Tea and Prayer Beads

Yesterday, my wife and I co-hosted a pagan mala bead workshop. It was a lovely affair with tea, cookies, and lots of individualized focus. Everyone ended up making such a personalized mala bead, and we had such great conversations! My wife and I even jumped into the fun and made our own mala beads (even though we already have plenty!). It was truly a great experience, and a very validating one. Why? Because it was my first ‘work’ experience since starting my medication. It was the first of (hopefully) many more workshops to come- and I was able to do it despite being in a state of mild confusion.

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For me, this is a ray of hope. It means that even if I don’t manage to get all that much better as far as my confusion goes, I can still offer great workshops that hopefully can bring in a small amount of income. It means that even despite being still disabled, I’m managing to work around my disability to be productive. It also means that the medication (even though they’re far from being perfect, as I write this in a haze of confusion) is working. Years ago I would have never been able to do this. But now I can.

Cheerily, drunk on happiness and medication, I say ‘thanks gods!’ for giving me this opportunity. And thank you so much for the medication. Nothing is perfect, but it helps a ton.

Well Guess What? Jealousy!

Yep, Jealousy. One of the aspects of the pentacle when it rolls upside down (certainly) and one of those emotions that just chews away at you. It’s one of my flaws. Lately, it has come to me in full force. I can talk for hours about my emotions (been there, done that. Hah!) but I’ll spare you the details. What I won’t spare you is the observations I’ve managed to glean from this experience.

Here’s the thing: I was jealous because someone I knew was doing their homework and able to do their dishes (fast enough to prevent the fruit fly infestations).

WHAAT?

I was furious. Who was this person to have this quasi-mythical functioning power? How come I couldn’t do my dishes? I had spent my entire day struggling to get off the couch – and failing spectacularly. I had wanted so bad to do my dishes all day that I was already almost in tears at the prospect of the inevitable fruit flies, mold, and disgusting gunk accumulating in my precious sink.

And this person had the nerve to complain to me about doing their dishes. And their homework- in a degree that I had to flunk out of due to my condition.

*cue demonic cry of anger and jealousy.

So what’s the take home message here?

We disabled people are not perfect.

I think, personally, that we cannot expect ourselves to never feel jealous, angry, or even a tad bit hateful. We’re humans- and we’re struggling up from the pit of despair, clawing our way to functioning. To say we should never feel these dark emotions is to turn a blind eye to the massive struggles we go through in order to just get up and do our dishes some days.

We, those struggling with mental illness and disabilities in general, deal constantly with a personal pentacle that’s skewed to the side. Be it our physical bodies (the element of earth), our minds (air and maybe fire?), our emotions (water), we deal with a pentacle that’s not perfect or easily aligned. And I think we need to acknowledge that with a skewed pentacle easily comes all the skewed emotions and ‘negativity’ and ‘chaos’ associated with an inverted pentagram.

So what are we, as Wiccans and Polytheists to make of this fact? Well, luckily for us Wiccans, darkness is sacred (at least in my perspective) and there are lessons to be drawn from the more negative emotions. Depending on the deity(ies) a person venerates, these ‘negative’ emotions that are generally associated with the inverted or unbalanced pentacle are not necessarily bad or unholy. Rather, we can turn to our flawed deities who struggle with their own anger, pride, etc, and draw inspiration from them. Or get down on our knees and beg them for help in coping. You know, whatever suits you best.

“Am I Hearing a God or Am I Going Crazy?” ~ One Polytheist’s Angry Rebuttal

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/2017/08/hearing-god-going-crazy.html

I try not to spread anger. I try not to spread hate. I try, as much as possible, to be non-violent. But when I see ignorance and harm being perpetuated, I feel that keeping silent is a way to perpetuate such harm. So I find myself compelled to speak out. There are several articles that have pushed my buttons, but they are growing old and so I can try and talk myself out of dealing with them. ‘no need to add fire to fire’ I tell myself.

But this one. This one makes me angry. And perhaps I am adding fire to the fire, but you know what? At least by voicing my concerns, there will be a voice out there arguing for the sake of those of us with serious mental illnesses. And hopefully, I can help those who relate feel less alone. Because seriously, these sorts of discussions need to stop within the Pagan/Wiccan/Polytheist umbrella.

So here it is. My Very Angry Rebuttal to “Am I hearing a God or am I going Crazy?” by John Beckett. I will assume that the article in question has already been read.

