Under Pressure

“Pressure, pushing down on me

Pressing down on you, no man ask for

Under pressure that burns a building down”

– Queen and David Bowie, 1981

 

Anyone who has ever worked for a Deity will have a story about how deities have a way of seeping into our lives and enacting changes. Many times these changes are mutual agreements and arrangements, contracts of conduct us devotes sign off on willingly. I am a firm believer that actual contact with any of the Divine currents has a lasting effect upon those humans touched, and that the truth of those contacts are seen in the transformations unleashed within the person by that Divine spark.

This idea of transformation as a mutual endeavor looks very pretty on paper…Too pretty, actually, when you get right down to it. And again, anyone who has dealt with a Deity will have other stories to tell as well. Stories about when a Deity decided to throw that person into a pressure cooker just to see what might develop.

Pressure cookers? Not really fun places to be. Crisis and uproar, physical pain, relationship breakdowns and breakups, near-death experiences, having to re-live a personal shame for the whole world to see… The list of outside pressures that Gods can use to enact change within us (or just test our resolve) is nearly limitless. If you choose to work with Deities of the Infernal variety, you had better be ready to have your world shattered every couple of years as they blow stuff up around you for reasons you will not fully understand at the time.

I could go into numerous personal anecdotes right now, but will refrain for the time being. What is more important than my personal “What” is the intriguing questions as to “Why?” Most often for myself, that question leads me into places that most sane people just steer clear of or ignore. Places within my inner landscape that hide a treasure trove of both personal horrors and well-hidden strength. Places I would have never discovered if I had not been poked by these outside events to do so. And, I’m fairly certain that that is the key.

I have told many people over the years that a frictionless environment is a recipe for mediocrity. Untested ideas, ideologies, people, and philosophies are all good starting points, but that is ALL they are. It is through testing, research, and real-life trials that these things are honed, refined, and turned into things of worth. Some of the things in this life that have broken me down to my lowest are also the exact things that have made me stronger than anyone (including myself) ever thought I could become.

The best example I have of this happened in the very early spring of 2012, when a specialist had to do an emergency surgery that became the equivalent of yanking half of my facial structure out. While the surgery saved my life, the next year became a testing ground not only for my own personal ideas of identity but for just how dedicated I would remain to my Gods while everything I was supposed to be was crashing and burning under the weight of a year of sickness.

And, while it’s nice to give face time to those transformations that are mutual and agreed upon, I have to say that those times when I was thrown into the pot with pain, misery, and a helping of onions taught me far more important lessons then I could have learned the easy way. Even recently, while having old shames made very public and many a band-aid ripped off old wounds, I saw that M’Lady Night had not only a hand in it, but that She had a reason or five to do so. Was it an uncomfortable experience? Most certainly. But it also served as a platform for growth… growth that I would have hidden from forever if I would have had my own way.

And if anyone takes ANYTHING away from what my experiences with the Gods have been, I would have it be this: Spiritual growth will NOT always be under controlled circumstances. The Gods have agendas for those of us with ears to listen to them, and sometimes, the only thing that will make our ears ready for that listening is The Pressure Cooker.

Have your onions ready.

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A Question of Why

“Darkness, Darkness, be my pillow, Take my head and let me sleep

In the coolness of your shadow, In the silence of your deep

Darkness, darkness, hide my yearning, For the things I cannot see

Keep my mind from constant turning, To the things I cannot be

Darkness, darkness, be my blanket, cover me with the endless night”

“Darkness Darkness”, The Youngbloods, 1969

 

One of the very first times I ever spoke up about my work with Deities of an Infernal nature, I was met with fairly heavy disdain and informed that working with “Those Kinds of Gods” was a dangerous enterprise. “Why?”, I was asked, would I ever open my life up to such currents of death and pain and madness? At the time of that first asking all those years ago, I didn’t have a very concrete answer. I only knew that I had always felt a deep pull towards the various Underworlds, so much so that I often found myself seeking entrance during my sleep into what I knew were forbidden places.

As the years wore on, I gained a deeper insight of what it was that was pulling me underneath the feet of the living, and into a world filled with What Is No Longer. I started cultivating profound relationships with both the Gods that called those realms home, and with the ghosts, imprints and non-human spirits that inhabited that plane as well. And as I walked within those shadows, I also began to cultivate an understanding of who I honestly was.

