The Dance

Don’t invite anyone in unless you know for sure you can trust them, obviously.

I go to my room and shut the door. I turn the music on and take my place. My eyes are closed. I listen to the music beat. I hear the notes call, but I don’t move.

I remain still. I wait for him to understand my patience.

I feel his breath within me, small and quiet. I listen.

Slowly, my hands move. Slowly, he listens to the music’s call.

Everything is small, as listening turns to understanding. The music begs me to move, but we do not rush. We wait, for hands to float, for hips to sway. We ride upon the music together.

Then we dance.

His body talks about the burning sun and sand. I see the adobe houses. He does not take No for an ending. I feel him call for the black earth to grow underneath them. He dances for the people. He dances for their arts and livelihood.

The music changes. I see feathers on his arms. He flows with white fire. He hears her call. He listens and responds with life and hope.

Now it moves faster. The fire grows hot and the hunt begins.

My muscles shaking and trembling I collapse on the bed. I drink water. Then I return to the floor.

The music has changed again. “This one is yours, Lunatic. Show me.”

I trade the tightly controlled movements that made my legs shake for something freer. I move around swiftly with no real reason or care. I dance about my frustrations, uncertainties, and doubts. I dance out my love and my worries, and can I ever make it right? I want to make him understand what it’s like on this side.

Then it’s over. I lay on the bed and stare at the ceiling. I know my muscles will be sore. That will be my offering, as if the entire thing wasn’t already an offering. As if my every day of living wasn’t an offering. I feel him wrap his wings around me. Until next time.

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Defending My Space (With Gods)

I did say something about a part two, so I guess I have to write a part two now.

Back in December I split up with one of my major deities. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t like him. The problem was that I forgot what boundaries were or how they worked. I was to the point where I would do anything he asked of me, even if it went against my personal values. Some would argue that’s what being a good devotee is all about. I disagree. Ra and Heru also did not agree with that premise. Heru pointed out the problem to me and told me it was time to leave. Once I explained to Ra what was happening and why I left, he apologized. Getting an apology from Ra feels like a once in a millennium occurrence. It proved to me that he took the situation seriously. He did NOT want his will to supersede my own.

This wasn’t the first time he’d made that clear. When I first started serving him I felt confused about what he wanted from me. He can seem very stern without giving away any of his thoughts. In frustration I kneeled before him, wondering if that was what he wanted. He smacked me across the floor. No, that wasn’t it at all. I would be worthless to him as a mindless follower. I needed to be strong enough to stand up to him if I was going to be strong enough to stand up for him.

It wasn’t that I gave away my will on purpose. Ra is just that powerful. We were working very closely and I got dazzled by his energy. I loved him deeply.

So I went back to Heru and I got a lesson in open doors and closed doors as it applies to energy work. You can share energy with someone without giving them access to everything. He wanted me to practice making conscious choices about what to share and what not to. I didn’t need any reason other than, “I don’t feel like going there today.” He also wanted me to recognize and respect these doors in others. These might seem like very simple concepts, but somewhere in my otherkin mind I have memories of being a guard, a soldier, an energy being, who was linked to something similar to a hive mind. I had no expectation or desire for personal space or even identity. And in war, who has time for respecting boundaries? I knew I couldn’t go back until I learned how and why to keep some things to myself.

It’s been about four months. I started working with clay again, and it seemed like I kept wanting to make Ra things. I thought I was making a Heru falcon, but then it needed an obelisk, and wouldn’t a sun disc be nice too? Then I made a Ra figure in a boat. There was no mistaking that he was on my mind again.

The first time I went back did not go well. I took everything I learned and threw it out the window. I took in too much Ra energy and then was astrally trying to hoark it back up. It made me sick. But I’m not very good about leaving things alone. The next time I went to see him, he told me to pause and think about what things I didn’t want him to change. I didn’t want him to compromise my morals, and there were other things that still felt too sensitive to let him touch. I walled those parts off in a cocoon of feathers. That time I maintained my shields as he energized me. That time it worked. I felt better, not sick at all. It’s not quite the same ecstatic abandonment that we used to share, but it is healthier and more stable.

Then he tells me to keep reading Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts. That’s when I got to the verse about Ra feeding the pharaoh and calling him son. Then the pharaoh turns into a bull and visits several goddesses in a row. This is sort of how my service to Ra has gone. He empowers me and then he expects me to use that power in various ways, usually doing energy work in the astral. You can see why that moral thing was an important point to make with him.

