I don’t do drugs. Mind you, I think they should all be legal, but I’m too old, too creaky, and have too many health issues. I don’t need to complicate my life, even as a spirit-worker. Perhaps if I weren’t taking certain medications for my migraine condition, I might occasionally walk the Plant Road, but right now, that’s just not in the cards, and it doesn’t have to be. There are multiple techniques and roads by which a spirit-worker can get to where they need to be. The Plant Road has never really been one of mine (1). That being said, it’s a powerful road and one for which I have the deepest respect. Depending on the plant allies with whom one is engaging, it can be potentially fatal. (This is why protocol and preparation are so important). Last night, without ever ingesting anything, I got a powerful taste of a particular spirit’s medicine and got taken on a rather unexpected (and initially non-consensual) journey.
My husband belongs to Dionysos and part of his sacred work is guiding people on plant journeys safely (2). Last night, after several weeks of preparation, one of our housemates had arranged to meet Amanita Muscaria, Little Red Man (3). He’s called “Little Red Man” partly in a nod to the vibrant color of the amanita and partly because the spirit of this mushroom often appears as a fierce little man with either reddish skin or a red cap or both. Sannion was all set to be guide and guard. Not being involved in this work, I was planning instead on working on my final paper for the school semester (which I did, for a couple of hours, at least). They went to do their thing in part of the house, and I went to my studio/office in another part in order to get to work. Ne’er should the twain have met lol.
About an hour into it all, I started to get massively nauseous (one of the symptoms of having ingested amanita – which I repeat, I had not at any point done). It took me awhile longer to realize what was happening, during which interim, I had several significant epiphanies about my paper topic, which I credit to the inspiration of Amanita). Finally, I gave up working, understanding that I was linking in way too much to the power of the Red Man, and went to the kitchen to get a glass of water with rehydration salts (important on plant road journeys – and yes I realize a mushroom is a fungus not a plant but consider “plant” shorthand for the whole breadth of spirits with whom one might work on this road—to stay hydrated before, during, and after) and sat down in the living room to wait for my husband to finish up his work. About an hour later, he came out, by which time I had the beginnings of a bad headache (which is why I don’t do plant path).
We chatted for a bit and realized that because amanita is one of Odin’s plants, because it is associated specifically with berserkers, which gift I have, and because I tend to be very open to the Gods and spirits that are within our household retinue, I had tapped right into the experience our housemate was having, though we each went very, very different places—or, more likely, amanita had tapped right into me. This is what I learned and what I share now about the power of this being:
- I always knew that despite various scholars’ meanderings, amanita ingestion does not cause the berserkergang. Only someone who was not a berserker and who had never tried amanita would think it did (4). Being a berserker is knit into one’s soul. It’s an inherent part of a person, not something learned or acquired; HOWEVER, when used by someone who is a berserk, the spirit of amanita grants speed, incredible speed (everyone and everything else seems to be moving and thinking and existing incredibly slowly), one hell of an advantage in battle.
- It renders one impervious to pain. The Berserkergang does this anyway, but it’s different with amanita. One sees the injury or pain, is aware of it, but is above it, unimpacted. The berserkergang itself has a healing capacity and can ensure some measure of healing to these things so perhaps this would have been useful in knowing where to direct that healing?
- I was several rooms away, working on an academic paper. I hadn’t ingested anything other than a cup of Darjeeling tea. Because of the factors outlined above, I linked unexpectedly right into the Red Man. Parsing this out later, we had a major insight. One person takes amanita and while the Red Man is affecting him/her, that spirit’s influence is beginning to affect the person next to that first, even before that latter person ingests anything. One person taking it augments the next, who augments the next and this would lead to tremendous power and cohesion in a battle situation. I can well see why Odin would suggest use of this mushroom to His warriors. I also suspect that a vitki or spirit worker or shaman offering to the spirit of the mushroom, engaging with it could ensure that the berserkers didn’t mistake their own people for the enemy in the haze of the battle fury. Such a person could direct, along with the cooperation of the spirit of the mushroom itself, the ride.
