Wholly Go Brightly

Since my almost fatal wounds this year, inflicted by a razor sharp “serpent’s tooth,” I’ve found odd comfort and a strange sort of peace in having survived what I have always felt would be my undoing–if not of life itself, at least of sanity. I am not being dramatic about the “almost fatal” part. As a person with clinical depression who has struggled with suicidal thoughts and feelings for several decades, I did not do very well with the sudden and (to me inexplicable) utter rejection by my eldest child. So, I had some very bad times in these last few months, but I managed to hang on, survive, and now even…dare I say?…thrive.

Let me explain. Ever since I was in my teens I have been deeply afraid of two things: dying in or of childbirth and of losing a child and going mad. I did get through two pregnancies in my thirties/early forrties, though not without problems, so that fear of dying thusly was laid to rest in this lifetime (at least). This fear may have been a “past life” remnant, or (more reasonably) a harsh thread woven through my DNA by hundreds or thousands of female ancestors who didn’t survive birthing but who left an ancestral orphan behind. Multi-generational trauma indeed. As for the other fear–the loss of a child and of sanity–a form of this fear played out in the “spontaneous combustion” incident that I’ve written about in a long ago blog. After that kundalini blast and during that ten-month period of carrying the atavistic spirit of a proud, passionate, deeply lonely woman during her final months of life as a pregnant mother who did indeed lose her baby and committed suicide in post-partum grief, I had to endure all her feelings and then NOT DO THE THING. I didn’t understand this entire episode, or its initiatory impacts, until the final, blessed gestalt when she was gone at last from me, and I could then understand the sweep of the story. Somehow, by not succumbing myself to suicide, I effected a peaceful release for her.

Was she a past life fragment, or simply a wandering spirit who attached herself to me at the moment I was blown to psychic bits and then reassembled, post kundalini? Who knows. I have theories, but no real facts. I think I know where she was living but I don’t even know her name. I never sensed more than a pre-thought of hers. What I did have was the strong personality and emotions of this woman, who psychically surrounded me like a giant cube of agar-agar while I remained intact within, like a small red bean, able to carry on all my employment and children-rearing duties as usual. So it was not a psychic break, dear readers, but a form of extended, extreme mediumship. And I could have never in a million years imagined such a thing would happen to me. I endured all but the final three weeks without any form of external guidance.

Now, to some readers, the above paragraphs may sound truly insane. Whatever. But however strange and strenuous this experience sounds (and it was), this was also a fruitful time that included lucid teaching dreams that have served me well now for years. Reflecting back, did I need this ordeal of “the woman” and her tragic loss to prepare me for the surgically precise torments of this year’s devastation? (Honestly, doesn’t it seem unnecessarily cruel to describe me, a mother who struggled to raise children through three decades of disability, sleep deprivation, and chronic fatigue as “exhausting?” But I digress…) It’s an odd thing to wonder if a child of mine was actually disappointed that I made it through the pandemic without croaking. It’s a worse thing to know that resentment plus mental illness has brought us to this point. Auwe…

So let’s leave the harsh words and murky, karma-riddled past behind now and focus on the lessons and learning that have emerged for me. I’ve been fortunate to have good friends–kindly people–within reach (if not in person, at least electronically). I was blessed to have been able to break free from Lake County, CA and come to a place which actually feels good, truly like home to me. Without my gods and guides, good friends and cats, and that hope of moving elsewhere–plus the distraction of necessary practical tasks to make it so–I am not sure I would have made it through this year (let alone the year before).

Lesson One: I didn’t go crazy with grief and loss. I felt all kinds of things, including suicidal desires, but I didn’t lose my mind after all. I didn’t succumb. So wow. That’s actually pretty cool. Now let me add here that I would never kill myself (unless doctor-assisted due to a fatal disease) since it would be horrible for all left behind but it truly, truly sucks to have to endure those feelings while they last. Those who deal with this understand what I’m saying. So the takeaway from this is a renewed sense of strength and resilience.

Lesson Two: Joy is possible and if it begins to sprout in the crevices of a fragmenting grief, it can gradually push itself to the sunlight and expand. I have an image here of plants pushing through concrete. All this bad, sad stuff? It’s compost, my darlings. Compost. Seeds that I thought would never germinate are now coming to life.

Lesson Three: Better living through dishwashing. Humble tasks are life-saving. And even if you can only manage to wash one teacup, it’s a god-damned victory. Savor it and reward yourself.

Lesson Four: Loki really does come and “hold the bowl” for me when the slow dripping poison overflows, when I really can’t do for myself and must make the ask. Sigyn did it for him. He will do it for us (though not indefinitely). And believe me, nothing is more lovely than the tender mercy of a generous, trickster spirit who dumps the poison, cradles your shattered heart, and then demands a donut. So yes, your deities, ancestors, and/or spirit guides can and do come to help if you want them, if you ask them.

Lesson Five: A good tool-kit helps. And reminders to use your tools are super helpful too. During these last several months I’ve revisited many online materials from sources that I respect, listened to podcasts and daily tarot readings, read books, and put more emphasis on renewing daily practices. Ariel Gatoga’s “solar light” meditation was particularly helpful throughout this year. Ditto for Aidan Wachter’s podcasts and interviews.

Lesson Six: Have fun with people who like you. I’m finally in a location where I can do that, so I’m making the most of this.

Lesson Seven: Call it ALL home, every bit of yourself. In this new house of mine, everything is going up on the walls or coming out of boxes. All these strange bits and pieces of my life, such as it is and will be. I’m welcoming all of me, for the first time in a long time. That also feels good.

