Building an inner temple

Gobleki Tepe, the oldest temple found ca 10,000 BCE

I have been multitasking and neglecting this blog for so long now, but finally found a little time to write out some ideas in order to get myself accountable to actually do the work. Sometimes life happens and our spiritual practices seem to be the first thing to fall to the wayside, but what’s truly important is to get back on the horse.

Today I want to write about creating an inner temple, what does it mean to hold a sacred space within oneself, some reasons why one would choose to do such a thing, and how to go about it. This reflection was brought by a number of funny “coincidences”, one of them being my discovery of the existence of Gobleki Tepe, an ancient temple structure found in contemporary Turkey. I stumbled upon this by reading Star.Ships: A Prehistory of the Spirits by Gordon White, in the context of doing research for a class I’m taking on Ancestral Star Wisdom. Without getting into a whole new topic in and of itself, I’ve been working on establishing a ritual practice that I repeat daily or at least weekly, and one of the obstacles I’ve faced is the matter of (lack of) space. Hence, the need for an inner temple.

But Rowan, you ask, isn’t it enough to have your apartment covered in tiny little shrines for your many deities and guardians? Why would you spend time and energy in building an inner temple, and how does that even work?

Well, if you’ve known me for more than a minute you know that I read a lot. I read everything that falls into my hands. I read for fun, when I’m stressed, when I want to escape, when I’m happy and relaxed, and this idea came to me through one of the books I’m working on finishing. And before that, back at the beginning of my practice, I remember reading about establishing your own place in the astral, with the advantage of being able to furnish that place and equip it with anything you need that you might not be able to have in the physical ordinary realm (fancy runes and bone sets? a working fireplace for burning offerings? the sky is the limit).

The TLDR; version is: you can build an inner temple because it’s convenient, or it’s something you’re interested in, or because you’re in the broom closet and you can’t risk being found out. All you need is some practice with visualization and strong intent behind your purpose, but I’m not going to lie, trance is where it would be the most beneficial state to manifest and access this space. With trance comes added protection (some folks ward their place, or cast a circle, invoke the quarters and ancestors or deities, etc.) and other tools like music or drumming or other cues that the practitioner has developed to reach that state.

The steps for building the temple are as complex or a simple as one would require. When I imagined my first place I focused on a cabin where I could go to during meditation. I used a drum track on my phone and imagined the place into being. It’s been useful to me as a meeting place and for one specific working where I needed a roaring fire and space for dancing, but now I’m looking to build a place from scratch.

What I would do now that I know more about the importance of ritual:

  1. When choosing a physical place: Ask the spirit of the place for permission first. If you receive a no (could be a gut feeling, a chilling breeze, any other sign) move along. You can try a (biodegradable) offering and try again at some point in the future. Repeat until you find your spot, or if you’re doing it like I’m doing it, find a place where you find yourself comfortable in and set the intention of building that temple in your body, in your heart center.
  2. Cleanse and consecrate the space that is going to be used. You may have a spot in your backyard, or at a local park, that you frequent and that you’d like to be a bridge between your inner and outer space. Cleanse with sound, with your breath, with light, whatever you feel works for you. Just don’t leave any remains that could light a fire or pollute the place.
  3. Ground yourself and focus on harnessing the energy of the Earth and the sky (or however you do it in your tradition) to visualize the building of the temple step by step. If it’s too taxing you’re probably using too much of your own energy instead of harnessing the power of the earth and sky. Stop, ground self in gratitude, and try again in the future.
  4. Ask any guides of yours to establish themselves in a position within the temple, for example, if you work with the Kemetic pantheon and you work with Anpu, it would be a good idea to ask him to guard the door if he’s willing. If you don’t work with deities, but you work with angels, you could ask them to inhabit their specific corners according to their elemental correspondences, or with animal guides, etc.
  5. Once you’ve worked on the structure and who goes where, you could work on building the innermost chambers where only you are allowed in. This holy place is only for you and it can be dedicated to your secrets, your heart, and if you work with any specific energy or deity, you can also dedicate this space to them. The rest of the temple can be used for workings, prayer, etc., but the innermost chamber could be used for quiet devotion. Or whatever you feel like, it’s your temple.

I don’t know if this makes any sense, but this is where I am at. In the Union of Isis and Thoth the temple they built was first birthed energetically into being, which of course, if it’s how you’d chose to do it can also be an option. Having gone through childbirth I’d rather choose a different method if I can help it, but that’s just me 😛

Anyway, I hope this was interesting at least, and I hope to update this blog sooner rather than later.

