#2023

[ A prayer to Bast for protection over a dwelling/property. I like to imagine a shining yellow light outlining the space I want protected when I say this prayer, and sometimes even something “bad” (I usually use shadow figures) trying to cross through the light but being repelled. ]

Dua Bast, Lady of the East, of the Flame, and of the Truth!
Dua Bast, Glorious Goddess and Protective Mother Cat!
Dua Bast, Vengeful Eye of Ra, Lady of the Ointment Jar!
Dua Bast, She Who Is Without Equal!
Dua Bast!

Great Lady, I ask You to protect this house and all who dwell within;
let nothing that means harm step onto this property
let nothing that means ill cross over this threshold.
This dwelling is a safe space for all who we welcome here;
may this place be sacred to You and all who enter be under Your protection.
Goddess of Family and Home, secure our borders with tooth and claw;
tear apart that which would harm us and let pass through only that which is good.
May this offering and my love bring You strength as You safeguard us
and may the family we create here bring You much joy.

Dua Bast, Lady of the East, of the Flame, and of the Truth!
Dua Bast, Glorious Goddess and Protective Mother Cat!
Dua Bast, Vengeful Eye of Ra, Lady of the Ointment Jar!
Dua Bast, She Who Is Without Equal!
Dua Bast!

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#2021

After my Samhain ritual of remembrance for all the cats I’ve known and lost, I conducted an autumn-themed tarot reading (layout found here) with Bast. As you can see, She really does LOVE throwing major arcana cards at me. I usually pull at least one or two each reading, but four?!

Question: Harvest – What is one thing I should take with me into the upcoming season?
Card: The Fool
Interpretation: What a perfect card to pull for this question. The Fool is a card filled with wonder, adventure, and a willingness to learn. The Fool embarks on their journey with open eyes, leaving behind any burdens or preconceptions so that they are open to receiving whatever the world sends to them. Considering I’m just coming out of a long slump and am working to enhance my spiritual and psychic senses, this card tells me that I’m on the right path. I need to move forward with the courage and sincerity of the novice to continue my spiritual journey.

Question: Compost – What is one thing I should leave behind?
Card: The High Priestess (reversed)
Interpretation: The High Priestess is a card of magic, mystery, and intuition; reversed, it can represent being overly analytical, relying too much on external validation, and ignoring your inner voice. The High Priestess urges me to leave behind all of my self-doubt, fear, and need to understand and control everything in my world. Moving forward, I need to open myself to not only the messages being sent from the universe, but from within me as well. I need to trust my own experiences and beliefs, and stop seeking a “proof” that will never be good enough. Perhaps even more importantly, I must give myself what I need, not just what I think is necessary to look or be a certain way.

Question: Light – What is one thing I should take out into the world?
Card: Judgement (reversed)
Interpretation: For some reason, I have a hard time interpreting Judgement when I draw it. Reversed, it can represent upcoming consequences of a bad decision or negative karma. It can also represent an unwanted change, unhappy ending, or the necessity of hard choices. There isn’t anything in my life currently that could play out that way (that I know of) so I was drawing a blank. I thought maybe I would be called upon to help someone else through a rough time or to make a difficult decision. However, my wife pointed out that it could also mean giving others what they deserve, a sort of reversing of the object being judged. Either way, it sounds like I’m being urged to speak my mind truthfully and directly.

Question: Dark – What is one thing I should meditate on?
Card: The Emperor
Interpretation: I pulled this card last time, too. The Emperor represents order, control, responsibility, and rationalization. It can encourage creating order out of chaos by bringing structure and balance to your life. However, it can also represent the duality of logic and intuition; the Emperor is no dictator, but a ruler who understands how all things must balance each other. I think this card plays the same role as it did in my last reading, in that it’s reminding me to be diligent and study-oriented in this next phase of my learning.

Later I pulled one card to determine what kind of home our current foster kitten, Mitch, would go to.

