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Primer

Contents

Summary
Teachings
Virtue
Theology
Ritual
Vision
Sigilcraft
Soulshaping

Summary

This manual is an embodiment of my personal, polytheistic spirituality. This manual incorporates elements of devotional polytheism, divination and magical practice – but is also done with the freedom of spiritual experimentation. The spiritual framework I outline here uses simple and accessible terminology – with rituals and techniques whose primary focus is on directly communing with deities and other sacred spirits. In my spiritual practice, I am free to engage in devotional rituals with whichever deities I please – whether they are historical, fantastical or derived from direct personal experience.

Through this manual, I would like to emphasize the modest, pragmatic, passionate and devotional rituals that are possible when cultivating effective spiritual practices. When implemented effectively, these techniques can be applied to other polytheistic traditions, and can incorporate whatever elements a spiritual practitioner wants or needs in their practice. My approach is not bound to rigid distinctions between exoteric and esoteric practice. My practice avoids dogma and focused on devotional relationships.

Teachings

My practice is most strongly defined by a devotion to the gods and goddesses – in the myriad of cultural manifestations they take throughout time, as well as deities that are otherwise unknown. Because of that devotion, I believe that public religion is not required as a means to achieve spiritual wisdom or to cultivate virtue in the world. The most important focus of spirituality is cultivating strong relationships with the gods and spirits – otherwise known as the hallowed ones in my practice. These strong relationships – when properly explored, should encourage every person to do good in the world. Virtue or goodness can be as public as volunteering or as personal as friends and family.

The direct rituals I engage in are primarily focused on polytheistic, devotional mysticism. One of my most essential beliefs is that of the nature of offerings or sacrifice. The purest offering one can give is that of praise and adoration – otherwise known as spiritual intent, will or desire. Will is what connects all spiritual practices – transcending the distinction between exoteric and esoteric practice. Votive offerings are considered a direct extension of will. Food offerings and libations are considered unnecessary, but ritual meals are a valuable tool for their spiritually restorative properties – both to individuals and groups.

Devotional ritual should be holistic in orientation. Effective practice honors real and living gods and goddesses – including those that are hidden or nascent. Despite what some purists may say, there is no meaningful distinction between the devotional and the mystical. Truly meaningful ritual is arcane and the most powerful magic. Ritual respects the awesome power of all divinities that emerge from God. How God emerges in the rituals of a particular practitioner is dependent on their unique experiences and shouldn’t be confused with either orthodoxy of ceremonial magick or certain pagan traditions. Good praxis should freely incorporate not only what works in the short term, but encourage deeper connections with the divine in the long term.

Divination is not a means to an end. Vision work is a fundamental part of spiritual practice. Seers should be encouraged to regularly cultivate visions and all other spiritual senses as a part of ritual and daily life – paying close attention to dreams, omens and any other sources of spiritual wisdom wherever they go. The sensory impressions that are received during ritual in particular should be welcomed as a part of mundane life – just as much as in spiritual, esoteric workings. This is also another reason why daily ritual is such an important part of dedicated spirituality. Always bear this in mind when developing your practice, and make sure to never take your own unique spiritual skills for granted.

Each person develops their own unique praxis and that is something worthy of both respect and celebration. In particular, effective spiritual practice should always include seership or divination. Divination is not simply a means to an end. Divination is considered an art of foresight – not just because it can help you to divine the future, but because it can help you to know where the next stage of spiritual development is meant to be. This is both for you as a seer as well as those people the gods and goddesses direct you towards helping as you develop your own practice. This is why you should not only find divinatory techniques that work for you, but also should strengthen your connections to hallowed divinities in everything you do.

Virtue

Virtue – also known as morality or ethics, are the ways we achieve spiritual harmony in the world that comport with our unique experiences and honor the people we care about. These virtues – much like the gods and goddesses one worships, are expressions of the diversity of experiences and values of life. Personal virtue ethics – not as moral absolutes, are ethical abstractions that are expressed differently in each situation and are determined by the individual above all else. An important exercise of virtue, therefore, is to determine which virtues are most valuable to you. You should also be open to changing those virtues as you grow and change as a person.

Theology

The Gods are best understood as a divine multitude of deities – both known and unknown. The Gods can manifest in a variety of ways – including through historical and personal syncretism or in forms derived from direct gnosis. This can also include deities that are lost to history or those that have yet to reveal themselves. Lesser divinities like land spirits and house spirits exist as well. Ancestors are also worthy of veneration.

Pantheon

This is the personal pantheon or household cult that has currently manifested in my practice. My pantheon consists of eight deities that are manifest in a wide array of polytheistic traditions. The following are some of the divine names for each of them.

