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Rock Aching Against Water

Original art and blessing by Connla Freyjason; Thrud from a previous render by Daniel P. for Iaconagraphy (Thrud image only available at Red Bubble by clicking this image; opens in new tab)

I have spent most of my life attempting to emulate the famous Bruce Lee quote “Be water, my friend”, but for the past two weeks, I’ve felt more like the rock than the water: rock aching against water.  Most of you already know that we’re in the midst of selling our home and attempting to find and buy a new one, and I’ve said before: moving is hard.  As we go deeper and deeper down this tangled path, however, I’m discovering more and more every day that those three words are really too mild of a statement for precisely how difficult this entire scenario actually is.  “Be water, my friend” went flying out the window, leaving nary a feather behind, somewhere around June 11th, and it’s been all uphill from there!

For a moment, let’s talk about what that quote means, before we talk about its opposite.  In full, Bruce Lee said:

“Don’t get set into one form; adapt it, and build your own, and let it grow, be like water.  Empty your mind; be formless; shapeless–like water.  Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup.  You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle.  You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot.  Now, water can flow, or it can crash.  Be water, my friend.”

Basically, what this means it that you shouldn’t get locked into patterns; that you should basically learn to “roll with the punches”, and somehow keep landing on your feet.  It requires being mindful of your environment and surrounding situations to the point that you can easily “change your shape” to fit that environment and those situations–the way water becomes a cup, or a bottle, or a teapot.  It implies that you are adaptable; that you can take virtually any situation and “make it your own”; take command of it; know when to flow, and when to crash. Ultimately, “being like water” means being completely open to the fact that there are infinite possibilities open to us; it means being hard and soft at the same time; it means accepting the possibilities of success and failure equally. It is to believe that anything can happen, and that it actually might.  From a Heathen perspective, it means being comfortable with the ebb and flow of Wyrd, rather than afraid of that ebb and flow.  When we close ourselves off to all of that, we remove any chance for a sense of accomplishment, relegating ourselves to a constant state of feeling stymied, trapped, out of control, and basically doomed.  

And that is where being the rock, instead of the water, comes into this discussion.  Rocks don’t typically move.  They are static entities; their shape is their shape, and they aren’t exactly legendary for adapting.  Instead of adapting, they break and erode.  Generally, with a rock, “what you see is what you get”, which is why we have phrases like “written in stone” and “set in stone” to denote things that are unchangeable or immutable.  Rather than changing its environment, a rock is changed by its environment: moss grows, or the rock is broken apart by rushing water, or eroded into sand.  “Rock people” (as opposed to “water people”) see Wyrd as something which is likewise set in stone, and they live in an environment of fearing that Wyrd.  It is a life of feeling as though something unknown is constantly impending, and almost every creature alive fears the unknown.

Up until June 11th, I was doing a fairly decent job of “being water”, instead of “being rock”, with this whole home-selling-home-buying scenario.  I had dutifully packed up most of my office without batting an eye, looking upon the whole affair as the first key to a new future in our lives together. I was, in fact, actually excited about the whole thing.  I had begun shopping around online for potential new home prospects, and we had already toured a few open houses. I began embracing the whole concept of “mobile home living” and the “mobile home lifestyle”, which honestly tugged at my California-born heartstrings in ways that I couldn’t even begin to readily describe to my partner or anyone else.  I began feverishly creating home-plans (complete with decor motifs and furniture placement) at Roomstyler, and researching everything I could find on home makeovers (including fantastic accent wall treatments).  I resolved that I was going to become the “ultimate house husband” upon moving to our new locale, complete with all that such entails, right down to making sure dinner was on the table promptly at 5:30 every day when my Beloved gets home.  And I was super excited about all of that.  Wyrd would take us where we needed to be, and I had ultimate faith in the Gods in bringing us there.  So what changed?  How did I suddenly go from “water” to “rock”?

Prepping for our first open house, on the heels of our favorite future home prospect being pulled from the market, while suffering from the worst outbreak of pustular psoriasis we have ever endured started my downhill slide.  Still, I tried to remain hopeful, as we went that Wednesday to tour two other home prospects, the first of which we were both absolutely in love with.  Cat-in-tow, we went to tour two properties, both of which had promise, and I immediately came home and sat down the very next day and started plugging in our furniture and coming up with decorating motifs via Roomstyler.  Yes, I was terrified about where my health was taking me, but I kept reminding myself that soon our lifestyle would be way more laid back, and that somewhat helped me through. I continued to pray nightly (as I always do), even as I put my job on hold because I couldn’t write or even make art through the fever and the itching and the fear.  I tried to keep my chin up, and wade through the itching, the pain, and the knowledge that this could be the outbreak that ended both me and Michelle, and remain hopeful. I tried to stay water, my friends.

