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 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.”

Recent Reflections (with expletives)

  1. I like makeup, and I’m having fun with it, even though the butch side of myself is going “huh? wut?”
  2. I am an activist for some things, and I’ll do the work when I need to, but I’m not so keen on the community around activism sometimes. There are times when the very far left sounds quite similar to the very far right, especially in the “I will shout at you until you believe like I do” school of activism.
  3. Speaking of politics, I am not an anarchist, even though I’m pagan. I love all you Anarcho-pagans out there. Keep doing what you do. I just am not. I’m very much a New England Yankee Democrat.
  4. I’m not Hillary’s #1 Fan or anything, but I also don’t think it’s the end of the world that Bernie didn’t get the nomination. I don’t think there was any actual conspiracy on the part of the DNC to see him not win, either. Having grown up in New England with history nerds for parents, I’ve lived and breathed politics from the cradle. What the DNC has been doing is what usually happens during elections. Unless you get a surprise winner like Barack Obama in 2008, most of the time they have a general idea of who’s going to end up with the nod.
  5. That said, the Republicans have gone batshit crazy, and what they have is certainly not normal. Trump is nasty and should not get in office.
  6. Personally, I think a third party vote is throwing votes to Trump. But you know what? You don’t have to give a fuck what I think, and I don’t really give a shit who you vote for as long as you actually vote. There are plenty of down-ticket things that still need your attention, even if you leave the presidential vote blank.
  7. I keep wavering about running for office. Sometimes I think I should and sometimes I think that way lies madness…of the bad kind.
  8. Working with Ereshkigal keeps the “give a fuck” tank low and the bullshit meter set on high sensitivity. The extra helping of hormones does not help this.
  9. It’s rather fun watching my wife watch the DNC. She’s getting a real education about American politics this year.
  10. Pink is my favorite color. Most of you know this already. I am just reasserting my pink-loving identity. 🙂

Dancing in the Dark

I was reading an anthology about people’s experiences with Ereshkigal the other day, and I realized that I must be kind of weird when it comes to the “dark” Goddesses. Ereshkigal is new as a patron, but I’ve worked with Her before. I’ve also worked with Hecate, the Morrigan, Cerridwen, Lilith, Kali, and several other of this class of deity, and while I have a healthy respect for Them and what They can do, I don’t fear them. Most of the anthology had people talking about how “scary” Ereshkigal is. Other adjectives were terrifying, hard, cold, angry, etc.

It may be weird, but when I work with Them, Their realms feel comfortable to me. Binah on the tree of life feels more like a sanctuary when we do work there than an echoing emptiness. Sure, Ereshkigal may be cold and stern, and even angry at times, but Her cuttings are purposeful. She can be comforting, but doesn’t coddle you when you’re not doing what you should be doing. Same thing with Hecate. She’ll be honest with you while you’re standing at the crossroads, making sure you know the gains and consequences of each road, but She’ll gladly dance with you and cheer you on once the decision is made. As hard as the Morrigan is, she also shows the ultimate compassion and mourns the waste that war can bring.

My wife says that it’s just who I am and how my particular calling manifests (I do work with the dying). I know that there are many folks who don’t work with these deities, and sometimes what you don’t know about can be scary. For me, these deities aren’t scary, they’re beautiful.

I will say, though, my heavy metal playlist is getting a good workout these days while I’m getting to know Ereshikigal…