Monday, October 15, 2012

E is for Ecstatic Religious Experiences

There are things I don't talk much about regarding my experiences in religion because I have serious baggage from growing up in such a strongly charismatic Christian background. I've always had spirit contact and mild psychic abilities and dreams. When it's treated as a special sign and the attention is frightening and predatory, you learn to not talk about the weird stuff.

This isn't church, and I'm going to talk about the weird stuff. Rarely do I know what to make of it right away. It might take a day or a week or a few months for it to become clear, and even then, it's often only the beginning of the riddle. I don't understand why sometimes something so great comes near, changes everything, and then goes away again, perhaps never to return. Perhaps the Gods can't help but cyclone into our lives. Perhaps it's not being bound to time and space.

The great fear is that whatever one does in the encounter is not satisfactory, that the answers given are found wanting. There's still an episode with the Horned God, from about a year ago, that makes me feel sick with worry and confusion. He asked me a question. I panicked and looked the gift horse in the mouth, only to find myself back in my room knowing I'd made some kind of horrible mistake. And then my puppy dropped dead a couple of days later, for no reason they could find, and I spent the better part of the year afraid that it was a punishment for my failure. I still don't know about that one, but I do keep serving, keep offering, keep praying.

My favorite times are when it's overwhelming in a way that makes the practices of devotion almost unbearably sweet and tender for a long time afterward. I get that with Mary, the Blessed Theotokos a lot. I get it with those women who reign over home and family and marriage. I get it with some saints. I have always loved the saints dearly, and their legends made me feel safe and less strange about my own when I was growing up. They have been generous in communication and in their teaching.

The strangest of all the experiences I've had was when I called on Lugh last year. What started as gentle rocking as I prayed became a full seidr trance where I blacked out and had a very powerful experience. I woke up on the floor. Later in the evening, all of the candle holders on the altar exploded - glass shattered everywhere on the table and onto the cement floor, and nobody heard a thing even though I wasn't six feet away. The dog that wakes up and barks if you sneeze didn't stir. It was the strangest thing. It had been so long since I had an ecstatic experience strong enough to black out from full consciousness, and to have such a strong manifestation! It didn't seem negative. It was just breathtaking display of power.