I will try and be neutral and keep the swearing to a minimum. But be warned: this is heavily unfiltered

So here we go. Let’s start with the title. “Am I Hearing a God or am I Going Crazy?”. Well. One would think this would be a great discussion on how mental illness can be distinguished from a religious experience. Wrong.

“If this hits you out of the blue, you’re probably not going crazy

Straight off the bat, the tone is set. The tone is this: don’t worry, “you’re probably not going crazy”. Alright. As much as I respect the general notion that mental illness does not ‘hit you out of the blue’ – it can. It may. And (gasp!) there is a viable chance that the person is actually ‘going crazy’. It happened to me. It can happen to you.

Alright, so let’s keep going.

“I’m a Druid and a priest, not a psychologist. If you need mental health care, I can’t help you – get mental health care.”

To speak like a millennial… Dude, so, like, what’s your point? Aren’t we talking about mental illness here? At all? Or was that just to draw in attention and make your article stand out? Because it looks like you’re derailing the conversation from actual discussion of mental illness to just using it as click-bait.

Here’s the fucking point. Those two sentences really are a disclaimer. It’s a brief nod at the actual needs of someone with a mental illness, and a brushing aside thereof. Promptly after, the author goes on to say how “very rare” it is “for people to go from mostly functioning in the ordinary world to schizophrenic in the time it takes for a God to pick you up and throw you across the room.”

This further reinforces the tone that ‘don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong with you’.

Oh, let’s continue. Please, let’s keep going! Because (drum roll) he’s going to bring in JUNG.

Oh, for fuck’s sake.

“Irish author James Joyce once brought his daughter to see psychiatrist Carl Jung. Joyce didn’t understand how his daughter could have schizophrenia. He said “The way she thinks is the way I think, and I am not crazy.” Jung’s response was “You are swimming. She is drowning.””

As a friend of mine succinctly said when I complained about the swimming vs drowning metaphor “it’s not even the same ocean”. Dude! Can Y’all get that? It’s not the same! It. Is. Not. The. Same. PERIOD.

“Hearing a God and having mental health issues are not mutually exclusive. Sometimes it’s both. I have friends for whom it’s both – their lives are challenging, to say the least.”

Really? Again- this reinforces the narrative that the experience may not be mental illness. There may be ‘something to it’ and it may just be a god! And to further ease away any worries the person may have, he continues with a disclaimer, followed by more reassurance that you’re “probably not going crazy”, like this.

“If you’re drowning, get mental health care. But if you were swimming yesterday and today you’re face-to-face with a demanding deity, you’re probably not going crazy. Rather, you’re having a religious experience for which both our mainstream culture and much of the Pagan movement has no context.

It’s the lack of context that makes you think you’re going crazy.”

Wait, wait, waittitty wait. Lemme read that last part again.

“It’s the lack of context that makes you think you’re going crazy.”

Oh. Context. Yeah. Uhm. You mean… the general dialogue that is already present all over polytheism and the general western esoterism regarding such experiences? Like the one you wrote? Or were you talking about something that actually discusses mental illness instead of brushing it aside? Because I’ll agree, there’s not much of that. But let’s not fool ourselves into pretending that there isn’t already a whole lot of dialogue already pushing aside psychiatry in favor of Jung adoration and Foucauldian denial (in fact, there’s a whole ocean of it for us to both drown and swim in!).

Paganism, Polytheism, and western esoterism in general, is rife with people claiming that mental illness doesn’t exist. There is a wealth of articles out there regarding contacting spirits and guides and divinities. The real issue here is a lack of any religious framework that encompasses actual mental illness.

But let’s keep reading.

“Your experiences are real”

I have to say, when I first read this line I was furious. It brought to mind the time I was tearfully trying to eat a lemon-cranberry muffin, which to me tasted like boiled chicken. Why? Because it was a hallucination. Was it real? No.

But Beckett oh so helpfully goes on to say “We can argue about how to interpret these experiences, but that they happened is an objective fact. ”

Really? Really? No discussion of how to distinguish hallucination from religious experience? No discussion about the nature of reality and how to distinguish that either? No? Just- it’s real?

Thanks, I’ll try not to remember that the next time I hallucinate. Because that’s the fact of the symptoms of mental illness: they’re not real. The sadness of depression isn’t caused by anything. It’s just there. The hallucinations aren’t spirits speaking, they’re a chemical imbalance.

These experiences are not what I’d qualify as “real” in a factual or religious sense.

