heron61: (Dragons & Magic)
Last week, [personal profile] teaotter, [personal profile] amberite, and I went out to West Virginia to a memorial for [personal profile] helen99, someone I knew and very much liked in the otherkin community. I didn't know her well, but she was a kind, thoughtful, and generally awesome individual and I'm sad she's gone, but the memorial was very affecting and I was glad to have been there. As it true at all such occasions, this visit was also a time to reconnect with quite a number of wonderful people in that community who I haven't seen for 5 or so years and reminded me of how much I enjoy interacting with these people.

I also experienced another rarely indulged pleasure –observing truly excellent parenting. One of the unusual (and from my PoV quite comfortable) features of the otherkin community, or at least the sections I'm familiar with is that being childfree is exceedingly common, which is hardly surprising in a group of geeky, deeply eccentric, and often fairly gender non-conforming people. However, several of the people at the memorial (some of whom were part of the otherkin community, others not, but all quite geeky) had children. Most were excellent parents of the sort that I've seen before a number of times (but more rarely than I'd like).

Then there was Summer and Ashran, who were the sorts of amazing parents one might expect to read about in the rare YA novel where the protagonist has ludicrously wonderful parents (excellent examples being any of the YA novels by Madeleine L'Engle) – yes, they both (and especially Summer) seemed that good – kind, loving, endlessly patient, joyful, and deeply humane, and with 4 children, ranging in age from 5 months to 12 years. In addition to sometimes enjoying spending time around other people's children, I also very much enjoy (and am mildly in awe of) anyone who is a truly excellent parent. I react to it much as I would to seeing someone demonstrate any other impressive skill that I have neither the talent for nor any inclination to pursue. Watching Summer and Ashran with their children was especially impressive and wonderful.

On a related note, at one point, Summer mentioned that since most of the people she knew in the otherkin community didn't seem interested in having children, she was going to have to make up for that lack :) That comment got me thinking about the nature of the otherkin community. Like SF fandom and a number of other subcultures, the otherkin community is very much a subculture that people join as teens or adults rather than being born into. This is increasingly distinguishing it from the neopagan community, which as I have mentioned in the past, has, as a whole grown more mainstream as its expanded, and part of this process has involved making a place for individuals and families who are far more mainstream than most neopagans were 40 years ago.

By their nature, communities that survive far more recruiting people than by people being born into it have greater freedom to avoid mainstream norms, in part simply because (for both better and worse) raising children in a community automatically exposes the community to far more public scrutiny that it might otherwise attract. This suggests to me that while the otherkin community will definitely change over time, just as all subcultures do, the direction of that change need not be towards becoming more mainstream.

As a side-note, I and many other people I've known (including many like myself with parents who were not horrific, merely somewhat cold and brittle) have had to learn about love and trust in college and young adulthood, and it's sort of amazing to think of being 17 or 20 and already knowing these lessons.
heron61: (Dragons & Magic)
Unlike the vast majority of the pagans, otherkin, and other magical folk that I know, I'm a trained priest, which to the people who taught me means that I am both a teacher and a representative of the gods. However, after a fairly impressive meltdown of a magical working group around a decade ago, I haven't done all that much with this training. I've done my own spiritual work, and at times quite a lot of it, but I've only done a little work teaching others and have run very few public rituals.

However, I ran a large and exceptionally successful public ritual at Crossing the Thresholds, and both [personal profile] teaotter & [personal profile] amberite mentioned that I should be doing more as a priest. They are correct, and that set me to thinking about what I could do. I finally have a community . I no longer consider myself to be Wiccan, and I have little interest in the larger pagan or magical community, but the otherkin community is home to me.

However, this brings to mind several different issues. The most obvious is what exactly would I do. I can certainly run public rituals and hope to do so regularly. However, I'm not only no longer Wiccan, but my spirituality is at this point highly personal and idiosyncratic and is not something that I see any need or really any possibility to share with others. At that point, instead of teaching religion, I could do any or all of the following:
  • Teach techniques for performing magical work in groups.
  • Lead a magical working group, where members gather to pursue various magical goals that can be best accomplished in groups.
  • Share spiritual experiences and attempt to gain greater spiritual understanding (and perhaps form something like a shared spiritual paradigm).
This all sounds interesting, but it also sounds like the sort of thing that would only work if (to use academic analogies) it was more in the format of a graduate seminar rather than the format of a more traditional and authoritarian class. The problem with this idea is that all of my previous experience with magical study groups has shown me that attempting to run anything other than a moderately structured set up of 1 or 2 teachers teaching a larger number of students either fails utterly (mostly in the sense that it falls apart) or reverts to a teacher student dynamic quite rapidly. So, I'm far from certain how to make anything else work.

There's also the even more difficult issue that I have a number of people who I'd greatly value as colleagues (and in some cases students) in such a group, and with the exception of my two partners, all of them are members of the otherkin community who live on the other coast. There are people in the otherkin community that I know and like out here, but I'm not as close to any of them, and I don't think I'd work well in a group with any of them except my two partners. [livejournal.com profile] shadowmorphic suggested attempting some form of long-distance teaching and working group, which sounds possible, but also very far from easy. Also, a long-distance community feels a whole lot less like a community, and that would make the entire process far more difficult and somewhat less rewarding.

