This isn’t an educational post per se. I’m no expert on ancestor work and have actually had to be pushed at them. I’ve heard people bemoan adoption issues in regards to ancestor work so I wanted to share my experiences, a case study if you will, to encourage people to go ahead and do the best they can even if the circumstances seem insurmountable.
I’ll openly admit I’ve not been the most successful at consistent ancestor veneration. I have a hard time remembering to make the time. I have a ton of other life demands so haven’t read any books on ancestor veneration, the whole topic sadly ends up at the bottom of my priority pile again and again. But even so, and I hope my case bears out, ancestor work can still happen. Good things can be accomplished with a little effort. Don’t be disheartened, you just need to be open and try, hence the picture on success. This case study mentions a few techniques that may or may not work for you, what is important is the effort.
See, I have an adopted child. There is no hiding his adoption as he is as African as one can look while I and my other son are pasty white between our European ancestry and home in the land of little sun, the Pacific Northwest. I proudly claim him as my son, he as mine as surely as is my biological child. I’ll call him Hope here, that’s what his name means in his native tongue.
This brings its own issues when one deals with faith from the angle of heritage and spirit work. I’ve never been one to hold firm that one’s bloodlines or genetics will determine what Gods are interested in them. There are too many people of mixed races; too many people called to Gods from outside of their cultural heritage that just don’t makes sense within that paradigm. Yet, I found a stumbling block to my little Hope. My Nordic Gods don’t really pay him much heed. Some have an interest in my biological son, but sweet Hope doesn’t seem to elicit more interest than a shrug and a passing glance. I felt a vacancy with him, a hole that I desperately wanted to fill.
But life moves on. Hope came from somewhere in the Horn of Africa, found in a refugee town called Nazret AKA Adama in Ethiopia. He was threeish and had already had a rough life. So now he is eight and claims no memories of his past life. He is a happy go lucky kiddo with no thoughts or worries as to his next meal, where he will sleep, or if he or his family will be around the next day. Certainly he isn’t worried about spirituality in any form, he’s still enjoying having his basic needs, both material and emotional, met so I’ve had time to just sit back and think on what to do.
I had heard of something called bloodwalking. It triggered some thoughts in me and I spontaneously one night tried something. [NOTE- I did NOT bloodwalk here, that is not what is being described, the term just gave me an idea for something else] I spun Jera backwords and then viewed Hope in my mind – he was sleeping. I could see him in bed, watch his breathing. I zoomed in closer, to his skin, inside into his blood vessels. I found his blood, rode with the blood cells through his arteries. Then, when close enough, I spun Jera faster and it was as though I boomerang’d back.
I encountered grey, fuzzy, pain of such magnitude I kept going. Further back, I was able to see his great grandmother but felt the need to continue. I suddenly met a woman as though a brick wall. She was blazing anger, righteous disgust. She had every right, you see I’ve had problems in the past bonding with Hope. It happens with adoptive families at times, it is something one needs to work through and I have been and continue to do so. But she focused on this with an intensity that floored me.
She spit at me, cursed at me, raged at me. I tried to reason, I accepted her anger and hate to no avail. This woman reviled me. I stuck it out, I was determined. Then another came forward, she seemed to be ancient. She looked much healthier and was ornamented in beautiful jewelry. She was taller, had clearly had a better life materially than the ancestors closer in to Hope’s current life. She waved the other away telling her ‘that’s enough.’ She spoke with me, she was fair but firm. She would support me with Hope but I had things of my own to do. He needs to learn of his own heritage. This confused me a bit as no one really knows Hope’s heritage. Ethiopia has over 80 recognized languages and many more dying out as genocide and starvation continues in parts of the land and that’s only if Hope even came from Ethiopia. He likely could be Eritrean, the whole area is full of refugees. She urged me to start by finding a Goddess who “could be known as The Great Sky Goddess.” She said beginning there “would be a start.”
So I left with at least a tip. For me anyway, I’ve found I often don’t get full detailed answers. It’s probably my learning style. To find the answers to my tips I end up casting a broader information net which has always ultimately been useful and provided a broader foundational base of knowledge.
