Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dual Relationships: An Experience

A number of colleagues have written some intriguing articles about the idea of dual relationships, which can be found here and here. The first article was actually in the pipeline when I approached Hrafn about an issue I was dealing with in my life, which was what I should do when I started to feel a romantic connection with someone I was helping out spiritually. I received some good advice from Hrafn and applied it. As a service to the readers, I'd like to discuss the experience.


Spirit work is something that I naturally fell into when a good friend was in need of it. I hadn't done much of any spirit work before that time, but I knew when I needed to apply it. I cared a great deal about the friendship that we were developing, and anyone that knows me is aware of how much I try to help people. I talked with her at length for months about the feelings that she was experiencing, mostly because I could feel them a bit with my still-developing empathy. There were a host of things that were plaguing her thought processes, and by working her through those and supporting her spiritually as well, she was able to work through and get past a lot of roadblocks that were in the way between her and her happiness.

Before and during this time, however, there was a spark of romantic interest. It was there before I started any spiritual work or healing, and it was still there during this time when I was helping her with her difficulties. In some ways I felt grief in keeping these feelings away from her while this was going on, since I had a plaguing thought that here she was, telling me some very deep secrets. At some point, I did bite the bullet (after discussing the issue with Hrafn) and told her about these feelings - which she also had for me.

At this crossroads, it did not feel right to be both her spirit worker and a lover - there was too much of a possibility of trust violation and abuse, so her and I discussed at length about which way we should have the relationship go. I could either be her spirit worker or her lover, but I could not be both roles ethically. We decided fairly quickly that we'd rather explore the romantic relationship instead of the spirit worker relationship, and haven't looked back since - we both discovered that we could help out each other more and derive more happiness from a romantic relationship instead of a spirit worker relationship.

She still knows that I'm a spirit worker (with all of its crazy ups and downs, especially with empathy), and if I ever give her advice along these lines, that she should get a second opinion or be wary that my own experience might color the advice. This could be anywhere from serious spiritual concerns to small things, like a reading.

On a whim, I did a tarot card reading for her - this was while we were romantically involved. The reading went particularly well until she asked for more specifics about how to solve a problem. I drew three extra cards, and the first one was a Page - of which suit I don't remember. My intuition said that the card represented an actual person that needed to help her, but the description could have matched either myself or someone else in her life. I felt I had to make a judgment call, since my intuition couldn't tell me whom to pick, so I erred on the side of caution and picked the other person - I didn't want to insinuate myself into her reading.

It wasn't until later that I told her the intuition problems I was having, and told her what the card means and the two possible candidates that it could have stood for. She was concerned that I didn't want to insinuate myself so much into the reading and picked the other person - she clarified that both myself and the other person would fill that role just nicely, and that I didn't need to pick either them or myself. It was then that I realized that my intuition was *trying* to tell me that both are needed, not one or the other. Our romantic involvement colored my interpretation, whereas if I was reading this as a spirit worker, I would have picked up on the intention.

We haven't done readings since that time, and we discussed that if we felt a need to do another reading, I would try and be as general as I could in my interpretations. It's small examples like this that allow me to realize that I can't be both a spirit worker and a lover at the same time. A reading is small compared to other spirit work that can be done, such as soul retrieval. I let loved ones know that I can't do spirit work directly for them, since it can cause more problems than it can solve.

When my mom informed me that she was getting a divorce, the next words were what triggered something inside me: "I feel like I have no more love left to give to them." This is a big sign of soul loss, but I knew right away that I was unqualified to help in the retrieval - even if I did soul retrievals for other people in the past, I could not ethically help her retrieve her soul. I even had reservations about allowing another loved one to help her so directly, letting her know of the implications of allowing a dual relationship to occur. I let her know that I'll support her however I can as a daughter, and I'll pray to Arawn and ask my totem to help in any soul retrieval efforts, but I could not do any spirit work directly.

Sometimes, I wish I could be both a spirit worker and a lover/daughter/etc at the same time. It's hard to stand back and know that even though you do have the skills to help someone out with their spiritual problems, you need to stay your hand and let other powers do its work. If you're put into the position of having to choose which way to go, think about the following.

