Uncategorized, personal journey

I Was Trapped in a Pagan Cult

This time of year marks the moments when I was completely immersed in Adam’s fantasy world.

I was living and working on campus that summer, so all of the members of the group (minus one) were still around. There were five of us total, give or take the other two who either left or “betrayed” us. I didn’t have homework, and my hours were odd, so most nights off were spent either cooking with my current roommate or drinking at Adam’s.

It was a strange place to be in. On one hand, half of my friends were trapped in this never-ending battle against the cosmic forces of the universe. On the other, my more “mundane” friends had no idea what was going on.

There’s a battle that’s raging right under their noses, I used to think, and they can’t even see it.

I couldn’t really tell my roommate why I got so jittery when I rode my bike home from work late at night. It wasn’t the usual fear that comes with being alone in the dark–this was more akin to intense paranoia. I was convinced that dark beings and shadows traced my every step. Each moment in the dark was a risk–a risk that could result in the end of my life.

It sounds fatalistic, I know. But nothing during that time was ever in miniscule or mundane. Every moment, every action, every spoken word was a sign or confirmation that the end was nearing, and us–and only us–could fix it.

We were in the woods one day when it was bright and sunny outside. Our goal was to scout out the area and see if the evil witches and beings who were actively trying to bring about the apocalypse had done anything else. I hummed a tune–one that’d been stuck in my head since the summer began–and casually walked along the path with Diana, another member of the group and close friend.

There was a moment when I saw three runes marking three different trees, all in a triangle. From the looks of it, they’d been there for a while now. I wasn’t too frightened–though I didn’t know the rune by heart, I vaguely remembered it being non-threatening.

As soon as I mentioned it to Adam his face turned white, eyes cold.

“Don’t move,” he said. He held his arms out, and I remember thinking that his pose reminded me of that one scene from Jurassic World where Chris Pratt kept the raptors from eating somebody.

Diana and I froze. I expected to feel uneasy, or out of place, but for some reason I was oddly calm.

“Why?” I asked, almost confused.

Adam gave me a cold stare.

“It’s a trap,” he said. “These sigils–they’re binding you to this space.”

Mosquitos were biting at my ankles. I still wasn’t getting it.

“What does that mean?” I said, swatting the air. “Like, what happens if we move.”

By now Adam was pacing outside the boundaries of the trap that he told us we were in. He could see energy, he claimed, and was looking for the proverbial “off switch.”

“Well, we don’t really want to find out, do we?” He grumbled. “But I guess, in theory, if you took one wrong step… well, your soul could be severed from your body.”

This moment made me realize just how deep I was in.

This is the moment, out of many to come, when I wished I’d turned away, stepped out of the “trap” he claimed we were in, and straight-up told him that I didn’t believe anything he’d said.

Instead, I stayed. And while it felt odd, and something just didn’t quite add up, and I know in my heart of hearts that I absolutely, definitely did not believe that my soul would be severed from my body, I decided to stay.

Because he would never lie, right? I remember thinking. He’s already been through hell (literally) and back, so of course he wouldn’t want to lie. If he was lying, well… that would make him an asshole, and he’s definitely not that.

After Adam broke the barrier and we were finally able to move again, I remember thinking how lucky I was to have friends like these. Friends who understood each other, who didn’t judge one another, and who were as close as family. Friends who drank and laughed together but also shared the burden and knowledge of us being the only ones in the known universe who could fix our broken and dying world.

Cults are attractive. I won’t deny that fact. Cults promise friendship, family, and purpose–three things I was desperately in need of my freshman year of college. When I felt so lost in the world, so completely alone in a sea of strangers with no clue of what I wanted to do for my future, I found solace in this tiny group of witches who claimed to have all the answers.

Guess what? They’d say. You matter and you have a purpose–because YOU, and only you were born to save the world.

It took me another two months to realize I’d joined a cult. It will take years of personal forgiveness and healing to understand why I believed something that seems so ridiculous from the outside. It will take a lifetime to heal from the deep, resounding shame I feel every day for holding on to that belief for so long.