On the 22nd, that prospect we were in love with sold to another buyer.  I tried not to let that get me down, as my health was improving (however slightly), and instead focus on the other prospect we had toured.  The more of our furniture I crammed into the houseplan of it on Roomstyler, the more cramped it became, but I found “work arounds”, and kept plugging away.  “It’ll just be cozy”, I reminded myself and my partner; “and we love cozy, right?”  Meanwhile, we scheduled two more open houses, and I watched my Beloved work her tail off while I had to sit humbly by and try to “pray away the pain”.  I began to feel guilty that I couldn’t do as much as I had done around the house previously and internally beat myself up about that fact.  I began to pine for another property we had found that is totally our dreamhouse, but also totally un-financeable.  I began to hear the Princess Leia quote from Star Wars: A New Hope replayed over and over again inside my head, only with a real estate theme: “The more you tighten your grip, the more mobile homes will slip through your fingers”.  Except our “grip” didn’t feel tight at all; instead, it felt more and more like “one hand clapping”: an appendage constantly reaching out for what it wants, yet only grasping air. My downward spiral from “water” into “rock” had officially begun.

I am officially breakingeroding, and turning into sand.  Where once I sat out in the swing to watch the bunnies and the birds, and it would bring me peace, now I sit out in the swing and watch the bunnies and the birds to hide my tears.  What will life be like in a place where I can no longer hear the coyotes sing?  All I want to be able to do is look out my window and see a tree, and it doesn’t even have be my tree; it just needs to be a tree!  All the while I am constantly reminded that I am a financial disaster, living on the good graces of the people who love me, and cannot help with anything whatsoever except maybe a little housework here and there, and right now, I’m not even fully able to do that.  I feel like a piece of dandelion fluff blown on the wind; some magical thing, perhaps, to the eye of a child, but when it’s all said and done, wherever I come to land I will grow into a weed.  And weeds are a nuisance; they leech all of the good away.  My nightly prayers have begun to feel like something I say by rote.  Where once there was faith behind those words, now that faith has been replaced with a very definite desperation.  I still sing galdr, yet each time I do so, I am reminded of the two homes previously that I have tried to “galdr into existence” for us that have gone to other buyers, even as our own prospects grow ever more slim. I am spiraling ever deeper into a pit of despair, and I’m having a very hard time finding a way to climb back out of it. No longer caught up in the ebb and flow of Wyrd, it has instead become a wave which I fear will drown us all.  

This morning, I pulled Uruz for my daily rune-draw.  I do this every morning, asking the Gods to tell me Their intentions for me this day: how should I live; what should I do; to what should I put my energy?  Immediately, the blessing for Thrud which I had been led to create weeks ago popped into my mind, and most especially the line: As rock as it aches against water.  We don’t tend to think of the pain the rock endures, as it is broken apart by rushing water, until that moment when we have become that stone.  As Heathens, the words “the strength of mountains” sound like a fantastic thing to have; like something for which to actively strive.  That’s all well and good until one is actually asked to endure; then and only then does one realize just how tough it must be to be a mountain!  

So how does one go from being “rock” back to being “water”?  

Flip that switch in four steps:

  • Restore hope via gratitude.
  • Give yourself permission to believe in miracles; in infinite possibilities.
  • Define your ultimate possibility.
  • Ultimately believe in your ultimate possibility.

The first step is the restoration of hope.  That’s the “thing” I lost a good grasp on, starting around June 11th, and then pretty much totally on the 22nd.  As this proverbial stone has continued rolling downhill like an avalanche, things have come to feel more and more hopeless. And, as in that famous quote from the TV series Lost, “hope is a dangerous thing to lose“.  Perhaps the easiest way to flip our brains from a “doom cycle” back to a “hope cycle” is via gratitude.  Being grateful for the things around us provides the rational mind–that part of the brain that tends to be the “doomsayer” in the first place–with evidence that good things can and do, in fact, happen after all.  I end every day, no matter how shitty, with a litany of gratitude to the Gods for every single good thing that happened throughout that day, no matter how small: everything from “thank you for that heron that flew by my window this afternoon at two o’clock” to “thank you for time with my Beloved and Kili”.  So, clearly, I have a relatively decent “gratitude system” already in place, yet here I am still: a rock, instead of water.

Restoring hope should begin to pave the way for a restoration of the belief in infinite possibilities.  In other words, giving oneself permission to honestly believe in miracles.  Two weeks ago, I wholeheartedly did; now, notsomuch.  I believe that was the true turning point for me, with going from water to rock.  One can only be told so many times that something is impossible before one actually gets with the program and realizes that something is, in fact, impossible. And once we reach that point, miracles cease being a possibility.  The permission to believe in them is officially revoked.  Author Marianne Williamson, famous for her books on alternative spirituality, including A Course In Miracles, has this to say about giving oneself permission to believe in miracles:

“A miracle is a shift in perception from fear to love–from a belief in what is not real, to faith in that which is.  That shift in perception changes everything.”