  • One relationship might be more beneficial than another. Loving relationships provide physical, mental, emotional and social support. Spiritual support is not everything. If a loving relationship will help out and give more than a spiritual relationship, go that path. The same holds true the other way.
  • There are other kinds of spiritual help besides direct, which is what spirit work usually entails. Just because you can't do something directly does not mean you can't ask for indirect help. Praying to the gods, asking totems for help, and other related requests still work. You might not be able to help directly, but your gods and your totem might be able to. :)
  • As a spirit worker, you have a vast network of other spirit workers that might be able to assist. You can always use them as references if you think one of them can genuinely help your loved one in their time of crisis.
In closing, I thought I'd offer some words from the one that I chose a romantic relationship with instead of a spirit worker relationship.

When (wolvie) started this article, I asked about the topic out of interest and curiousity, not because I wanted to censor (her). The choice of lover over spiritual worker helped with my sexual identification. Regardless of the decision of lover vs. spirit worker, she helped me work out my current relationship to a workable outcome, i.e. I had no idea how my current relationship was going to feel when I expressed some things about myself that I needed to share. I don't know what the spirit worker perspective is since I'm not one, I'm just telling my side of the decision.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering a Tragedy

Most Americans can't help but take a pause on September 11th in remembrance of the acts of terrorism suffered eight years ago. This is a time where we dredge up our memories from so long ago - when some of us watched the plane crash into the building live over the television, or watching the aftermath as the two towers fell. It's hard to put these thoughts out of our head, they come up naturally and unceasingly.

Just because we can remember does not mean that we should relive.

Today, focus on giving good energies and thoughts whose lives were cut short that day, instead of sending grievous thoughts to their souls in the afterlife. All of them can still hear us, and I can only imagine how bombarded some of them feel when on one particular day, they hear an overwhelming amount of people reach out to them across the veil, most with only sorrow and anger in their hearts.

If you have a good spiritual connection with those in the afterlife, tell them how much America honors their memory - tell them stories of how our country still stands, and share your own memories of friends and family.

I'm sure the spirits of those who passed on September 11th would thank you for your kindness.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Facets of Dying

Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives.
- A. Sachs

From the moment that each of us is born, we begin a truly unique journey through this existence. A great many things change in the first minutes of life - we feel the air upon our own moist skin, see light through our squinted eyes, and make our first gasps of air as we cry into the vast expanse before us. Through all of this, change is the first thing that we experience. Certainty becomes our greatest ally during these times, our parents being the refuge in the unknown - the ones that nurture us, sustain us, and protect us from harm. Certainty becomes associated with living, while uncertainty with dying.

Granted, all humans thrive on and need a sense of certainty, or else they'd do nothing. NLP experts include certainty in one of the most basic needs that humans require to do anything successful. Tony Robbins narrows it down to one of the six human needs. Robbins even goes so far to say that without certainty, humans would be stuck in Paralysis by Analysis over the most basic things, such as walking across the floor - would you walk across a floor if you were uncertain it would hold you?

The greatest uncertainty in all our lives is death, it raises the most questions that people are afraid to ask.

  • What does dying entail?
  • What does dying feel like?
  • Where will I go afterwards?
  • What will happen to the loved ones that I leave behind?
  • Will I come back to this existence?
These are all very important questions to be asked with such a monumental moment as death, but sometimes we put the same questions in different scenarios. If death is the biggest change after living, then any small change that happens in our lives is treated as a little death, with death being one of the most feared words in our lives.

Change will inevitably happen in our lives. We will have different homes, different friends, different lovers, and even we will change over time. The self that you're used to right now has evolved from changes - good and bad, small and large - through your life. Change will happen, to think otherwise is short-sighted.

Fear of change is natural, but too much fear can create a stagnation in one's life. The human mind can have an annoying tendency to get caught in a worry loop - spending all of one's time and effort worrying about some facet of change that they'd rather avoid. The certainty of what they have now is compelling and strong, and the fear of losing it might be too much for them to handle, so instead of thinking about how to forge forward and adapt to the change (becoming stronger in the process), they'll instead sit and go through the scenario over and over in their heads but be struck with indecision.

