Category: General Occult/Spirituality

Airport Adventures or “Working Dog- Please Do Not Pet”

I figured I would post a few of the interesting adventures I’ve encountered. It’s particular story has also been published on the Cressona Paranormal page. But for all of you who have never seen it, and for those of you who have chuckled at it before. I have been told that this story is best done “live”, so if you are ever at one of our presentations on our encounters or our ways of working with the Dead, please just ask me to tell the story. If we have enough time, I’ll happily perform it…… AR

I’ve been asked if there has ever been a time that I’ve been tempted to think that “it’s all in my head”. Whenever I’ve been confronted with the thought either by another or by my own self doubt, I have my faith renewed by the little things, and sometimes the Big Things…

Airport Adventures or “Working Dog- Please Do Not Pet”

There is a time in every practitioner’s life when you get slammed in the face by the undeniable fact that This Shit Is Real. Sure I had been touched by my spirits, done healings, seen all kinds of weird things, but there was still a portion of my brain, however small, that still held an iota of “Yeah Right”. This small comforting thought that I was only pretending to be in a much bigger spiritual world than I could ever comprehend was obliterated by an unexpected airplane ride, a statue of a dog and a clueless security guard.

I was traveling from Dallas Airport to Harrisburg. I was supposed to have gone by train, but it turned out to be cheaper to fly. So there I was, with a bagful of clothes and a black canvas bag with my Villi Dog statue, Baku, cheerfully poking his head out like a chihuahua in a rich girl’s purse. I checked in my clothing bag and prepared to go through security. I was told to put the Bag with Baku in it on the conveyor belt and walk through the metal detector. Now, between bracelets, necklaces, ankle bracelets and the various charms in my hair, i was not surprised when it went off. Taking jewelry off and things out of my pockets was not making a bit of difference, so I was ushered through to receive a pat down.

While all this was happening, my carry on bag and Baku went through the conveyor and I saw that Baku had squirmed his way out of the bag. He was happily snuggling in the arms of a security guard and I saw a big doggy grin on his face. Suddenly, to my dismay, I see the security guard begin to twitch spasmodically. He knees were buckling and he was complaining that all the hair on his neck and e back of his arms was standing up. For those of you unfamiliar with the ATR paths of Palo, Santeria and Vodou these were the tell-tale signs of oncoming spiritual possession. The guard was probably sensitive and holding Baku probably triggered and excited the man’s spirits. The woman that was patting me down was done with me. I rushed over to the security guard, took Baku out of his arms, turned his face towards me and looked him in the eye.

“Do you trust me?” I asked.
The security guard looked at me with a groggy expression. “Yes.”
I quickly took off my hoodie, revealing my various tattoos. So picture this, please. I am here in an airport, my braids and dreds held back in a bright blue bandanna, multicolored thread weaved through them along with charms made of silver, bone and stone. Designs are inked into my shoulder and chest. I throw down my bag and rip it open, grabbing out a bottle of what we affectionately call La Bomba, some cascarilla and the wing of a snow goose. I douse the security guard’s head, muttering prayers as I continue to splash him, then I wiped him down with the wing, smeared his forehead and the back of his neck with cascarilla, then slapped him hard on the shoulders and sucked air in front of both of his ears.

Then I look at the grinning dog, now sitting on the conveyor belt, who looked genuinely pleased with the mischief he just wrought. “BAD DOG!” I say to him in my head. He simply grinned wider and thumped his tail.

I turned back to the security guard. The color had returned to his face and he was no longer twitching. He was sitting slumped in a chair. I handed him a bottle of water and he drank eagerly. “Do you feel better?”
“Yes,” he said, “thank you. Whatever that was you did.”
I nodded and put my hoodie back on. Then I put my naughty dog back in his bag and looked around to make sure I was good to get on the plane. The last thing I heard before I was on my way was the female guard who patted me down, a big black woman with a hearty laugh and a wide smile.

“GIRL!!” she called out to my retreating back, “You need to come on back to Jesus!!”

I waved, and handed in my boarding pass.

Talking “Ouija” Boards: A perspective

This is another piece that was originally done for our paranormal group, “Cressona Paranormal”.  It was also, thanks to Jim Achey, featured in the Reading Eagle in their “Bizarre Berks County” section…. AR

It has been requested of me to discuss Talking Boards and my experiences with them. Before I begin, I will say that these are MY experiences and through them, my opinions of the “Do’s and Don’ts” of using them. I am aware that there are people that use these boards with no ill effects, but I feel that being given some precautions hurts no one and helps everyone.