I did some searching, asked around, checked archeology, etc. I found something that seemed almost too obvious. I moved on, continuing my search. During this time though I continued to find myself thinking back to the pain I had felt in those first generations of Hope’s. Heathens don’t seem to be as heavy into working with troubled dead or healing ancestral lines, at least not openly, but I strongly felt I needed to go back. If anything I had to let them know Hope was safe, was loved.
So I did. I had finished meditating on Perthro one day and spontaneously reached out. Directly from my journal with only my son’s name being changed:
Then went back and was able to get in touch with Hope’s mom!! She was initially shocked and outraged that someone else was raising her boy. She had so much grief. I promised he would be cared for, I showed her what he looked like and that he knew love. I told her she would always be his mother but he was my child also. She was worried about him, she imaged me a bowl of rice (the refugee food really made me think she is his mother, not much further back). I said yes, he has all the food he wants. She seemed a bit relieved, still with grief but better. She reached out and we held hands briefly. She was so emaciated- it was hard and I cried.
My journal entry doesn’t really detail the emotion in any way. Such pain, such bewilderment. Such fear in her eyes for her son. I knew there was far more work to do in this.
After a few weeks I went to an ancestor circle. If you ever have the opportunity to go to one I fully suggest going. The one I’ve gone to is simple really, someone drums and people seek out their ancestors. We take a break, talk about the experiences should we choose to, and do it again. A good group is a safe, conducive environment to this work.
So I went knowing I would be focusing on Hope’s ancestors. I initially went to an ancient ancestress of mine to thank her for some help she has given previously. I also asked for her support in working with Hope’s line. She smiled, basically said I was doing fine but then did introduce me to a man who I believe to be four generations back. He showed me a village, told me many there had encountered starvation. He gave me images of Hope’s father and how he died- violently with a bag over his head. The word I got was that he was a wastrel, a good for nothing. But the ancestor then looked at me sadly and said, ‘It was a time when many were lost.’ We then had a break but I’ll remember that line and image for a long time.
When the break was over I went back to Hope’s mother. When I got to her there was anger again, she aggressively confronted me, I actually thought she was going to hit me. I had brought a mixed bean assortment as an offering, she took it and calmed a bit. I reinforced to her that Hope was and always would be her child, but he was mine also. I reinforced he had food, clothes, and love. I told her he went to school and that stopped her seething rage. She looked at me, ‘School? He learns?’
I ended up sitting with her on the dirt, squatting in front of a jimmy rigged cooking element with a pan of rice from which she was eating. I shared with her pictures of her son, him laughing, eating at the table, doing homework. I showed her the ancestor altar we have with a picture of an African woman to represent not only his ancestors (her) but mine from ancient times. She saw images of my other son and asked who he was, I told her and showed her how they love each other, how they play and argue as any siblings do. I’ll never forget the wonder on her face, the sense of relief I am slowly gaining from her, the kinship we are beginning to tentatively share in our love for this boy.
The group took another break, it was good as I could tell my time with her was done. I was truly not sure I was ready for another session but the rest of the group wanted to so I went. Well, not quite. I actually just decided to meditate, I’d made enormous headway and am often one to count good as good. But I found myself in an odd surrounding facing a large statue of an animal like woman. I was surprised and as I looked up I noticed sitting on one of the statues raised arms a woman staring at me. She was beautiful but almost in an animist way. She wasn’t animal, but wasn’t human either. She looked at me aggressively and jumped down from the statue with movements as feral as a cat.
Striding forward rapidly she stared me in the eyes and demanded, ‘What right do you have to the child?’ I stopped a moment, she was imposing and I realized that to her I may have no right but I answered, ‘I feed him, cloth him, and love him. That is my right.’ She stared at me intently, almost scowling. I’m looking at her realizing this was deity, this was a make or break moment. She softened and I realized that though I didn’t see them, I sensed wings or cloak or air or sky. Something about her. She glinted a bit, one could see sparkles or subtle twinkles about her.
She then asked if I wanted to know of the Sky and I nodded and she took me to her breast and I felt the sky in a way I’m not yet able to describe. It was grand and broad and swirling and encircling and comforting and awe-invoking and I finally stepped away from this Mother, from Nuit, and She looked at me and said, ‘I will take your son in my nurturing embrace.’ She asked me of how I would teach him of Her, I told Her and She was satisfied.
