trance stories: big snow

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With the snow falling perpetually since yesterday, it’s hard not to have thoughts of wandering out into the forest. Its paths meander under the cover of cottonwoods, which provide only a little shelter from the floating specks of white frozen water. It’s not a day for driving. It’s a day for faring forth. If you look at the snow a certain way, it becomes brilliant and buzzing with energy and light. Who knows, maybe that’s just the way my eyes work. My father tells me it’s an optical illusion, that there aren’t really buzzing beads of sentient light living in the snow, sky and water. I tell him that if he were an actual physician, I’d still take his prognosis lightly. He believes the world is run by corporations. I believed world is run by magic. We’re both deluded. But isn’t delusion just another word for perspective?

I think to last night’s connection with Mal the Cottonwood in the only park not patrolled by Paladins. No truck dared patrol in the snowstorm. If I had any doubts that the Paladins were here for our protection, they’ve been exacerbated by their absence in the snowstorm, where we need them the most. I don’t mind. I’m the only one in the park. I’m resourceful. My van is filled with survival gear. I’d at least make it a couple of days if necessary.

I experimented with music this time. It was good. I also have a scent I can use for future meditations. I beat drums and spoke the mind-calming. Doing these practices is really sucking me in. It’s very relaxing to be in the embrace of Mal, and to be in the rhythm of the drum.

My dream after all this snow and drum-beating was like this:

A group of friends is arguing over a situation I have limited participation in. One guy slept with another guy who slept with a girl who had an STI, but one obtained DNA evidence of the affair and was going to report the person with the STI for not disclosing the infection. Three girls in the group tried to get the evidence from the guy. He won’t succumb. Most of the time is spent hanging out and listening to these people complain about the situation.

Sometimes my dreams seem so believable and real that I kind of wish they were more symbolic and abstract. I could have easily seen something like this on TV, or among my own friends. I have such an active imagination. I feel like I encounter more magic in my waking life than in my dreams. If I were to analyze this one, I would say that my social work is starting to enter my imagination. I often find myself in dream-states where I am witnessing conversations about topics and just thinking about when I can escape, and go off into the world. Is that my reality? Is the banality of regular human interaction stifling my soul?

Or, alternatively, is the world of magic but an escape route for a mind that is strongly aware of its material limitations?

However you conceive of it, there’s something else, something beyond ordinary reality that keeps calling me close.

I wonder where this will lead.

Skål min venner!

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trance stories: med trance

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UPDATE: The writer is clearly not feeling like himself in this post.

My ex gave me a ton of medications to deal with this damn cold. Life has been great. I’ve been having tons of dreams. I’ve been sleeping lots. Barely anything stresses me out. I’m avoiding going out into the cold to meet with Mal the Cottonwood Tree. Instead, I’ve stayed inside for the last two days, sitting around in a chemical fog and kinda just doing nothing too important. I went to my workplace and had some great conversations. There was no self-doubt, no tension, no anxiety. I can say pretty much anything and I don’t feel guilty or like I’ve said anything wrong. I’ve even felt free to get upset at people, even if they don’t deserve it, just to get my way. This is awesome. I feel powerful.

Being hopped up on meds has done one thing above all else: it has destroyed the connection that I usually have with people. Usually, I pick up on how people are feeling as a result of my actions. When I see that someone feels hurt by my words or actions, I actually care. That’s one thing that makes me really good at my job and terrible in relationships.

Yes, I said it. And you have a visceral objection to what I’ve said because you’ve repeated the mantra that everyone you know repeats: I just want someone who listens, and cares! That’s nice. But if that’s what you want, then that’s what you need to give, because being the one who cares about the feelings of someone who doesn’t care about yours sucks.

Anyway, you know where this is going. I’m going to question whether it’s really better to be cut off from emotions and empathy in order for me to celebrate being me. Indeed, the world would be a lot better of a place if people weren’t continually searching for and finding ways to shut off their empathy so we can have some emotional rest. It feels great, doesn’t it? Isn’t it lovely to experience the world without the echoing condemnations of everyone around you who tries to persuade and shape you into their idea of what you should be?

Don’t tell me that’s not a great feeling, because it is. I’m feeling it right now. It’s great.

I will try to persuade you that I’m not on “real drugs” and that there’s some monumental difference between pharmaceuticals and illicit narcotics. Unfortunately, we’re both too smart to tell ourselves that. Many pharmaceuticals become illicit narcotics.