Ironically, Sannion had suggested before he and our friend began their work that I micro-dose (take a miniscule portion of the mushroom so that I would be inside its influence). I declined because A) I don’t do plant path and B) I had academic work to accomplish. I wish, in retrospect, that I had done as he suggested. I think it would have been an easier journey (I would have known I was taking a journey for one thing!). Today was rough. Because I hadn’t prepared (though I had divined and helped our friend in that friend’s preparations, including talking to Red Man which, of course, had me primed and open for his later influence), coming back to mundane time/space/head-space hurt and of course with me, that often means migraines. But it was worth it. I received information that transformed my research in exciting ways, learned something about one of Odin’s allies, and learned that the ancient contracts and alliances between Gods, spirits, and particular groups of our ancestors (in this case berserks) don’t just disappear. The groove is there and under the right conditions, can easily be activated again. This is a hopeful thing, because it means that we *can* restore the broken lineages and covenants our ancestors threw down when they converted (and even if conversion was forced – a horrendous and horrible thing, a violation on both sides in many ways—the broken covenants with the Holy Powers still exist). Our place in taking up and repairing those threads will be recognized by those Gods and Their constituent allies. That is a good thing, a useful thing, a blessed thing.
- Though it must be noted, that Plant Road work can be very powerfully done without ever engaging with entheogens.
- It’s always good to have an experienced guide the first several times one meets and engages with a plant ally, especially if that ally is an entheogen. It’s also always good to have a spotter, someone to hold the space soberly to make sure that one comes through safe and sound, or to call for help if something goes awry. I think the Gods like courage, not stupidity after all.
- CAVEAT: if you eat this without proper preparation, it will kill you horribly. If you eat too much of this, with proper preparation, it can still kill you horribly. Do not play around with this. Unless you are working under experienced supervision AND are called to the Plant road, it’s best to leave this mushroom and spirit alone. In our state, he is legal, btw. It varies state to state.
- There’s a trend in scholarship to ascribe any mystical, visionary, or magical experience to drugs.
Today is so bad. I woke with a migraine bad enough to make me vomit. Too much spirit contact and unexpected at that. Last night, I already wasn’t feeling great. I had a bit of a migraine mostly from the weather so I took migraine medication and settled in to watch some tv with my housemate and my husband. I wanted to show them a WWI show that I like: The Crimson Field. It’s all about VAD nurses in WWI (got cancelled after one season, probably because it showed how fucking incompetent military leadership was). I didn’t think to first make offerings to the military dead, even though they are one of my primary group of spirits, especially the WWI dead.
I’ve since decided that whenever I watch anything having to do with WWI, I’m just going to make offerings to that family of the dead as a matter of course. That’s my new protocol now and forever a-fucking-men.
As we were watching the series last night, I started getting enraged and wanting to grind my teeth and at one point the man who had risen up with his brothers-in-arms behind me actually used my voice to hiss bitter at the story being portrayed and that’s when we all realized the dead were around us. An ancestor worker carries the dead always. We carry them with us and whether it is men who sing like angels or men and women who plodded through mud and piss and shit and hell they are with us always. I realize the story being depicted was so very close to what had happened to the spirit behind me and he was still so very angry so we gave him voice and gave him and the others there offerings and the room grew crystalline bright and I saw the spirits of the dead ringing us misty and pale and that is how we spent out night and today I feel as though I have been beaten. My head is not large enough for the multitude that wanted to pour their stories and their pain into it. The honeycombed halls of my heart are willing to receive their stories, to carry their pain but oh I feel as though someone clubbed the back of my head hard.
Sannion: “the spirits take everything.”
Me in response: “OMG that’s absolutely the truth. They so do, but they give everything too.”
And he and my housemate concurred. They take and they give and we are stretched thin in between.
11 years ago today one of my most popular books, Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner, released.
Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner is not denomination-specific: rather, it seeks to provide an entry into interior practice for anyone involved in a branch of this broad family of traditions of the ancient Norse, Germanic, and Saxon peoples, using material suitable for the solitary, independent practitioner. Those outside of the Northern Tradition who wish to deepen their own devotional practice will find this book helpful in their own work, as well.
Hard to believe it’s been 7 years since this book first released! Who has a copy?
We are all surrounded by spirits. Many people feel called to work with them, but few know where to begin. Enjoined by the gods and spirits to fulfill this need, Raven Kaldera and Galina Krasskova have reconstructed the indigenous spiritual traditions of northern Europe and Scandinavia extinguished more than one thousand years ago by the spread of Christianity. Arising from basic survival needs, these practical traditions are fundamentally tied to the elements found in the harsh world of the ancient North.