Breaking that down from a strictly Heathen perspective, believing in miracles means understanding, accepting, and (most importantly) allowing the concept that all of those infinite possibilities–all of those miracles–are not utangard, but instead, innangard.  In other words, miracles aren’t something that happen to someone else out there in the big somewhere elsebut are instead right there, waiting for us, within our own circle of influence.  We fear what is outside our circle of influence, while we love what is inside our circle of influence.  When all of those infinite possibilities becomes things which are outside of that circle of influence–when we have that “one hand clapping” feeling that I described earlier, which makes us feel very out of control–we come to fear those possibilities, rather than love them.  The further we push possibility away from us, the more we come to fear it, and the more out of control we subsequently feel.  

So the third step is to define your ultimate possibility.  Your ultimate possibility should be the best possible outcome, based on the good things already being detailed by your personal “gratitude system“.  By basing the ultimate possibility on things which are already happening within our present circle of influence, all of those infinite possibilities become innangard, rather than utangard. My ultimate possibility, therefore, would be an attainable home that is sustainable by me, even given all of our health issues, which will require me to show off my interior design skills in effectively homemaking, because that is the “part of this bargain” which is actually within my circle of influence.  I cannot buy us a house; I can’t make that happen.  But I can make it a home. I cannot control whether or not there are trees in our yard-to-come, but I can learn to garden and grow things inside as well as outside. Home-buying is outside my circle of influence; it is utangardHomemaking, however, is something at which I excel–something I have always longed for the opportunity to actually do–and is therefore inside; it is innangard.

The final step, then, is to believe ultimately in that ultimate possibility.  Believing ultimately means that you put your heart and soul (all four parts of it!) into making that ultimate possibility an ultimate reality.  In my case, that means that rather than pinning all my hopes and dreams on this specific property, or that one, I instead put all of that energy into learning and preparing to do all of the things that are congruent with my ultimate possibility.  For example, if I want to be able to look out my window and see a tree, I need to start learning how to either plant one, paint one, or otherwise create one, rather than sitting around crying and moaning about “please, Gods, give me a tree!”  If I’m so obsessed with having “a room with a view”, instead of pinning everything on a specific property that has that view (which could just as easily slip away as not), I need to be developing creative ways to make a room have a view.

Ultimately, Wyrd is neither shaped for us nor set in stone: it ebbs and flows and changes with our every breath and our ever-changing attitudes.  When we trap ourselves in a cycle of hopelessness, then that becomes our Wyrd.  Instead of running like rabbits from shadows in the dark–from those things which are outside our circle of influence–we must come to realize that such behavior simply calls our worst fears to us.  By living our lives that way, we are literally bringing the worst possible Wyrd into existence.  Instead, we must focus on those things which we can control–those things which are inside our circle of influence–and take charge of those things.  Be grateful for them, and then do something with them and about them.  Even if it requires the strength of mountains; even if it hurts, like rock aching against water. 

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Heading Njordr

Art and verse original by Connla Freyjason for Iaconagraphy using elements by Beetle for Iaconagraphy and an open domain image by John Bauer. Click image to purchase as an altar cloth! (Link opens in new tab.)

I have been in love with the sea since I was young enough to first learn to say the word, and some of my fondest memories of childhood involve boats and sailing. When I learned that Freyja’s Father was a sailor—a great navigator and protector of merchants who was often called upon by our Ancestors to help them navigate through stormy seas to new horizons—I realized I had to come to know Him. I told my wife one Friday, after performing blot for Freyja that afternoon, that I thought the following week, I might pour to Her Father as well. It felt like the right thing to do, even though at that moment in time all I really knew of Him was that He was Freyja’s Father and that He “liked boats” as much as me.

The following Monday, a prayer for Njordr came up in my Facebook feed, as if out of nowhere. It was beautiful, and it added some new facets to my understanding of The One I have come to lovingly call “The Van-Father” since. A chord was officially struck in my heart, mind, and “soul”. The prayer mentioned being “adrift in strange waters”, “the mists of doubt” having clouded one’s vision. It described exactly how I was feeling in that moment, and it gave me Njordr as the “go-to-guy” for such feelings. It went on to say “reinvigorate my spirit with the smell of the Sea”–given that sea gulls have become a symbol of precisely that sort of “soul invigoration” in my personal symbology, I knew this was a sign to me. I had made the right decision, when I announced on a whim to my wife the previous Friday that I felt pulled towards blotting Njordr.

So that Friday I did precisely that, and I used the prayer (from Huginn’s Heathen Hof) when I performed that blot. I poured seawater we had kept from our trip to Maine the previous May in offering to Him, and then I took a small bit of sand and some very tiny shells from that same trip and placed them in a small votive bottle for my altar, which I likewise filled with seawater. I filled it only halfway, so that when the bottle is rocked, it mimics the waves of the sea. I keep it on my altar even now, for that first blot to Njordr kindled a lasting relationship between He and me.