Calling the Four Winds

The Twisted Rope

For years now I’ve wanted to try and create some sort of ritual that would call the rain to me. After reading a paper by Jorgensen, which discusses the ways in which mythology symbolism can be layered into ritual/heka, I finally reached a point where I felt like I could finally wrap my mind around what such a ritual would entail. This post is basically about said ritual.

If you’re not interested in any of the peripheral discussion around it, and only want the rubric, jump to the bottom of the post to find it.

Ritual Concept

I knew that I wanted to incorporate some sort of myth/story structure into this ritual, but I had never found anything that really felt correct for me. As luck would have it, I was reading about different NTRW around the same time I was working on this and found that there is…

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Isis the Mother

Isiopolis

10_luxor_museum_-_Mut_-_dated_19_dynasty_c_1279_to_1213_BC The Mother

Here are some lines from a particularly interesting New Kingdom hymn to the Goddess. I have simplified some of the lacunae and made the appropriate capitalizations. See if you can guess which Goddess the hymn praises:

“…great of sunlight, Who illumines [the entire land with] Her rays. She is His Eye, Who causes the land to prosper, the glorious eye of Harakhti, the Ruler of What Exists, the Great and Powerful Mistress, life being in Her possession in this Her name […]

[…] in the circuit. The Gods are in … Great of Might. Her Eye has illumined the horizon. The Ennead, Their hearts are glad because of Her, the Mistress of Their Joy, in this Her name of Heaven.

She is in their hearts, they being glad when She ascends to Her abode, Her temple. She has appeared and has shone as the Woman of Gold […] of best pure…

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Brutal Honesty and Shifting Identity

I have gone through a similar experience. Thank you for this beautiful post.

LOKI CVLT

This is a coming out story for Pride Month: maybe not the kind you’re expecting. I have often written about how Loki is a god that requires our honesty. Why is that? I think it’s because Loki is a trickster and a god of destruction. But what does that really mean?

The trickster is a god who through either his own folly or observation turns convention on its head. I think sometimes people mistake convention to mean “order” and order is always good: thereby making the trickster an adversarial figure. But sometimes business as usual isn’t a good thing: sometimes it’s oppressive and sometimes it defends ignorance. Sometimes our order needs to be disrupted in order to be re-evaluated. I think people will often stay in familiar discomfort rather than choose an uncertain alternative. This is part of the reason the trickster makes us so uncomfortable. He pushes us into…

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Month for Loki, Twenty-Third: Kenning.

Hail Gammleið

bloodteethandflame

Inspired by Lokean Welcoming Committee’s outline of topics for Month for Loki, today’s post:

Find out some of Loki’s kennings, or other names, and what they mean. Which one(s) resonate with you the most?

Since many of Loki’s kennings resonate with me, it was difficult to choose one that resonated with me the most…but I think that there is one in particular that actually took me by surprise, and so, I am going to write about Gammleid today:

In July 2014, I took a course from Cherry Hill Seminary. This course dealt exclusively with studying the role of shapeshifting in the lore of several cultures. Though the course mainly focused on shapeshifting lore in South and Central America, the final project was to present how shapeshifting might feature in our personal spiritual practices.

Thus, I performed a personal meditation ritual in mid-July 2014 that was meant to introduce…

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The Call

Long time no read! I haven’t been posting lately for many reasons. One of them was that my child had taken my computer hostage, but that is sorted for now, I think. Quarantine has seriously impacted our routine, as in many people’s cases. Today I felt compelled to talk about “the call” or calling. I’m trying to put it in to words as I revisit extraordinary synchronicities and what I’ve heard or read from other people’s experiences. There’s a difference between having a notion of something and deep knowing. Before I can answer that and how it relates to the call let me digress a little bit (because I haven’t written anything in a long time)

In the Medieval period the process of appreciating an art piece from any discipline required readers/ listeners/observers to delve into different levels of symbolism. The art of interpretation had rules, from Biblical exegesis to theater audiences. Everything had a meaning, and Muslim philosophers like Ibn Rušd’s (Averroes) developed a three leveled method of interpretation based on Aristoteles, that corresponded to three discursive levels, as summarized by Wikipedia: “the rhetorical (based on persuasion) accessible to the common masses; the dialectical (based on debate) and often employed by theologians and the ulama (scholars), and the demonstrative (based on logical deduction)”. This deeper knowing I spoke of at the beginning has something to do with that, in the sense that it is only after we peel back the layers of the rhetorical and dialectical that we can access that last hidden and transcendental layer of meaning. In order to answer the call we need to go within, but it’s not only logical deduction that can get us there, as the philosophers stated.