Alternately, I can attempt to meet more otherkin out here, which suffers from all the typical and fairly intimidating problems of attempting to find total strangers to join a magical working group. I have been to several otherkin meet-ups in Portland that have attracted a number of interesting individuals that I might have been able to work with. However, separating the people I wish to work with from those I know that I can work well with is definitely not a simple process, especially since I wish to avoid hurting the feelings of some people I know, but don't think that I could work with.

So, at this point, I'm both uncertain what sort of group to create, how to organize it and who would be in it, which is a far from easy place to be for considering such things. I would definitely appreciate thoughts and advice.
heron61: (Dragons & Magic)
Yesterday, quite late, [livejournal.com profile] teaotter, [livejournal.com profile] amberite, and I got back from going to Crossing the Thresholds 4 and staying with [livejournal.com profile] tlttlotd & [livejournal.com profile] lyssabard. Air travel has gone from being deeply annoying to utterly horrid (having to pay for all beverages, including water, on board USAir planes is particularly vile), but the visit itself was a joy beyond all expectations.

Alice, Becca, and I all had a wonderful time with Lyssa and Bryce, with the only downside being that Bryce was both sick and exhausted and so we saw rather less of him that we had hoped. However, there were both wonderful conversations and equally wonderful cuddle piles. We also saw [livejournal.com profile] laurelinde & [livejournal.com profile] waterfire741 quite a bit and got to know both of them considerably and wonderfully better, as well as having a brief but very nice visit with both [livejournal.com profile] kitten_goddess & [livejournal.com profile] quorpencetta. Unfortunately, of all these wonderful people, only [livejournal.com profile] waterfire741 was actually able to go to CTT. It was a small event, with perhaps 25 people, but it was also even better than any of the three wonderful and amazing Walking the Thresholds events I've gone to (which is no easy feat). We arrived on Thursday evening and departed on Sunday afternoon. Discussions of occult & otherkin oddness follows )
heron61: (Dragons & Magic)
After [livejournal.com profile] shadowmorphic's utterly amazing visit, I've thought about becoming a part of the otherkin community and how it was different for me than anything similar I'd ever experienced more here for those who are interested )
heron61: (Dragons & Magic)
In this post from several years ago, I discussed how I think of being otherkin more about having various sorts of connections to other beings, lives, or realities than I do about past lives. I was thinking about this a bit more and was talking about the phenomena of being more than one sort of otherkin with [livejournal.com profile] teaotter and came up with some potentially useful ideas. odd otherkin rambling follows )
heron61: (Default)
Here's I'm not discussing anyone else's crackpot magical theories (of which there are many), but am instead considering one of my own. I recently looked back at this post where I muse about angelic otherkin, and it made me think of this fascinating (and definitively non-crackpot) post about a possible theory of otherkin.

So, take my earlier theory (specifically, the section labeled, An Alternative View) and apply it to all otherkin. Now, consider both the other post I linked to and the fact that we are clearly on the verge of an era which is going to transform our understanding of humanity, consciousness, and thought. I am both a magician and a transhumanist, and so I cannot believe that the transformations and expansions in human consciousness and the likely development of electronic consciousness won't have a truly vast spiritual impact. If, as I believe, metaphysical phenomena can affect both the past and the future, I can see the time leading up to these transformations becoming rather odd and filled with all manner of portents. Given that one of the results I expect is humanity to fragment into many different sort of posthumanity, it's possible to see otherkin as evidence of an archetypal spiritual reflection this fragmenting echoing back in time.

However, I also realize this theory is fairly nutty, and reminds me more than a little of Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End. So, I consider this theory both as a possibility and as something I might be able to turn into a fun rpg setting, but most definitely not as something that I am at all certain of.
heron61: (Default)
This post originally appeared as a response to this article about being otherkin by [livejournal.com profile] teriel, but I was sufficiently impressed with it that I decided to post it here in a slightly revised form.

The otherkin community is a community defined almost exclusively by personal identity - to be otherkin, you need to have a certain identity, so the focus on identity makes sense for the community as a whole. However, it is also limiting, in the sense that no one has yet defined what you do with being otherkin. Then again, this is the exact same problem faced by all manner non-religiously focused magically oriented personal paths, where the answer of what does one do with magic can also loom large. Regardless of whether one is a ceremonial magician, a neo-shaman, a solitary Buddhist or yoga practitioner seeking personal enlightenment through meditation, or whatever, the goal of all these personal paths is very similar, and perhaps identical to that of being otherkin gaining self-knowledge and ultimately wisdom. For many, being otherkin stops at the declaration of identity and never goes any further. However, there are plenty of ceremonial magicians, Buddhists, and people on many similar paths who find themselves in exactly the same place - their personal journey to self-discovery results in them walking in aimless and pointless circles. However, I have also met both neo-shamans, ceremonial magicians, and otherkin who have gained serious wisdom and self-understanding from their journey.

However, even for such people there remains a more complex problem with all such endeavors. What does one do with enlightenment, self-knowledge (or however one wishes to term the goal) once it has been obtained? Ceremonial magicians perform various rituals to climb the tree of life and gain wisdom and enlightenment, neo-shamans take grand astral journeys to gain access to meet spirits and learn the secret truths of their realm, Buddhists meditate and seek various forms of enlightenment, and someone who is otherkin learns to understand their identity and (if they have them) to access their memories of their other existence. However, with all of these paths, there remains the burning question of what next.

