(Sorry about this entry rambling a bit. I’m taking it from notes I wrote in my journal.)
I’m currently reading American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. Today as I was reading it, I thought my own sense of reality isn’t always normal. Also, if perception is reality, then why do I continue to imagine a conflict between the reality I experience and the reality I imagine “normal” people experience? I know the world is more than mortar and stone. Mortar and stone are real, but so is spiritual reality. The god-forms in American Gods are real too in a way, not just in the imagination of its author.
I believe our gods change over time, as we change and our environment changes. Rather than new gods being created though – as happens in the novel, – I think the powers we think of as gods adapt to become associated with new things and new ideas. Deities of communication, crossroads and commerce, for instance, become associated with the internet, electronic communication, and virtual worlds. Lilith probably started as a Sumerian demon, but has since become a modern goddess of modern women. Odin is All-Father to modern Norse heathens, much as He was to Vikings of old. His modern worshipers are different from old Vikings though, so He must be changing somewhat too.
I believe I have a matron deity who’s name I don’t know. From dreams, I see her as being associated with the sea, with a kind of primal sea of creation, death and rebirth, and with a subterranean sea. Sometimes I wonder if she could be Yemaya, Mami-Wata, Mara or Nammu/ Namma. She might even be Isis for all I know. I usually see her in my dreams as the ocean itself. The one time I saw her as a person, she had fair skin, but deities can appear however they wish to people. There was a dialog in American Gods in which the main character was asked, “What is a god?” My immediate answer was “power”, so maybe deities can be viewed as concentrated and conscious forms of power? I view all things and all deities as aspects of the one Deity of Creation, but each has it’s own persona and associations.
My reality seems often to be a conflict between “should” and “want”, between hunger and self-control, between imagination and mundane reality. Just wanting doesn’t make things happen though. One has to gather, focus and direct power. One has to plan, work and believe. What if practical actions were teamed with magical belief and focus? I can burn a candle inscribed with runes while I look for jobs online. I can cast spells before and after job interviews….
There’s a part of my mind that says “Magic isn’t real. It’s just a delusion,…just like auras & chakras, psychic empathy, psychic vampirism, spirits, gods and hope are delusions. Nothing is really real except hunger and death. Everything else is just a trick we play on ourselves to keep us alive and reproducing.” If this is true, then there is no real reason to keep living. I don’t have children. I don’t have a pet to care for anymore. A few people would be sad for a while if I were gone, but they’d get on fine without me.
I sometimes feel like there is a power that’s trying to destroy me. Sometimes I think this is my Devil, the one portrayed on my Soul Collage cards. It tries to get me to lose hope and give up. It tries to get me to kill myself or, if it can’t do that, to make me so anxious and depressed that I can’t do the things I’m meant to do in this world.
The world we live in is so complicated and interwoven that it’s possible for us to have huge effects on other people through relatively small actions. Maybe I exist in this world to push positive events in small ways?
I’ve been thinking lately of the magical power that must reside in regular places and objects. Magical power isn’t only in what we call the “natural” world, because everything is natural. Some things have been manipulated and crafted by people, but their components (physical and spiritual) are still natural. Spells are ways to gather, focus and direct magical energy. As such, spells can use sticks and stones, pen and paper, pixels on a computer screen, or just the imagination and will of the caster. Using symbols that have an understood meaning to many people (and spirits) through time and place help a spell to more easily direct power, – but everything is symbolic when it comes to communication and spell work.
I recently read a novel called Fifteen Dogs, in which the gods Hermes and Apollo make a bet on whether a group of dogs given human intelligence and language would end up just as unhappy as humans or not. There is a line in the book that I think is an important idea on how both prayer and magic work. It said something like, “Nature loves rhythm.” One dog in the story started praying to his idea of what must be the ideal dog, which he thought must be a real dog somewhere, not just an idea. He began leaving offerings for this ideal dog in a secret clearing, over and over again, until Zeus took notice of him and took pity on him. It probably helped that this dog was the leader of his pack and wanted to be a good leader (because like calls to like). Zeus couldn’t interfere with the bet between Hermes and Apollo, but he did appear to this dog as this ideal dog and told him that when he died, He would grant him any wish he had at that time.
Nature loves rhythm. We can see this is true in the tides and the seasons, in the spiral shape, in the pulse of quasars, in light waves and magnetic waves. Chaos and imbalance have a place in nature too, but patterns, repetition and rhythm can create structure and control.
In magic, rhythm can take the form of a repetitive chant, drumming, or a repeated ritual. If we repeat the same prayers or similar rituals over and over, they probably gain power to catch the attention of deities and spirits. They do certainly affect our minds, since a repeated prayer or mantra can bring calm and better focus. Repeated behavior becomes habit. Repeated thoughts become ingrained. Repeatedly trod paths become roads and highways.
I took off work today to get my car air-conditioning fixed. It cost me $865, but I have to have AC with my long commute to work. I keep worrying about not having enough money. I keep fearing that everything is going to fall apart in my life. I keep fearing I’ll end up homeless and sleeping on a sidewalk or that I’ll end up killing myself. If there’s a Devil that wants me to kill myself, it has my anxiety and depression to use against me. I also have a primal resistance in my psyche that wants me to stay alive though. – Repeated negative thoughts have power, but so do repeated positive ones.