Guidance

“So, now that I’ve made all these tools, what do you want of me?” I asked.

“Well, you use them, of course!” She said.

“But I’m not sure how, and for what purpose!”

She sighed. “I suppose it’s only fair to tell you since we had you write the journey in the first place. Ok, here you go:

The Stone is for looking at the past, storing, and remembering.

The Knife is for the work of magick, as you already know.

The Dark Mirror is for scrying and to help when dealing with the dead.

The Water Bowl is for everyday guidance and purification.

I’d recommend the Water Bowl for daily meditation. And your usual offering of candles and incense. Do prayers in the evening and meditation in the morning.”

I nodded. It all made sense. Now I had a direction…

She shook her head. “It really does take a spiritual 2×4 sometimes, eh?”

“Yeah, well…there’s a lot of stuff going on…” I said sheepishly.

She smiled. Her eyes held nothing but love and kindness. I smiled back.

Samhain Meditation 2: The Descent by Mage of Machines

The Descent by Mage of Machines is an approximately one hour meditation journey to the Underworld and the Isle of Apples under the protection of Inanna to commune with the Beloved Dead. The music was written, composed, and performed by Sarah Thompson, also known as Mage of Machines. You’ll recognize a little bit of this album as the show intro and exit music for This Week In Heresy.

Some of you, if you had attended Pantheacon in 2013, will also recognize this music. The Circle of Cerridwen, with friends, performed The Descent in a live dramatization and dance with an early edition of the music. The final edition of the album was released on Samhain 2013.

Sarah Thompson is your Guide. Inanna is voiced by Calyxa Omphalos, and Rev. Gina is the voice of Ereshkigal. The script was written by Rev. Gina and Sarah Thompson.

This is offered as a Samhain blessing for you, as a gift to the community, and to honor the Beloved Dead.

The album version of The Descent is available via iTunes. If you are looking to purchase it through other platforms, click here.

Click here to to listen (player will open in new window).

Samhain Thoughts: A Conversation with Jesus

“No, no…pleases don’t fall asleep! I’d like to have this conversation.” He said, as I was typing in my bed. I was tempted to nap right then, but I did want to write. I turned on my Hated Bands playlist and invited Him to have a seat.

He laughed. “It’s easy for people to hate what they don’t understand, isn’t it?”

I nodded. “Definitely. Or to think someone is evil because they like something you don’t.”

He gave me that look.

“Okay, Okay! Guilty. But, seriously, how can people like Trump and say they believe in You? How can they say they believe in You, when they are generally being discriminatory, racist, white supremacist, homophobic, transphobic and more? I mean, people really believe that they need to take up weapons to fight these things in Your name!”

He grinned, but His eyes were sad.

“My words have become Rome. They are not what I taught then, but I can’t help what My words and My actions became. Humanity has used what I’ve taught for their own ends. There is only so much I can do as an Ancestor and Deity. You all have to own your own mistakes and find the compassion to forgive them…eventually. Humans are good at torturing themselves and hurting themselves. You should know that by now.”

I nodded. “Yes, we tend to do ourselves in quite handily.”

We sat in silence for a bit.

“There is hope, though.” he said.

“Is there?”

“Oh yes! It’s in your art and film. There are stories of humanity’s great awakening by more than one author. There is, somewhere in the human psyche, a need to believe that some day we’ll move past our hatred and violence, or at least make it so that the violence and oppression are unacceptable and that learning, art, music, compassion, love are normal instead of the exception.”

I nodded. Yes, we have a lot of that, and a lot of the art I consume is of that. “But we’re far from that place,” I said.

“Yes, that’s true. It’s like any wound: you have to go through a lot of pain and discomfort until it goes away. The unfortunate thing is that you were born in the middle of the pain, so it seems like things will never get better.”

“Really? You mean it will get better?”

He smiled sadly. “Eventually.”

That didn’t really inspire hope, but I have always had at least a little in my heart.

“That’s the spirit!” He said, as he stood up to leave. “I have hope that you will continue to spread the teachings of love and hope. It doesn’t even have to be in My name. I’ll tell you a secret: My hope was always to make people see others as human beings, to see themselves in others. It was never any more than that, really. The religion isn’t important, but that is.”

He left the room while “Sympathy for the Devil” was playing…

Samhain Thoughts: A Conversation with Ereshkigal

“You humans are very strange creatures,” She said as She sat down.

I took a sip of my cocoa. “I can’t argue with You about that. We tend to do a lot of weird stuff to each other and to our planet. We are stubborn, willful, quick to anger, but then we can be full of compassion, joy, and happiness.”

“Well, yes, that’s very true.” She paused. “But your species doesn’t learn very well from it’s past, does it?”

“No, unfortunately.”

“You all come through My realm, one way or another, and yet you never seem to listen to the Ancestors that came before you. They leave you books and pictures and art and music, and still there are those who willfully ignore or deny the atrocities done. They deny the signs of those who would only seek power for their own ends and feed on the hatred of others. They would willingly ignore the human race’s ability to change and adapt based on perceived notions of a lack of perfection in word and deed.”

I grimaced behind another sip of cocoa. I was rather glad that this conversation was in my head rather than physically real. Then again, I suppose if Ereshkigal became visible in the coffee shop, it would make things rather interesting.

She raised Her eyebrow at me.

I quickly answered:

“Some believe that it is only through perfection that we can change society. Others believe that we can only get to You and the other Gods through perfection. They believe that if we make mistakes somehow we’re not good enough. And, I think, sometimes some of us will shame and degrade others for mistakes long after the mistake was made and learned from.”

