Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spiritual Nomads Module II Homework: The Dreaded* "Guru Board"

* I use the word "dreaded" tongue-in-cheek... mostly.

What am I doing with the homework from week two, here nearing the middle of week six? Finishing it, that's what.

I had a big 'ole hurdle to jump with the "Guru Board" assignment. First, I was disappointed to find the exercise was restricted to humans. This animist was having fungal visions as soon as I began reading about this project. What?!? No furred, feathered or fungal friends? Fine then.

Second, even with Ms. Sylvann's caveat,
"I think of my gurus as those writers, artists, and other figures who have influenced my path so strongly that I turn to their works time and time again... I’ve had a lot of gurus... Some of them aren’t even spiritual teachers. Some might surprise you.
They can be friends, family, strangers, celebrities, or the Beloved Dead. The important thing is that their lives have changed yours, and you continue to learn from them as you wander. For a Spiritual Nomad, a guru is like a linguist whose phrasebook you’d carry through a dozen far-flung villages or someone who drew a map long ago that you consult time and again while drawing your own..."
I was stymied by the g-word. But, putting aside my hang-ups & creatively blending the term "guru" with "muses," "mentors" & "inspirations," I was able to assemble my collage of faces... sans non-human beings (mostly).

I ended up up creating clusters or globs of several people, or specific people & their works, or non-specific people who make up a general group or theme. It sounds disorganized, but it isn't really. There are teachers of old, teachers quite new, some who forever inspire & guide me, others who are more like an ill-placed freckle that never really goes away -- awkward, perhaps even obnoxious, but not without character. My past & "foundational" influences, are shown with their connections to one another & I made them block-like, more concrete looking. My more recent influences feel more fluid, like they are still evolving, developing, so they look like globs, growing, expanding, finding their shape.

There are a bunch others I could have added, but didn't for practical reasons like time, or anonymity. So, to my family: pretend you have your own glob -- a life-long inspirational glob of sharing, question-asking, weirdness & laughter. I could have added several other authors, plus all the scientists, explorers & free-thinkers out there, but really... there just isn't room! At the last minute I did feel the need to add a couple of cursory placeholders for the late dreamwork author/instructor Strephon Kaplan-Williams & the Shinto inspired Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki (along with a couple of his wonderful Spirits).

Spiritual Nomad Assignment #2: The Guru Board

To friends who appear here: Just complain if you want to be removed from the "Framily of Yore" glob. I put you there because you are the bee's knees. None of you will be mentioned by name, but you know who you are... please let me know if you prefer to be disappeared. 

My Beloved Mentors & 'Framily' of Yore
"Framily of Yore": These are the people who were both the foundation & the springboard for my spiritual journey. Only one will be mentioned by name; the late Sigrid Brauner. Sigrid was a professor of Germanic Languages & Literature at UMass, executive committee member of the Women’s Studies Program & author of Fearless Wives And Frightened Shrews: The Construction Of The Witch In Early Modern Germany. More importantly, she was creatrix of  “Witches: Myth and Reality," the class that changed the course of my life. She was also my friend & mentor for a short but very sweet season of my college career. In the winter of 1992, she danced off a cliff in Jamaica, leaving behind many admirers & 16.5 linear feet of research on social change. A couple of months after her death, she visited me in a dream. Tear-drenched & disoriented, I was startled awake at the shock of feeling a corporeal embrace, yet I was sleeping alone. I am ever thankful for her wisdom & that extraordinary opportunity to say goodbye.

As for the rest of my "Framily of Yore," these are the people who modeled respectful spiritual exploration, skepticism & discussion. They also saved me from believing everything published by Llewellyn. They are the family of seekers who taught me that maybe things are not quite as they seem & that none of us understand the divine in quite the same way, but that we can love one another just the same. It is they who first showed me what a true dedication to the gods, art, humanity & creativity looks like. Their past words & actions echo in my mind today... their recent ones too. I carry their wisdom with me always & I will never be able to thank them enough.

Doreen Valiente.
Doreen Valiente: Adequate words do not exist to explain her significance in my spiritual life. Her book, Witchcraft for Tomorrow was the second Wiccan/Pagan book I ever read. However, it was the first I actually read from cover to cover. My first Pagan read was Starhawk's Spiral Dance. When my one of my 'Framily' members asked how I was liking it, I replied that it was fine, but it wasn't really doing it for me. That is when my erudite (Ásatrú!) guide said, "You really should read this. I think this is the one (for you)." How right she was. Even if I no longer consider myself "Wiccan," when I read Doreen's work -- any of it -- I feel she is summoning the words I just cannot quite conjure myself. You can read some of her beautiful words here: Poetry for the Esbat: Blessing Moon 2011.

