Tree Talker

I don’t remember where I heard this story, but I was told that the trees carry the memory of the land. There are some people who have the ability to “talk” to the trees, to access this memory. When I first heard this at the ripe old age of 21, I was intrigued. I’ve always loved trees, in fact used to “reach out” to them energetically when I was a distance runner, asking their help by lending me the power of their endurance so that I could run farther. I did this starting at about 15 because it just ‘felt right’ to ask them, and at that point had not heard the story of being able to talk to trees. I always imagined that they responded to my requests for help, and I always ran strong and finished every race — even on a strained tendon. Don’t recommend that one, by the way.

So several years later I learn of the Tree Talkers and decide I’d give it a go. This was a time when I was doing a LOT of active energetic experimentation. In rather short order, I could indeed feel the energy of the trees. I learned that the older the tree, the more readily I could access this. Since I was on the East Coast, that meant Oak trees and Maple trees were particularly good. One day, I was down by the river with my friends and touched a trunk of a massive, centuries old Oak. Immediately the modern world disappeared, and I saw a rapid review of the history of the river basin over the course of centuries – far older than just this tree but instead the memory of the forest itself. The vision ended with a pack of wolves leaping over a fallen log. One other member of my experimentation group immediately spun around to me and said “what did you just do?!” I asked what she felt, and she said it felt like a wave of energy just rolled out and through the area. It made her dizzy enough she had to sit down. I told her of the vision that the tree shared with me.

This was by far the most dramatic personal Tree Talker incident. The day I drove by a set of 3 ancient maple trees being cut down to make room for a road expansion and felt the horror of it from the tree’s perspective, that’s the day I began to shut it down. Trees have a very definite awareness, of which we in general are utterly oblivious. Seeing and feeling trees being cut down is a painful experience for me, and I don’t mean pain as in physical. It’s deeper than that. Imagine someone reached into your mind and began to remove your most cherished memory. It doesn’t hurt, not physically, but as the bits and pieces go you feel a sense of loss, a sense that you are no longer whole, and are missing something important. Your heart aches because it remembers, but the mind no longer has the memory. In this case, the land aches because it remembers, but the tree is no longer there. And the world is no longer whole, missing something important and yet utterly unaware of exactly what.

Now I live on the West coast. Nothing is the same. Instead of a temperate forest, I’m in chaparral country. I don’t like chaparral country – I don’t like the plants. Their energy is all ‘wrong’ – there is a desert mentality here I don’t care for. But today I was out for a short hike, and we stopped at several of the beautiful live oaks. These are nothing like the oaks of the east coast, but they are a type of oak and their name is “live oak”. I was looking out over the land, leaning against this chaparral live oak, and I’m remembering the Tree Talker story, remembering that I AM a Tree Talker, though long out of practice. Then I realized I could continue to reject the plants here, or I could accept that I chose to move here and learn how to attune myself to this land, to these plants. To become a Tree Talker again. I’m very good at attunement, if I try. With that mind, when we stopped at some sort of pine tree, I reached out to touch it and for the first time in almost a decade, I felt something. I never really worked with conifers all that much, but what I felt was … the best description I have is ‘flowing sticky sap’. I felt the energy flow of the tree, and it felt sticky, indeed like pine sap. That was the moment when I decided, yes, I’d learn the plants here. Learn to hear them, feel them. Help carry the memory of this land which is now my home.

To do this, I decided that I’d learn one new native species of plant per week, perhaps a month. Armed with information, I’d then go on a hike with my camera and look each target species. The goal is to learn the area, and what plants are here. Learn them, visually recognize them, and then learn their energetic signature – what I can pick up of it. The more I do this, the more I will begin to be attuned to this land.

Today’s plant is the Manzanita – an evergreen shrub with distinctive red bark. This particular specimen featured peeling bark, and I took a picture of it with the sun in the background. The light is shining through the red bark, making it look as if the branches are being licked with flame. They most definitely were not, just a trick of the light, but very breathtaking. I call this picture Fire Bark.

