Gallipot

The vessel where I store myself is permeable;
I want to be able to get out, should the need arise.  Mostly, though,
I am content within earthenware walls,
With lid closed tightly above me, so I don’t leak out onto the floor.

I’ll percolate in here, or maybe ripen.
The air is moist; I breathe, and my skin is still and cool.
But under there all manner of things writhe and twist, weave and twine,
And ply their limbs along my bones.

This is not a process fit for public consumption.

When all mystics speak mystic (and they do),
It doesn’t matter if they hear you scream.  They’ve been down
This road before.  Even so, shifting on an elemental level
Is not the prettiest thing they’ve seen.

And for those who have not, or can not, or will not (it doesn’t matter which),
Logic overtakes the lack of reason needed
To fold oneself in tiny squares, to remove the parts that need
Analysis, and study them.

It is an exceedingly tight fit in this jar.

Lack of reason it is, but just the same there are reasons for this;
To become, I must inhabit the parts I most dislike.
I must know them inside-out, and so I turn myself that way.
I curl into a ball and wall myself up to be cut loose.

Within the mystibabble is something worth remembering:
That this is chosen, that we break ourselves to fix ourselves,
That our heads split open to be put back, over and over again,
That transformation is a violent, gory process.

And in the end, we’re something more.

Yarling

When need outstrips all other things,
And place and time become irrelevant,
It is the yarling that can bring us past those things that
anchor us in place, and set us
Free.

It isn’t an unknown thing; the weeping, the wailing, the gnashing of teeth.
It can come from a primal depth, from the bottom of the belly of the beast within us,
Or, it can spring upon us, all unknowing, until our jaws ache with the effort of keeping it locked in.
It is transcendent, the outpouring of sound and fury signifying
Everything.

Let it out.

Let it out.

Let it out, among the trees, amidst the clouds and stars and running water.
Let it out, among the concrete and the glass and steel.
Let it out, for within you dwells a spark to set the world ablaze, and nothing will ever be the same again.
Let it out, in the Name of Yourself.

It is the yarling;
Hearken to it.

Xenomorph

Shift.
my body’s bending in the latest fashion
to this task i cannot name.
when done, i will no longer be myself,
or at least not one i recognize.
time gets funny in a cell, and with the Shift
i’m breaking out.

Wend.
among the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune;
he may have said it best, but least is motion yielding.
sometimes nonsense is the better kind of sense,
especially when traveling the spaces in-between.
i am surprised at what i’ve done, and when i Wend
new doorways open.

Blur.
don’t blink or you’ll have missed me;
amid the strands i’m flying low and far, tools in mind.
the sense is capturing the rhythm without undoing, but
knowing’s a forever changing thing.
when breaking builds unending walls, to turn to Blur
takes mortar from the stones.

Inknowing in these spaces is the key,
And wilding deep-set changes set you free.

Susurrus

You were in the dream I had, all heat and shifting sands;
I could hear each grain move against the others with your steps.
Your breath was the burning wind, even as your face was hidden from me
In the gathering clouds.

If I could paint you, in all your glory, my strokes would stripe the canvas,
My colors would convey radiance and movement, awe and change;
Eyes seeing it would fall into an awful depth of vision.

If I could write you, in endless phrase and stanza, my notes would fall like pounding rain,
My phrases would be building crescendo on crescendo, agonizing fermata after fermata;
Ears hearing it would fall into an awful depth of resonance.

Awful is an agonizing state, though it has its benefits.

Space

Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

This is a post about space, but not the kind of space you might be expecting. I suppose outer space could be included in the overall theme, but what I really want to talk about is space for. You know; space for being; space for action; space for recognizing yourself in the context of the universe.

Space for can be as nebulous and difficult to grasp as time for, and I think more people worry about the latter with the idea that finding the time for will open up space for…but I’ve never really been able to do it that way. I have to seek out both at the same time or put space for in the priority position in order to get what I need.