Question: What kind of forever home will Mitch go to?
Card: 5 of Pentacles
Interpretation: The Five of Pentacles is a card about stagnation and sorrow. This card denotes someone who is drowning in spiritual poverty, who is feeling isolated and hopeless. The Shadowscapes version shows a woman loosely bound in thorns, her head bowed by her fears and worries. However, because she is so weighed down with her sorrow, she cannot see the butterfly right before her or the beautiful flowers that grow on the vines. Here, I believe this card represents someone (or perhaps an entire household) who is drowning in negative emotions and in desperate need of a light in the darkness. I think Mitch, with his playful attitude and sweet disposition, will be the companion this person needs to bring them out of their depression. After pulling this card, there was no way I could even consider keeping Mitch (though I wanted to!). He clearly has a very important job ahead of him, and I’m sure he’ll face it with the curiosity and courage he showed while staying with us.

Thoughts?

#2020

Mother, if I stop to think how many of Your children are suffering or dying right now, right this very moment, I nearly drown. The grief is an unseen tsunami and the hopeless part of me wants to get it over with, let the wave wash me out to sea. How can I have any faith in this world when Your children are tortured, hunted, abandoned, experimented on, killed by a thousand different heartless methods every day simply because their lives are not valued? When they are born in cages and die in cages, having never once felt the sun? I want to reach out, to find and be with them in their dark places, their last moments, but their reality’s terror cripples me. I ignore the truth like an open wound I cannot tend – the only option is to keep going until it heals or hurts too much to move. All across the world Your children do the same and I am their sibling, after all, though unbelievably lucky to have been born in a body and place that ensure me basic rights. Your children have no rights anywhere. No right to live and breed freely in the wild; no right to be the masters of their own bodies; no right to be seen as a living creature at all, let alone an individual with wants and needs and a soul as valuable as every other.

People will say I’m exaggerating. I’m not. You know I’m not. Help me, Mother. Teach me how to shield my heart so I don’t have to harden it. Show me how to embrace the pain without making it part of myself. I refuse to be ignorant; I refuse to be uncaring; I refuse to be hopeless. But it’s so hard to face a future that feels inevitable and a truth that seems too heavy to bear. I have feared all my life that it would be my fate to watch Your children perish by the species, and thus far I have been given no reason to think it might be otherwise. So what do I do? How do I move forward? Help me, Mother.

#2018

Characters, Alter Egos, Or Unknowable Nameless Gods?

When someone asks me what I write about, I usually say something like, I have a couple characters I write about and then nothing more. At least, that’s how I answer if I want to sound like a not-crazy person. But if I want to be truthful, I have to say something more like:

I thought I had three characters I wrote about, but it turns out two of them are probably incredibly ancient gods (or ghosts? or angels? or something even older than the very concept of either?) and the other one is an alter ego who has somehow taken on way more agency than I thought possible and may sometimes be used as a mask by dark somethings I am too afraid to face.

Let’s take a closer look at that second one. See, when I was a wee eighth grader I simultaneously discovered Lord of the Rings and DeviantArt. Being obsessed with elves, I made my DA screenname “Darkelvenmage” and quickly developed the moniker into a character who was everything I wanted to be. The Darkelvenmage was tall and willowy, pale as snow with long hair as dark as ravens’ wings, eyes as green as emeralds, and sharp features that highlighted her royalty and mystery. She wore all black and rarely spoke, but heaven help you if you pissed her off; she was heir to ancient magic, a skilled warrior, and had nothing to lose. She had been stripped of her home and her name (hence the brilliant title “dark elven mage”) and therefore wandered the world alone, neither a force of good nor evil. For my chubby, geeky thirteen year old self, Mage became a mask I could put on when I needed to feel like a badass, an alter ego who was always calm and logical, who never let her emotions get the better of her or made a fool of herself. I carried her with me through high school like a sword held between myself and all the bad things I encountered, standing just a little taller and smiling just a little more coldly. She made me feel fierce and untouchable.