Manzanita bark in the sunlight

Manzanita bark in the sunlight


Astrological Magic

I’ve studied astrology for close to 30 years by this point. I don’t get too caught up in the minutiae, and there’s a LOT of minutiae, preferring to stick to the archetypal side of interpretation. I know that astrological magic is one of the key tri-components of Hermetic studies; I just never really understood exactly what was meant by this.

Until today.

Driving to work listening to a podcast from Dan Attrell talk about the Picatrix. As my mind often does, he mentioned performing a specific spell on the correct day to invoke the correct spirits, and my mind grabs hold of this idea and runs off like an excited child with a kite.

My brain is running through which planets go with which days, and like a series of dominoes I start seeing it.

Wait a second … there are 7 days.

And there are 7 classical planets. One planet, one day. So then…

7 as a key spiritually significant number most likely refers to the visible heavenly bodies. Tying together earth, heaven and time.

In that moment it was like BAM … of course! Duh. Now I understand what astrological magic is and a bit more about how it fits into the larger paradigm.

And I then felt like a moron for not being able to see this before. I had all the pieces; they were just scattered around and I never saw they made a picture. Well. I’ve seen it now. heh. I’m also sure there’s much more to see still. Looking forward to it.

Earth, Hermetic, Magick

Earth Based Duality

I am a student of history. My degree is in it, and I’ve always loved understanding as many of the nuances as possible that got us to where we are today. Back “in my day” in college, this study of how ideas moved through history was dubbed historiography and that is what I loved the most.

I know that our modern very pervasive concept of “duality” as the very foundation for how earth works is completely that — a “modern” concept which has more to do with monotheism than any particular culture. Go back and read any of the polytheistic myths and there’s no clear-cut good/evil or up/down dichotomy that you get with monotheism. I guess that is by necessity — by removing the whole range of human potential by removing all the gods but one, the ugly has to somewhere and it can’t really go into the Exalted One.

Dualism – the idea that something is conceptually divided into two opposed or contrasted aspects.

I could say that I’m not particularly “into” the dual aspected nature of the material world due to my history perspective, but that’s not true. It’s much more fundamental than that. In fact, I was so completely unplugged from the very concept of dualism that I was 5/6 of the way through a philosophy class devoted to “The Mind/Body Problem” before I suddenly understood what they thought the ‘problem’ was. Until then, I’m sitting in this class, brow furrowed, wondering “what the hell are you even TALKING about?” because my underlying world view was so radically different that our foundational, unspoken precepts didn’t come close to reaching the same conclusion on this particular topic. I remember sitting in class when it literally crystalized and I blurted out “wait a minute! Are you saying…” and they were all staring at me like “well, of course, we’ve spent 2 months discussing this. where have you been?”

But anyway, suffice to say, dualism doesn’t really speak to me and it doesn’t really work in my cosmology. In reviewing some of the foundational texts in Hermeticism and modern magick in general, I am far and away in the minority on this. Dualism is the order of the day, and very few people have actually stopped to ask “is it? is it really how things work?” I’ve noticed that foundations rarely get challenged, and I for one assume that my foundations are your foundations — though in that philosophy class, clearly that was not true!

One of the big pieces in Hermeticism is the gender division — the dual nature of gender. Masculine or feminine. The very concept of dualism will demand that these be opposed or contrasting aspects — rather than complimentary!  It spirals out from there, where all kinds of contrasting qualities are then categorized according to gender – active/passive, strong/weak, destructive/creative, positive/negative, good/bad, black/white.

Dualistic views are by their very nature divisionary, not inclusive. It invites a simplistic black/white view of the world in which something is EITHER one OR the other. Choose. Whichever one I pick, I have to let go of the other. But another piece of Hermeticism is polarity – though polarity and dualism are very closely related. Both views divide something in half, but polarity brings with it an intrinsic sliding scale while dualism is focused on the extremes. Granted my understanding, not being natively dualistic, sees the full spectrum the moment polarity is mentioned. On the sliding scale of black and white, how polarized to the extreme is this item? Or, “how grey is this?” When talking about duality, that is not the perspective – is this black or white?

The yin/yang is actually a pretty decent symbol when it comes to reminding me that dualism is a lie — in everything good lies some bad, and in everything bad lies some good. But purely dualistic systems can’t handle that. My favorite book quote comes from Piers Anthony’s series “Incarnations of Immortality.” In that series, the devil is a character. In one scene, he taunts another character:

“Didn’t you know? God is the Devil seen through the eyes of the ignorant.”

