Tag: occult

On “Respect” in the Occult Community(ies)

Respect is a funny thing, especially in occult circles.  People crave it.  People demand it.  People give it way too freely when it isn’t owed nor deserved.

Too often people walk around feeling as if respect is something they are entitled to, that should be automatically given them.  Funny thing about that.  It takes more than titles, or pretty altars or flowery prayers written on Facebook, or who you know, or what you write.  It’s about what you do.  It’s about how you do it.  Whenever I hear someone cry about being offended, about not being granted respect, I wonder more about the person doing the bitching than who they are actually bitching at.  People who genuinely deserve respect don’t need to stomp their feet and squall like injured babies.  They work hard, for their spirits, for their magic, for their community. Work hard, and the respect comes.  Give respect (and give it the right way, to the right people), and respect will be given in return.

It’s all about the spiritual umwelt of the magus or spirit-worker.  I am not a product of my environment, the environment is a product of me.  Now granted, there are a great many things–and people–that one simply cannot control in one’s environment.  The trick here is this: how do you choose to act?  Or, how do you choose to REact?  Time is precious.  So is energy.  It’s also valuable.  The village dog will bark and lunge at the passing lion, and to his brethren he may seem absolutely fearless, and the lion cowardly for not engaging.  And in the tiny world of the village dog, the lion is a coward.  But in the world of the lion, the little dog is not worth even a passing thought.  He has cubs to protect, and hyenas to kill.  He will not waste his precious time on a skinny, flea-ridden village dog.  He is entirely above that petty nonsense.

Too many people spend so much energy worrying about respect, when they should be worrying about the spirits and the community of people they’re in service to.  They should be worrying about themselves.  Otherwise, it really makes me question what the hell their motives are in the first place.  Where do you choose to channel that energy?  Arguing over who’s wrong on social media?  Worrying over your public image and whether or not you’re being respected as the big, bad magus/shaman/spirit-worker/tata/yayi/whatever?  Then I begin to wonder when a fervent prayer on social media becomes just a string of hollow words, and a pretty altar just that–pretty, with no actual substance.

Then again, there’s always what my dad used to say: Don’t write checks with your mouth that your ass can’t cash.  Conduct yourself accordingly.  Don’t call yourself a priest if the only altar you worship at is the one you built for yourself, using whatever god or gods or spirits as props for your swollen ego.  As a Leo, I’ve always said that having an ego is a good thing, if you didn’t you’d might as well be a reptile.  However–having an ego is much like having a penis.  It’s fun to play with and stroke on occasion, but you shouldn’t force it on someone else, and there are certain times and places where you should not be taking it out and playing with it.

It’s as simple as that, really.

Originally posted on: http://ift.tt/29WWrph

Wolf claws are now available on the Bones to Pick shop!  These…

Wolf claws are now available on the Bones to Pick shop!  These are real, authentic North American Grey Wolf claws, wire-wrapped in real sterling silver.  Bones to Pick is also running a ‘Cyber Monday’ sale, 15% off items in our shop.  Stop on by and check us out!

Originally posted on: http://ift.tt/1LFhPsf

Ethics and the Work

I’m sure this probably doesn’t need saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: guys, I am not just a peddler in animal parts.  There is a significant amount of ritual work that goes into what I do–divination, purification, propitiation, offerings, and other related functions. Please understand this when getting in contact with me.  What I provide are not just products but also services–some of which goes along automatically when a purchase is made with me, some of it is not even listed on BtP.  Ask.  Counseling and spiritual work are part of the package of services I provide, but I prefer to sit down with everyone on an individual basis and jam with them about what they need.

Note too that I also have a “regular” job, one that pays my bills, keeps food on the table and a roof over my head.  So, you won’t have to worry about someone who will throw ethics to the wind and gouge you to pay the cell phone bill.  I am a human services worker, and I am a spiritual services worker as well.  The ethics I employ to the former I also do to the latter.  If you have a product or service you would like to request of me (or anyone else here at BtP), you can do so with confidence.  But also please understand that most of my work–spiritual or temporal–I perform offline.  I may be sporadic with messages, or even occasionally inconsistent in my communication.  Have patience.  I am here.

I want to thank you all for making Bones to Pick a success, as we’ve met some wonderful people and made some awesome connections in the short time we’ve been operational so far. 