That sounds MUCH less painful than it actually was. For every secret I unlocked, I had to barter away a bit of my already tarnished innocence. For every forbidden place I snuck into, I knew that I was being watched for deeper transgressions by Deities who could, at the snap of a finger, destroy me utterly and completely.

And… you would not be out of line in asking yourself right now, “no really, why would you DO THAT?”

Unlike those first days, I now find that have a proper answer.

Beyond what this path of mine has done for (and to) me personally, over the last few years I have seen many people take up what I term “The Infernal Thread” of different paths. The many-chambered Underworld is being courted by many more people these days. People who feel the same tug to explore the Darkness are crafting practices that are renewing ties to not only our own Dead, but to the Deities who reside within those realms and reaches. We are renewing bonds that were cut away hundreds, and sometimes thousands of years ago. In some cases, we are establishing bonds that were never there before. For some, it is a balance to their Dayside practice, and for others (like myself) it is an act of reclaiming the Lands of Erebus from the monotheistic idea that the lower realms are worthy of nothing but scorn, and are by their nature places of evil.

That last idea is one that is strangely prevalent in Modern Neo-Paganism. That “The Darkness” should be avoided at all costs (both the metaphorical darkness and the literal), and those that reside within it shunned as evil-doers. Pagans of many stripes are still afraid of the Devil it seems, by one name or descriptive idea or another, and that fear is just extended to the entire Underworld once they make the move to Pagan Ideals. As a Polytheist, I find that kind of unthinking fear strangely unproductive. (Then again, I have never met an idea I would not poke with a stick.)

For the record, I am not implying that the various underworlds are safe places by any means. Nope. They hide dangers unlike any you will ever face anywhere else, but you can face them. The qualities one masters within the shadows have an immediate impact. The fears faced, the monsters mastered, and the false dualities imposed by society at large can melt away. Wholeness is found, power is discovered, and one can begin to see that the world has far more possibilities than what is illuminated by the Light alone.

And before this idea is simply dismissed, it should be pointed out that many times, a very large part of “The Heroes Journey” in many cultures was the act of descending into the Underworld, and coming back up changed. The word for it in the Hellenistic world, this trip into darkness, is Catabasis, a “descent or downward movement”. Often this descent was into the realm of the underworld, where only Heroes managed to go and come back from. This was more than a simple spiritual day-trip, it was a deep, life-altering transformation. And in those stories, standing at the Gates of Many Hells, was often a Seer or Oracle helpfully placed to help the Hero on his way. And these Mystics were not acting as gatekeepers, but as map-makers of the realms beyond our own.

In today’s world we have very few maps left to us, and in an unhelpful twist, the landscape has changed as well. And while being the Map-maker is not nearly as glamorous as being the Hero, it has a place of importance that has been quite overlooked.

I will wrap this up by being very honest about what I see my place as in The Big Scheme of Things. I do not see myself as an important leader, a humble guru of any kind, or the creator of The Next Big Thing. Im a mischievous explorer who by virtue of actions long passed has access to places I should not. That access (and my mischievous nature) has led to me being recruited as one of many New Map Makers that this new era in Paganism and Polytheism is giving birth to. My area of mapping just happens to be the Lands of Erebus.

This is me…

 

…staring into shadows, looking where I know I shouldn’t and letting forbidden knowledge seep into my bones. It’s a quiet kind of spirituality, rooted in the Earth and bonded with Death. I make no claims to fancy titles and have no pretty sounding official name for what I do every day. It’s just My Way. And I realize that while I walk my magic alone, I manage to find and touch the ones that really need me. Do they know I need them too? What use is all the beauty found in the other world if you don’t have someone to share it with? If you want to know me, then you should know that this is how I live my life every day. I peer into the shadows, the darkness, and the places I should not, and then I share the beauty I find with you.