Then She instructed me to teach him a water ritual which I will share with you, reader. Outside is best but inside is fine. You take a bit of water in your hands, only a drop is needed. Raise it high in an arc being thankful to the sky for this bounty. As you drop a bit on your head you recognize the cycle of water, nourishing the earth and its inhabitants and then being taken back up into the Sky’s embrace only to begin this cycle again. I’ve realized that this has enormous symbolism and meaning. There is a beautiful way to this that only takes a moment of thought to embark upon.
I feel better about my son Hope. I didn’t even realize how much better till the next day when I was struck in emotion and gratitude for what had happened. His ancestors know he is alive, well, and loved. There is more work to do with them, far more, but they will be there for him, they will understand his life should he ever desire to reach out to them. Hope also now has a Goddess he can turn to should he choose. Nuit will look over him and pour nourishment into his heart and his soul if I do my job and guide him appropriately into knowing Her. I can’t rest on my laurels now, there is still much to do, but I’ll keep trying.
What’s important about this story is to realize that in adoptive issues there can be pain. There can be confusion and anger that needs to be addressed with a firm delicacy. It isn’t easy- there will be tears. But it can be done. When one adopts or is adopted, there is a joining of ancestral lines, whether willing or reluctant. This has to be recognized and acknowledged.
I want to thank Laura P for answering a few questions for me as I sought out The Great Sky Goddess and her referral to the final person I wish to thank. In gratitude I will briefly mention Laura’s book: Weaving Memory: A Guide to Honoring the Ancestors and it can be found here: Lulu
Most of all I want to thank Queenmother Imakhu Mu Nefer-t. She was willing to spend her valuable time with a perfect stranger and gave me wonderful support, encouragement, and advice. Her sites are here: Queen Mother Imakhu
or here: Akeru Nu Afrakan Ministries
I read Elizabeth V's post on Fear and was going to just reply there. But then I realized I was going to start sounding pedantic, going off on my own tangent about fear. So I opted to post here instead.
See, fear is a hard item to deal with. Some fears are justified but many others, when we look at them, are irrational. Loki told me long ago to look at innocence. Not the 'I'm not guilty' innocence, but a childlike innocence. I'm supposed to write on the topic, I've put it off for fear of neglecting other duties, for fear of digging too deep within myself and gaining understanding of what blocks me from my own joys, I've put it off for fear of knowing and needing change.
Children, raised in good homes, tend to not have the deep fears us adults can grow and cultivate. 'It's an aquired taste' as quoted from the Silence of the Lambs- that's how I feel many of us deal with our fears. We continue to aquire these tastes because darn it, fear is comfortable! We grow into adulthood and begin collecting our 'grown-up' fears like hoarders. They fence us in, make us feel safe and warm in our own little box which we then call our ingard.
It's the not being afraid that is so very difficult. It's the setting it aside and getting used to living with an adult's version of childlike abandon that is so hard. The speaking out without malice as we once did; the acceptance of the new as only children can. We grow up, shed our childlike ways and in the doing so incorporate fear into our lives. We've forgotten how to look at the world through meaningful innocence- the sort that whispers to us, 'I can do this. Let's try something new. Let's be open and honest and kind and fun-loving. Let's dance in the sunlight in the park- twirl around and who cares what others think!'
E is right. Fear is a mind-killer. Maybe a dose of meaningful innocence is the salve. Her post is here:http://twilightandfire.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/pagan-blog-project-fear/
I wanted to honor Tyr for a friend of mine the other day. During my morning devotion I let Loki know, He nodded but immediately deferred me to Heimdallr and went on with His other issues.
During my devotion to Heimdallr I mentioned I was going to honor Tyr later. He looked at me questioningly. I did meet Tyr quite a few months ago via Heimdallr, we had discussed Fenrir and I was to think on a few things and come back to him. I just hadn’t been ready yet.
I told Heimdallr my intent wasn’t the conversation waiting, I wanted to honor Tyr and pray for the strength of a friend in need. He nodded. I started on my adorations but He cut me short. I had an appointment and he told me I needed to ensure I had plenty of time to get ready.
