Thursday, April 22, 2021

Well, then...

There are things I’ve thought of discussing here that I just kept very firmly under my cap. This is somewhat out of self-preservation, because once you put things in the public sphere there's always a chance someone's going to make it weird, but that's not really all of the why.  It's... already weird. It's weird, and uncomfortable, and weird. It's a reality-questioning weird. It's a "Wait, what the hell is my entire life about then?" weird. And that realization lead to a simple truth: This blog has a purpose. It's meant to be a signpost hammered into the ground for someone as lost and witless as I was (and whooooboy). Life is to goddamned short to argue with yourself about things that, ultimately, only matter to the people they matter to (and we'll get back to that). 

So here's something I was going to talk about a while ago, and dusted off to finally talk about now.
☙ ⋅˙⋅ ❧

Here is the timeline of how I got into all this to the best of my active recollection, and you’ll see bits and bobs of it across my blog:

I was a tween. Weird, bad, spiritual, things happened, and I prayed to get rid of them, because I was taught to believe this would be effective. It was not effective.

So I stopped doing that, and went the other way of believing in nothing, because if it's not real then it can't hurt me. It still could.
Eventually, I caved in and did an internet search at the library for “Ghost (or it may have been “demon”) attacking me” and… well… that was quite like what I was experiencing. And even if it wasn't that, it couldn't hurt to try those solutions, right? My skeptical learning thus far had said to test and question. So, let's test and question.
A local shop sells me a few items, gives me a few pointers on how to use them. It did something, which was more success than I'd had so far. Thus flows the entirety of my practice - 99% led by intuition, the two or three things I could find on internet access still paid for in minutes (or at my very bible-belt library) and spirit guidance.

That is what I remember, getting close to 2.5 decades later. And, stop me if I’ve said this before, but I have an absolutely terrible memory.

A Swift Kick In The Ass From My Childhood.

I took a nice afternoon walk one day, to a place I used to frequent as a kid. I had a walk, had a sit, poked around in the leaves looking for morels and had a nice thermos of coffee. Something caught my eye in the trees: A small scrap of cloth, still tied to the broken remnants of a sanded and poly-coated cedar stick. I recognized it instantly, faded as it was. It had once been blue, and part of a worn out pillowcase. A little dagger-twist of deja vous, and suddenly…

Oh! How could I forget- Wait… What?

In that singular rush of memory it came back: That pillow case had been cut in half to use as a rags, and one half had been painted into a kind of flag on the kitchen floor with my best friend. Why we had done this was foggy, but I remembered that we painted it and took it out into the woods. I remembered that I went back several times with it by myself and eventually I’d firmly wedged the stick and left it.

Curiosity piqued, I spent days digging through old boxes of stuff in search of the only possible lead I have left: my childhood diary. If it involved my best friend, chances are I’d documented it in those bordering-on-neon pages. The entries are almost impossible to read (spelling was lost on me at that age, to say nothing of my persistently terrible penmanship), but I slowly teased out a few things. These entries aren't dated, but it’s somewhere in the nebulous territory after I was nine but before twelve, when I'd gotten a new diary.

As I read, little memories kicked up. Jogged by the words, encouraged by the hints of smell still trapped between the pages, and suddenly things felt so strange. An entire chunk of “me” that I’d forgotten is there, and it’s only the things 'worth' writing down.

Then I found the right entry: My friend had stayed the night for my birthday, and we had done these handful of fun things and painted 'the' flag and walked around and then we watched a movie and she had to go home.

I turned back a handful of pages, and something caught my eye, so I read. To paraphrase:
I’d had a dream of riding on a 'weird talking pig' to a 'mountain' that was in [the woods] where people were gathered around a fire (Uh...) I was ‘too little’ to be there, but the fact that I was there was very important and so I was handed a flag and told to stand at the back and welcome new people - that this was my job 'for now'. (Oooookay...) After this people turned into 'monsters', and there was 'thanksgiving dinner' and then I rode my pig back home. (Oh hell.)
There was a little sketch (the bit that’d caught my eye) of the flag. It was… not a design a child would just pull out of their ass. And it was an almost, somewhat, familiar one... (See: "A banner hangs from a tall forked staff , blazoned with bold heraldry. [...] Like any heraldry is an amalgamation of what I have inherited, with a twist or flourish to identify it as mine." - I Heard the Sound... pt. 2). I sat there for a moment, understandably going: Wait… what? Wait… WHAT?! I don’t have any active recollection of this. All that’s left are pages in a diary, written in the limited vocabulary and comprehension of a kid. There were a lot of similar entries, too. It seemed that 90% of what I wrote about was dreams, or my best friend visiting, or how much I loved my mom, grandma, or pets. Sometimes whole entries were about animals I saw near the road and how I hoped they were okay. I have apparently passed through life utterly unchanged. 

That period of time was right about when my severe, life-threatening, allergies started. Which means this is right about the time I started pounding antihistamines to not die. Which, as I’ve discovered as an adult, 1: Acts as a kind of ad-hoc flying ointment (anticholinergics just sorta do that) 2: absolutely scrambles my brain. I’ll live my life normally enough, and then all memory of the drugged period of time sort of drips off of my brain like water off a duck's back. There's even a few hazy recollections of things I wrote about (I almost kind of remember having gone to see a particular movie, for example - mostly I remember that it was not age-appropriate and the talk my parents had with me afterward).

