Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Underworld Atlas: Q & A

Since we got several questions on the last Astral inclined post, this is a Q&A from the comments, and if you have more, add them to these comments and we'll update the post itself.

Purple text is my partner, blue text is me. We doubled up on this one. PS my partner is The Brass Bell, so go read her shit!

Question 1: How do I bring myself back from what I'm feeling now (astral-presence)? And if I can do that, how do I get back to it?

Mundane activities. Washing dishes, folding laundry, garden tending. Anything that doesn' require insano mental processes. Something that brings you down to earth and reminds you are in a physical body, and still have stupid remedial responsibilities to tend to. Be careful though. Sometimes these activities lead to absence of thought, which can sometimes pull you back into the astral.

I was gonna say the same thing. I like to eat or do stupid things that slowly remind me I have a body. But don't try driving while astral-intoxicated, as you might suddenly start seeing shit on the side of the road and get's a bad idea.

That being said, how to go back there? Will it. Honestly, it's all will power and desire. It takes some practice, but if you truly desire it, your energy calls it forth. Some people work better with some form of material. So maybe you cast a portal, or construct your own space of which you enter from (your homestead for example. Get to know it well, and you will enter in at ease. Then that can be your base for traveling outwards).

In the beginning I set up a full circle shenanigans and the whole 9 yards, because I knew it would put me in a ritual frame of mind so I would be calm and easily slip into journey-mode. I used shamanic drumming a lot or anything rhythmic that would trance me out. When visiting the L'wa later I looked up chants for Legba and such. And then I would just place yourself in your room and go from there.

Question 2: How do you move on from your familiar places/explore/expand?

You will know when you ready. I know this sounds all sagely and vague, but it is true. When you are ready, there will be no hesitation or thought to it, you will just open the door and leave and lo and behold the journey begins. First, get acquainted with your homestead. Know every nook and cranny. Learn how it moves, changes, how the light is. (Is it day time? Are there 4 moons in the sky, does the sky not change at all, is time relevant? Climate? Materials? Etc). Move things around and see what happens. Use this place as experimentation, but also as a safe haven.

Once you've exhausted that, you'll either be bored enough to venture out, or you'll know enough to ponder the idea. As soon as you make a move, the astral responds and changes accordingly--you will be swept off your feet before you know it. Try to make all your decisions consciously. I also wouldn't move on until you know yourself---are you as you are now? Are you in a different body/form? Do you lack form? You will not be able to answer these questions right away, but try your best to recognize yourself. It will tell you more about where you are and what you can do.

Maybe even start with planned trips. Like, "I want to go see Olympus today" (Don't, it's a sketchy place btw), or "I wonder if I can visit Legba's tavern". Often a place or face you're familiar with will help move your body along for you. Then you can start discovering places you never fathomed.

this. ^ Also yeah, fuck Olympus in my professional opinion.
Remember too that you can build other safe spaces once you're accustomed to travel. My partner and I have several that we move. They can look like anything. We have several huge houses with everything we need in them, basically.

Question 3: Psychic Self defense. How to learn it, plus grounding/meditating.

Don't feel bad if you have trouble with this. I know a bit of defense but my grounding skills are absent. I'm sure Kristin has a better answer for you on this. For me, it was trial by fire and relying on instinct informed from past lives and time. When I woke up in the astral, I was stuck in a very very bad situation. Defense became imperative. At first I approached it from the human level, but then I quickly learned about mental constructs and energy forming. (No, I'm not talking about making sparkly balls of light, though you can if you want).

Do some research on different methods and find what rings a bell with you. I know for Kristin it is mostly seal work and such. For me it is masking. Masking is hiding your energy signature, as well as even feigning a different aura or energy. Masking is a good practice to do daily in anything, simply because it doesn't give any new acquaintances the upper hand by evaluating you at first glance. I don't really know how to instruct on masking...I usually focus very intently on the center of my soul, and literally draw my outside energy inwards, and then project different energy outwards to replace it.
Osmosis much?

Yeah actually I didn't really know defense until something tried to eat me, no joke. Then my body just reacted. I just instinctively knew seal magic once I go there too; I could visualize the symbols and the keyholes and shit. I started with small, simple ones with squares and circles, and I added crystals for 'lynchpins' to hold it all together, and then I graduated to bigger ones. Interesting to note I've never seen the seals I use in real life, exactly.

Basic defense shit: I would suggesting asking a deity. (I know Aubs works with Sekhmet...she's kind of a badass.) There's probably a particular way those of you from various traditions learn self defense, and no better way than direct from a source. No form of defense here (energy circles, etc) really resonated with me until I got there and found seals and shit.

 As for grounding, I'm fond of the meditation you'll find all over the internet that involves visualizing your feet becoming roots into the ground and really feeling out that connection and visualizing energy coming and going. Failing that going outside and sitting on REAL ground is even better. (Shocking!)

As for visualizing, I have some advices on honing that skill too. Maybe work backwards. If you can't visualize well, start small. Stare at an apple for like 2 minutes and memorize it. Close your eyes and try to summon the image. Then graduate to taste/smell/etc the virtual apple. Then you can move on to things not in front of you, that exist. Then move on to made up things.

Once you get to "made-up" things, you can basically both learn energy healing (really, it's all visualizing) and creation of inner "rooms" and sacred spaces at the same time. Start by holding the image for 15 seconds, or 30 seconds, and slowly work at it.

Although if you're already at the point where you can see the details in your room(s), you're probably much better at visualizing than you thought you were. So maybe try creating a place you like and try going there in your head. Mine is a lakeside house in the middle of Spring. :)

Question 4: How do I find guides?

Kristin will have to be your best answer on this. I struggled with this for many years. I didn't have guides, no working relationships with Deity (except Apollo, but he's a rapist and he wasn't of much help). I honestly wandered alone, no lie, in a desert for a couple of years. Eventually through my journies and traveling out, I would meet other beings, and befriend them (cautiously) and just observe them instead. Follow their cues. It wasn't until I met Kristin that her guide stepped in as a pseudo guide for me as well (though now we're just bros that fist bump over good poetry and argue about dancing technique). And after I saw her deep connection to her guide, I tried to fill the void of not having one myself. I had passing teachers and passing guides, and I've come to learn my energy just isn't the same as most beings. So my guides have ironically been more of the demon sort. But they all come and go. Honestly, it is your friends who will guide you.