In college I had a falling out with a group of online friends I’d made in high school, friends who knew me best through Mage and the story I’d given her to fit into their fantasy world. Feeling hurt and vengeful, I decided to rebel and Mage became the ally turned enemy intent on destroying the world the “good guys” had built. I loved the shock it caused, the drama, and the sudden understanding that nothing bound me to act in a particular way. Why not be the villain? Wasn’t that more fun anyway? Certainly playing Mage as the Big Bad brought me a selfish kind of joy, a way to enact a little revenge for my slighted self. Eventually, of course, some of those friends and I parted ways for good, and others of us reconciled and grew closer. But Mage stayed the villain, one with flair, dark humor, and just a dash of madness. This version of her is different from the silent, haughty one of my high school years, yet they are both true to her form. She is still my alter ego, my champion, the mask I wear on days when I wake up feeling too small and scared.

Sometimes, though, it’s like I look at Mage in my mind’s eye and… it’s not her. Something else watches out her eyes. Something that is not me, nor anything I placed there. Sometimes she feels like I’m not the one in control, like she’s not an alter anything anymore. I feel Lovecraftian presences squirming beneath her skin and taste sour names like Charybdis, Morrigan, Kali at the back of my mouth. I wonder sometimes if I have crafted Mage too well, if I am not the only one who can wear her mask. She is still a character in the strictest sense – I write her story, she does not tell me what to write (as Tanim and Daren do) – but there are times when I meet her eyes and it’s not the better, cooler version of myself staring back. I don’t know what it is, but it feels timeless and very powerful.

mage-sketch.png

This sketch of Mage is by my bestest frienemy – check out her patreon for more!

#2017

I need to stop being lazy and start actually recording my tarot readings and other pagan practice stuff, so HERE GOES:

I’ve been in a deep, months-long religious funk, but last week I finally knelt down at my altar and spent time with Bast. Meekly, I laid out my cards to check in with Her (meaning “ask if She was angry with me”). I laid out the following reading:

Question: How do You see our relationship currently?
Card: 3 of Wands
Interpretation: Bast gave me this card back when I first started to work with Her and had asked a similar question. I’ve pulled it a couple times since, and it always gives me a feeling of adventure and excitement. The Shadowscapes deck’s picture is of a traveler standing on the edge of a cliff, overlooking a deep wooded valley splashed with sunlight. At their side stands a small cat, which gazes into the future with them. It’s a very uplifting card, and I was very relieved to pull it. She’s not mad!

Question: Where do You want our relationship to go next?
Card: The Emperor
Interpretation: A major arcana card. Of course. I haven’t drawn The Emperor before, so my understanding of it isn’t solid. I sense an emphasis on structure, concrete goals, and rationality. There is also an urging to be neither too rigid nor too flexible. My exploration into the clair- senses will require more studiousness and planning than I have employed previously. Sounds like tough but rewarding work ahead.

Question: What do You want me to do to accomplish this?
Card: 8 of Pentacles
Interpretation: The pentacles are, for whatever reason, my least favorite suit and I have to work to overcome my dislike of any pentacle card I pull. In this one I read an emphasis on returning to a novice state, to nurture learning and maybe seek a new skill to learn. This may be encouragement to learn new styles of divination and intuition, or perhaps a more physical skill or hobby. I’ve been meaning to mess around with my pendulum…

I’m also interested in developing my psychic senses to better communicate with my gods and other entities, so I conducted a reading about this with Bast and drew the following:

Question: What is blocking my third eye?
Card: The Hermit
Interpretation: A major arcana, no surprise there. I’m not totally sure how to read it, though. Does it mean not enough patience and introspection, or too much? I sense it’s maybe indicating a lack of wisdom and experience, that I don’t yet know how to go about building my psychic powers and that’s why I feel like I’m blocked. At the same time, though, I feel like it’s also cautioning me to not become too much the hermit in this process – that I need to seek out the experience and knowledge of others to help me grow.

Question: How can I unblock it?
Card: 9 of Wands
Interpretation: In the Shadowscapes deck, this card shows a line of sentinels standing ready to defend their land. It speaks of defense, strength, vigilance, perhaps even some final battle for which energy must be reserved. In this context this might caution diligence and vigilance, which makes sense considering I’ve been hoping for an easy and quick fix.

