Friday, April 26, 2013


(Originally posted as the "H" installation of the Pagan Blog Project 2013)

The value of morals, ethic and honor drew me further into Paganism after my adaptation into this spiritual form of worship. In a world where all of the above are frequently tossed into the arena of conversation-usually with a self-righteous jab of some sort- I've found they are, sadly, only words.

But not to me. To me they are imperatives, in the same way it is necessary to breath to get oxygen. While I may sound a bit
unintentionally smug, I will not apologize for keeping my sense of altruism intact. For one thing it keeps me honest, if with no one other than myself. As another, it reminds me of characteristics to admire and strive toward because I believe that how we treat ourselves and others lays open out credibility and trustworthiness in the community. If you wish to gain the respect and admiration of others, then personal integrity in one's beliefs and actions is the only way to achieve that.

Being a person of honor shows in the awareness of
ones image. How do you want your character and life to be perceived? That's rather a simple answer to me which involves asking the question, "What is the face that you show to all of society?"

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Guides-A Primer

(originally posted as my 'G' article for the Pagan Blog Project 2013)

My friend John and I had regular late night talks about spirituality and what each of us believed- what worked in the never ending quest to quench the thirst for our understanding of God and spirituality. John was more of spiritual explorer than I in those days. He was into all manner of Eastern Religion, especially meditation, and frankly he had the financial resources to study with whomever he wanted and was readily accepted as a student because of his station in society. I, on the other hand, was still firmly connected to a mainstream Christian religion, but had branched out into Jungian psychology and the study of aspects, individuation and shadow work. My own individual form of 'nature' religion filled in the many crevices and empty spaces left by too many unanswered questions. My personal  form of meditation consisted of opening myself wide to the Universe, unlike the 'going within' that was made popular by the many well known yogis/teachers of the day. Neither one method or the other was more effective than the other, and I believe that for the time and place each of us were in in our spiritual journey, what either of us were practicing was most perfect for he and I.

We eagerly continued our exploration through dozens of disciplines that employed specific techniques; both of us studied Native American religions for spiritual and historical purposes, and to satiate our desire to be connected to the area and culture where he lived and I frequently worked.

At one point, when I was shedding most of the vestiges of my Christian practice, John began studying Theosophy in earnest. He delved  deeply into the writings of Madam Helena Blavatsky through the New Thought Movement; I scanned Blavatsky's spirituality superficially, choosing instead to study what I considered a much more suitable author- Aleister Crowley. (Although Crowley admired Blavatsky personally, he mostly eschewed the Theosophical movement.) Both disciplines engaged us in the subject of  Spirit Guides; that melded with what we'd come to know about Native American Totem Animals, so it was a happy marriage of mystical traditions.

Blavatsky's work included the employment of Ascended Masters, a type of guide often incorporated by people who do energy work. The basic definition for my purpose here is that an ascended master is the spiritual manifestation of someone who were once a living being but has moved on to a higher spiritual plane after their incarnation in the present physical realm-Buddha, Krishna, St. Germain, Joan of Arc, etc. They work with groups of seekers rather than exclusively with an individual, because their primary focus is on the betterment of humanity. This has come to include certain elements of the newer "Christ Consciousness" movement practiced by those who practice a blend of Christianity and Spiritualism. Ascended Masters are sometimes refereed to as Teachers, or simply, Masters.

Ascended Masters can be confused with Spirit Guides ( which are also at times called Teachers). Despite the similarity of wording, the two are quite different, in that typically a Spirit Guide is symbolic and archetypal. Being they represent something to the individual on a particular path and appear as a series of archetypes, they contribute to the clarification of a situation or to assist in fulfilling a purpose. Many Spirit Guides appear to help with specific problem-solving in a symbolic manner and individual guides may keep giving way to others as the journey of the individual progresses. The form of the manifestation of Spirit Guides often depends on the religious upbringing of the person they are assisting; guardian angels, archangels and saints fall into this category.

Animal Guides, or more commonly referred to as Totem Animals in shamanic traditions. They usually appear in dreams to a seeker, but are sometimes chosen and enticed by the seeker him/herself. The Animal Guide is usually chosen for traits the individual seeks or needs in his/her life, through dreams or the assignment of a shaman. The Totem Animal is given for the task of protection and /or teaching, as the embodiment of characteristics the individual desires or needs. Some form of Animal Guides are commonly the spirit of deceased pets who refuse to leave their owners, continuing their role of companion from beyond The Veil.( My own beloved feline familiar Tinker continues to accompany and teach me today, a full decade after her death.)