I have since come to know Him as the Peacemaker: as One Who teaches moderation, temperance, and diplomacy in the face of negativity. You see, there was a time when He was married to Skadi, the shimmering Snow-Goddess and Jotun-Daughter Who was so brave, She brought Her shield to bear against the Aesir Themselves when They killed Her Father, Thjazi. Instead of combat, however, in the end She asked for two things in payment from the Gods: that someone make Her laugh (which Loki did, by tying His testicles to a nanny goat which subsequently dragged him about), and that She be allowed to choose a spouse from among the gathered Gods. Odin countered, saying that She must choose Her new spouse based only on the appearance of Their feet. She chose Njordr, because He had the most beautiful tootsies—She thought He was Baldur, based on the beauty of his feet. Subsequently, They attempted to move to Her mountain home to live together, but Njordr was not happy there, so far from the sea. They then attempted to take residence in Noatan, Njordr’s seaside Hall, but Skadi found the constant crash of the waves and the persistent calls of the gulls maddening. In the end, They agreed that They could not be happy together, and They parted company: peacefully.

I am notoriously unskilled at “agreeing to disagree”, but getting to know Njordr has tempered that for me. It’s not that I need to be right all the time. I’m definitely not that guy, but when I know for certain in my heart of hearts that I positively am right about something, it is very hard for me to back away graciously from an argument. Njordr has taught me that trying to “drive your boat” across rocks only leaves you with a leaky boat. Usually in an argument, both parties are absolutely convinced that they are right, whether they are or not, and often, no matter how many facts you can show them to the contrary, nothing can be done to change their mind. Sometimes it’s best to adopt a “you love mountains; I love the sea” attitude, as He did with Skadi, and walk on, with no hard feelings.

Njordr has also taught me the true value of Family. As fulltrui of Freyja, my bond with His Daughter has waxed somewhere between “little brother” and “cared-for child”, and I have often felt that bond recognized by Njordr. To say that He has been good to me would be putting it mildly. In the time since I began my relationship with Him, I have seen my reach as a merchant more than double, and the bounties He has poured into my life have not only kept me going and kept me trying, but renewed my faith in this business and myself. This has, in turn, taught me that rather than being a burden to my own human family (as I have often felt), what they are doing for me is simply what families do: families take care of each other; no one gets left behind. One of the greatest lessons Njordr has taught me is that best summed up by the Hawaiian ideal of Ohana: that family is more than blood-relations, it is all of the people in your life who are inextricably bound together in a network of mutual cooperation and remembrance of each other. True family members are those people who think about you and your welfare, even when it isn’t in their best interests to do so. I may be separated from much of my blood-kin by thousands of miles and the veil of Death, but I still have a family, and I am profoundly grateful that those people have come to love the “misfit creature” that I am the way that they do. Njordr taught me that, too.

I am proudly fulltrui of Freyja, but the more time I spend in the company of Her Father, the more I feel the call of the gulls in His direction as well. Every Friday is His now, as well as Freyja’s and Freyr’s. Monday, too, belongs to Njordr in my life. I’ve recently begun a daily blot to Him with rum, as an extra expression of my gratitude for all that He has helped me navigate toward in my life. I keep the tiny bottle of Captain Morgan’s on my altar—it seemed highly appropriate. One day soon, I know I may find myself crying to Him “Oh Captain, my Captain”, as I enter into a second fulltrui relationship with the Van-Father. Either way, I know He will help me steer my ship towards the brightest horizon, and will hold to the bonds of family, as they are reflected in my relationship to His Daughter, Freyja. I am slowly “heading Njordr”, for He is my “tallship”, and She is the “star” I steer it by.

This blog entry is a featured chapter in my forthcoming book, Wanderer: Romantic Heathenry for the Rest of Us.  

Njordr has been very instrumental in helping me “get a handle” on my Wyrd; I would love to help you do the same!  Reading slots are available for the month of June, simply click the image below, or “Got Wyrd?” in the menu above.  I look forward to working with you!

 

 

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Commercialized Magic?

Original digital painting by Connla Freyjason for Iaconagraphy, 2016.

Commercialized Magic:  Employing supernatural powers or demonstrating the power to apparently influence the course of events via mysterious or supernatural forces purely for the sake of profit and/or financial gain.

That is not what we do here at Iaconagraphy. It never has been, and it never will be. However it has recently been brought to our attention that some people view any use of spiritual gifts in the creation of a product to sell as precisely that, so we felt the need to blog about it, and clear up any misconceptions or preconceived notions that might be held by others of our followers and folks within our customer base.  We’re going to be doing this blog post a wee bit differently from our norm, as Michelle and I are co-writing this one.  She has served as a psychic service professional for far longer than I have, with a combined thirty years of Tarot and oracle card reading experience, though only in a paid capacity for the last two.  I have personally been “tossing runes” for twenty years, as well as reading oracle cards for myself and friends, also as an un-paid reader, until now.  She is ordained; I am not. She is published; I’m not yet.  Therefore, I feel that hearing both our perspectives on this issue is not only worthy, but warranted.

Warning: If you are sensitive to certain types of “language”, be forewarned. This post contains some mild profanity.