Continuing on, Beckett rounds about to the notion that there is ‘no framework’.

“Our mainstream culture says there is one God who is distant and remote and who rarely interacts with people. The loudest religious alternative says there are no Gods. If you relate your experience to a typical Protestant minister, they will mostly likely attempt to explain it in psychological terms – because that’s all they know. Most Pagans will do the same, for the same reason.

All they can imagine is that either you have a psychological issue or you’re making it up. Their worldview doesn’t include Gods and spirits with sovereignty and agency.

That doesn’t mean such beings don’t exist.”

Here, as someone with an actual mental illness and someone within an esoteric community, I will simply say NO (like grumpy cat). No, no, no. No to the idea that pagans will explain anything in psychological terms other than (fucking) Jung. In my half a dozen years of living within an esoteric community, not once did anyone attempt to push me towards a doctor. Not once did anyone support the idea that I was mentally ill. If they had, it may have helped me get help sooner. Instead, I was constantly pushed towards the idea of there being spirits, Gods, and pseudo-psychological reasoning.

So no, don’t try and say that there is ‘no framework’, and that psychology is “all they know”. They do exactly what Becket discusses right in his article- that don’t worry, “you’re probably not going crazy”. And after making a quick disclaimer of ‘not being a doctor’, they will push their spiritual agenda.

Alright, let’s keep going.

“Our ancient ancestors had context” Yes, really. Let us discuss the persecution of the mentally ill in ancient times. No? Wait? What? Aren’t we talking about that? Or are we narrowing our view to only the ‘positive’ symptoms of schizophrenia such as hearing voices? Why aren’t we discussing how ancient worldviews would have taken in chronic depression, suicidal tendencies, or anxiety?

Why? Because we’re not really talking about mental illness. That’s why. Beckett’s article is almost solely about spiritual experiences. So let’s keep straight on moving, shall we?

“Find a polytheist priest” To which I say…

WHY NOT CONSULT A DOCTOR?!

Here’s a chart of what a doctor can do vs a polytheist priest.

 

Doctor Polytheist Priest
Provide immediate first aid. You know, in case you’ve physically injured your self. Or if you’re in a state of mania, intense depression, or whatnot, you can receive B12 injections, fast-acting anti-depressants, etc. Just to ‘get you back on your feet’. “provide spiritual first aid. Grounding and shielding, prayers and offerings. That will help you get back on your feet where you can start to process your experience.”
Provide context such as ‘am I crazy?’ – because that’s their fucking job. You can actually discuss with them whether you are having symptoms, to what severity, and what that means. “provide context… A polytheist priest can tell you how they experience the Gods”
Suggest resources such as therapists, psychologists, walk-in clinics, social workers you can talk to, service dogs, etc. They can even refer you to a specialist and you could get a second opinion too! “suggest resources. There are books that are helpful. Devotional practices are essential. And while they may not personally know a priest of the deity you’re experiencing, they probably know someone who does. Networking isn’t just a business thing.”
They can refer you to trained professionals such as psychologists and social workers who will help you ‘figure out’ your experiences. Because that’s what doctors are supposed to do when someone is in distress. Get them help. “They can help you figure out how to interpret your experiences.”

 

A doctor/medical professional should always be consulted in the case of potential mental illness. Yes, consult a priest all you like, but if you feel mental illness encroaching on your spirituality, then why not see a doctor? It boggles my mind.

Oh, and here’s a thing. A doctor will consult with you even if you really are crazy. Most ‘spiritual’ people and priests who are legally priests… will not. It’s not just OBOD that refuses anyone who is on anti-psychotics. It is a general trend within the Pagan/Wiccan/Polytheist umbrellas to refuse mingling with serious mental illness. So even though one may very well want to seek a priest- that priest may refuse to see them due to that person’s illness. Just saying.

“As an aside: if you consider yourself a priest or priestess and you can’t do all these things, learn. And learn quickly. When someone calls you out of the blue begging for help, you don’t want to have to tell them “I’m sorry, I didn’t think I’d ever have a need for that skill.”” OMG. This, this right here. This enrages me, because the author literally began the article with a disclaimer of how they did not know mental illness because their profession was that of priesthood. Yet they say a priest ought to be able to help someone “out of the blue begging for help” regarding mental illness vs spiritual experiences, when obviously not being able to do so themselves? Because if this article was any indication, the author would merely push the person towards believing they were having a spiritual experience and not give them any sort of actual help in distinguishing the two.