He then held out his hand. I took it and went through the swirling grey I’ve grown accustomed to and found myself on a rough, rocky ledge near the ocean. ‘Another beach,’ I mentioned. ‘Yes, ‘ He smiled, ‘it’s a border.’ He led me along the ledge, jumping down rock edges traveling along and edging closer to the water. Usually He just walks in His easy, long legged pace and I have to keep up but this time at every ledge He turned and helped me down. I grinned, teasingly asked Him why He was being such a gentleman, ‘I like having you in my arms.’ I blushed and we continued on.
We eventually came near the water . He stopped and made a small hand motion; in front of me a glowing Tiewaz appeared on the rocks. I knew what was happening, our Nordic gatekeeper Heimdallr had opted to facilitate a meet rather than just have me honor Tyr on my own.
I walked forward on my own and saw Tyr walking towards me in the distance. Tyr looks very much the warrior to me. He has scabbards and leather and hides, His body is muscular and scarred. He has a sense of firmness tempered with the kind of gentleness that only comes from great strength.
We met and said hello. I told Him why I was there, that I hadn’t come to disturb him but to make a petition for a friend for strength and comfort. We talked briefly on this, I thanked Him and turned to go but He stopped me.
He said, ‘I can see Fenrir’s marks on you.’ I looked down. I have some mixed feelings on this. Loki and Heimdallr have both directed me to Fenrir at times and I know I will be working with Him more. I know this, at least here on Midgard, to be controversial. He put His hand on my shoulder and said, ‘It’s alright. I spent much time with Fenrir.’ He looked at His stump. ‘I’ve made my own sacrifices to Him, looks as though you have your own cutting to do.’
I began to tear, there are some emotions there. He sat me down on the rocks and we looked at the water. He put an arm around my shoulders and kindly said, ‘Everybody forgets, or hasn’t realized, that in order to bind Him, in order to know what to sacrifice to ensure He caused no harm, I had to know Him. We had to have a rapport.’
He paused a moment to let the words sink in, ‘In order to do what needed to be done, I had to love Him.’
Fenrir’s role is typically just seen as one of the monster, the ravener that needs be bound and forgotten. We must remember that mythology has messages on many levels. Every one of us has a small Fenrir within, we all have our dark spots. To just ignore they exist, to deny those patches within does not do ourselves justice, respect, nor love. We all have internal rages, jealousies, and episodes of lonely despair. They are a part of us just as Fenrir is a part of the Nordic mythology. To manage our own tempests we must accept these troubles. We must develop a rapport with them, we must embrace and love them, in order to know what needs to be sacrificed to manage and control the beast within.
Many think spirit-work to be glamorous. It isn’t. It’s work. It’s grief, sweat, and tears. Joys do come but they come at a price. Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night and write. This one I give to you- raw and unedited from my own failing seethe.
They are Ever.
I need you to know before you read this that I can love. Don’t think I’m writing that I can’t. I know how to love. My love is like the flutter of dove wings held to breast, like the thunderous roar of a lion, or the softest footsteps of a mouse. I was once told that I am too small for my love.
I can love.
But, haven’t you ever thought that we humans can only go so far? I mean no matter how much work we do, time we spend, sweat and tears we pour, that we can only go so far? Our human forms fail us, our meat brains just can’t transcribe that which is just beyond.
Haven’t you ever stood before Him in all glory and felt that boundary as though a glass wall? We can love and merge and join and open but there comes a point when we have to secede. Then, we are forced to just yearn knowing that there is more, there is always closer
; it is just right there, so close and ever so far.
See, there is a special kind of haunting. It’s the haunting of the almost is. That almost is, that almost
reaching the deity just beyond the glass, that glass we are eternally running to.
And running from.
The almost is haunts.
And that’s when our hearts cry out in the night, that’s when we ram our fists into our pillows, that’s when we grieve.
For it is then we face our own mortality. They are Ever, we are but the Now.Picture from Lenscratch.