So what does qualify as commercialized magic?

Connla:  As far as I’m concerned, anybody who “hangs out their shingle” as a “psychic service professional” based more on what they can gain than on what they can give is committing an act of commercialized magic.  The key word in the phrase “psychic service professional” is service.  If the only thing you’re intending to serve is your own damn wallet, then you need to stop muddying the waters for the rest of us who are actually here to perform a service to other people.

 

Michelle: First of all, I don’t consider “psychic readings” to be a form of magic; I consider magic to be magic.  A psychic reading does not actively attempt to “influence the course of events”.  We aren’t “making shit happen” by doing a reading for you.  We will hopefully be providing you with tools, so that you can “make shit happen” yourself, but no amount of advice “makes shit happen”, psychic or otherwise.  Anyone who tells you that a reading they have performed for you is going to “make shit happen” in your life probably also has a bridge over the Marianas Trench they’d like to sell you!  That’s “snake oil salesmanship” at its finest.  I consider active spellwork to be magic, because that’s precisely what active spellwork is: it is performing an action with the direct intent of “influencing the course of events”.  Neither Connla nor I will ever participate in active spellwork for money, for a variety of reasons.  First, because that obviously is actively doing magic for money (though that doesn’t necessarily mean that even that falls under the heading of “commercialized magic”, as defined above), but our reasons go much, much deeper than that.  Magic always comes at a price, and I’m not talking about money when I say that.  Simple physics tells us that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction”: when you perform a spell, there will be some “equal and opposite reaction” incurred.  As such, active spellwork is an intensely and necessarily very personal thing. Neither of us are “into” incurring anybody else’s equal and opposite reactions!  We create enough of those of our ownon our own.  I’m not willing to say that there aren’t people out there who are selfless enough to take those sort of risks for you–the conjure community has been full of precisely those sorts of people going all the way back to ancient Africa–what I am willing to say is that doing readings of the type that we do here at Iaconagraphy is taxing enough, without adding active spellwork to that mix.  For the record, not all active spellwork for money is “commercialized magic” as defined above, either:  if someone is doing that as a service for others, rather than solely for what they personally financially gain from it, then that’s not commercialized magic; that is simply a different sort of psychic service profession from what we do here at Iaconagraphy.    

How is what you do different from commercialized magic?

Connla:  First, and quite simply: we’re here to serve othersnot to serve ourselves or our own wallets.  The financial bottom line is not what I was put here to serve: I was put here to serve the Gods first, and other seekers second.  While the old adage of “a gift for a gift” and an active energy exchange are necessary for our very survival in this world, I made a decision months ago to no longer be a slave to our bank account.  I don’t serve it; I serve the Gods, and I’m here to serve all of you.  

Second, most paradigms of commercialized magic put forth a “here, let me do it all for you” perspective, which makes the person purchasing said “services” wholly dependent upon the person performing said “services”.  This is how things like “Tarot addiction” get started.  The “Tarot addict” becomes as dependent on the Reader as the alcoholic is on their local bartender, or the drug addict is on their local dealer.  That’s how such people keep the money flowing in: they continue to build on that dependence exactly the same way as a drug dealer. “Your life is shitty?” “Here, let me do another reading for you and give you all the answers so it will be guaranteed to be less shitty; that’ll be $200”.  We don’t do that.  Our readings are designed to be stepping stones; nothing more.  They provide advice that could potentially help you improve your life, sure, but they are never put forth as the “be all and end all” answer to all of your problems. We can’t do that; we’re not Gods!

 

 

Michelle:  One would hope that the answer to this question would be self-evident, from my answer to the first question, but just in case it isn’t, let me be overtly honest:  a person who was actually offering readings as a form of commercialized magic (especially of the “snake oil salesman” variety that has been implied in this particular situation) would not be as deeply offended as I am right now!  I lived in the South for most of my life–forty-two years, to be exact–in an area of the country where any psychic ability was either viewed as being “of the Devil” or “fakery for the sake of money-making”.  When I began to read Tarot at the ripe young age of fifteen,  for free, as a service to my peers, I received death threats after they proved to be uncannily precise.  Meanwhile, the local “psychic reader” in our town, who was a complete charlatan, performing readings purely for the sake of making money, was allowed to practice in peace: no threats of burning crosses in her yard; no threats of “we’ll burn you at the stake in the local churchyard”.  That experience taught me at a very young age that if I ever, ever considered making money off of my God-given gifts, someone would actually make good on those death threats!  I subsequently did my level best, for the next twenty-seven years, to hide away my psychic gifts as much as was humanly possible.  When you’re me, that’s a little bit hard to pull off. I consequently became agoraphobic.  I reached a point where I was actually afraid to go out in public and remotely be myself, much less remotely entertain the thought of offering my skills as a service for money.  Three years ago, we moved to Massachusetts, and I suddenly found myself living in the “Girdle of the Goddess”, instead of the “Bible Belt”.  Here, my gifts are seen as precisely what they are: gifts. Here, there is actually an industry based on people offering such gifts in service to the public.  I could finally be wholly myself.  Not only that, I could finally be recognized as what I am: a gifted psychic service professional.  