This idea that some would interpret things in different ways, according to their capacity, was the core behind some 20th century theories that centered the reader/interpreter more than the text or artifact (like Jauss in the 60s). But unlike the present age (post deconstruction), in the Middle Ages there was an Absolute Truth, which in the Three Faiths of the Iberian Peninsula remitted back to the sacred texts of each tradition. For Averroes it was the Q’ran, for Bible Scholars the approved gospels from the New Testament (set around the 4th century) plus the Old Testament, and the Tanakh and Talmud of the Jewish faith. But what happens when you don’t follow a faith that has a text you can look for the Ultimate Truth? Also, there were other ways of gaining knowledge back then as well, such as mystical experiences or Divine Union with God.

In Pagan faiths knowledge usually was shared as an oral tradition, and to make matters more complicated, any text that we have today is inevitably colored by the Christian perspective or written or compiled post facto by Christian hands (I’m thinking about 12th century Snorri in the Norse culture). So, what do pagans believe and how do they worship today? There are two trends, the reconstructionist and the revivalist. Both acknowledge these mystical experiences I mentioned before, and label them as UPG (unverified personal gnosis or knowledge), though not every UPG is of a mystical nature. In time, when enough people share the same UPG it becomes SPG (shared personal gnosis). An example of this would be the fact that Thor appreciates coffee offerings (like A LOT). This can be revealed by the god himself through divination (pendulum, runes, tarot, bibliomancy) or through direct communication (aka “godphone” for those blessed with clairaudience or the ability to hear things people usually can’t).

In some cases, you feel drawn to a faith or deity. You see them popping up everywhere. In other cases you might be propelled out of your body and into the astral realm to have a very healing experience. There is really no wrong way to go about it; sometimes it just happens. However you find your practice and your own personal truth, if it resonates with you, if your deeper sense of knowing is activated, then there’s really no wrong way about it.

Last, I think we could all benefit from trying to go past rethoric (how things sound, or look, if we are present in visual heavy social media), past dialectic (endless debate, even within ourselves) and just flow. Going into that hidden place that just feels right, even without labeling it or naming it, because when we reach that we can actually impact our lives and the lives of those around us. Getting into that space guarantees we’re living into our highest purpose (whatever that may be) and in line with everything in the Universe.

Holding on to old stories

Stone Sea Water - Free photo on Pixabay

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to write anything. I was sick for a while, then I got wrapped up in other commitments and I sort of dropped it.

Lately I’ve been trying to let go, but to really let go of the past. Synchronicities in the form of visions, messages and quotes on social media have reassured me this is the case. That is what I’m supposed to be doing now. So, I started learning Reiki and trying to get my certificate for it. My teacher performed a long distance attunement ceremony three weeks ago, and advised everyone to take it easy and perform daily self healings. She assured us it was going to be a period of “spiritual detox”, and while I didn’t feel much different at first, as the days progressed my feelings have been all over the place. But it’s different. It’s not my usual pattern of riding the hormonal waves and the consequent dysphoria inducing cycles. It’s the release of a scab that just fell off and the new skin is raw against the wind and the sun.

During this time I finally got the final permission to delve into Andean spirituality, so I’ve allowed myself to research and contact the spirits of that tradition via my ancestors. It felt like coming home. At the same time, I harbor a deep sadness for not being able to experience and grow up into this tradition, this ancestral knowledge. My parents removed me from my culture at a young age, and I lost my loving extended family and my connection to the land I grew up in simultaneously. I grieve for the time lost, but rejoice in the time I regained.

***

There are many similarities with the Norse path that I’ve found. In a conversation with a friend the topic came up, and it’s not unthinkable, since many pagan faiths are rooted in land based worship and beliefs and in honoring the ancestors. The one point of convergence I’m focusing on right now is the role stones hold in both paths.

When I first started reading up on paganism I started collecting lots of stones and sticks wherever I went. I had this inexplicable urge, this crow brain of sorts, to collect, collect, collect. Last time I went to the beach I collected so many pretty stones and pebbles that I kept and arranged in different patterns on my altar outside. Then I learned about the hörgar, piles of stones that were used for worship. Many Norse pagans&heathens I’ve met leave their offerings (pour liquor, for example) on theirs.

In Iceland there are historical hörgar or cairns (from Scottish Gaelic) that mark the way during hikes through trails that remind me of apachitas (Aymara and Quechua). They marked the way for travelers, while also being devotional shrines.

Right now I’m focusing on working with a set of stones that represent the four cardinal directions. My ultimate purpose is to heal myself and others with the knowledge I’m acquiring during this time.