There are so many things I wish I’d said when I confronted him three months later. A part of me wants to yell and scream and cry at him, listing all the ways he hurt me. Another part of me thinks that the way I did it was the best way I could’ve–that calm, gentle, and quiet strength is more powerful than raw rage. And yet another side of myself wishes I hadn’t said anything–that I’d kept my mouth shut and seen how long this whole ordeal would’ve lasted. Would he have finally admitted his lies then?

 
I can play every single scenario in my head if I wanted to. I could go through the million different ways our story would’ve ended. I could dream and calculate and ponder over how I lost a year of my life in a fantasy world, and how it would feel if I never figured it out and just continued to follow his leadership.

But that’s not living.

If anyone’s ever been in a cult or cult-like situation before, they will understand what I mean. But for those of you that haven’t, here’s what it was like:


The world was in black and white for as long as I could remember.

But when I left?

It was in color.

And god, was it beautiful.

-Ember Alis-

 

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Uncategorized, hermes, deities

I met Hermes Trismegistus… I think?

I think I just met Hermes Trismegistus. Here’s how I tried to wrap my brain around this very bizarre experience. Forgive my ignorance on the subject matter–this is all incredibly new to me. 

My first thought: Who is Hermes Trismegistus?

Google: “Hermes Trismegistus is the purported author of the Hermetic Corpus, a series of sacred texts that are the basis of Hermeticism.”

So… what does that mean, exactly?

Who-was-Hermes-Trismegistus
Okay, so… he’s a combination of these two deities. Was he a spirit, or a physical prophet guy that roamed the earth?

A few hours of research later and I’m confused as all hell. Is he a combination of Hermes, Thoth, maybe Enoch or someone else?? He’s a prophet, or a god, or a combination? He wrote a book, maybe? He’s the chosen channeler of Hermes/Thoth? Did he physically exist or did some guy decide to use him as a pen name? Perhaps my questions will be answered if I read his book, and read up on Hermeticism (which I didn’t really know existed until now).

My second thought: Can you even talk to Hermes Trismegistus?

Is he a spirit/deity/being that practitioners can summon? Do people who follow the Hermetic Tradition hang out and talk to him? Did I really just… talk to him, or am I crazy? And why did this happen now? 

As you can tell, I’m treading some ambiguous, awkward territory of not knowing anything but being approached by a being whom I’ve only heard of in passing. (Though, come to think of it, I’d been hearing his name more and more often in the last couple of weeks.) I know for a fact that I need to do more research, which is what I plan on doing soon. For now, I’m just trying to write everything out. 

Regardless of how accurate this experience is, or if it follows tradition, or if I’m just making all of this up in my crazy, imaginative mind (dammit, Ember, why do you daydream so often?!), I figured I’d write down this experience and share it with you all. Because… well, because it’s changed me and the way I approach magic.

(lots of UPG here. If that’s not your thing, you’ve been warned)

__________________________________________________

I had just finished watching the fourth season of “Mozart in the Jungle” on Amazon (amazing series, btw, if you’re able to watch it). There had been a presence around during the day that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. But I was restless. It felt like this energy wanted to talk, or discuss, and needed me to acknowledge it.

So I did.

I went downstairs and paced in my kitchen until the being revealed himself as the Hermes Trismegistus, beard and all. I didn’t know much about him besides the fact that he was supposedly Hermes and Thoth combined. 

HermesTrismegistusCauc
I’m a super visual person. To me, he appeared with a flowing beard and some round-ish glasses. Also wearing a fancy robe.

 

Hermes–greek God Hermes–was also there. Which was, if I’m being honest, very, very confusing. My first thought was–if they’re the same person, how can they exist in the same space? And Hermes just sort of laughed and smiled, saying that gods and spirits are more complex than my definition of what’s possible and what’s not. Because his answer was a yes and a no, but that it’s still not a contradiction. Perhaps, in the spirit realm, contradiction doesn’t exist. 

It’s still something I’m trying to wrap my head around.

Trismegistus started talking to me about archetypal theory, and Jungian philosophy. Again, not something I claim to be an expert in or have a grasp on. I’d only heard about it in passing via the online blogging community. From what I understand, it’s the idea that we make our own universe, and that these beings, gods, and spirits are a part of ourselves.