I will try to stay on this cloud as long as I can. I have a father who I visit, an ex who isn’t completely out of my life, bills to pay, an education to complete, a full-time job to do and family/friends all over the bloody globe. Whatever I’m doing right now, I should be doing something else. Hidden voices yell at me to drop everything and come to their assistance. To top it all off, I lost my cell phone and wallet.

The world is really testing my styrka, förtroende, and uthållighet, or, in English, du kan si strength, confidence and endurance. Am I failing the test by enjoying this chemical reprieve from the miseries of the moment? Well, look at it: I haven’t been out to see Mal, but that’s mainly it’s cold out there and I’m sick. I spent all afternoon yesterday playing drums and doing exercise 10 from Paxson:

Sit in balance upon the Earth…
Let each limb relax…

…and on she goes with breathing and visualizing until she concludes with:

Sigh and stretch, open your eyes
And return.

It feels good.
But the brain fog doesn’t feel good. You know why?
I can’t help but wonder what I’m missing.

Tusen takk og Varsågod, søstre og brødre. Jag är så generad!
Ha det godt og skål til deg!

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trance stories: TV trance

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After I returned home to Lethbridge, I went to my usual spot in Henderson Park and did wards in the deep snow around the base of the tree. It was getting very cold, and I was starting to detect the effects of sickness. I concluded, drove to my residence, and sat down. The previous worker had left the TV on, which was showing a movie called Crazy Stupid Love. I didn’t bother turning off the TV. I let myself be mesmerized by the pursuits of the actors in the comedy. The show wasn’t terrible. It was actually quite entertaining. But it occupied my kind until I drifted off to sleep.

I awoke to a knock on the door. Nothing was written in my dream diary. The worker who comes to replace me was standing outside in the cold. He came in and I reflected on why it was that I had nothing written in my diary, and why I hadn’t woken up early enough for my replacement. Was I getting sick? Was I exhausted? Was the master of dreams leaving me?

I’ve seen it written that TV is a kind of meditation, trance in its own right. But if it is controlling the images, where do our minds go? If we’re talking about the tv show I was watching, the answer would be crazy stupid love. Alternately, if I want more control over my trance experience, how can I program my mind to enter different rooms, or bird tech to different places? That’s what chapter 3 is all about, and I’m very glad we’re putting this into practice.

No experience is a wasted experience, and this tv trance is an example of an exploration into understanding trance. I would like a greater level of control over my imagination. I’ve been fed images since I was young. Shouldn’t I want more say over what those images tell me?

Here is an image that won’t be erased from my mind for a long time:

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Can a tv trance compare to the radiating effects of a super moon on a cold winter’s night?

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trance stories: Pincher trance

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I’ve just returned from the Albertan countryside. I stay there with my father from time to time in a town called Pincher Creek:

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Majestic, beautiful and pristine, sure. But as an old friend of mine used to say, “what fun is a rose if it doesn’t have thorns?” The thorns out here is the high concentration of conservative voters and gun owners. On the plus side, I’ve gone out shooting a bit, which isn’t terrible. I’d prefer to know how to do it safely than not know at all. And conservatives aren’t that bad. I just think they need to ask for more professionalism from their political parties. Anyway, I’d prefer not to occupy my brain space with partisan divides. As I’ve always said, if someone’s trying to divide you, it’s because they’re trying to conquer you.

I left the city at 11:30 after my tree meditation. Double bonus: the sith galdr is also a blessing for travelers. Pincher Creek is roughly an hour and a half out of town, and often the road is slippery. On this midnight trip, however, I had the best possible conditions. Despite howling winds, icy pavement and constant snowfall, the midnight drive was calm, without wind and snow, and quite a pleasurable drive. The roads were plowed, and I felt confident the whole time I was driving. This describes the exact opposite of my trip back the following evening, making me wonder, does the ward have such an effect, or is this coincidence? These days, I say the word “coincidence” with a smile that’s enchanted with deep, knowing irony. Is anything a coincidence?  Yes, we will say to those whose grip on material reality depends upon their solid, concrete understanding of the world, an understanding that becomes threatened whenever anything escapes their previously-held deductions. Some things are just coincidences. I’m not trying to give you anxiety here. It’s just a coincidence.

