A variety of old wolf bones. Vertebrae, jaw section, ulna. Sourced from AK First Nations subsistence hunts.
Bones play a big role in my practice, and take up a significant part of my collection.
Despite how much we may or may not view the flesh as a prison, after a gnostic fashion, we are beings housed in and a part of the physical realm. Keeping the body, this temple, at peak condition is important to any magical endeavor. When the body is good physical condition there is an abundance of vitality, awareness, and endurance, all of which are important faculties in magical practice. This is best done through balanced diet, consistent exercise, uninterrupted restful sleep, and good personal hygiene. When the body is well rested as a result of sleep, full of vitality as a result of a balanced diet, refreshed by cleanliness, and poised from exercise, the magus is ready to engage in effective magical practice. Not only will these healthy habits improve the quality of your life, but also the potency, duration, and precision of your magick. ~Seth, Tactical Magick
I could not even begin to count the number of pagans and occultists I’ve run into who are out of shape, slovenly, and possessing poor hygiene practices. It just boggles the mind. There are horror stories I could tell, but really, what’s the point. I think you all know what I’m talking about. I’m utterly surprised at how anyone can focus or get any work done with kitty litter grinding under their feet, or the smell of BO and cat piss hanging in the air (yes, I’ve experienced this firsthand unfortunately). I know I can’t, but I have ADD, so what the fuck do I know?
I really need to get back into my old exercise routine. I think I may be a touch out of shape. I also need to see a doctor about that insomnia thing. Both of these will happen soon.
The latest skull I’ve cleaned myself from its original raw state (essentially, a severed head sans skin). This came from a large male black coyote from New York State. I pride myself on being able to keep the nasals relatively intact. I’ll take a full photo of him once he’s fully articulated and all his teeth and jawbones are glued back in place.
In various animistic traditions, the skull was considered the most powerful part of an animal (human or non), the seat of the spirit and consciousness.
This fellow here is going to a fellow “spirit worker” and psychopomp once I’m done with him.
Coyotes are very interesting critters, mainly for their transformative qualities. There are over thirteen different subspecies of coyote. Once confined to the midwest, the coyote has spread its range all the way to the eastern seaboard, and all the way north to Alaska. Environmental pressures put on in by humans only cause this animal to flourish. In a way, biologically it lives up to its mythological roots as trickster and shapeshifter. It can adapt to almost any situation, and it’s flexible breeding patterns allow it to take on many different sizes, shapes and colors depending on the environment. The coyote is an adaptable creature, and responds well under stress.
Many times I’ve heard of people who complain of missing the magic in their lives, of being out of touch with their gods, of not being able to work the magic they would like. Busy schedule, work, school, kids, what have you. They miss the rites, the rituals, the pomp and circumstance. There is no time. And by this point, dear reader, you are wondering what the fuck this has to do with the above paragraph. What I’m trying to say is–we need to live more like coyotes. Adaptation is the key. And really, to a certain extent the ritual, pomp and circumstance are simply just crutches, fancy dressing. The gods will still listen whether you chant the right verses or not. Magic can still be conducted without the use of elaborate gimmicks and rituals.
One can inject magic and meaning in every part of their life. To me, there is no border between the magical and the mundane. Magic runs like a current through every aspect of life. You have but to be like the coyote, and find opportunity in anything, even adversity. Grasp that current, and tap into it. Just as with polytheism–connections to the gods are found everywhere. Even in seemingly the most dead of places.
By exercising yourself and learning to adapt your practice to any situation, you become more flexible. You become more intuitive, too. Opportunity and magic (and opportunity FOR magic) make themselves more apparent the more you exercise that ability. Especially in this day and age, it benefits one to live and think more like a coyote.
On my ride up to the beach on Friday evening, I had the very great pleasure to see a bald eagle up close. I know eagles are plentiful on the Chesapeake, but to see one this close, and with such drama was a rare occurrence for me. It flew up from a swampy area with a snake clutched in its talons to chase away an osprey flying overhead, presumably to protect food and turf. The spectacle of it, so close, was breathtaking, even if the whole thing only lasted mere seconds. The event made me wish my dad was with us to see it. He loves bald eagles, next to dogs one of his favorite animals. When I see them in any form, I think of him. They symbolize the American patriot, his coveted ’67 Thunderbird, which he has stored within various effigies of bald eagles.