This isn’t something I’d previously considered. So I told him that, in a respectful manner, and then we started debating. My mind was going a mile a minute while Trismegistus spoke. It was exciting and new and kind of dangerous, it felt. Like I was on the edge of something.

I asked him–if these deities are a part of my subconscious, how can they create such physical change in the universe? Hermes has bought me stuff before, opened up parking spaces, and just done some… crazy, wild things that I wouldn’t think are possible. If Hermes is me, then how could I affect that change?

And Trismegistus said that perhaps we humans have the power in our own to control our own universe. “The deity in question helping us is us helping ourselves.”

I asked–how can I love an archetype of mine? I physically feel and see Hermes. I love Hermes. How is that possible?

And Trismegistus said: that means you’ve fallen in love with yourself, and isn’t that thought absolutely beautiful?

At this point I turned to Hermes, who was grinning in the corner. I could feel his own excitement. But then I was thinking, and I’m worried–what if he is a part of myself? Isn’t that disrespectful to him and to the rest of the Theoi?

 

1473479_orig

Hermes, I asked, what is true?

 

And he grinned again.

“Whatever you believe, Ember,” he said. “Regardless of who you choose to believe or what path you decide to take, I will always be there. Whether you think I am you or that I act physically outside of yourself, I will be there. It’s not my job to tell you what to think, what to believe. That is your own journey.”

Trismegistus and I talked for a while after that. We delved into the realm of magickal science, ceremonial magick, physical manifestation and teleportation. There’s an entire world out there that I never knew existed. It’s like this entirely new chapter has been opened in my life.

There’s this realization that I can combine magick and science.

There are such thing as mystics and mages, alchemists and astrologers. Magick is more than spells and moon cycles and crystals. I’ve known this, yes, but this was the first time I’ve really understood that. For a while, magick, devotion, and the worship of my deities has felt almost confining and hollow. Though I am an artistic and intuitive person, I felt like I needed something more concrete. I know I wanted to practice magick, I just couldn’t seem to find my niche.

The definition of magick and magickal workings has been too narrow for me and it’s only now when I’m finally seeing the scope of this world.

Do I think that the Theoi are all archetypes inside of me? Not exactly. Well, actually–no, I definitely don’t think that at this point in time. While Trismegistus made some good, powerful points, there are still some reasons as to why I believe the spiritual realm exists outside of myself and my reality (also, does that mean Trismegistus visiting me was my own subconscious?? ahh, I 100% need to do more research). There are still reasons why I see the gods as outside myself, and why I think Hermes in more than my subconscious (acting independently, arguing).

But there are points that I do appreciate, such as the idea that we create our own reality.

I guess I don’t really have a conclusion to this. I’ve come away with more questions that I have answers. What I can say, though, is that I’m excited to study. I’m excited to learn. I’m excited to conduct magickal experiments much like a scientist would. This type of magick, to me, feels like a path that would satisfy both the more scientific aspect of my brain and the creative, intuitive, artistic one. 

This, for me, seems like a good combination between my physical, grounded self and the spiritual, intuitive being that I am. Perhaps, instead of being a witch, I am a mystic.

I will make many mistakes and stray from countless traditions. My worldview could shatter, or it could remain stable. There is no certainty in this journey ahead.

Change is inevitable, yes?

-Ember Alis-

P.S. If any of my followers has some good information, links, articles, videos, etc., they’d like to share about the subject, please share them! I’m currently on a quest to learn more–I’m buying books about Hermeticism and I’m reading a historical/scientific account of Magic throughout the ages. I’d love to learn more.

 

personal journey, Uncategorized

Daily Prompt: Laughter

August 8, 2017

It’s all a lie. I hear. Everything he said–doesn’t it just make perfect sense?

And I laugh. Yes, yes it does. I am in my dorm room, its midnight, and I’m laughing about something that should frighten me.

Instead, I am in shock. And, for the first time in a year–I feel free. I am free. 

August 9, 2017

The world is in color again. I didn’t realize that everything up until this point had been in gray. I ride my bike to work, sun shining on my face, grinning.