When I was four years old, I lost someone very close to me. Someone who, to this day, I still wish was here. My father’s brother, my Uncle K. He died saving my fathers life, in a rather tragic farming accident of all freaking things. We were very close him and I… I can still remember what the world looked like from his shoulders 🙂

His death was hard. But, his funeral… well, I was far too young to deal with what happened on the day of his funeral. I was a very sad little girl… but it was not just my own sadness I was feeling. Somewhere along that day (that very, VERY long day) I had started to soak up the sadness and panic of those around me, feeling things and knowing things that were far too much for someone at that age to feel. I know I will never forget the sheer, gripping fear grabbing at my throat as I started drowning in other peoples sorrow though.

Nor will I forget seeing the man who made the fear go away.

At the grave side service, when I was very certain I was going to die of panic, I saw a man standing alone among the head stones, not so very far away. He was tall, slightly pale, and had dark wavy hair that just reached his shoulders. His eyes were steel gray, and he wore a dark colored sweater that seemed to be far too soft to be real. His eyes caught mine in my panic, and a kind of calm set over me. I could hear him softly whispering above the cries and words of the congregation around me.

“Give it to him little one. He can still hear you.”

I can imagine my four-year-old brow knotting up when I whispered back “Give him what!?”

A smile…

A smile that was cold and frightening and somehow comforting all at once.

“I’ll show you.”

And he did. I can only describe the feeling as being used as a funnel. An emotional funnel that had one end in this world, and the other in the afterlife. But I *felt* every single thing as it passed through me. Pain, fear, anguish, doubt, guilt, anger, heartbreak… It became mine for a moment before it went through.

And thus, I met Thanatos for the first time.

I was 15 the first time I looked my own Beloved Death full in the face. For two weeks I had a Doctors words ringing in my ears. “It might be cancer.” I had been in pain for weeks. Moving hurt.

I remember just not wanting to think about it, not have to deal with it, and not having to be afraid. But somewhere was also a voice, very tiny at the time, that was telling me to come to terms, to think about it, feel it and own up to my fear.

I walked up the side of the rocky, cacti strewn valley that was home until I reached the top, and then I sat.

I remember sitting for a very long time.

The fear and the horror of it all washed over me time and time again. I could die. At 15. Having never realized a single dream, having never tasted a single thing I yearned for.

And I remember a sudden breeze… it pulled my hair away from my face like a lover would… a touch that was more than just the wind.

And Thanatos loomed over me again at that moment… Not fearful, not frightening, but reality-shattering REAL. I could feel the afterlife and Him waiting for me, patient and loving darkness who would take me into his arms some day.

“Not yet.” He whispered and was gone as quickly as he came, leaving a sobbing, stained little girl in his wake.

That moment changed everything, colored everything that came after. At the very core of myself, I understood that me and Death would always dance this little dance of close calls and near death and quiet-scary moments far more often than would ever be comfortable.

Years later, after being a mother and lover and a woman who very much felt like a lost soul, I faced Thanatos full in the face yet again. This time, physical death was used as Initiation. This time, I was unsure if I would be allowed to come back.

“My death came in threes.”

First came the death of my ego. The loss of the face I knew… the loss of my beauty, and the start of my pain. Nine Days. Three times Three. The Irony was not lost to me.

Second came the death of my strength. For the first time ever I failed and faltered. For the first time ever, I lost the physical power that had always been mine. For the fist time ever, I turned to weakness and loathing. I allowed a monster to take root of me, a monster that only pretended to help the pain. To slay the monster I had to kill off my anger at my loss.

Thirdly came the moment when my body, ravaged by infection and medication and pain, just…. stopped. My heart, caught up in a seizure, allowed me to be present for my death.

I was pulled apart, three by three, watching her reconfigure me.

The fire in me now is of Her… I cannot ever be the same.

Reborn, so brought to Life. Not much left of the woman before… Do I mourn her beauty and light heart? A little perhaps.

Loss is always loss after all.

But I grow tired of that morning.

So now, I shall walk among the starlight as I am meant to be… And I will make no more apologies for not being *her* any longer. Mourn her if you feel you must, but know that the woman who stands before you now is far stronger, and far more willing to live than the other ever was. ”

People sometimes ask me if Im afraid of dying.

I always say no.

I know who is coming for me, whose arms I will find myself in. In a way, I yearn for that… but I also know I have other obligations (most notably, to his Beloved Mother Nox) that will keep me for as long as needed. And while I may be unafraid of Thanatos, I still have many a thing to live for. And that is a much sweeter thing to be alive for.