Ancestral Guides are a unique entity, because they had some sort of actual connection to the individual. They can be anyone from a recent blood-relative to a long-dead ancestor; a dear friend who crossed The Veil after a long illness, or unexpectedly from an accident. The point is that you are acquainted with this entity in some way. Celtic spiritual traditions identify them as Kindreds.

How do you know what you have contacted is truly a Guide-and not something else? My experience is that if the presence of that entity makes you feel as if you have made a positive connection and holistic, I'd encourage you to continue cautiously exploring that avenue of communication. However, if you have even an inkling of something being negative or 'off', if your internal bells and whistles are sounding, then what you have contacted should be considered suspect-whether through a method of divination, meditation or something  else- may indeed be something other than a desirable entity. It is not unusual for an individual to attempt to seek out a guide through the use of a Ouija or other talking board ( aka spirit boards), or through an event such as a seance. [ If you'd like to go the seance route, here's an excellent video of Pagan author Konstontinos directing a seance: ].

There is a metaphysical theory to which I subscribe that says whenever someone has entered the astral plane to do any sort of energy work, that individual gives off (for lack of a better description) a unique signal or energy imprint. The individual's signal is a sort of beacon which will draw any curious entities to them...including those from the lower realms, which may not be so nice or have your welfare at the forefront of their thinking. The following tips can help you define who it is you've actually contacted, if they are beneficial, and what to do if you find yourself with an unwanted spiritual entity attached to you.

However you choose to attempt contact with spirits of any type, my advise to you is to take the time and make the effort to properly shield and protect yourself. This can be done in various ways, and the choice of how to do this is totally up to you because while there are methods which are universally effective, the strength of those techniques actually depends on individual preference. In other words, what works for me may not work as well for you. As always, spiritual practice is personal.

Question information you receive that goes against logic, metaphysical or scientific laws, common sense- or common decency. Does this entity seem to have your highest good in mind, or is it making promises that sound too good to be true? Be absolutely certain who and what you are dealing with. Remember the well worn wisdom quote: "Don't call up what you can't put down." Acquaint yourself with several forms of banishing before you attempt contact with spirits as it may become necessary to end the link with them quickly.

In general, although your relationship with a spirit guide will be personal, it is by no means unique. Most spirit guides do not work with individuals one-on-one, they work with many individuals at once to disseminate information. You will not be the only person the spirit is working with because you are specially metaphysically gifted; lower entities are masters at flattery and ego stroking and know just how to work their way into the good graces of an unsuspecting human. You and I are not unique enough to be privy to information which would open any portals or gates no one has every explored before your new spirit friend shows you the first time out of the gate.  Beware any entity which identifies you as being especially enlightened. If the information you are being given is of no particular use to you, then you have not contacted a benevolent spirit.
I also caution you about any entity that immediately tries to enlist your help to assist it in doing things like channeling. Allowing the entity to voluntarily manifest through you in this way is possession, and you should take heed. There is a reason ceremonial magicians create a containment area outside of the protective circle they are standing in -and I cannot stress the wisdom of this practice enough. Sometimes the entity isn't who you thought it was; do not hesitate to send this spirit away. For the most part, all you simply need to do is to verbally send the spirit away ( "Leave now, you are not wanted here"). Occasionally an entity is a bit more difficult to shake off, and that's when you need to become assertive. Use purification methods and an unshakable demand that the entity leave. If cleansing, smudging , aspurging the area with salt water, etc. doesn't eliminate the attachment, or the entity is hostile toward you, it would be wise to enlist the assistance of other Pagans or occultists who are more experienced or at least willing to help you break the attachment. Here's a good starting point: There are also good, solid reference books available by various Pagan authors such as Christian Day, Dorothy Morrison and Christopher Penczak. The latter author has an excellent book, The Witch's Shield: Protection Magick and Psychic Self-Defense which is one of  my personal favorites.You may also want to consult the website of popular Hoodoo practitioner Carolina Dean at for more information.

Discovering and working with a spirit guide is a rewarding and beneficial experience if the basic rules are applied to this relationship. Good Luck to you!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Frauds and Fools

Yesterday, while I was blissfully window shopping at the mall, someone caught a glimpse of my pentagram and "just had to introduce" himself as a fellow Pagan. Before I could blink, he had locked in on me and gravitated into my personal space. I don't mind chance meetings brought about by recognition of the religious symbol hanging from my necklace; in fact, I've had some rather pleasant exchanges with people over the years. I've also had some, er...interesting ones. I could tell this was going to be one of the latter rather than the former.