Shen Yi and Chi

Last weekend, I attended a tai chi workshop lead by John Fung. Unlike our previous visiting teacher, John is quite happy with having us share our knowledge. Knowledge not shared will be knowledge lost. I learned a lot about shen, yi, and chi. I wanted to share some of what I learned, but I wasn’t sure what to write or how to focus my thoughts on the subject. Maybe forcing them onto the page will help get them into some kind of order.

Here’s a disclaimer before I begin. There are no simple definitions for these words. The experts who use and experience them can spend eternity arguing and speculating over what they mean. The ones who act certain are usually those who have no idea what they’re talking about. The important thing is that if you do certain things, you get certain results. You must be trained to get those results, but the training follows a definite path. Chi works, and hell if we know exactly why or how. When we’re talking about martial arts, lives may depend upon the effectiveness of the practice. When we’re talking about the Imperial Guard, the Emperor’s life once depended upon the practice. This ain’t your hippie grandma’s tai chi.

Shen

Shen is usually defined as spirit. That is the simplest and most basic translation, and it tells you pretty much nothing. Shen is usually associated with the head region, the third eye, and the base of the skull. For years I’ve been told not to mess with it. “Don’t send chi to the head! Don’t let the chi get trapped in the head!” They always told me that without giving much explanation about why, except that it will make you crazy. It will make you a space cadet who can’t string words together. It will make you talk like a stoned hippie. So all this time, it has been something I’m not supposed to play with at all. Avoid the head.

That’s not exactly right though. The shen has a purpose. John described the shen as being a general who surveys the field and determines the overall plan of attack. It determines what results are wanted, or needed, and outlines a basic plan. But the planner is pretty helpless without the next two (three actually) who do the work of fine tuning and putting the plan into action.

You know how they talk about enlightenment being the end to all desire? If you have no desire, there’s no need to make a plan. I’m not sure enlightenment means what some people think it means. I never see the Dalai Lama talk like a stoned hippie. He appears to have a healthy shen that helps him to decide what to do. He just doesn’t throw a hissy fit when things don’t go according to plan. He makes a new plan and moves on. Nonattachment doesn’t mean “don’t make plans,” it means “don’t get trapped by your plans.”

Yi

Yi is simplistically defined as intent. It is located roughly in the heart region, though you can use it anywhere. Yi is like the commander. It takes the general’s orders and refines them into specifics. The general sees the big picture. The commander handles the details. It is the yi that shapes the chi. When you visualize a ball of chi, it is the yi that forms the ball.

I’m starting to think the problem I had years ago might be described as a yi burnout. Kundalini burnout goes up the spine and lands in the head, and that seems more related to shen. Mine was focused more in the chest. For some time afterward, having chi wasn’t the problem, but I did have trouble focusing it. I use a lot of channeled energy in my magic, but even if the energy is channeled, you still have to use your own effort to tell it what to do.

That would be what a lack of yi looks like, on the other end, I’ve been told that too much yi will make you see things that aren’t there. To me that makes sense if your chi shaping abilities get out of hand. It becomes all too easy to give shape and substance to your inner demons.

Chi

Chi is the one most people have heard about. It is simply described as energy. In our system, chi is housed in the lower abdomen, a couple inches below the belly button, but of course you can put your chi anywhere you want, like in your hand, or even into other objects, like a sword, or other living beings, like your opponent. They say that chi is the flag bearer. Chi is the guy who runs into battle, going where the commander ordered, and the soldiers follow the flag. In this case the soldier is your body. Chi leads and draws the body in like a magnet. Whenever possible, it’s best to let your opponent’s chi do the work, because using chi all the time is tiring.

Just from my own experience, too much chi can make you feel manic or anxious. Not enough chi and you can feel like a walking zombie. It can drive a burnout if it gets too hot and sticks in one area or another. Or it can get sluggish and cause a block, which psychosomatically can cause muscles to tighten up and form knots. The entire practice of acupuncture is designed to get chi to flow more smoothly. Balance is important in all things. New people learning about energy always want more and more. That is a mistake. Use only what you need to get the job done.

Bringing it Together

When all three work together in a balanced way, they can accomplish amazing things seemingly without effort. That doesn’t mean you can skip ahead to the effortless part. All great artists make their work appear effortless. What you don’t see are the many hours they spent training. You must cultivate the chi so that it is balanced and healthy. You must train the yi to respond as you want. That takes practice to the point of boredom. The shen, the spirit, needs to be pure and unconflicted in what it wants so that it can send clear signals to the yi.