As one can't have what the other doesn't:
I adore you breaker of worlds
I adore you brother of Oðin
I adore you son of Laufey
I adore you son of Cruel-Striker
I adore you who leads Hel’s troops
I adore you of the slippery tongue
I adore you eater of the burnt heart
I adore you conniver with Father of the Slain
I adore you friend of Thor
I adore you kidnapper of Idunn
I adore you Idunn’s hero
I adore you mother to the eight legged steed
I adore you who breeds troll wives
I adore you Skadhi’s laughter
I adore you who plays tug-o-war with she-goats
I adore you Skadhi’s vengeance
I adore you of the mischievous eyes
I adore you slayer of the Holy God
I adore you slayed by the Holy God
I adore you rider of the corpse ship
I adore you thief of thieves
I adore you who whispers gently in the night
I adore you of the mirror’s shadow
I adore you bound to three rocks
I adore you husband to gentle Sigyn
I adore you husband to ferocious Angrboda
I adore you sire of the black Fen-wolf
I adore you sire of the World’s Embracer
I adore you sire of Death
I adore you who reveals the truth
I adore you of impetuous temper
I adore you Thor’s bridal hand-maiden
I adore you Heimdallr’s companion
I adore you abandoner of Glut
I adore you God of the seething liminality
I adore you clever trickster
I adore you brother of Thekkr
I adore you who bears the burden’s of the Gods
I adore you stirrer of earthquakes
I adore you burnt by serpent’s venom
I adore you Sigyn’s challenge
I adore you who bites as the flea
I adore you conniver of Brisingamen
I adore you God of the life-giving hearth fire
I adore you of the heat shimmered air
I adore you who glows bright in the night
I adore you who wouldn’t weep
I adore you Geirröd’s tease
I adore you starved by Geirröd
I adore you Sif’s secret
I adore you wise minded
I adore you who taught men to fish
I adore you hero to peasants
I adore you embarasser of the As
I adore you staunch friend of Hoernir
I adore you borrower of Freya’s cloak
I adore you of the scarred lips
I adore you who stole your own head from Brokkr
I adore you who gifted Gangleri with Gugnir
I adore you who gifted Freyr with Skidbladnir and the boar
I adore you who gifted Sif with treasures of harvest gold
I adore you who brought Mjollner
I adore you who brought the golden troth
I adore you of the light-ship shoes
I adore you who detests Vartari
I adore you deceived by Thor
I adore you bringer of light
I adore you forcer of truth
I adore you who slay otters
I adore you who warns of greed
I adore you sire of the murdered
I adore you bound of your own blood borne
I adore you sire of the mad-driven babe
I adore you betrayed by oath-kin
I adore you whose children were torn from your embrace
I adore you of the tear strewn wife
I adore you Svadilfar’s frantic dream
I adore you Bekri’s bane
I adore you fair and beautiful one
I adore you God of the sleight
I adore you of the crafty council
I adore you first father of falsehood
I adore you loving Trickster
I adore you mischief-monger
I adore you He who laughs
I adore you who teaches forgiveness
I adore you who teaches revenge
I adore you who was first betrayed
I adore you boder of Ragnarök’s tide
I adore you Freya’s nibbler
I adore you glint-eyed flyter
I adore you sire of the impaled howler
I adore you who brings new ways
I adore you in the shadow’s light
I adore you matched of the Bifrost Guardian’s battle power
I adore you God who will cry
I adore you of the new cult
I adore you who won’t be ignored
I adore you gentle lover
Don't forget to check Heimdallr's Adorations also posted two days ago.
For more Adorations, check the House of Vines
I adore you sire of mankind
I adore you whitest of Gods
I adore you friend of Mardoll
I adore you God of heavens
I adore you son of undines
I adore you defender of Brisingamen
I adore you God of light
I adore you of the wet back
I adore you teacher of runes
I adore you golden tooth
I adore you lone ear
I adore you keeper of Bifrost
I adore you God of boundaries
I adore you rider of Gulltopr
I adore you mysterious God
I adore you brewer’s grandchild
I adore you secretive friend
I adore you Thor’s vexer
I adore you Trickster’s foe
I adore you Freya’s loyalty
I adore you honor’s beacon
I adore you wry neck
I adore you sounder of Gjallorhorn
I adore you guardian of Gods
I adore you Gullintanni
I adore you of the rainbow
I adore you warrior friend
I adore you whose horn carries the waters of Mimir’s well
I adore you who sees a hundred leagues
I adore you who hears wool grow
I adore you of the furious calm
I adore you of the gentle storm
I adore you who pledged your hearing
I adore you who hears the spindle
I adore you bright brother to Loki
I adore you sea battler
I adore you slayer of Lopt
I adore you slayed by Lopt
I adore you of the eternal stiff back
I adore you wind-shelter
I adore you warrior of seal form
I adore you who sleeps less than a bird
I adore you who watches
I adore you agent of sorcery
I adore you of the muddy back
I adore you rider of Yggdrasil
I adore you who sees as the Van
I adore you God of priests
I adore you tender patron
I adore you tallest of Gods
I adore you bright one
I adore you wearer of ram cloak
I adore you of the sacral rites
I adore you Hallinskiði
I adore you glowing-horn
I adore you fostered of Oðin
I adore you wind listener
I adore you bekri
I adore you discerning sentinel
I adore you my muse of Suttungr’s mead
I adore you birthed of nine elements
I adore you nourished of the sap of the earth
I adore you nourished of the ice-cold sea
I adore you nourished of the boar’s blood
I adore you irminsul of my soul
I adore you shining bloom
I adore you world flourishing
I adore you bright dazzler
I adore you of quiet humor
I adore you glittering coat
I adore you of the curved horn
I adore you weaver of patterns
I adore you easer of strife
I adore you arch of heavens
I adore you collector of knowledge
I adore you Rigr, sire of Ríg-Jarl.
