The Apostle’s Creed is a declaration of faith and belief, a reaffirmation intended to refresh dogma. It comes up from time to time in magical workings and, while I’m usually not tripped up by churchy landmines such as paternal epithets or monotheistic claims to power in sorcery, the Apostle’s Creed has always given me pause. Even though the words themselves aren’t particularly grating and could (depending on one’s mental gymnastics) be interpreted metaphorically, there’s just something about the intended literal interpretation which is so clearly seeded into the Creed that sets me ill at ease. It’s as if my instincts can feel the intended programming it is designed to instill and preemptively rejects outright the reductionism of interpretive freedom embedded therein. The funny thing is, there’s also always a part of me that envies the Creed, or rather those who have the option of resting their laurels upon such a comforting and concrete proclamation. There seems to be great utility in the solidarity such a matter-of-fact dedication can provide. It sures-up one’s cosmology, increasing the fidelity of one’s worldview, for better or for worse.
As is fairly standard when the way something is written isn’t working for me, I wrote my own Creed. It may not be as concrete, but it’s honest. It states all the things I can be sure I believe in without the general bad vibe to contend with. Before we get there, however, I feel it necessary to define Christianimism.
Christian Animism, the belief that God is present in the material world, is an embodied monotheism and falls a significant distance from Christianimism on the ontological map. Christianimism is an animistic worldview which employs a Judeo-Christian cosmology and gives respect to the innate intelligence of the universe as a whole, as well as to the individual persons within it. The word persons is meant to include all life-forms and intelligences, human and non-human, seen and unseen, and to recognise that very different modes of being are not less-than, but rather different-than, and nonetheless intimately entangled with, us. Christianimism is a practice of reinterpreting biblical and apocryphal myth (including Judeao-Christian inspired magical texts) in such a way as to transmute our relationship with these living stories and the spirits who identify with them into a dynamic which is cooperatively beneficial for us, and all living beings. Christianimism is about a taking back of interpretive sovereignty through ethical piracy and sanctified appropriation. Christianimism has no theology, only ecology and cosmology, and these are left to the individual to determine. Christianimism is a practice of focusing to see, and actively engage with, the magic which is plainly embedded in western consciousness through the stories and spirits of a thoroughly enchanted cosmovision which has, through abuse and misuse, come to be falsely canonized in the popular consciousness through the restrictive boundaries of resting interpretations.
And without further pageantry, I present the Christianimist’s Creed.
I believe in God the whole of creation, entangled web of our being. I believe in the innate intelligence of all persons, seen and unseen. I believe in the holy angels, and the watchers, our ancient ancestors, Who fell into matter to create the heavens and earth and all things, And bestowed upon humankind great wisdom, craft, and legacy. I believe in Jesus Christ, the Splendor, the Paraclete, Master of magic, exorcism, and necromancy, Who descended to hell and rose again, Who was born of the Holy Madonna, Queen of Heaven and Empress of Hell, I believe in the Holy Spirit, The power of love, The sanctity of ritual, The communion of the Saints, The wisdom of ancestors, The forgiveness of sins, The virtues of death, And life everlasting. Amen.
Part of digging one’s way through the rust and mud to a magical life is reaching back to those profoundly wyrd experiences which have occurred in one’s past but we’re potentially glossed over or not met with the same willing, open eyes with which one currently seeks the numinous. I know that I, personally, tend to find as much (or more) insight and inspiration from processing the accounts and experiences of other practitioners who I would consider to be peers as I do from practical texts. For these reasons I thought it would make sense to share another story.
I had just moved to New Orleans and was ironing out the kinks in a set of all-new songs using vocals, guitar, drum machine/beatboxing, synth, and base loops which I would record, layer, and mix on-the-fly into gritty indie jams. It would be my first performance in this unbelievable city as well as my first ever performance under my newly-chosen moniker, which was not just another band name to me, but a declaration of intent; a magical act that would have precisely undefined, but self-evidently real consequences.
Having spent eight-ish years prior to this in a locally successful five-piece band back in Florida, I had noticed that as our local popularity had grown, so had my wondering about the efficacy of what I was doing as a means for doing good. I struggled with the idea that many people out there dancing couldn’t hear the desperate cynicisms and ironic empathies within my words for the cacophony of booze and personal demons that always seem so empowered for most trauma and ghost-haunted humans when they find themselves wading through the swamps of social gatherings.
For me, the whole point of writing, composing, practicing, and performing music was to do something inherently good for others (it definitely wasn’t for the money), and while there were some who went out of their way to express that what I was doing really did mean a lot to them or helped them in some way, mostly what arose were meal-opportunities for personal demons and sickly social dynamics by means of addictions, both chemical and emotional.