Trombone and the Art of Energy Work Pt. 2

Focused on the sounds around me, I count the silence. One, two, three, four. Two, two, three, four… Focused on the symbols on the page, I quickly fill my lungs like a bellows, raise the comforting brass weight of the instrument to my lips and with a steady controlled breath, I release a power which vibrates the air, perfectly finding its niche within the music of my fellows around me.

After a satisfying practice, I joke around with my friends. My laugh is just a little too loud as my oxygen soaked brain revels in the afterglow.

I sort of miss those days. I don’t really miss the part where I dragged myself around a football field dressed in a ridiculous wool suit in weather that was always too hot or too cold. My band director once told me that a trombone is potentially the loudest instrument in the band. One trombone could overbalance the entire thing. I wasn’t sure if I should take that as a compliment or a warning, but it made me grin just a little bit. One practice, he told me that I was playing like I was possessed. I wasn’t sure if that was a compliment either, but I decided to take it as one. It was a far cry from the timid little mouse who started playing back in fifth grade.

As I mentioned last time, the subject of today’s post is BWAAAAAAAA!!!!! Also known as blasting.

It’s probably no surprise that I’ve hung around the kinds of places on the internet where occasionally someone would ask questions about defending themselves from hostile or mischievous entities. The standard advice tends to run along things like salt or smudging or casting circles. I usually end by saying that I tend to skip over those things and just blast the critter if it doesn’t back off when told.

Usually, the people who have to ask questions like that also have no idea what blasting is. It also made me realize that I couldn’t really think of a good way to explain it to them. I just sort of do it. I asked among my friends who know what blasting is, and they also seemed unsure about how to put it into words. How do you yell at someone? You just sort of open your mouth and do it. It’s instinctive. Even babies know how to yell. How would I explain this to someone who doesn’t appear to have the instinct?

Playing the trombone seemed like one of the closest real world analogies I could come up with. Of course, you don’t always blast on a trombone. It wouldn’t be music if you did. The same might be said about energy work. There are times when a subtle steady tone, or a delicate work of precision is more appropriate. But just as a baby’s cries help develop lung strength to prepare it for speech and singing later, an understanding of how to blast can help you tone it down and learn control later.

The first step in blasting on a brass instrument is the breath. First, you must know how to breathe. Breath is what powers the sound. Everybody knows how to breathe. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be alive. All the same, the majority of people do it wrong. They think they breathe with their chest and shoulders. A solid deep breath originates lower. The belly and lower ribs should expand while the chest remains relaxed. What does this mean for power?

Power doesn’t come from the intellect. Your skull can’t breathe. It doesn’t come from the heart region either. You can take a breath into your chest, but it won’t be as strong and you will run out of air quickly. Emotions may seem very strong at first, but they are fleeting. Real power comes from the gut, from your center of being. If you can’t find your center, then you’re pretty much screwed. This is why “know thyself” is of such great importance in magic, in anything, really. If the power comes from your center, then it’s much easier to get your heart and head to line up and focus. Everything you have will be in agreement on the subject. When your center gets interested in something, basic survival instinct comes to mind, the energy can seem to come out of nowhere.

The second step is pressurization. When playing a brass instrument, the lips and tongue contain and direct the breath, allowing a controlled amount of air to be released over time. If you want to try it, press your lips together and make a raspberry or farting sound. Brass players do that all the time. It sounds much better when it comes out the other end of the horn. The air inside the body becomes pressurized. With greater pressure, the note can have a greater potential volume and/or a higher pitch. Volume does shorten duration, however. It’s easy to have a short loud note, or a long soft note. If you want a long, loud note, you need to develop greater lung capacity.

This is the part where you have to start being conscious of side-effects. Developing greater lung capacity can sometimes mean actually stretching lung tissue. It’s not a good idea do too much of that. Raising air pressure also raises other kinds of pressure in the body as well. I’ve been told that in ancient Greece, Olympic trumpet playing contests sometimes ended in fatalities when blood vessels burst.(citation needed) The most common side effect for practicing a brass instrument is swollen lips. Practice can help condition the muscles there, but you can’t just play all day. Side note: Brass players make great kissers!

