9 August, 2019
Santa Muerte, the patron saint of love and lost objects, lets me in on a her secret why traditional magic so often requires sacrifice- and altars.
In traditional Western magical tradition, it is very, very common to make some kind of deal with an external entity, who will then grant you some kind of power, but usually command a very steep price.
For example, traditional folk magic from Germany has it that you can marry a nymph. First you need to find a nymph, and call out to her, and then you woo her, and when she feels ready you take her down to the forest with actual witnesses and have a wedding ritual, and then you wear the ring, and you don't marry anyone else, and you most certainly don't commit adultery by starting anything informal with a human woman. If you do all these things, of course the nymph will help you with all that is in her power, as any loving life partner would, which in her case means to adjust coincidences so that you achive great success and fortune. Of course, the stories go, eventually the sacred vows are usually broken and great tragedy comes about. Look out for rich old (apparent) bachelors to find people who stuck to the deal.
Now, if you are actually genuinely and intrinsically interested in marrying a nymph, or any other nonphysical being, by all means go for it- I am not here to judge how people are to find happiness. Of course, if you are interested in having children, you will get the same relationship issues that you would get with anyone else with a different view or ability on the subject. And, if you rely on the marriage to the nymph for the wealth, you may well get the same kind of conundrum as you would relying on your marriage for wealth with a physical person. It is just that cheating on a nymph is even worse than cheating on a physical woman, because she immediately knows it, and you can expect to immediately experience her wrath.
I have had very pleasant conversations with nymphs, but I would suggest to keep it within the bounds of friendship unless you are quite serious about what you are doing.
So apart from being rather male centric, this wonderful (for a magic historian) 17th century nymph spell exemplifies wonderfully the trouble with Western magical traditions (at least all I came by so far). It's always some variant of the impossible bargain. Of course the darkest kind is the one with the devil, or some other kind of evil entity, where you hurt someone in order to get the favor. It would appear that that kind of deal was not particularly rare among aristocrats in recent European history looking to move up.
Now, as a Huna practitioner, I don't do deals that require payment. The sixths principle says that all power comes from within, so what I do with my power is mine, and that's that. I'm not saying entity deals don't work- but I am saying that they work because they are a means for tricking yourself into believing in yourself and achieving things with your own power. The nymph spell above was found among the personal items of a 17th century wagon smith who somehow came to wealth as a trader. That is not a particularly normal situation for the time- so it must have worked for him! Maybe he even managed to trick himself somehow into making provisions that would allow him to marry after all, but I don't envy the wife so much, with the nymph always hanging over her head. If enough emotion's involved to change his reality, personally I'd consider it a metaphysical affair and would want it to stop. Of course he could do that- but then he would have to find additional ways to keep up the believing in himself, and to part company with the nymph in a friendly way.
I'm not even saying that entity deals are never worth their price. If it's the easiest way to get yourself to believe you can achieve something, and the price is acceptable, and the entity is genuinely well-meaning and friendly, by all means go for it. Just be wary of long term commitments, they look a lot cheaper when you are making them than when you are fulfilling them- it's essentially the same problem as with loan sharks and cell phone contracts that come with an iPhone. Also, make sure that you know how prices will grow when your wishes grow- Even if it only takes a drop of blood to power a love spell, I still would much rather not poke myself every time I'm in need of a little affection. And what if I want more? By the logic of the drop of blood, I would likely have to up the anty proportionately, so for the biggest favors, I would have to make the biggest sacrifices. You can see that this is not a direction you want to end up going in if you think it through. Here's an alternative.
If you can get yourself to believe in your own power, you're free! And free is a lot cheaper than cheap. When a change in energy is large enough, it changes quality. When you don't have to worry how many rosaries you need to say to get a new lawnmower, you are free to ask for a waterfront property.
The downside is I don't get to use any shortcuts, I need to get myself to believe that I have power on my own. I usually use imaginary experiences
to accomplish that, and also accepting the friendly Huna philosophy that says that beliefs are arbitrary and I can pick any I like make them mine, and also that I already have my own higher aspect that powers everything- I am my experience
. The combination does the trick fairly well. But it does take effort, and it does take practice- but hey, so do the bargains! So the limiting factor is no longer what some entity demands- it is simply the practical issue of how many contrary limiting beliefs you are willing to dig up and turn around, and how much more energy flow you can tolerate going through you how quickly, because suddenly getting stronger energy flow really can be like a wasp's nest for your fears.