Question: What will the outcome of my current path be?
Card: Queen of Cups
Interpretation: I grinned when I flipped this card over. The Queen of Cups is a card of intuition, emotion, and psychic ability. If she is where my path eventually leads, then I must be doing something right. I think I need to be studious, patient, and retain my strength for this road.

Coincidentally (NOT), I recently offered Bast a fortune cookie and the fortune inside said. “Rome wasn’t built in a day, be patient”. So thanks, Mom, for hammering that lesson home.

I also attempted my first meditation intended to open or unblock my third eye. I’m not very good at quieting my mind, so the session felt unproductive. I did have an interesting mental image of an arrow being fired into the center of my forehead, right into my third eye. It reminded me of the dungeons in Ocarina of Time where you have to shoot the eye icons to make doors open and close. Afterwards I didn’t feel any different or more magical; however, I was kinda woozy and one ear seemed oddly plugged when I sat up. My stomach also hurt the rest of the night, but my stomach always hurts so I can’t read much into that.
Thoughts, anyone?

#2007

Dua Bast,  Goddess of Family and Home! Bless this marriage and keep safe the family we build together. Lend us the strength to be loving and kind even in times of turmoil. 

Hail Inanna, Lover and Beloved United As One! Bless this marriage and help us to stand strong against those who would judge us. Lend us the courage to stand hand-in-hand for all the world to see. 

Dua Wepwawet, Shepherd of the Path! Bless this marriage and guide us safely as we embark on this journey together. Lend us the patience to face whatever life’s road may ask of us. 

Dua Bast! Hail Inanna! Dua Wepwawet!

#1994

Wherein I Visit a Psychic and Leave With More Questions Than Answers

As you can tell from my previous pieces, I’m not doing so great in the life department right now. A deep spiritual crisis has somehow perfectly coincided with both a supremely busy time in my life (getting married in 25 days, holy shit) and what feels like the worst depression I’ve ever experienced. I’m not just questioning my spiritual path – I’m questioning whether anything beyond the scientifically provable even exists, and whether there’s much point in our existence if it doesn’t. I feel listless and apathetic, and I’m really only getting the absolute minimum done in all aspects of my life. It’s not fun! Super not fun.

All this is to say that for the last few weeks, I’ve pondered seeing a psychic. I thought that if a psychic could tell me something they would have no way of knowing or really guessing, that would be my proof that the spiritual side of our world actually exists. At first I thought the idea was silly, or at least a waste of my money and time, but I finally grew desperate enough to make an appointment. Before I met the woman, Jody, I removed all of my jewelry so she wouldn’t have anything to work from and I could feel confident that her conclusions weren’t biased or just good guesses. I’m not naturally suspicious of psychics, and Jody certainly didn’t give me charlatan vibes; I just knew my pessimistic mindset would magnify any little flaw or uncertainty. So with some trepidation, but also hope, on my part, Jody began the session.