How does this apply to energy work? If you’re channeling energy, you might be able to “breathe” indefinitely. If you want to do that with a brass instrument, learn cyclic breathing. That’s how didgeridoo players keep going seemingly forever. Even if the energy is not coming from your personal store, you can still run into side effects. You’re still the one who has to direct and form the outgoing energy. Pressure can build up. Too much pressure can cause damage to your own energy systems. I’ve done that. Believe me, it’s not fun. The sustained focus can also wear you out and make you get sloppy. That’s why you shouldn’t play at 100%. Back off to about 70%, unless it’s a dire emergency. Another note is that repeated damage builds up over time. It may seem minor now, but it won’t feel that way later.

Finally, there is tone. It’s much harder to get a good tone when you’re blasting. If you play too loud, there’s a little destabilization that sets in because you’re pushing your limits. If you back off slightly, you can get a more focused result.

That’s a lot of theory behind something that takes maybe a second to do. You basically gather energy and release it in force. Most people visualize the energy as a light or as fire, but you don’t have to. You can blast with wind or sand if that suits you better. Directing it out of the hand superhero style seems the most popular, but it’s not the only way to do it. If you’re not sure about the intentions of an unseen entity, you should give it a warning first. Just because something seems strange doesn’t automatically mean it’s a threat. A slow, steady release of energy can also be used to cleanse or bless an area.

Trombone and the Art of Energy Work Pt.1

My first real lessons in energy work came from band class. Some of it was technical, in the case of music theory, and some of it was experiential, in the act of supporting and playing the notes. I played the trombone.

People like to talk about frequency, vibration and wavelength when it comes to magical energies. I’m not always sure that they have a firm grasp on what these subjects mean. Why is a high frequency always preferable to a low one? High frequencies sometimes hurt my ears, and low frequencies can have enough power to rattle my windows. They’re not good or bad. Music sounds better when there’s a balanced mix.

Sound waves that are orderly tend to sound better than those that are chaotic. The dissonant background music for the original Star Trek series was intended to increase the dramatic tension, but I sure wouldn’t want to listen to it by itself. It’s an acquired taste that I don’t really want to acquire. Harmonic frequencies enhance each other’s patterns. Dissonant ones disrupt the information and introduce chaos. There’s also that odd case where two perfectly tuned, but opposite sounds can effectively cancel each other out, resulting in silence. This is how noise cancelling headphones work. They sense the incoming noise and create the opposing sound. You could also have fun with resonant frequencies, opera singers, and wine glasses. For an added bonus, look up chladni plates on the web!

In short, some energies harmonize well together, and some energies clash. A person is more likely to work with a deity whose energy is harmonious with their own. A pantheon is a collection of deities whose energies have been tuned as a set. That doesn’t mean that deities from other pantheons can’t work together, you can still find harmonies across pantheons. I’m just saying that the chances for harmonic combinations increases among those who have worked together longer. They’re sort of playing in the same musical key.

Some people, like my Dad, have amazing pitch. They can immediately tell what is in tune and what isn’t, and they can even name the notes they hear. Other people, like my Mom, can appreciate the effects of music, but are completely lost when it comes to finding the right pitch. My father studied music at University of Indiana. My mother couldn’t even sing lullabies to her children without having us ask her to please stop. My father played the tuba. My mother played the glockenspiel (think of a smaller marching version of the xylophone) where tuning wasn’t an issue.

What I’m saying is that not everyone has the talent for fine tuning energetic frequencies on the fly. That doesn’t mean that they have to give up, just that they need help getting the notes right. I believe that’s what all those tables of magical correspondences are for. Some people have the natural instinct, and some have to do things the hard and technical way. Even if you do have the instinct, it doesn’t hurt to round out your education by learning the technical side because it can refine your skill and teach you something you hadn’t already thought of. Just don’t get so bogged down in technicality that you forget how to sing.

I will discuss the art of going BWWWAAAAAAAAAA in the next section.

Y No Post? A.K.A. Alernate Shielding Method

My mom had a partial knee replacement on Monday the 2nd. I’ve been caring for her, in the hospital and later at her home, for the past two weeks. Originally, the deal was that I would stay at her place “for a few days.” She’s doing fine, but her estimate was on the optimistic side.