A really interesting example is a story I read online recently of how a woman performed a "hot foot" spell, a plea for someone troublesome to leave your experience, on her co-worker with the help of Santa Muerte. In return, she offered the lady good wine and a nice statue. Now I was initially inclined to distance myself from the whole idea and stop reading, because it sounded a tiny bit too much like black magic for my liking, but I decided to give it a second look- I usually I fare much better when I manage not to be too quick to judge. I realized the co-worker must have been extraordinarily mean-spirited, so it was possible to look at the whole affair as a form of harmonizing. And I have more than once (presumably) caused the departure of quarrelsome people using Huna's pink light for clearing and harmonizing groups. Now I had no direct intention of making anyone leave, I was perfectly open to the idea that things might improve with those people still on board, and that's my normal yardstick for white magic. But leave they did. In this case, I had to admit to myself- in this particular case, is that much of a difference? Should I only be happy for those who like to intellectualize things enough so they can appreciate the fine line between the two, as long as they aren't otherwise up to causing harm? So I decided that I would have done it differently, and it was a bit of a gray area, but in the end it was fine.
So she cast the spell and it worked! Good for her. Now for the cost benefit analysis- that's where, in my humble opinion, the vast majority of traditional magical systems, especially the European ones, fall short. The spells somehow always involve some being who will require who-knows-what in return for favors- the mentioned nymphs who require marriage, spirits helpers that require constant feeding with physical tobacco water, deities that need food (can't they eat the spiritual aspect so we don't have to waste the physical one?), and so on. It can be a very limiting, very expensive business, and almost certainly a rather fearful one. So I couldn't help but wonder- why? Why do so many traditional spirit helpers require payment for their services? When they get their offerings- what are they going to do with them? And you can always get more money, but getting a statue- and presumably dedicating living space and maintaining it for life- that's seriously expensive stuff. So I wondered- what's up with that? Was it kind of a limiting factor, so practitioners don't go overboard? So as I was thinking these thoughts, Santa Muerte picked came around and gave me an answer!
She needed to be asked strong favor so would accept magic from me.
Oh. So it's the old deal that this person needed that perceived sacrifice to make her spell feel important. Like when you pay extra for the premium version of a television that comes from the same assembly line as the cheap one but lasts longer because you take better care of it.
And what is it with the statue?
Holy smokes. Ms. Muerte knows her stuff.
I'd like to add she struck me as one of the friendliest presences I've came into contact with, very, very loving. She seems to care a great deal about people, especially poorer ones, and she is not above accommodating them in whatever way they need in order so they may give themselves permission to find love and happiness, including spilling wine and setting up skeletony statues. Maybe those needs make us snobbish folks feel queazy, but it's really an act of love.
Since I'm offering shamanic services now a friend of mine decided to jump on the bandwagon and book a consulting session with me. As with any good career move he started out by procrastinating and then formulating a concept document on Google Docs, which made me smile (don't tell him- oh wait, he's going to be reading this). The gist of the matter was that he felt incapable of letting go- which he took to mean that he felt unable to reduce the amount of gigs he was doing in his current occupation, in order to really get to business with his potential new occupation, which pays much better, but is unproven to work. He wanted to, like, really, really go for it. Like, really bad. Like, he wanted to let go so really very bad that he got pretty darned uptight about letting go. It all felt really confusing and when I felt that way just by reading his words- and they really felt like they had been hammered onto the computer screen by lifting keys on a keyboard made of marble bricks- I was like, okay he's in trouble. Not trouble trouble, but surely some kind of block towards where he wanted to go. But I couldn't quite tell what it was all about- did he he feel so much tension because this new thing isn't right for him? Or because he is resisting the old thing too much to get rid of it?
A while ago, it seems like along time ago now, I was practicing shamanism strictly privately, for fear that I might be branded a loon. I eventually gradually came to realize that the people who felt threatened by spiritual ideas were already put off by me, even if I held back on the label, and to the people I already clicked with, the label just made things easier to talk about. But accepting the label takes confidence, and that confidence took a while to build. This is the story of one of the steps.
So we were a friendly group hanging out in the kitchen, drinking beer, cooking spaghetti with tomato sauce and giving back rubs. Now in our society you usually only touch someone when it's a special occasion, but someone had decided to change that rule and everyone eventually went along with it. Back rubs are so nice! So one of my friends decided it was her turn and I reached out but it felt really uneasy. I didn't want to be rude so started kind of testing the energy with my fingertips and I could feel my subconscious jerk my hands back in revulsion and gasp. Whoa, what was that! Now my subconscious really enjoys her company, but touching her lower back- that's not fun, and tonight's about fun, so there.