In the scrambled, truncated, fragmented, timeline of my existence… I guess a lot of things are missing, and waiting for just the right breeze on the wind to jab them into life again? I thought that this - all of this - started with that entity attacking me and I was likely very wrong.

Consequences of Pacts you didn’t know you made,
before you were old enough to understand them.

With a sharpened awareness of what I was looking for outside of Childhood BFF's name I found quite a lot of dreams with a lot of substance. In one I described in sparse detail something akin to an induction. Other dreams had instruction in things that, in hindsight, are pretty witchy. That entity may well have been attacking not at random, but because I was already a sworn, avowed, member of those hillside congregations, utterly unknown to the me that emerged on the other side of the benadryl haze. Someone/thing decided to pick off the apparent weak link: The child who did not understand. 

I don’t know what to think of it, to be honest. It's all a lot to wrap your head around, and even though I've had quite a while to do my brain-wrapping... it's just still a lot. I’d completely forgotten this stuff. The area where my memory starts to pick up with any kind of consistency was well into my teens when I’d figured out my allergy triggers and stopped being drugged to the gills. So, reading back over it is… well, it’s a mind fuck.

I have no reason to doubt these diary entries. I jealously guarded that thing because it was the only truly private thing I had. I also have no reason to doubt it because I still have those sorts of dreams now, and have for as long as I can actively remember. I thought this was the result of my witching, but it’s entirely possible I had that the wrong way around. And that realization makes me reflect heavily on why some folks took my incessant badgering seriously and actually taught me how to get my crap under control. It’s also a shame I don’t actively remember a lot of what I was taught by them for the same reasons that I don’t actively remember those early dreams - and Oaths being Oaths, I didn't write a lot down about that stuff at the time. 

The Tiniest Crisis of Practice. 

It reframed almost everything. It threw into question a lot of what I think I know about my childhood because honestly I might not know jack shit. It certainly threw into question the core of how my practice started, and why some things happen the way they happen. It did, for a moment, make me ask myself if any of it is 'real' ... which ...
I know that I am not the first person to have dreams and experiences like these. Let's just set that in stone right there. There’s far too many historical attestations and accounts of such things to ever engage in that level of hubris. I would not have had my nether-regions pucker in extreme panic at the reading of riding a pig to a hilltop congregation of shape-changing revelers had there not been attestations aplenty of said Wild Parties. There are thousands who have dreamed these dreams and seen these sights. Whether or not they are objectively real doesn’t matter - these experiences happen, broadly and yet specifically

I know that I am deeply and profoundly fulfilled by these practices and experiences. And, regardless of an objective or subjective reality that fulfillment and contentment is not something to ignore or turn aside - there’s precious little fulfillment to be had, and you’ve got to really grab on with both hands when you find it.

I believe, then, that it is probably for the best that I continue to do what I do, and share what I share when/where/how I can. To act as a signpost for some other traveler sorting this shit out of dreams and half-memories, having every molecule of their posterior clench up at the realization that they were doing Things before they even knew what those Things were.

This is what I mean by "traditional" a lot of the time, by the way. More in the literary or folkloric sense. Yes, I've been 'initiated' by others, but unless you were also initiated by the same people and I have invited you to share my circle.. that means approximately nothing. Instead, the part that matters is the very broken continuity reaching through the aeons to spitting ocher against the back of your hand in a blackened cave to touch the spirits of the animals dwelling within the folds of the earth. 

And about the "Real" part - Let me be very clear: The dreams I’ve had could’ve been 'just dreams' or full on 'spirit world' experiences.  I don’t care and it doesn’t matter. The people who mentored me when I was young could’ve been legit, or liars. I don’t care and it doesn’t matter. The books I’ve read, the people I’ve spoken to, the experiences I’ve had could all be a heap of nonsense and I just don’t care and it just doesn’t matter

I share these things to preach to the choir, to hopefully assist others walking an often difficult and crooked path, and offer something to those seeking and striving. Will “that's bullshit!” fill my fridge? Will it fill my heart to bursting with the joy and ecstasy of the sabbat? Will tearing myself up over what this all is, rather than it's use and function do me or anyone else any bit of good? No, it will not. Therefore I don't care and it doesn’t matter.

And One More For The Road.

As I was writing this entry up I decided to talk to my dad a little bit about dreams and dreaming. He’s been telling me about dreaming of my mom, which feels fairly natural… except, well… the way he describes those dreams is pretty familiar.

He described some of the same dream landmarks I’ve seen, and some of the same beings. He described the abnormally enlarged areas of woodland, and the way the plants and trees danced in the darkness. He asked me, quite conspiratorially, if maybe the place where I grew up was a little… woooooooeeeeoooo. If maybe there were some kind of roads that “things” used and he’d just happened to put his home on one. If people being here that weren’t afraid of “woooeeeooo” things might have given them permission to happen here. If maybe my mom, a little wooooooeeeeoooo herself, might’ve unconsciously picked this place. 

Well, then...   

Chicken and the egg. It doesn't matter which came first.

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