The Buddhist answer to this same question is simple - live your life with greater understanding and mindfulness. Perhaps that's the only good answer, I don't know. However, it certainly feels rather unsatisfactory to most Westerners, which is clearly one of the reason that so many novices in all of these paths end up giving into what I can only describe as self-delusion, and imagining grand supernatural wars or conspiracies, in which they are destined to play a pivotal roll. Most of us Westerners want our understanding to mean something, to have it be for something, and this lack is often frustrating.

However, being otherkin has one other problem. It is quite new compared to ceremonial magic, neo-shamanism, and the various other personal paths I know of. As a result, the road to self-knowledge is often considerably less clear. That path to self-understanding as a ceremonial magician, neo-shaman, or whatever similar form of magical practitioner one is, is often at least somewhat obvious, if also typically very far from easy. The practitioner must perform a variety of often-difficult rituals to attain various sorts of wisdom and then use this knowledge to gain further insight - working one's way up the Kabbalistic tree of life is one of the most obvious examples of this type of practice. In contrast, the road is far less well marked for otherkin. Here, instead of various rituals or journeys, one if left with (at best) vague and unsatisfying instructions about accessing one's memories, or (at worst) ludicrous series of checklists or on-line quizzes to supposedly "help" one determine what sort of non-human being one is.

I was exceptionally fortunate, in that the early stages of my becoming otherkin was part of a formal magical path, which included definitive rituals and culminated in an exceptionally powerful initiation. However, after that initial bonding, I was also left rather at sea. In any case, I have no idea what we should do with self-discovery (if anything) but it does seem like the otherkin community could greatly benefit from something resembling a more clear, and also a more demanding set of techniques for gaining self-knowledge.
heron61: (Default)
Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] teaotter and I were talking about the differences between elves and fae in the otherkin community and talked about of how various people we know identify as elvin, fae or both. We both agreed that elves are actually fairly easy to recognize and that elf and fae are very different from one another. I vividly remember when I first learned to understand what someone being an elf meant, when I first met [livejournal.com profile] kiara_idorys, I took a somewhat metaphysical "look" at her and my strongest perception was of a core of brilliant green light extending deep into the earth, like some sort of spirit of earth & life, then I laughed, realizing that this made a fairly good definition (at least from my PoV) of what an elf seemed to be. This observations has been borne out by meeting various other people with similar energy at Walking The Thresholds. I've found people with more or less elf-energy, and there are definitely differences between them, but there is also a core similarity that is quite striking – the basic energetic feel is intensely stable and deeply connected to life and the natural world. Becca largely agrees with this assessment.

The question of fae energy seems far more complex. First off, it seems to both of us to be essentially unrelated to elf-energy, in the sense that it is most definitely not energy associated with earth and life. Instead, from my PoV, the fae energy feels (to me at least) to be something swiftly moving, flashy, mercurial, and not at all connected with earth or stability. Becca is learning to recognize someone as fae or having fae energy through the odd process of understanding that she cannot directly perceive that sort of energy and so if someone seems somewhat energetically blank to her, she is learning that this means they are fae.

The other difficult part of understanding it is that while there is clearly some sort of core similarity between them, people with significant amounts of fae energy are typically less similar to one another than people with significant amounts of elf energy. It seems to me that "fae" is are broader and more diverse category than elf. Becca maintains that fae and elf may touch at the edges and certain people certainly seem to feel that they are something that is simultaneously both, but I still find it difficult to understand how this could be, since to me this idea seems almost a union of opposites. I find it very odd that some people in the otherkin community seem to use elf and fae almost interchangeably, when to me they are so very different. In any case, since neither Becca nor I are either, hearing thoughts and comments by people who are one or the other would be useful and interesting.
heron61: (Default)
This entry is heavily filtered because it's odd even more me. However, those of you reading this are both people whose opinions I value and who will hopefully understand some of what I'm writing about.

A bit over a week ago, I stayed up far too late reading some fan-fiction of a new (to me) fandom. It was excellent, and after I went to sleep, my dreams were closely related to the story. A bit unusual for me, but not particularly strange, except that all of the dreams were from the PoV of one of the characters (the one in the story that had touched me the most). Then, the next day I found my mind drifting back to the story and (especially) to that same character - odd tuggings at my mind and strange drifting thoughts. Nothing coherent or focused, but definitely a strange and unexpected tropism. Since then, I have been somewhat nervous around stories written from the PoV of that character. My only experience with anything like this is with the sort of role-playing characters that I create who turn out to be more than simple (f also powerful) deeply immersive masks for me to wear, and instead have more of the characteristics of actual people. I've never experienced anything like this outside of role-playing and am both puzzled and deeply surprised. I also do not know if this will recur, especially since I shied away from more stories with this character.

I have three questions, one general and perhaps unanswerable except in a purely personal sense and two of a more practical nature.

1) Are there some characters that are (in a general, rather than a purely personal sense) that seem to reach out to people like that. Any thoughts (especially metaphysical ones) as to why that might be. This is an absolutely fascinating phenomenon.

2) Assuming (as I reflect and decide upon this) that I wish to see what I can make of this odd connection, how might any of you suggest I go about doing so? The most obvious answer is certainly to read more well-written and engrossing stories where that character is the PoV character, likely shortly before I go to sleep. What other suggestions do any of you have for encouraging and strengthening this connection.

3) Do any of you have any idea why such connections come about. This one hit me completely out of the blue, and other than the universe &/or gods deciding that my life and mind are simply not yet sufficiently odd and non-mainstream, I am rather puzzled.
heron61: (Default)
I am neither transsexual nor multiple, but given both the odd nature of some of my supernatural connections and my gender oddities I am most definitely on the edges of both communities. Also, and perhaps far more importantly, I also know a significant number of transsexuals and multiples, both on-line and in person.