“What do you believe?”

“Well, I believe…I….” I stumbled.

“Do you not have an opinion?”

“I do…it’s just that…well…it’s not very popular…”

She raised her eyebrow at me again. “Priest.” She reminded me.

I took a deep breath. Right.

“I believe that demanding perfection from each other actually does more harm than good. If we don’t take the time to explain to someone who makes a mistake out of ignorance what they’ve done wrong, there’s no room for change. If we just tell someone they’re a horrible person and that they should just sit down and shut up, then all that does is build resentment.”

“And what of those who do it out of malice?”

“Well,” I said, “sit down and shut up can be a bit more effective then. I think there are some people I won’t be able to change.”

She laughed. “No, you can’t change everyone. You can’t change anyone unless they see the need to change.”

“But what about people’s anger?” I said, frustrated. “How can I acknowledge someone’s very real feelings around their oppression, but call them out on their lack of compassion towards those who want to learn and grow? I mean, I get that people get sick of educating people. I get tired of it, too. Sometimes it’s just easier to back away and just leave it alone!”

The Queen of the Underworld looked at me for a moment with sad eyes, then stood up to walk around the room. She stood behind the Latinx couple with a baby.

“Their daughter will get bullied and they will not be able to find an apartment because of their skin color and speech.”

She moved to stand next to the white man at his computer. “He doesn’t know his privilege, but he makes donations to charities every year because he can take it off his taxes.”

She moves to the white man and Asian looking man talking. “They are friends and meet here often. They both have conflicts of faith.”

Then she stood next to a teenage girl. “She knows that the world is wrong right now, and yet she will be a beacon of hope and change as she gets older.”

She wanders around standing near people and showing me their pasts and futures. Their humanity, their oppressions, their privileges, their struggles.

“They will all learn what they need to learn in this life. You are one teacher in a sea of teachers that they will come across. You don’t necessarily need to acknowledge their oppressions, but you need to absolutely acknowledge their humanity.”

I nodded.

“Remember what the Morrigan told you: you cannot save them all. And sometimes Death, in Spirit or in Fact, is a mercy, not a punishment.”

I nodded again. She sat down again.

I tried to think of something else to say, but my words were failing me.

She touched my face. “Don’t worry, my love, when they come to me, they will finally learn. It is not your place to demand perfection, but is is your place to try and emulate that which you hold dear. You will fail sometimes, but if you can tell me that you did the best you could when you arrive at My Gates, then I would be satisfied.”

I nodded.

“Yes,” She said as She got up to walk away, “You humans are very odd creatures.”

Samhain Meditation 1: Crow’s Arch

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Feel the firmness of the chair that you are in. Feel it hold your body. Breathe deep again, and let your body relax. Let your mind drift, floating in the darkness.

You begin to see stars form in the darkness, small pinpricks of light that seem to be moving way from you, as if you were watching the sky on fast forward. Soon, the moon rises, and you see that you are sitting on a rock in the middle of the crossroads in the midst of a vast plain.

When you stand up from the rock, a bird swoops down and lands in front of you. It is Crow, who says,

“I have come to guide you. Follow me!”

He cocks his head to look at you, and then flies off. You follow.

After following Crow for awhile, you see two orange specks of light in the darkness. As you come closer, you realize that they are two torches on either side of a large arch. The arch looks empty, but when you stand in front of it, you can hear voices from the other side as if they are coming from a closed room. You ask Crow about the arch, and he tells you, as he lands on top of it, that it is the Gateway of the Dead.

He tells you: “I will fetch one of your Ancestors for you, but there must be payment! What shiny thing will you give me?”

You look around, but you are dressed plainly and you have nothing on you to give to the Crow. The Crow begins to caw, which sounds a lot like laughter.

“I do not want jewels, silly human! I want the one thing about yourself that you want to give up. It will be as tasty as carrion!” He flies down from his perch on the arch to land in front of you, dancing a little in anticipation.

You look inside yourself for a part of yourself that you wish to give up: a bad habit, self-doubt, fear about a certain thing, something that’s blocking your creativity, PTSD, or any other thing you feel you can give up. You remember to be specific about what it is so that you don’t damage what’s left of you. You hold out your hands and imagine it as a physical presence. When you finish manifesting it, you offer it to Crow, who takes it and gobbles it up with a satisfying “caw!”

“Wait here!” the Crow says, and he flies through the arch. As you wait for his return, you notice that there are stones close to the circle of light that are just right for sitting on. Eventually you see a vaguely human shape emerging from the arch. It starts to walk towards you, and as it does, it solidifies into one of your Beloved Dead. The Crow follows after they manifest and resumes his perch on top of the arch.

You invite this person to sit with you on the stones and you begin to talk.

(…)

After you two talk for awhile, Crow comes down off the arch to where you two are sitting and says to your Beloved Dead, “It is time.” You ask them for any last messages, hug them, and they follow Crow back to the arch. Crow perches on their shoulder as they walk back through the arch. Once they are fully through, you start walking back to the crossroads.

As you reach the crossroads, you hear the beat of wings, and Crow lands on the rock. He says, “I have one last message for you…” and he gives it to you. (…) You thank him, and he flies away with a caw.

You sit on the rock again, take a deep breath, and return to floating in the darkness. And when you are ready, you return to the present, to this room and open your eyes.