Tags: spirits

The Most High God and Other Gods

I found this paragraph very useful and I agree entirely. "Many of these spirits are accustomed to being worshiped as gods. Some continue to expect such reverence, others not so much. Bible students will perhaps recall Psalm 82:6 (or John 10:34 for those Christian readers!), wherein the pagan gods are accounted as limited potentates who will, in their own term, be judged by God as are other mortals. In the scripture, they are called gods, and sons of god, but they will ultimately face judgment as men do, presumably to face total destruction or share the common reward."

I think there are gods of peoples, gods of places, gods of offices/functions, etc. The words "god" "goddesses" "angels" "demons" etc. have so much baggage. I like what St. Thomas said about angels: "angel" is an office (function), in this case, "messenger of the Most High" while their nature is "spirit." Daniel speaks of the Prince of Persia contending with Gabriel and others. The Prince of Persia was a spirit of a people (the Persians) and/or place (Persia). Michael was the spirit which was assigned to Israel and as head of the Heavenly Army.

IMHO, gods from Greek, Germanic/Norse, Native American, Celtic, etc. pantheons are the same. Some have never been human. Some were flesh and blood ancestors of an ethnic group who went through apotheosis. Some are anthropomorphized natural forces, elements, rivers, storms, etc. I think ultimate reality is probably even grander than any of us suspect. Some may live for so long that we conceive of it as forever. But others are born, exist and die, like us. Gotterdammerung.

My own evolving theology holds the Most High to be the Creator of All, whether Earth, the Stars, the Gods, the Angels, Human Beings etc. The Most High is beyond our knowing, the Ain Soph. Earthmaker. We only know of the Most High through His works, his creation, and his messengers. We may know of Him through His Son, Jesus Christ, and through His Prophets like Moses and Mohammed. But my understanding is necessarily human, thus limited. I'm just whistling and kicking a can down the alleyway of eternity :-)

Adapting Your Spiritual Path to the Place Where You Live



Someone asked this question on a forum I read: "If you follow a European based tradition, but live outside of Europe, how do you incorporate the place where you live into your practice? Or, how do you accommodate your practice to the place where you live?"

I am an American and have developed my own way that works for me. The three legs for me of my own beliefs are:

1. Deity -for me, this means the Creator High-God (most indigenous peoples have a Creator-God, which many consider the same as the God of monotheism), and the Helpers (like Thunder, Earth, Night, Ocean, 4 Directions, Sun, etc.), --but many of the deities are also either place-based -like the river goddesses, or were once human ancestors who went through apotheosis in legend and deed, and sometimes are identified with natural elements like Thunder (ex: Thor, Sango) or offices like the Hearth (ex: Hestia, Brighid).

2. Ancestors -my own bloodlines, my DNA going all the way back from our earliest human ancestors in Africa, through numerous European countries, and several Native American tribes. I embrace ALL my ancestors, I don't pick and choose, because I am ALL of them.

3. The Land where I am, where I live now, and its wights, spirits, sacred sites, etc. I do not follow a cycle of the year that does not hold to this land. I do not really look at Europe very much for these practices, although certainly I enjoy reading about those practices and sites, as they do help illuminate some questions I have. Mostly I follow Native American ways for the place-spirits and nature-spirits here. But here in Montana, I don't even look much at my OWN tribal lore for this, because my Ioway tribe lived in the forested woodlands and tallgrass prairies of the midwest and along the Upper Mississippi and Lower Missouri. Instead I look at the lore about sites and land spirits from the lore and traditions of the tribes here in on the East Slope of Montana, the shortgrass prairies, mountain valleys, coniferous forests, and Rocky Mountains. The lore and spirits ARE different. Generic "Native American" doesn't wash.

My recommendations to someone trying to figure out your own path?

1. Worship the Deity/Deities you prefer or have made oath to.

2. Remember and honor your ancestors and their origins, through altars etc., and at the graves where they are buried. The graves where they are buried are your link to the land here; it is where have become American.

3. Read the ethnographies and folklore of the tribes where you live. If you live in Maine, read up on thethe lore and spiritual folklore of the Penobscot, Abenaki, etc., not the Navajo or Sioux. Don't try and copy Native American ceremonies. That is a no-no. Just read up on the rhythm of the land, the tribal calendars of natural processes and events, and the different animals and nature spirits and sites that were noted by the resident tribes to be important to the land where you reside. And every time you move, do this again for the new place you live.

There are some further ideas in an excellent article at AODA's website, called Wildcrafting the Modern Druid.