So by the time I had moved to New Orleans this had all been fermenting inside for some time, and the trimming season I spent in NorCal that led up to my move provided plenty of time to ruminate away from writing and performing and that whole world. I was still pretty sure I wanted to make music as my primary output at that point, but I didn’t want the words to get lost anymore, and I needed to pinpoint the exact gears that made what I was doing helpful for others and focus on them.
So the tempo dropped and the sound became more moody and communicative as opposed to dancey, a choice that may have been an unknown cowardice on my part all along. And after an uncomfortable period of analysis and contemplation I began to feel that what I was really offering which was of-worth was the permission to feel anything without judgement that seemed to permeate the audience when I performed. When there’s a skinny drunk screaming his heart into a can up there, you, as an audience member, have zero chance of being the most obnoxious/ridiculous-looking/crazy/likely-to-be-hated person in the room, because that’s my job and you can be as weird as you like without fear. In my mind, that was so beautiful. A tiny martyrdom. A minor shamanism. And that became my answer.
Now that I finally knew what I was obviously supposed to do with my entire life, it needed a name. There is a concept a roommate told me about which I found on a Feng Shui website around that time called Sha. It was defined as harmful energy, the Chi that is present when people are angry or when a place has a threatening feel to it. Immediately I heard Issac Brock’s Ugly Casanova side project echoing in my ear “SHA SHA SHA SHAAAA” and it struck me as fun that these two contradictory feelings would be tied to the same three-letter word. But then it occurred to me that this idea of dispelling Sha was essentially the same mechanism of creating an emotionally safe place for the audience which I’d just, quite dramatically, identified as foundational to my craft, and the pseudonym Sha Sha Shaman was born.
Now, I feel I must contextualize that at this time in my life I had no magical education. I had my own occasionally-functional grassroots brand of Castaneda-inspired psychonautical shamanism, but my depth of study and practice was that of a teacup. An observation which is, in all honesty, still true, albeit nowadays a travel thermos may prove a more apt metaphor. The point is that my ignorance as to the cultural specificity and significance of the two terms involved, and the subsequently less-than-graceful appropriative line-walking contained therein, are not lost on me. My bad.
So back to the show, the first show under this declarative new name. I meant it to be just that, a pronouncement of my intentions to help, to serve, and to enjoy myself at the same time. I held a simple, small ceremony, which for me at the time was a pretty big deal, to commemorate the occasion before heading to the bar and I remember getting that hyperthick feeling in the air, one I was familiar with, but not yet intentionally. When it was time for my set I hurried to finish my beer and get another one, plus water, for the set and choke down a cigarette as I checked all my levels. Loop pedal work is absolutely ruined if your volumes aren’t dialed-in by NASA (or equivalent) and the dials on my pedal made it possible to adjust these, if necessary, while performing, however shoes were too bulky and socks too slick, so to do so required bare feet for the sake of traction. I tossed my shoes to the side and began to emotionally prepare. The sound guy gave me the go-ahead from his little booth and I remembered there was one little detail I had forgotten to mention to him which, to be honest, I cannot even recall now. So I intended to hop off the stage, take two steps to approach and deliver the message, then return to the stage and play a set so fantastic that they name a fucking parade after me. What happened was different.
I hopped down off the stage and was greeted, not with the familiar cold and sticky grime of a New Orleans dive bar floor, but with screaming pain from the arch in my left foot. I had quite literally looked before I leapt, but the dark of the bar and the beer I had been breathing rendered my best self-preservative intentions moot. I hopped on my good foot over to the sound guy and delivered the original message, too drunk to feel shame, and told him I needed to “fix my foot real quick.”
I sat in a chair and a friend came over with a cup and began collecting the dripping blood from my glass wound to keep the bar from becoming a hazmat zone, all red mixing with remnant beer foam. It was this moment that a man I’d never seen before, or since, saw what had happened. His eyes lit up and he walked very slowly and deliberately over to where my friend and I were sitting while praying under his breath and making the sign of the cross. He never broke eye-contact with me as his own eyes became wider and he dipped his finger in the blood-foam cup, which my friend still held, and continued to pray as he marked a cross of booze and blood upon my forehead and gestured as if to signify some sort of honor had been bestowed. I taped a bar napkin tightly around my bleeding foot and hopped back up onstage and played my whole set with that bloody cross on my head (and rather well for someone using foot pedals and having only one foot, if I do say so myself.) When I was finished the man was nowhere to be found.
In the months following this performance I would slide into addiction, a demon I knew I had within but had been effectively avoiding. It would begin a process that would take years, the process of being shaman-ned by the universe through the process of finding true bottom, dismantling everything that I was, losing most of my human relationships, and eventually overcoming addiction in a way that means true liberation, rather than the approach of institutional rehabilitations which hold as a core tenet the impossibility of that liberated state and offering treatment to the symptoms of a deeper, spiritual issue rather than the issue itself.