Talking Boards became popular as the Spiritual Movement gained momentum in the early 1900’s. Mediums were very popular, but not everyone could afford a medium so ways that the ordinary person could contact spirits and speak with them started popping up. It was at this time that the Talking Board became popular and was soon trademarked by Parker Brothers as the “Ouija Board”, “Ouija” being the combination of the words “oui” and “ja” which are the words for “yes” in French and German. Mass marketed boards and their accompanying planchets could be bought cheaply and used by every household.

Everyone has the potential to be a conduit for spirits. We all have latent psychic powers hiding somewhere in the deep recesses of our untapped brains. Using the Talking Board helps these powers come closer to the surface, allowing spirits to speak through us. We open our psychic door, inviting the proverbial Elijah to come through and eat at our table.

Sometimes this can be a wonderful experience. We feel we are talking to those that have passed and they get to tell us that they are all right and watching over us. But there are times when our experiences are not as wonderful. People are told horrible things by spirits bent on mischief out of malevolence or just plain boredom. Spirits can manifest pretending to be loved ones, famous people who have passed (I once supposedly was speaking to Jim Morrison) or even angels. And people believe them, opening up their psychic energies, their souls so to speak. They open their homes and invite them in. Now, one would not just open their door and invite in a stranger from off of the street, would you? But when you use a Talking Board without precautions, that is exactly what you do.

I’m not trying to scare you into thinking that “The Exorcist” is real. Frankly, that severe of a manifestation is rare indeed. Even the supposedly real story in the book by William Peter Blatty is different than portrayed in the movie. In the book, the entity is contacted by a toy phone. We think it was changed to a Talking Board in the movie for effect.

Your question now is probably: “What are the precautions of which you speak?”. Glad you asked. I’ll explain some of them…

DON’T USE A TALKING BOARD. It’s kind of like saying if you don’t want the countless consequences of sex, don’t have sex. And it’s as easy for me to tell everyone out there to not use a Talking Board as it is for a Health teacher to tell a bunch of preteens to abstain until marriage. And just as realistic.

For those of you that are going to do it anyway…

1. Light a white candle and say a prayer. If you are Christian, I recommend an Our Father. If you are Jewish, I’d recommend the Shema and the Kaddish. If you are another religion, I would say a prayer summoning the protection of your God and a blessing for the Dead. A prayer for your ancestors would not hurt either. The candle needs to be WHITE. Do not be lazy and substitute. The color is important. If you are going to go to the lengths to use a Talking Board, you might as well do it right.

2. Don’t use the Talking Board while drinking, using drugs or with anyone who is. These substances lowers inhibitions and opens you up to suggestion. Plus you won’t have the greatest judgement. If there is something there that is a bit mischievous, being drunk is going to tweak it and make it want to mess with you. If there is something there that is downright malevolent (or sometimes even just mischievous), being drunk can give it entrance into your body where it can possess you and it might be damn hard to make it want to leave.

3. Many have said that what happens when you use a Talking Board is all in the intent brought to it. I believe that is true. If you come to a session with the Board nervous and thinking that something horrible will happen, that is the kind of energy you will probably attract and you will have the negative experience you expect. Try to come into a session with a clear head and heart. This will provide you with a possibly wonderful experience.

4. That being said above, there is certainly no harm in taking precautions against things that might appear no matter how good your intentions may be. What many people don’t seem to grasp is that in using a Talking board, you are opening a portal. You are asking and giving permission for an entity to come through and manifest. You are most often not specific about what entity comes through. You do not know it’s name and most likely it will not be giving you it’s real one when it does come through (knowing an entity’s name gives you power over it). So you have opened a door, invited in someone you don’t know (or even a group of someone’s) don’t know it’s name to ask it to leave and have no idea on how to shut the door when and if it does leave. This does not seem to be an ideal situation, but a large percentage of Talking Board sessions end up just like this. A door remains open and entities continue to come through like uninvited party guests. This could end up costing money in the long run as you would have to call some one who could spiritually cleanse your house and you, close the door and give a stern lecture in taking precautions when using a Talking Board, or better yet not using them at all.

