Feed Your Head, part 1: Gift of the Magi

Mind-altering drugs. When I hear that phrase, I immediately think of the 1960′s, as do many other people in America. However, the use of mind-altering drugs can be traced much farther back, as I’m sure you learned from the above documentary. They were originally used by ancient man in religious ceremonies. Although mind-altering drugs are a lot of fun to take recreationally, the main focus of this new series will be to explore easily gotten, relatively legal, substances that can be used in group or solitary ritual. Most of the substances that will be discussed can best be described as good old-fashioned gateway drugs. Most of them won’t leave you so inebriated that you can’t drive home from ritual, but they’ll work well enough to remove the inhibitions that may be keeping you from directly interacting with your deities in a ritual. That, in nutshell, is the whole reason why people started taking mind-altering substances.

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.”  Matthew 2:11

Frankincense is a tree resin from the genus Boswellia.

When sold in its resin from (often called “tears”), it’s a white to yellow color.

It’s also sold as a powder, oil, and in incense sticks and cones. It’s an ancient substance of Middle Eastern origin. It has been used for healing and embalming. It’s what often fills the censers at a Catholic church service.

Magically, frankincense is used for protection, cleansing, meditation, and purification.  Evidently, the boswellia trees are in some trouble.  So, buy your frankincense while you can!  http://econews.com.au/news-to-sustain-our-world/wise-men-warn-frankincense-trees-in-decline/

I had never really considered using frankincense as a mind altering substance until I was up very late one night chugging spiked coffee working on some Pagan project. I had the History Channel or its sister station (I don’t really remember) on as back ground noise. I really wasn’t paying attention to the noise until a cool show came on about how the Ancients used different chemicals in ritual and every day life. Unfortunately, it’s not the show at the beginning of the entry. Dr. Weil is not anywhere near as dynamic a host as this show’s host had been. If I find a link to the correct show, I’ll post it. Anyway, besides the normal stuff about magic mushrooms, tobacco, and different cousins of peyote, the show discussed how supposedly the Ancient Greeks would hotbox frankincense before making important political decisions.

At first, I laughed out loud about this. It sounded like something the really lame kids did in Middle School because they didn’t have any High School connections. When my partner came into the room to ask if I was planning on coming to bed sometime in the next couple of days, I shared the frankincense information. Instead of laughing with me, he thought it made perfect sense. “That’s probably why everyone claimed to have such deep religious experiences at the ritual I conducted last year. The only incense I used was frankincense, and I used a lot of it.” It was true.

The ritual was conducted outside, but my partner used a huge cauldron full of hot charcoal and frankincense as a censer. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that the people who reported, in some cases life-altering, religious experiences were the ones who got blasted for several minutes by the frankincense smoke when the wind shifted in their direction. As it turned out, the Greeks were on to something.

Hotboxing frankincense is a very easy way to start exploring the use of mind altering substances in ritual. Chances are that you already have frankincense in your magical supplies. The term “hotboxing” (for those that don’t know) refers to smoking a substance in an enclosed area, like a car or bathroom.  Hotboxing shouldn’t be done by people with allergies, asthma, or other breathing, lung, or respiratory/sinus ailments. For using frankincense in this manner in ritual, you need a space where the ventilation can be adjusted. The ancient Greeks used a closet, but I wouldn’t suggest that. I would suggest a small room with a window or a fan.

Before ritual, light a large amount of frankincense (I prefer the resin on charcoal) in a fire safe container (which is what your censer should be). Leave it burning in the closed area for a few minutes while you finish other preparations in a different room. When you enter, the room should be smokey. Close the door and inhale. After three minutes, open a window a small amount or turn a fan on low. This is so that the smoke still stays in the room, but fresh air is introduced or at least the air remaining in the room is circulated. If you don’t introduce some fresh air or air circulation, asphyxiation will occur, which will lead to a close encounter with your deities of a different kind. Now conduct ritual as you normally would. After your ritual is over, open the window wide or turn the fan on high to clear the room of smoke. FYI, beware of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors when using frankincense in this manner.

Hotboxing frankincense is a very gentle and relatively safe way to start exploring legal, mind altering substances. It’s not going to make you high or cause hallucinations, but your brain will react to the frankincense. Just be aware, and reflect on the ritual later to see what how this ritual differed from well ventilated rituals.

Hotbox these folks:

Erotic Sensations http://eroticsensations.us/

Quadrivium Supplies  http://www.quadrivium-supplies.com

Tonia Brown www.thebackseatwriter.com

Chris Eagle Music http://chriseaglemusic.weebly.com/

The Geeky Kink Event http://thegeekykinkevent.com/
Passion And Soul: http://passionandsoul.com/


Blessed Be Thy Feet, Part 4: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem!

For many of us, going barefoot during childhood was a way of life, especially during the summer.  Our mothers would admonish us to put on shoes and we’d laugh.  Eventually, though, we grew up and donned the footwear that best suited our needs.  Tight shoes for formal occasions, rubber shoes for gym, and flip flops for the summer.  Some people, however, have reverted back to their childhood ways and go barefoot everywhere.  These people, commonly known as barefooters or in some Pagan circles as Earthwalkers, go barefoot a majority of the time: summer, winter, city streets, stores, restaurants, etc.   Some of you may laugh, some of you may roll your eyes, but the Barefoot community is growing, not just for humans but for horses as well (I kid you not!).

I got started on this path about feet because a fellow sister-in-arms who reads this blog is a barefooter.  I’ll share her story and exploits in a future blog.  I also heard a Micheal Sandler, who is a barefoot advocate and runner, do an interview on the radio and my interest was piqued.  He wasn’t Pagan, and he seemed fairly main stream.   However, when I requested an interview, I received no response (shame on you, Micheal Sandler!).

Micheal Sandler’s site: runbare.com

 While there are many sites and researchers who do not promote running or simply going barefoot because “it’s dangerous”, a fair amount of research has been done that proves that going barefoot and running barefoot is healthier for humans over all.  According to the researchers at Harvard’s Skeletal Biology Lab, running barefoot tends to make people land on their fore foot to mid foot, which is more natural and healthier for the foot than landing on the the heel.

Just like with any movement, there are lots of groups springing up to meet the demand for education, publicity, and fellowship.  One of the many out there is the Society for Barefoot Living.  Their site has a lot of good information, but the site hasn’t been updated since 2010.  Some of the information about laws may be outdated.  There are also tons of Yahoo groups for barefooters out there, but I’ve found that they were either non-active or didn’t want me in their group.  I was really curious about the group Spiritualbarefootlifestyles, but they seem to be dead.  I joined several months ago, and there has been no activity.  It’s a shame because they taut themselves as for “Pagans, Wiccans, Spiritualist, ‘Mystics’, and the like who enjoy being barefoot as a lifestyle or as a part of worship.”

So where does that leave Pagans in the barefoot movement?  Well, to be honest, I’m not really sure.  From my brief survey of folks from several different paths in different parts of the United States, there doesn’t seem to be a large Pagan presence in the Barefooter movement.  In the Southwest, people don’t go barefoot much because of scorpions, snakes, and nasty sticker plants.  In the Midwest, it’s usually too cold.  In Hawaii, nobody would respond to my emails.  What I have found, though, is that a lot of Pagans will take their shoes off in circle, so that they “can feel the Earth energy and connect” or something like that.  I’ve also had several Pagans tell me that they’ve noticed that people will go skyclad in circle but still wear shoes.  That’s a little like wearing utilitarian socks during sex: visually unappealing and just wrong.  If you’d like to get started going barefoot slowly, see Christopher Penczak’s book The Inner Temple of Witchcraft for a nice Earthwalking meditation.