I read that line and my intuition did a full body shudder and shouted TRUTH. In polytheistic religions, there is no supreme good or evil force. All the good guys have tarnished armour, and the bad guys wear whitish hats. Yet our language and societal perspectives are all geared toward a limited, and inaccurate view of manifestation. That said, a model does not need to be “accurate” to be useful! As long as one is aware of the uses and limitations of said model.

What’s this got to do with Earth as an element in the magickal system? Well, as the densest and foundational element, how manifestation is viewed is rather key. Do I as the magician use “either or” language … or “both and” language. *LOL* Either this or that. The answer is, I use both. It depends entirely on what I’m doing and why, but even when I say “either or” my mind’s eye is giving me a spectrum rather than two points. By invoking the spectrum, I’m giving myself permission to slide along the scale until I find what I’m looking for — I’m keeping the options open while still narrowing the field to a few polarized potentials. Likewise, have a broader perspective on how manifestation works means I can see things others often overlook. Notice the language there — overlook. How we choose to see the world will quite literally determine what see of the world.

There’s numerous studies being on this now, where some languages for example don’t have a word for ‘blue’ and so in color swatch tests those speakers literally cannot pick out a blue swatch. It’s not ‘blue’ to them. So no, the blue I see is NOT necessarily the blue you see. But this language/limit is hardly confined to colors. There are other studies with other topics, but colors are easy to quantify.

When I started actively using more “both and” language constructs, it was because I was working on a shift in my perspective. Shifting this then opened what Earth could bring to me. Now there are other levels of this when dealing with Air, Water and Fire, but in terms of Earth — the manifested world around us — then the results of any changes we make are likewise physical results. A simple example for me: shifting from “either artist or business owner” to “both artist and business owner” means I kicked the starving artistic to the curb, and now I can feed myself with my art. Change the perspective, change what is possible to manifest. Now, being EARTH, work is involved. There’s no ‘click your heels and wish real hard’ as many would like to believe. Earth will laugh and laugh and laugh at those who do this. You so funny! Wishing does dick on the Earth realm. But wishing and then planning following by implementation… Well then. That’s a recipe for something real there.

Whatever the foundation who how the material world operates, I urge primarily to question it. Just because you were raised hearing it or were told such and such by your trusted authority figures doesn’t mean it’s what really speaks to you. Try to use more “both and” thinking. See what happens. Afterall, I think that right there is the hallmark of the best magi — a willingness to experiment.

Earth, Hall of Mirrors, Hermetic, Magick

Earth Shadow Dancing

Two things: (1) I speak symbolically a lot of the time, particularly when speaking about elements and planets. Those are almost always symbolic. (2) … I can’t remember two.

Shadow. The psychologists (as far as I a layman knows) coined the usage of the term “projection” to refer to those disowned aspects of ourselves that we project onto others. In modern pop psychology and New Age realms, the term of choice is Shadow. Same thing, different words. Projection/Shadow is a subject near and dear to my heart — just look at the Hall of Mirrors posts to see some of my work in this realm.

“I thought this was an earth post?”

Hold your horses! Groundwork, baby. hehehe. Ground … earth. *elbow* Get it? Ha!

What goes into the Shadow? Pretty much anything which has been judged as “bad”. That’s it. That’s all it takes — because when we judge something as bad we try to shove it away from us. “Ew! This milk is bad … yum!” Not gonna happen. Bad = rejected/trash.

For the majority of people, Shadow Work remains in the personal sphere. But Robert Ohotto is the one who pointed out that shadows exist at every level of the human strata. By this I mean that any and every type of human social construct has its own shadow. If you are in any way plugged into that social group, you are by default plugged into that shadow. Why does every social group have its own shadow? Because every social group has a form of a psyche – a group identity. The stronger that identity is, the stronger the shadow.

The group identity which kids immediately plug into is that of the family. Every family group has a shadow, and the moment a baby is born and plugs into the family group identity is the moment that shadow becomes theirs as well. Robert calls his concept of family shadow “inherited psychic DNA” – meaning that unresolved emotional family issues get passed down until someone has the emotional fortitude to process these unfinished emotions.