Elementals, Nature Spirits, and Larvae

The Elements and Their Inhabitants
by Manly P. Hall, exerpted from “The Secret Teachings of All Ages”

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS

Certain of the ancients, differing with Paracelsus, shared the opinion that the elemental kingdoms were capable of waging war upon one another, and they recognized in the battlings of the elements disagreements among these kingdoms of Nature spirits. When lightning struck a rock and splintered it, they believed that the salamanders were attacking the gnomes. As they could not attack one another on the plane of their own peculiar etheric essences, owing to the fact that there was no vibratory correspondence between the four ethers of which these kingdoms are composed, they had to attack through a common denominator, namely, the material substance of the physical universe over which they had a certain amount of power.

Wars were also fought within the groups themselves; one army of gnomes would attack another army, and civil war would be rife among them. Philosophers of long ago solved the problems of Nature’s apparent inconsistencies by individualizing and personifying all its forces, crediting them with having temperaments not unlike the human and then expecting them to exhibit typical human inconsistencies. The four fixed signs of the zodiac were assigned to the four kingdoms of elementals. The gnomes were said to be of the nature of Taurus; the undines, of the nature of Scorpio; the salamanders exemplified the constitution of Leo; while the sylphs manipulated the emanations of Aquarius.

The Christian Church gathered all the elemental entities together under the title of demon. This is a misnomer with far-reaching consequences, for to the average mind the word demon means an evil thing, and the Nature spirits are essentially no more malevolent than are the minerals, plants, and animals. Many of the early Church Fathers asserted that they had met and debated with the elementals.

As already stated, the Nature spirits are without hope of immortality, although some philosophers have maintained that in isolated cases immortality was conferred upon them by adepts and initiates who understood certain subtle principles of the invisible world. As disintegration takes place in the physical world, so it takes place in the ethereal counterpart of physical substance. Under normal conditions at death, a Nature spirit is merely resolved back into the transparent primary essence from which it was originally individualized. Whatever evolutionary growth is made is recorded solely in the consciousness of that primary essence, or element, and not in the temporarily individualized entity of the elemental. Being without man’s compound organism and lacking his spiritual and intellectual vehicles, the Nature spirits are subhuman in their rational intelligence, but from their functions–limited to one element–has resulted a specialized type of intelligence far ahead of man in those lines of research peculiar to the element in which they exist.

The terms incubus and succubus have been applied indiscriminately by the Church Fathers to elementals. The incubus and succubus, however, are evil and unnatural creations, whereas elementals is a collective term for all the inhabitants of the four elemental essences. According to Paracelsus, the incubus and succubus (which are male and female respectively) are parasitical creatures subsisting upon the evil thoughts and emotions of the astral body. These terms are also applied to the superphysical organisms of sorcerers and black magicians. While these larvæ are in no sense imaginary beings, they are, nevertheless, the offspring of the imagination. By the ancient sages they were recognized as the invisible cause of vice because they hover in the ethers surrounding the morally weak and continually incite them to excesses of a degrading nature. For this reason they frequent the atmosphere of the dope den, the dive, and the brothel, where they attach themselves to those unfortunates who have given themselves up to iniquity. By permitting his senses to become deadened through indulgence in habit-forming drugs or alcoholic stimulants, the individual becomes temporarily en rapport with these denizens of the astral plane. The houris seen by the hasheesh or opium addict and the lurid monsters which torment the victim of delirium tremens are examples of submundane beings, visible only to those whose evil practices are the magnet for their attraction.

Differing widely from the elementals and also the incubus and succubus is the vampire, which is defined by Paracelsus as the astral body of a person either living or dead (usually the latter state). The vampire seeks to prolong existence upon the physical plane by robbing the living of their vital energies and misappropriating such energies to its own ends.

In his De Ente Spirituali Paracelsus writes thus of these malignant beings: “A healthy and pure person cannot become obsessed by them, because such Larvæ can only act upon men if the latter make room for them in their minds. A healthy mind is a castle that cannot be invaded without the will of its master; but if they are allowed to enter, they excite the passions of men and women, they create cravings in them, they produce bad thoughts which act injuriously upon the brain; they sharpen the animal intellect and suffocate the moral sense. Evil spirits obsess only those human beings in whom the animal nature is predominating. Minds that are illuminated by the spirit of truth cannot be possessed; only those who are habitually guided by their own lower impulses may become subjected to their influences.”

A strange concept, and one somewhat at variance with the conventional, is that evolved by the Count de Gabalis concerning the immaculate conception, namely, that it represents the union of a human being with an elemental. Among the offspring of such unions he lists Hercules, Achilles, Æneas, Theseus, Melchizedek, the divine Plato, Apollonius of Tyana, and Merlin the Magician.