How do you personally feel about commercialized magic?

Connla:  I feel the same way about commercialized magic that many Heathens feel about the AFA: those people muddy the waters for the rest of us.  Those of us who are really into this for the right reasons get lumped together with all the “boardwalk psychics” and “gypsy fortune tellers”, and get the same bad rap, and fall victim to the same levels of disrespect–disrespect which we patently do not deserve. Just because I perform this sort of service for people for money doesn’t make me a con artist or charlatan, anymore than me being a Heathen automatically makes me a racist!

 

Michelle:  My simple two-word answer to this question would be: that depends.  Depends on what exactly?  Mostly, it depends on whether or not the person in question is actually legit.  If a person is legitimately gifted with the ability to perform magic (and “psychic activity”), and is selfless enough to be willing to do that for other people, and then chooses to charge for their services as a way of either avoiding the necessary “equal and opposite reaction” (energy craves energy; “a gift for a gift”), or as a way of maintaining their lives (i.e., simple survival), then I certainly don’t take issue with that. Go them! I just know that isn’t a life for me, or for Connla. We have enough of our own endemic mental and physical backlash, without courting other people’s.  However, if a person is a “snake oil salesman” of the magical variety, they are actively making our lives more difficult by promoting the stereotype of the “boardwalk psychic” and the “gypsy fortune teller”, and that, quite simply, pisses me off.  Either a person is actively working in service to the community (services for which they should wholeheartedly get paid), or they’re a con artist and a grifter; they just choose to dress up their con and their grifting in the language and trappings of the supernatural.

What’s the difference between a psychic service professional and a “boardwalk psychic” or “gypsy fortune teller”?

Connla:  A psychic service professional does exactly that: they provide counseling services to others, for which they are paid, which rely on their own gifted (psychic) abilities.  They attempt to lead you to a point where you can develop your own answers, providing you with potential tools along the way to assist you in doing that. A psychic service professional understands the old saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.”  They’re not there to essentially pour that water down your throat.    A “boardwalk psychic” or “gypsy fortune teller”, on the other hand, bases their “services” on either telling the consumer precisely what they want to hear, or the exact opposite (so that they can then provide answers for how to avoid catastrophe), in an effort to keep the money sliding across the table and into their hand.  

 

Michelle:  To me, that’s like asking “what’s the difference between a barber in the Old West (who usually also performed the occupations of surgeon, dentist, veterinarian, and mortician) and a modern surgeon”?  Or, better yet, “what’s the difference between the Seidhkonas and shamans who served our Ancestors and the old lady downtown with the neon ‘Psychic Reader’ sign in her window who is basically only pedaling bullshit for money because she possesses no psychic ability whatsoever?” In the Old West, if you suffered a gunshot wound, you hoped the barber could fix you up; in our modern world, going to the barber with a gun shot wound is pretty much a guaranteed way to die! (Better hope he’s also a mortician; chances are, he’s not!)  In the ancient world, people with actual psychic ability were held in extremely high esteem: we need look no further than the evidence of artifacts within their collections of grave goods to see the truth in this statement.  That they might remotely be a fake was not a factor: theirs was seen as a sacred duty, not only by the perpetrator of the action (the shaman, Seidhkona, or other “magickal practitioner”), but also by the people whom they served.  I see what I do as a sacred duty in exactly that same way, and so does Connla.  The little old lady passing herself off as a psychic while pedaling bullshit for bucks clearly does not!  As Connla said above, a psychic service professional does exactly that: they provide a service to others; they are not merely servicing themselves

Why offer such services for money? Isn’t that a slippery slope?

Connla:  Other people in service professions get paid, why the hell shouldn’t we?  Service professions are defined as professions which require special training in the arts or sciences in order to serve others, and include accountants, dentists, pharmacists, morticians, hairdressers, barbers, psychiatrists, and social workers.  You likely wouldn’t entertain the thought of not paying your hairdresser, right?  Why should it be any different when it comes to us?

Insofar as it being a slippery slope, I would ask you: Do you consider paying your hairdresser the first step down a slippery slope?  Sure, there are people out there who are out to take your money, and that’s all they care about.  That’s been a reality in the Universe since time began.  There are also people like us who are out here to do our jobs.  When you sit down for a haircut, are you thinking in the back of your mind “well, what if they cut my hair crooked so that they can charge me extra for fixing it?” For most people, the answer to that question is “no, of course not”.  That’s because we tend to go to hairdressers we know beforehand we can patently trust.  When choosing a psychic service professional, the same rules should apply: pick someone who has proven they can be trusted.  Otherwise, caveat emptorbuyer beware. No slippery slope necessary.