Looking back, I believe that this declarative ritual on my part, and the unpredictable mystery of the world meeting me halfway to significate the experience by means of a bloody forehead-cross barroom-baptism, was the initiation of that horrific but necessary journey. Sure, I could have white-knuckled it for the rest of my life, always having within me that desire for feel-good drugs above all other things, people, and experiences, pulling my consciousness partly away from being present and embodied and leaving me bitter about the banality of so-called normal human existence, but it’s unequivocally better this way.
I never would have been capable of maintaining the relationships I now have in my life, human and non-human, without that journey. I thought I was supposed to be doing what I was doing, believed it with my soul, and I was right about the structure, just not the specifics. I declared that I would give myself to the service of sanctity and the betterment of the Whole, and that call was answered with an intensive psychospiritual training program and eventual promotion.
For the time I have left on Earth as this self, I get to be fully present. I long for little that is damaging now, and I do not fear myself or my own judgement. I get to be whole. I get to be a husband, a mentor, and hopefully a father.
All this from a noob with a purpose.
I don’t want to sum this story up with some catchy little moral, because there isn’t one. But I will say that I don’t look at people who appear stuck as lost anymore, knowing that I seemed completely hopeless to all outsiders at certain stages in my life and would have probably slapped someone if they’d told me that one day my passion for music would migrate to spiritual practices. Paths don’t diverge in the wood on their own, we must participate in the approaching of the forks and accept, with open eyes and arms, the unfathomable possibilities we call to us when we act with meaning and heart. It is interesting though, to think that sometimes we may be auditioning for a much bigger role than we realize due to the potential in us that can only been seen at the current time, by spirits.
I just wanted to share, in case it reminds a reader of a time they need to go back and properly venerate within their own lives. These moments are our plot points, our nodes, and they simply can’t be shared or studied enough. For practical gain, yes, but also for pure enjoyment and fellowship.
My interactions with angels has been a strange ride thus far. I can only imagine how they must feel. Ever since myself and a group of fellow practitioners over at Rune Soup started a study group there has been much conversation, research, prayer, and work involved in getting to know the messengers through academic, theological, and practical efforts. We’ve poured through grimoires, scripture, apocrypha, modern academic works, and fluffy new age approaches in attempts to gleam some consistency and personality from our decidedly un-flappy and sometimes-winged-but-just-as-often-eye-spangled-and-fractally friends. Our efforts as a group have given us a boat-load of experiential data to consider, using namely the method found in Keys to the Gateway of Magic which consists of calling an archangel up as a group, scrying or journeying for ten minutes, and then comparing notes. I’ve gotten some really interesting stuff out of the sessions personally (such as Samael being a spirit who was originally worshipped on Mars as a god back when the red planet was still populated and Earth was a molten mess) but some of the others in our group have had some truly wild experiences. We have the occasional odd-vision-out but mostly the experiences, while catered to the individual and thus somewhat kooky and entirely unique, have been pretty on-the-nose as far as maintaining a suggestive coherent nature or personality of each archangel from experiencer to experiencer. The majority of my own personal contact at this point, however, comes from what I believe to be simply diligence, and eventual entanglement through the committed daily recitation of a few very lovely prayers, a dream journal, just generally having them on my mind through study, and (eventually) making requests and conversations on the fly (pun intended.)
It is best to use some training wheels to begin with and I only feel like I have a place to recommend what worked for me, and for me those training wheels were (along with our scrying sessions) the preliminary prayers from the Cunning Man’s Grimoire, which are at the bottom of this post. The first one is wonderful on it’s own, but better with the fourth following. Best practice, however, is to read all four each morning or each night before bed. Don’t just read them though, feel them. Perform them. Try it soft and listen to your words. Then try it like you’re on stage the next day; Explore them. Make shapes in the imaginal for the words, or ride them like a story within your mind. Get them in you and know them. The brilliance of these prayers is astounding to me and the metaphysics is genius. It took me some time to sort out just how much heavy lifting these prayers really do – read with magical eyes at what is being verbalized.
Feel free to add other angels to the roster in that first prayer, but remember it covers “and their ministering angels and spirits” which means shoot high in the name list (cough, Metatron, Shekinah, cough), and consider intoning or singing them when you get to that part. These prayers also set up an imaginal command prompt with “being called or required in the name of etc..” and it really surprised me how much that helps get their attention on the fly. At least, after a month or three of nailing those prayers every day and keeping close written record of dreams.