I adore you of the quiet strength
I adore you Loki’s traveling friend
I adore you born of waves
I adore you known as Lordly
I adore you who reside of air
I adore you who lives on the rocks of heaven
I adore you born ere of days of yore
I adore you survivor at last dusk’s tide
I adore you holder of prophecy
I adore you sleepless watcher
I adore you gazer of far
I adore you duet of wine
I adore you sire of high and low
I adore you of the drum-heart’s rhythm
I adore you stern master
I adore you keeper of wisdoms
I adore you singer of spells
I adore you who holds the world
I adore you beneficent fire
I adore you God of the sun
I adore you of the woodpecker’s peal
I adore you of the contemplative moment
I adore you gentle love
I need to thank Sannion of the House of Vines for this wonderful idea. He is collecting Adorations- you can find more here: I am really adoring all of these Adoration posts.
Sue: Guess what! I just got my first divination! It was so exciting.
Mary: Really? Wow! What did it say?
Sue: Well [scratches head], I'm not too sure actually. But I think it's important. See, I asked her about my fiancee 'cause, you know, we've been having problems and I don't know about the marriage. So I asked and after a few days she sent me this:
Mary: A picture of Cheetos?
Sue: Yes. See, she told me you can divine with anything. She just needs to feel it at that moment. But I don't understand what it means.
Mary: She didn't tell you?
Sue: No- she told me I would know. I didn't understand so asked her to explain. She sent me this:
Sue: So I'm glad she did. I've realized from this that my fiancee probably wants a ton of kids and will smother me. I don't want to deal with that so I'm going to call off the wedding. I asked her if my thought on this was correct, she told me if it was true in my soul then yes. I should call off the wedding.
Yes, this story is a bit off the wall but don't laugh. It's almost true. Really. With the ability to connect and network as we can online we easily come across people who tell us they can divine. The reality is, not all can and of those who can, sometimes they shouldn't.
There are other scams out there. A friend who chooses to remain anonymous wrote, "Let me give you some basic things I have found/heard that some of the "fortune tellers" out here have told querents. "You have a curse on you, someone is working black magic against you... and you have to give me $500 to take the curse off of your family so no one will die from the curse." Etc. Stuff like this that involves exorbitant amounts of money. And it's to get the person to keep coming back. The owner of the local metaphysical shop here has told women they can't come more than once every two weeks for readings, because they need to live their life, not depend on constant readings."
With a little help from a few others I've put together a few tips on finding a diviner that will work for you.
First and foremost the diviner needs to be someone you trust. If you get any odd feelings just don't follow through. I'm not talking nervousness about the result, rather nervousness about the person. If you have reservations regarding the diviner you'll have reservations about the divination.
An ethical diviner will recommend you get a second or even third reading for confirmation. If your chosen diviner gets upset that you would seek a confirmation then just walk away from that person. Ethical diviners know that signal clarity comes and goes. Somedays aren't the best. If anything, a diviner you can trust is one who tells you they can't divine that day or on that subject. Honesty is key here. The diviner should truly tell you something like, "Don't make a life-changing decision as a result of what I tell you tonight. Go and get other opinions from other readers, and advice before you make a big decision."