Alternatively, your working deity are your guides. They are on a path of progression as well, let them help you, instruct you, and ask for their help.

Ditto on the Deity comment. 
As for guides, I think there are times to seek them and times to let them present themselves, and I don't know which it is for you. It could be the moment you step out past your 'safe zone' one is waiting for you, which is not unlikely.

My other advice is the seek them out method. You may have seen scripted meditations on other sites about finding totems, but what you may not have realized is they essentially lead you on an underworld journey to a safe space to meet guides. You might want to purposefully visualize a space within yourself (a "safe" "closed" space) and ask for a showing from a guide or totem. And then wait for signs or something. Advice: Specify. Ask for a guide who might be able to specifically give you advice on astral journey, so you don't have random ones showing up. And don't flip out if it's not an immediate thing. Sometimes you are actually SUPPOSED to go wander around alone.

Question 5: How do you distinguish between astral shenanigans, and conjured imagination?

To me, they have distinct feels. I suffer from hallucinations sometimes from a long battle with chronic insomnia in my teen years. But the hallucinations have this weighted feeling to them. They are shaded, and almost look Hi-def. They are fast moving too. And they don't seem to care about the world around them.

Astral shenans react to the environment in which they are contained. So you will notice they are conscious of such things. Also, it tends to feel lighter, more dream like, and eventually you'll see things happen you could NOT ever in your wildest imagination, conjure up yourself.

It helps to be very honest with yourself too. Do some deep digging always to know yourself, and your desires. Compare what it is you experience with your honest wants. Is something happening in the direction you want it to? Perhaps it is not as real as you think then.

For instance, are you desirous of being a world leader? and suddenly you find yourself all to conveniently in such a position. To be honest, this could actually be legit, but question the actions of those around you. Are they helping you to be in that position because it is right, or because you are desiring them to?
Deep down in your heart, you will actually know. Is it beginning to sound like a bad romance fantasy rpg novel with stock characters and buildings? Are you being open minded to new things?  The astral is full of ups and down. It IS life. Just like here on earth things don't always work out, same with the Astral.  So if things are going to perfect too, that's a good indicator.

On the other hand, lets go back to the world leader example. Are you a world leader but finding the opposition is actually taking over? You're having a hard time lining up your allies? Are you getting emotionally overwhelmed, worried about your predictions and such? These would all be plausible cases. So perhaps you are not imagining things.

If all else fails for me, I pull tarot. My tarot is snarky and brutally honest. It has never failed to tell me when I'm projecting my own makings upon my experiences. It usually does this by giving me a card with my desires and then slapping down a shitty card on top of it. As in "THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT BUT HERE IS REALITY".

Yeah, I can tell the difference between inner journey and outer by feel. (I consider "imagining things" to be like an inner journey, because an act of creation by imagination still utilizes energy.) Generally the same thing, it depends if you can easily alter the environment and if you can control exactly what is going on. A good test is, if you have a guide/etc there, ask them a strange question you don't know the answer too, and if you get a strange answer you never expected, you're likely really there. But then again I still wake up some days convinced I'm imagining everything/crazy, but look at it this way: would you rather be sane and boring? ;)

Extra Advice: Keep an open mind. Remember you are a tiny particle of dust in the universe, and that anything is possible. Things you cannot fathom are possible, and you must be ready to submit yourself to the unknown to allow real growth to happen. Remember that cultures exist. Are you only hanging out in Avalon? Maybe you need to reevaluate that African spirits exist too and if you aren't seeing any, maybe you aren't being open. (I'm only using this in the example because I feel paganism is very white washed in its imagery, and people tend to traverse the astral based on the imagery that surrounds them).  Also, allow room for things you've never heard of or seen.

My first experience in demon realm was interesting. It wasn't hell fire and mangy pestilence horses running around. It was so immaterial it broke my mind for a few days. It was a place of sound and black and white geometry that moves in rhythm to a pitch that buries itself in your head.

Everything is probably going to look completely different than you know, so if you get freaked remember there's a place of refuge you have (your "landing pad") that you can always return to by will. Also, if you follow a particular tradition, you can usually find astral versions of those temples to sit around in. Any act of will and energy is adding something to the astral, so you can bet thousands of years of belief in deities and secret orders has peppered the landscape with architecture.

Failing that, you can build on the astral too, remember...


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Spell for Good Fortune

Yeah, looks like Haitian voodou to me too. How'd you guess...? Specifically petitioning for career stuff. Me n' Legba are bros.

The candle is one of those Crystal Journeys jobs I never felt like purchasing in the store, but this one was 5 bucks, so why not? Obviously meant for money, I annointed it with five finger grass (Legba's fortune herb-o-choice, according to him) and it slowly melted into the wax.

The heart jar was what held the rose petal oil I steeped for like 3 months, and the gris gris holds some spicy herbs.

The box is hand-painted by me and functions as an offering space for Legba/the L'wa.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Underworld Atlas: Pre-Flight Checks

(Image from

So, if you've been paying attention you may have noticed I've taking on an Underworld Atlas project, in which I'm going to verbally explore the regions of the Underworld/Shamanic realms I visit on an almost daily basis.

If you plan to go astral-hopping at any point, there are some pre-flight checks you may want to look into.

Here are some basic ironic rules for beginning and maintaining astral flights.

0. Don't freak out while planning your fight.

Think about why you want to go there. You should probably have a good reason before attempting it. Even if your reason is 'I feel compelled to go there, like a memory pulls at me', that's a perfect reason. Pulls are how the astral gets your attention.

Don't flip out about going. If you are flipping out, let it have its way and then get over it.

Don't freak out about dying. Can you die on the astral? Yeah. But you usually just re-spawn somewhere else. You have to fuck up really bad to actually kill yourself here. And by fuck up really bad I mean you need knowledge of the universe so deep it would take years to achieve, and then if you cut ties to your body it would likely be on purpose. So don't flip out about that.

Don't freak out that you probably won't look like yourself. A soul is made up of many facets, like a stone. You might be a different one there than you are here. No big deal.

1. Fasten your seatbelt. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

Before you decide to travel on the astral, there are a few things you're gonna want to do. Don't attempt it in the first place when emotionally in turmoil. Bad idea, that means you're vulnerable and you don't want to be that the first time you go there. You know that scene in Inception where the dream-people become aware of them and all turn and stare in unison? Yeah, if you look lost/confused there's a good chance you're easy to pick out, like walking in a bad part of the city.