Finally…

“Those of us who are polytheists and especially those of us who are polytheist priests must be ready to respond. There is no one else who has the first-hand experience to tell people “no, you’re not going crazy. You’re hearing a God.””

That, right there, summarizes the author’s view of a discussion regarding mental illness and spirituality, as presented in this article. Parading the idea of being ‘ready to respond’, all while insisting that the person is ‘not going crazy’ and that it is purely a spiritual experience.

For me, this is enraging. But let me try and put my anger aside.

To summarize: Beckett pretends that he is about to discuss mental illness vs religious experiences. He does not. He practically uses the tagline of mental illness as click-bait. He then goes on to repeatedly insist that the person is probably not having symptoms of a mental illness, but a spiritual crisis. He claims that there is ‘no context’ for such experiences, all while being an example of how there is definitely a context- that of pushing aside the symptoms of a serious mental illness as being solely spiritual experiences. Instead of proposing what a doctor could do to help clarify a person’s experience (or how to bring this sort of issue up with a doctor) he solely focuses on what a priest should do for a person. Again, he insists that it is probably a spiritual crisis and encourages reassuring a person that they are not ‘crazy’.

To this, I say that this sort of ‘discussion’ of mental illness is not really a discussion thereof but a dismissal. If the author had not pretended to discuss mental illness, then the article would have been fine. But pretending to discuss something when you are not actually going to discuss it erases it.

Imagine if someone had an article claiming to discuss the experiences of a black woman vs a white woman, only to spend the entire article assuming the reader was white?

Erasure is dangerous, people. I won’t go on to explain why. I don’t want this article to ramble. Suffice to say, I consider Beckett’s article to be yet another nauseating example or erasure, of dismissal, of pretending that mental illness isn’t a problem, and of (once again) the priesthood failing to do their jobs in actually engaging with the mentally ill and discussing mental illness.

Spirituality and Medication Mingling – A Success Story!

This is it y’all. It has happened. I’ve had One Functional Day. (Cue cheers and whistles going off. Yayyy!)

Selfishly, I want to stick around on my blog and brag. I mean, look at me! I was able to get dressed sensibly, get out of the house for a minor walk, clean minimally, even cook and eat some healthy meals – all while not feeling overwhelmed or falling into a pit of despair!

Full disclaimer: I actually texted friends to brag about doing my dishes and picking up my floor. I was so excited I almost sent pictures and videos (but that’d be real crazy, right?)

It’s in moments like this that I find myself realizing how incapacitated I can be. How difficult living with a mental illness is. When successfully doing the basics feels like it warrants an award… it warrants a step back.

Now, what could possibly have brought about such a sudden and impromptu good day? Were my stars in retrograde (or whatever phase they’re supposed to be in for good things to happen). Did I wake up in the proper runic hour? Did I do my chakra cleansing just right?

Well, no. But- wait for me here.

You see, I had a major downspiral. Me and my doctor agreed for me to start a new medication. At first it had gone well, then not so much. And a funny thing began to happen.

I didn’t want to take this medication anymore. I literally could crave my other ones like a vegan craves protein, but this one? Nope. I couldn’t help but notice how nasty it tasted. How much of a bother one more pill was.

Then my wife gently pointed out that it wasn’t really helping any more. It had at first, but it seemed like its time was up. So we called the pharmacy and arranged for me to stop it. It was supposed to take two whole weeks!

And then I had a dream where someone was convincing me to stop the pills faster. I woke up convinced that I was going to stop it faster, with a complete ‘how to stop’ gameplan in my head.

Not trusting myself, I used my trustiest pair of tarot cards. I made sure that I was not in an episode, that my dog was not signalling before I read. They told me, very clearly, to follow my intuition.

And it worked. And now I feel great.

Bazinga, folks! Spirituality and medication at work together. The medication had (at first) given me a much needed boost to get out of my down-spiral. When its time was up, the gods/spirits used their powers to give me hints on how to recuperate and which medication to cut (because I only wanted to stop that one). Now here’s what I’m especially proud of: I listened (yay!) because they obviously distinguished their message from my common symptoms.

