To talk about a topic that's deeply and immensely important to me, I first need to provide some context and background. Its a context I don't get into much, as both my magick and spiritual practice were forged in the fires of my personal hell.
I didn't have a happy childhood. Full stop.
Gang violence was prevalent, systemic abuse was rampant, and I did not have "safe spaces" around me. My grandmother really tried her best, but the people being cruel to me were also charged with my protection & did everything they could to make me viscerally afraid of the law as weapons and tools of that systemic injustice all around me. The youngest expression of self spent the late 80s and early 90s growing up as a kid of mixed heritage in a space that was fundamentally polarized by racial violence and hostility manifesting as gang violence and casual discrimination from within and without my peer group. I was called banana and gaijin by my cultural brethen and sistren, while simultaneously being looked down on by white folks. It was a weird space to be in, and safety came down to what I could make for myself in the moment.
Magick was raw, visceral, and guided by a spirit whose pact with me was as simple as the phrase "I can teach you how to make [the spirits and dangers] go away". This spirit introduced me to all manners of wonderous teachers along the way, allowing me to properly be a child of three worlds culturally, as well as bodily, emotionally, and intellectually.
With a white father and a mixed-heritage mother from Japan, that coupled with my horrifying experiences, having a loving spiritual parentage made me a child with backup. I had one person I could truly rely on within my family as a kid, and there was only so much she could do.
The rest came from Spirit, the lessons they teach and the way I've been learning and growing from my work with them these past nigh-on 34 years. I let you in and give you this context to paint a backdrop upon which these very practices I teach were developed.
Something you learn as a little kid with "irresponsible caretakers" is not to rely on authority figures. You learn that they're out for themselves. You learn that they only give a shit when you're creating a problem, so you learn to hide. You stop asking, you stop presenting a target - why bother if they're going to hit or scream at you? You stop asking them entirely.
...Instead, I turned to spirit. I largely pretended to follow their way of doing things while doing my own, convening Nichiren Buddhist Prayer, concepts that made sense from my father's Lutheran services & all that I learned from Spirit along the way. I turned away from the abject cruelty and despair existing in my personal life and sought more and more understandings of spirit without any real care for personal safety. By extension, spirits didn't feel intimidating. Sure, many of them were said to be angry, violent, loud, cantankerous, and mean-spirited, but how was that any different from what I was experiencing at home? Real talk, if you're used to being bullied all the damn time, grumpy spirits don't seem to be much of a threat.
After a time, that mindset and approach of talking to every spirit I saw and connected with, I started to learn that what we knew of Spirit was completely freaking wrong. We (in the Pop Culture Collective sense) have long contended that spirits are just vendor windows for magickal acts that don't have feelings or desires or wants, but the opposite is true. Its only recently that we've begun to see more examples to the contrary, and some of these entities represented do indeed have enormous personalities! They can be a wealth of love and affection while being **super** spicy, and its that personality that gives us the ability to really get through to the heart of whatever it is that we're working through.
You see, I started to learn that these wrathful, angry, mean-looking, and even demonic spirits were not at all what we thought. They were rough around the edges, sure, but they had a depth of understanding and knowledge that far outscales our own. These spirits are FIERCELY protective, while being equally willing to point out our every fault FOR OUR BENEFIT. They speak truth not to hurt us, but to give us what we need to know so that we may be more successful.
In this, they can help those of us with traumatic experiences in our past a way to reexperience some of the intensity of the relationships we had with those who were super challenging for us, but they do it in a way that allows us to experience genuine love and care. They do it in a way that allows us to ask for help and properly receive it, and that can be super novel and scary at first. Especially when you're not used to it.
If you're on the fence about working with spirit, and fear is what's keeping you back, I recommend doing it. Those of us that need help can get it, and if you need help getting help, I can help!
I owe thanks...
To Many Faces, Kali, Mother Tara, Palden Lhamo, Simhamukha, Kurukulla, Ekajati, Sgrolma, my Dakini teachers, the Five Wisdom Kings, the Four Demon Princes, to Belial, to the Goetia and their retinues, to the ancestors who support me, and finally to others. I owe thanks to those who taught me as a child, to those who saw to my development as a teen, and to those guiding me as an adult. Y'all ensured that I made it through childhood when I didn't I'd make it to my 18th birthday.
Moreover, you help me to help others now as I learn to mend ancient cycles of grief and guilt, shame and sorrow. Thank you!