I have Sisters of many colors, faiths… cultures.

Daughters I will never meet, just taking first steps, learning to dance and love.

Grandmothers with hard secrets… they never talked about “those things” back then.

Pain that could fill whole Nations.

Love that could overflow oceans.

At the end of the day, and at the end of my days, I don’t care about what I will be remembered for.

I care about what I have done… For those Sisters, Daughters, Mothers.

What matters are the steps that I take, the arms I will break, the world I have no problems re-wilding to make it safe for you.

If I stand before bullets, those doing the firing should worry for THEIR lives while they attack the Womb of Man. Because together we have the power to rebirth EVERYTHING.

And that is why they fear.

1-1-2017

Oracle of Nox
Bespoken 1-1-2017
Of Lady Night and for her Children in the following year

“The punishment of the soul has passed
But one still must show the scars

The Kiss of Damnation
Bliss
And no sorrow at Death

To march alone in eternity,
more difficulty you cannot find

You have lost Her in a way
Left the shelter, cried the cause

You will carry Blood and Darkness

As we march alone in eternity
Beaten?
Or a heart as a living stone?
Searching, and finding the fortune of Fate

Driven out
Does it taste bitter, the quality of the Dark?

Scratching words upon paper
Words from the mist of Dreams
Turning to deep Nightmares

Of slaughter and labor”

~A~

48, 46, 65, 76, 91, 60, 75, 7, 50,

A simple starting point…

I get questioned often enough about why I use the Term “Infernal Polytheist” for myself that I think it is well past time to address it, and to address just what this “Infernalism” is and means to me, and some of the concepts that are central to it in my practice. As of writing this, I keep in contact with handful of people who are studying these concepts and are working with these Deities on their own, and as we have shared information and experiences with one another, some common ground has shown it’s self, and Im hoping I can capture it well enough here… at least well enough to allow for understanding of our *base* as it were.

For starters “Polytheistic Infernalism” is not really a standing Religion, but more of a Religious Concept that centers on The Gods and Spirits of the various Underworlds, and all the different Concepts that encompass Darkness it’s self. It is a Concept that sees The Darkness and The Light as two different Spiritual Constructs, which have very different paths of interaction, and concerns it’s self with the workings of The Gods and Spirits Darkness rather than the (very well tread, very well known) concepts of Those Of Light. Not because one is better than the other, or because they are at odds with one another, but because at a Polytheistic Infernalists very core is a tugging that cannot be denied, a tugging that leads our feet off of the Path of the Many, and into the Shadowed Worlds where so many monsters dwell. Unlike those who go through “The Dark Night of the Soul” and return gladly to the Daylight, or those who take a few spiritual journeys to conquer what they see as their own negative darkness, a Polytheistic Infernalist finds themselves quite at home in the Shadows of both worlds.

Now, right here is where many people start to delve into very tiresome clichés… Images of Goths and LARPing Vampire get togethers (Those are still fun though!) , teenagers haunting their local graveyards smoking cloves and playing with ouija boards (also fun), self proclaimed “Dark Magicians” who couldn’t magic their way out of a wet paper sack (these guys are less fun)… When most people start talking about “The Darkness” or “The Shadowside” this is what they see represented. This is why so many people who are called to do this work keep it to themselves, and pretty much go at their practice alone. These clichés are part of what I am hoping to help others break free from if they like , and why Im writing all this… so that they can peruse the Darkness in a serous, authentic, and healthy manner. Because there is so much of worth that is yet uncovered.

I am going to be addressing a number of basic concepts and some simple applied language and terms to give one a more firm footing about the actual subject matter of these concepts. The sad truth is, that when one tries to delve into this subject matter in a way not aimed at the very shallow or the played up spooky, one quickly discovers that the subject of the Infernal Strain of Spirituality is missing vast chunks of foundation in our top heavy and light obsessed world. There are many popular misconceptions carried forward by mainstream religions, consumed media, and bad Alternative Religious Concepts. Instead of trying to combat those things, it is actually a far more simple process to start from the underground up as it were.