  • Past lives: Jody told me I have lived many, many past lives. Among the ones she touched on were lives in which I was an ancient Egyptian, a monk with a special affinity for animals, a shepherd, an old Irish man with a wolfhound, a young girl who loved horses, an Italian man who spent most of his time sailing, and a Native American tracker who spent much of their time alone in the woods, exploring and bringing back news and discoveries to the tribe.
    • I asked for clarification on the Egyptian life and Jody told me I was an Egyptian man who did energy work (possibly in a religious capacity?). She said I would “hold” energy, and in example of this she raised her arms up as if offering a large bowl to something taller – perhaps a statue. This evidently became my demise, as someone I trusted and for whom I was or had held energy took my life. It was a brutal end to a rather short life, according to Jody. She also said my connection with cats comes from this life, which isn’t surprising but still nice to have confirmed.
    • The Italian lifetime struck a deep chord with me, as it reminded me strongly of my father. Judy said she kept getting “Italian” vibes as she read my past lives, which could have been a good guess based on my hair but would also make sense due to my strong Italian roots.
  • My spirit: Jody conducted what she called a “rose reading” of my spirit and told me it looked like a purple rose so open that its petals were nearly falling off, which she interpreted to mean I have been in a time of development and change for the last three years, but it is coming to a close. I found this particularly interesting since my spiritual path began almost three years ago with Bast’s calling me to Her service.
  • Spirits/Companions: Jody seemed surprised that I had a whole gaggle of spirits with me during the reading. She noted at least three that were spirits of those who had passed on, several animal guides, and a few others of the deity/spiritual entity persuasion. Among the gathered were the following:
    • An older woman who was laughing, evidently amused and pleased by the entire event. Jody didn’t describe this spirit much, only saying that she liked her. I wondered if this might be Bast, as She often gives me the feeling of an amused, loving mother watching her daughter stumble around when learning to walk.
    • The Archangel Raphael, whose presence definitely surprised me; I have very little connection with the Abrahamic religions and if I was going to be visited by an angel, I’d think it would be Lucifer. Jody said he was with me in a healing capacity, which made sense from the rest of her reading. When I told my fiance about this, she pointed out that Raphael is known for bestowing sight to the blind. Ah, I see what you did there, Universe.
    • An old woman who reportedly told Jody that I can’t hear her, though she is always with me. Jody told me this woman had known me when she was alive, but that I hadn’t known her. I suspect this spirit was my mother’s mother, who died when I was just a baby.
    • Two spirits of cats I knew or had known in my life. The first she said I had known many times, which didn’t surprise me; I have often felt that my cats were reincarnations of the same spirit visiting me again and again. Jody described the other cat spirit as large (personality-wise) and extremely loving but kind of doofy. I laughed out loud at this and asked if the spirit could be living now – it sounded exactly like my cat Lorne, who we call a “precious gift” when he does anything remarkably silly or dumb. It was so nice to know he was sitting beside me for the reading, like he wanted me to know I wasn’t alone.
      • Strangely enough, though I got home much later than usual and way past our cats’ dinner time, they greeted me at the door in patient silence instead of their customary starved howling. It was like they knew I was going to be late but that it was for an important reason, so they gave me some slack.
    • An animal guide in the form of a large black panther. There were also two other animal guides with me, but Jody was apparently warned (though I forgot to ask by whom) that she couldn’t tell me what they were – I either needed to discover them for myself or I knew their identities on a deeper level. I wondered after the session if they took the forms of a raven and coyote, as I’ve always been drawn to those animals.
    • Jody also identified what she called my “sister spirit”. She said we had been together in many lives, and each time traded off who was more reserved and who was more lively. We always found each other and brought each other companionship, support, and love. This could honestly match any of my closest friends, so many of whom feel like sisters to me, but I think she could also have been indicating my fiance. For years I’ve longed for this abstract someone, always female, who felt like both a lover and a sister, and I knew pretty much the moment I met my fiance that she was that person. On top of that, my fiance longed for exactly the same thing – though she called this person her “Stranger” while I called them “Shakespeare’s Sister”.
  • My father: The first and main spirit Jody identified was very clearly that of my father, though she originally identified him as a friend and said we had been together in many lifetimes. She told me he kept showing her things I had written about him and told her he was proud of me. She also saw him placing something around my neck, which she later interpreted as him giving me his “pearls of wisdom”.
    • He also had with him a female spirit (we both sensed this was his mother) and a male spirit who seemed like friend or brother. My father’s brother is alive but they weren’t very close, so I don’t think it was his spirit. I suspect, but would love to confirm, that it was the spirit of my fiance’s father. We often feel as if one or both of our fathers are present, and they would have gotten along in real life – it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to think they hang out as spirits.