  • Even though I hallucinate smells and tastes, I do not have compulsions regarding not taking foods. I often still want to eat the food despite it tasting horrible (because I’m usually hungry, k?). Furthermore, my taste hallucinations last for a short period of time. My avoidance of the pills was therefore not a symptom but a signal from my body.
  • I may have nightmares and night terrors, but my hallucinations and anxieties rarely bring me messages in my dreams. This was completely new.
  • Finally, my fail-safe plan was my tarot cards. Though I’ve often gotten high anxiety prior to tarot readings, that is the most that my symptoms mingle with tarot. I quite literally go by what’s written and so that leaves little room for compulsions to step in. However, I have never noticed having compulsions/irrational thoughts and idea related to tarot. Nevertheless, I used my tools (service dog) and made sure I was in a rational decision-making state when I read them.

Furthermore, I have to point out that while realizing that I was doing good today due to the medication stabilizing properly, I did everything I possibly could to stay stable. Spirituality kicked in there as well. I used my spiritual beliefs to avoid toxic people. I burnt incense when I felt like I wasn’t feeling so good anymore.

But what brought about this amazing day was a result of both spiritual guidance, and properly dosed medication.

Either way, it worked. And I wanted to share my experience with all of you to show just how the two can co-mingle in one’s life and to prove that it is possible!

Anyone else have thoughts on this? Have you had a positive experience of spirituality and medication balancing together? I’d love to hear about it!

Reiki and Mental Illness – a Weekend Experience

Hey everyone! I just wanted to give a little update on what’s been going on in my life. This past weekend I attended a lovely Reiki class by the very talented Lucie Gauthier from Maitre de Synthese. She did (what I believe to be) a wonderful teaching session complete with wisdom, a great atmosphere, and plenty of great tips and techniques.

Now, what does this have to do with our daily programming?

Well, I had multiple episodes over the course of this two day class. The low-key anxiety ones passed with tears shed, but Lucie was fabulous and helped me reground and heal throughout. Then came… a big signal. Lightning got up and for the first time went to try and signal to others while I was on the table being healed and thereby out of her reach.

I immediately felt that this signal was different. It wasn’t an anxiety episode so much as a psychotic one. So hey, I told myself, let’s see what happens. I was in the middle of being healed and in an intense state of relaxation. Maybe it would just pass on its own. Maybe, as with my anxiety, the healing would make it stop.

So I lay back on the table and let myself be healed. Then my turn to heal them came.

Instantly a resounding ‘NO’ came to me as I went to ground my practice partner. Still, being stubborn, I tried. But nothing was working. Instead of easily visualizing/seeing the person’s roots, all I saw was jagged shapes. The ‘NO’ was quite resounding, and I simply felt no energy coming down upon me to heal. I had to sign to Lucie that I couldn’t do it. I had to stop. It was a light crash, but it was enough to completely shut off my psychic skills that had been working well for the past day.

After some more mood swings, I was sent home. As I rested outside in the shade of some trees, Lucie came to see me. She insisted that as I was sick I needed to take things in stride.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the crux of my blog today. If you’re skimming, just read this: a Reiki Master and teacher/Channeller and medium acknowledged the existence of a mental illness.

Despite being relaxed, surrounded by healers, and in the safest and most understanding environment, the episode came on. My speech slurred, my logic slipped and I was slowly tugged away into the disfunctional abyss. It was a mercifully mild episode, but it was one nonetheless. Impressively, even for this lightness it majorly impacted my psychic functioning. And despite my anxiety having easily been soothed by healing hands previously, this felt unstoppable.

Conclusion? Mental illness is a real illness. It is not all anxiety and emotions. It is a real, tangible, and very difficult to stop switch in the head. It also heavily impacts our psychic abilities. I was honestly devastated and intrigued by how much it affected mine. I am definitely going to be testing how much my anxiety and psychosis affects my psychic powers, and how much (if such a thing can be measured in any way!).

On a closing note I’d like to wish everyone a happy Sankashti Chaturthi! I am very thankful to have been doing well enough to fast today (save for some coffee to stabilize my mood and some accidentally nibbled carrots while cooking). For anyone who does not know, Sankashti Chaturthi is the fourth day after a full moon and it is devoted to Ganesh. As I am just starting out on my new Reiki path, I thought it would be fitting to celebrate it with Ganesh.

Blessed Be, everyone!

Wiccan Medication Rituals

One thing I am very open about on this blog and that I will repeat over and over again is that I used to be anti-medication, and that perspective was extremely damaging for me. Now that I am taking medication I am learning more and more about the prejudices I was taught to believe about psychiatric medication. One of these is that medication is ‘unnatural’ and that it has no place in spirituality, much less in witchcraft.

