Worth a read if you have the time. As a Vanatruar, the health of the Earth – which includes its climate – is important to me, and these posts are a challenge to think about giving more than just lip service to this sentiment.
So one of my real bugaboos about a lot of what I see in the “occult community” (and I’m putting this in the dick quotes because occultists have tended to be a fractious lot from time immemorial, between seiðkonar trying to kill each other with sealskin bags, to the beef between Mathers and Crowley; imposing your will on the Universe on a regular basis kind of lends itself to the temperament of not playing well with others*) is you have a lot of spell-sharing and sometimes even some “how to get started”, but I rarely ever see discussions on practises like grounding and shielding which were still considered fundamental when I started out (you know, back in the 20th century, when the earth was cooling, dinosaurs roamed, and people had iStones).
One of the questions that I got the most frequently on Tumblr (before I shut my Ask off due to burnout) was how to do things like warding, shielding, and banishing. I found myself pretty horrified after awhile by the frequency of the psychic hygiene questions and that you have a bunch of people who are jumping the gun doing Big Spooky Shit without laying a proper foundation first. (The first person on Tumblr to accuse me of “shaming” for saying this can go eat a glittery elf cock.) But I realize in many cases, it’s because people don’t even know that this is supposed to be a thing, nowadays. It’s not really talked about, and a lot of the “oldschool” occultists aren’t out there giving information to n00bs.
Now I say this as a person who associates with demons, including taking one into my bed every night. I say this as a person who is caught up in Otherworld politics much as I’d rather not be. I say this as a full-time spirit-worker, whose life is not my own, whose life has been surrendered to the work that the Powers think I ought to do while I’m here in Midgard. You may look at these basic facts about my life and think that being hardcore about psychic hygiene is all fine and good for someone like Nono because he’s down with the spoop, but you just cast a spell once in awhile or make an offering once in awhile so why should you care.
You should still care.
Even if you are a more “casual” practitioner, I liken not having a basic, minimal psychic hygiene discipline to something like riding a motorcycle without a helmet, or engaging in casual sex/a one-night stand/whatever without a condom or dental dam or whatnot. You may not need my full plate armor when you’re in the field, but you need something.
Because the thing is, when you are actually doing magic, when you are actually engaging with other entities, even if you are only doing this once in awhile, and even if you are otherwise pretty “headblind” (I really hate this term btw, I think it’s problematic, but until there’s a better way of describing “not really being able to perceive entities, energy, etc” there it is) it doesn’t matter. You are still pinging on The Grand Radar, for a better way of putting it.
When you work magic, you are not just impacting the web of wyrd around you, you are changing yourself. You are in some ways Other-ing yourself. And when you impact the web of wyrd around you, it serves as a catalyst for other things. Wyrd will accelerate in other areas. Magic may also alert entities to your existence, even if you’re not aware of them or consciously engaging with them, or have even heard of them.
When you commune with entities, even if it’s one-sided and you can’t “hear” or “see” them, you’re still getting their attention. (This is true even if you are trying to evade their attention. Case in point: there’s a blog on Tumblr that reblogs my posts on Asmodai and thinks that they’ll evade his attention by striking out his name [like this:
Asmodai] and tagging it “assmoody”. I have news for this person. He still sees what you’re doing. Demons are particularly notorious for getting that ping if someone’s talking about them. This is one reason why I literally will not talk about demons I don’t deal with [and have asked people to not talk about $ENTITY to me], because there are reasons why I don’t want to be on their radar, and D. doesn’t want me on their radar, etc. There may be some entities who you can avoid by using epithets to speak of – a certain God of Tacos comes to mind here – but doesn’t work too well with demons or the Norse pantheon. [I legit have seen people refer to Loki as L*k! or He Who Shall Not Be Named because they think naming him is going to attract his attention. Going out of your way to not name him because you're afraid of him is going to incite him to fuck with you because he's like that.]) You’re not just getting the attention of that entity, you may wind up getting the attention of other related entities (the Vanir are fucking NOTORIOUS for doing this, which is why I tend to just say “I serve the Vanir” rather than mentioning the cast list of Vanic deities and unnamed-by-lore Vanir I’ve dealt with, it’s too long). You may also wind up on the radar of entities who don’t like that entity, and just about Everyone has enemies. Particularly with regards to demons, sometimes there will be demons who fuck with you to fuck with This Other Demon You’re Buddies With. But this is true of gods as well. (If you ever fuck Zeus, watch out for Hera. That is all.)
Magic and divination will also make you more psychically receptive as time goes on and your practise goes on, even if you do it casually and even if you’re not consciously aware of it. A lot of us who find ourselves drawn to occult practises are already empaths to begin with, or highly susceptible to hypnotism and subliminal suggestions. (Magic can sometimes be like doing hypnosis on yourself.)
So practises like shielding are good to implement as a way of protecting yourself against Big Nasties, or people who decide because you have a different opinion than them on the Internet now they’re going to put you in a curse jar, or they don’t like your patron so they’re going to curse you (like I said once upon a time, being open about being one of Asmodai’s has baggage attached, this is some of what I mean), or protecting yourself from unwanted empathic or subliminal influence. Practises like grounding are good to implement when you’re done with things like magic or divinations or journeying, etc, so you’re not getting energetically overloaded which will fuck up your shields and also your flow of energy which will impact your magic, rendering it less effective.