Nevertheless, I will do a ward before every trip, if only to connect with nature prior to departure in a cramped metal can with wheels. Do we give enough gratitude and appreciation to the vast unknown of planet Earth? Or is it a scary thing that’s either too cold or too hot, something to be left outdoors and temperature-controlled at the tips of our fingers laid upon a plastic thermostat? Why have all the great poets and transcendentalists screamed in our ears, “God is not inside your church! God is in the vast and fathomless unknown! There are books in brooks and bibles in trees!” The transcendentalists should have just given up their fruitless petitions. They should have smiled and said, “maybe your god is only in your church, in your beaurocracy, in your tithe pool, in your well-established connections and towering hierarchies. Maybe nature is home to more Gods and spirits than we ever conceived.”

I arrived in Pincher Creek quite late. My dad was still up, confused as to why I left so late during such terrible weather. We talked about things we’re upset about, and things that bring us joy. We played music and I did my night time stretches, after which I went straight to sleep. I woke with this on my desktop:

I was walking on the street until I was captured by two humble people: a man built like a quarterback and a short-haired woman half his size. She had crew cut hair and a denim jacket. They spoke in a friendly but distant manner when they abducted me, however once were were inside their headquarters, they dropped the act and revealed themselves as being very intelligent. It turns out I was part of their community, people with the task of creating some kind of TV show, a show about some public deception designed to lead people to certain false conclusions. There were people who kept showing up and chatting in this house, which was filled with natural light and contained a large box full of story ideas. I started to come up with a proposal in which I would go rogue and fight against the very group creating the deceptions. The idea was met with good feedback. I actually just spent the rest of the dream trying to get out of the way of the busy “actors” bustling about. I got bored of standing around and I woke up.

So, that was fun. A little social critique, perhaps? Even when we think we are fighting against deception, there is always a possibility that we are creating it. I don’t have too much in the way of critique for this dream. I wonder why characters with crew cuts keep on appearing. I don’t know anybody who does their hair this way. Perhaps I’m looking forward to publishing my novel, and I will make a show of going against the stream, when in fact, rebellion is a part of the stream. Lots to think about.

Oh, I forgot about language. I’m not sure how it happened, it just did:

Styrka, förtroende, uthållighet!
Strength, confidence, endurance!


Tusen takk min bror/søster
Thank you, brother/sister
Varsågod, bror/søster
You’re welcome, brother/sister


Du kan si…
You can say…


Jag är så generad
I am so embarrassed


Ha det godt og skål til deg!
Have a good one, and cheers to you!

Please don’t even ask how this conversation happened. 😉

trance stories: Dis trance

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That’s right, it is the celebration in honour of Dis, amplified to honour all female ancestors in Scandianavia’s strong heritage of leading ladies. Hardly thinking of it, I dressed nicely and met a friend who suggested I change clothes if we are going to spend time with cats at the shelter. That was the plan: spend the day hanging out with cats at the animal shelter, and then close the day with a little feast, after which I would do my usual tree meditation. I work night shift at a residence and can’t drink mead to celebrate occasions such as the assembly of Dis, so instead I pulled out my tea stuff:

27459571_10214575048397171_934366523710587231_n(To be clear, I wasn’t working during Thorrablot and my buddy & I went fullscale on the mead. Neither do I abstain nor do I imbibe excessively; the Havamal is clear on overindulgence.)

Back to my donning of new clothes. I pulled a t-shirt from her chest of drawers, giving little thought to the image of a skeleton in Harley Quinn’s hat and a Ouija board theme. We spent the whole day with all sorts of cats at the shelter. I was even befriended by a tabby named Malibu, who I nicknamed Mal. We were saddened at three pm when the shelter closed and we had to part.

I lounged about my friend’s house and did little but chat with a stranger online about the situation on the Korean peninsula. After feasting, I drove to my spot and communed with the tree that welcomed me. Her name is now Mal.

I set up my tea as usual and buckled in for the long haul. I would be working at this residence for 24 hours and phasing in and out of the early morning fog. The gift was waiting when I awoke, my account of a dream that went like this:

I’m in a house that reminds me of my childhood home. Several people come and go for what seems to be an atypical party. People find places to sleep, but by morning, everyone has left. I knock on the door of the room where my grandparents used to sleep. I ask who is in there, and there is only one person, but I can’t see her face. I offer to make us breakfast and she tells me she still has her makeup on and she’s ready to go, but if I’m making breakfast, she stick around. Her makeup is garish and harlequin. She says she’ll make me crazy. I wake up.