Peace,

Joey Atreides

Originally posted on: http://ift.tt/1WKWObg

A tiny peek into my Cyprianic shenanigans. Note that this is a…

A tiny peek into my Cyprianic shenanigans.

Note that this is a late-term fetal abortion, from a catch-and-release program. Instead of being thrown out as biological waste, these tiny kittens-to-be are given a new life, so to speak. In the lifestyle of a necromancer and theriomancer, nothing goes to waste.

Originally posted on: http://ift.tt/1QUWMab

Palo and Homosexuality

Recently I listened to an episode of Candelo’s Corner entitled ‘Palo and Homosexuality‘.  I’ve been listening to the show for roughly the past two years.  It had been recommended to me by my yayi who found it a good resource for learning outside of the munanso.  This summer it’ll be a year since I’ve been initiated ngueyo.  But here’s a fun fact: I’m also transgendered and queer.  So, when I found out Candelo finally decided to tackle this thorny subject, I decided to take a listen and see what he has to say about it.

What I found interesting right off the bat was that, although Tata Candelo mentioned that there were other prominent gay paleros, he did not mention who these gay paleros were.  I can understand from a safety or a privacy standpoint, or perhaps not wanting to ‘call anyone out’.  Which, to me, beggars the question of what kind of environment people are cultivating, that to be “out” as queer in Palo is a bad or dangerous thing?  What I also found interesting was that there was not one Palero within the GLBTQA that called in to speak out and share their story.  The entire show was other heteronormative people discussing homosexuality in Palo.  Most of these people aside from the tatas speaking on the show had very little or no experience with Palo, their experience falling within the circles of neopaganism and wicca.  Neopaganism, wicca and satanism has no bearing on Palo, and can’t even be compared.  Where are the queer Palo voices, and why are they not speaking?

Of course you understand these are rhetorical questions, presented to the reading audience.  The answers seem obvious.  In this case, silence speaks louder the answer to said questions.  But silence isn’t going to work.  Silence also perpetuates bullshit.  I think it’s high time we cut out the bullshit and start the discourse.  Ultimately, I don’t care what you do in your munanso.  Your munanso, your spirits, your business.  But who are we to judge who is and isn’t to be initiated based on sexual orientation?  In another broadcast, Tata Candelo discusses how sexuality has absolutely no bearing within the ATRs.  He is, of course, entirely correct.  So, the question I would like to ask is, if sexuality and sexual matters have no place within the ATRs, why is it such an issue what someone’s sexual orientation is?  In fact there are quite a few issues, which I’ll break down nicely.  These I pulled both from my observations of co-religionists, from the radio show, and from discussing matters within my own munanso.

The gays will fall in love with the ngangas!
I’m starting out with this one first, because it is, by far, the most ridiculous.  The idea behind this being that, since the ngangas throw off so strongly such masculine and macho energy, the homosexual will fall in love with the nganga.  This, to me, is a nonissue.  What about the feminine gendered ngangas?  They do exist, and they aren’t to be trifled with.  There isn’t an issue with tatas falling in love with female ngangas, is there? Also, why is this not an issue for women within the
religion falling in love with ngangas?  Is it because of an
assumption that women are seen as objects with no sexual assertiveness
of their own, or is it because men are more hypersexual and thusly
unable to control themselves?  Both assumptions are equally problematic.  But then again, to me the issue boils down to this: If you have someone (anyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation) getting as randy as a damn horse over ngangas or other spirits and spirit-vessels (let alone the serious sexual misconduct that can occur between heterosexuals in munansos), then this is a serious issue with the person independent of any sort of orientation whatsoever.  This person should have been weeded out in the beginning, NOT for being a homosexual, but for having some sort of sexual and/or impulse control disorder, in which case said person should be seeking professional therapy instead of initiation! 

Why is sexuality being brought up AT ALL, if sex has no place within the ATRs?  But moving right along.

Gay people aren’t part of the balanced lifecycle/Homosexuality is unnatural/etc
This statement also makes absolutely no sense.  Same-sex interactions exist everywhere.  They are found in nature in numerous animal species.  To the people who subscribe to this sort of thing: do these people mean to say that Nsambi makes mistakes?  What made these people the final arbiters on what the natural lifecycle is or what it should be?  Much of this line of thinking falls into the whole reproduction argument, which I will be addressing in a later section.  But to pronounce that someone or something is “unnatural” just because it threatens your sense of manhood only betrays a severe ignorance and lack of comprehension on how the natural world actually works.