I’ll be sixty-seven come Samhain. Life is too short for avoidable misery or for prolonging the misery that comes your way. I may not have kicked the bucket during the pandemic (and I hope to avoid that fate as long as I can) but since I now live in an area where I could (theoretically) be run over by the Bus of Death at any moment, why not make the most of life for as long as I have it? And when I go, I’ll go “wholly brightly” and even my shadows will be radiant. It’s the greatest prayer and the best “fuck you” to cruelty that I know.

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Hammer Hurts

I know how the hammer hurts,
How it hurts and is hurting,
When it all goes smash bang
And someone else falls down.
And the hammer can only build
With shiny new nails–(shiny, new!)
Until the new becomes old
And it’s smash bang again…
And again…and again,
Because hammers can’t build mirrors,
And nails just rust when they cry.

A. Marsh. Copyright 2021.

Pearson Scott Foresman, Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

Loki Blesses the Meds, Émile Coué Sanctions the Method

The brand new bottle of new-to-me meds is set before the altar. Offerings have been made. The candles are lit. Several consecrated pendulums are beside me. And thus the ritual begins.

“Beloved Loki, this medicine has been prescribed for me. Do you sanction its use?”

Pendulum swings yes. “And will you bless it for me, helping it to be free of any side effects?” Yes again.

“Thank you, my Lord Loki.”

And so on through my pantheon: Lord Freyr, Lady Freya (and her namesake cat appears at my knee to also add her blessing), Lady Gerda, Lady Brigid, and the Peerless Bastet. Ancestors too. One by one, via pendulum divination, they all accept and bless this medicine. I know they want me to be healthy and resilient.

And then I address the beings of the medicine itself–an artificial creation of “big pharma”–asking it to cooperate with me in a healing and resiliency building process. (Notice the animism in this approach?) I also ask my body to collaborate with the medicine. I pledge to continue taking care of my health in general.

And then I take the first dose, confident in the love and blessings of the spirits who are my family.


Caution: Never discontinue or avoid using any medication without first and always consulting with your doctor and health practitioners. 


What would I have done if one of my deities had said “no” to the “will you sanction its use” question? I would have replied, “Thank you. I am going to follow doctor’s orders, as I made a vow to do so, so while I understand your concern for me, will you please bless this medicine anyway, so that I can safely fulfill my vow?”

Spirits understand vows. And doctors understand that you will call them if side effects arise.

Better yet, I would have just asked for a blessing on the medication, without using the first question. That’s what I recommend for anyone reading this article. Just ask for the blessing. (And follow doctor’s orders.)

Why Did I Do This?

Unknown
Emile Coue. Source: Wikipedia.

I’m a hypnotist (among other things) and so I know a little hypnosis history. One of the “greats” was a French psychologist and pharmacist, Émile Coué de la Châtaigneraie. He’s the founder of autosuggestion. You have probably heard some variation of the saying, “each day in every way I am getting better and better.” That’s from Coué.

He realized his patients often did better when he offered a positive remark while handing over the medicine, such as “Oh, this is exactly the right thing for you. You’ll do very well with this” (imagined examples). Here are two key paragraphs from the Wikipedia article:


Coué noticed that in certain cases he could improve the efficacy of a given medicine by praising its effectiveness to the patient. He realized that those patients to whom he praised the medicine had a noticeable improvement when compared to patients to whom he said nothing. This began Coué’s exploration of the use of hypnosis and the power of the imagination

And:

Coué believed in the effects of medication. But he also believed that our mental state is able to affect and even amplify the action of these medications. By consciously using autosuggestion, he observed that his patients could cure themselves more efficiently by replacing their “thought of illness” with a new “thought of cure”. According to Coué, repeating words or images enough times causes the subconscious to absorb them. The cures were the result of using imagination or “positive autosuggestion” to the exclusion of one’s own willpower.


So with my ritual, I have gone one better. Instead of creating a hypnotic autosuggestion ritual, which of course I could have done easily, I wanted the full blessings of my divine pantheon and my ancestors. They are deeply rooted in my subconscious and their participation means the world to me.

Also I had a curious incident a few weeks ago. I was in a crisis state triggered by a family situation. I prayed fervently to all my deities, but to Bastet in particular, for help. There is a line in the supposed “ancient prayer to Bastet” that you find on the internet:

“…slay the evil that affects our minds as you slay the serpent Apep.”

And so I begged her to slay the evils of depression and despair that blight my life. Weirdly, the persistent feeling of being bogged down by a constant state of depression and anxiety actually lifted by the next day and I felt light and free, much better than I have in years. This lasted for a few weeks. It’s like I knew I had been wounded but no longer felt it. “The edge” was definitely not just off, but gone.

Dude! I almost didn’t keep my appointment with the psychiatrist!

But though the deities grant grace and boons and blessings, we mortals are the ones to do the heavy lifting. Loki would rather teach magic and mischief and inspire my writing. Bastet prefers to focus on pleasure, beauty, and dancing. Gerda wants me to water the garden and talk with plants. Freyr reminds me that even toxic relationships can be composted for a new harvest. Freya and Brigid bring me back to explorations of the sacred feminine. In other words, there is more to explore in life and magic and if I want to step up my game…well then! My deities and ancestors are quite willing to give me a boost now and then, and blessings too, but I can’t waste my time in tears.

So I kept the appointment. And this morning I lifted the now consecrated tablet to my lips. I washed it down with tea and set the bottle on the altar, to remind me that the medicine is now sacred.

This approach could work for anyone, monotheist or pantheist, no matter who or what you call upon for assistance. I’ll let you know how it goes.

So mote it be.