On the shirt I’m still wearing, the one I slept in, the skeletal Harley Quinn beams. The Ouija words read, Crazy Love. This dream links the past with the future, as if the discernment between the two is unimportant. Am I five or thirty-five? Am I loveless, or caught in love’s death-grip? Is my repulsion attractive? What in this life have I signed up to do? There are no wisdoms from this dream. There are only questions. I can’t get that harlequin face out of my mind. It’s both terrifying and enticing. My eyes slowly close now, and I wonder if tonight’s dream will be behind the scenes, or if it will force me to ask questions for which I have no reasonable answers.

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trance stories: gathering materials

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I’ve read ahead in Paxson, and it turns out, we need stuff. What kind of stuff?

For one, a drum. Or a recording of drums. Also, some kind of scent, like an essential oil. Also, something tactile/visual, such as a cloak and a pendant. She hasn’t mentioned the purchase of a knife, which I thought was a given, but there is something to do with having a wand, staff or a finger. Presumably your own finger, still attached to your own hand.

So I went ahead and considered this, and made my way to my spot thinking about writing this post and recounting all of the petty shit that my mind perseverates on instead of writing about the actual ritual, which is, in fact, the important part. I find the same tree I found yesterday, chased out of practically every other park by paladins, which sounds weird when I read it out loud, but that is actually what happened.

Unlike yesterday, no vehicles approached the park. Truly, this tells me nothing about the state of the world or the progress of my nightly tree meditation, but it might tell me that it’s damned cold outside and even paladins are smart enough to stay indoors. I wore gloves this time, though. Yay me. I might survive after all.

After the ward, positioning, grounding, and connecting with the tree, I gave gratitude and some nice popcorn that at least the birds can feed on. I headed to my residence and played my same game of relaxing and losing consciousness. I awoke to find a dream in my notebook:

I sit with a woman “behind the scenes” and we direct the traffic of dreams. Certain dreams need to be stopped from happening. Others are sent to their destinations, no questions asked. We comment on the dreams but nothing else, nothing personal. I can’t really tell what the identity of the woman is, but it seems we are both in aposition of authority and familiarity with the content of everybody’s nighttime visions.

I wonder what we must have seen while we judged peoples’ dreams. Now, what does this have to do with my life?

Well, first off, I comment on the difference in power. In the first “behind the scenes” dream, the man is aggressive and protective: a common trope in masculinity studies. In this one, I take responsibility for an equal level of authority in what seems to be an incredibly powerful game. If anything, claiming to be fellow to Queen Mab is utter heresy in the faerie world. I wonder where this is leading?

Recall Mercutio’s speech:

O, then I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate stone
On the forefinger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Over men’s noses as they lie asleep;
Her wagon spokes made of long spinners’ legs,
The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers;
Her traces, of the smallest spider web;
Her collars, of the moonshine’s wat’ry beams;
Her whip, of cricket’s bone; the lash, of film;
Her wagoner, a small grey-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm
Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid;
Her chariot is an empty hazelnut,
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o’ mind the fairies’ coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love;
O’er courtiers’ knees, that dream on curtsies straight;
O’er lawyers’ fingers, who straight dream on fees;
O’er ladies’ lips, who straight on kisses dream,
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are.
Sometimes she gallops o’er a courtier’s nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;
And sometimes comes she with a tithe-pig’s tail
Tickling a parson’s nose as ‘a lies asleep,
Then dreams he of another benefice.
Sometimes she driveth o’er a soldier’s neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of healths five fathom deep; and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,
And being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two
And sleeps again. This is that very Mab
That plats the manes of horses in the night
And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
Which once untangled much misfortune bodes.
This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
That presses them and learns them first to bear,
Making them women of good carriage.
This is she!
(Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet)

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trance stories: yoga trance

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Here’s the wyrd thing:

Paxson ends her first chapter with the quote from Butler:

You have asked me to train you in High Magic’s Way. Why do you wish to be trained? What is your real motive? Do not make the mistake of thinking that this can be answered without a good deal of careful thought…. There are, of course, quite good motives for the study and practice of magic, quite apart from the question of vocation. It is a worthy motive to search for truth, if the results of that search are going to be used in service. “I desire to know in order to serve,” is the motive which admits to the Mys­teries (Butler, 1962).

Serve whom?

My reason for doing this course in trance was that it felt like the Norn’s needle: It stitched together several squares of disparate fabric that had been floating about in my psyche into a fabulous quilt of fated purpose. I didn’t think I was serving anything or anyone, not even myself, really. I perceived what I thought to be fragmented jostling in place into a single path, and that path was right. It wasn’t a sense of belonging. I still don’t feel like I really belong anywhere or in the presence of anyone. It was just a sense of honesty with myself. This is who I am, and what I do.