I was also somewhat active in the pagan community for most of the 1990s and keep at least some (almost exclusively on-line) contact with it since then. The pagan community is very accepting of many people – geeks, including some slightly socially inept geeks seeking spirituality, people who have had unusual mystical experiences and who seek to move beyond mainstream definitions of the world, and people who seek to live outside narrow definitions of gender. However, as I discussed in this post on the pagan community and queer culture, organized paganism, including everything from the OTO to Wicca, remains ultimately heterocentric. More than that, the organized pagan community also remains exceedingly focused on binary gender, which is somewhat problematic for many transsexuals, and completely excludes transgendered people of all sorts – if there are men's and women's mysteries, where exactly is someone transgendered (or even someone rather dubious about binary gender like myself) supposed to go?

Similarly, I have never met someone who was out about being multiple in any pagan forum, either on-line or in-person. A few times, I attempted to discuss multiplicity or intense spiritual connections with unembodied beings with various pagans and the reaction was in all cases either skepticism, or (more commonly) a belief that the situation being described was inherently dangerous, problematic, or unhealthy. I have heard that some pagan communities are more accepting of trans people and multiples, but have never encountered such and would be very interested in anyone who has encountered such communities posting here about there experience.

In vivid contrast, the otherkin community is exceptionally accepting of both trans people and multiples. The impetus for this post is thinking further about the fact that the section of [livejournal.com profile] lupabitch's upcoming (and wonderful-looking) book about otherkin that she has posted includes a substantial number of quotes and anecdotes by various trans people or multiples. Also, I encountered both groups of people at Walking the Thresholds, just as I have among the Otherkin I know here in Portland and on-line. I've been pondering this fact and have come to several possible and non-mutually exclusive conclusions. The most obvious is that unlike any other community I have encountered, the otherkin community is vastly accepting of people who deviate significantly from accepted norms of thought and behavior. I have not found this level of acceptance in the queer community, the pagan community, or SF fandom, but in the otherkin community it is not only universal, but expected.

Of course, while true, the very fact of this acceptance is also perhaps worthy of exploration. The best explanation I can come up with is that people who define themselves as otherkin may come to it from a wide variety of ways, but most share some level of disconnection from their body, or at minimum from social cultural expectations about themselves and their body. A moderate number of otherkin keenly feel their body to be in the wrong species, much like transsexuals feel their body is the wrong sex, which naturally sets up a commonality there. However, that experience is far from universal – I have on many occasions known the feel of wings on my back and even felt the glories of wind blowing throw them, but I do not feel that my proper or correct body is that of a dragon. Being a medium-sized biped suits me find, wings would be nice, but I'd take vastly increased longevity and memory, and greatly improved and expanded senses first. On a related note, I have also found an unusual (but admittedly not very large) number of transhumanists in the otherkin community. Given that much of my own disconnection with my own body is related to my own obsession with transhumanism.

In any case, while body dysphoria is far from universal, some level of disconnection from one's body is almost universal. Trans people of all sorts know this disconnection, as do all of the multiples I have talked to. It is however, an experience not shared by the majority of people, including the majority of pagans, queers, or the members of most other related subcultures. I am guessing that as it grows in size and visibility, the otherkin community is likely to continue to attract people who feel a significant sense of disconnection from their body, which makes me quite hopeful for the future of the otherkin community and also the fact that unlike the pagan community, it is unlikely to attempt to become part of mainstream culture, unless and until mainstream culture has changed in very significant ways.
heron61: (Dragon)
Driving back from Seattle with [livejournal.com profile] teaotter after seeing [livejournal.com profile] lupabitch and [livejournal.com profile] teriel, Becca and I began talking about identity, based on a discussion we had with Lupa and Taylor. One of the interesting things about how people define the core features of their identity is the assumption that these core features must in some way be innate – people are assumed to be born straight or gay. In the otherkin and related communities, individuals are assumed to "awaken" to the fact that they have always been otherkin, and the vast majority of transsexuals discuss their experience as having been "born in the wrong body" or otherwise having been trans from birth.

This is a convenient and easy answer, and may sometimes even be true. Under this vision of identity, there is not only no conscious or unconscious choice involved, but all of these traits are innate and unchangeable. The very idea that such traits could change or could be changed is often quite threatening to people, because this idea calls into question both the validity of their identity and bringing up the possibility that they might someday have a different identity. Change is scary and so many people strongly resist this idea. However, such changes do seem to occur at least occasionally. The fact that they can sometimes change does not mean that any of these traits are subject to whim or that simply wanting one of these traits to change will make it so. So, clearly more than simple conscious choice is clearly usually involved.

There is an interesting analog to all of this in a trait almost never considered to be innate – religious faith. Most large religions welcome converts and many do not consider converts to be any less valid believers than people raised in the faith. Consider the language used to talk about serious religious choices – someone is "called" to the priesthood or has a profound spiritual calling to some particular faith. Although talking about people being called to be queer or a dragon seems somewhat odd, there is perhaps a more general concept that can be applied, the concept of a Higher Self or a person's True Will (which I also freely admit that I am not using in a purely Thelemic sense). Phrased in more mundane terms, this vision of self consists of the sum of a person's conscious and unconscious desires, drives, and wishes. This is clearly a large and powerful force that cannot be changed by whim.