It’s Tradition!  It’s always been this way/The Ancestors were never gay, etc.
How do you know that there were never any queer ancestors?  To assume that there weren’t is the highest form of arrogance and presumptuousness.  Basic logic and facts point to yes–there were many queer dead, just as there are many queer people living now.  Abrahamic faiths, colonialism and slavery are really damn good at completely fucking up entire cultural dynamics and spiritual systems.  Do these people who perpetuate this line of thinking dare to be the final arbiter of ancestral will?  Or so they only pick and choose who they will speak for, because their supposed manhood would obviously be too threatened?  It all goes back to the whole idea of sorting the wheat from the chaff, of sorting what is in fact true messages from the Bakulu, and what is meatsuit nonsense–personal opinions and politics and insecurities.  There are some that may say that’s exactly what I’m doing, and so be it.  But their argument would be entirely irrelevent.  By completely ignoring or denying the existence of queer ancestors, what right would they have to judge me?  That those who are queer are so “unnatural” that they can’t leave ancestors?  An argument that stands on very shakey ground when you consider that even basic human familial ties transcend genetic relations and breeding.

This all then brings me to my final argument…

Fertility and Reproduction: Homosexuals cannot create life, birth, and etc
There is quite a big difference between “birthing” in a ritual sense and birthing in a literal one.  People in same-sex partnerships can and do have children, this has been happening throughout recorded history and beyond.  There is a very prominent double-standard at play that persons who are sterile due to medical reasons are still welcome to seek initiation into Palo.  In many munansos, a woman isn’t allowed to receive an nganga until she reaches menopause.  So clearly, medical ability to produce children has no bearing in initiation status.  It only seems to become an issue when LGBTQ persons are involved.  However, if sexuality has no place within the ATRs, then who someone is attracted to (or not attracted to), and what the structure of anatomy a person has, should have absolutely no bearing upon birthing in the context of ceremony.  Sexuality and attraction should have no bearing and no place in ceremony.  Full stop.

Let me make this clear: This isn’t about trying to soothe hurt feelings, or putting on kid gloves or powdering asses.  This isn’t about being ‘politically correct’.  I’m not here to strike down tradition or go against the grain.  But what is ‘tradition’ needs to evolve.  I don’t give a fuck what you do in your house.  What you do with your spirits and your people is your business, and I’m not about to jab my nose in your business.  So hey, don’t jab your nose in mine.  Gay and queer Paleros DO exist.  Whether or not you feel they are or aren’t legitimate is entirely irrelevant.  The final arbiters are the Nkisi, Spirits, and Bakulu.  They have final stay on who goes and who stays.  Regardless of your feelings, this isn’t going to go away.  Let actions and let the manifestations speak for themselves.  And I would like very much to thank Tata Candelo for having the coconuts to bring this topic up and get people talking about this.  Dialogue is important, and ultimately the only way for traditions and human bonds to strengthen is through the vehicle of dialogue, which hopefully will give way to understanding in time.  For those of you who read this far, thanks and Nsala Malecu.

Originally posted on: http://ift.tt/1cGORhK

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.

Originally posted on: http://ift.tt/1Ay34st

So spring is finally here…

So spring is finally here, which means it’s time to get to work in the yard.  What here looks like a pile of bricks, railroad spikes and buckets is actually sacred space.  The buckets are where I’ll be macerating animal skulls, and behind those buckets is a cairn, lovingly named The Pit, a portal and workspace for interfacing with the land’s basimbi (land-spirits, put simply).  This here is a work in progress, and will actually be expanding outward as time goes on, and more animal skulls and bone get processed and transformed into important tools for ritual and ceremonial use.

As an animist and Palero, I see all life as being sacred.  Which is why, for me, absolutely nothing goes to waste.  Everything has value, from the blood that’s shed, to the meat that’s eaten, to the skulls and bones that’re left behind.  The processes of death, decay and rot are just as sacred, and just as infused with life and potential.  Witnessing and working with these processes is deeply influential to understanding the workings of life itself, and is far from what most people would see as “morbid” or “depressing”.