The way that they seem, for me anyway, is more like a group of very strange friends that it’s taken a while to get to know, rather than dumb agency-lacking automitons to be commanded as some would suggest. Neither do they, in my experience, lend any likeness to archons or anything archonic, as others would say. They appear to be, through the collective experience I’ve witnessed in our group (including my own) something like sentient personifications of forces, or combinations of forces, in the universe who have permission to act causally. This is not to say they don’t have personalities, or even stories and narratives that may or may not have ever “happened” in the way us meatbrains like to define what True means, but they do seem structurally and causally integral to the universe. And they are most certainly persons.
The archangels, especially, seem to have prominent roles in composing aspects of the world, as if fractured streams of consciousness cascading from the Capital G down into many streams or currents so that different forces can be combined in varying portions to make the variety of materials and beings we have in our universe. Like a table of elements, but spirits. Imagine pure white light of God hitting a prism and splitting into a rainbow, then those standard colors (archangels) sticking to some paint on a palette, only to be mixed again into new colors and images. I think of the Shemhamphorash and other “smaller-time” angels as being more complex iterations of these forces (the paintings, rather than the paint) with more complex spiritual structures and thus more specific vocations or rulerships. This would stack nicely against the grimoiric procedural method of calling up the ruling angels first; they very well may be actual components of the angels under their governance. In this sense it would be more accurate to think of a woven cascade of crocheted reality than some rigid hierarchy, but what do you expect considering the sources? In this case, also, we can think of getting to know the messengers as getting to know the very mind of God, or the seams and stitches in the quilt of Grandmother Weaver.
The archangels also appear to be different from the planetary intelligences. The planets themselves, as persons, feel like vast old conscious generators of specific currents; engines of planetary essence being constantly emitted into the cosmos and from which things are woven, while the angels seem to be the stewards of how those currents behave and how they land in the manifest; like stewards of archetypal portions of existence. I’m not even going so far as to suggest that they are even the same class or “species” of spirit, per se (because who the fuck am I, and also see notes on Samael above) but our evidence and my experiences suggest that perhaps the ranking of “angel” is an actual thing reserved for spirits who have made the choice to take a custodial role in the universe.
It seems as though now that they know me and what I’m about they simply help me when I ask them, but as stated before, this is almost certainly more about entanglement and the imaginal interface one builds through praxis and research than anything. It’s honestly quite alarming just how much my own experiences working with and befriending the angels has been indicative of an under-examined legitimacy within the more intuitive but aesthetically appalling realm of the new-age angel craze.
I believe, as stated, that this all comes down to entanglement, and severity and quantity thereof. There is no doubt that using grimoiric methods to contact, command, and accomplish magic with angels does, in fact, work, but this alone does not suggest a superior methodology. The methods that have survived did so because they work, but I personally cannot help but think that a more shamanic or intuitive approach could be equally valid, if not more so. This aligns with messages received through our group scrying sessions and our dreams (which you can read more about here); that existing systems should be used as training wheels to develop one’s own personal methods of honoring and contacting the messengers. I received the following instruction from the angels in dreams in the form of a bullet-list, a recipe for contact without a grimoire and further evidence that our entanglement-centric metaphysics is somewhat accurate. I have elaborated where necessary since this was communicated in simple words but came with packets of emotional and geometrical data attached to them, some of which was completely beyond my comprehension. What was shocking about these instructions for me was how much they supported my already running model of universal metaphysics.
I feel I should also add that there seems to be a correlation between the fidelity of contact and the connection one has through their personal astrology. If you’re trying to decide who to reach out to first, consider looking at your birth chart and focusing on the angel of your Ascendant or Lunar ruler. Contact with Gabriel seemed to confirm the idea that the moon and moon-things directly govern happenings on our planet, and thus Gabriel is the gateway to synchronicities and contact events making them another great place to start.
The shape of this I found fascinating when considering the lore surrounding Hecate’s altar being the actual moon, and who oversees the migration of souls in and out of this world, and Hecate herself being the gatekeeper to the liminal doors. Regardless of what you decide, I implore you to share your results, either in the comments or your own blog post. And please reach out if you do. Without further adieu…
Know their name; This means to explore it. Say it aloud and pay attention to the way your mouth moves, the shapes you make with your projecting and contracting breath, what shapes those cause in your mind. Meditate on the name, formally or casually, until it feels familiar. Until you feel close to it. You could research the angel you wish to contact as well, forming a better idea of who they are and what to look for and while this was not explicitly part of the directions given in my contact events, “Know their name.” could easily imply knowing their story as well.
Create an heartfelt image in dedication and representation of the essence of that angel, or at least as you currently perceive/understand them. An act of heartfelt creation makes an impact, a groove where reality incorporates an idea’s full manifestation into its unfathomable folds through a mutual engagement by the imaginal and yourself. To engage in such an act in dedication to another being is exactly the kind of entanglement we are going for. This could be a glorious work of art, or as simple as a sigil but remember with acts of devotion for the sake of contact you often get exactly what you put in. This doesn’t mean a painting is better than a sigil, this means take care to put your care into whatever choice on which you land. This image can also become an event, and even a talisman, when enough effort and heart is poured into the action.