I'd shy away from those who cold call you for divination. Any kind of reading can be intensely personal, unless you asked for the divination why would someone want to intrude in such a manner? Divination is service, not a way to promote oneself nor to promote how much work one does for a deity or somesuch. Now, you may have a group of friends that are always divining for each other, it may be how you roll. That's fine. But for big decisions I strongly recommend also seeking divination outside your circle. It's important to get different eyes on a topic not skewed by what you already know of each other.
I would also evaluate the reader's own state of mind if you are able. Is their life full of issues? Does the person seem unusually stressed? Everyone has issues, everyone has stress. But if extreme I would seriously question the diviner's ability to translate a divination correctly. Doesn't mean they can't, but may mean that at that time they shouldn't.
Channeling is a topic that comes up a lot lately. Many people are now channeling over the phone and what not. Couple cautions here. One, if you blog then anyone who reads that blog probably knows more about you than you realize. Also, there is a whole industry based on over the phone psychic readings. With a modicum of cleverness and listening skills one can figure out what is going on and what you need to hear to convince you that you are speaking to a God. So be prepared. If you are going into a situation where someone is going to channel, or if you are on the phone with a person who claims they get 'taken' to give messages, have a question ready. You need to think of it before rather than then. It should be something only you would know. I have one- a childhood event that only I know. Any God would be able to tell me the answer. I strongly suggest, each and every time, to have a test question to ensure you are speaking to a God and not a person who is either unethical or just very confused. More on this topic below.
I am now going to give you all a sneek preview into the book "Talking To The Spirits: Personal Gnosis in Neo-Paganism" by Kenaz Filan and Raven Kaldera. It's due to be published by Inner Traditions press soon. Raven and Kenaz were kind enough to share with me and all of you their section on choosing a diviner. It's great information.
Judging A Diviner For A Personal Reading
First, can you get a referral from someone you trust to have decent judgment? The best option is someone referred by a friend who is willing to talk about how they were helped. If you can't find a referral, pick out someone and then ask around to see if anyone has gotten a reading from them. Don't ask the reader for testimonials from former clients. It's not hard for any reader or spiritual practitioner to come up with friends willing to swear that they're the "best psychic ever."
Since you are asking "Is this message that I'm getting really from God X or Spirit Y, do I have it right, and what should I do about it?" you really should find out whether the diviner in question has experience in asking those questions. Some fortunetellers are talented enough in their own way, but they haven't ever asked anything more supernatural than "Is my boyfriend cheating on me?" or "Will I go to jail for this?" If you really have a connection beginning with Gods or spirits, and if you really have a reader with a good "spirit-phone", it's not unusual for the deity or spirit in question to appear to them and start telling them what to say to you. This can be upsetting and disconcerting to a reader who has never had this happen before. If a reader has experience with this subject, they are probably better equipped to hear any messages that come through for you – or, conversely, you can better trust their judgment if they say, "I'm sorry, but I can't seem to find any spirit involvement at all, around you or in this reading. I think that you may be misinterpreting something."
Take tradition into account but don't box yourself in. By this we mean that if you think your message is from God A, then a practitioner who is knowledgeable about God A's pantheon and cosmology would be a good fit. However, it might not be God A after all – or you may not have such a practitioner around. Some readers may not know about that cosmology, but they're good at giving information and can handle any spirit that shows up. Don't give up if you can't find a Canaanite Reconstructionist priestess where you live, but it is good if they at the very least have a basic understanding of Neo-Paganism and its Gods.
Ask about fees. Warning flags include readers who give you a price and then ask for more money as soon as you enter, or who ask exorbitant prices, or spiritual practitioners who require you to buy a lot of ritual supplies from them. (If it is determined that a ritual is the right answer for you, and supplies are needed but you think that you can find the same quality of supplies cheaper, a reputable reader will allow you to do that. If the supplies must be blessed or charged by the practitioner, a reputable practitioner will not charge exorbitant prices to do it.)
Be suspicious if the reader or spiritual practitioner requires you to join their group, swear some sort of loyalty or secrecy oath, or gives you intrusive orders into areas of your life outside the scope of the ritual. Be especially suspicious of threats, such as "If you don't take action X, the spirits will get you!" They should be able to voice their belief that a lack of action X would be a bad idea in their view, but they should also have the objectivity to let you know that you are an adult, and can make that mistake if you choose to do so. Be cautious of any reader that tries to force you into a course of action.