In addition to the fact that True Will is a powerful force in an other itself, any long-held trait also become a firmly entrenched habit, and as I mention in my discussion of similarities between food preference and sexual preference, the difficulty of changing the habits of a lifetime, such as whether you regard pale wriggling grubs as disgusting vermin or a tasty snack, can literally over-ride both extreme hunger and the need for survival. However, given time people can change their food preferences, just as people regularly undergo profound religious conversions. Habits can be overcome and beyond that, True Will can be changed. Doing the first requires persistence and time, accomplishing the second calls for both persistance and a complete dedication to doing so.

I see no reason why similar changes cannot apply to any supposedly inherent trait. As an example, I have no idea how any of this connects to any innate predilections on my part, but I have been draconic otherkin for slightly more than 12 years, since I underwent a powerful ritual that bonded me with a dragon spirit. I do not consider myself any less a member of the otherkin community because I gained this connection to a dragon through powerful ritual work and conscious choice rather than as something I was born with. I also admit that this bonding might well be undone, but that doing so would involve magic at least as powerful as that which forged it.

On a related note, I find the concept of True Will to be very useful, but I question the common assumption that it is necessarily a positive or benign force. In addition to being fairly certain that Philip K. Dick's True Will involved both writing amazing novels and taking impressively self-destructive amounts of speed. I remain uncertain as to whether I consider someone's True Will to be something that can be actively harmful and self-destructive, but at absolute minimum, it need not be even remotely kind. I also do not believe that it is fixed or unchanging. Heraclitus' famous aphorism, "Everything flows, nothing stands still." seems to me one of the truest possible statements about both people and the world.

Most changes and decisions people make are relatively trivial, but it is also possible to make conscious or subconscious choices or to have chance events (and it seems to me that everything that happens to us is a mixture of conscious choice, unconscious drives, and chance events) that change one's life in profound ways. Such changes can alter what I would consider someone's True Will or essential nature. In part, the ability to deliberately make such changes is one of the criteria I consider for someone being a serious magical practitioner. Of course, differentiating between transient wishes or minor wants and a serious desire for something to be different is of vital importance, as is the willingness to accept the various unintended consequences of making any profound change in oneself. One of the most common problems is someone wanting to change a particular facet of their personality without wanting to make the widespread changes necessary to cause this to be possible – in such cases I would say that the person wants to change, but either their want is insufficient to overcome their True Will, or (more often) they are ultimately unwilling to make the other changes that would make changing this personality facet possible, which is of course can be a perfectly sensible decision.
heron61: (Default)
A few days ago, [personal profile] teaotter and I were discussing the angel I am connected to and from there got into a further discussion of the "spiritual magnitude" of various being. One of the interesting things we were discussing is the differences between various sorts of "Large" entities. By our definitions and experiences, gods, the angel I am connected to, and various impressive spirits like the spirit of the Columbia River (which Becca once got in contact with) are all on a vastly more than human scale. The difference is that gods seem to be able to bring themselves (or more accurately IME, an aspect of themselves) down to the human scale, so that it is possible to actually communicate with gods in a relatively comprehensible manner, since they can temporarily take one something at least vaguely resembling human-scale awareness.

This is most definitely not true for the other "large" beings with have interacted with, including "my" angel. One of the most obvious traits they share is a lack of awareness of time. When I first experienced angelic perceptions, in addition to a profound joy, and a sense that everything in the world is so perfectly itself, there was a distinct lack of any sense of time and to an extent distance. This is very much not true for gods I have interacted with or with my dragon. It occurs to me that I should take this awareness into account when working out the details of the angelic initiation ritual I hope to perform. However, I'm far from certain how to go about this and would welcome any suggestions.

I'm also trying to separate out those experiences of this being that are purely my own and not the result of suggestions and influence by others. I am absolutely certain that my experience of angelic perceptions is valid, as is my visionary experiences of shaping objects and beings from the endless primal void, literally making something out of nothing as my job and entire my purpose for existing. In this experience, I was both not alone (and was in fact part of a far larger effort) and I did not seem to have anything like free will.

Considering lack of awareness of time, this activity need to have occurred at anything resembling the beginning of the universe and could perhaps be ongoing or continuous, I don't know and may likely never know given the differences in scale and perceptions.

My other experiences and perceptions were to a greater degree shaped by expectations and while I am certain that the core of these experiences are also valid, they are also overlaid with the expectations and beliefs of myself and others, and the key to understanding any subjective experience is separating actuality from interpretation of actuality.

I'm not at all certain what these experiences mean about the being I am connected to and would most definitely enjoy comments by those who have ideas and especially from those who have had similar experiences.
heron61: (Default)
In a bit over a week, [livejournal.com profile] teaotter, [livejournal.com profile] amberite, and I will all be going to Walking the Thresholds, an otherkin gathering. I had a long talk with Aaron last night, and among other topics we discussed being or defining as otherkin. From my PoV, I have strong connections to a couple of beings. Beyond that, definitions are largely a matter of choice. I could choose to consider these connections to be spirit guides or spiritual patrons, parts of myself, past lives, or any similar options, and I also strongly believe that none of these options defines the totality of the situation, but that each possible definition offers its own set of advantages and disadvantages. I used to define myself as Wiccan, but Wicca and much of paganism is changing.