My eyes are red. My face is puffy.

But as I listen to that song–I laugh.

I’ve faced The Tower. I can face anything.

August 18, 2017

I am sitting on a blanket in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, holding a ukulele in my arms while one of the other interns bakes pottery in a home-made kiln. I begin to strum a few chords and sing. It’s a silly song, one I’m making up on the spot about three friends, sitting on a blanket, staring at the sky. We burst into laughter, and I continue to play but I can’t sing anymore–my cheeks are red and my belly aches.

I feel at home in these woods.

September 3, 2017 

I am back in my dorm. There is no chorus of birds or bare feet on sand. I’m trapped within these white, empty walls. I’m glad my roommates aren’t home.

How can I laugh today when I just lost the people I considered family?

October 15, 2017

“Ironic, isn’t it?” I say at last. “That I’m the one pushed out when I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong.”

A guffaw escapes my lips. I look into the steady, blue eyes of my best friend.

“What will they think of me?” I say, head in my hands. “Gods, what will he do to them?”

October 20, 2017 

I write a Poem:

There are days when you remember the people that hurt you

In a good light 
Before you knew they were hurting you
 
And even though you know its not right
You can’t help but reminisce on those happy memories
And wish they weren’t overshadowed by the pain they caused
April 10, 2018 

“Your guide is beautiful,” she says to me. “You don’t have to forgive him, you know?”

I laugh. Then I cry. Then I am laughing and crying and being comforted by these people I just met, who touched me in ways that they won’t know until much later. Since when did laughter lead to pain?

May 9, 2018

I am home. Home home. Past memories cannot haunt me in the same way they would back at college, since he was never here.

I stare at the old, antique clock in front of me. I think about today’s prompt, and I start writing.

It’s then when I realize that laughter isn’t simply pain or happiness.

Laughter is release.

 

-Ember Alis-

 

via Daily Prompt: Laughter

hermes, personal journey, Uncategorized

“Drive Safe”

Tears stream down my face as I stare at the harsh glow of a red stoplight. My dad is in the passenger seat is trying to tell me something, but I can’t really hear it. I’m in a state of shock, embarrassment, and genuinely terrified. In my head, I hear Hermes–loud and clear, “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.” A mantra I listen to but I still can’t seem to stop crying. 

line

I got my permit on Monday. This was the second time around I had to take the computer exam and write my name in those tiny boxes at the DMV. At 20 years old, this was the summer I finally decided to face my fear and get my license.

I’d taken drivers ed at 17. It was odd, being the oldest in a class of 15 and 16-year-olds. While my partner expressed confidence while driving, I didn’t–the roads terrified me, and the thought of a car crash was enough to make my skin crawl. I remember the first time I sped up to 50 mph, thinking that I was going to die.

I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to finally confront my fear again. I was able to put it off, I guess–I spent most of my time in college not needing a car, and I haven’t lived at home since the summer of my senior year of high school. Now, I’m back in my home town. Here, the only way to get anywhere is to drive. And I desperately need a summer job.

I figured that now is as good a time as ever–and, what better way to honor Hermes than to get my license?

He was ecstatic, of course. So, we’ll be able to go on long car rides? Together? 

Yes, I would reply, smiling. Exactly that. 

I was doing pretty well, considering I hadn’t driven in almost a year. And then… then I almost got into an accident.

The green light ahead of me was stale, but I was close enough that going through the intersection shouldn’t be an issue. I reached the intersection as soon as the light turned yellow.

Then, a car from the opposite end of the road decided to take a last-minute left turn, right in front of my oncoming car.

I slammed on the brake. My car squealed and my breathing was fast. The ABS worked overtime, and–while I’m glad most cars have it nowadays–it’s terrifying to hear the system in action. There’s this awful, grinding sound as your car kind of hops in an attempt to stop. And I did stop in time. The other car went on its merry way while I sat still, shocked, hands gripping the steering wheel, knuckles white.

The light was red. I burst into tears. My dad kept telling me it wasn’t my fault. Hermes kept telling me that it was okay.

All of my driving fears came back in that moment. This was the reason why I said, as a child, that I’d never, ever drive. This was why I didn’t entirely trust myself behind the wheel.

