Wishbird update

Remember last week’s post on making a quick spell for a home? It worked.

I’ve been looking for rentals in Olympia online for about two months now, trying to get an idea of locations, styles, and prices. I figured I’d find a place once I landed as house hunting from a distance has many challenges. However, a few days after casting the spell my very good friend in Olympia emailed me with a listing for my ‘dream house.’ It had all of the things I was looking for – it even was in the Craftsman style, my favorite architectural style and not that common in the rental market right now.¬† It really seemed like the perfect house for my family. Except for the line that said no pets. We have one cat, Elliott, whom I’ve had for ten years; he is very well traveled, this cat.

But I emailed the landlord anyway. If he was firm, he’d say so, but there was no harm in asking, right? None indeed. He said he’d consider our cat. We continued to negotiate. This just had to be our house. And….. after my friend checked it out, she said the same.

Last night, to the hour that I let off my wishbird, I had a verbal agreement with the (very sweet) landlord on my ‘dream house.’

I’m telling you, magic is real. This spell has worked for me before and it worked again. I could not be more grateful, nor more excited about the next leg of this adventure!

A Trinity of Sorts

The concept of the triple soul came up in the comments of an earlier post. I give much credit to my Hindu friend who asked me to explain this concept in greater detail. I’ve been avoiding writing about the topic or even mentioning the parts, mostly because it is such a distinct Feri concept and I wary of speaking about anything that is distinctly Feri in a public forum. But the idea of the triple, or multilayered, soul is not strictly a Feri idea. The big pieces of this concept seem to come from Huna, a system based on traditional Hawaiian spiritual practices created in the 1930s by Max Freedom Long. Victor Anderson claimed to be initiated into Hawaiian Huna tradition. Hinduism and Tantra also recognize that soul is made up of several energetic bodies, although I believe there are at least five, rather than three.

Talking about the triple soul is tricky. When I first learned of this idea I assumed it was just psychological overlay – like Freud’s Id, Ego and Superego. But as I began to practice Feri techniques I experienced the three (or four, which I’ll explain) parts of myself and now it is a core way I experience the world. I’m going to talk about my ideas and my experiences. For the simplest explanation of the concept of the triple soul and some exercises for them, please go to Lilith’s Lantern, a site run by initiates.

One part of the soul is the Fetch. This is our primal, animal self. It is pre-verbal. It is the four-year old in us. Other words that come to mind for it: shit, fuck, mess, wild, laughing, craving, connection, listening, tantrum, rejoice, shiny, urge. This is the part of us that is actually most connected to the Divine, to Spirit/s, to place, to self. It’s the sticky part of us that attaches to others, animate and inanimate. I’m fairly certain that this is where the conservative Christian idea comes from that we give bits of our souls to anyone we have sex with – because I think they’re right on (just not about their morality of it). Fetch can also be called Sticky One for this reason. Fetch is the part of us that shape shifts (for those that can, I haven’t been able to yet).

This part of us is most likely restricted and constricted. It’s the part of us that is usually forced into a box and stuffed aside: don’t be too loud, too big, too sparkly, too angry, too sensual, too sexual, too TOO. Instead of learning how to engage these parts of ourselves in healthy ways with appropriate boundaries we are usually raised to discard or hide these parts of ourselves. Fear and shame are huge obstacles to be overcome in reclaiming access to our Fetch.

I often think of the root chakra as pure Fetch and the next two (pelvic and solar plexus) being partially Fetch as well.

Talker, or as I call it, Talky Self, is linked most commonly with our intellect and that part of us that communicates in the ‘real’ world. It is rational and allows us to be present in the here and now, communicating with other people. It’s the container of knowledge (but not usually of wisdom). It’s the part of ourselves that is most often overly developed in our world, since reason is the high priest of all these days. I most certainly have an over-developed Talky Self. Trying to get it quiet long enough for me hear what the other parts of me might be saying is the bulk of all my meditation time these days. Words that I associate with Talker are: words, associate, reason, explain, categorize, knowing, personality, ego.

Talker is usually the part of us that is encouraged out in the world. It feels a lot safer to be fully ensconced in Talker than it does in our other parts. This is the part that of me that was most valued growing up. I have spent a lot of my adult life longing to be more connected to my other parts and working toward tempering, but not shaming, my Talky Self.

The Godsoul is the piece that people might traditional equate with a soul, the spiritual part of ourselves that communicates directly with the Divine. Except, this isn’t just communicating with the Divine but is the Divine. From what I understand about Huna, this is the part that is our Ancestors. I think of Godsoul as Spirit, our Holy Guardian Angel, our energetic tether with the Holy Matrix, our link to the Otherworld and the Great Sea of Spirit. When we are tapped into this part of ourselves we Know and Understand things, be it for a moment or for longer; we swim in the sea of wisdom.

I associate Godsoul with the top two chakras. When all of are parts in alignment our crown chakra, described as a lotus, is in full bloom.

In my experience people who are mostly engaged in Fetch tend toward artistic and ecstatic activities, and if they are not balanced can have poor boundaries and often make us feel unsafe. Those people who are mostly active in Talker’s sphere to the detriment¬† of their other parts are hyper-intellectual and can come across as cold. People who are tapped into their Godsoul at the expense of the other two parts come across as flaky and out of touch with the world around them.

