Lupa's Den: Practices for the Earthy Pagan

Over the years my writing online at Therioshamanism.com and elsewhere has wrapped itself around abstract concepts and theoretical discussions, stories and anecdotes and personal experiences. Here I’d like to have a little spot where I focus more on the how-tos, a sort of casual teaching blog. I’m a naturalist pagan, so look for some ways and means of working with the denizens of nature, spiritual and otherwise! (If you like what you see here, please feel free to visit http://www.thegreenwolf.com for more info on my books, online writings, etc.)

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Lupa

Lupa

Lupa is a naturalist pagan (neo)shaman living in Portland, OR. She divides her work time between creating sacred artwork from hides and bones and other goodies, writing books and articles on ecospiritual topics, and working as a Masters-level mental health counselor. She may also be found hiding in the Columbia River Gorge, rolling her sleeves up for litter and invasive species removal, or getting dirty in the garden. She may be found online at http://www.thegreenwolf.com and http://therioshamanism.com and her art is featured at http://thegreenwolf.etsy.com .

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

So far I've been spending my time here setting the stage for introductory spirit work. But what about the spirits themselves? Who and what are these incorporeal beings that we're trying to communicate with in the first place? The answers to those questions, in complete, are much longer and more complex than I can cover in one article. So consider this a very brief and incomplete overview of some of the sorts of beings in the spirit world.

Ancestor Spirits: These are the spirits of humans who have passed away. Some people feel the ancestors still exist in this world with us, unseen but around us all the time. Others believe they inhabit their own afterlife-world, but can be called on for advice or help in times of need. Depending on who you talk to, any family member, friend, or other important person in your life can be considered an ancestor—in fact, since we are all of the same species we all share ancestors. Others are more strict, keeping it specifically to one's own immediate family and direct predecessors. Ancestor spirits are generally seen as protective in nature, though they can be angered if not propitiated properly (and, not surprisingly, what is considered “proper” is not universal).

Nature Spirits: This is a fairly broad category, since it includes not just the spirits of animals, plants, and fungi, among other natural things, but also spirits which are more abstract representations of natural forces. For example, one of the main parts of my practice involves working with animal totems. These are not just individual animal spirits, such as a gray wolf or a least tern, but archetypal beings that embody all of the qualities of the species Gray Wolf and Least Tern. Some people also consider faeries and devas (often taken out of their original cultural contexts) to be nature spirits, though the fey are also often thought to have originally been ancestor spirits, and the New Age conception of devas has deviated quite a bit from its Buddhist and Hindu roots. (This, incidentally, is part of why mythology and other cultural materials need to be part of your spiritual research!)

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I mentioned in my past two posts that you can cleanse yourself before and after spirit work, and banish spirits as need be. Some of you may already have your own cleansing and banishing practices, but here are a few basic ideas to start with.

Cleansing Self, Space, and Items Beforehand

Some people feel better about their ritual work if they cleanse themselves and their ritual area prior to getting started with the rite itself. Cleansing is at least as much about getting yourself into the right headspace for ritual work as it is about removing unwanted influences from your working space. The best cleansing rituals are not just physically active, but psychologically convincing.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • G. B. Harte
    G. B. Harte says #
    Hailings.... Cleaning & Cleansing. Cleansing & Cleaning. I read your article with great interest. There is much I would like to

So in my last post, I gave a brief rundown of why you might wish to communicate with spirits in the first place, and also offered up some ideas and an exercise for spirit communication using tools like spirit boards, pendulums, scrying tools, and the like. Now I'd like to cover communicating without using tools other than your own mind and spirit.

There's nothing inherently wrong with tools, of course. I have run into people over the years who thought that tools were just training wheels, and that a true practitioner of spiritual arts is someone who can do everything empty-handed. In my experience, it comes down less to how good someone is at what they do, and more about personal preference. For some people, tools are like Dumbo's feather--they train your mind to be able to perform amazing feats, but the tools themselves eventually aren't needed even as a reminder. For others, the tools have a life and spirit all their own, and these spirits become allies in the person's magical and ritual work.

So talking about tool-less spirit communication isn't a value judgement--it's just a stylistic preference, ultimately. Why might a person wish to forgo tools? For some, tools may feel cumbersome and distracting, like "Wait, what do I do with the pentacle again? And I'm not sure why I have a wand, and the incense is making my sinuses hurt..." There are also people who may not have a lot of space or time or money for acquiring an assortment of tools, or who like to do their spirit work in more remote areas where it may be inconvenient to haul along a bunch of magical effects. Whatever the reason you have for not using physical tools, you still have options for communicating with spirits.

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In my last post, I talked about how to sense nature spirits. Once you've found a way to sense them that works for you, the next step is to try communicating with them.

Except...why would you want to? And why would they want to talk back?

There are plenty of reasons. For one thing, spirits have insights that we may not have. They exist in a different manner than we do; some of them represent or embody natural forces that we can only observe and interact with in a limited manner. My work with animal, plant, and fungus totems is a good example. These beings are intermediaries between their species and the rest of the world, to include humans. When I work with them, I can find out more about the living beings that I share my world with. For example, I discovered when cleaning up the stretch of the Columbia River I adopted that while the totems of animal species like White Sturgeon and American Robin are concerned with litter that their physical counterparts could accidentally eat or become entangled in, plant totems like Black Cottonwood communicate to me more about water pollution that the trees and other plants can absorb into their roots through the soil.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

So, let's start with the very basics, beginning with how to sense spirits. After all, if I'm going to be helping my readership work with spirits and totems and the like, I should make sure that you have a way of doing so. You might already have figured out a good option for yourself, but keep reading anyway if you like--maybe there's something in here you haven't considered yet.

I'm going to sidestep the issue of the exact nature of spirits, whether they're independent beings in a nonphysical reality that parallels our own, or unseen denizens of our world, or elements of our psyche that we project outward. Not that it isn't important, but I'll leave it up to you to decide exactly what they are; the how-tos I'm going to put in this blog should work regardless of your answer.

Sensing Spirits

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_Lupa_136_raw.jpgOh, all manner of things! Rocks and bones and potted plants and tubes of paint and antlers and bits of wood and other natural ephemera, just to name a few. But what’s it doing here on PaganSquare?

Historically I’ve reserved most of my how-to writing for my books [http://www.thegreenwolf.com/books.html], and my blogging and articles have generally centered more on spiritual issues and concepts, personal experiences, and the like. But I do get a lot of people writing to me asking how to do such-and-such practice, or work with this or that spiritual entity. So I’d like to make this more of a center for that sort of writing, and I am open to suggestions.

Of course, you may need a little context, so here are some of the things I work with:

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Eddie Black
    Eddie Black says #
    Surfing around I happen to stumble upon this page and I saw your name. I used to read you regularly way back in the LiveJournal da
  • Lupa
    Lupa says #
    Hey! I remember you! Good talking to you again I still have LJ though I barely use it; I'm on FB and Tumblr mostly, and I blog h
  • Tabitha Cole
    Tabitha Cole says #
    Lupa, I am very much enjoying your articles, they harmonize very much with my own spirit

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