Originally posted on: http://alchemicallion.tumblr.com/post/119705030111/so-spring-is-finally-here-which-means-its-time

On Working With the Relics of the Dead

Working with the parts and relics of the deceased in a spiritual fashion is a form of ecstatic union, connecting on a deeper level with the underlying spiritual current permeating what most conceive as “reality” (Kalunga is what would come to mind to the Palo practitioner).  At its most superficial I’d describe it as a form of psychometry, but what it really is is taking on the role of the psychopomp.  That itself takes on different manifestations, however.  A dog and a crow are both psychopomps, but both are shaped differently from one another and behave and function in their own unique fashions.  This also largely depends on who you are and what you are working with.  Not everyone is capable of being a psychopomp.  Taking on such a task without the mental or spiritual fortitude can manifest itself in mental imbalance, among other unpleasant things.  I’ve seen this numerous times over the course of years in my work with the dead, but I’m not here to tell stories of specifics, but to offer a general idea of what this kind of work entails, and the job I perform personally.

What do I mean when I say “relics of the dead”?  This could count as anything that is left behind at the moment of death, or relating in some way to the passing of an animal (be it human or nonhuman).  Similar to the Catholic understanding of relics, these take primary and secondary forms.  A primary relic would be the skin, hair, bone, nail or any other physical remnant of the direct body.  A secondary relic would be various items such as pieces of clothing, reliquaries, graveyard dirt and so on.  I’ve worked with relics of all kinds: animal bone, skin, blood, soft tissue, crematory ash, graveyard dirt, and numerous other items.  Each of these things have different attributes, spiritual imprinting, and function.  To keep things simple, I’ll start with the differences in spiritual function between animal bone and animal skin.

In my long experience, the deepest and longest-lasting spiritual connection one can find is within bone, particularly the skull.  While fur and leather and soft tissue decays and dissolves, bone will endure for much longer and serves as a lasting foundation and record of the animal (whether human or nonhuman) that once lived.  Numerous animistic cultures and spiritual traditions throughout the world make use of the skull as the primary focal point for spirit and for the personalities, thoughts and perceptions of the once-living animal.  It is the sum total of all wisdom, knowledge, experience and sensation, which is why skulls were so revered and held highest of all the remains of the dead in numerous animist cultures and societies. In Regla de Palo, skulls make up a very important part of various ritual workings and spiritual tech.  This has been the basic premise for a great many headhunter societies whose primary goal was to capture the head of the enemy and gain control over the fallen enemy’s soul.  The bones and particularly the skulls of the ancestors received similar preparation and treatment.  An example of this is the story of Odin and Mimir, when Odin preserves the head of the fallen sage through the use of various herbs and incantations, seating the soul within the decapitated head and accessing the wisdom and memory within.  The severed head proffers wisdom and knowledge to Odin.

Animal skins and hides also make up a significant part of animistic practice and tech that involves psychopomp work.  The skin is a very intimate part of the body, and is the external expression of ourselves, the organ by which we sense the world around us.  Skin-to-skin contact is a very powerful form of connection and energy transferral.  Much has been written about skinwalkers, berserkergangr (bear-shirt), and the shaman and his or her ritual cloak of shapeshifting.  The skin or hide of an animal, especially when ritually prepared, is a powerful tool by which the animist or spirit-technician can interface with the spirit and energies of that particular animal.  To give you an example of how powerful an animal skin can be, sometimes the simple act of draping one over a person can cause them to “go under” or become posessed by the animal’s spirit or energy.  Animal skins can also be used as containers or coverings for the storage and transport of ritual and holy objects or items, or mediums on which spells, sigils and so on can be written upon.  The spiritual charge within the skin or hide amplifies the work being done.

There are numerous examples of the above given, and I’ll write more on specifics later on.  Part of what I do is fulfill the role of ‘sacred scavenger’, which means finding and preparing nature’s relics and artifacts to be used in a spiritual or ritually meaningful way.  My methods range anywhere from scavenging roadkill to procuring tannery and furrier rejects to seeking out lost and overlooked treasures in antique stores, junk shops and estate sales, and the search itself is just as sacred.  Part of my search involves meditation, prayer and offerings to the animal I wish to work with (either personally or for a contact or client seeking my assistance), and usually it will present itself in some form.  An old skin in a junk shop, a skull at an estate sale, or a pile of bones in the forest.  Serendipity and ‘coincidence’ make up a large part of this–what many occult practitioners call synchronicity.