You don’t need to be “hardcore” about this, this doesn’t mean you need to ward your home like Fort Knox or shield yourself so hard you feel congested, or constantly purify, or carry hematite around all the time. It does mean however that there should be a basic appreciation of laying a proper foundation for your practise, and a bare minimum of things you do if you are dealing with forces outside yourself.
For people who engage with the Powers via prayer and offering but not much else, I suggest doing a basic purification – wash your face and hands – before making an offering. I would go on to say clean the space wherein the offering is going to be made but as a disabled pagan I understand not everyone has spoons to clean. However it takes literally a minute to run some cold water on your hands and rub some on your face, maybe with a sprinkle of salt put on. I also suggest doing some sort of purification of your “temple space” (for lack of a better way of putting it) which can be as simple as burning incense or a candle, keeping the energy nice and harmonious.
For people who add magic to this, I do recommend learning how to more thoroughly cleanse as well as ground, ward, and shield, as well as banish (though some entities can get through most standard wards, and something you might use to banish an unwanted fae visitor might not work so well for banishing demons – one reason why I’m loath to give advice about banishment [beyond the fact that I'm loath to give advice on one's problems, period, because of that "not clergy" thing] is even with the same class of entity, you may not be able to banish $FAE_X with $THING that made $FAE_Y take off, as one example; a lot of learning how to banish comes down to trial and error). Like I said, it doesn’t mean your place needs to be Fort Knox and that you have to become a holy terror with any uninvited entity. But the idea that you can practise magic AND deal with spirits and not have some basic protection and purification protocols in place is kind of… not wise, for the reasons I mentioned above and then some.
Psychic hygiene doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or troublesome – in fact, an effective psychic hygiene practise will feel like second nature given time. I will be continuing to make blog posts every now and again with some tips on psychic hygiene practises, in the hopes of filling the void of information that exists among the current generation of occultists.
*Which all too often includes problematic relations with spirits; D. has some pretty good rants about ceremonial mages, and said to me early on in our relationship, “You’re a mage who isn’t actually an assclown!” (He likes working with me, the few times he and I have done workings together. [Our relationship is largely non-professional, pleasure instead of business.])
So the other day I made a post about astral travel, and a conversation developed in the threads about energetic overload that can develop when doing such work. I’ve experienced this before, though I tend to experience it more when doing oracular work and scribe work. This feeling can be quite uncomfortable, and indeed, one may feel psychically like their circuits are blown for a bit (it can cause energetic damage if it happens too often in a short period of time); I have known a couple people who actually thrive on the ungroundedness and energy surges, but it’s worth noting said people tended to be more “manic” in nature and had addictive behaviors as well as situations where they weren’t really having to deal with too many responsibilities.
I consider knowing how to ground to be an essential part of a magical practise or a spirit-work practise (or if you’re like me, both). The problem is that psychic hygiene is not really taught anymore. There are guides out there – books, articles, etc – that will tell you about Otherworld realms, or how to cast different spells, and whatever, but people seem to want to know how to do all the cool shit, and not really the shit that will cover your ass when you do the cool shit. This is a rant of its own coming at a future date, but can be summed up with “witches these days, get off my lawn”.
Or, what information is out there about grounding, tends to be of the “imagine tree roots growing out from your feet into the ground” which really doesn’t work for most of the people I know. It does work for some of them, but if you’re like me and not particularly Earth-aligned (even though I’m a Capricorn; I have an affinity for Water magically speaking) and/or don’t have the best relationship to your meatsuit in the first place (and I never will, being trans and experiencing a shitload of dysphoria), then the tree roots method is not really the most ideal form of grounding.
So without further ado here are a few things I’ve tried, or I’ve known other people to try, to ground out when they are coming down from magic or spirit-work practises, or coming back from a journey, etc.
As someone who’s had (very unfortunate) experience with being on the receiving end of discrimination (in multiple ways, including for being pagan), this is worth a read. It’s helpful not just for pagans, but really anyone who’s in a religious minority and dealing with BS as the default setting.
Originally posted on hecatedemeter:
The Wild Hunt has reported recently on a number of instances in which local officials use the power of their office to discriminate against Pagans. In the wake of Town of Greece, we’re likely to see more of this.
I talked with Byron Ballard, who’s had her share of run-ins with local officials who don’t seem to care much for the First Amendment to see what advice she has for Pagans dealing with these sorts of issues. Thanks to Byron for taking the time to discuss what she’s learned!
Q: Please tell us about your experience.
A: Mine isn’t only one instance. It’s an ongoing war of wills so my answers may be rather general.
The most recent focus in my area has been the inappropriate “Christian default setting” in the public schools. What started it was the delivery of Gideon bibles to a public elementary school and that set…
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Moonlight and starlight kisses the sea
and the water and the earth caress
Before you on bended knee
I give myself to you with a yes
You clasp your collar onto me
Symbol of your breath, your tie
Bound to you, yet also set free
My deepest desires no longer denied
We listen to the waves collide
as the moon bathes us in his light
Our rhythm slow like the roaring tides
Nothing has ever felt this right
With every touch and every sigh
we say more than words can express
Wave rolls in as my soul flies
I cry your name, your claim confessed
(Note: “elantero” means “I am yours” in Eshnesk [Vanic].)