It's interesting that as a species, we greet one of the most certain things in our lives, death, with a startling degree of uncertainty. We should treat death with all the respect that certainty affords, and treat change in our lives likewise. The change might be unknown, but human beings are extremely adaptable - we are all strong enough to withstand change with the social networks that are available now.


One of the greatest facets of which we fear changes is with relationships. We see the social stigmas everyday behind concepts such as divorce, which gets an undeserving rap as being a failure and the 'death' of relationships. Humans can so easily be caught in doing counter intuitive things, lack of communication being one of them, that can ultimately hurt the relationship in the long run. Small grievances or issues that are kept silent under the fear of change and uncertainty can snowball into wrecking balls. We're so afraid as a people that even the smallest hint of being dissatisfied or angered at our mate(s) can lead to the death of a relationship that we'd rather sit back and worry, using energy and time that would be much better spent enjoying ourselves and our loved ones.

We had a relatively loose border in our relationship, which was poly in nature, that if we were interested in another person, then we'd talk about it before we did anything. This was followed relatively closely for many months until there was one day that I went to visit, and I saw that they were in the company of another. Personally I felt outraged at what had happened, and had a mind to just leave right then and there, but instead I was relatively calm and tried to blow the whole thing off. I didn't talk about it because I was so afraid of losing them, but I don't think I ever forgave them for what they had done. It wasn't until years later, after the relationship had already dissolved, that the subject was brought up again. They had taken my reaction to mean that I was ok with what they had done, since no anger was expressed at the deed. If only we had communicated then, perhaps we could have had a more meaningful relationship - a lot of our communication broke down after that day, and I wonder if that's what ultimately led to the breakup.
Relationships are the most meaningful bond, one that needs to be treated with respect and communication. Genuine relationships (friendships included) are built upon the idea of mutual happiness, and yet through no fault of our own, we're capable of making the easiest, simplest things in the world more complicated than they need to be. Relationships should not be a contest or a strength of wills, but a gathering of two minds, bodies and souls towards happiness. The greatest happiness can only be achieved through talking about our needs and our problems, so that we can solve our issues instead of being stuck in a paralysis by analysis.

I'm inevitably asked at this point: "Well, what if I bring this up and this *does* end our relationship? I don't think I could handle that." In response to this question, think of the following points:

  • Where are you stuck right now in the relationship? At this point, some are stuck in a non communicative relationship, where feelings are either not discussed from fear or actively repressed. This isn't a healthy way for anyone to live - humans grow by expanding, not by bottling up in fear and doubt.
  • How much of your time, energy and resources are you passively spending on worry, doubt and fear in the relationship? This could be better spent towards actively fixing the relationship, on you and your loved one, or even just on yourself to make yourself happier.
  • What would you *really* be losing if the relationship actually ended? The longer that you spend in a stuck state, the more opportunities for happiness will have passed you by.
This can also be applied to getting over abusive relationships.

I was so afraid of getting intimate after the abuse that I had suffered, I was afraid that I'd never be intimate with anyone else again. I had a brief relationship with someone while the abuse was happening, but I couldn't do anything, I would find myself on the edge of the bed crying. I would feel so guilty for doing this, for making them feel bad for something that they hadn't done - it wasn't their fault that I didn't feel secure. After that small relationship, I was deathly afraid that I would never be able to open up romantically and sexually to someone ever again.