Dedicate an event in spacetime to them, making action and story in which you are both main characters. This can be as simple as “Tomorrow, on the day of the sun, I will climb to the top of a hill and greet the dawn with frankincense in honor of the archangel St. Michael, in his day and on his hour.” but could equally become much more flowery and dramatic. Naturally, an action that is in harmony with the nature or rulership of the spirit in question would be ideal. Tip: They seem to enjoy singing.
Say words, tell their story, and add any poetic references to personal experiences you’ve had with the angel before, even if from a story or some kind of personal connection through childhood, perhaps the hospital where you were born or a boarding school dedicated to them, but especially if you’ve ever been helped or aided by the angel before. Calling upon the parts of your stories that intersect conjures the truth of your relationality, inherent in those moments in time.
If you feel them arrive, thank them for coming and ask for closer contact with them. Ask how you can strengthen the connection. Ask them to give you a sign to confirm that contact was made, if you aren’t sure, and use your cards. If they show up and it’s a strong connection already, ask them to come when you call, to know them better, or for rulership specific assistance; ask what you think is best. Perhaps make a list of questions before hand. Here’s the kicker, end your heartfelt request with “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and through the merits of Jesus Christ + Amen.”
Cunning Man’s Grimoire Preliminary Prayers
Oh infinite, wise, holy, blessed, glorious, pure, good, omnipotent Father, Son & Holy Ghost, one true god of gods, king of kings, Lord of Lords, creator of all the universal world, the holy, holy, holy, high, good & merciful god Sabaoth, the omnipotent of all powers in whom all creatures live, move & be, & doe obey to thee, which hast created thine Angels in wonderful order, & made them thy ministering spirits for all believers & heirs of salvation to the glory of thy great & holy Name, wherefore I, thyne unworthy servant, doe humbly implore thy holy divine glorious good and merciful majesty, through thyne infinite goodness, love and mercy & eternal love of Jesus Christ + our mediator and messiah [Messiah] [that] you wilt vouchsafe to forgive my manyfold sins & to purify my mind, soul, spirit & body with thy Holy Spirit, & fortifie me with true faith, hope, & charity, & grant me vertue & power that these thy holy Angels, Cassiel, Sachiel, Samael, Michael, Anael, Raphael & Gabriel, with their ministering Angels & spirits being called or required in the Name of god the Father, Son & Holy Ghost, may through thy mercie in + Jesus Christ willing & readily teach, instruct, shew & visibly represent, & openly & plainely in my native tongue make me perfectly to understand clearly all my honest & lawfull desires, questions, or demands, & in all my necessities with perfect understanding and memory to help & confirm me with thy power & strength of wisdom & might against all assaults of all myne enemies, spiritual & bodily to Thy glory, good of thy people & comfort of me, thyne unworthy servant, through thyne eternal love and mercy in + Jesus Christ our Lord & saviour so be it done. And in the Name of god the Father, Son & Holy Ghost to whom be ascribed all honour, glory, power, might, majesty & dominion without end, Amen.
Oh Lord Jesus Christ + which art the eternal son of god the omnipotent Father of Heaven, creator of all creatures, I most humbly beseech thy glorious good and divine majesty which art + Alpha & Omega + the first & the last, our only mediator & advocate, our Lord & saviour sitting at the right hand in glory of god the Father, that thou wouldst forgive my manyfold sins, purifying my mind, soul and body with thy righteousness & holy spirit & to strengthen my faith, hope & charity, & grant me thy help & mercie that thyne holy Angels with their ministering Angels & spirits in all my necessities may help, defend, teach, shew & instruct me in all my honest & lawfull desires as thou hast granted to many of thy servants, through thyne eternal love & mercy who with the Father & the Holy Ghost remainest one true, glorious, good & merciful god to whom let men & Angels & all creatures in their degree & kinds sing all honour, glory, might, majesty & dominion without end, Amen.
Oh holy, holy, holy, good and gracious God the Holy Spirit preceding from god the Father and the Son, I humbly implore thy holy & divine majesty, that you wouldst vouchsafe to sanctify my mind, my soul, & spirit, & all my members & faculties, of my body to the glory of god, salvation of my soul & body with a true & lively obtaining faith, hope, & charity, & that thy holy Angels with their ministering Angels may help and defend me in all adversities, & necessities, & that they may willingly & readly teach, instruct, & open & plainly shew to my sight & perfect understanding that thereby I may see, & perfectly understand, & know, all my honest & lawful requests, questions & demands that them being cited & called in the Name of god the Father, Son & Holy Ghost through the merits of our Lord + Jesus Christ our Lord & saviour who with the Father & the Holy Ghost remaineth one true infinite wise, holy, good & merciful, incomprehensible, omnipotent god, of all goodness & holy gifts, to whom let the universal world & all his creatures sing Hallelu-jah, with all honour, glory, power, might, majesty & dominion ascribed to + Elohim which is God in trinity of persons & unity of essence & a spirit & truth, & Emanuel, without end, through the merits of Jesus Christ +, Amen.