Possession is real. It’s not like the movies. You are probably not going to crab walk across the ceiling or projectile vomit pea soup. You will however, feel like crap. Your health might be affected, both mentally and physically. You may have crazy dreams, even nightmares. There could be physical manifestations in the form of unknown bruising or scratches.

When you use one of these boards, it’s best to use respect for the spirits present. Light your candle, say a prayer and declare your intent and invite them to speak. Have some holy water available, or positively charged crystals, blessed salt (kosher is good) or blessed oil. If someone in the party knows how to cast a sacred circle, it would be wise to do so. If someone in the party is a die hard skeptic, it might be best for them to not even be present. Spirits LOVE to play with skeptics. Same goes with anyone who is in a bad or angry mood. Spirits are attracted to that kind of energy like flies to honey.

All in all, the best thing to do is use common sense. If you’re unwell, drunk, high or skeptical, don’t use a Talking Board and for those of you that are believers, take some simple precautions. You may not alway need them, but it’s sure helpful when you do.

Proper Decay

A few months ago I was struck by a beautiful turn of phrase in an article on the Basimbi: “They filter and purify groundwaters, encourage proper decay, provide stability and foundation.”  Encourage proper decay.  I love that phrasing, and its many implications.

Last night, my partner Joseph Atreides wrote a brief piece about the sacredness of decay and its role in the life cycle.  Simple, beautiful, and well said.  And it brought me back to thinking about that phrase again.

I have not worked as extensively with the remains of the dead as my partner, or my other spiritual colleagues.  I’ve had relatively little to do with that form of decay, though I am beginning to work more in that field.  Yet I feel a deep connection, a resonance, with the Sîmbi Nkagi Mayamba.

To a certain extent, it is a role I have played for much of the past several years – from December 2012 to March of this year, I worked as a live-in caregiver for an elderly gentleman with Alzheimers.  As his mind decayed due to the disease, I did my best to manage things so that he could have the best remaining time possible with his family and not harm himself or others.  Finally, he reached a point where it was no longer possible to care for him safely in-home and I had to push for his family to place him in a suitable long-term care facility, and this too was a process of encouraging proper decay — of letting go when the time was right.

So often in our lives, and even in our spirituality, we do not make room for proper decay.  We hold on to relationships, beliefs, and traditions which no longer serve us and which may even be damaging to us.  Instead of letting them go and letting the experience become fertile soil from which to grow something new, or a stable foundation upon which to build something, we fear the loss and clutch it tighter to our core.   Instead of proper decay, it becomes a source of infection.

As spirit-workers, we should all take a close look at what we believe, why we believe it, whether or not it is actually true, and how it serves us, our communities, and the spirits we work with.  We should look at the people we associate with and whether those associations elevate us, or drag us down.  And we should not be afraid to make room for proper, healthy, sacred decay in our lives.

Form and Substance

I have in my possession a small bag of magical tools.  I made it nearly ten years ago and I rebuild its contents on a semi-annual basis.  Occasionally I bring it with me when I feel I need to go into a situation “armed for bear”, so to speak, but for the most part I leave it at home.  It is linked to me in such a way that I am able to call on the virtues of the tools it contains from any distance, and so I do not really need to have it on my person.  A few years back I was going through a very rough time in my life for reasons that I won’t get into here.  I started carrying my bag of spiritual tools with me all the time because I needed its presence there as a reminder that I was strong enough to get through the problems that were facing me.

Two years later, when I had made it through those troubles and been strengthened by them and my life was looking much better all around, I no longer carried my bag with me.  I made regular offerings to the gods and spirits that work with me, I was deepening my interaction with my own ancestors and incorporating the ancestors of my partner into that practice, I was studying new forms of magic, I was learning about local trees and herbs, I had embarked on a new spiritual path, and I was even learning a new language specifically to study some magical texts that were not available in english.  But these were things I largely did in private, or at least didn’t broadcast.  And I no longer had my bag at my side.  So imagine my surprise and bemusement when, at a time when my practice was more vitalized than it had been in years, I was told by fellow spiritual workers that I needed to rebuild my practice.

Fast-forward a few months, and a new set of problems had cropped up in my life that took up much of my time and attention.  My offerings had become irregular.  My studies had greatly diminished.  But I had my bag with me.   So things had clearly gotten better.

You might think that those of us who walk occult or spiritual paths would understand the difference between form and substance in matters like these.  That there is more to a person than just what meets the eye, and that appearances can be deceiving.  After all, our work concerns itself so much with the intangibles of essence, virtue, and spirit.  But I find that’s often not the case.