These three parts of the soul are both unique from one another and also merely parts of the same whole. I add into this a fourth part: the physical body. When I meditate I first check in with my physical self and calm it down, then I move through my other parts, checking in and raising energy in each part, before attempting to unify the whole. What Feries aim for is integration, that ‘all our parts be straight within us.’ This is not the ‘goal’ per se of the spiritual life, but is rather a necessary part of being prepared for greater spiritual work and stronger connection with the Gods.

For more information, I recommend reading Victor Anderson’s Etheric Anatomy: The Three Selves and Astral Travel.

Book reviews

I have been reading a ton lately. I have a few recommendations and one to avoid.

The first is Queen of the Night: The Celtic Moon Goddess in Our Lives by Sharynne MacLeod Nicmhacha. I thought this was an interesting book, well researched and good for those knowledgeable in the field, as well as novices, and suitable for Pagans or Celtophiles alike. The book is extensively footnoted and felt like something in between a master’s thesis and a doctoral dissertation. Don’t let that put you off! That’s a good thing. Nicmhacha has a strong grasp of her audience as well, so she creates multiple points of entry to the topic. Having said that, (spoiler alert) there’s not much in the way of a Celtic moon goddess. I wish the title had been something different. Recommended for those who love the Celtic world or want to learn more about Celtic goddess stuff and adding it to one’s life.

The next book I recommend is The Book of English Magic by Philip Carr-Gomm and Richard Heygate. This book was not at all what I was expecting! I was expecting something more like a grimoire or a how-to book. Instead, we are given an overview of English (as opposed to Scottish, Welsh, Irish, etc) magic. I have heard a saying that Wicca is the only religion that England has ever given the world, but England has given us a complex tradition of magic beyond the richness of Wicca . This book was fun. It’s a great overview for some one who has a strong background in the area or a great introduction for the person who doesn’t know where to begin. Covering Druids, Anglo-Saxons, cunning folk, alchemy, Crowley and Wicca, using biography, interviews, and a few how-to’s, the reader gets a sense of the sweeping scope of magic in the English story and sees just how diverse is the magical world view. For those addicted to books, there are even short book lists of novels about each era and style of magic. I have added several of the recommendations to my own personal reading list.

The last book I want to review is Raven Grimassi’s latest book, Old World Witchcraft: Ancient Ways for Modern Days. I had not ever read any of Grimassi’s books before, but I had filed them away under fluff in my head. A few years ago I heard him speak at Pantheacon and I remember thinking he might be more interesting than I had previously given him credit. I had read a good review or two about this, his most recent book, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Oh my. It’s just awful.

A basic problem is weak writing, but that’s not what bothers me the most. His scholarship is weak to the point of embarrassing and then he goes and makes up a traditional witchcraft tradition (not a big deal if you consider it all made up anyway, but I don’t). Grimassi uses some standard texts on the subject, but his bibliography is far, far from exhaustive and not at all long enough to support 100 pages on the topic. He uses his chosen texts to explore the myth of the witch, pulling from the texts things that witches seem to have in common that might be true and looking at what is patently fiction. However, Grimassi seems to think that modern academics actually think that witches are just like what is described in medieval texts. I have taken a class, at the undergraduate level, on witchcraft in the Middle Ages, and I’ve done some research on the subject at the graduate level.* Never has it come up in class, discussion or in my reading that modern scholars actually assume that witches are now or were then what their accusers made them out to be. No one now assumes that medieval texts are accurate depictions of witchcraft. Since Grimassi footnotes nothing I cannot figure out which sources he takes issue with. What’s embarrassing is that he writes as if no one has ever considered these ideas before, that no one has questioned academic ideas of witchcraft before. If he’d done more and/or better research he’d find that nothing he says is new here, or all that accurate! That witches didn’t actually worship the Devil, that accusations of such were merely theological propaganda is not a new idea!

At one point Grimassi tells us of a new mural recently uncovered in Italy, depicting a tree with hanging penises and women dancing around the tree. The mural is dated from the 13th century and is considered to be the earliest depiction of witches. There is no Devil figure present so Grimassi has the audacity to suggest that “[t]his demonstrates that such concepts were not part of the depiction of the witches’ gathering during this period.” (pg. 39) You cannot make that claim based on one mural.

If I was grading the first two chapters of this book at an undergraduate level I would have to hand them back and tell him to rework them. The scholar in me was insulted by the first half of the book. For this alone I will avoid Grimassi in the future and steer people away from his work.**

The second complaint is that he has gone ahead and created Ash, Birch and Willow, a traditional witchcraft system. This isn’t offensive, but seems like a ridiculous idea given that there are many (I can name five off the top of my head) actually existing traditional witchcraft systems that have been around for more than a generation, several claiming roots back at least several generations. He never mentions these groups. Why in the world go and create another one? And why not discuss the currently existing groups? Leaving them out entirely hardly seems like a thorough discussion of the subject.

In summary, the first two books are recommended if they might hit your interests; the third book is to be avoided at all costs.

*I wrote an unpublished paper looking at accusations of witchcraft and homosexuality. Take-away knowledge: while most of those accused of being witches were also accused of homosexual acts, those who were brought up on charges of homosexual acts were not accused of witchcraft; the two were not conflated.

**I give Grimassi perhaps a fraction of a point for using one of my favorite obscure scholarly sources, Stephen Benko’s The Virgin Goddess: Studies in the Pagan and Christian Roots of Mariology. If some one wants to gift me with a copy of this work this holiday season, I would squeal with glee.