Later, on Saturday evening, I went to the movies with my younger brother to watch “Clash of the Titans”. Inaccuracy and poetic license aside, it was entertaining. One of the most amusing parts about it was Zeus’s many transformations into…a bald eagle. Seemed a bit queer to me, seeing as a bald eagle is a North American native subspecies. Wouldn’t a golden be more appropriate, more historically accurate? Then I thought back to the eagle I saw on the ride up, and many connections began to forge themselves in my head.
When I think of bald eagles, I think of my father. I’m sure Perseus in the movie must think of bald eagles then when thinking of his father? I imagine the actual Perseus must have thought of eagles when thinking of his father. I think of my father, and I think of how he always would say, “I have to keep those big birds flyin’!” Those “big birds” are the C-130 military cargo planes, also known as the Hercules–a half-brother to Perseus. And when I think of Perseus I think of Pegasus, and when Pegasus comes to mind I think of the patch representing my dad’s wing, featuring a winged horse, rearing with wings outspread.
Seeing the eagle was a numinous experience. A good omen–the grace of the gods, the safety, and inner strength, of my father. I feel a profound sense of peace, and look forward to seeing him walking off that plane in May, under the broad wings of the Pegasus.
A storm is raging outside as I type this, thunder and lightning crashing closer and closer to my house. It somehow makes me feel more at peace.
To help me begin, I’m going to bring up Phil’s comment in the former post, in which he brings up some very good points. In order to help me compile just what I’m trying to say however, I’ll start off by saying that I too have chronic illness–in fact it was the onset of this chronic illness that tipped the scales when it came to my shamanic practice. I had leanings most of my life, but it was in 2005 when this thing hit, that the dam really burst open for me. I still have it. No amount of discipline, praying or “mind over matter” will ever make it go away. It’s here, and here to stay for the rest of my life. This doesn’t make me weak, or inadequate, and certainly not incapable of performing the duties in the path I walk. I walk a more ordeal-oriented path as a result–but this wasn’t my choice. Psychological scars also are present, and there are things, mentally and physically, that I will never “get over”.
Or, to put it this way: Certain things never will be gotten over–and no one should ever expect you to.
Sometimes it is only in the presence of injury, disease and related hardship that true knowledge can fully blossom.
In fact, this is one of the reasons why I always detested and despised the New Age drek The Secret or the Christian Purpose Driven Life, or otherwise related ‘name-it-and-claim-it’ philosophies. No matter how skilled a magician you are, or how hard you pray or how disciplined you are…shit happens. It just happens. It’s what you do with that shit, what you transmute it into, that matters.
Phil’s quote in his one reply was quite handy in this:
This is where the idea of lycanthropy as a disease can be useful. If you let it control you, and it is the master, that’s the bad situation where you have amnesiac werewolves who go on killing sprees. If you can control it, and use it most productively, let the beast out when it needs to get out and so forth, then that’s a position of true power and mastery, and it doesn’t involve squelching it or conquering it, or getting rid of that disease either (which is something one rarely sees in films and such…).
Of course you can apply this to a wide variety of ailments, but the general idea is there. And I think, for the moment, I’ll leave you all to ruminate over that, because my ability to form intelligent words right now is drastically flagging at the moment.
I visited the coast this weekend, trying to get away from some of the stress of home. Amidst the tacky, tourist-trap gift shops, one could find many stores selling a wide variety of seashells and other related things from the ocean. I developed an intense attraction and desire to pick up cowry shells, and ended up coming home with a whole big bag of them, mostly cypraea moneta and cypraea annulus. Now, I aware of the basic nature by which cowries were appreciated by the Egyptians, and I had planned on picking up a few for my practices. As it turns out, I find that cowries have so many other meanings, associations and uses–some of which I find rather synchronistic and fortuitous to parts of my current situation.
Ah, the interesting things in life.
In any case, I plan on updating a little more on my trip, because a close encounter with feral ponies has served to remind me of certain thoughts on totemism I wish to express. I’d also like to address some good points and some thoughts that a few others made in my last post at some point.