****

I don’t want to keep holding on to old stories or past hurts. Things that happened in the way they happened hurt, and I choose to acknowledge them to find the lessons they hold.

Here’s to new beginnings.

On fever as a sign

I have not written in a long time. I spent about a week and a half recovering from an illness that came out of nowhere. We suspected tonsillitis, but I had to get tested for COVID twice before my doctor would prescribe antibiotics. I spent that time in bed feeling sorry for myself. Most of all, I was anxious to get back on my feet to resume my devotional practice, and it seemed like even the most basic prayer would knock me out afterwards.

My body was telling me I needed a hard reset. There have been a few instances in my life where fevers have communicated the need to purify emotional baggage.

The first time in my adult life that this symptom manifested, I had just said goodbye for the summer to my boyfriend at the time (who would become my husband in later years). His family lived in Mexico, and he was studying in Chile (where I was), so we were going to be separated for three months over the break, after spending almost every waking hour together for six months. Back then my family situation SUCKED, so I really thought I was missing a part of me with him leaving… it really brought back separation anxiety. I think our relationship never recovered from that break, even though we spent the next seven years together.

He left, and I was at the beach spending a few days with a group of girl friends. I discovered that time that I have (had?) an allergic reaction to the ocean, because after the first day I got really sick. My temperature was extremely elevated and I was hallucinating. I was stuck in bed at the house, and the owner of the house (or rather, the granddaughter of the owner of the house, my friend S) was pissed at me for being sick. I received close to zero empathy from her, and the other three friends didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I contacted my parents who insisted I take a bus back to the capital and S dropped me off at the bus terminal, worried and annoyed. That friendship ended a few years later.

Cut to the next time I was extremely feverish: two days before my wedding. Once again, we had gone swimming in the ocean at the gulf of Mexico, before heading back to Monterrey to get hitched again (same man, we “married” twice because his extended family hadn’t been able to go to Chile the previous year). I was left alone in a hotel room because my then husband wanted to be with his family, so they went to dinner and swimming, and I was by myself for hours. I was sad and lonely, and spent most of those two days in bed, not eating much and trying to stay awake to watch TV (Shawn of the Dead saved me). Thanks to the fact that my then brother-in-law’s in laws were doctors and had antibiotics with them, I recovered before the wedding. Again, that relationship ended quite dramatically years later.

And now, this time it caught me feeling low about myself. I’ve been struggling in my day to day, feeling low about being unemployed, about my transition, about identity stuff and unresolved baggage. I keep dreaming about packing frantically and making it to the airport in the nick of time, or missing the train that will take me to the airport, or… And it’s always travel and baggage. So this time I’m focusing on what I want to bring with me to the next part of my life. There have been many changes between last year and this year. And between 2020 and 2019. It’s time to honor the person I was, the person I thought I’d be by now, and myself. Only after truly grieving and honoring that will I be able to move forward.

What’s changed is now I feel protected and held by a higher power, so I choose to listen.

On discoveries, big and small

Art source: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1260343054

I began reading Wayland Skallagrimsson’s book “Odin’s Way in the Modern World” (2013) because someone somewhere recommended it. While it was very interesting, and very short, I had to put it down to consult other books (my ADHD brain jumps a lot from topic to topic). I’m certainly a Jack of all trades, master of none in that respect. But!

The book kept falling out of my bookshelf, for no reason. It happened often enough that one of my friends told me, “yeah, you should read that one”. And because I am a dumbass I still didn’t read it.

Cue a visit from Himself, telling me that it’s not optional, that I must sit down and finish the godsdamned book. And while that visit was interesting, it’s the book that finds me writing an entry at 1 am on a school night. I knew it was going to be important, yet I did not know how important it would be.

While I appreciate Skallagrimsson’s views on modern practices, and his summary of the old conceptions of Odin, it wasn’t until he starts recounting his own experience that I understood why He was so insistent on me reading it.

To summarize some of the author’s strongest or main points, he recognizes three different ways to commune with Odin (not Óðinn, Odhinn, or Wod, but the present day god): a) the path of the martial artist/poet, b) the mystic/seidh-worker/vitki, and c) the berserker. He argues that a rigorous and disciplined practice of martial arts brings the person closer to the Divine, and encourages picking up any creative/intellectual endeavor to elevate the physical aspect of the practice, so poetry is encouraged. I will now discuss the other two.

Personally, as I was reading the arguments, I felt mostly connected to the mystic path. I seemed to be wired in a way that makes me extremely receptive. I can’t control it yet, as I’ve only begun developing it, and with extreme caution. I don’t have a formal teacher (yet) and the instruction I get for now comes from either books or visionary journeys. It is something precious to me and I acknowledge that it comes with a great responsibility. I believe it was given to me for a reason, and that reason is to be of service to my community.