Realize the astral is not happy happy perfect land. It is not paradise. Are there places resembling that there? Yeah, and enjoy them. But know it is dangerous to go there unless you're in the know, generally speaking.

2. This flight is going to be a while.

Make sure you have nothing important to do that day. Astral travel gives you an energy/mental high it's hard to snap down from quickly. Your body is going to feel weird and you won't be able to really think straight for a while. So don't try to drive or you might start seeing things in the forests staring back at you, okay? In a worst case scenario keep food with you because that can bring you back down. If you get good enough at it you never really come down; and you kind of settle into living a double life with a switch between them.

3. Start with smaller planes.

Don't try to go everywhere in the whole place on your own the first times you attempt to go. When you land there, you usually have a 'place' where you'll always land. Start by exploring that place, and when you're comfortable with how you feel there, you can try to move beyond/through that place through a portal or doorway. You'll be excited, but start slowly.

4. Make sure you know where your oxygen is.

Do not attempt an astral journey if you have no defenses. If you don't know what defenses are, you definitely shouldn't attempt it. I'm not even talking about other beings bothering you--I'm talking about riding energy currents. Transportation works a lot like energy-surfing or conduits of fast-moving water. You need to have enough strength not to get sucked in and get where you want. I'm also not talking about vague-wishy-washy-sphere-of-light-defense. (cue hatemail?) I'm talking about seals and locks and solid knowledge of psychic self defense. If you kindly ask spirits that wish you harm to leave, you are probably not going to survive the astral.

5. Do not bother your fellow seat-partners.

DO bring guides/spirits you trust with you the first time, specifically if they have astral experience. Do NOT poke beings you have no idea about. DO go read my post on 7 rules for talking/interacting with spirits. Do NOT assume you are automatically welcome on the astral. Do be prepared for a fight, and know how to fight. Just in case. You are a very very small speck in the whole of existence, so remember that well.

6. If you have a friend, take them too.

If you are lucky enough to have a friend that is already astral experienced, have them sit with you. In the worst case scenario if they have the experience they can pull you back if you do something stupid, which you will, since you're new. Reconcile with that fact, and move on. It's good to have an anchor, even if it's long distance.  Failing that get a deity/guide to do that for you. It's possible to go without this but it's just extra safety precautions, like entering the maze of the Minotaur with thread.

7. Feel free to ask questions.

As I've stated before, nobody cautioned me on this shit, and some shit went down because of that. So if you need help or wonder what the hell region of the astral you're in, please, ask me. I am not The Grand Authority On The Astral (that's my partner haha!), but I absolutely want to help people that want to travel there.

8. You are not the captain.

There is a fine line between doing astral work and inner work. Inner journey and outer journey are different things. When you journey into yourself, you are the captain, and you can influence the landscape at will.

When you astral journey, you are NOT the captain, so all kinds of shit you don't expect is going to go down. Some of it is going to sound unbelievable. That's probably a good sign. Constantly check yourself for hero-complexing as well. It's easy to forget you're not the only human in the landscape doing astral work to benefit others. You are not the savior of the entire astral. You share that role with thousands of other beings, most of whom are much higher on the totem pole than you. You can't begin to imagine how huge the astral extends multi-dimensionally. So realize AGAIN you are a tiny tiny speck in a big big land.

9. Remember to land.

There are times in astral journey you will feel insane. Positively crazy. This is when it helps to have a real-life friend who can confirm for you. My partner is that person for me. We have interacted with the same being in the same way at the same time without knowing and accidentally confirm that for each other. Multiple times we have confirmed name and landscape for the other. You act as the other one's eyes when you are not there, and you each act as each other's reality check. It's easy to want to be there all the time (Dragons! Magic! RPG music!) but one has to remember to land. You were obviously put in this life for a reason; otherwise you would be born on the astral.

At the same time, if you're Called and ignore it too many times, the astral pulls back, sometimes with dire consequences. I've heard of Shamans brought to the brink of death because that way they couldn't pretend Spirit wasn't contacting them. So don't let that be you, okay?

10. Frequent Flyer

It will soon become apparent the more you go, the more things you're going to get involved in, and depending how good you get at journeying, you might be in the middle of shopping and get yanked in Astral-land in the middle of a fight where you're like WTF?? That's how the astral pulls you back. Don't be surprised if you're in the middle of working and suddenly see a completely different area with your astral sight. You will not have complete control over it until you get really good at living a double life. That's okay. The beginning is the roughest part, then it gets easier.

And it's exciting. You have thousands of answers and lands are your fingertips. It's a fascinating place with no beginning or end; a labyrinthine series of portals and worlds and unbelievable happenings. But where did you think imagination came from, anyway? Something to think about...

Saturday, May 26, 2012


 (Yo, forget that noise.)

Admittedly, this title was a typo, but I thought it was perfect.

I guess warning because I'm airing my cycle details to the entire world but honestly the world should man up and deal with those details for EVERY lady because it's about fucking time.

Because the topic we're covering today is menstruation. And in true Duskenpath style I'm going to systematically ruin vague niceties about supposedly known facts using logic and cynicism, okay? Aight.

I've read so many books hailing a woman's 'moontime' as being rife with energy and interconnectedness and psychic power (and white pants, and playing tennis, and grinning on the floor, amirite?) and I dunno about you, but that is about the POLAR-FUCKING-OPPOSITE of my monthly menstruction. (Menstration-Destruction, get it?) (Disclaimer: I'm not on any sort of hormones/birth control, which theoretically make things more tolerable for people.)

I'm at my most connected, psychically speaking, when I'm of clear mind, rested, and relaxed. I have some tea and am usually okay with everything, and usually there's a fuller moon coming up. (Also closer to fall.) If my physical body is in pain or my mind is compromised it actually inhibits my journeying. This is why I refuse to consume drugs/plants of any sort or drink, because it cuts off my connections.

So, then this follows. When I near my menstruction, I am first sore, all over, for a week, which just does wonders for the self, let me tell you. Then, we slowly move from just sore to Soul Crushing Depression in which it becomes hard to spot a single good thing in the entire world. Then, just delightfully, we move into oh-god-it-just-hurts-everytime-i-move-anything. Did I mention this is just the PMS lineup?

