|Unorthodox Spiritual Tips for the Roman Cultor
SCHOLA AETII·SATURDAY, 2 FEBRUARY 2019
One of the things I hear from time to time from Cultors and in fact all sorts of Pagans is, how they feel a bit out of touch, disconnected, not so close to the Gods as they used to, and other similar statements. Now I wanted to address this issue for some time, and one intellectual perspective I have given in my official lesson of the Schola Aetii “Why the Gods only speak to some”. This is in a way a reverse post, or a selection of tips and ideas to reverse this. While the Gods have their own council to whom to speak, there are ways and methods to open yourself up, to train your spiritual sensibility. Now the crux I came into on thinking about this topic is, that the Roman Religion itself surely had spiritual teachings and we know a lot of Romans were Initiates of one or more Mystery Schools, but since Polytheism was also brutally interrupted by the ascend of Monotheism, it did not have the time to develop, unlike for example in Hinduism. I assume the ancients also had spiritual and psychic training methods similar to East Asia, but we know little to nothing about it. I guess the Pythagorean School must have had some, for their rigor and ideas remind a lot of Yoga and some Buddhist teachings. Other Pagan religions, like Asatru and their system of Rune magic, have developed new methods and methods inspired by Eastern meditation and psychic techniques.
Now the only guide in this writing is, does this or that advise help to open up to the presence of the Gods or not? Does it help to be attuned to the Roman Gods and the the forces of the spiritual realms, or not. This guide can only be centered around what works, and because of that I have for now forfeit the view of the Reformist Roman Cultor, and write this guide as “unofficial”, or shall we say, as personal tips and reflections from one individual to another, and not as official view of the Schola.
The reality is that most Cultors a) have a personal life with all the worldly complexities and b) many Cultors did or do work with other systems besides the Roman Cultus. From both sources arise issues, and I shall speak about them.
(I) ISSUES FROM PERSONAL LIFE
How you live your life effects your spirituality. This is as simple, as it is often overlooked. Spirituality like all ways of living, means that we form roads by walking them. Like a trail through a meadow where people often walk forms a sandy road, or a trail in a forest made by animals, and like the water flowing forms a riverbed, so does thinking and acting in your everyday life from currents, canals along which habit creates how the energy in your life flows. Most Cultors have their busy everyday life, Job, Family, all the various obligations in your life. They are time consuming and absorbing, and holding a Pagan or generally spiritual view in all this hectic everyday life is no easy task. So first and foremost, I want you not to blame yourself. Being ridden by guilt is not helping. Being a Pagan is already a tremendous task in our time where mostly you will not meet many other Pagans, unless you are very lucky. Most people in your job will not be Pagans, or many won't even be spiritual at all. So you have no public community to reinforce your religious/spiritual pathway, but instead mundane pathways are dug into your mind. It is an uphill battle all your life, and you have proven great mental strength by choosing such a path. Whipping yourself in guilt or shame is not only not helping, it is not a realistic perspective. You are to be recommended for already have come so far!
Being a Pagan or a spiritual person in our times is still by any means a sort of Coming Out, like if a person were gay or something the like. You usually live with the pressure of not being sure how others react, so many do not live out their Paganism and their spirituality open, which makes it all the more difficult. And this is one possible step: consider daring to be more Outed. As a gay Pagan myself, trust me I know all levels of fear and anxiety over being outed for something that maybe others may not accept, but if you are an un-outed Pagan, a part of your mind always reinforces the idea that what you do is sinful or wrong. Outing yourself is a step to overcome that inner blockade. You acknowledge being Pagan or Spiritual is OKAY and when it is OKAY there is no reason to keep it a secret. Of course I say, be strategically intelligent about it. If it causes you so much trouble, that it may more ruin your life, you can be selective whom you tell what. But then, many people over-dramatize the fear and the risk. Maybe it brings a great change into your life, but then, maybe some dramatic change is in the long run for the better. I just say this as a perspective to consider.