Give ear to my words Oh Lord, consider my meditation, harken to the voice of my cry, my king & my God, for unto thee will I pray: let my cry come unto thee, for my soul trusteth in thee, our help & happiness is in thee, let me not be disappointed of my hope, infuse O god thy vertue into me, confirme O god what thou hast wrought in me & let my prayers be directed unto thee as incense in thy sight, & grant my humble request through the eternal love & mercie in + Jesus Christ, our Lord & saviour, Amen.
“Man should not live on bread alone. And also sometimes, fuck bread.” -God.
Growing up in a Christian cult, I was lucky enough to participate in many an Old Testament holiday. That’s right; Christmas, Halloween, Easter, birthdays, and anything remotely glistening with festive innocence was dragged kicking and screaming into the spotlight of historical and dogmatic scrutiny and deemed pagan and forbidden. Because nothing says childhood like cynical asceticism. No, I didn’t get fun holidays. I got things like fasting.
This would have all been a boon to my ritually-inclined side if there had been any sort of coherence to the logic behind these rituals that seemed to serve no purpose other than self-punishment, but for little-bitty-Brian, there were no such reasons. I was offered no explanation that fasting, for instance, induced altered states, but instead given a flimsy logic involving frailty and dependence. There was never any sign in my father or mother’s eyes that it made sense to them, only a sense of duty and expectation. Like with taxes.
Even now that I am fully-grown and have my own practice full of ritual, I thought it might provide a way-in to a means of understanding these customs, but Passover was two nights ago and as I helped my grandmother put all the leavened food in a trash bag (one that would not go into the compost pile due to nuanced biblical law but be sent to the landfill to rot amongst non-biodegradables) I couldn’t help but fall into analysis.
The idea of this holy holiday, as I was always taught, is that yeast represents our sin and that for the sake of a ritual exercise, we will expel all sin from our property and lives in order to better understand what it will be like when Christ returns. Now, even if I ignore the irrefutable fact that from a cognitive sensory perspective this essentially equates Jesus’ comeback story with a removal of variety and enjoyment, I cannot ignore the audacity of both referring to something as ubiquitous and ethereally present as yeast as “sin” nor can I fathom what possesses the keepers of this holiday into thinking that something floating in the air around us all the time can ever be purged. You’re literally breathing it, even when you choose to eat flatbread for one week.
Yeast is our friend. The baker is it’s business partner and many of yeasts’ relatives keep your belly producing the right amounts of dopamine. Yeasts are actually fungi and I could literally write a book (and I am) about the occult relationship between humans and fungi, and I’m not even talking about psilocybin here. Just fungi. The stuff that almost definitely came here from space and transmuted the rock into nutrients for bacteria and eventually plants to thrive on. I’m supposed to equate that with sin?
In my mind, the numerous myths about the earth-mother or goddess sending forth a spirit to shape the land, a spirit of breath or air, does little in the way of excluding yeast from this perfect world when we consider that it’s ancestors likely shaped this world for us. There is a popular theory that water first came to Earth in the form of a giant frozen ice-cube, we already know that spores can survive being frozen, and some can even survive the vacuum of space. So let’s take a look at a popular story amongst practitioners of this yeast-banishing holiday, just for the sake of occulted perspective, from the viewpoint of the consciousness of the fungi itself, just floating in a block of ice near it’s spores and looking for a place to create a world. Remember ‘waters’ can be frozen and ‘without form and void’ could easily describe the planet pre-H2O.
“In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
Now what happens when that consciousness in a chunk of ice careening towards our solar system feels the warmth of our sun? After all, you can’t have biological life without heat as far as we know.
“And God saw the light, that it was good. And God divided the light from the darkness.”
Now, if you are floating in space, it would always be daytime. But the second you descend to earth, from your perspective, you would have “created” night and day by “separating” the light from the dark through a change in vantage point.
Then, skipping to verse 6, we get some insight into what it would have been like in the very first days of mushy, water-filled Earth. Hundreds of thousands of years of chemical reactions, gasses forming and expelling, water sinking deeper into the earth before boiling back up into the atmosphere. This was one of the most violent and crazy times on the face of this planet, as the water cycle found its groove.
“And God said, let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.”
And now we have rain, snow, clouds, etc. Due to some findings in 2019, scientists are fairly certain that fungi crawled onto the land long before the beginnings of plants or animals did thus juxtaposing my Genesis thought-experiment with the various messages transmitted to Terrence McKenna by the mushroom consciousness telling the exact same story. Look it up.