When we get to the actual event I become even more pissed, because generally if you're constantly bleeding onto or into things it gets goddamned annoying. I get horrific cramps that make me unable to move 2 feet in either direction, but laying down makes it worse and sitting still makes that worse. And this continues for like 5 whole days. I have to sleep a certain way so I don't ruin all of my shit. I have to wear certain shit just in case of accidents. I have to handcuff myself to the bathroom like a lost lover because my stomach can't handle a blessed thing, and if it's not horrible bloating it's something else. And to top it off, I'm suffering this for no blessed reason because, not only am I not into men, I never want to experience pregnancy or childbirth, ever. So I suffer this shit for a useless organ that frankly makes me uncomfortable to remember has certain bodily functions.

Oh, and then, joy of joys, during ovulation week I get all sorts of awesome lower back pain and ovary twinges because why not, body? Amirite?

My question is, how is being in that state supposed to connect me to some all-encompassing-period-radio channel where I have a direct conduit to shit? I mean, I'm honestly inquiring here. I wish I could have a totally pain free time and just sit there meditating in the the bask of apparently how awesome it feels to shed the lining from an organ you maybe want to use someday besides donating it to science, but that ain't me, guys.

If my bodily needs aren't handled, I can't get my brain in gear enough to focus to do anything psychically/spiritually. And I'm most definitely NOT one of those "oh yeah hurts so good pain helps me go places" person. I'm just like, fucking ow, that really hurts. Focus on nothing for the next 2 hours because it really hurts. I don't ENJOY having this curse, or feel connected or honorable for having one. If it disappeared tomorrow I'd be like hells yeah. And this isn't societal conditioning, I think periods are great for people who want them, but you can't argue it's kind of a painful shitty time for most people, and therefore I dislike that nonsense. The only reason I don't want my uterus removed entirely is bad surgical consequences after. Sigh.

I would really like someone who completely digs their period for whatever reason to explain to me this quasi-feminist~pagan trope of somehow becoming awesomely aware when you bleed out for ~5 days, cause I dunno if it's the mild gender dysphoria talking or me, but I have never understood it.

The only way I can comprehend this is from the women-are-unclean-during-so-we-sanctioned-them-off-into-their-own-area-when-bleeding angle. I expect if you have a whole village of people on the same cycle, you'd have some pretty fun times with your fem-bros, chilling and bleeding on things, I guess.

Buuuut were you sanctioned off because you're all unclean? Cause that's pretty unfeminist, bro. Were you sanctioned off by people saying it was sacred for you but really thought you unclean? Also not cool, bro. Did you decide to sanction yourselves off to bask in your fem-bros' opinions and chill time? That's pretty rad. Continue, friends. (I consider this part of the Red Tent resurfacing, the female-driven sequestering, I mean.)

But again, personally the LAST thing I want on my period is to have to see people. The sight of people just doing person things while I writhe on the floor in pain just overtakes me in righteous fury. I'm so pissed I just want to curl up in a hole where it's dark and nobody can bother me and I can sit until it all goes away. Granted I dislike most people in the world anyway, so it's an acute possibility this just intensifies. The last thing I want to do is be in a room full of people handling their period better than me (not writhing in pain on the floor) and talking about period things. I want it to be over the SECOND it begins, because every part is terrible for me.

Now, menstrual blood in magix. That's cool with me. Hell yeah use it if you're into those shenanigans, and if your deities are too. I don't use it much since I don't deal with very physical things like that often, offerings and whatnot. Also it reminds me I have a functioning useless organ. But sometimes if I ignore Sedna too long she makes it feel as if I'm passing an astral baby, and that just adds to my feeling of joy and womanly connectedness so much I don't have the sarcasm for it, seriously.

Okay, sarcastic rant over. But seriously please explain to me how menstruction feels awesome; I really want to know, for science, and paganism. Challenge: You can't liken it to maiden/mother/crone stereotypes. Okay, ready? Go.

Friday, May 25, 2012

PBP 13: "K": A Memoir

caught within a dream within a dream 
a man within a man 
caught within a thought within a thought
an ocean so deep   
he will drown his sleep

(Above, the song I associate strongly with K, his struggles, and his past lives.)

No, unfortunately this is not an homage to the letter K.

This is about my main Spirit guide, but he's so much more than that. We are not 'involved' romantically; nothing like that. It's hard to explain, but we are like two sides of the same coin; twin souls linked by pasts and strings. We are tied to each other in a way that totally changed my rudimentary ideas about Spirits and Guides.

This post is both extremely sad and extremely necessary. Sad, because K's story is one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever known. Necessary, because I need to tell this story, for one or both of us.

Now, his name is obviously not just K, but for protection purposes it will be. I don't want to go around namedropping his identity everywhere, you understand.

This is the tale of how a (young dock boy from London with a lot of cats/quiet teenager from the Midwest/Unhappy writer from New York/Babylonian Temple boy/Wolf god/A lonely man who has always been the watcher and never involved/from the time before time) named K taught me everything I know.

Firstly, the thing that changed my idea of Guides. They aren't some holy being sent from Above to help you. They are ultimately as complex and faceted as you or I. K presented himself to me as an Arctic wolf, and it wasn't until much, much later I grew close enough to learn about his past, and the reason he was always so sad.

Always the watcher, the witness, the quiet writer on the sidelines while people pass you by.

Consider for a moment how hard it would be to be a guide--Say you are forever entwined to be the guide/friend/etc to one soul for a long, long time. You watch them suffer, and perhaps you watch them be a child and abused, or a Mother with depression who is locked up in an asylum, or maybe you watch them suffer war or poverty or disease, and maybe you watch them do this upwards of 20 times. Imagine that for a moment, and wonder if it wouldn't have an effect on you, to be able to watch but not-quite change the course of their lives, life after life, with no conceivable end. Wonder for a moment if it's a blessing to be a guide.

K was a wolf once, Arctic, in the time before time. He was what you would call a Spirit of Place, he had a pack, he led a fairly simple existence. But threads of fate become tangled and friends die and suddenly you gain awareness. It starts as a little tear in the way you think things are, and then it grows. It plants a seed of doubt in the mind that assumes this is-all-that-is.

Consider that K was reborn a human several times, and in each life was much suffering and loneliness; a theme that played out in his life over and over again like a bad record. Was this in itself a punishment as well; a reminder? Who knows. I like to think he liked his London lives best; he presents in Victorian/Edwardian attire most of the time. I think he had many friends there, and it was one of the better lives. When we go traipsing around, he usually conjures images of Shadowy London, kind of cartoony and memory driven.