Here’s an example: If I go into my backyard after the sun has gone down and the neighborhood is quiet, I can find space for any number of religious or spiritual things. The fact that I’ve gone out to investigate at a time when distractions are minimized means that I also have some time for any number of religious or spiritual things. They may not match up symmetrically – space for a lengthy ritual may not always match up with time for the same ritual, but there’s always something that can be done with the available space and time. Perhaps I shift gears and act in a way that matches both space and time, or I go back to the space when I have the time to complete what I want to do.

(At this point, I feel like I might be writing in circles. There is a point to this, I swear.)

The largest space for you can imagine will not work for you without the right amount of time for. The largest time for you can imagine will not work for you without the right amount of space for. The two concepts are connected and intertwined just as you and I are intertwined with each other, and the tree, and the rock, and my left shoe (especially my left shoe!). We are all Divine, and thus we are all part of each other’s being.

Look up at the night sky, into what we call outer space, and remember that such vastness of space is not possible without vastness of time. Now, look into yourself and remember the things you want to do, and then seek out the space for along with the time for. When those two things are solidly in your pocket, the possibilities are endless.

Loxotic

Catch the view with a side-light;
A ghost of a thought in a never-ending story
Can make me think that I’m not here, though
My feet are on the ground.

Hear a voice from behind me;
Turn to comment but it’s gone, gone, down in the gloaming.
I set my wandering mind to a
Riddle without answer.

I think that I can be;
I know that I can be;
I know that I will be
More than the sum of my parts.

Can I taste in the mirror
All of the possibilities of my dreaming self?
Bury my toes in the loam, and feel
My essence flow down, deep.

Can I know what my job is?
What kind of tool I am meant to be for your pleasure?
Don’t lose myself in the tiresome
Tribulation. I know.

I think that I can be;
I know that I can be;
I know that I will be
More than the sum of my parts.

When the dewdrops catch
On your glistening strands,
I lock my trust in a box and hand it over.

Careless toss of a whisper,
In a phrase that’s not meant for complex understanding;
Carry myself to each endless hole,
To somehow mend the tears.

From a glimpse, I see shadow,
And I hear as you caution me in your silent way.
But there’s pride in the endless gazing;
I cannot run and hide.

I think that I can be;
I know that I can be;
I know that I will be
More than the sum of my parts.

Kicking Myself

This morning I was catching up on posts on the forums I frequent and stopped to respond to one called For the Godbothered: Unexpected Directions. I wrote about some of the things my gods have put me through, and noted that I believe that the ends have justified the means…and then I stopped to think about someone else’s response in the same thread:

“I’ve heard a lot of stories of people who were snatched up by the gods – usually but not limited to godspouses – who then ended up either being told to leave or finding their long term relationships falling apart because it highlighted the problems in the relationship. I think it’s actually the one I’ve heard the most? Though ‘lost my job’ and ‘major illness’ are close behind if they’re not equal. I find it fascinating and sort of terrifying.

There was a discussion in the ceremonial magic blogging community a year or so ago about the dangers of summoning your HGA that suggested similar side effects, too.”

(Bolding mine.)

As my regular readers know, I lost my job in November 2013 and only just found a new job at the beginning of May. It was a grueling six months of scrimping and working odd jobs in my parents’ business to pay the bills, and being unable to financially support our son at college, and worry and anxiety. Even now, when I’ve been working for almost a month, we’re still not out of the woods – my first pay check was late, and live (not direct deposit), and we’re waiting for it to clear so we can start paying off the bills that piled up during this period. The anxiety, while lessened, hasn’t gone away completely and I don’t know when it will.

Funnily enough, if I look at the period immediately preceding my job loss I notice that I spent quite a bit of time inviting my gods to be heavier hands in my life.

…yeah.

I thought I’d learned to be very specific after the open-head incident. On the other hand, I’m not a fan of escape clauses…although I’m not really sure if asking a god not to turn my life upside-down constitutes an escape clause, or if it is even a realistic thing to ask. How does one even do that? “X, please transform my life but not by doing A, or B, or C,”? Seems awfully limiting to me.

So, I’m thinking and stewing a bit in my own bitter job-loss juices even though I’m not really sure what happened. I’m kicking myself for asking for intervention without first thinking it through. Based on my previous experiences, you’d think I know better.