The sylphs were changeable entities, passing to and fro with the rapidity of lightning. They work through the gases and ethers of the earth and are kindly disposed toward human beings. They are nearly always represented as winged, sometimes as tiny cherubs and at other times as delicate fairies.

(http://www.manlyphall.org/text/the-elements-and-their-inhabitants/)

The Hidden Folk

This film is from Iceland, but the Hidden Folk are all about us, in wild places from which they have not been driven, including Montana, and places in the mountains around Helena. Cliffs, odd lonely stones, formations and outcrops. Caves, peaks, glacial lakes, talus slopes, dark ravines and canyon rifts. Meadows and whispering groves. Springs, and rivers, and more.



Up the airy mountains
Down the rushy Glen,
We dare not go a-hunting
For fear of little men.

Strangers in the Land

"But about the Strangers…you know what they be- aye- you’re gettin’ ready with the word, but it’s chancy to call them such! No, and if you’d seen them as much as I have, you’d twist your tongue into another shape, you would. Folk in these parts, they call them mostly the Strangers, or the tiddy people, or the Greencoaties from their green jackets; or maybe the Yarthkin, since they dwelled in the mools. But mostly the Strangers, as I said before, for strange they be- in looks and in ways...

On summer nights they danced in the moonshine on the great flat stones you see about, I don’t know where they come from, but my grandmother said how her grandmother’s grandmother told them that long ago the folk set fire on those stones and smeared them with blood and thought a deal more on them than the passion bodies at the church...

And on winter evenings the Strangers danced at nights on the fireplace when the folk went to bed; and the crickets played for them with right good will… Folk thought the Strangers helped the corn to ripen, and all the green things to grow and that they painted the pretty colors on the flowers and the reds and browns on the fruit and the yallerin leaves. And that’s how, if they were fratched (offended) things would dwindle and wither and the harvest would fail and the folk would go hungry. So, they did all they could think to please the tiddy people and keep friends with them.

In the gardens, the first flowers, the first fruit, and the first cabbage or whatnot, they’d be taken to the nearest flat stone and laid there for the Strangers; in the fields, the first yearn of corn or the first potatoes were given to them and at home, before you began to eat your vittles, a bit of bread and drop of milk or beer, was spilled on the fireplace to keep the Greencoaties from hunger and thirst.

...According to the Story, all went well with the people and the Land as long as they kept up these habits. But as time went on, the people became careless. No libations were poured out, the great flat stones were left empty, and even sometimes broken up and carried away. There was more church-going, and in time a generation sprang up that had almost forgotten about the Strangers. Only the wise women remembered.

At first nothing happened; the Strangers were reluctant to believe that their old worshippers had deserted them. At last they became angry, and struck. Harvest after harvest failed, there was no growth of corn or hay, the beasts sickened on the farms, the children pined away and there was no food to give them. Then the men spent the little they could get on drink, and the women on opium. They were bewildered, and could think of nothing to do; all except the wise women.

They got together and made a solemn ceremony of divination, with fire and blood. (presumably on the stones) And when they learnt what was making the mischief, they went all among the people, and summoned them to gather at the cross-roads in the deep twilight, and there they told them the cause of the trouble, and explained the usages of the older people. And the women, remembering all the little graves in the churchyard and the pining babies in their arms, said that the old ways must be taken up again, and the men agreed with them.

So they went home, and spilled their libations, and laid out the firstings of the little that they had, and taught their children to respect the Strangers. Then, little by little, things began to mend; the children lifted their heads, the crops grew and the cattle throve. Still, there were never such merry times as there once had been, and the fever still hovered over the Land. It is a bad thing to forsake the old ways, and what is once lost can never quite be recovered.”

(Katharine Briggs, “The Encyclopedia of Fairies”, pp. 384- 385; From Artisson, http://www.robinartisson.com/scarespite/strangers.html)

The Shamanic Worldview

1. The shamanic universe is holistic and dualistic. All things are interrelated, as in the Lakota saying, mitakuye oyasin, "All my relatives." At the same time, the universe is made up of binary sets, binary opposition/opposite pairs, such as big-little, dark-light, alive-dead, etc. The binary sets are mediated, or can be, by a third factor, which then leads to tripartite thinking.

2. The shamanic universe is made up of several vertical layers: above, here, below (and there can be several layers of each of those three). Above (sky, heaven, upperworld), Here (middleworld, the earth's surface, normal living space), and Below (the underworld, underground, water) with their Otherworld states as well.