 

Michelle:  The Seidhkonas, shamans, and other “magickal practitioners” of ancient times were paid for the services they rendered, why shouldn’t modern people performing the same services likewise get paid?  I’ve heard it argued that such people of ancient times amassed all of their wealth because people paid them respect, of which those items were an outward sign.  Isn’t money paid to a modern practitioner the exact same thing? Or are we somehow less worthy of respect, simply because we are separated from that time period by a few thousand years?  I’m sorry, but that is, quite simply, bullshit!  In case I haven’t made this clear enough, I’m sorry, but I’ve been fighting to have my gifts respected for forty-five years!  The primary difference between now and then, insofar as how that respect might be shown, is that back then, part of the respect factor involved not only the giving of gifts in payment, but also bowing down before the person in question as a revered individual.  I explicitly chose the title of Ollamh (essentially: “Poet-Teacher”) at the time of my ordination precisely because I don’t believe any person is worthy of the title  of “reverend”.  People aren’t meant to be revered, only Gods are!  So the modern way of showing that respect is by expressing that person’s worth in the form of monetary payment, which mirrors the giving of gifts to the person providing the service as a sign of respect, as has been done since such services have been practiced by humankind.

Insofar as charging for such services creating any sort of “slippery slope”, I would refer you to Connla’s perfectly eloquent response above.

Isn’t marketing such services almost like a form of “spiritual prostitution”?

Connla:  Gee, let me think: Is a hairdresser practicing “hair prostitution”?  Is an accountant practicing “number prostitution”? Is a dentist practicing “tooth prostitution”?  All of these other service professions depend on a person choosing an occupation based on their gifts.  Hairdressers become hairdressers because they are gifted with the ability to style hair well.  Accountants become accountants because they are gifted with an ability with numbers.  Dentists become dentists because they are gifted with an ability to treat people’s teeth, and an interest in doing so.  All of these professions require years of study and practice.  We don’t look down on them or judge them based on their gifts, nor their active pursuit of said study and practice; we’re just very grateful they had those gifts in the first place, and put in the time to become adept at their professions.  Psychic service professionals are exactly the same, our gifts just happen to be of a supernatural variety, and without years of study and practice, we wouldn’t be professionals, we would be little more than dabblers.  So why is it that when we use our gifts, after years of study and practice, to actually earn a living, we get accused of “spiritual prostitution”, but your local hairdresser or dentist is seen as a valid service professional? That is, quite simply, unfair.

 

Michelle:  have heard some professional readers liken the way their services are treated by tourists to a form of psychic prostitution, yes.  I have also felt that way myself on more than one occasion, when a client has come back six times with the same damn question, simply because they don’t like the responses they’ve received, and are hoping this time they’ll get what they really want to hear.  I’ve also felt that way myself when people expect my services to come for free.  (In fact, I’ve even joked, when referring to the latter situation that I am “patently a prostitute, not a whore”!)  When readings are treated as nothing more than a form of entertainment, rather than an actual serious service that is being provided by the reader, then, yes, this definitely becomes the equivalent of “psychic prostitution”.  But I personally feel that is the case with any Spirit-driven profession.  If you are making what is ostensibly votive art, for example, purely for the sake of “what can I put on a t-shirt this week?”, then that is also a form of “psychic prostitution”.  During the medieval period, when the Catholic Church offered plenary indulgences in return for money, that was also a form of “psychic prostitution”.  For a moment, let me do as Connla so eloquently did above and take the “psychic” part out of the equation.  We are all gifted with something that we’re so skilled at doing that it could potentially be the basis of our occupation.  That’s simply the way the world is designed to work.  Painters, paint (and I don’t just mean the artistic ones; I also mean the ones who paint houses for a living).  Those who are gifted at medically taking care of other people become doctors and nurses.  Those who are good at arguing points become politicians and lawyers.  At what point do any of those professions based on a person’s natural gifts become “pimping your gifts for dollars”?  At the moment when that person–or the people employing their services–views that gift and its subsequent off-shoot-profession as nothing more than a money-making activity; at the moment that they or the people employing their services either overvalue or undervalue the part that the individual performing said services personally plays in getting whatever job in question done.

Why seek a reading from a psychic service professional, when I could just “throw my own cards” or “toss my own runes”?

Connla:  We are all human, and, as humans, we tend to have our own inborn biases.  If you know, without a shadow of a doubt, that you can “throw your own cards” or “toss your own runes” without any of those biases entering your mind as you interpret those cards/runes, then you may never need the assistance of a psychic service professional.  That assumes that you know how to read cards or toss runes in the first place, which not everybody does. It also assumes that you’ve put in the same level of study and practice as most people who choose to do this for a living, as a professional.  Finally, it assumes that you have confidence in yourself as an intuitive/psychic.  If the answer to any of those things is a resounding “no”, then a professional reading would be a good investment.

 

Michelle:  If you feel that you can perform the exact same services which we provide for yourself, all by yourself, then by all means, do so.  Also, it is very nice to meet someone else who has put as much time and effort into the study of this field as we have, and with similar psychic gifts. We don’t meet many people like you, so please, let’s chat, hang out, or something!