If the spiritual practitioner is a channeler of spirits, or uses spirit-possession as their method of divination, try extra hard to find people who have seen them work with their spirit guide. If you're not sure how to judge such things, we recommend our book Drawing Down The Spirits, as a guide on how to judge possessory situations. Feel free to be skeptical about someone who approaches you out of nowhere and says, "God X told me that they have a message for you." While this has been known to happen it's rare, and most instances thereof stem from the other person's psychological issues. Keep in mind that the Gods are not stupid, and they know perfectly well what sources you are more or less likely to consider true. In our experience personal divine messages generally come unwittingly from people you already know well, not from wild-eyed strangers or self-important acquaintances.
(In fact, when a reputable spiritual practitioner gets a message for someone they barely know and who is not actually a client, their first questions should be, "Is this any of my business? Should I even tell them at all?" If the answer isn't a definite "Yes!" they should file it for future information and say nothing more. It may be that a better opportunity to pass it on may come in the future, or perhaps it should be passed onto another practitioner).
A good Pagan spiritual practitioner should be able to explain clearly why you are being asked to do anything, or why they are doing anything to you. It is true that many spiritual practitioners straight from traditional cultures, used to their own people and customs, may not be willing to explain much of anything. That's part of many indigenous cultures – the practitioner does things to you, and gives you orders, and you shut up and don't question. Anyone trained and educated in western culture has no such excuse. Be suspicious if such a practitioner refuses to keep you informed as to what they are doing, including the translations of non-English chants they may want you to perform. They should be willing to explain before a reading or ceremony what is expected to happen, and what is expected of you. Inability to do this suggests incompetence, and unwillingness to do it suggests unclean motives.
(Kenaz adds: There is some secrecy in many African Diaspora traditions. An Iyalocha is not going to give you the details of how a cowrie reading works and a Babalao is not going to go into lengthy explanations of the various patakis that may be connected with a particular Odu. However, there's a difference between professional discretion – keep in mind that many of the details of how to perform these divinations are oathbound secrets – and a refusal to explain how the various taboos and requests they are seeing apply to you. If they say "Oya says you need to give her X," they should not hesitate to tell you who Oya is, why she wants this, and why you need to do it. It's not unheard of for a cowrie or Ifa reading to reveal the querent needs to be initiated in the future. This does not mean "you need to max out your credit cards, empty your bank accounts, mortgage your house and have me, the reader, do this ceremony next week.")
If you know how to psychically shield, you should do so before walking into the space of a reader who you do not know. You don't know what has showed up in their magical space, or what may still be hanging around, if only uncleaned negative energy from past clients. An experienced reader should be able to pull down information for someone regardless of their personal shielding; they're supposed to be reading your destiny, not your aura or your mind. You might also want to take a witness along, preferably a stable, grounded friend who knows you well and knows how you react. They can provide a reality check afterwards about whether the information sounded like your life, or whether you were denying an accurate but painful point.
(If you don't know how to shield, Raven recommends the book Spiritual Protection: A Safety Manual for Energy Workers, Healers, and Psychics by Sophie Reicher, which has in-depth directions on many sorts of shielding and warding for Pagans. If you have no aversion to Christian iconography, Kenaz recommends purchasing a simple St. Michael the Archangel holy card or medal and carrying it with you when going into situations where there may be spiritual danger. St. Michael is tasked with driving away evil and will do that for anybody who bears his image.)
If you do any divination for yourself, or even if you have a friend who is willing to pull a rune out of a bag or something like that, it's no trouble to ask "Was I given accurate information at this reading?" If the answer is ambivalent, ask "What subject should I be suspicious of?" Just as it's fine to get a professional to give you a second opinion about your own readings, it's also fine to do your own reading as a second opinion on a professional. It's also fine to get readings from more than one professional to cross-check and any professional who objects to the idea of you getting a second or even third opinion is, in our book, less trustworthy.
So next time you're eating Cheetos just remember, you can throw them and divine, but you'll need kitten power back-up! Seriously, find someone you can trust and double and triple check your readings. Be safe out there.
Thanks to Raven, Kenaz, and Anonymous for sharing such valuable information.