Dion Fortune.
Dion Fortune: (aka Violet Firth) While Doreen may have been my fountainhead, it was Dion who captured my heart, Spirit & imagination -- & held them fast --hook, line & sinker. I have read & reread all of her books except the rare one about soybeans (published under her given name) & her treatise on the Kabbalah (because the Kabbalah has always been just too much for me). Her novels are some of the most compelling writing I have ever read. (The Goat Foot God, The Winged Bull & The Demon Lover in particular.) Her talent is enviable, her intellect exceptional. She was a pioneer occultist, a shining star among esoteric authors & a trailblazer for women exploring the mysteries. 

Aleister Crowley.
Aleister Crowley: He was a colossal asshole, I know. But he was also undeniably brilliant. He is responsible for some of the best & worst writing ever produced in esoteric literature. For me, he is one of those freckles that won't go away. I came to him vis-à-vis Dion Fortune & just kept coming back to his words & stories, over & over. After all these years, I have resigned myself to his wisdom & do my best to ignore his obscenity. After all, "Every man & every woman is a star."

Author Patricia Geary.
Patricia Geary: I stumbled upon Patricia Geary's second novel, Strange Toys, quite by accident (?) during a lapse in my spiritual life. I was at a crossroads, having recently concluded one very long chapter of my life. I was trying to figure out how to proceed with the next but I had lost myself in an intense work-life; 16-18 hour days/nights in highway construction. There was little room for relationships, introspection, or really anything except sleep. Geary's book reminded me that there was something missing. Her other books, (with the exception of Living in Ether, which I discussed in the Melancholia post) coaxed me back into a more spiritual frame of mind & it was from her writing that I appropriated my personal motto: "Ennui is the death of the only Soul worth having."

Voices of the blogosphere.
(As represented by OWG)
Our Whole Grove & the Rest of the Blogosphere: The blogosphere -- a very new discovery for me -- as represented by the family behind my Secret Garden. Here I am using OWG to symbolize a collective group of new teachers, muses, gurus & inspirations that I am discovering via the internet. I was introduced to blogging about nine months ago, so I am just now finding the voices & the discourse happening in the ether. In my wanderings across the internet, I find many voices that are dissimilar to my own. These divergent paths are important because they help me clarify & focus my own values, beliefs & direction. But when I find a rare voice that moves me, inspires me, speaks to me personally, I am filled with delight. I give thanks for the blogosphere beacons that kindle my Spirit, coaxing me onward by sharing their insights, adventures & lives. 

Mycologists, Mycophiles, Foragers & Foodies of the World.
The Mycologists, Mycophiles, Foragers & Foodies of the World: This final group is the grab-bag for another (more recent) group of people from which I receive inspiration (pretty much on a daily basis). They range from established "guru" mycologists like David Arora, Tom Volk & Paul Stamets to deeply committed amateur mycologists like Eugina Bone & Michael Kuo & mycophiles like Jae Rhim Lee of the "Mushroom Death Suit" & the crew behind the gloriously unique independent film Now Forager. I am also including foodie & forager writers, both wild & urban, because they share a similar thread of wonder & passion. As I learn more about food & foraging (& do more of it) I realize that the act of searching for & procuring food, for myself, for my family, for friends or for barter is a rich & deeply spiritual process. (The same applies to recreational fungi hunting.) It requires a shift in mindset, an opening up to your immediate surroundings in a way we don't generally do in the day-to-day. It requires an awareness --  a mindfulness similar to what we seek through meditation. Perhaps this is part of what I find so entrancing about it. It also requires a certain amount of magick & I am pleased to have found affirmation of this from another mycophile. In her book Mycophilia, Eugenia Bone has this to say about the foraging experience: "...I felt like finding mushrooms was a kind of conjuring: If I concentrated hard enough, if I longed to find one deeply enough, the mushroom would reveal itself to me..." Exactly. I look forward to many more years of learning & growth from this large & diverse group of "gurus." 

Whew! That concludes my "Guru Board" assignment. I take full responsibility for bending the rules a wee bit, but as a "Spiritual Nomad," that is to be expected, no? More homework assignments are in progress, so if you are bored by them, go read someone else's blog for a few days. When I finish up this course, it's time to focus on certain unfinished projects...

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