I stayed this way for over a year, trying to avoid starting up a love interest, all while continuing to be abused. It wasn't until the abuse ended and I had found someone so loving and caring that I could open up about my fears in beginning a relationship. It's hard to talk about sexual abuse, and I was half afraid that they'd go running to the hills upon having the conversation, but it actually strengthened our bond. They understand what I've gone through, but they also understand that I truly want to be back on a path of having a mutual fulfilling relationship. It was well worth the risk of communication.
Other Facets

Relationships usually take up the bulk of advice in this area, but there are plenty of other facets in our lives that we can stop being so afraid of changes.
  • Work/School - This is a hard and touchy subject, especially in these uncertain economic times. Work and school keeps us occupied, gives us money/knowledge, and a sense of pride and accomplishment. With the stigmas out there of unemployment and welfare, some would rather live in constant fear instead of confronting change in the workplace. Embracing challenges brings growth, but don't compromise your values - one should never sacrifice their self to any job.
  • Personal growth - "Old habits die hard," as the saying goes, bringing death and personal growth hand in hand. New beginnings can only start from the ashes of death, so don't be afraid of giving the axe to things you no longer require.

Five groups might live, but the sixth will die.
- Go Proverb

New life and new beginnings can only be created by the death of existing beings, habits or conditions - one cannot start something new without ending something else. This is true in all facets of our existence - relationships begin when an old relationship or living condition dies, beginning work will be an end to a prior job or unemployment, and old habits really do die hard in personal development. It's only through embracing the power of change and walking calmly towards that which we fear that we can make the most of our lives. Change will happen, it will always find a way, so facing that change with a strong heart is healthier than being in stasis. A happy person is one that's always experiencing life for all that it can give - everyone dies but not everyone lives.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Upcoming Essay Series

In the upcoming weeks, I'd like to put up a series of essays about the nature and facets of death. It's one of the most overlooked phases of our existence, one that everyone has and will experience, but the level of detail and attention brought to it is woefully lacking.

Some of the topics I plan to cover are as follows:

- The Facets of Dying: Death comes in many forms in our existence. Covers the different aspects of our life in which this wheel can rotate, from personal growth, relationships, and memories.
- The Dehumanization of Death: A look at how today's society has sheltered our culture from the practices of witnessing and dealing with physical death.
- Beyond the Departure: Rebirth is only possible through death. Learn how to embrace the natural process of dying so that one can give birth to new opportunities.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Blessed Lughnasadh

Blessed Lughnasadh to you all!

In celebrating this, the end of summer, it comes as bittersweet. I thank Lugh for all that has been provided to us during the sunny summer months, but my family is scattered in such a way that I can't celebrate this joyous day with those that I care about the most.

In their absence, I've spent most of the day tending the garden. I've the hopes that despite the recent hail damage and subsequent challenges that it brought forth, that both the crops as well as my family will persevere through the autumn and winter months. A fox blessed my presence as I toiled in the dirt, and I like to think it as a good sign of things to come.

It is during this time that I'm reminded of the simpler things in this life - the comfort of shelter, the joy of a well-cooked meal, the tender words of a lover. So much gets in the way of these things in our daily lives - reflect upon all the unneeded complications that we put ourselves through and return to the source that is within us all.

May we never grow hungry.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dreaming with the Gods

I uncovered early on in my studies that one of the ways that I was able to easily talk to my subconscious - and later the Gods - was through the use of dreams. People with many years of study can use other methods such as Journeying or Path Walking to achieve these goals where they meet the Gods face to face, but I haven't really had that luxury. Every time that I've tried to read something about the specific details on doing such a thing, I feel a slight pressure on my chest and clear words such as "Now is not the time." This can feel frustrating at times, but there are some concrete reasons why my patron deity wouldn't want me wandering off on my own at this given point, except under the supervision and training of a teacher.

In the meantime, dreams have been a big part of my experiences with the Gods. Some of them have been mere introductions, some come bearing some intense information, and others have been extreme warnings for things that will happen.

Why use dreams to communicate with the gods? Sleeping can be one of the most receptive time for our minds to listen and interpret the subtle cues in our universe, such as those from our subconscious or from other sources. While we allow our body to rest from the trials of the day, our mind sorts through what it learned the previous day and categorizes it for easier recall. When this is happening, the rest of our mind can pick up on clues from our physical bodies, our mental sorting, or through the whispers of the subconscious or deities. What can be hard to hear in the business of the waking world can be audible when we're at rest.

