherkin subculture made it possible to keep walking.

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Finding my center in October

In my absence I have moved into a new house, watched my son start Kindergarten at a new school, and generally try to establish a holding pattern of regular practice, writing and other things that are important to me. It is so easy to lose track of time and lose one’s bearings in the midst of all this chaos. I have returned to the work of finishing up old fiction projects and beginning to prepare them for self-publication.

I am thinking about ancestors here lately. At The Owl’s Well we are hosting our fourth annual dumb supper this weekend. Something wonderful that I learned from the writings of Christopher Penczak is that we have tiers or grades of ancestors that we are able to call forth and who influence our lives. These include ancestors of genetics, adoptive ancestors of family and friends, ancestors of the places where we reside, vocational ancestors with whom we share passions and work interests, spiritual family ancestors who might be people from all religions who have inspired us in our spiritual paths. And I have also had conversations with people who identify those who have fought for causes that they too are passionate about as fulfilling a sixth category of ancestors. Previously in my ancestor work and my experiences with dumb supper I have only really focused on genetic ancestry. Upon moving into the new house I have started opening up those other doors in this metaphorical spirit house and making connections with ancestors of vocation as well as ancestors of spirit.

I also recently completed my year-long course of Witchcraft III with the Temple of Witchcraft and had my initiation. That very same week I led a discussion on the earth goddess Demeter and her archetype, which brought up some discussion on initiation and the mystical impact that ritual drama has on the psyche and soul of the initiate. Also in my personal work I have come to realize that I am very deeply inspired by many of the people who were at the forefront of the spiritual and mystical works from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. It wasn’t until all of these things converging upon one another that I truly began to think about the concept of a tradition having its own corpus of mighty dead or spirit allies that assist both the initiate individually and the tradition as a whole.

Though being able to perceive and understand these concepts in a very concrete way doesn’t change the way that I understand ancestor relationships. I have always approached them with a symbiotic mindfulness. That we feed each other in a mutually beneficial relationship. Because it is impossible for something to be for your highest good if it doesn’t feed you and promote your growth. By this measure even that which we perceive in the spirit of decay stimulates our growth. My previous post about breaking ties with a mentor who does not drive me forward is in and of itself part of that spirit of decay and the very act of moving on is what stimulates growth.

What’s new

It has been a long time since I’ve posted an entry here. I ran out of things to say, dealt with a number of life challenges, and number one of them trying to sort out how to move out of a toxic relationship. It was holding me back for quite a while. At the same time trying to find the right kind of environment to continue my spiritual education and the spiritual education of my son. The toxic relationship of which I speak was with my previous mentor. I may address this in further detail, but that’s a matter for another time. Since leaving her group I was able to invest myself more fully with others with whom I share so much in common. It has also enabled me to consider other options on the horizon. My own spiritual education is more than learning and growing on a path, but connecting with others of like mind. I had one such opportunity present itself recently. In the past several months I’ve begun to recognize the deepening of the spiral. It is the path that winds us back through lessons we thought we had learned in order to gain deeper insight. One way in which the spiral manifested itself in my life was through a friendship I’ve only barely began to cultivate, I learned about a path that brought me back to face all of those things about myself I tried to run from when I was younger.  Part of this awareness followed a funerary/closure rite I helped officiate for a friend who recently lost her mother. It made me realize that I do possess a very strong affinity for psychopomp work, which, ironically, I had been doing the entire time.

Understanding self-imposed limitations

I have observed an increasing trend that I don’t understand. What is this obsession of certain magical groups who seem afraid of acting in unison with any spirit forms that these people think might have been invented by Man? The first time I noticed this trepidation in others was over the subject of whether or not it is futile to engage in magical practice with Cthulhu and the elder gods. And now I’m seeing the same behaviors concerning attitudes about Baphomet.

All around the internet are people who like to say that Baphomet is not a Pagan’s god, or shouldn’t be because they feel he was invented in an attempt at Christian domination over Pagan spirituality. While they can think whatever they like, I choose to do the same. It has always been my own personal belief that all of these things existed for far longer than we could possibly know, and that in the pursuit of the expression of our own creativity, we called some of these forms back into existence. This was especially my argument in response to the naysayers who feared what it could mean to work closely with Cthulhu.