    • In addition to the two other human spirits, my dad also had two dogs with him, which Jody said made him very happy. When I was a kid we had two golden retrievers whom my father cared for, so I think they are with him in the afterlife as well.
    • Jody indicated that my father had died unexpectedly from something like an illness, but she seemed hesitant to define it further. Considering my father was originally hospitalized for a stroke, but died of complications related in part to his treatment by the hospital staff, this uncertainty makes sense. More importantly, she said my father knew (either consciously or subconsciously) for about a year that he would be passing soon and was okay with it. He felt ready to go, and lived that last year to its fullest. This detail was particularly comforting, and seemed to be confirmed by actual events – that year was my parents’ first without any kids in the house, so they spent a lot of time together doing new things, and my father actually became sick while on a family vacation with myself and my mother. Jody also told me that my father was happy as a spirit, because he could go anywhere he wanted and wasn’t confined to a physical body. She told me to hang up wind chimes as a way for him to signal his presence, which I will definitely do.
    • Jody told me my father wants me to write. He said I have a book inside me that I need to write, possibly because it might help people. This statement originally confused me, since my preferred writing style is very short and discordant – not exactly the stuff of long novels. Jody seemed to think my father meant some sort of spiritual or self-help book, possibly based on my own experiences, but this didn’t feel correct. I’m not a huge fan of those kinds of books in the first place, and am not yet in a place emotionally where I would feel comfortable acting like an authority on, well, anything. But then a few days later I remembered that I had indeed been pondering a book idea! I gave it up immediately because I couldn’t fathom how to go about researching the topic (paranormal activity in relation to natural disasters), but it sits at the back of my mind anyway. Could this be what my dad was indicating? He definitely would have found the concept interesting, and would have encouraged my research. I’m super intimidated by the prospect, though, so I’m not sure yet what I’ll do.
    • To top this all off, I came home and found my dad’s keychain on the floor of my room. I keep it on a bookshelf where I have set up a kind of ancestor shrine to him. It’s not impossible for my cats to get onto that shelf, but they usually knock more down when they do because it’s a cramped space. This time, though the keychain was on the floor, nothing else had been disturbed – even the cloth underneath that would surely have been rumpled if a cat had jumped onto it.
  • My aura: Jody conducted an aura/chakra reading, in which she reiterated that I was doing a lot of healing on different levels (indicated by the color green). The most interesting thing she mentioned during this reading, though, was that my crown chakra’s aura was a light lavender speckled with stardust, and that this indicated that I am able to “know” things without knowing why. The combination of lavender and stardust, which I immediately imagined as freckles, made me think of Bast. She is associated with the color purple and lavender in general, and I always imagine her dusted with freckles. That this particular aura was also associated with my spiritual connection and this “knowing” which I can feel but never explain felt like a jolt of desperately needed evidence. Jody never named Bast or otherwise indicated Her presence, but when she told me about the state of my crown chakra, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of rightness.
  • Overall: Jody emphasized throughout the reading that I am a healer and empathetic person who has difficulty shielding myself from the pain of the world – the understatement of the century, if my general mood through 2017 is anything to go by. Jody told me I can give too much of myself and must make sure not to take on others’ pain or sorrow, but to try to lift them up with my own light. This is actually something I’ve worked on with my therapist, but haven’t made much progress; it’s very easy for me to adopt someone’s bad mood and incredibly hard to retain my good mood if I’m around someone negative.
    • Jody indicated my third eye is just barely opening, and that I need to nurture it through confidence and faith in order to open myself more to my spiritual guides, companions, and messages from the universe. She told me to listen to my dreams, look for signs, and take chances on things I want to do or learn, especially if they are creative activities.
Overall, the session left me reeling and totally uncertain as to how much I believed and how what I believed would shape my spiritual path. Unfortunately, my general malaise hasn’t lifted yet, making it even harder to do the soul searching and difficult mental processes necessary to sift through everything to find the valuable bits. The session was definitely interesting, though, and I think over time I will get more and more out of it. Right now, though, I’m still processing. There are questions I never got even remotely close to answering – where were Tanim and Daren in all of this, for example? or Inanna? – and answers to questions I don’t yet know how to ask. Part of me wants to go back to ask for more detail, to dig deeper into whatever Jody can find, but part of me knows that could be a dangerous slope. It’d be so easy to accept everything she said at face value and operate accordingly, yet I don’t think even she would support that tactic. So I’ll be sifting for gold dust for a while, I guess, and trying to shut up that voice of doubt I can’t ever be totally rid of.

If you actually read to the end of this, wow, damn. I’d love to hear your feedback or insight!