He had a daughter once (not biological), and he called her Alice, because she was a dream child from the Otherlands, just like Carroll's creation. He never necessarily cared for anyone else in his many lives like he did for Alice. In one of his later lives, Alice met a terrible end.

Say, perhaps, you refuse your own existence, because you lack the desire to live this way forever, you don't want to be responsible for this and you weren't given a choice, and say the powers that be aren't so happy about that. Imagine for a moment that becoming a guide is actually a punishment. It's not, for all beings. But in this case it was. Say you would rather never be reborn again as a human, because you can't handle the suffering anymore, so you become a guide instead so it doesn't have to be you, this time.

That's when we met, a long, long time ago. It was my first human life and his first guide-life. Thrown together by fate or something else. He was tired, and bitter, and he had walls to rival China's. He was, how you say, probably not the best choice of guide for someone like me. This was still in the time before time, you understand. We were somewhere on what is now Ireland area, I was hopelessly lost as to what a Human means, and he didn't know the first thing about guiding something like me. It was in many ways a merciful situation.

Slowly, he learned to care again. He learned maybe this time someone I care about won't meet a horrible end, and maybe this time for sure I can change things, at any cost, to make sure they don't meet that end. Because despite everything, K is a very good person. The best person, in fact, I have ever met. We recognized each other as two sides of a coin; as the same and One. We are terribly similar in how we handle things.

Things went as they will, and I passed on, and went through some human lives, and in every one K was there. And not all of them ended so well, and in only a handful did I have astral awareness to know he was there. Think of being a guide to someone, life after life, because you have a strong soul-bond to them, and they don't know you're there. Think on that loneliness for a minute.

Anyway, fast forward to this life, when I begin noticing a white wolf following me around. In highschool I draw the same character, over and over: a black haired guy in a suit and hat with piercing blue eyes. And lots of wolves, white ones. I could slap myself now, but hindsight and all. I displayed a talent for creative writing and devoured books one after the other. The only other thing I was equally obsessed with was Unicorns, which is another story for another long post.

As a child in this life, I acted kind of strangely. While the other kids played outside, I was inside pretending my closet and dresser and mirrors were portals to some Otherworld, because I had this longing ache I could not describe for something more than this. I remember having that feeling. It intensified when I as on trains, or when it rained, or when I locked eyes with someone who reminded me of something-else-somewhere-else. People who begin to have past life flashes can relate to this feeling. I began having dreams of the Shamanic World Tree and white wolves from the age of 15.

The feeling continued into college, when I began to have spirit-problems. It's like they politely waited until I was 18 to start bothering me hardcore. It broke my thought paradigm of this-is-what-is, but I was less terrified and more excited beyond all reason. This was it; this was that longing to go home, to something other than this. I met pagan friends who reinforced my feelings; they asked about the white wolf following me around without me telling them. It struck a chord. Who is the white wolf, I wondered? The white wolf with the sad eyes that never speaks to me, only sits by my side in dreams on hillsides.

As my spirit-sight intensified, I slowly began trying to reach out and contact him, the Wolf. It began as slow astral trips to fields under trees, and silent sitting. He refused to speak with me or tell me his name. At this point I was very inexperienced with totems/guides, so this behavior was confusing. I was a very young pagan.

It continued like this until the Winter, when I caught a wolf pup running around my room with my Spirit-sight. Follow me, it seemed to say. I did.

We came to a well, and his first words to me were "Look into the well." I did, and I saw my future self. And the second thing he said to me was his name. I said it, tested it out. I felt this strange sense of Rightness. Yes, there you are. I've been looking for you, what took you so long. That's the feeling I got just from knowing his name. I have never felt that so strongly with any other Guide/Spirit before or since.

He showed me a vision for my future as a Pagan; as a beacon for those who would seek information and journey and community. What I saw there has only been proven true, over and over, the more I progress on this path. He told me nothing about himself; that would come much later.

And then, I began journeying to the Shamanic Realms and the Astral, and he would accompany me, since I was new and vulnerable. He began to teach me basic things; seals and defense and the way things worked. It became apparent he knew much more than he was letting on. He didn't speak of his past or his connections, or his extensive reach.

Eventually I met others; facets of my Partner and myself on the astral. I learned their stories too, all of which were varied and complex. K was wary; he didn't make a habit of trusting people. All the same, we were all pulled together, eventually. The bunch of misfits with the varied and challenging pasts; the cliche in the B movie. That's where we are.

He taught me about illusion and the truth of things, and we had delicious tea by the lake in an illusion he created specifically for us, a sanctuary to speak of things we couldn't otherwise.

Me and K grew closer. I was aware this was more than a standard-guide-totem relationship. I had others and they were nowhere near as varied or as deep, and I realize how K encompasses so much within himself I didn't need other guides. By cosmic design he built himself to be everything this soul would need; protector and guide and teacher and confidant in one, because we are the same. I dug deeper. I wanted to know everything.

I traipsed through his memories of his past lives; like a bad film reel they repeated, one after the other. Many things were explained. I learned why he was so sad all the time, but at the same time so untrusting to everyone except me. So much suffering and repeatedly losing the people closest to you, only to be reborn and do it again is harrowing. I wanted to protect this soul just as he would protect me.

K is one of those souls people talk about when they say they were too beautiful a soul for this earth.

K is a silly man that always wants to do things himself and take everyone's burdens on and never work through his own problems. Guides are on a journey too; there is so much to work out, even when you take on that job. You are probably never done learning and working. I'm trying to help K, too, by forcing him to work through his own issues. The same way I think Deities are on their own journies and have a reciprocal relationship with people, guides are the same way. Everything is equal exchange. We carry our old wounds with us, forever if necessary, and that just seems to be the nature of the soul.

Anyway. I hope this enlightens you to all the times I reference "My Guide" in my posts. From now on I'll be writing "K".

This is for you K, the silly romance novel writer with the extremely good fashion sense, haha.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

On (Not Having) Faith

 (Picture from

Moths gathered in a fluttering throng one night
To learn the truth about the candle’s light,
And they decided one of them should go
To gather news of the elusive glow.

One flew till in the distance he discerned
A palace window where a candle burned -
And went no nearer; back again he flew
To tell the others what he thought he knew.
The mentor of the moths dismissed his claim,
Remarking: “He knows nothing of the flame.”