I’ll write more on this later, when my migraine isn’t kicking my ass.  Hopefully with pictures.  Folks do love pictures.  Keep up the great Work all!

Relics, Artifacts, Dead Things, and the ATRs

(Note: Part of this is a bit of personal history, so I can get across a general idea of the progression of events that led me to where I am now, and why.)

As soon as I was old enough to walk, my parents would take me to the museums in Washington, DC.  I was lucky that I had parents who valued knowledge above other things.  There were no visits to Chuck-E-Cheese, and amusement park trips were rare.  By the time I was in middle school I was reading and comprehending college level books, and taking out my own interlibrary loans.  But I had begun to comprehend something else, and at a much younger age.  It was within these museum halls that I first became aware of a seemingly subtle current that flowed around and through what most people perceived as “reality”.  Animals long dead came alive before my very eyes.  Spirits in old coffins and canopic jars rose to tell me stories of ancient times beyond the reaches of memory or comprehension.  These experiences firmly crossed the line between ecstasy and terror, and my young mind grappled desperately with the changing flows of reality all around me.  I remember when I would go into the Sant Ocean Hall in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.  All around me I would see the sea creatures come to life, telling me their stories through sound and movement, color and pulse and vibration.  I was immersed in their world, a kaleidoscope of wonder.

It was these experiences that would form the skeletal frame of what would become my spirituality.  I spent a very large part of my time as a child rambling in the woods, or lost in a book.  I had much preferred the company of animals and spirits to those of other children.  I knew, even if I did not fully comprehend at the time, what these spiritual entities were, but I didn’t discuss them with the adults around me.  I bore enough of a stigma from struggling with a severe learning disability and behavioral challenges.  I didn’t want to compound this with stories of spirits, “imaginary friends”, talking trees and so on and so forth.  Not that people never suspected anything.  A mummified turkey foot in the toy chest.  A weathered fox skull found on the railroad tracks and hidden under the bed, directly beneath my pillow, “So he can talk to me better in my sleep”.  By the mid-90s I started actively exploring the occult.  Like most people I cut my teeth on Wicca first, and ended up firmly rooted in Hermetics (alchemy) and closely bonding with the deities of the Greco-Egyptian pantheons (particularly Dionysos, Hermes and Wepwawet).  Fast forward to the present, I’m initiated into the ATRs.  I’m still very new, having only been initiated for a about nine months or so.  In truth I never expected this to be the end result.  How exactly I stumbled into the ATRs is an interesting adventure.

For years I’d maintained an online presence under the moniker “Shin Cynikos”, though most people simply called me “Solo”.  I was an active presence in various occult and metaphysical circles, as well as the “scavenging” and “vulture culture” communities (primarily on LiveJournal, a format I no longer use).  I also kept an active blog, Cynanthropy.net, which I may or may not go back to using.  Tumblr seems to allow for more on-the-go posting, since I rarely sit down long enough to write detailed posts like this one.  But I digress.  Gradually I began to withdraw my online presence, mainly because I seemed more preoccupied with actually living my spirituality instead of typing about it like so many others do (and there is much in that department I simply keep a secret–Harpocrates and yadda yadda), and I tend to care very little about attention-seeking and what others think about me and what I do.  I’d also by that point amassed quite an impressive collection, and had a penchant for finding the oddest things, which garnered me a reputation amongst the local and semi-local occultist friends and acquaintances who’d come around looking for stuff for their rituals and projects and so on.

Eventually I’d attracted the attention of a Palo house a few years back, though contacts with some mutual friends, and started working with them on finding various things, as well as talking shop about everything from spirit-work, necromancy and the ritual use of animal parts to animal husbandry.  It was funny at first, because–although I had an awareness and understanding of the ATR/DTRs, they never registered much on my radar at first, and I honestly could not understand why someone would want to, say, take a museum-grade, fully articulated wolf skull and stick it in a pot of dirt.  “A skull is not a root bulb!” I remember saying at one point.  But I ended up fostering some truly valuable friendships as a result, and ultimately ended up “going native” and getting initiated myself.  It’s been a crazy ride, but ultimately I’ve no regrets.

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