Although I occasionally consider his opinions to be vehemently wrong-headed, [livejournal.com profile] bradhicks posts about his problems with a recent pagan festival he went to. It's clear from my own experience and from his comments like that the information I read in A Community of Witches: Contemporary Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft in the United States by Helen A. Berger.

The author is a pagan sociologist who documents changes in paganism in the US, where it is becoming much more of a mainstream faith, which she talks about in terms of growing membership, an increase in people being raised pagan, a decrease in various fringe behaviors. She considers this change to be good and natural, I see the same changes and know why I no longer consider myself to be Wiccan. There is most certainly no shortage of pagans who are good and fine people. There are also still moderate number of pagans who actually reside out on the occult fringes with the rest of us serious mystics and magicians, but such people are becoming proportionally rarer and paganism in general is becoming less accepting to the mixture of divine revelation, intense and devoted magical practice, serious eccentricity, and a general dismissal of the social mainstream that is the hallmark of most such people.

After reading a recommendation by [livejournal.com profile] jeregenest, I picked up a copy of Not In Kansas Anymore : A Curious Tale of How Magic Is Transforming America by Christine Wicker at the library. I have only read portions of it (it is divided in different chapters on different occult-related subcultures) and includes a chapter on otherkin. The book has a personal tone much similar to Nine Lives and various similar works. I would have preferred something more like a careful ethnography, but the author definitely captures the combination of eccentricity and acceptance that I have found in the otherkin community. So, given that definitions are inherently fluid and imprecise, as the fringe becomes mainstream, some of us head out to the new fringe - thus my presence at Walking the Thresholds.

On a side note, from people I have talked to, my experience is far from unique. It definitely seems to me that many other people who are over 30 and associate themselves with the otherkin community have generally bounced around a number of different sections of the pagan and alternative spirituality community for a number of years before landing here (for now at least).
heron61: (Dragon)
I've been reading books by Nancy A. Collins, since I first encountered Sunglasses After Dark in early 1990. That book was pretty good, & I thought the other two Sonja Blue books were even better. I found Tempter to be rather foolish and overdone, while Wild Blood was one of the most distasteful werewolf books I've ever read. The only recent example of werewolf (as opposed to fantasy shape-shifter) fiction I've really enjoyed has been Saint Peter's Wolf by Michael Cadnum, which is a true gem.

All that aside, I just finished Angels on Fire by Collins, and it is perhaps one of her finest works. I was impressed in that it was both romantic, deeply affecting and very much touched me. It's about creation, art, beauty, passion, and love, and is highly recommended. It's also in no way a horror novel, which from my PoV, is very much to its credit.

Beware, weird magical ramblings follow )
heron61: (Default)
During my visit, I was cuddling with [livejournal.com profile] amberite (something we do a great deal) and we were talking about angels and about how a friend of hers has memories of being a dragon-like being who did the same sort of void-working as "Maker", the use-name of the angel that is in some way a part of me. So, at that point, I felt quite odd and Maker showed up in the odd mildly mid-continuum multiplicity, which seems to be the way that the two being associated with me, my dragon and my angel express themselves. Once again, this was a profoundly strange experience, made moreso by the fact that this was the first time I'd ever done this around someone who didn't have an angel. Alice looked at me/us with a rather odd mixture of awe and fascination, no one has ever looked at me like that before, of course, she wasn't actually looking at "me" in that way, which is definitely a good thing. Maker is remarkably far from human, but having him blend with me like he does always fills be with the most profound joy that I have ever known. He also answered a question that Alice has. She is a truly brilliant writer as can be clearly seen from her writing journal (post a comment in either journal if you want to see it, since she keeps it friends locked). She conceptualizes her inspiration as coming from her muse, which she sees as external, but not sentient or in any real way someone you can talk to. Alice said that Maker felt a bit like her muse and was confused. Maker answered that the difference was that her muse was "still in service" and so was even less similar to humans. Such is the nature of our pillow talk...
heron61: (Default)
In a response to this post [livejournal.com profile] orien asks: The angel thing that you began briefly discussing during the trollopfop debacle. The topic interests Michael and I.

For those of you who are new here, the three most significant previous post are about seeing an angel, experiencing angelic perceptions, and then being an angel. This is fairly clearly serious woo-woo material. In any case, now that I no longer have any contact with either [livejournal.com profile] trollopfop or the cult of people in PA who were seriously into all of the angelic stuff, I no longer have the spontaneous visions I got when I first started dealing with these issues. However, that does not mean that I do not consider what I experienced to be real or that I do not still have access to the angelic part of my being.

At this point, I lack a clear idea of how to gain greater access to that side of myself, but I can access it to a moderate degree with the appropriate amount of relaxed concentration. What I have in that state is a joyful awareness of the absolute perfection of the entire universe (including the perfections of all of the imperfections) combined with scattered fragments of memories that are clearly as much metaphor as anything else, because they are memories of places and events that my mind cannot fully (or even mostly) comprehend. I am frustrated by my lack of ability to write about this part of myself, but much of my understanding of all of this transcends language, which is an exceedingly off feeling for someone as mentally bound by words and text as I am.

I know that some of what I believed during my interactions with Ana and the people in PA is not correct, and was little more than the sort of mystically-oriented groupthink that many small isolated magical groups fall prey to. However, I remain certain of everything I have written above and everything in the three posts about angels that I referenced earlier. In short, I have some sort of contact with a transcendent being that is well beyond my ability to comprehend and for which the term angel fits better than any other that I can use, in large part because part of my knowings about this angel is that it served both another more powerful entity and intrinsic in that allegiance was serving a sacred cause that defined its entire being. I am fairly certain that free will in any meaningful sense was completely alien to this creature.