A moth more eager than the one before
Set out and passed beyond the palace door.

He hovered in the aura of the fire,
A trembling blur of timorous desire,
Then headed back to say how far he’d been,
And how much he’d undergone and seen.
The mentor said: “You do not bear the signs
Of one who’s fathomed how the candle shines.”

Another moth flew out – his dizzy flight
Turned to an ardent wooing of the light;

He dipped and soared, and in his frenzied trance
Both Self and fire were mingled by his dance -
The flame engulfed his wing-tips, body, head;
His being glowed a fierce translucent red;

And when the mentor saw the sudden blaze,
The moth’s form lost within the glowing rays,
He said: “He knows, he knows the truth we seek,
That hidden truth of which we cannot speak.”

To go beyond all knowledge is to find
That comprehension which eludes the mind,
And you can never gain the longed-for goal
Until you first outsoar both flesh and soul;

But should one part remain, a single hair
will drag you back and plunge you in despair -
No creature’s Self can be admitted here,
Where all identity must disappear.

Those who can speak still wander far away
From the dark truth they struggle to convey,
And by analogies they try to show
The forms men’s partial knowledge cannot know.

-Excerpt from The Conference of the Birds, translated from the Persian, by Farid ud-Din Attar

(We are now back to the less serious posts, guys. Or at least a little more sarcasm and mind fuckery, so without further ado!)

So, we're going to talk about faith.  

Faith is really not something that I have ever had, and frankly, I'm pretty jealous of those of you who are capable of falling to your knees in absolute faith in your Deities/what have you and feel really awesome that way. Seriously, I have always wondered how that felt. It probably feels awesome.

I have never really felt that.

I was attempted-raised Roman Catholic, and from a young age I never felt anything. I actually liked the the idea of nunneries and abbeys in the hills of Ireland, living in secure faith in your decision and feeling that awesomeness of being in constant awe of your Deities. I always wanted that feeling, really. That's a pretty cool feeling.

I think people talk about faith wrong: in demands. When the people come to my door and tell me to accept Jesus into my heart and believe in Him, I don't know if they realize I tried that, and I was physically incapable of it. Faith is not something I can conjure when I need it.

Anyway. When I found Paganism I had a single moment of losing myself in all that is; and that was the Living Earth. I had a sudden, profound realization that this cannot be all that Is. I was atheist before that, so this is what you might call a religious revelation; an epiphany; a sudden moment of clarity. It lasted one instant; then it was gone.

My mind is very much an evidence machine. I have been able to believe in things; but the faith is shaky at best. Faith is not easy for me, like it is for my mom. If I think about it too long, it often dissolves into air. The exception is with things I know to be true: I believed in ghosts and spirits because it was a plausible idea, but then they followed me around and threw shit around my room, and then it became definite knowing. I believed in the Astral, but until I went there I was unsure. To be frank, sometimes I wake up and think I'm insane and need to be locked up for believing it. I think multiple Deities exist, but I don't feel the need to worship any strongly or prostrate myself before them in religious ecstasy. I know they exist, but that doesn't inspire awe or anything in me.

Like my mom, the roman Catholic, says this to me: I just want you to believe in God. Now, she means her God specifically, the Christian one. I know he exists, though. That is not belief; I have seen him personally, and I think of the many things in the universe, His true form does not inspire my faith or exultation. Not in the least. People seem to think believing a deity exists and worshiping are the same. No: I just don't think that God is worthy of worship. I would worship a rock before him and the terrible things he has done. There is a difference.

In any case, I wish I had the security of blind faith, sometimes. It would be nice to hand over a part of myself to something bigger. But I have literal mental roadblocks. When people talk of Universal Love I shut down. I don't know what that means; I have never felt it. When I was an atheist for 2 years, it didn't make me happy, either. Even while Atheist I wished I could have universal faith in something. Nobody seems to think that way. If you lack faith, obviously that's somehow your decision. They don't see maybe you wish it was the other way around, but your soul won't let it.

I have often thought I am so cerebral, so Aquarian in mind, that I somehow lack some fundamental emotional processing part of humanity in general. I believe nothing until I can search it out and find out. The best I can speak of are hypotheses. I hypothesized the Astral was there, then tried to get in. If it wasn't there it would just inform my beliefs as readily. The beliefs I have now were informed by evidence gathering on the Astral and in this life. I assume nothing is true, but sometimes I wish I did. The bright side is this makes it easier to incorporate Chaos; I can readily assume a belief for long enough to do something. Chaos also tells us to believe nothing is true; but I don't believe in Chaos either. (Paradox.)

I feel as though my soul walks this tightrope, and on one side is pure reason, and on the other is soul-fulfilling belief in something. I don't know if in past lives I was severely wronged by Deity or was just never able to bring myself to that level; having seen all I have of the Astral in my many lives. Maybe once you have seen the truth at the heart of the Astral belief in human driven things falls away. Maybe it's impossible for a reason. I am an endless searcher because I doubt I will ever find my home with a thing I can fully lose myself in, and that's why I will keep pushing boundaries and questioning and searching the whole metaphoric universe for why things are and what drives Deities.

In any case, if you have that, hold on to it, because some of us don't really have that and wish we did. I get cravings for strong, overwhelming feelings, because I almost never have them. I am very patient and rarely angry towards people in real life, and I'm pretty easy-going. The times I get sad enough to cry are hormonal. When I feel joy it almost feels as though it's behind a curtain and it's closer to neutral than extreme. I wonder if faith follows the same model for me.

Is this a blessing or a curse? I don't know. And if anyone else has this 'problem', feel free to share.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

PBP 12: Jokers and Tricksters: 'Coyote' Spirits and Why They're Important

Picture: A Deerhide ornamental drum I hand stretched and painted. The story depicted, ironically, is the one in which coyote brings fire to the people. I translated the story with the help of Plains style paintings/weaving patterns into this circular design. See if you can guess who is who. This is not meant to be a representation of Native works, as I am not Native and this has meaning specific to me only. Thanks.

Note I use Coyote spirit loosely here, to mean an archetypal Spirit that subscribes to certain traits.

Ah, trickster spirits. My favorite subject. This is going to be a mix of academia on some shenanigans close to my heart and personal experience. BUT FIRST:

What do I mean by a trickster spirit?