But that wasn’t what surprised me either. Going back to the author’s account of his life experiences, I was shocked to read that we had too many experiences in common. Not because we’re both Odinsmen, but because he’s a berserker and some of his experiences resonate far too much. Anyone that has met me in real life knows that I’m mostly quiet (until I warm up to people, I guess) and easygoing. I’m a very stereotypical Pisces in that sense. My closest friends and family know that I do have a temper, and when it boils it explodes and burns everything down. I have lost many friendships because of my inability to control it when it gets extremely bad. I have this pattern of pretending things are fine when my (almost nonexistent) boundaries get crossed over and over, and then one day…

(I’m ashamed and working on it).

Wayland also mentions he has always lived in emotional extremes, and has had episodes in his life when his wolf nature overtook him. He mentions this seething rage that lies just beneath the surface, and to me that makes perfect sense. In that respect I am like him. I admit I haven’t known peace since adolescence, not until I started taking testosterone. After that first shot I was able to finally settle down. The rage was gone. A year in, I decided to stop taking it. The reasons are too many to count. And thus, as soon as it was gone it came back. That unending emptiness at the pit of my stomach, wrath that boils just beneath the surface, drowning me.

But there is a lesson in this, and it is precisely this: hardship is a great teacher, and Wayland puts it more eloquently: the way to fight that rage, to really tame it, lies in joy. I have found joy in my dealings with dear Gangleri and I understand things more clearly now.

For now I must leave it, but remind me to tell you about the spar in the snow.

“I hide my name but seldom”

Imagine this: you are in a misty field, walking towards a shore. You do not know how you got there, only that you have to push on, lest the cold that bites at your ankles seep deeper into your bones. It’s starting to rain, and the sun is hiding behind heavy clouds.

Suddenly, a stream. You hear the torrent rushing past, knowing its waters are as treacherous as they are crystal clear. You need to get to the other side, urgently. There are people who need you on the shore. You have important business to conduct. You fumble through your pockets, trying to find anything to help: a spell, a charm, a song, three of more or less the same.

You don’t notice at first but throughout your exasperated show there are eyes upon you. He sees you cursing at your pockets, filled with sand from distant beaches, rocks picked up on a whim, little crystals everywhere. He lets out a rolling laugh, and you finally look up.

-“Hello there, traveler!”, he directs at you. You look towards the shadow on the other shore. A small boat holds a cloaked figure, and you see puffs of smoke rise up from what you guess is a pipe.

You grumble a hello, trying to assess the danger. It’s only one man, and though you are a traveler and he doesn’t know anything about you, you’re still weary from past experience. The last thing you need is a chatty Kathy or a snake oil dealer right now.

-“Seems like you could use some help getting across”, and now you’re certain he’s after your coin, or worse. You are polite, for maybe you will need his help, though you need to find out the price first.

Another puff of smoke rises from his pipe. There is a pause. He’s sizing you up. For some reason your cheeks are burning. You feel like his gaze cuts right through you.

-“How about it, traveler? The water’s cold and the torrent is deep. There is no other way across. You could try finding a bridge, but I see that you need to get to where you’re goin’ soon enough. Perhaps you don’t trust me.” He chuckles. Theres is a small breeze that makes you hold tighter onto your cloak. The hand that holds the staff is frozen in place. You try moving your fingers, but it seems as if they’re made of wood and your joints are stiff.

You ask for his name, next you ask him to name his price.

You hear the boat splashing through the water almost effortlessly, he’s closer and you can make out his face. It’s a face that has seen it all. His eye piercing and glad. And it dawns on you that you’re in more danger than you’ve ever been. It makes you want to turn around and say “Nevermind”, and go back home where it’s nice and warm.

-“I have nothing to offer you. I am no one. I just need to get to the other side to help whoever is calling me. They have been trying to get through for days and days, and I’m scared that I’m too late”. You almost let out a sob. He’s still looking at you, amused. There’s a spearpoint at your left rib, and you know there’s no way it’s really there, but you feel the cold metal against your skin. Just under your concealed breast. You fear he’s found you out, that your high-pitched voice has given you away and that now it’s not only death you might be facing. He probably already knows. Your height and build, your round and beardless face have given it away.

-“Please”, you plead, “I haven’t slept in days. There’s omens everywhere I look. I know someone on the other side needs me”.

He smiles. -“I know, who do you think has been calling you?”. He lets out a final puff of smoke, a charm, a song, a spell. It’s in the air.

You sigh and step into the water.

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