I do not know what else to write about this, but I do find it far easier to answer questions about these matters than to simply write about them.

In other news, the router works perfectly on both computers and my beloved [livejournal.com profile] gremliness arrives for a 3.75 day visit in two hours.
heron61: (Default)
I had a truly amazing time. I am exceedingly shy and am very much used to ending up on the fringes of any social situation, even among pagans, gamers, or SF fans. While I occasionally meet wonderful people who I connect well with in gatherings of such people, I still remain shy and awkward around that majority of such people who I meet. Walking the Thresholds is the second otherkin gather that I've been to and while I had some minor problems with shyness, they were remarkably less than anything that I experience in other venues. In part, being with [livejournal.com profile] gremliness helped a great deal. Also, my wonderful friend [livejournal.com profile] a_machine was there as well as [livejournal.com profile] soulkry, who I know well from AIM. Also, as is always the case, meeting people who I know at least a little on-line is vastly easier than meeting someone that I have had no contract with, and so it was relatively easy meeting [livejournal.com profile] cusm, [livejournal.com profile] tass, [livejournal.com profile] rialian, [livejournal.com profile] helen99, [livejournal.com profile] kiarrith and [livejournal.com profile] noxalea. However, even there the interactions were easier than I expected and I managed to actualy meet a few people who I had not previous contact with (including the wise, funny, and very cool [livejournal.com profile] silvaerina_tael).

In any case, the bottom line is that I felt exceedingly comfortable at a gathering composed of people who (with only 3 exceptions) I had either had minimal or no prior contact with, which is completely unprecedented for me (except for similar experiences with the small otherkin gathering that I attended in Portland in late April). I remain both puzzled and very pleased. The only other time that I felt that much at home at any sort of large geeky gathering has been the last three Origins gaming cons, where I spend literally the entire time hanging out with my good friend and ofttimes line-developer [livejournal.com profile] byzantine_ruins and the various people from Pittsburgh that he knows well and who have also become my friends. However, that particular situation took several years for me to become as comfortable as I am now. After a great many experiences with various geeky sub-cultures, it very much seems to me that as long as the individual possesses a modicum of social and life skills and is capable of functional social interactions, the likelihood of my getting along well with someone in the otherkin community is far higher than with any other sub-culture that I know of. In part, the acceptance and widespread prevalence of gender fluidity helps a great deal, but that is only part of the answer. I rather feel like a fluffy flake for having this be truth, but in a sense the 'kin community is home.
heron61: (Default)
Events with [livejournal.com profile] trollopfop yet again remind me of how different it is to have a close relationship with someone who I share deep and lasting magical/metaphysical connections. As part of us falling in love, [livejournal.com profile] imester and I did an extremely powerful bonding ritual. Despite having only been in in each other's presence for 10 days when we got handfasted, everything went easily and well for us and I love her as much now as when we first fell in love. I know (a few) other people who have similarly close romances w/o any such ties, so they are clearly not necessary, but our bond most certainly helped and we can both feel it as a constant reassurance in our minds and souls.

Events with Ana are more complex because whatever we had is pre-existing. It started with learning that our dragons knew one another, which to those of you reading this who do not share such experiences likely sounds quite strange. It was strange and unexpected and very powerful, and happened well before either of us had thought of romance. Events with with our angels reinforced this and also made the situation considerably stranger (at least from my PoV). Shortly after our visit, I strongly considered breaking up, and it seemed the only reasonable thing to do, but even at my most certain, I also knew that I did not want to lose the connections that I had with Ana. Things are somewhat different now, but no less close, and I am certain that the ties we share helped us weather that.

However, such metaphysical ties can also be deeply problematic. Ladonna and [livejournal.com profile] imester shared (and to a very minor extent still share a tie identical to the one bonding [livejournal.com profile] imester and I together. Part of what brought Ladonna and I together was the fact that we were both bonded to the same person and part of why the whole ugly mess hurt so damn much when it all fell apart was that first these ties existed and then that they had to be broken. The result devastated [livejournal.com profile] imester for 3 years and even now, Ladonna remains absolutely the only person who I have been in love with who I still think about regularly. My penchant for absolute and total endings simply failed even when faced with the remnants of such a bond. Bonds like this are wonderful and enhanced closeness in ways that I cannot easily express, but they are also scary and painful when things completely fall apart. Having two such sets of bonds now is very odd, but also wonderful.

On a related note, I am intrigued that I have quite literally had any relationship that did not involve such ties last more than 3 months (and none that were not long distance that lasted longer than 2 months). I had not thought of this before, but it seems quite possible that I am unable to maintain romantic relationships that do not involve magical connections. I'm very curious to know if this is true and especially why it might be true.
heron61: (Default)
I'm not entirely certain that I believe in the concept of past lives, I'm not saying that I disbelieve in them, but I'm not certain. I definitely believe in connections. In addition to having profound mystical and emotional connections with several truly wonderful embodied people and lower level connections with a handful of other embodied people, I also have equally intense and real connections with a dragon, an angel, and several other individuals, as well as lower-level connections with role-playing characters who are perhaps a bit more in-depth and "real" (whatever that rather vague term might mean) than most. These connections are emotional, spiritual, and deeply magical and in part, I see myself as the sum of my connections.