Well, I disagree. I feel that many witches and neo-pagans are glad to use modern tools to their advantage and within a spiritual practice, so why not our medication? I believe it can simply be another tool. And here, without further ado, is my perspective on how to incorporate your medication into your spiritual practice.

  • Where do you put your pills? I used to put mine in the kitchen around the spices. It was like they were something hidden, useless, and just shoved somewhere. Now, I place them on the shrine so that good vibes can be infused into them, and that they are well aligned with the will of my deities.

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    Place your pills in a sacred area to infuse them with magic, positive energy, and the will of your deities
  • Try cleansing your medication. Everyone knows psychiatric medication comes from factories, gets shipped, and thereby gets handled by many many people. Furthermore, one may even say that with all the discrimination against medication, this can inadvertently imbue them with negative energy. Burn sage, cinnamon, or other purifying herbs around your pill pots to usher away this negativity.

    DSCN0057
    Cleanse your medication with incense, prayers, etc.
  • Place crystals, prayer beads, or other significant objects around your pill pots. I place a special crystal over my pill organizer. Another idea would be to pray on prayer beads for healing and success, then wrap them around the pot to imbue the pills with the healing intent.

    DSCN0066.JPG
    Place crystals around or on your pills and recite prayers for healing and harmony on prayer beads, then wrap them around your pill containers.
  • Make taking your pills a sacred act of self-care. Honor yourself, give thanks for the medication, honor the deity/elements you see as being associated with your medication, and maybe say some positive affirmation or prayers as you take them. I have begun saying “with these pills I balance my mind, body and soul” as I take mine. I find this extremely effective to counter the many negative ideas and preconceptions that have been ingrained in us about our medication. I consider it a subversive act of self-healing. I know that a positive outlook greatly helps mental health (not illness) and so I try really hard to fight against the guilt for being mentally ill. So for me, this is a majorly important step.
  •  Incorporate your medication into spellcraft. I have a crushed up pill that I am just dying to use in a spell bottle for creativity. Find out your correspondences, what you feel the pill represents, and use it in a ritual as you would any other symbolic item. I feel that as medication affects everyone uniquely and often deeply, a person’s medications will have potent and very important representations/symbols in a person’s spellwork.
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    Incorporate your medication into spellcraft (behold my terrible crystal grid)

    Do you have any special rituals/practices regarding your psychiatric medication? Let me know!

Recognizing the “Crazy” and the Wiccan Rede

Maybe I’m going out on a limb here. It’s not my intention to attack anyone’s faith. It’s not my goal in life, my mojo, or anything that makes me tick. And yet when I see someone who is obviously mentally deranged (from my perspective) and ALSO a prominent member of the neo-pagan community… I get worried (and furious). Why?

Because this person needs help and is not getting it.

Because this person, ignorant and refusing to acknowledge that they have a problem, is probably persecuting others with the belief that mental illness is not real.

But most of all- it irks me that this person has followers from a group of people (neo-pagans) who (in my experience) are either unwilling to admit the mentally ill into their groups or who believe that mental illness doesn’t exist.

What’s so wrong with this? It shows me that no one can fucking recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness a mile away, and that we as a group do not have the tools with which to recognize or dismantle/collectively deal with a person’s psychosis.

This person (who I shall not name, quote, or refer to in any way for the sake of not starting a war with their minions/denizens) is clearly deluded, in my opinion. Their ‘channelings’ read like rambling hoaxes. Their ‘facts’ are pure and utter bullshit. And yet- my beloved spouse is too afraid of the community backlash to oust this person’s blatant lies on Facebook.

Peoples- WE HAVE A PROBLEM.

As someone who actively hallucinates aliens- (Well, this is me jumping out of that closet) – I feel I have a special role when it comes to someone who claims to ‘channel’ aliens. And here’s me getting started on a late-night, frustration-fuelled rant. Let us begin with a list of ‘how to tell someone is deluded’ without having to have experienced delusion yourself. Because as someone who’s been there (in my own way) I feel like we develop extra sensors/magical tentacle feely things to sense that someone else is in ‘that zone’. But how would we, as a group, actually recognize this?