" My name is Zoltan Equinus, and I'm a High Priest in Persephone's Mound..I'm also a 32nd degree Mason, a Reiki Master, and an ordained minister in the Order of Malki Tzedek. My partner Blatforth and I build our own stringed instruments and have recorded a CD of  music played on the balalaika. We'll be playing at a kirtan dedicated to Gwalchmei with full shanti on Saturday night. Maybe you'd like to come?"

This was all unloaded in an enthusiastic rush before I could exchange any sort of pleasantry...or even my name. I know my face was frozen in that 'smile-because-this-person-could-be-dangerous' expression; I could see myself reflected in Zoltan Equinus' black pupils. Admittedly, I was a little unhinged  because the last time I saw an individual with pupils blown out like that was when Burgess Meredith played an alien life form masquerading as a kindly old priest in an airport restroom- right before he ripped another patron to shreds and ate them.

Okay, maybe it was actually because my new acquaintance was a little too eager to share his Pagan credentials with a stranger. TMI, dude. A simple " hello" would have been much more conducive as a conversation opener than the implied, " You need to know I'm more accomplished than you are... right now." I might have been less momentarily fixated on the word DERANGED emblazoned across his T-shirt,too.

Otherwise he seemed to be a nice enough chap, except that even after exchanging a civil introduction and mundane pleasantries (which included commenting on my Peter Stone Celtic knot pentagram), he once again elaborated on his 'credentials' before departing. I would have liked Zoltan Equinus a bit more had he not felt he needed to impress me with his peerage...which he failed to do. Our meeting would have been much nicer if we'd simply introduced ourselves, or even if we'd exchanged knowing nods as we passed
"Send me your haunted items" the listing began on a popular online auction site " I will examine and remove any negative energy from items you send and return them to you. My goal is documentation only as I am pursuing my second criminal justice degree. Donations appreciated."

There was a minimal flat charge for shipping and handling...and no other information. I would think twice about sending off anything that even might be a prized possession to a complete stranger. No name, no address...just an eBay seller listing, by an anonymous individual. The minimal shipping and handling charge would have basically covered transport of most items one way only. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to make assumptions about this one, folks.  One more thought: the alleged student was not working on a degree in metaphysics, mind you....Criminal Justice. No real mention of this being a paranormal research project. I'll leave it at that and you can formulate your own thoughts about legitimacy.

" This handmade item has come to our possession from a local self proclaimed witch who has direct ancestral linage to a convicted warlock associated with a very popular witch trial city. This item was strictly created to absorb evil energies during castings and to guide negative, evil, misguided entities into a safer realm. It was made with brightly colored material to attract the good in life and banish the menacing. This ritual tool has been in use long enough and needs a good home to rest."

Wow...what a great offer! A used folk magick item that's more than likely just teaming with all sorts of interesting energies from who knows exactly where! The last sentence would send any experienced occult practitioner off to find his/her stash of holy water and a box of matches. Talk about opening yourself up for trouble? I'm not running a retirement home for lower entities and demons, are you?

Lest you think all of the above examples I've given are the product of my over-taxed imagination, let me assure you they are all quite real. Unfortunately. I have only changed a few of the details in each situation for the sake of  propriety and litigation...but there are thousands more just as outrageous out there in our Pagan/Occultist/Magickal Communities, and even a novice could see through most of them. Or, at least I'd like to think so...but I'd be wrong. The reason these things still exist in our realm of experience is because some of us still actively and unknowingly engage in them...P.T. Barnum was right about a sucker being born every minute, because he knew the breath of human guile and gullibility.

Many of us stumble away from what we felt was a religious experience of untruths and falsehood into the welcoming and waiting arms of charlatans, frauds and fools who have found a niche preying on the spiritually malleable. People tend to want to believe things which are the direct opposition of what their previous situation was, believing the pendulum will swing will make things okay. Sadly, we too have those situations and circumstances but which turn out to be  equally as much lies...such as individuals with lots of credentials which turn tout to be too good to be true, or persons who "only want to help" the innocent by helping themselves to whatever they can, to intimate offers of tools or other services which are not only harmful, but potentially dangerous. Will you be fooled? I hope not.