Trickster spirits are a category of spirit or creature that subscribes to a certain set of rules: namely, their own. Humanity loves trickster spirits because they intentionally break the rules of society, and they do it so well they can't be reprimanded. They turn the world upside down to force you to look at it from their perspective, and they force you to laugh at a serious situation. They liven up a somber mood and remind you to pick it up and keep moving, and when you can't bend the rules, break them.

For some reason, every culture in the world has some sort of trickster. Most people are familiar with Pan, the Greek God who generally fucked shit up and had awesome sex with tons of ladies. (Some of it was questionably consensual but that's a feminist issue for another time.) Pan is a representation of the wild, untamable fecundity of nature and how humanity can't do shit except go along with it. (Dionysius arguably did the same, but with spirits.)

Let's examine some trickster animals, shall we? Click the lines in the text to access the source tales, too!


When the people came up on earth, Coyote was the very last one of the animals to emerge.
When this world was made the trees wouldn't burn. The people were living without fire.
The coyote was running all over. No one knew where he would be the next day. He was running from place to place.
One time he found a place with great rock cliffs all around. In the bottom was a hollow place. A great spruce tree was standing there. The people who lived there were the fireflies. They came up in the cliffs by means of rock steps, so that no one could see their footprints and know the way to enter. The stones were laid one ahead of the other, so that the people, when they came out, could step on these rocks.
Coyote saw some little children playing on the other side of the cliff. He asked them, "Where is the entrance to this place?"
The children paid no attention to him, however.
He thought and thought, "What will these children like?" 


Coyote is the trickster spirit most are familiar with from Native American mythos. Coyote is especially featured in myth sourced from the Plains (Crow and Menominee) and the Pleateau (Nez Perce, Flathead); whereas Crow/Raven as trickster is a staple of Inuit and Northern mythos. Also featured in some myths is Fox as trickster. Coyote is generally a jovial creature of male, female, or androgynous origin who makes a fool of the others involved in the tale. In some Native tales, Coyote is either Creator or Direct Servant to the Creator, instructing the other animals and carrying out its will. Alternatively, he can be portrayed as a thief. At the same time, coyote is often the butt of his own joke, and therein makes him a human, relatable character to us.


"You will be very lonely by yourself," said Raven to Man one day. "I will make you a companion."

He went to a spot some distance from where he had made the animals, and, looking now and then at Man as an artist looks at his model, he made an image very much like Man. He took from the creek some fine water grass and fastened it on the back of the head for hair. After the image had dried in his hands, he waved his wings over it as he had done with all the live things, and it came to life and stood beside Man, a beautiful young woman. 

-Raven Creates Woman


In tales of the Raven sourced from Inuit mythos, it is most often male and actually participates in human society; in the tale of Sedna he (or his equivalent bird) tricks her into becoming his wife. Like Coyote, Raven is sometimes Creator or Creator's servant, or alternatively is responsible for helping humanity in some way. This is a prime example, to me, of how the animals/landscape of the People influence the archetypal conception of Spirits.


A retainer who served the governor of Kai was heading home one sundown from the governor's mansion when he saw a fox, gave chase and shot at it with the kind of noisemaker arrow used for scaring off dogs. He hit it in the back leg.
The fox yelped in pain, rolled over, and dove limping into the brush. As the retainer went to retrieve his arrow the fox reappeared in front of him, and he was about to shoot at it again when it vanished.
A quarter of a mile from home he saw the fox running ahead of him carrying a flaming brand in its mouth. What could it be up to? He spurred his horse on. On reaching the house, the fox changed into a human being and set the house on fire. The retainer was ready to shoot as soon as he got within range, but the human changed right back into a fox and got away. The house burned down.
Beings like that exact swift vengeance. It's better to leave them alone.

-Japanese Kitsune Tale


In Japanese (and Chinese, and Korean, etc...) mythology, Foxes are the prominent trickster. In Japan, called Kitsune, they are most often devious yet flawed villains; they attempt to lie and steal but forget some fundamental part of their disguise. Most commonly, a fox could transform into a beautiful woman to seduce a man, and only after 4-5 years would he realize she has a fox tail she could not disguise, and he awakens from her illusion. The common thread in these tales is often the seduction of a fox, then living in a paradise too good to be true, and the rude awakening when you realize you've been living in a shack in the woods alone behaving like an animal.

Japanese tales of illusion are interesting simply because they are SO prominent. Tales of being 'Spirited Away' by devious foxes abound in that mythology. Often, the fox is rendered immobile if the 'Fox's Jewel', its source of power/coveted possession, is stolen. Alternatively, one should never negotiate with a fox, because any gold or jewels offered in atonement usually turn out to be sticks and leaves later on. At the same time, doing a fox a favor is usually a good thing, as they repay debts. In Japan specifically, it was common to have 'good' foxes and 'bad' foxes. The former was working toward spiritual betterment and often strove to live a thousand years and thereby become immortal or a servant of Inari, whereas the bad predictably made no effort to do much beyond steal and trick.

It should be warned it's never a good thing to follow a fox wedding procession--they don't like to be observed and it's a miracle if you return alive.

There is a real element of fear and superstition in Japan regarding foxes in general; as they were regarded as very powerful and not to be fucked with. It's common to see roadside shrines to them, to kee one's family from exacting vengeange for harm done. Since Shinto is animist, this makes sense. But the element of fear doesn't always run through other cultural trickster tales.

Some kitsune are known for possession, and there are actually reports of this in Japan still today. Some of the symptoms are said to be biting, snarling, crawling around on all fours, and generally...behaving like a fox. Seduction included.


A long time ago Kweku Ananse was respected as the wisest creature on earth. He was so wise that people came from all over to consult him. However, he grew tired of so much company, so he decided to put all of his wisdom into a pot and climb a tall tree to hide from everyone. He hung the pot around his neck and proceeded up the tree. However, the pot hanging over his belly kept getting in the way of climbing. His son Ntikuma saw what was happening and told Ananse to tie it on his back so his hands would be free. Ananse was furious that his son knew something he didn't, because it showed that he did not know everything. When Ananse smashed the pot to the ground, wisdom was scattered all over the world.