Here is (drumroll, please) UnHinged and UnEnlightened’s radar list (cue the firecrackers)

  1. They seem to be on some YUGE megalodramatic us VS them cosmic battle trip. Alright, here’s another secret. I’ve been there. I felt like I was trapped in some great supernatural battle. But guess what? The antipsychotics made that stop. And it was a great relief. So what does this look like from the outside? Someone who is stuck in a Christ-like cosmic battle. Someone who is so magnetically propulsed into the cosmic workings that they don’t seem in tune with the day to day mundane realities. They see the apocalypse coming, they see the coming era of godhood incarnate for all of us. They see- something so ultramagical and amazing!!!
  2. Their facts don’t fact check. Now there’s one thing not being educated in the latest academic facts (which, granted, can change pretty fast). But there’s another thing to considering yourself above the facts. That person becomes the source of ze greatest knowledge!!! and they can’t be questioned.
  3. In fact (as in the case of the leader I came across) they demonize anyone who contradicts them- and this is a big sign of a bad leader, by the way. Demonizing can be an extension of the melodramatic us vs them (point 1) and also piles up into point 2. In the case of the leader I am currently enraged against- anyone who questioned her liturgy was seen as being a force of evil and darkness. Literally. Wow, that’s a major sign of a cult leader too, BTW.
  4. But ultimately, someone who is so convinced and stuck in their symptoms won’t be able to see outside of them (unfortunately). They are as real to them as everyone else’s respective realities are to them. And so, these people will stick to their delusions like fact. Which, oddly enough, is not the case for normal spirituality, in my experience. I’ve questioned my spirituality and the existence of my loving spirits. I never questioned the reality of my hallucinations. Except the aliens. But that was damned hard. And I still was not sure if I didn’t believe it.
  5. Their thoughts are not coherent. In my experience, a good trance/psychic channeling experience can be cohesive. It can make sense and have a point. And yes, the gods may speak in riddles and rhymes but- there’s a difference between sacred poetry (or generally being amused by watching your worshippers run in circles trying to understand your teachings) and disorganized thoughts. And here, I’m not talking about the obvious rhyming or alliteration that some schizophrenic episodes may induce, or echolalia. I’m talking about the train of thought that never gets anywhere, that says nothing, and that is not cognitively making sense, or that just doesn’t feel right. As I have said in another blog post, spirituality should not make you less cohesive or sensical. For me, my spirituality enhanced my senses and made me more logical. I could write better. Not write myself into circles. But when I have an episode of un-wellness coming on, my writing skills ditch. My cognitive abilities flies out the window and with it the ability to write anything that made sense or had a goal. So if they can’t make their teachings make sense: maybe something’s wrong.
  6. Oh, and speaking of cult leaders (been part of one [ish] so haha, guess what? More points!) Be careful you peoples! For all the ‘beware of cults and this is what a cult leader looks like’ that I have seen on Wiccan and neo-pagan website, Y’ALL- an us vs them mentality is intrinsic to a cult. And this is what I have seen A LOT of on neo-pagan groups. Anyone who questions them is immediately demonized. Shoved aside. Negated. Y’all- this is dangerous. This is bad. This needs to stop. We need to grow up, be mature, and learn to have adult discussions and keep an open mind. And this is my point of what makes an ‘adult’ discussion (and what makes good academic discussions) → being able to distinguish from hard academic fact from UPG (unverifiable personal gnosis). Because ultimately, personal gnosis is unverifiable (like the name says). So please, please, distinguish the two. Have discussions. Be respectful. Don’t close your shutters and sink into these us vs them mentalities. It’s very, very, dangerous.

And while speaking of danger, and since my theme is supposed to be about the Wiccan Rede lately- what about any of this causes harm?

  • Not pointing someone out as delusional causes harm. How? Because you leave that person in their state of delusion. Yes, some do not want medication. Some simply do not know they are having a problem and if we always ‘accept them’ without gently pointing out that there may be a problem –they may never know. I often wish someone had been able to gently take me aside and let me know that I was rambling, and that I was showing signs. It might have saved me years of suffering. But then again- I would have had to be ready to face the stigma of mental illness. Which leads to our next point of harm.
  • As a group that stigmatizes or wishes away mental illness- to not know the signs or be able to recognize it is ludicrous. This shows that when you say ‘no crazies in our group’ that you are enforcing harmful stereotypes upon those with mental illness without any idea what you are talking about. Shame upon you. Shame for spreading stigma. Shame for pretending that mental illness doesn’t exist. Shame for pushing away those who need help.
  • Finally- by leaving these people unconfronted, by sharing false ideas of mental illness, these delusional people are left to spread harmful messages. Why am I saying this? Am I debasing people with mental illness? No, I am not. I am facing the fact that people with mental illness are just that- people. They are not saints. They are not ‘enlightened’ or ‘god-like’ or ‘divine’ in their illness. They are people who are deluded and these delusions may not be all that pretty. Having been there, and having heard the stories of others, I know that (though it may honestly not be the intent of the ill person) these people may cause harm. I’ve almost caused serious harm to both strangers, loved ones, and myself due to my delusions. Hence, for the sake of all involved, we need to find ways to cope with these delusions and gently reroute them. Or at the very least, we need to confront them and encourage them to get help and get treated.