Now she had been having all sorts of trouble with various kinds of conflict and was doing impressively well for herself in spite of it all. She was doing some work in politics and had- at least, that's what I thought- decided that the materialistic worldview was the one where she was least likely to have people question her sanity. I didn't push the issue, she knew I think of the world in terms of energy, and I always suspected her to be a closeted witch. So she heard me gasp, and she blurted out- whoa, what was that? What did you see?
Now as a shaman, if someone asks for your help, you can tell, skeptic or not. So I promised to look into it and we went on with our evening. We checked ourselves into a bar later and my friend kept looking at me like what I had sensed in her back was really important to her. So I decided to shifted to shaman mode then and there, scooted up a chair, and checked here out. In shaman mode my subconscious was suddenly perfectly fine with prodding her. It makes sense- if we're having a party, why deal with things that aren't fun? But if we're in healing mode, oh now that same energy is really great stuff to work with, and it was important to my friend, so there. So I reached in, like I'd done many times before on myself and sometimes on family- with the question in my mind, what's going on? What's troubling you? How can I help? What's the cause of this? I found that if you can't change something, if you dig up the root, then you can.
I told her I got a very fundamental conflict that's about the town she and her parents grew up in. I hadn't questioned it at the time, as far as I was concerned, everybody wants to escape their home town and go to the city. But I did know that with her, this went a bit deeper. She'd left for the city as soon as she could, when she was still a teenager.
I got a sense that something really bad had happened. I got a feeling of a rifted community, of mistrust, of people not looking out for each even though they really wanted to. I got that they felt ashamed about how things were but felt powerless to change it.
Then I got a cobble stone road and people being carted off in a horse and buggy some time in the forties. I got a sense of denunciation. Now Germany, the forties, denunciation and carting people off didn't sound good, but I got a sense that this was an example of the place's problems, but it wasn't the root. So I kept digging.
Then I got a situation of two brothers. Fighting. Kain and Abel. Familiy conflict. Nastiness. Brutishness. But also haplessness, bumbling, unnecessary. And again and again, not taking care well.
So we were both stunned. I'd done a lot of symbolic healing on myself, and you expect to get symbols of problems, but this was different. This was very clear, and very real. So we drank up, got the bill, and headed to my kitchen where I fire up the computer and I look up Arnstedt, Thüringen, Germany on Wikipedia. Sure enough, turns that Günther von Kefernburg went to war with his brother Heinrich over succession around 1160 and it dragged on for years. Well, that was that- I'd known all along that spirtual power was real- but now I knew, and so did my friend.
So now I'd found the root. Two brothers had let their sibling rivalry escalate into a senseless war that split their community apart, and it made such an impression on the people there that they never were able to stop recreating patterns of conflict between people they actually really love, and the place just never really recovered. I remembered that bible passage that the sins of the fathers are visited upon sons up unto the seventh generation, and I'd just seen it all play out.
Luckily, with my shaman training, I knew that I could do something about that. If you don't like it, you make a change! So I sat down and I talked to the brothers to figure out what was going on.
Turns out Heinrich never really wanted to be king, he just let his feelings of rivalry get out of hand. The instant he realized that, he immediately dropped his claim and made peace with his brother. I could sense a feeling of, for lack of a better word, whoooooooosh pour over what I had seen, the town, and my friend. I could tell that her alienation was gone, and she told me later that her back pain never came back. I saw her later and she was looking really sharp. I checked in with the Kevernburgs and Arnstadt, and they felt changed.
Now the wikipedia article didn't change. Experience might or might not have noticeably changed for others in town, although I suspect it did for some. But boy did things change for my friend, and for me as well. Now I suspect that if enough of this kind of shifting happened for lots and lots of people, history would find itself a way to be rewritten entirely, but for now that's not important. The improvement happened for her.
My own confidence also increased enormously as a result. Now you could just decide to have the confidence, and that's what I was doing before in doing a lot of symbol healing on myself without expecting to get a lot of external validation. But when validation does come, boy is that nice! But you do have to remind yourself after to do without it again in those circumstances where it isn't necessary for the healing.