I cried all the way to the restaurant, trying to drive to the best of my ability but ultimately distracted. Then I sat in the car for a bit, crying in the parking lot as my dad kept telling me that it’s okay. I asked him to drive us back home.

I’m still a little shaken. I spent the rest of my afternoon at home napping away my stress. I traveled somewhere in my dreams, though I don’t quite remember where. All I know is that giving myself time to process has helped a lot.

I still plan on getting my license. I will still continue to drive. I think that this moment helped me realize something–that Hermes, though quiet, is definitely still here and looking out for me. And I’ve realized just how quickly past fears can make themselves known. It’s important, I’m noticing, to not just brush over my vulnerabilities but to acknowledge them.

There is risk in everything we do. Sometimes, it’s scary. Sometimes, we have bad experiences. It’s easy to let one experience color everything else. This time, I will not let one experience stop me from achieving my goals.

Hopefully, the next time I write a blog post, I’ll be a licensed driver. Until then, drive safe everyone.

-Ember Alis-

 

 

personal journey, Uncategorized

Hey, Inner Voice?

Some days, you just don’t feel like you’re matching up to people’s expectations.

Some days, it seems like you’re not progressing–instead, you’re moving backwards. And everyone can tell.

Today was one of those days. It’s a day where I made one-too-many mistakes and have been called out on it one-too-many times.

I take pride in the work I do and my reputation among the people I meet. I’ve been working a part-time job while in college for about two years now. I was doing great until this semester, when everything kind of went crazy and I couldn’t seem to keep up with anyone.

Simple mistakes. Some simple mistakes that continue to add up, and (ironically enough) the same person keeps finding your mistakes. Then, not only do you feel incompetent, you feel like the stupidest person in the world. All you can do is say sorry and maybe try to defend yourself, but honestly–what can you defend?

I’ve forgotten things I shouldn’t forget. Which is worrying, because for the life of me I can’t remember anything–and the small part of my brain that is incredibly fatalistic says, “I’m getting Alzheimer’s, I mean, it makes sense, right? My great grandma had it and it skips a generation?”

But then I calm down enough to reassure myself that that’s definitely not the case and that there’s something else–hey, Ember, what’s holding you back from success?

Feeling hopeless and angry is miserable. Why am I so upset?

I started going through the list of deities and spirits I could talk to for advice. Hermes, sure, he’s always there to listen. But I’ve been trying to “figure myself out” as he says, and he’s been quiet recently. Maybe my spiritual guide, who’s always there to lend an ear when I cry? Or maybe–maybe I could talk to someone else, someone who’s explicitly a deity of the feeling of “I used to do well in my job and now I suck at it, please send help?”

And that’s when I remembered: who better to ask then myself?

So often, we forget the gem that is our inner voice, our subconscious self. We can learn so much from that tiny part of ourselves that we usually keep hidden.

I usually neglect my inner voice. It’s hard to hear her, I know. I like to talk to beings outside of myself because, well, it’s more fun than just talking to myself. And then I can ignore the rolling storm happening inside my head.

Beginning of College 193
Me my freshman year of college. Not the best photo (I have shorter hair now), but I feel like it’s semi-contemplative and fits my current mood.

But today I actually talked to her.

Today, I actually confronted my Emotional Bullshit and accepted my own personal feelings. Just asking myself why was enough to prompt some interesting, insightful responses. And it feels almost like a healing–an emotional breakthrough, a lesson learned, and upwards emotional growth.

Maybe sometimes shitty things happen for no reason. Maybe sometimes shitty things happen for a reason. This semester has been, for me, about emotional growth and healing. Maybe it took me pulling away from my job to experience this emotional healing.

I now realize that today is not a failure. Today is a success, because I’ve finally realized the importance of my own emotional self.

And today, I remember: it will all be okay,

-Ember Alis-

 

deities, hermes, Uncategorized

Who’s the God of TV and Film? A Hermes Interview

Hey all! So after much debate and thinking, I’ve decided to publish this. With lots of disclaimers, of course:

This is Unverified Personal Gnosis, otherwise known as UPG. A lot of my interactions with Hermes, deities, and spirits are UPG. For me, that’s what enriches my own practice. In no way should you see this as absolute fact. If you ask Hermes and he tells you different, then that’s your UPG. To each one’s own, right?