Apparently I don’t and it’s not like I can go back and change anything anyway. Might as well make the best of it and keep moving forward.

Jubilant

Half shroud hangs in place.

Fair by face but not by nature;

Slow steps quickening in pace

To test the snares of jubilation.

What pitfalls lie beneath the seams

Of arid land and steaming marsh,

And will I see them through the dreams

Of teeth and breath and need, all twisting?

When flirting with the small ones Green,

I do not trust the things I’ve seen.

 

When aching draws me closer still

To strands that weave across the Void,

Decisions made outside free will,

All fall away – Forgotten. Lost.

I will remember declarations

Made with an unfaltering voice.

I will plunge in without regret

To depths made open through my choice.

The Sow stands proud, face to the Sun,

And eats Her Children, One by One.

Iboga

I never expected to beg a plant to spare the life of someone I loved.  I also never expected that it would answer me.

In 2012, someone I care about very deeply (I’ll call them “Z”) found themselves in a pit of despair, likely related to both clinical depression and an incredible mountain of past and current family problems.  Z couldn’t find a way out and, at the time, had no “official” support network – no medications, no psychotherapy, and almost no one to speak to aside from me and one other friend.  They were desperately looking for some way to jump-start getting better that could be done on their own terms…and they found it in an infamous plant from Gabon.   I’m talking, of course, about Tabernanthe iboga.

Tabernanthe iboga is native to western Central Africa and has known psychedelic properties.  Chewing the bark of the root can cause hallucinations and visions, and it is used in religious ceremonies by practitioners of Bwiti in Gabon, Cameroon, and the Republic of the Congo (sometimes called Congo-Brazzaville).  Initiates to Bwiti take large doses of T. iboga, but it is more often taken in smaller doses for rituals and dances that take place at night.  It is also used in very small doses to promote alertness in hunting and to decrease fatigue, hunger, and thirst.

An alkaloid of T. iboga called ibogaine is used to treat opioid addiction, and there’s some data to show that it also works for alcohol and nicotine addiction.  The process goes something like this: a person enters a clinic where they are dosed with ibogaine (once or multiple times) while being monitored by medical professionals.  During treatment, they may experience nausea, vomiting, delusions, hallucinations, and other reactions, but at the end of treatment, the physical addiction the person came in with is gone.

In addition, psychiatrists and psychopharmacologists are looking into use of ibogaine in combination with intense psychotherapy to assist with Depression.  There is anecdotal evidence from a number of addiction trials with ibogaine that trial patients self-reported a decrease in depressive symptoms.  However, despite the reported benefits, ibogaine remains classified as a Schedule I substance in the United States and so treatment with it outside of a clinical trial is against the law.

There are a number of documentaries available about T. iboga and ibogaine and some address it from the perspective of its use as an entheogen while others tout its medical benefits.  Z saw one of these documentaries and was so moved by the experiences of the patients profiled in it that they started looking for more information about how it worked and trying to determine whether it would be a reasonable way to try their own depression.

Z spent nearly four months going through medical literature, and anecdotes, and websites, and documentaries before deciding that using it was a good idea, and then they brought up ordering it from Gabon.  Although I knew there was research going on, I didn’t realize how serious they were until after watching a documentary with them.  At that point, Z told me they wanted to order it and asked for my help in monitoring their progress.

When Z asked for my help, I knew almost nothing about ibogaine or how it worked, and I rushed frantically to gain some knowledge before they planned to take it.  The articles I found to read were not reassuring at all and, although I couldn’t deny that there were potential benefits, the risks seemed way too high.  I couldn’t imagine wanting to put myself through such an experience if it weren’t to either treat a serious addiction (which Z did not have) or to have a profound religious experience under the guidance of an elder in my own faith (which was also not what Z was looking for).  In addition, having used entheogens myself in the past (primarily absinthe), I felt pretty confident that there was potential for amazing spiritual backlash even though Z wasn’t looking for that type of thing.

In a word, I was terrified.

The night before Z started their process, I began to pray to Iboga.

At that point in my life, I knew how to connect with something I was deliberately growing.  Basil, and Shepherd’s Purse and Yarrow all responded well to me, but I’d never even seen Iboga let alone touched it or spoken to it.  It was Alien, and Other, and I had no idea if it would even respond to me…but I felt like I had to try.