I readily acknowledge that there are faces of divinity that submerge themselves back into the stream of universal consciousness when those symbols fail to touch the heart of man, in exchange for imagery that will. Baphomet strikes me very deeply as a symbol of sexuality, androgyny and the crossing or erasure of boundaries. We are living in an incredible climate rife with examples of areas where we are stretching the known boundaries of our society and redefining what we are capable of, as individuals, and as members of local, national, and global consciousness.

What are we doing here?

I recently read some comments left by some friends of mine about a time long gone. Once upon a time a bunch of us came together on a forum and chat and we talked about our experiences and beliefs of philosophy, religion, and all of our dreams, hopes and interests. We came from different countries and continents, with different life experiences, and contributed the great work of our hearts and souls to one purpose. Then, it was the greatest work of all; the search for chosen ones.  It was ourselves in fact that we were searching for, and trying to unravel the mysteries of ourselves, our relationships and what motivating factors brought us here to live our lives and drive our spiritual passions.

In the comments someone said we were trailblazers for our time. I stopped to think about that and what it meant. I didn’t sign up thinking about what ppl would say about it twenty years later. It was the most important thing in my life back then; my magic, my soul, my spirituality, much like it is now. Other people did the same things, expressing their souls journey through their art and writing. I met some amazing people there and we explored friendships, relationships, and the fine art of using chat software for spiritual explorations, such as group meditations and guided past life meditations. We were writers, artists, musicians, soldiers, social workers, students, laborers, cooks, clerks. We were jews, witches, humanists, agnostics, occultists, native americans. We held varied beliefs in politics. Some of us were otherkin.

Being a part of that experience made me realize that people with far greater gaps between them can work together for the same goals if they really want it. Even though the group split apart, it was a window in time where something more important bound us in the search of things greater than ourselves, and yet it was a search for the higher vibration of ourselves, and each other. For those of us who actively choose to do so, shall we ever endeavour to have such an impact wherever we may roam. For those who do not, after having that experience it would be difficult not to see the impact we continue to have on others.

Late Summer updates

My family has lost another family member. We are dealing with the loss. I have also been recently giving serious considerations to more fully integrating ancestor reverence into my spiritual path. The last discussion Owl’s Well had about spirits and how we relate to spirits in our personal practice, reminded me of how important mediumship and channeling is to my spiritual path. Its easy to lose sight of being here now, and forgetting that not everyone has the same experiences. I shared some experiences at the discussion that I don’t usually share with people. Someone called me the Saint Louis medium. I’m not fond of titles like that for myself, but it has become very clear that this is very relevant to my path. A recent tarot reading by a very good friend of mine pointed to the exact same thing. Finding and reading The Mighty Dead by Christopher Penczak, last weekend, couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Ancestor worship and spirit reverence has long been a part of my path, but ideas of ancestors of our passions (in my case, writing, poetry, myth, archaeology, philosophy) was not something I had ever really considered before. Ancestors of our spiritual path was an idea I have come across many times before.

Spirits of the land have been on my mind lately, especially about the ancient and eldritch energies of the land, and the history of the lands we work with. And often I find myself thinking about the prehistoric energies of the land. It is clear that there are faerie energies on my land, but also the land spirits themselves seem to have flourished as we have nurtured them through soil work, watering, and offerings.

Next month, I am leading a discussion on the autumn equinox. The subject of death and spirits isn’t far from the purpose of that discussion. It centers on underworld mythologies and the mysteries of death and rebirth, in addition to questions regarding the energy and the themes of the autumn equinox. I will be posting a brief set of notes on the autumn equinox to the writing blog so stay tuned.

July rant

We try to better ourselves and fill our lives with the things that we value. Those spiritual pursuits, however, have a way of changing us. We realize we are imperfect creatures with layers of awkward and uncomfortable shit in our lives to deal with. We know we want to do something meaningful with our lives and can’t possibly imagine how we can still be considered wise enough to counsel others when there’s so much of this personal, inner turmoil.  But that’s exactly when we know that we are doing what we’re supposed to do. There’s no such thing as perfection. The imperfect know what its like, because they are living the journey of self-mastery.

And this is why I identify so closely with the underdog, the strange and unusual. The people who were cast out of paradise long ago because they move to the beat of a different drum. I identify very well with it. I’m not looking to find a safe place, just a place to call my own. Its late July and all I have is this rant. But its more than I have written in a while. So for that I am grateful.