Feel free to follow the rest of genesis through the evolution of plants, then animals, and then finally the break in ice ages with God “resting,” and all the while it’s far too easy to imagine yeast’s common ancestor observing the whole thing unfolding through an experience of time that is wholly unlike our own. Anyone who has communed with mushrooms knows that time is not the same for them and they enjoy showing this off to us monkeys.
All it would take is one person on a meal’s worth of psilocybe asking to be shown where we came from, then passing that story on orally until it became doctrine many generations after it was first told. I probably would have called the voice “God” too after an experience like that.
Back to here and now, as I watched the yeasts being demonized and my grandparents seeming to act more out of obligation to rules they don’t need to understand in order to follow, I realized exactly what ritual means to me. The occulted relationships between us and other living things, like yeasts, already have stories present. Vast, rich stories that tell the true-true of our relationality. When we go ascribing meaning all willy-nilly it’s no different than interspecies racism.
Truly, and above everything else, ritual is about what makes sense to me and making a pariah out of the being that may have actually done all that legwork just doesn’t. The spirit of the power of the air just might be the same one that makes your bread rise.
Put that in your animist pipe and smoke to your heart’s content.
There’s no doubt that cannabis is a plant on a mission. It’s growing acceptance both culturally and legally is taking hold for the first time in the modern world and its ease of acquisition is at an all-time high.
Forgiving the pun, this brings up an interesting question. What does it look like when someone is actually spiritual allies with cannabis rather than simply dependent on a substance for its “medicinal properties?” In the stoned-ape theory sense, wouldn’t any idiot ape or idiot-of-ape-qualities incidentally ingesting, say, psilocybin mushrooms and various other entheogenic plants such as, say, cannabis be forming bonds with these fungi and photosynthesizers with-or-without the intent to do so?
This case could be made, certainly. But what about the lazy stoners out there clutching xbox controllers for dear life with Dorito-stained hands? There’s no doubt they are under the influence and thus technically communing, but the same could be said for the opium addict nodding out mid sentence. It appears there is an important difference between communion and symbiosis.
Those who commune with cannabis regularly for health conditions, physiological and psychological alike, are certainly allied with the plant in some way, but this seems to be a different relationship dynamic than the kind a magician or witch forms with a plant spirit through the intentions of exploration and the expansion of both wisdom and power. This strikes me as akin to the difference between a dry work relationship and the intimacy of a close confidante.
I would argue that the particular personality of cannabis is one of subtle ferocity, rather than a snacky-sleepy one. Even when a hearty indica pulls your eyes half-mast as you become one with the couch cushions, the spirit you submerge into is tenacious and somewhat sneaky. In plunging the depths of my relationship with her (as well as my couch cushions) in tandem with my spiritual/magical practice I have found a spirit that makes one work really quite hard to unlock her true gifts. In her I have found a spirit just as capable as other entheogens of opening up my direct-perception / spirit-vision and with her own whole set of boons and traps to-boot. She is a powerful plant covered profusely in intoxicating pollen and hardy enough to adapt to an uncanny array of conditions and locales across the planet. This a plant that has been tested by time and elements mercilessly and survived. She’s a fighter. Did you think she was just going to give you the goods without rigorously testing you first?
So what’s the point in ranting about this? Well, hopefully many years of sharing headspace with her, many of those while magically operant, has hopefully left me with at least a helpful word on how to improve this most damaged relationship. After all, un-learning a previously patterned and socially reinforced dynamic in favor of a healthier one which is against the norm is no minor task.
I should also note that when I was actively and heavily addicted to both crack and heroin I would intentionally avoid smoking cannabis when offered because every time I partook my desire to acquire the bad, trap drugs would simply melt away. Even at my truly very worst she was extending a hand and offering a way out of my nightmare. It was only in my total commitment to remaining trapped that I avoided her help. Everyone is obviously entirely their own person and creature especially when it comes to synthesis with plant spirits, I simply aim to offer this as perspective.
The number one advice I can give to aid in forging a healthier relationship with cannabis is to say thank you. For gods’ sake, mind your manners when you’re burning someone’s flesh and entwining your awareness with theirs. It’s very easy. Think about all the good things she has done for you, the good times, the inspirations, the giggles, and then feel that warm glow as you hold in your hit. In your mind, reach down and out with the roots in your feet, find a nice healthy weed plant in your imagination. Connect to that plant and release all that grattitute. Say thank you. Out loud, for a while. Remember you just started minding manners with a being you have been consuming for years. A little extra courtesy would not go amiss.