The first thing we should address is “What, exactly, are your referencing when you say Darkness?” Hint: it is far more than one, singular thing. Having spent years wrapped up in the study of these very things, and with help from some of my Infernal leaning Associates, I have come up with The Three Concepts of Darkness as a basic introduction to some Key Concepts that are often worked with.

The First Concept of Darkness is the Darkness Present in our Physical World. This is the Darkness of Night Time, The Darkness of Shadows Cast by Objects, And the Darkness of Earth, which can be both natural (places like caves) and man made (places such as basements). While each of these Concepts of Darkness are rooted in our physical world and can be experienced as *physical* things , they each also have different spiritual qualities, and different energy patterns that one can manipulate and interact with. This is the first Concept of Darkness that I encourage people to interact with at length, as the nature of these Shadows are often mirrored in the other two concepts. The stand apart here is, of course, the Darkness of Night, which is more than the simple absence of light and physical Nighttime, but also a Primal Deity that I will address at length at a later date.

The Second Concept of Darkness is the Darkness of our Inner Landscape. This is the Darkness we carry inside of us, our inner monsters, our darkest natures. As a society obsessed with the Spiritual Concepts of Light, very few people ever take the time to learn about their Inner Dark Landscape. While it is given lip service in many religious settings, it is most often treated as something to be conquered, something to be beaten into submission, and something to be buried deeply, ignored, and never shown to others. The Monsters and Predatory Natures dewclawed and defanged for polite society. For those who are called to the Infernal Side of Spirituality, this is not only toxic to our basic nature, but can actually harm our being able to function in the Infernal Realms should we find need to go there. For someone willing to go through the process of taking this Darkness inside and learning to cherish it’s gifts, the outcome is nothing less than a shattering restructuring of our very concept of self. Those who are willing to fold their inner darkness into the fabric of their every day lives are catalyst of spiritual change in themselves and others.

The Third Concept of Darkness is the Darkness of the Underworld (that I personally approach as Erebus)… This is the misty darkness where rests all of the various Underworlds, the Shadowed Land of Death, and the Birthplace of all Dreams. It is in this Place that the Infernalist finds themselves the most strongly drawn too. While popular Religions tend to consider all places nested within Erebus “Hells” (and do not be mistaken, those Hells DO nest here as well) the landscape of Erebus is expansive with both beautiful afterlives, and pockets of beauty that can rival anything in the Lighted World.

These Three Concepts of Darkness, while being separate things, very often have an extreme level of interplay as well. Dreams drift to us from the Underworld, Night Descends and brings the Keys to the Doors of Erebus closer to grab at… their are many, MANY levels of interaction at play all wrapped up in that single word of Darkness. For those who wish to work the Infernal, knowing how this interplay happens, and understanding the different forms of Darkness are the beginning steps to unraveling ones place within the landscape of darkness.

They ask me who She is…

Do they understand the complications of that question?

She is Darkness and Mystery and Fear. She is the horrifying stillness of 2am, she is the Mother of a host of Demons, the Primal Goddess even the Almighty Olympian Gods feared.

She is more…

On the clear nights in the desert, she is as palatable as the dust, her glittering veil unmisted. The wind becomes her voice, the skittering night creatures free to trounce about while their Mother looks on. How many nights have I sat in a stupor under the desert sky, absorbing every sound and smell and shadow? How many nights did I brave the desert bare-footed, to better feel the cool night soil and sand? I was enchanted by Night before I ever really knew Her.

She is a Paradox…

Those that want to know her to to play up her “Scary” aspect will never truly understand Her, or Her Power. Yes, she birthed Death and Fate and Discord… But she also Mothered fair Hypnos, and the Tribe of Dreams. She is the source of Mankinds greatest fears, and also our sweetest repose.

She is Distant and Everpresent… 

Her fire sits, as I write this, just under my skin… Sometimes I feel I bleed her essence, and I know that it has been felt by others. She has other wild children under this desert sky, and sometimes I think she will have me find them all. And yet, understanding of her Will is fleeting. Not because I am not listening hard enough, but because that is how the understanding of her Will has to be. She will poke those under her and her childrens influence into small (and sometimes large) madness’s, filling us with divine ecstasy and raw power till we burst with it… and then not tell us why.

This is the Reality of those who find themselves in the Embrace of the Infernal.

And I would not trade my beautiful complications for any other way.