At the time this idea entered into my sphere of awareness, I was seriously wrestling with worth/gender issues and prior to that with some pretty heinous religion issues. Because of this concept, I was suddenly able to plug in my family’s history into both of these issues and gained an immediate perspective that was lacking. That perspective allowed me to then work my way through these issues.

So some of the Shadows that we are personally dancing with are actually our family’s shadow. Others are shadows from our work place, or from a social group, or a nation, etc. I’m Southern, and there’s a massive cultural shadow there which has been unrecognized and yet is reeking havoc now because it’s being triggered but no one seems to be seeing the source! That’s a whole other post, but you get the idea. Shadows are everywhere, not just personal. In fact, in order to actually GET to your personal shadows, you first have to wade through the others! Learning how to recognize “My Personal Shadow” from “Inherited Group Shadow” is a HUGE bonus skill to have in your emotional intelligence skill deck!! Work on that. My Hall of Mirrors training helped me with this.

So Earth Shadow. In my last post, I stated:

“Indeed, I am coming to believe that those who feel and think this way are acting largely on the impulses from a shadow they don’t even recognize is there. A shadow which is thousands of years old, reinforced by the minds, hearts and actions of billions of people. While I’m upset by the mistake, I also recognize its power. That’s a whoooooole lot of psychic weight for the average person to even consider disengaging from.”

If the material, earthly world has been judged “bad” … guess where the entire thing gets dumped? SHADOW! I have never once heard anyone call out that the earth element has been tossed into the Shadow, so it doesn’t seem to be a commonly recognized issue which brings with it a unique set of challenges in addition to trying to work with the element itself. I have heard dozens of different ways of dumping on Earth though. See what you can add to the mix:

  • Rich people can’t be spiritual. It’s impossible.
  • Celibacy is the only viable path to spirituality.
  • Sex/Physical pleasure is a sin.
  • Fasting/Self-flagellation is a good way to purge the body of weaknesses.

I have to stop here. These are such ridiculous statements that I’m giving myself an aneurism, but I hear them frequently. And with 100% sincerity! Wow. *sad panda* No wonder we have so many issues around this aspect of being alive.

Interestingly, it’s not just one culture, or religion which has this thought process. You can literally find it in every corner of the world in some form or other. Every culture that I’m aware of, every major religion. Granted, modern medicine and life in the First World does dramatically tend to alter one’s relationship with the physical world — I’m not wasting away from some random illness, or buried my 10th child, or starving. I can definitely see the appeal and even logic of saying this material world is a horrible thing and what awaits us is happiness and rainbows. Being a genealogist, I’ve encountered my own ancestors who buried more children than lived to adulthood. If this was the case for me, I’d be screamingly upset with the material world which murdered my babies so callously. So I get it. I really do. But as long as the Earth is in the Shadow, I can’t really work with it as effectively as I’d like. Until I can own it, dark side and all, the full power of that element will forever elude me. I can’t reject a tool and then hope to use it effectively.

But in this case, I’ve inherited a Shadow which has literally thousands of years of weight behind it, and one which is constantly referenced in some form or other from all quarters — most especially in the spiritual seeker circles that I frequent. As I mentioned, that’s a lot of power to attempt to unplug from. It takes quite a bit of active, conscious effort to unplug from any social group’s accepted shadow. Attempting to do so often gets people kicked out of social groups!! “You’re no longer one of us…” *boot*

So I have to figure out how to own a Shadow so large that it literally is the ground that I’m standing on. *blinks* That’s big. I think the first step is seeing it. If you’ve read this post, perhaps you are ready to see it. If this post literally makes no sense to you, you’re not ready. If it does, you’re ready. And if you’re ready, like I am, what will you choose to do with the information?

This series of posts will not only be about Earth as the densest, “lowest” element, but also about exploring the Shadow of it. Seeing all the faces which get reflected back at me in my Hall of Mirrors when I engage the Earth element in my magickal studies.

Next on deck is looking at duality as a concept, especially as it relates to earth and the material world.