And so, I began:
Iboga, You Who Guide and Fortify; I beseech You.  Iboga, You Who Transform; I beseech You.  Iboga, You Who Choose the Path that Must Be Walked; I beseech You.  Spare the one I love.  Spare Z, who must walk your Path for a time.  Allow Z to return to me.

I repeated it over and over the night before, in my head, while trying to connect with Iboga.  I felt nothing, but kept praying over and over:

Iboga, You Who Guide and Fortify; I beseech You.  Iboga, You Who Transform; I beseech You.  Iboga, You Who Choose the Path that Must Be Walked; I beseech You.  Spare the one I love.  Spare Z, who must walk your Path for a time.  Allow Z to return to me.

The next morning, when Z took the dose, I still had heard nothing.  Near panic at this point, I began to pray aloud while reaching for a connection with all of my self:

Iboga, You Who Guide and Fortify; I beseech You.  Iboga, You Who Transform; I beseech You.  Iboga, You Who Choose the Path that Must Be Walked; I beseech You.  Spare the one I love.  Spare Z, who must walk your Path for a time.  Allow Z to return to me.  I would beg a boon from You.  Hear me, Iboga!  Hear me, Iboga!  Hear me!

By the third repetition I was swaying, kneeling on the floor, and sweating.  And then, I felt it.  It started as a tingle at the back of my skull, and then a chill through my body, and I broke out in goose bumps.  Then nausea and I doubled over and closed my eyes.  Crouched on the floor, clutching my stomach, I saw stars behind my eyes and felt Iboga’s presence.

It is difficult to put into words how it felt to be connected to Iboga.  Time has not dimmed the experience, and I still cannot quite find descriptors that do it justice.  Where usually I stand side-by-side with plants I grow, this time I was enveloped.  Where usually I control the interaction, this time I was out of control.

Perhaps it is the way I approached the interaction; I came as supplicant rather than partner but, then again, how could I hope to be considered a partner when I had no understanding of what Iboga was?  I, who approach my gods with head held high and convinced of my own worth, humbled myself before Iboga and I am convinced that is why my request was granted.

I felt bemusement that I would want to connect with it at all, and curiosity about the fact that I was determined to try…and yet hadn’t dosed myself.  I was queried about this in different ways and it felt like an eternity was passing, though of course it hadn’t.

When Iboga was satisfied (or, perhaps, bored?) with my responses, it agreed that it would not keep Z unless Z wished to stay, and the connection broke.

Once I recovered, I spent the rest of the day intermittently checking on Z, who made it through and came back to me, although not necessarily unscathed.  I found out a few days later that Iboga had suggested Z take additional doses while mid-experience, and I am incredibly relieved that they didn’t have more to take.  It was harrowing for both of us, and while I believe Z (of course) had a much more transformative experience I cannot help but think that I learned several useful things that ended up changing me as well.  Unfortunately, those things are impossible to put into comprehensible words.

When I recently brought up the experience with them so I could write this post, they said, “…the experience at the time seems “serious” but when you’re done you realize it is all altered perception and all the answers, if there are any, come from within…”  They also noted that they wanted to write about it at one point but now don’t think they’d be able to do it justice.

I know the feeling.

*NOTE: I’ve made two edits to this entry based on speaking with Z after I originally posted.  The changes are as follows:

1. I have clarified that I knew about the research Z was doing although I didn’t realize how serious they were until the conversation about ordering it.

2. I have noted that I did watch a documentary with Z about ibogaine therapy.

Edgeplay

Peering over, I see flames flickering with self-importance.

It matters not –
I am Ten Thousand Plagues;
I am the Knife in the Dark;
I am Justice served Raw and Wriggling; And, if I choose, you will drown like landed fish.

Your fires cannot keep
Me out if I want you…
But this night I hunt for other prey.
This Night cloaks and hides and if, Perchance, crimson copper creeps ‘cross the stones,
No one will notice.

The slow drip, the quiet stain;
I lick along serrated glass,
Reflection in obsidian.