Try getting around twenty to thirty minutes deep into a creative or constructive project while stone-cold sober. Just when the momentum gets rolling, then take a break and partake and immediately return to your task. Note any difference in focus or productivity. This is especially effective for creatives but anyone who regularly partakes should see a difference with this strategy.
One of her “tests” in my opinion is in overcoming the overly chatty influence she can have on the inner monologue. I see an ancient intelligence throwing out distractions to prevent the less evolved of mind from accessing what she offers. Any repetitive saying works well for this in the raja yoga sense, but I find hail marys and mantras to be particularly effective. Of these options, and considering the goal, either a Kali mantra or Ganesha’s path opening mantra would be ideal. This combination has vastly improved my ability to see the invisible, so-to-speak. If you are catholic or have a rosary, there is something very special and interesting about the presence a round of 50 Hail Mary’s can bring into a space, physical and mental.
I would recommend this formal greeting to Kali for anyone new to her presence:
Om Sri Maha Kalikayai Namah
(aum shri maha kalika-yea namaha)
If you are skilled in the imaginal realm, I highly recommend planting an astral cannabis plant in your immediate vicinity. I do this with all my allies in my astral garden. It’s similar to constructing anything astrally in that a suitable form can be a warm invitation for a spirit to inhabit a designated part of your imaginal realm. Eventually interaction with the spirit can become possible without their physical matter even being present.
I hope this helps someone out there to rediscover this glorious plant; materialistically revered but spiritually taken for granted.
She has so much to give, so much more than she gets credit for.
How often do you wonder where your food comes from? Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a piece on GMOs, or even health at all. No, friends, this is a piece on the character of your cuisine. This is about the stories we eat everyday without reading.
Throughout the course of the 20th century humans have industrialized, commercialized, migrated and globalized both our economy, as well as our eats. And as our cultures have intermingled and our trade routes turned into chain restaurants and Amazon boxes, the foodstuffs that we grew up with have become a source of identity and pride. Whether that be from your far-away native land, or a few blocks down the street.
Either way, the chances are, nobody makes it like your grandmother.
When you’re out there in the world, and something you find tastes like home, there’s simply nothing else like it. The intermingling of cultures means that our chances of running into familiar fare are greater these days than ever before. This also means that we have the opportunity to try and share so much more between cultures. And with delivery services you don’t even have to leave the park (or Netflix if we’re being very, very honest.)
The evolution of food items are also fascinating to follow in some cases. The ubiquitous Nacho, for instance, was actually invented by Ignacio “El Nacho” Anya for a couple of U.S. soldier-wives when they tried to eat at a mexican border hotel-restaurant which had already closed for the day. Clearly white-girl dining etiquette has undergone little evolution since 1943.
By tricking the intrusive patrons into enjoying a no-preparation plate of chips with cheese tossed on top, they had unknowingly created what would become one of the most beloved snack foods of all time.
The fortune cookie, the blessed poor man’s prophecy, actually originated from a modification of the I Ching called the Ling Qi Xing which featured a form of divination that was outlawed in its region of origin. That’s right, the fortune cookie was an illegal outcast in its own home. But those semi-sweet starchy vaginas of fate became immigrants as well, flourishing in their new land and into American strip malls from sea to shining sea.
There’s always the fanatically documented yet widely misunderstood history of the evolutionary lineages and delineations of pizza, with no end in sight to the hot debate on proper crust depth. And you can bet your best mozzarella that debate is heated by a wood fire. Ask anybody who cares about pizza. They will all tell you something different and exactly why everyone else is an idiot. It’s beautiful. The spirit of pizza is clearly an elitist, purist, blue-collar hero, peerless among the cool-guys of consumables.
And while we’re at it, I have a particular love for the story of the lobster. Yes, that deliciously expensive high-society dish that we now drown in butter but the British once referred to as the “cockroach of the sea.”
When the British inquired of the natives on the coast of Maine what possible function these hideous creatures could possibly have, the natives then kindly instructed the British on how to crush the lobsters into a fluid and fertilize their crops with them.
Lobsters weren’t food.
Until the railroad stretched across the U.S. and changed everyone’s lives forever (especially the lobsters’.) I don’t mean the pillaging and massacres of the “civilizing” west, I mean canned goods!
That’s right, before the settlers out west were, well, settled they needed protein to keep them going. Hunting and farming and murdering the indigenous is hard when you’re living in a tent next to a steam engine running all hours of the day (with hammers swinging), so we did the only American thing: We canned and shipped them sea-roaches fer eat’n reasons!
A few years later affluent gold-prospecting families were taking trips of novelty out East to try the famous lobstrosities fresh from the sea, and the rest, as they say, is industry.
If you find yourself remembering this article the next time you’ve got hand-to-mouth disease, stop. Take a second. Look at what you’re eating, and do a quick search. Both in your soul and maybe also on the internet.
You just might find an occult adventure taking place inside your mouth.