Earth, Hermetic, Magick, Rant

Earth Good

There are a few spiritual practices that I’ve studied off and on over the years, some more so than others. One of those is Hermeticism. It’s been a practice for over 20 years by this point, though hardly consistent. Hell, I don’t do anything consistently — except maybe breath. And sleep. But a friend of mine recently started her own Hermetic journey and that spurred a return to my own.

To that end, I’ve been listening to podcasts from various Hermetic related sources. There’s something I keep hearing which is now starting to really bother me, where before I think perhaps I agreed – or at least didn’t disagree strongly enough to be bothered by the statements. No longer true!! This particular thing is NOT unique to Hermetics, but rather is a pervasive thought system regardless of what sphere you happen to be talking about. Here it is in a nutshell:

Material world = bad. Spiritual world = good.

What a load of shit. *gasp* Yes, I said that. You read it correctly. That is a load of bullshit. So let me correct it here:

Material world = bad. Spiritual world = good.

Material world = good. Spiritual world = good.

I am so tired of hearing spiritual practitioners talk about the material world as if it’s the enemy. It is NOT. It’s not an obstacle to be overcome, or something to be reviled, definitely not denied or *egad* punished for being and doing exactly what it was designed to do. *facepalm*

It’s the foundation. The material is the foundation of everything else for this level of existence, from stem to stern and back again. Let me repeat: FOUNDATION.

Do you believe that the foundations of a building are evil, or a ‘sin’, or something to be overcome? After all, without those limiters than the building can be anything! … Personally, I don’t want to walk into a building built by someone with that mindset — the resultant building is unsafe, unstable, and will not be able to function as desired for very long with any degree of reliability. Eeew.

But it’s the scaffolding, the studs underneath the façade of the world — that’s what earth is. That’s what the material world in which we exist IS — the foundation upon which everything in this life is built. That’s it. Nothing other than that. Why treat the underpinnings of this reality as an enemy?? Why malign the very studs which support the entire structure? Why curse the shims which square up the doors and windows for having the audacity to hold actual doors and windows? It makes no sense to me. Not anymore.

Let me get this out of my system before I go on to new posts about Earth as I ponder its role in the magickal systems I’ve studied to date. *pulls out soapbox*

Physical life is NOT a punishment. It’s not something to be ‘endured’ or ‘escaped’ or ‘overcome’. It’s a privilege and a gift. It has its challenges, to be sure, but it’s a gift dammit. Not a sentence! One of the reasons I have such a hard time with earth is because I find it easy to see through, and what I see has me shaking with increasing frustration when so called “spiritual” people spit on the marvelous opportunity this physical life affords us. Abusing the body, the very vessel through which we MUST travel through this plane, is a tragedy. Heaping insults upon it for the limitations that the material world has is a violent ignorance. Exalting the “spiritual” over the material at the cost of the physical, is a gross misunderstanding of “All is ONE” and “As Above, so Below”. Indeed, I am coming to believe that those who feel and think this way are acting largely on the impulses from a shadow they don’t even recognize is there. A shadow which is thousands of years old, reinforced by the minds, hearts and actions of billions of people. While I’m upset by the mistake, I also recognize its power. That’s a whoooooole lot of psychic weight for the average person to even consider disengaging from.

But if you’re reading this, you’re not average. Are you?

*puts away soapbox*

Rather than do one mahoosive post on Earth, I’m going to break it up in to pieces.

  • Shadow of Earth
  • The Right and Wrong of Duality
  • Gender Judgments and Earth Application
  • Earth First
  • Response Times
  • Material Dimension and Time
  • Challenges and Rewards of Mastering Earth

I’ve spent many years lost in the lessons of earth. I’m far from a master of it!!! I’m not pretending to be a master of it either. But because of the unique challenges I’ve dealt with, my appreciation and perspective of Earth is apparently uncommon for spiritual seeker. That needs to change. Hence this series. It’ll be interesting to find out what kinds of things come up. I was driving to San Francisco yesterday, dictating into my Voice Memos and the stuff which came out was rather interesting. I never knew I thought that! *lol* So this series will be about working to unpack and synthesize and hopefully enrich those ideas.

There’s no schedule for them; I’d promptly ignore a schedule anyway. Just follow the blog and when a new one comes up you’ll get notified.