3. These vertical layers are connected by an axis mundi (world axis) that extends vertically and is used to travel between the worlds. There are various forms of the axis mundi: tree, fire with column of smoke, ladder, sunlight ray, rainbow, pillar/column, mountain, hill, cliff, large stone, pyramid/temple/church, omphalos, piko, sipapu, navel of landscape, underground passage, chamber, grave, mound, pit, tunnel, burrow, cave. In our Ioway stories one additional form is the central lodge pole used for suspending a pot over the cooking fire.

4. The shamanic universe extends on the horizontal place as well, and is divided into four directions or quadrants (the quadrants of E, S, W, N are divided by the winter and summer solstices and sunrises). Different cultures will have different symbols for each, such as a color, spirit, animal/bird, element, time of day/season, period in the human life, etc.

5. The center of the shamanic universe is HERE, wherever you are. In traditional landscapes, there can be a world-navel (Greek: omphalos, Hawaiian: piko, etc.) which is the center of the world for a particular culture. The center is where all 6 directions (e, s, w, n, above, below) meet in one place: Here.

6. Time in the shamanic universe is oriented to periodic events: solar (annual) and lunar cycles (months), days and seasons, life cycles (human, animal, plant), weather cycles.

7. The shamanic universe has hidden dimensions or realms not normally visible or accessible. All the worlds (multiverses, otherworlds) occupy the same space but the other worlds are only accessible to some of us, some of the time (certain times, certain places can be part of the process of access). Portals can include natural places in the landscape (mountains, caves, springs, special sites), as well as graveyards graves and mounds, and specially constructed features (temples/churches, certain lodges, megalithic sites).

8. The shamanistic worldview is animistic- Everything is inherently alive from the time of creation, has soul, presence, life-force, Being: Earth, humans, animals, plants, rocks, soil, river, ocean, water, fire, mountain, wind, cloud, stars, sun, moon, and parts of those: bones, teeth, feathers, fossils, skins, hair, flint, body parts, shells. The lifeforce of animals and people who have died generally remains in their bones. Even many things made by humans are, or can be, alive: tools, weapons, pottery, artifacts, figurines/statues, beads of shell and bone, pipes, and stories and myths themselves. This life force/power of many names (spirit, chi, mana, orenda, etc.) is like electricity, occurring in all things to some extent but unevenly distributed, tending to be concentrated in certain special places, objects and people. Usually there are different parts to this lifeforce, such as the soul that travels on after death but the body-soul that remains in the bones in the grave.

9. The shamanic worldview is one of transformation and metamorphosis, that one can change forms, not just in the imagination but in physical reality as well. There is a qualitative equivalence between all, which is why humans can become animal in form, and animals can become human in form, etc. Outward physical appearance is only an incidental attribute of the lifeforce of a particular Person (human, animal, spirit, etc.) and is subject to change. Shape-shifting is possible, inherent and real.

10. The shamanic worldview is concerned with the natural relationship between predator and prey AKA the relationship between humans and the plants and animals we eat. We only exist by eating the lifeforce of other Beings (vegans have no "pass"). This is a reality that shapes our relationship with these others we eat (and some of which, eat us!). A common idea is that of reciprocity and proper behavior (such as thankfulness, prayer, ritual treatment, etc.). Plants and animals have "bosses", spirit masters or mistresses (such as Sedna). Each species can have its own, such as the Master of the Elk. If animals or plants are treated disrespectfully, the Boss can withhold game.

11. In the shamanic worldview, humans can possibly engage and interact with this spiritual reality, the otherworlds and various Persons, spirits, animals, places, etc. Engagement generally occurs in altered states of consciousness (dreaming, trance, visions) etc. Altered states can be induced through psychoactive substances, fasting, sleep deprivation, isolation, hypoxia, pain, illness, fever, prayer, hypnagogic visualization, meditation, etc. There can be two states of this kind of engagement: soul flight (the soul travels to other places) and embodiment trances (the otherworld or other spirits inhabits the body UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE SHAMAN, or an animal spirit comes into the body and shapeshifting can occur). Possession is not the same as embodiment trance, as possession is under the control of the entity (ghost, demon, god) not the shaman.

(My own meditations and reactions to William Romain's "Shamans of the Lost World: A Cognitive Approach to the Prehistoric Religion of the Ohio Hopewell").