She has no internet at her house and I’m often reminded of why I don’t have cable TV. I’m sick of Michael Bolton (No offense, but having him randomly appear in the back of my car would be creepy.) and hijacked background Christmas music that changes the notes just enough to not get sued. (Yeah, I like that song from Nightmare Before Christmas too, but I don’t like how you mangled it.) I don’t want to buy a car or jewelry, or sue anyone for injury. I can’t imagine paying so much a month to have endless reality shows, reruns and commercials piped into my house. My brain is going to start melting out of my ears before this is over. /endrant

The hospital thing reminds me that there is something halfway pagany that I could talk about.

I’m empathic. I have been since high school. I have a few friends who are too. Sitting for hours in a waiting room full of nervous and ill people, or in hospital room with a family member who is nauseous and in pain would be a nightmare for any of them. I’ve had bad experiences with that kind of thing before, which is why I could never go into nursing as my mother did.

This time, I got through it with very few problems because I changed the way I thought about shielding. Most of the time, people talk about shielding as a way to keep bad stuff out. I flipped the concept to keep myself “in.” Whenever I started feeling a little off, I visualized something like a strip of athletic tape being placed on my skin in accordance to which ever energy channel was causing the problem. The “athletic tape” restricts my movement, not so much that I can’t move, but enough to remind me to keep myself to myself. That worked pretty well.

When my mom was delayed while being transferred from recovery to her private room, I was tempted to reach out and try to get some info on her status. That was when Djehuty threatened to get the duct tape, and the honey, and the ants. I called him a perv, because I learned my manners from a Thunder Being. The point was still taken. Why make myself feel ill when there really wasn’t anything that I could do about it?

My energy body is much larger and more diffuse than my physical body. I’m in the habit of expanding outwards to get in touch with my surroundings. I don’t even notice that I’m doing it most of the time. Then, a few years ago, I strained too hard and was ordered to take a rest for a few days, no reaching out allowed at all. It drove me nuts.

So, if you’re an empath who has difficulty with shielding. The problem might just be that you can’t keep yourself to yourself. The tape worked as a good temporary fix for limited time use. I wouldn’t want to be on lock down all the time. With conventional shielding methods, I often felt like I couldn’t “breathe.” This is a more gentle method that, while it was a little restrictive, didn’t feel suffocating.

Ra’s Healing Light

It’s not all fun and games. Ra decided it was time for a healing session. Fun, not.

Some wounds stay buried, especially old ones. You get used to them, then ignore them, but they don’t heal that way. The knots in my muscles represent areas in my energy body where memories of spiritual wounds are stored. He told me to open the energy centers above and below those points so the energy could flow through without getting stuck in there. He had to keep reminding me as he worked, because when you get tense, the natural reaction is to close off. Then he used his energy to enter those spaces. I had to work hard not to fight him. “This is mine, and this is mine,” he whispered to me as he invaded those places I tried to hide from everyone, including myself. It hurt, a lot. Places that had been numb weren’t numb anymore. He teased open the knots and found his way in. He brought back memories I wanted to forget. But his whispers calmed me. He could see my worst and he wasn’t turning away. He accepted all of it.

Then we talked about how each of those wounds were things that went against my name, the name he told to me. I compared the memories and what it was about them that bothered me and realized he was right. They all had that in common. Those are the hardest ones to heal and to let go of. It seems almost impossible. I remembered what I said to him that kicked off that healing session. I told him I was afraid, so he confronted those fears head on.

Then we talked about ways to cope. He pointed out things I’ve already been doing that would get me through. Why the fish pond? Why the blog posts? Why the tai chi classes? Why the interest in making ceramics and faience? I see the underlying reasons now. The things that have fallen to the side were things that didn’t, or no longer, fit with that motivation. I used to think my whims seemed pretty random, but they’re not. We “shone a light” on the good things too. Just as I can’t ignore the bad things and expect them to get better, I also have to understand how the good things fit into the picture. What need am I trying to fill, and am I actually doing that or just going through the motions? Is the need itself identified correctly? It better be, or I may be trying to treat the wrong thing with the wrong medicine.

The drought hurts. The city has authorized a new quarry as part of a deal to save another wildlife area. That hurts. I made a water space. I excavated the earth in a way that gives something back to the wildlife. I see the birds drinking and bathing there. That helps on a small scale. I fear losing what we’ve gained back into the sands. So I’m going to learn how to convert the sand into something that can tell our story and last for centuries. Those humble little blue scarabs are all over the museums now. It’s like planting seeds for the future.

Also, my kiln has just arrived! 😀