An example from the author's own dream journal:
I was in a grove in a forest, late spring. I'm approached by what appears to be a man, dressed mostly in green, with a headpiece that has antlers. I have the feeling that it's Cernunnos - when I usually see Arawn, he's on his horse and accompanied by his white hounds with red ears. Cernunnos tells me that we're to go hunting, for what he wasn't specific. All through the night we travel to many different forests, hunting our prey. He's usually the one to make the kill and skin it, as I'm still learning and he'd rather me watch him in action. From each kill, he carves out something from the animal - a leg muscle from one, the bone of another. He then places this in my body, usually removing something before doing so. After our hunt has concluded, he tells me that I'm to start studying as soon as possible for what The Gods have in store for me, and to only eat "of the earth" for the next couple days. I ask him what this is, and he refrains from telling me, saying that I'll find out in time.
The day or two after the dream, a health scare came up in the family, as well as the loss of many friends in a falling out. Before this time, though, the advice was heeded, and the appropriate studies and steps - some which would have taken many days to do - all seemed to happen within the span of a couple of hours.

I wasn't always able to remember my dreams, it took a lot of training and diligent practice. There were several reasons that I became interested in dream recall, such as creative outlets, depression therapy, and lucid dreaming. All three of these reasons have the same first step to dream recall - keeping a dream journal.

A dream journal is a place where you can keep a collective of your dreams - it can be a simple pad and paper or could even be a file on a laptop. Whichever media you use, it needs to be easily accessible and within reach upon waking up. The goal for the dream journal is to write an entry every day, in which you describe your dreams. In the case that you simply can't remember the dream, you still write an entry - this will imprint the suggestion that you want to remember you dreams into your subconscious, which will be triggered the next couple times that you dream. Keep this journal for at least 30-90 days. Once this is achieved, it's fairly easy to remember one's dreams automatically. In the case that your recall is slipping, you can always start the journal up again where you left off.

Once a dream journal is started and dreams are written down, it can become easy to find patterns in your dreams, and even find out which ones are the most important for you to pursue. There are some dreams that I have that can be downright terrifying, but by writing them down and analyzing them, you can find out their purpose with your relationship with the gods. I recently had that experience less than 24 hours ago, where I even had to go as far as having the gods summon me and doing a divination to get more clarification into the dream.

An example of another dream:
I was outside of a house - at least it seemed like my house, I had never seen it before. I picked up my laptop from the table and walked inside. The inside of the house was extremely bright, with multi-colored strands of Christmas lights stringing along the walls. Many shiny knick-knacks littered the shelves and tables, and I walked through the room in a daze. There's a man there, also shining, who simply points to a trap door in the floor. I open the door, and it leads to a steep staircase into darkness.

I let my eyes adjust to the darkness, and I see what looks like sleeping quarters. As I sit on the bed and allow my eyes to adjust further, I see darker forms floating in the shadow. The more that I look at the dark forms, the more they resemble mirror images of myself, so I stop looking at them and retreat from the basement.


I'm still wandering the area, excavating the bones of a long lost relative. I can't remember the reason why we were doing such a thing, but the only people that are here with me are my dead relatives. They keep rambling about something being unfair and untrue, all while accompanying me, trying to find one last skeleton.

I'm searching through a populated area of some sort, and I recall a denizen stopping me and asking me what was wrong. I hear the words flow out of my mouth: "My sister is dead. We're trying to find her."
At first glance, a lot of people would read such a dream and question what the meaning of it would be. By following these steps, one can achieve clarification.

  • Writing down the dream in the dream journal, with as much detail as possible.
  • Try to replace common themes and objects with symbolism. Animals can easily be replacements for either friends or current troubles, depending on their disposition.
  • Look at contradictions carefully. If something exists in the dream that is contradictory to waking life, examine it. For example, consider the implications of a only-child dreamer who dreams of a sister.
  • When stuck, ask for help. There are plenty of resources out there for dream interpretation, but don't rely too heavily upon them - you and the Gods are the final authority. Ask your deity or the gods through divination if necessary, they may tell you more of what's going on or provide clarification.
With this important tool, one can communicate more with their Gods, find out more about themselves, or experience lucid dreaming. I hope this helps out those who want to use dreaming as a viable communication tool with their deities.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Empathy in Groups

One of the talents that I'm still in the process of controlling and understanding is Empathy. I've made progress in the last half year with empathy, but I'm quickly discovering that with most things, the more questions I answer, the more questions crop up. A particular conundrum that I've recently focused on is the role of empathy in a group setting.