Now, did I really travel through time and conduct telepathic diplomacy between two warring medieval aristocrats? Yes! Because my friend feels good now. The rest is details.
One of my long term hobbies- I think even longer than practicing shamanism- is, hold your horses, everyone- playing foosball.
Of course, playing Foosball is a lot more fun when you win. The winning itself is very enjoyable, but it also raises your social status, and there is the added benefit that there is a social consensus that when you just won a game of foosball, you are allowed to pull otherwise cringeworthy stunts- like performing a moonwalk- while bystanders and losers alike have to pretend like what you are doing is completely normal. There is no joy quite like assimilating and then subverting the tribal customs.
Now I'm a reasonably strong player just by virtue of doing it a lot. For the most part, the people who beat me are competitive players, but occasionally, I'll meet my match. Normally I play simply by intending to win, and letting my subconscious mind take care of all of the playing. This results in fluid maneuvers but also unconventional and downright infuriatingly lucky shots.
Last week I faced off with a friend of mine who is much less experienced than me, but has built in himself a tremendous mastery of the energy around him by working in sales. I dived in expecting to toy with him a bit and then go for a quick win, but suddenly I could feel him taking control of the ball and even the table. That took me by surprise and I couldn't respond in educating my ku about dealing with this new challenge before he had beaten me down ten to zero and general gloating ensued.
Now today, I faced him off again and I concentrated rather hard trying to figure out something I could teach my ku in order to counter his unconsciously applied magic. A couple goals behind again, I found myself staring at the ball rather intently, and I observed that he couldn't get it into the goal. So I did nothing different- I just concentrated really, really hard on the ball, noticed details about it, and then added my conscious intent to charge the ball with as much energy as possible, and won handily.
Energy really does flow where attention goes, and when you're competing for something, having a lot of that energy coming from you is a really, really good idea!
I didn't nudge the ball, I didn't twitch his wrist, I didn't do anything specific- I just concentrated on the ball until I could feel a charge.
This goes to show how every good coach is teaching energy manipulation, but as shamans we have a working theory of why it works. Keep your eye on the ball, they say! The wisdom of that is much deeper than knowing where the ball is. You don't keep your eye on the ball to know where it is, you keep your eye on the ball to charge it with energy and cause circumstances to arrange so that you are the one who is, literally, in charge of it. If you have the most energy on the ball, your intentions will influence it, and everyone else, the most, and you will win! It helps, of course, to teach your ku valuable techniques to work with, but don't overdo that one. Ku will figure out how to win.
Maybe next time I'll add a little energy breathing, and I most certainly will concentrate more fully on my opponent while I perform my victory dance.
Recently I decided my budding Shaman Blog had enough stuff on it to be considered started, so I decided it would be a good idea to share it with the pack, so to speak, and put it in front of the people who really know what I'm talking about- the Kahili Huna group- and then clean up my kitchen. First things first.
I'd only shared it online with what I would call "seekers", people who might be interested in various spiritual practices, and shamans of varying skill and different traditions, for whom this somewhat different blog was most likely to be peripherally interesting, just some shamanic articles to gloss over and come back to later or not.
What I didn't consider is that when you reach out to a bunch of the most powerful shamans in the world with something that's really relevant to them, you are getting a response. So while I was scrubbing away and piling dishes, I turn around and my back kitchen wall is gone, and there there are all these pairs of eyeballs checking me out, and I can see my ku happily taking questions in a kind of Greek auditorium. And I think, boy, I wish I'd cleaned up my kitchen beforehand. I could picture how this went down- OK, so who's the new guy, got anything on him? Wait, Let me check... I see a man... in an unhealthy environment... making it better... yeah, he checks out. He's doing some kind of healing, but I'm not sure I want to know what it is.
So I went down to see Mr. Tree again, the friendly soul, and this time, something was different. Someone was there. A very friendly lady was introducing Mr. Tree to her friend I just happened to be there at just the right time so she kind of naturally included me in the conversation.
Turns out I'm not the first human Mr. Tree has taken an interest in. She said she was a bit of a spiritual networker, and went to visit Mr. Tree almost every day, and he really helped her get over some trouble she was having. She even showed me her favorite spot to sit on his roots. Mr. Tree had tried to show me on his own but I didn't quite get it at the time, I just politely sat down a bit and then rolled out a blanket nearby.
As if all that wasn't enough, she very matter-of-factly let me know that there used to be anti-chernobyl dance sessions there. It would appear that Mr. Tree is one political animal.