Now of course you may not wish to reveal every single detail about your spiritual life; it is after all something also private. But there lies a chance. You can put maybe some item related to your faith or your spiritual work in your work-space, dare to wear an amulet or necklace, ring or something connected to your spiritual path, that reminds you, reconnects you every time about who you are. Consider what sort of item it can be, whether you prefer something to put before you, like a small statue of a God, or something to wear, like a ring or a necklace.
Personal problems of a psychological and social nature can also be sources of becoming disconnected. Troubles with your life partner, your parents or your children, colleagues at work, financial issues and of course health issues all can interrupt your connection to the spiritual realm. Again, it is a reason to be gentle with yourself, but also understand the sources of your inner disharmony. Some people are just bad for us, people who always drag us into a negative mood, some who always make us feel drained. Now this is not me advising you to be only surrounded by sunshine people, for that would be heartless and cruel. But some relationships only drag us down and damage us, and it is a wisdom of self-preservation to keep such people out of our life, or, if you can't reduce contact with them. People who always make you feel bad, angry or sad over a very long period of time, and not only as a temporal thing, you should consider to remove from your inner circle. Mind you, it is important to help friends and family members in dark times, but it doesn't help when someone, like one who drowns, ONLY drags you down. I will give some more technical tips in part two how to handle this beyond removing them from your life.
This entire section means to question, what is going on in my thinking and feeling? What are the sources of me feeling angry, sad, dragged down or any sort of disharmonious and what factors of my life contribute to that, and what can I do to change that? One thing which I learned to value is learning NLP or “Neuro-Linguistic Programming”, which is a sort of self-help psychology. One of the most valuable lessons I learned in NLP is to know, what are your actual goals? What do you really want from life? How do you imagine yourself when all is good and when you are happy? You would be surprised to know that many people have no idea how they imagine themselves when they are happy, both generally and in relation to others. I recall a father who was always critical to anything his adult son did, and at some point I asked him: what would your son have to do, that you are happy? And he had no idea. That means, he had developed a view that ruled out him ever being satisfied in his relationship with his son, that both he and his son would always be unhappy in their relation. Such negative goals are more widespread than you think, and most are unaware of it.
The second lesson from NLP which I learned is to have an imagination how you can actually come from where to are to where you wish to be. In the case of the father, let's assume he wished to have a positive relationship with his son: what steps could HE, the father, do to achieve that goal? Too often we put the emphasis on something outside of ourselves. In this case the father was always saying, my son has to change. So his entire happiness was rooted in something outside of himself, in his thinking he could do nothing to better the situation and he declared himself essentially as helpless victim. It takes a lot to take responsibility back to yourself and think what YOU can do to improve and situation, instead of putting all the focus to people or events beyond you. These are things we can learn, entirely outside the Pagan or Spiritual Path, but which helps a lot to find inner harmony again and thus being better prepared to connect with the Gods and the Spiritual Realms.
It is the small everyday thoughts which form convictions in your mind. Be alert of what believes about life you nurture: sorrow, anger, distrust, all sort of negative thoughts form a way of you being spiritually disconnected, so be mindful of your habits of thinking.
(II) ENERGETIC ISSUES
There is a plethora of methods to support the inner harmony, which makes any spiritual connection easier, which can help to overcome the hectic, distracting and disturbing currents of life.
HARMONY OF YOUR HOUSE
The most basic question is, how are your physical surroundings organized? Now at the risk of sounding like a scolding mother, but any dirty and messy rooms drag you down, both psychologically and in terms of energy. In Asia the teaching of “Feng Shui” was developed, and even if you are not interested in this system in detail, I suggest you give it a chance. We know that sacred areas and temples in Western History were all built around certain principle of light, harmony of form, balance and having form and color to evoke a harmonic feeling. I believe that harmonic forms of architecture and city planning create a positive flow of energies, which is why I, like many Pagans, am very critical against the modern architecture and city planning. Form creates energy and directs what energies gather. Especially the great focus of modern cities on broad roads for traffic create a lot of disturbing energies, as anyone living near a busy road surely can attest. Noise is also a source of great disturbance. The Chinese Art of Feng Shui has developed a system how to set up rooms and houses in ways which are positive to the individual, and while not everyone can rework his house entirely according to such rules, I can only recommend again looking into its principles, maybe buy a basic guide to Feng Shi apartment design and decoration. Asian Temples are great examples how a naturally flowing energy vitalizes, and visiting the Shinto Shrines and Shrine Parks in Japan was always invigorating me.