Empathy in a group setting, unlike empathy in a crowd setting, can be a unique animal. While working in a group, synergy and coordination are often sought out in order to accomplish a goal. it's usually in this situation that it's advantageous for me to turn down any empathic shields that I have so that I can pick up on the subtle clues of the group. It works really well in a work setting, when you can pick out a nuisance before it becomes a problem. In my recreation, it's nice to know how the other four, or nine, or twenty four people are feeling - it allows me to focus more on my own job since I usually play a healer role. (On that aspect - I've prohibited my group from yelling out for additional heals, since not only can I pay attention to the group, but I already innately know who needs the healing.)

This can have some huge pitfalls in practice, though. Sometimes along the way, I'll pick up cues that in hindsight, I probably shouldn't have picked up. It's easy to pick up on feelings on lying, duplicity and feeling projection. It makes precognition a hazard - where I'll suddenly start feeling extremely irate and angry for "no reason", when I'm instead picking up events that will happen in a couple hours, or even days. I'll have people ask me "Why are you upset?" or "Why are you so mad at X?" and I find myself scrambling for real reasons when I really just want to say "I'm picking up things that haven't happened yet."

Another pitfall that affects me the most is a sudden group feeling. This can be in many forms - an example everyone recognizes is "classroom nervousness" when a teacher asks a question and the entire group freezes in nervousness. This can be extremely traumatic for empaths, even when shielded - the sudden influx of nervous feelings from 5 to 50 people is a huge weight crushing down. A more dangerous one is the combined sudden anger or rage of a group reacting to something that they all think is offensive. Sadness and nervousness can result in inactivity, but anger can be extremely dangerous in that it can lead to insatiable wrath. My own anger can be alleviated by reacting in certain ways, but this does *not* work with other people's anger. A very wrathful empath can easily continue to do extremely hurtful things all while waiting to be sated - something that will never come - which can irrevocably hurt the empath and any on the warpath.

Some of these can be alleviated fairly easily with the following methods:
  • Grounding, centering and shielding.
  • Raising one's empathic shields again. I usually envision mine as a dial (mine goes up to 11) that I can globally lower and raise my shields. I'm slowly working on having people-specific dials.
  • Tensing/Relaxation techniques. This can really help in stirring up and then dispelling any extra energy that you have from other people's emotions.
It can be hard to determine whether or not one's feelings are their own or someone else's. The best way that I've found to do this is to write down the feelings that you're experiencing. If one's angry, write a huge rant. If sad, write out one's sorrows. Once this is done, compare how you feel now compared to how you were before the writing. If the emotion is mostly gone or feels diffused, then it's most likely your own. If you're still feeling that emotion strongly, then it could be from someone else, and you should focus on the techniques above.

Mindfullness is the key here - interrupting a pattern before it spirals out of control is very important. This is especially true with angry feelings. Wrath can be a very seductive emotion in that it makes one feel extremely powerful and omnipotent while dishing it out. It's not until later that one realizes the damage that can be one, especially when it cannot be sated.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

First Post

I've decided upon some thought to separate my spiritual writings from my normal blog. The reasoning is threefold.

- Gain some focus into what writings of mine are spiritual vs. more conversational.
- Allow a central location for me to compose my writings so that I can easily search through them for my own personal reference.
- Easier access to it in the case that I want to hook this journal to a circle of other pagan journals.

My spiritual biography is fairly short, which I'll elaborate in a later post. Suffice it to say, I'm a Celtic/Welsh Pagan and a follower of Arawn. I've only recently started on my path, after much poking and prodding from the gods and the universe. I've still much to learn, and as I discover my way, I hope that my writings will inspire others and serve as a guide as I uncover the joys and possible pitfalls of this journey.

I invite you all to join me on this path of discovery.