How do you determine what to charge for your services?

Connla:  How does any other service professional decide what to charge for their services?  We do it exactly the same way!   First, we figure our overhead costs. When dealing with a service-based industry, as opposed to an industry that is based on shipping actual crafted products, those overhead costs include all the things that are necessary to stay in business: things like your internet connection, maintaining your website, equipment used to perform the service (in our case, cards, runes, incense, and a computer), room and board (because if you don’t have a roof over your head and food in your belly, chances are, you’re going to be physically unable to do any job in the first place!), marketing and advertising, and any necessary further education/study/necessary certifications.  If you’re charging less for your provided service than your overall overhead costs, then you’re doing it wrong.  Next, you consider how much labor (work) your service actually requires: how physically or mentally taxing is the service provided?  This is commonly referred to as labor costLabor cost is why, when you go to a mechanic, you don’t just pay him for the parts!  Finally, you weigh things like experience and skill.  What is your level of experience and skill worth monetarily?  The final price on something is not just a source of income, but also a signal of its worth. This commonly breaks down in the human brain as “cheap cost=shotty service”.  

Our overhead costs include everything on that list in my first paragraph.  This site isn’t being hosted for free. Our internet access is not free.  Our cards and runes did not come cheap, nor did this computer on which I am typing (which we use not only to advertise our services, but also to provide them in the final format of a PDF delivered via email), nor does the incense and other things required to reach an alpha state and perform the readings in the first place.  Our room and board expenses should not be dependent solely on the “good graces” of other people–we are not Stewart from Big Bang Theory!  Marketing and advertising are neither cheap nor free.  Resource materials to improve our skills (such as books and classes) are, for the most part, neither cheap nor free.  Any further certifications in our field (and, yes, that’s actually a thing!) cost money.

Our labor costs are determined based not only on what it takes out of us, both mentally and physically, to perform this service, but also on how much time performing this service takes away from performing the duties of the rest of our business and our life in general.  Every reading is, on average, a good three to four hours that we cannot be working on writing, art, marketing, or “earning our right to live here” (i.e., helping to maintain the household).  When we are done with a shamanic reading (the type of readings we presently offer), we are tapped out.  Achieving the alpha state alone is enough to require a good, long nap. Mentally and physically, this involves a whole lot more than just “getting down on the floor with some cards and some runes”.  Shamanic readings require a psychic connection with the querent, as well as with those entities, forces, and energies which are coming in, to assist in giving answers in the reading.  This service is, therefore, both mentally and physically taxing.  Wearing ourselves out like that shouldn’t come for free, anymore than a mechanic wearing himself or herself out under your car, covered in grease and oil, with the potential of that car coming down on them and crushing them (accidents do happen!), should come for free!

Finally, our worth is high: we have a combined fifty years of experience (thirty on her side of the equation; twenty on mine) with psychic ability and performing readings (runes, Tarot, and oracle cards); she has proven psychic ability, and I’m a “dead guy” and a practicing vitki (which I didn’t become overnight, on a whim).  That’s a level of experience, and those are skills, that you don’t run across every day. That is worth something!  I’m sure you probably have your own distinctive personal skills and experiences which you offer in your own field of work. What if your employer suddenly told you those weren’t worth anything? 

 

Michelle:  When I first began doing readings for money, I significantly not only undervalued my abilities (because I had been led to believe my entire life that what I can do was not only worthless, but also dangerous), I also severely underestimated the toll doing this for a living would take on me, mentally and physically. I neither considered the effects it would have on the time constraints of the other parts of this business (writing and art), nor did I consider the effect it would have on the people around me (friends and family members who also require my time and who patently do not like constantly being told not to disturb me).  I subsequently wound up in situations where I would perform a reading which took me six hours from start to finish and then making $20.  That’s not even including subsequent personal counseling sessions.  In the end, I was averaging making $1.00 or less per hour of my time. That’s way less than minimum wage, in payment for a distinctly skilled labor service profession!  Thankfully, I have Connla, who worked out all of the stuff he talked about above. What we can do is worth more than $1.00 or less per hour! I am worth more than $1.00 or less per hour, and so is he! 

We hope that this blog post and mini-interview clears up any misconceptions or preconceived notions that people might have about exactly what it is that we are doing here at Iaconagraphy, when it comes to offering paid-for psychic services.  Above and beyond anything else, at the end of the day, we are here to serve you: whether that be as writers, artists, or psychic service professionals.  Everything that we do is in the nature of that service: service to all of you, who have supported us on this journey, and service to the Gods, for all of the gifts which They constantly pour into our lives. Anything less than that, and we would not be living to the full potential of who we have been created to be.  We would not only be performing a disservice to the community, but to ourselves, and to the Gods.  When all is said and done, this is about far more than money; this is about living true. And that, my friends, is priceless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are interested in employing Connla’s services as a psychic service professional, please click here. We would be delighted to serve you!