Beginning with the skills tied to the Earth element, necessary for grounding prior to the more demanding aspects of the practice–working with Sun, Moon, Plants, Animals, Water, Fire, Craft, and Air–the authors explain, step by step, how to build relationships with each elemental spirit and the Ancestors. Offering 83 practical exercises, from cleansing with the Moon or borrowing the legs of Reindeer to making sacred space with Mugwort or creating an ancestor altar, they also explore building spirit relationships through altered states. Emphasizing the proper management of your spirit relationships to avoid spiritual debt or offense, the authors outline the ancient cultural rules and taboos that circumscribe these practices, essential knowledge for successful and fruitful spirit alliances.
Detailing the beginning set of skills needed to work with the spirits of this ancient world, this comprehensive workbook offers a unique ancestral spiritual outlet for those of northern European descent as well as an accessible guide for anyone trying to fulfill their shamanic callings.
A step-by-step guide to working with the spirits of ancient northern Europe
- Explains how to build relationships with Earth, Sun, Moon, Plants, Animals, Water, Fire, Craft, Air, and the Ancestors through 83 practical exercises
- Explores the role of altered states in spirit work
- Outlines the ancient cultural rules and taboos to avoid spiritual debt or offense
5 years ago today this book made its first public appearance.
Divination is a sacred art, craft, and science. It is a means of facilitating right relationship with the Gods and other holy powers. It is a means of sorting out our wyrd and bettering our ability to function as responsible human beings. It is a means of bettering our luck, and making the most of the opportunities sent our way. Most of all, it is a means whereby even those without the ability to hear or sense the Gods and spirits consistently and accurately can learn what the Gods and spirits want from them, what their obligations may be, and receive guidance on where to go with the struggles, problems, and questions in their lives. With over twenty years of experience as a diviner, Krasskova answers important questions about performing divination within the context of an engaged polytheistic religious practice. Covering topics like binary systems, proper mental and spiritual protocols, dealing with clients, and the differences between divination and oracles, this is essential reading for those called to a vocation as a diviner, as well as those who are simply interested in divination as a part of their personal spiritual practice.
Available on amazon: http://amzn.to/2fRMrPo
Someone emailed a colleague of mine out of the blue with the following question (he shared it largely out of shock at the utter obliviousness of it all):
-” What does the shaman who horses (1) deities get in return for all the sacrifice, hard work & suffering they had to endure to become a shaman in the first place?… Can the shaman expect to be a highly skilled & powerful sorcerer whose (sic) able to bring about change in his life & this world through sorcery, after horsing deities for years? Or is it dependent on the relationship that is forged with the deity?”
The question is offensive on many levels and oblivious on many others, so much so that I was left quite literally speechless when my friend emailed me. (I think I said something to the effect of ‘I don’t know quite what to say here but you do get the best questions. Damn!’).(2)
Even writing this, I’m still pretty boggled by the question. First of all, what do you get? You get a job. You get the honor and privilege of serving the Gods, a particular privilege that most people never even conceive of let alone experience.
But more to the point, it’s not about us. A shaman provides service to the Gods and to the community. It’s not self-serving. No one in their right mind would want this job and yet, it is an honor and a privilege to be taken up in this way.
I just am so boggled by the incorrect attitude displayed in the email, not just to the idea of a shaman’s work being for personal empowerment, but the idea that we can use relationships with the Gods for personal greed. It is so incredibly wrong. If you ever wanted a primer on how not to approach the Holy Powers, this is it.
There are many ways to approach the Gods but first and foremost there is a foundational commonality on those that are appropriate and that commonality is respect. These are Holy Powers. They are the Movers and Shapers of the Cosmos. We were created to exist in right relationship with Them. They do not exist to pander to the worst of our instincts and desires.
Part of regaining right relationship with the Powers involves understanding that everything is not about us. We are not the super-center of the cosmos. The universe does not exist to cater to our whims and to stroke our egos.