How I Do This: I’m able to communicate with spirits (at least, when I don’t doubt my own ability to). I don’t physically hear Hermes talking to me–it’s more of a telepathic thing, where I can tell someone’s speaking to me in a voice that’s not my own. When I have these conversations, I usually ask them out loud in front of my altar and listen for a response. It’s easier for me to remember what’s being said when I write it down, so that’s what I do.

This isn’t word-for-word. A lot of it is summed up. Some of it could be wrong, and I might’ve misheard some things. A lot of it paraphrased from feelings and images I receive. I also edit them because Hermes… well, he gets off track quite a bit.

Also–I don’t in any way claim to speak for the gods.

So, without further ado: the interview!
___________________________________________________________________

Questions for Hermes: Who is the God of Television and Film?

Me: Hey Hermes. Who’s the god of film and television? I’m honestly curious.

Hermes: It was new, so when it came up we all kinda went “uhhh” and split it up into different aspects. So Dionysus got some portion of it, and Apollo another part, and some sort of female goddess as well (Iris? Something with imagery. I forgot)

Me: What about you? Are you involved in any way?

Hermes: I’m more of the assistant’s helper. You know, the one who gets coffee.

Me *laughing*: Is that the future you have planned for me?

Hermes: Maybe *grinning* But you’re in charge of your own future, so if you decide not to that’s okay. Yeah, I have idea of what you could do, but I’m not much like J.C. when it comes to “I have plans for you.” I improvise a lot. Oooo improv! I’d be good at improv. If you did improv for me you might be good at it, too (or at least, I’d give you some help).

Me: Isn’t that stepping into Dio’s territory?

Hermes: Kinda. I mean, maybe. But I cross borders a lot. We all do, though some of us won’t admit it.

Athena is there for directors. And writers. You know she’s creative too, right? Not just all war and strategy and blah blah blah. I don’t like it when people box us deities into these archetypes.

Me: Okay, so what about cinematographers?

Hermes: Hmm, well it has to be someone who likes pretty things… oh, of course. Aphrodite. Aesthetics, beauty, pleasing to the eye–yes, I think definitely cinematographers.

Me: So how come you don’t have, like, a definite response?

Hermes: It’s not something I think about too much. If a deity is called to help someone in their field, they’ll help regardless. It’s not like I’m strictly this or that. I’ve got things I can help with better but I’m not gonna turn someone away because their profession doesn’t match up with what I do.

Me: So, do you think that in time, new gods will be created from this combination of deities that preside over new creations?

Hermes: This is based on that TV show, isn’t it? *laughs* Maybe, yes, probably. We change with the people. Perhaps someday, when I’m forgotten, I’ll become an overlord of memes and the internet, combined with, oh I don’t know, Dio and Athena. Can you imagine that??? Change. Yes. It’s already happened–look at how we’ve grown since Greece. It’s not unusual to think that we’d grow again.

Me: Do you think some deities would disagree?

Hermes: Oh absolutely. It’s kind of hard to acknowledge your inevitability. Like, immortals have time clocks too. Just not in the sense that you (a mortal) are used to.

___________________________________________________________

…and that’s that! I hope you enjoyed my quick conversation with the god of mischief. I don’t do this often, because I usually can’t hear him as clearly as I did this one time. Let me know what you think!

-Ember Alis-

deities, Uncategorized

Song For Apollo

This is a very rough-draft attempt at creating a hymn. It’s nowhere near finished, but I’m hoping I can contribute to the Hellenic polytheist/Dodekatheist society by one day producing songs for the Theoi that everyone can sing along to.

LYRICS:

I sing a song of you

A song of old turned to a song of new

Golden thread and sunny skies

Praise to the god with clear blue eyes

 

CHORUS:

Apollo

Praise to the Lord of Song

Apollo 

Let my hymn ring all night long

Apollo 

As the morning sun rises

I look to your face and see a thousand surprises 

 

-Ember Alis-