So that’s it lovelies. I’m sorry if this was rambling, but it really got under my skin and I just had to let it out. I’ll try and refrain from blasting from my soapbox, but this really is something that I care about. Did I succeed? Does this help? Do you know a leader like this? Am I the only one who’s noticed this within the community? Do let me know. Peace and Light, everyone. Blessed Be.

So What if I Am “Crazy”?

The other day I was watching a video from a relatively prominent Wiccan figure, and by prominent I mean they lead a small online community and their Youtube channel has several thousand viewers. The video was going well when all of a sudden they justified their argument by saying “I’m not crazy! We’re not mentally ill!” and by ‘we’ they meant their online community members.
Immediately, I was put off. Then, I was angry. Now, I’m insulted.
Because so what if I am ‘crazy’? So what if I am mentally ill? Does that negate my spiritual perspectives? Do all my arguments mean nothing then?
Statements like “I mean, I’m not crazy” reinforces that yes, if you are ‘crazy’, experience psychosis, or have a mental illness then guess what? Your word means nothing. Your arguments are void. Your point of view doesn’t matter.
What especially irritates me is that this person (and many others besides) claims that witches use cannabis, and that it is an integral part of the craft.
So recreational drug-induced hallucinations are valid and a-ok, but those caused by mental illness are not? It doesn’t denigrate your word, your arguments, your perspective’s worth if you hallucinate for the fun of it. No one says ‘but I never took cannabis’ as a way to defend their arguments. In fact recreational drugs are touted as making you ‘open minded’ and as being ‘essential’ to a spiritual path and shamanic experiences. Yet these people will in the same breath say ‘but I’m not crazy’ to defend themselves.
 Because the grudge is not against hallucinating, it’s against the whole condition surrounding it.
As someone who has experienced psychosis, I want to say ‘fuck you’. But let’s move beyond that.
Does mental illness and psychosis negate your thoughts and arguments? Worse- does it negate spiritual experiences? I want to harp and argue around this point especially because I’ve heard of recreational drugs being used as spiritual aids. I want to pick at this like a bad scab because I’ve heard on the flip side of people touting mental illness as some ‘divine illness’, and of the throes of it as being magical.
So what do we, those who experience it, make of these conflicting ideas?
On one hand we are erased, oppressed, and invalidated. On the other – when it suits the narrative of the speaker – we are elevated into god-like figures for them to hide behind [I’m thinking here of those who tout mental illness as a ‘divine’ illness, while disregarding our need for help].
But so what if we experience psychosis? It is not a permanent state. It does not invalidate everything we think of, especially not when we are stable and no longer under the major effects of it. Myself, I can have some extremely strange thoughts, then have perfectly rational ones straightaways after. My strange ones do not denigrate my rational ones. Even if I have difficulty expressing myself, it does not mean that my thoughts are invalid. Moreover, it does not denigrate my spiritual beliefs because my spirituality is NOT just my experience of psychosis.
I view psychosis the same way I view a drug-induced experience: as a tool that the divine CAN use, but not necessarily that they will use. Not every symptom is a sign. Not every drug trip carries meaning. Sometimes ecstasy is just that: chemical ecstasy. Sometimes it carries something more. But we are the ones who define our own spiritual paths. We are the ones whom our deities are trying to reach and communicate to, and they have the right to use whatever tools within and without ourselves that they so feel like using. So if I receive a perfectly rational revelation while in a stupor, it does not make it ANY less valid than one received during a cannabis-induced stupor. If I have a rational thought while being rational (because mental illness is a flux, it is not a static experience) then it is just as valid as one of someone who is permanently in a rational sphere of mind.
So, so what if I am ‘crazy’? I can still make an argument, defend it, and still have my psychosis. It does not invalidate my arguments, especially not my spiritual ones.