Since we have no large Pagan Temple districts in our time, we have to seek inspiration elsewhere, especially since we all live in regular houses or apartments. There are many books which teach about a harmonious living environment, and everyone can do something here in his life. Good Feng Shui books can give you tips, even if you live in a very small apartment, like many Chinese do, like the use of mirrors, the effect of having plants or a small fountain, the use of colors and the placement of furniture. A harmonic living space can greatly help to be attuned with the spiritual energies, just as a messy and chaotic living space can drag you down.
MANTRAS AND CHANTS
Mantras and Chants have been a methods of spirituality in pathways all over the world. A Mantra or a chant are essentially a short sentence, which you repeat in your mind. The idea is, to calm your emotions, to distract you from the chaotic surroundings and sort of make a mental reset. Selecting a certain chant also of course attunes you to the meaning of the chant. There is the most famous Mantra of Hinduism, OM, which is relatively short, and then many western modern systems have developed many chants, rhymes and verses that a single person or even a group can chant for a while. Such chants or mantras remove your everyday mindset and focus you on the higher powers.
As Roman Pagan you may want to form a few Latin Sentences. Make sure the choice of words evokes a good feeling, that the series of vowels and consonants resonate in some way. That is more a way of intuition, forming a sentence or chant that feels powerful. There are reasons to either speak in your own language or using a foreign one, like Latin or Greek. Both are entirely valid, it is more how the harmony of the words feels to you. There is a bonus, some say, in using mantras of languages you do not speak fluently, because since you do not entirely understand them, you focus on them all the more. And of course using a non-everday language can evoke the feeling of using “magical words”, like using Latin makes many people feel saying something special, unlike using your own language. But then I know some very powerful and good English and German chants as well.
The Temples of old had sacred items, often either offerings given to the property of a God, or items generally connected to the service of a certain God, like the scepter of the Augurs. Now Roman Paganism doesn't have so many items typically connected to the religious ceremonies. But, any object can be put into the service of a God. I have for example a chalice which I gave into the possession of my God Apollo, of whom I am priest, and I brought a necklace of Amber as Offering from my journey to Poland to him. Both were dedicated to him and then were transferred into his belonging. Such objects then are property of that God. Using or wearing such an object is a delicate matter, but it can bring a great boost of connection, when you handle such objects with care. I use the chalice only to drink to the Gods at festivals and the necklace is usually either displayed on the altar or locked away. Objects directly given to the Gods should not be worn on ordinary days and outside, but either during rituals or at holidays.
Then there are other objects which can be used for spiritual means, which are not directly offered to the Gods, but used as focus in meditation and prayer. Personally I like crystals. They symbolize the light inside matter, and many people feel a positive resonance having crystals around them. Many Pagan ways knew sacred stones, though often it were regularly stones used in ceremony, having a beautiful crystal to meditate with or wearing a crystal helps some people to attune to more harmonic energies. Essentially, anything that helps you calm, to focus and to be more relaxed and harmonious, is possible to use. Just be sure not to overdo it, like cramming your life with tons of objects like a hoarder.
Also a Sacred Place might be considered. If you can find a spot in nature somewhere, which is a bit retreated from being visited by too many people, you may seek out such a spot and go there from time to time, something in a remote part of a park or a forest, anything you can just sit and meditate a while, and seek out that place to restore your inner harmony.