On a related note, I talked with several people recently about past lives and similar connections and had some interesting thoughts about the entire phenomena. It is fairly clear to me from my own experiences and the experiences of others who I trust that if considering such connections to be past lives is true, the entire idea of linear incarnations is profoundly silly [1]. Magic can operate outside of time and there is simply no reason that the timeline of any single individual need follow along with the timeline of this universe. Similarly, past lives can also occur across universes, since I'm fairly certain that some of the beings that I have had contact with come from somewhere profoundly different. So, we have incarnations not being bound by standard linear time and incarnations happening from across universes. At that point, an excellent question to ask is how many incarnations might any one person have. One obvious answer is that all life might contain incarnations of everything that has ever lived, which puts a very interesting spin on the whole phenomena of past lives, otherkin, and similar questions. This model is elegant and explains much, but also feels ultimately unsatisfying. Another idea that I had, that I like somewhat better is that each of us is in essence a archetypal being and that all of our connections (or if you will, past lives) are organized around some central theme or complex of themes. I find this idea to be even more elegant and interesting. The next question is how many such archetypes exist, logical answers could easily range from a dozen or so to possibly tens of millions. Regardless, I'm guessing that not all of the 6 billion humans alive today are different archetypes, but that belief is based as much on intuition as anything else. In any case, like the first theory this means that each of us likely has many thousands or perhaps even millions of connections/past lives that we are completely unaware of and could not hope to become aware of them all, which definitely fits my own experiences.

I'm very curious what you people think of this theory.

[1] For some fascinating reading on time, mind, and metaphysical phenomena, take a look at An Experiment with Time by John W. Dunne (a very interesting 1920s psychic & dream researcher). In addition to being very cool, the ideas in this book also served as inspiration for James Blish's truly excellent (but somewhat dated) novel Jack of Eagles. Here's an interesting link about Dunne's theory.
heron61: (Dragon)
Having difficulty discussing any of this with anyone who is not in a similar situation, I'm forming yet another filter for discussing angel-related issues that is solely for those of us who are such. The important personal news of the day that I know have a use-name for my own angel (I will be happy when I am more comfortable with saying or writing this). This being goes by Maker, which is most assuredly not a name and not even particularly a title, but simply a useful designation. I believe that it will be a while before I know more than this.

Last night, the always brilliant [livejournal.com profile] megmurry and I discussed the reasons for all this. There seem to be rather a large number of us and there is in many of us, the desire to be of service. There is clearly something to be done. [livejournal.com profile] megmurry believes that we are here for the end of the world. Of course, then two questions arise, what does that mean and what can we do.

Minor coincidences occur all the time, but perhaps the most important ones should be considered carefully. We live in what seems to be the beginning of an age of mortal miracles. Human science and technology are beginning to bear strange fruit indeed. If the end of the world is to come anytime soon, then I cannot believe that it will come in a way that has nothing to do with humanity. If God or Gods was/were to simply call for the end of all, then why would we be here. What point would there be for any but disembodied watchers observing the end? Also, much new is happening with humanity. I cannot believe that the end of the world is the same as the end of the universe. However, if we limit the scope to this world, then many possibilities arise. Perhaps humanity will end itself or even end all life on this world. The first is easily possible in several ways and will only become easier as time goes on, and I can see ways that can destroy all life beyond the possibility of repair being developed in all of our mortal lifetimes. Since any such act is a choice, perhaps were are here to be a part of the choice or at least to experience and to know the results of this choice.

An Alternative View

For a human transhumanist and for an angel that has creation as its greatest passion, there are also other less bleak possibilities. The successful research into what brain states produce profound spiritual experiences will undoubtedly result in drugs or other means of inducing such states far more reliably than the more traditional magical and shamanic drugs. Meanwhile, other researchers have begun to learn how to turn on and off various portions of the brain with magnetic fields and can induce temporary idiot savant talents in some people, and certain avenues of neural research are almost certain to lead to both direct connections between humans and machines and a form of electronic telepathy. Also, the predictions I read about emergent artificial sentience are both hopeful and awe-inspiring

What does all this have to do with us and with any possible end of the world? I think a previous question is what does all this have to do with souls and magic? The people doing almost all of this work are devout materialists. Conscious machines, ways to induce profound spiritual states, and methods of making two minds into one are only interesting curiosities to them. However, what if the spiritual states induced are as real and powerful as the ones we know? What happens if thousands of people are connected together and experiencing such a state at once? I have always believed that conscious machines will have souls capable of as much grace and wisdom as anyone else's. But what would the soul of a being that is unimaginably more intelligent than any human be like? Done well, perhaps we will all become something new and wonderful. If done badly enough, it might possibly destroy the soul of everyone here, I do not know. Perhaps Arthur Clark's brilliant novel Childhood's End is a vision of the future.

Transhumanism is an essential part of my spirituality, but now I see that from some points-of-view The Singularity could be the end of the world and from all it would obviously be a change beyond all imagining. I admit that I could be completely wrong, all of the above is merely a product of mortal mind and not divine knowing. I also do not know what any of us could or should do. None of us are the sorts of people to actually perform any of this research, we are writers, scholars, magicians, and eccentrics not technicians, engineers, or people who are wealthy enough to direct the course of these studies.

In any case, I am very intrigued at what any of the rest of you think about what I have written above and wish to hear your perspectives on all of this. I am very new to all this, please forgive me if any of this sounds foolish or deluded. Maker wishes all of you knowing and being, which I only partly understand.

September 2017

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