A few months ago myself and a (former) friend who considers himself a spirit-worker were driving up to an occult convention several states away.  Along the way we stopped at a highway rest stop for some food and drinks.  My then-friend looked disdainfully at the other people who had stopped there and began an extensive commentary about the “Muggle-ass Bitches” he saw.  This commentary continued for most of the way up, every time we saw a group of people who appeared ordinary–even though my own attire had more in common with them than with him.

Nor did this commentary stop when we reached the convention itself.  In a hotel full of occultists, I continued to hear at length about how he was surrounded by “Muggle-ass bitches”.  Apparently occultists need to dress a certain way, outside the norm, in order to be taken seriously?  The high point of the evening was when we headed outside for folks to grab a smoke, and he starts to rant about the “Muggle-ass looking bitches” he sees outside the doors we’re approaching.  I couldn’t have laughed harder than I did when the doors opened and we found the group outside the doors were our own friends and fellow spirit-workers who were also attending the convention.

But now, thinking back on it, it doesn’t seem as funny.  Shouldn’t spirituality be about more than mere costume?  Shouldn’t occultism be less about how one dresses, accessorizes, and applies makeup and more about what one knows and what one can do?  How many of those “muggles” we passed on the drive from Virginia to New Jersey had a richer, deeper, and more powerful spiritual practice than the one who was criticizing them?  I’d wager at least a few.

Of course, none of these observations are confined to those I know personally.  My partner touched on this a bit in his recent post, On Being Feral, when he talked about people in the occult communities posting pictures of their altars, ritual spaces, tools, luceros, prendas, etc. on Facebook or Tumblr or other blogs and social media.  This may have the outward appearance of spirituality, but is there any actual substance to it?  Or is it simply a fashion accessory?

On Being Feral

I’ve said and have been saying that my spirituality isn’t up for public consumption.  As much as I enjoy writing, I’m a highly inconsistent person.  I don’t blog regularly, and getting a simple essay written takes an inordinate amount of time for me.  Truth be told, I’m easily distracted.  But there is a reasoning behind all of that. My spirituality is very intimate and personal.  I’m a spiritworker, scavenger and bone hoarder. Dirt and blood and bone are the primary mediums with which I work.  I talk to dead people.  I dig in the dirt.  I create art from rotting corpses.  I shed blood.  It’s not pretty, or clean, or glamorous.  It’s not made for display, but it’s not supposed to be.  I am Feral.  What is Feral isn’t easily categorized, it can’t be boxed or caged or classified.  It goes counter to manicured domesticity, its very presence unnerves.  It is for this very reason that I find it so hard to write about aspects of my spirituality, even when I have the time and the desire to do so.  This concept doesn’t easily filter down into blog posts or books or essays.  Putting a thing to words is hard when that very thing defies words or labels.

Harpocrates has me by the balls.  Casting light on these things causes them to shimmer and fade, or retreat into the shadows, beyond where I’m able to follow or reach.  So I don’t.  I prefer to walk in the shadows with them.  My altars and shrines and sacred objects are just that.  They’re not for public edification, they’re not for display.  They aren’t tools to use as a prop for my ego, or a megaphone by which cries for attention may be broadcast.  I see and hear stories of people posting their “sacred” objects (I must use scare quotes, if they were that sacred, why display them like that?) on Twitter or FaceBook, or blogging posts.  I can’t grasp at why.  Luceros, prendas, altars and sacred spaces.  No detail left unwritten.  Look at me.  Look at what I have.  Look what I am.  Read my blog, read my books.  I ask, what time do you have for Spirit, when all you do is snap selfies, holler on social networking sites, write and write and write.  What happens off the computer?  Where’s your spirituality when no one’s looking?  Who are you without the audience?

I love writing, and I love reaching out to others of like-mind.  But I need to be free, unshackled by social networking and long hours spent writing.  I’m restless and my attention span doesn’t hold very long.  My sanity begins to pace like a caged leopard.  I need to be free.  I need to be Doing.  I will write about the hows and the whys, but only so far.  The finer, more intimate details are for me alone, and those whom I work with and for.  If you need me, you’ll figure out how to find me.  If you claim to run with me, then try to catch up.  I don’t linger.  My spirits won’t allow me to.  They keep my soul restless and moving.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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