YOGA, AURA, CHAKRAS
The entire Yoga system is also that I can recommend, and while Yoga is a vast topic in itself, both the physical and the mental exercises can help a lot. The basic mental technique of Yoga is to take a seat, calm your thoughts and learn meditation. Controlling the breath in certain ways is also a method of Yoga. The Eastern ways of cleaning the Aura and meditating on the Chakras is also a possible method to be more spiritually connected. It remains unclear whether the Western system had known energy centers in the human body like the Chakras, Chakra meditation remains a valid and important way, which I can recommend. Since about Yoga, Meditation, Aura and Chakra work exists such a plethora of books, I shall not go into detail here, but learning such mental techniques has greatly helped me to ground myself and open my mind to the connection with the Gods and the higher planes of spirituality. Learning the basics of Meditation is something I can advise to everyone, even if you are not particularly interested in spirituality itself. The value of Yoga and meditation is widely acknowledged and proven to be helpful both for health and the soul.
A basic meditation example is this. Take a relaxed seat, cross-legged or otherwise. Close your eyes, and start some auto-suggestions of calming yourself. Do a controlled breath, like for example 4 seconds inhaling, 4 seconds stopping, 4 seconds exhaling and 4 seconds stopping. Do that breath for a few minutes. Then imagine a light around your body, like your aura, clean and bright, and imagine this clean white aura for a while. Finally if you feel disturbed, you may create an Aura Globe, like imagine a globe or orb around you, like a shield. Imagine it in bright white or golden, and focus on the image for a few minutes, thinking that this bubble reflects all bad energies and lets in only the Light. You may connect the protection shield with a Mantra or Chant, some affirmation of protection. The important thing is to repeat such a meditation daily. The daily routing creates a new mindset, and you can focus on this energy shield or your aura every time in life you feel troubled or disturbed by outside events.
Finally, anything that pollutes you with Miasma can interrupt your connection with the divine. Miasma is a very broad topic, and essentially death, violence, blood and every gross interruption of the natural order and the forces of life create Miasma. Places of accident, of death and suffering create Miasma, and being in such places stick Miasma to yourself. One thing I have to add here: using occult or religious systems hostile to Paganism pollute yourself with an energy which for us is Miasma: Kabbalah and many Christian ceremonies will put an energy upon you, which closes you for the spiritual energies and realms of the Pagan Gods (an vice versa). So while it may not sound politically correct, but practicing rituals based on monotheistic traditions can close your spiritual senses for the Gods and the Spirits of Nature. It simply does not mix, in terms of energy. I say this, knowing a good number of spiritual people like the Kabbalah, and I know and respect the system as elegant in itself. But it does have an averse effect on you, when you want to reach for the Pagan Divine forces, and essentially pollutes you with Miasma. There is no way around saying that.
If you have been polluted by being in places of death and suffering, abstain from it. Clean yourself with a cleansing ritual, ideally repeated a few days, place salt in your room in a bowl, if you can, throw salt in that area, if you have to cross it again. Take a bath, choose a week or so of spiritual retreat, where you abstain from most mundane activities and focus on the Gods and on spirituality for a certain time of a temporal retreat. Remove items which connect you to hostile systems and refrain from participating from them. I understand it may be hard for an occult practitioner like myself, but inventing replacement rituals for the hermetic-kabbalistic ones is possible, like when you are used to a Lesser Banishing Pentagram Ritual, think of a way to create something similar rooted in your Pagan Religion instead. The same counts for objects representing the Book God, pictures of Angles, a Cross - anything of that is Miasma, which should be avoided to have around.
Finally, if you are uncertain, ask a Priest or a Pagan friend who is well versed with an Oracle system what the reasons for being disturbed or disconnected may be.
All these things are no guarantee, for in the end it lies with the Gods. I know that sometimes we are cast into the world by the Gods and they retreat on purpose, because we have a task ahead of us in the world, or because they want to see how we manage life tossed into the mundane. Be calm, do not force things. In the end, it is the overall lifestyle that over a long time connects you to the spiritual, and not something that is changed impromptu. Look at the overall life you live, everything that drags you down, takes you out of balance, and consider replacing a few distracting things, like being absorbed in too much TV or reading too many disturbing news can all lead you away from spirituality and put your mind into a state of being dragged down and closed. If you want the Gods close to you, you must dedicate a part of your life and make some changes to lead a spiritual life. It does not demand a radical dedication, but rather is a sum of the small things you change and adapt in life.
G. Florius Aetius