So, it’s been weird to be around a lot of people who surround themselves with ethnic symbolism and leave it at that. I feel like such a novice for not wearing an “AUM” t-shirt or having runes on all my facebook profile pics. That’s what’s going on my mind, but in reality, I know what I love, and I’m pursuing it. I don’t need to “look” like I’m pursuing it. Just do what you love, and you’ll create more opportunities to do what you love. Example: I had an amazing two years with a Bhutanese-Nepalese community who were really into the Bhagavad Gita. I love the BG. We’d meet once a week (at least) and do yoga, meditation, satsang (or sanga) and kirtan. The final two are the most visible manifestation: spiritual discourse and performance of stories through music, dance and telling.

The structure of our satsang is something I would like to replicate with Norse mythology. Luckily, I don’t have to replicate anything, there’s already a tradition from Iceland called Kvöldvaka, during which people would tell stories, play music, and dance. I just really enjoyed getting into the drumming and dance with that community, and now that I’ve moved on, I wonder if it’s possible to have this with a culture that’s closer to my own heart. We used tablas:

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From Chandrakantha.com:

Tabla is a pair of drums. It consists of of a small right hand drum called dayan and a larger metal one called bayan. The tabla has an interesting construction. The dayan (right hand drum) is almost always made of wood. The diameter at the membrane may run from just under five inches to over six inches. The bayan (left hand drum) may be made of iron, aluminium, copper, steel, or clay; yet brass with a nickel or chrome plate is the most common material. Undoubtedly the most striking characteristic of the tabla is the large black spot on each of the playing surfaces. These black spots are a mixture of gum, soot, and iron filings. Their function is to create the bell-like timbre that is characteristic of the instrument.

I also took lesson for a year and a half in South Korea to learn how to play the janggu drum:

Then I heard the most powerful drums on Earth:

And I was all like, yes. This is incredible. I’m just worried that I’m too goofy for the gravity of such an occasion. When I see Heilung on stage, I just think: this group is on a mission. The novel I’m trying to publish is about the opposite: a young man who kind of blunders his way through some very serious cultural traditions and wields power that he has no idea how to use properly. Which is totally not an analogy for my life.
Eldir: Are you sure?

Moving right along. I went to yoga last night, and afterwards, I went to Henderson Park to commune with the same tree I’d found the previous night. The snow had fallen and the night was dark and cold. Although I have plenty of pairs of gloves, I foolishly decided not to wear any. The sig-wards looked beautiful in the freshly-fallen snow. The snow barely covered the grass with its white dusting, and when I drew the circles with the staff, the 15. Solreally stood out.

I got some food and returned to my residence. The gentleman I look after needed some attention. I finished with him, ate my supper, and phased right out of existence.
Like, I’m not trying to make this sound any cooler than it was, but once I made the decision to do my relaxation, things got blurry like some kind of drug trip. I’m not sure really what went on. I was using a video I had recomrded some time ago for the guided relaxation. After that, time passed outside of time. I woke up to see I had written down one of my many dreams:

A rough man “behind the scenes” surrounded by white, had a conversation with a woman about her sliced knee. She feels protected b him. He seems indifferent to her. He has dark stubble and a crew cut. He holds a Kalashnikov rifle. They talk without knowledge or awareness of my presence, as though I’m witnessing it but have no ability to participate.
This isn’t a dream. It’s a fragmented memory. I remember that when I was a young barista in Victoria, Canada, a woman came in off the street, her knee bleeding down her leg. I immediately rushed to clean up her cut and discovered that it was only a small slice. I bandages it and she looked me in the eyes as if she felt something deeply. I smiled, got up, and never saw her again.

With the other part of the dream, it was a more recent memory. I had flown into Calcutta with a traveling companion. A stranger came to our aid and brought us to the train station. Before that, however, he brought us to his Uncle’s work compound. By necessity, the compound was guarded by men with Kalashnikovs. That was the first time I had seen weapons used in that capacity. I couldn’t help but to think that we might be in some sort of danger. I only pretended to eat the food they offered and I didn’t sleep, though my companion chose to bathe and nap. I made sure she got safely to our destination, and after our yoga retreat, we went to a holy city where I nearly climbed a building and beat up a monkey to get her glasses returned.

Man, I got stories in me.

Anyway, what I can’t account for in the vision was the crew cut, and the whole “behind the scenes” thing. I vaguely remember it. I was watching it as though it was a movie, but the people were most definitely real.

That’s okay. I don’t have to understand everything.

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