So to answer this fool’s question, you get to be of service. You get to go to your grave knowing you did your part to restore right relationship communally with the Gods. You get to experience specific Deities more closely than can ever be imagined. That is both a grace and a blessing. No, you cannot, as a result of horsing (or anything else we do) expect to be “a highly skilled & powerful sorcerer” capable of bending the world to his will (and if you want to study magic, that too is a lifetime’s commitment and takes sacrifice). This is not a D&D game. And everything, everything is always dependent on the relationships we forge with our Gods, and those relationships that we nurture? They’re the reward for the work.
1. To horse a Deity is to carry that Deity via possession. It’s terminology drawn from the Afro-Caribbean traditions. The Deity “rides” the devotee as one might ride a horse.
2. I asked my colleague’s permission to share the question for this post.
Be sure to check out my other sites:
Wyrd Curiosities at Etsy
My academia.edu page
My amazon author page.
Walking the Worlds Journal
My art blog at Krasskova Creations
My blog about all things strange, weird and medieval.
And if you like what you see, consider becoming a sponsor at Patreon.
So I was contacted by a colleague today and asked my opinion on the term ‘spirit-worker.’ Apparently it’s become a fad to use this term when one is not, in fact a professional. I thought it might perhaps be wise to clarify for those who are confused.
This term came into being in 2004 at a gathering of shamans and spirit-workers hosted by Raven Kaldera. We were looking for a term that legitimized the work of those bound to the Gods and spirits, people who were doing the work of a shaman–engaging with Gods and spirits in a larger, more meta way than a devotee is called to do and doing so specifically for clients and communities– but who had not undergone the death-rebirth trauma of a traditional shaman. After much discussion, someone suggested ‘spirit-worker.’ It’s an apt term, one that refers to a person who works for the Gods and spirits (regardless of tradition).
It is a specialist term.
It is not a term for laity no matter how sensitive or skilled that lay person might be. I may know how to pop an abscess or suture a wound (i do in fact know these things) but i’m not a surgeon.
There’s apparently a great deal of confusion, or so i’m told (I myself haven’t seen it) surrounding this term, particularly with the G&R crowd currently trying to purge the devotion and piety out of polytheism reducing it to mere transactional relationships with random spirits. One might in fact be high psi, one might be very sensitive to the Gods and spirits of one’s devotion but unless you are snapped up into active service (which presupposes not just a binding agreement but training and binding obligations), you’re not a spirit-worker. The only workable difference between being a spirit-worker and a shaman is that psychic shattering of the death/rebirth (or with some shamans madness/restoration) experience.
The last thing we need is to see “spirit-worker’ get parsed out into ever smaller and more specific categories — you know, how some people at both patheos and G&R are trying to do with ‘polytheist.’ Such linguistic splitting is a matter of rendering the whole irrelevant and it should be resisted, at least in these cases. It does not help or bring clarity. This is not a difficult thing. If you’re not a specialist, not a professional, you’re not a spirit worker. Embrace what you ARE. Do that which is given to you to cultivate be it tending your shrine, engaging in prayer, maintaining ongoing devotion. that’s important, in fact that’s crucially important. It may not be shiny and sexy but it’s fundamental and our traditions could not exist without the laity doing that work.
I’m cranky today. It’s in the high nineties and i’m working in a studio that has almost no air conditioning. If my tone here is brusque, I apologize but I will also say that I’m getting massively sick of problems being created where there aren’t any. maybe this all goes back to the ‘words mean things’ debacle of the last year and you all know where I stand on that.
This July I will be attending an international artists’ residency in Poland. This is all paid for by the folks organizing the residency (yay!) and I”ll be working with some amazing artists. I decided while I was there, to take advantage of proximity and, after the residency is over, to spend one week, visiting ossuaries in the Czech Republic and Germany. I believe very strongly that these are sacred places, and that reverence for bones pointed to a devotional understanding that our ancestors lost with the so-called “Age of Reason.” There is a very keen wisdom there for those that would seek it out. Moreover, contact with such places, places built for devotion, given over to devotion for centuries, filled with bones that enjoyed their share of reverence has the potential to teach much about honoring the dead. I think this will powerfully further my work, and more importantly, the intensity of these places will prepare me for a trip I intend to take in a couple of years to Somme and Verdun. When doing this type of work, it’s necessary (or at least helpful and eminently less painful) to have an assistant. It helps to have someone to help navigate Midgard (and words, the whole wording thing doesn’t work so well after extensive contact with the dead, yeah..helping with words lol), and make sure the shaman doesn’t walk into traffic. (Sorry, Heathens, not going anywhere anytime soon). My friend MAG is going to be coming with me. She’s a photographer so the trip will be a good one for her art, but she’s also agreed to serve as my assistant when dealing with the dead, something she has done in the past when I’ve made pilgrimages for the military dead. She’s got good instincts and does this extremely well.