About Trees

TREE SPECIES
Some species are generally friendly and some not. Traditions talk about this: oaks, ash, elm, rowan, etc.
Oaks are often friendly to humans but you can have hostile oaks too
Elms are often unfriendly, but you can have ones that like a particular person. Like a mean breed of dog that likes its own master (of course no human is an elm's "master"-- it's just a weak example)
These also relate to the folklore of tree species and their uses in medicine or symbolism

INDIVIDUAL TREE PERSONALITIES
Some individual trees are friendly, some standoffish or sleepy, and some even hostile, to some extent based on its own history and treatment by people and other events (like lightning strikes)

TREE INHABITANTS
On top of the tree's own personality, they also act as homes to seen and unseen, some of which are friendly, or wait-and-see, or inimical (ex: elf-shot). Some have served as "traps" "cages" or "refuges" for humans or nonhumans
I know of a tree in a state park in Iowa shaped like a pregnant woman because it enveloped the woman in her flight from pursuers

TREE LOCATIONS
Some trees also have character based not on the tree, its species, or its inhabitant, but a character based on location (such as an archaeological site, a grave, a battlefield, an underground stream, a churchyard, etc.) or serving as a location guardian, or as a gate or door (singles, in pairs, or other conformations) or axis mundi

So you can have a tree with multiple levels- its own personality/history on one level, its species traditions and folklore on another, its location, etc.

Spring started yesterday here

Hope you are doing okay. Spring is springing all around us. At least on the ground. I know it isn't equinox yet, but the land has its own way of doing things too.

The lilacs are building their buds. I looked up at the sky through the window yesterday, and all was yellowish hazy dusty bleary through the naked tree branches.

It became a vision of a hazy sky this summer. Of a much more dire year than last year. Last year we had a lot more snowpack right now. And the other night I walked outside, and it was warm. Already. I am not a prophet. This year, with all those dead pines, little snowpack, and warm already, well, it could be a year for a real "blow-up" in the fire season. I get the feeling it's going to be bad.

The dust was really blowing around yesterday. That's the season change. Lots of little whirlwinds in the streets and by the graveyard which is hidden under a local neighborhood park. Those spirits were really moving around yesterday.

You might like the new look of my Vook. Easier to read. Love that wallpaper. Looks like some of the old houses I have been in when out on the range and in the hills.

http://tommyknocker.tumblr.com/

Faeries, Devas, Nature Spirits

I don't have any particular attachment or problem with the terms "fairies" or "devas" even though both have cultural baggage, at least not since when I was a kid reading some of the Findhorn materials. But then some people have baggage for terms like "spirit" and "soul". Let's face it, most terms have baggage to one person or another. But when language gets in the way, it stops achieving its purpose of communication.

I don't know what these "Others" are. I don't like to put boxes on beings I don't know about. My native american background doesn't even use the term "nature spirit" and we certainly don't use "fairy" or "deva." I think the European mind is more prone to creating classifications of beings, hierarchies (such as the choirs of angels, etc.)

The native groups I know of don't do that. We don't think we can put a label on another Being. From sun, to moon, to human, to whatever odd "Other" we come across, they are either "Beings" or "Persons" or we refer to them by respectful kinship (grandfather, grandmother) if beneficient, and we ignore it if maleficient. We only put names of convenience on things, powers, etc. in stories based on their behavior or observed characteristics, "shoots-things-from-the-trees", "the-little-black-men", "the underwater People", "stands-around-the-earth-man," "bull-in-the-water." That sort of thing.

We do use the words in English "Little People" and "Giants" but that is just for the one group of Beings we see in the form of miniature human beings or larger than life human beings. My tribe actually called the Giants, "waruska", lots of different translations, but one relates to peeling off the skin, because they hunted Indians like we hunt rabbits or deer. Of course the one they call "bigfoot" or "sasquatch" is also one of these kinds of Persons, not a biological apeman, but a Being whose appearance is a warning of change and disaster in the air.

Yes, we see some "Others" as different lights true, different colors, but generally we see things as 100% dimensional, as real as you or I see each other, when we see them. Like those "wolf" type things on the Skinwalker Ranch in Utah. They are real, and can even bleed, but they don't die the same as normal animals do.

So I think there is a cultural lens on these Persons as there are different Beings, just as there are different environments, plants and customs from region to region. Plenty Coups the last true Crow chief said, we are not to think too much about them, we are not to bother them, but just realize they also were made by the Creator and have a place here on earth, so when we meet them, we acknowledge that right to be here, and go on our way.

Of course, interaction is always risky, depending on the kind of Being it is. Maybe you will make friends with it. Or maybe you will have to struggle with it or even be killed by it, that is nature, but that does not mean we see them as demons as christians do or something to be hunted and destroyed like most of white culture seems to destroy anything like wolves or weeds. They have their place on earth just like us.