I’ve focussed a lot on the process of improving one’s fitness for containing or channelling the flow of waters; and on the delicate balance between ego and dissolution that this seems to imply.
Now I’d like to turn to the other end of the continuum (though I reiterate that the continuum is circular, not linear) and consider ways to increase our ability to attract flows of water from the well.
As with the other posts in this theme, I cannot claim to be an expert in this area. If anything I am drawing on prototypical past experiences and speculatively developing a sketch for possible themes to develop. The comments made here are neither exhaustive nor absolute.
As previously discussed, the art of attracting the flow of the waters requires a certain kind of receptivity; if we act from our conscious will power we’ll get nowhere. However this receptivity needs to be distinguished from simple stagnation or passivity, too. We have to present ourselves to wyrd in opportune ways in order to garner its favours.
In this sense I draw a certain amount of parallel between heathen cosmology and Taoism. In Taoism the trick seems to be the art of being able to place yourself in positions sensitive to the Tao. While it takes a fit vessel to get to that sweet spot, once there the individual’s actions become free, easy, and powerfully amplified by the tide of the Tao.
I am not a surfer, but surfing makes a great analogy. When a surfer catches a wave their ability to move through the water is increased massively, and that power comes from the wave, not from the surfer.
Yet in order to catch that wave the surfer needs to be a strong enough swimmer; needs to know how to judge the waves as they come in; and needs a little luck too. Similarly, once on the wave it is the surfer’s individual skill at managing the flow of tidal force so that they are not dumped by the crashing waves.
In catching the wave, which is analogous to attracting the flow of waters, the surfer has to be receptive in the sense of putting themselves into a position where the wave will come at the right point in its development and let that wave collect them. However this receptivity requires strength and action – if they just floated inactive in the water surfers would get very bored.
Broadly speaking there seem to be two approaches to attracting the flow of waters. The first is broadly psychological; the second is more physical.
This first approach amounts to doing things that sharpen one’s imagination, perception and desire to act. I have found, for example, that rune readings and other forms of divination have often been catalysts for all kinds of change and new developments in my life. Somehow simply reading the patterns can better situate us within the sweet spots of the unfolding weave.
This might be analogous (though not identical) with the quantum physics discovery that by observing a process we change it – that is, observer and observed are interconnected and affect one another.
I say analogous but not identical because I do not want to indulge in the pseudo-scientific silliness that spiritual people get into sometimes when they confuse science as a source of inspiration with their own (usually much cruder) notions. There are similarities in the quantum physics portrait of reality and the heathen one, but let’s not make foolish claims about either.
Perhaps another aspect of why divination can help us get into a good position for attracting the flow of the waters is that it puts before us the horizon of time’s uncertainty; and similarly it thrusts us potentially into the possibility of the new.
Of course there are many ways to achieve encounters with uncertainty and possibility. A trivial example: I recently subscribed to National Geographic magazine for just this purpose.
Because it documents a wide range of subjects from all over the world I think that this subscription will help me keep perspective on the immediate bounds of my life and also give me some inspiration – because it’s a marvellous world out there!
Reading in general can serve this purpose – when I think about how much more energetic and empowered I became after reading Seidways I want to laugh! Brilliant works like that can permanently open you up to more flow. In fact, that’s another book I need to reread.
Nietzsche has the same effect on me; so did Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, which got to me so thoroughly that I read it in one sitting (no mean feat, it is some 800 pages).
Related, but more physical, methods for attracting the flow include meeting new people, entering new social circles, and adopting the old chaos magic technique of transgressing against one’s characteristic patterns (that Crowley quote from my last post gives a good example of this technique).
We might feel some fear and resistance to expanding our horizons, yet usually once we’ve taken the risk we never look back.
Something about the thrill of the new can draw in plenty of watery nourishment and dissolve blockages. However I should mention that this is not enough on its own – if we are constantly dependent on novelty then we are unlikely to commit to anything long enough to bring it to fruition.
Hence there is the gamut of more stable spiritual practices – performing ritual; chanting; using music as a mood-altering device; communicating in various ways with ideas, archetypes, gods, ancestors and spirits. Even just getting out of the house more!
I find that when I acknowledge divine beings on a regular basis my life starts to build momentum. If I fall off that bandwagon then things tend to get more confused, lost and bewildered. There are plenty of powerful entities out there that are more than happy to lend you their support in exchange for a bit of love and attention, but you’ve got to make the effort.
Which leads to a general principle – related to the rune Gebo – that seems to govern the art of attracting the flow of the waters. Namely that this is a receptivity in which you need to get the flow started yourself by giving something – perhaps something of your ego attachments, or it might be time, or money, or support to friends or family, or anything really.
Nothing comes from nothing. This might be part of why ancestral heathens emphasised the importance of generosity so much: a leader who spreads the wealth around encourages a richer, healthier, more vibrant community and perhaps attracts more positive megin (power) and flows from the wells. It might be that the return on the investment far outweighs the initial cost.
Similarly, I have decided recently in my practice that I need to find a better space to work from. Where I am just isn’t up to scratch, and it demoralises me sufficiently that I almost don’t want to do any work at all!
I chose it because it was cheap, but that has actually ended up costing me time, motivation, money and optimism. I need to expend a bit of energy so that I am situated more fully in the path of the flow of the waters of life throughout the world tree.
It should be evident that much of what I have described here is pretty everyday, trivial sort of stuff. But I think spirituality is just as much about manifest reality, or just as much about our deeds in Midgard, as it is anything lofty or subterranean. As above, so below makes just as much sense if we invert it.