Over the next few months, I am going to be fundraising to cover her airfare and expenses. I am asking for community support. I believe that what I will learn from this pilgrimage (because that’s very much what it is for me) will open up a deeper level of understanding with ancestor work and that is something that I will share with all of you. It was not uncommon in times past for a community to pitch in to help one of its members go on a pilgrimages. I”m asking for that help now, not for me, but for my friend. To that end, I”m offering the following (or will be, within the month):
* for $15 I will write a prayer to the Deity of your choice.
* for $30 I will do a setting of lights for you.
* for $45 I will make a set of ancestor prayer beads for you (limit 5)
* for $50, you will receive a divination session (limit 3 questions).
* for $60 you will receive a signed copy of “On Divination” and six prayer cards of your choice. (Limit 5)
I will also shortly be offering a series of “baskets” on ebay. They’re not literal baskets lol, but small devotional collections. For instance, the first one going up (if all goes well, i’ll have it up by Monday), is a “ Freya Basket.” it contains the Paul Borda statue of Freya (brown finish), a devotional to Freya, a prayer card, a love and beauty magical bath, a small vial of blessing oil, and a Sigdrifa’s Prayer bookmark. bidding will start at $125.
I’ll be doing three, perhaps four of these “baskets” in May.
I’ll also be donating 75% of all my art sales from my studio and also online (krasskovacreations.wordpress.com — if you see anything you like email me at krasskova at gmail.com).
Should anyone wish to donate, rather than purchase one of these things, I am open to that as well. Again, contact me at krasskova at gmail.com. One of the things that I am seriously considering doing, is taking prayers of anyone in the community who wishes it with me, and making offerings and offering prayers to the spirits of the land, the dead whom I’m visiting, and those of our Gods once reverenced on that land. I will happily do this for anyone. I’ve already had several people ask me to pay respects to their ancestors when I set foot upon their ancestral soil and I’m happy to do so for anyone.
My goal is to raise enough to cover MAG’s airfare and hotel.
Taking a page from my partner Sannion’s book, when I return, I will offer a free class to all those who contributed in some way. I’m going to decide on some topics over the next week or so, and y’all can vote on what you’d like to see offered.
That is all for now. I’ll post here when the first ebay auction goes up.
I recently ordered some incense from Dver — you can check it out here. I’m particular about my incense, but i’d used hers before and it didn’t set off headaches or make me otherwise miserable so I decided to order some of her new blend
Oh. My. Gods. I used it this past week in ritual and it was lush and magical and just marvelous to use. I used it in offering to my dead, but it would make a lovely ritual incense as well. Anyway, I’m picky and I like it, so I’m recommending it here. ^_^.
So I do pastoral counseling and spirit work troubleshooting and I got called out tonight to make a housecall. Because it was a potentially volatile situation, my partner came with me.
I don’t have good night vision and we live in a fairly rural area. There are a lot of stray cats in that area so when I saw furry beasts on the porch I didn’t think anything of it. I assumed they were cats, stepped over the largest one and knocked at the door. I *may* have scooted it out of the way with my foot.
Well, it wasn’t a cat, it was a skunk and it left me alone but turned around and spritzed Sannion. I had no idea how bad skunk spray could smell. *NO idea*. Even with the car windows all the way open on the ride home, the interior of my car still smells more than a little of eau de skunk. Poor Sannion. Thanks to the Thracian we learned that dishsoap, baking soda, and peroxide will remove skunk odor. Sannion rushed inside and fled to the shower with those items in hand.
I prepare for a lot of things when I go to do this type of work but never, ever did I think i’d have to prepare for skunks. Somewhere I think the Gods are laughing.
(the best part was when we went to leave. The skunk was still eating the cat food on the porch and looked up at us with a very pugnacious expression. We are brave but….we went out through the back door!).