-Ananse and the Wisdom Pot


Possibly the best known trickster in West African folklore, the Spider is a great and valuable trickster. Ananse, to me, always struck me as a wise and old trickster deity. With the foxes of Japan, there is an element of the ridiculous. They are not always wise; mostly acting on desires of the now. Coyote and Raven are sometimes wise, but not always. Ananse always seems to be on top of his shit to me, and most of his tricking ended up being for the sake of higher wisdom or betterment. At the same time, maybe that pride was his hero's flaw, as in the above story. I couldn't find many solid myths, but the page above has quite a few traditional ones.


In short, trickster spirits are great to befriend...cautiously. I chose to cover animals on purpose. These tricksters have a separate nature to them that differs from human tricksters. Plus, I have much more experience with the animal variety.

If you encounter a trickster guide, proceed with caution. Though your best interests are usually in their interests, they are tricksters for a reason. There's something you will not learn any other way except falling on your ass a few times and having people laugh at you. But that's life.

They are incredibly important. As Pagans, some of us are guilty of taking our Work too seriously. Don't be surprised if you attract a wily Coyote spirit by proceeding that way. Work must be equaled with Fun, otherwise we wouldn't have a use for the Fool in the tarot, you dig? Tricksters reflect the heroic flaws in all of us as people, and show us how to overcome those flaws. And when we can't, they teach us that might be okay.

The world has a rich history of trickster myths; not all of it human. Check below for some fun resources on the web!



Ivan The Fool 

Baba Yaga (I will argue she is a Trickster character in her behavior, if not a malevolent one.)


Fox Story Archive


Legends and Folktales Archive

Animation on Raven

Inuit Creation Myths

Native General

Massive First Peoples Legend Archive

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Poisons Post: St. Ignatius Beans & Poison Ivy

St. Ignatius Beans

Scientific Name: Strychnos ignatia
Folk/Common Names: St. Ignatius Beans
Toxin Type: Strychnine (alkaloid)
Where is the toxin: The fruits of the plant (pear sized)
Toxicity Level: Extremely toxic. Strychnine
Symptoms: Severe nausea, eventually severe muscular convulsions, spasms of the face, frothing of the mouth, eventual suffocation
Interesting Fact: This poison was used as rodent toxin, but was eventually thought too dangerous to be around humans. Odorless and colorless, it's often used in movies and shows because of its dramatic effects. Also a favorite of the woman scorned, as it can be slipped into anything.
Folk Info: Named for Saint Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Jesuit tradition. He wrote several things on the subject.

Scientific Name: Toxicodendron radicans
Folk/Common Names: Poison Ivy
Toxin Type: Urushiol
Where is the toxin: The sap of the plant
Toxicity Level: Considerably less than fatal.
Symptoms: In rare, allergic cases, painful, large blisters can result. Most cases are just dermatitis rashes and blisters.
Interesting Fact: Poison ivy is actually not considered a TRUE ivy.
Folk Info: Since a whole lot of people get in touch with this yearly, it's been the result of a huge number of mnemonic devices, such as "butterflies don't land there, don't put your hand there."
BOTTOM LINE: I mean, you probably won't die, but it's a terrible, itchy rash, people.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

PBP 11: Creating a Personal Calendar (Or what to do when you DON'T do the wheel of the year)

(Picture from

You may have noticed from the waterfall of tweets and FB statuses today is Beltane. And happy Mayday to all my friends, by the way.

Also, I don't celebrate it, and maybe some of you guys don't, either. Let me explain.

I've elaborated on this a little before, but I'm one of those people who started with the wheel of the year, and tried to follow it, really really really hard, and still felt like something wasn't right there.

I usually put aside time on Samhain, because the spirit-connectedness bit is pretty awesome, but I never subscribed to the Wiccan/Celtic inspired narrative of what that holiday was supposed to be. I haven't celebrated much of anything in the past couple years (Yule, sometimes, because I love that energy, and sometimes Imbolc because it's my birthday) but to be honest it hasn't made me that happy.

I'm pretty simple. I actually love holidays and the energy and excitement they bring. I like getting together with friends and celebrating some awesome stuff and rejoicing and all that jazz. The problem is: I don't resonate with the traditional wheel of the year, (being of the Shamanic persuasion probably does not help) but I also don't resonate with a particular tradition's holidays. What to do? I'm obviously not a recon of some older tradition and their gods. I lean towards Chaos, if anything. Though I have read about various Tribal holidays, I don't feel absolutely okay appropriating them, and I really don't connect with them either. The situation is basically very frustrating.

I also don't particularly feel drawn to celebrate full moons and whatnot, probably because my goddess-as-full-moon narrative is not there. I think it's fucking cool, like any other person, but I don't really feel the need to do anything in particular for it.

I think this also ties back into "respect" vs "worship". I don't usually get called to do offerings or particularly worship anything, so holidays revolving around such things obviously don't resonate with me. Makes sense. The only real deity I DO "worship" is Sedna, the Inuit sea goddess, and She doesn't seem to have a particular day. More like a season. And even then, the connection is fluid and not always there. I don't get called to do things every day.

So here's my dilemma. I love holidays, but I don't resonate with many on earth, from any culture. So where do I go from here?

I've been thinking about this a long time, and I wonder how much personal narrative has to do with holidays. If I create a mock calendar with dates and things that are relevant to me, inclusive of my own narrative of how things are, is that less valid than an existing one? I would say no, it's not. The problem is holidays usually have strength in numbers. Greek recon friends can reasonably share the same holidays, for instance. But if I create a personal calender, how is that relevant to others? That's my problem with this solution. If you celebrate alone, is it really a "holiday"?

Believe it or not, as angry and apparently politically polarized as I am, I do like celebrating around the big ole' kitchen table sometimes. And frankly it gets lonely being a solitary Shamanic person (which already puts me on a different level than most Pagans, in terms of narrative) who doesn't resonate with anything.

If you were expecting an answer, I'm sorry to say I don't have one. I'm trying to figure out the things I do hold valuable and the things I DO celebrate, and then go from there. Maybe my solution is not in a calender. Maybe the solution is too fluid to fit on a numeric graph.

I DO celebrate the first snow-fall. I do celebrate the days when the flowers bloom for the first time. I celebrate the thunderstorms and long days of rain after a drought and when the leaves begin to turn. Maybe my solution is to completely remove the narrative alltogether, and celebrate the seasons themselves. Maybe I celebrate the animals and the plants and the trees whenever and wherever I feel is right, and I scrap the calendar altogether. That seems to feel righter to me.

And maybe, if more people like me exist, maybe we create on own Calendar together. What do you say?