The First

Anubis, Thoth, Mercury, Lugos, and Woden

The Second

Hathor, Venus, Rosmerta and Frig

The Third

Amun, Set, Jupiter, Taranis, Sucellos and Thunor

The Fourth

Maat, Mafdet, Minerva, Brigantia and Hretha

The Fifth

Osiris, Min, Liber or Bacchus, Cernunnos and Ing

The Sixth

Isis, Fortuna, Epona and Eostre

The Seventh

Horus, Ra, Apollo, Sol, Belenos and Bealdor

The Eighth

Bastet, Sekhmet, Diana, Luna, Artio and Sceadu

Ritual

The following is the core format of the ritual I perform in my home twice a day. It involves a simple offering, a standard hymn – fully memorized – and any informal prayers to whichever god or gods presents themselves to me during the rite. My praxis does not include ritual purification, magical operations or votive offerings because it is my belief that such things should be done as a natural extension of a devotional lifestyle. One’s home and person should remain pure as a part of daily living, and votive offerings should be given when there is a clear reason to do so. Mysticism and any magical operations should be an organic part of personal development in much the same manner. After a formal hymn like the one I’ve shown here, you can perform any and all spiritual workings that a deep devotional polytheism inspires in you. The purpose of ritual is not to burden a devotee, but rather to encourage them to practice everyday. It should be easy to perform, but definitely can require personal discipline to maintain. The twice daily rituals will reflect my daily concerns – whether they are the particulars of my life, celestial observances or any festivals that I feel compelled to celebrate.

Praxis

Place the offering on the altar.

O gods and goddesses – keepers of the cosmos – may you look kindly upon my efforts. I beseech you, blessed ones, to grant me you divine favor, bestow grace upon my kith and kin, and reveal the sacred, hidden knowledge you deem me worthy to receive.

Consume the offering on the altar.

Sigilcraft

Sigilcraft or sigilwork is a classic and effective way of focusing rituals when more magical power is deemed necessary to manifest one’s will in a working. Though there are lots of different approaches, I most favor the use of mantric sigils. These are sigils that are designed to be intoned repeatedly during a working. They don’t require physical components and are designed to be intelligible – even if they are essentially gibberish. Despite what some chaos mages might say, you do not have to adhere to a “fire and forget” dogma when it comes to sigils. You can use them as many or as few times as you want. That is all up to you.

For the purposes of this manual, I will give you an example of how a mantric sigil works. First, you start off with a statement of intent. The simpler the better. I prefer to keep the language as direct as possible. Once you have a statement of intent you like, you reduce it down to all non-repeating letters. You then rearrange those letters until you have something that sounds and feels good to you – ideally something that blends together when recited repeatedly. I’ll give you an example below.

I am powerful and fearless

MPOWUND
POWMUND
POMWUND
WUNDOMP
PUNDWOM

This last one is the version I settled for this example, but it’s all a matter of taste. Choose what works best for you and don’t be afraid to tweak things – even the words you use for the statement of intent. It is all a part of the process of building more magical powerful for the working you will perform.

Soulshaping

Each person has an immortal soul. It has been interpreted and conceptualized in many different ways, but a consistent factor in the history of spirituality has been its diversity of form. In contrast to the modern, western concept of the soul, ancient traditions have had sophisticated soul cosmologies that describe the various aspects of the human soul – in the unique, philosophical and often esoteric ways they have conceived of it.

A consistent aspect of the human soul in ancient traditions is the idea of an animalistic or magical form – one that exists as a part of as well as separately from the totality of one’s spiritual body. This has often been called a familiar or fetch, but has also been associated with animal spirits, totems, tulpas, sprites, sidhe, fylgias, akhu, personal genii or daimones. These numinous beings are often considered to be at once an enduring companion of the human soul and a broad class of nature spirits that exist out in the world.

This primal form of one’s soul is called a soulshape. Soulshaping – much like the term shapeshifting, refers to the spiritual technique of changing one’s spiritual form into that of an animal or magical beast. This is done for the purposes of meditation, scrying, dreamwork and all sorts of other spiritual practices. For most people, their soulshape is well-defined, and most often takes the form of an anthropic beast – though it can also take the form of a feral, common animal as well as a dire, monstrous creature.

The animalistic or magical forms of soulshapes are, unsurprisingly, connected to the animal messengers of particular gods or goddesses, so the often historical, personal and idiosyncratic ways we understand our devotional relationships to the gods strongly influence our soulshapes. For many soulshapers, their soulshape is granted to them by a particular deity or deities – whether or not the origin is fully understood.

These ideas are echoed in certain indigenous traditions – where animal spirits or totems are sometimes granted by spirit guides or living teachers. A witches familiar can also be associated with initiation in some coven traditions. For these reasons and more, it can therefore be a long process to understand one’s soulshape, and how one understands its form can change a lot along one’s journey.

For those who have a strong relationship to their soulshape, it can be expressed creatively in the form of a fursona. This is not required, however, and it’s more the case that fursonas are related to soulshapes than the other way around. Much of the fantastical ideas in furry culture are clear echoes of ancient fables and folk traditions – in the west and in many other places around the world. Plenty of soulshapers interact with other spiritual furries, at it were, but aren’t active in the broader part of the furry community as a whole.

It is important to mention that cultivating one’s soulshape is not the same as the philosophy of otherkin. Soulshapers always maintain a healthy relationship to their humanity, and they maintain a flexible attitude about the nature of their soulshape. There is always the possibility of one’s soulshape to change over time, and many people can take on additional soulshapes in different situations or periods of their lives. However persistent one’s soulshape is, unlike otherkin, soulshapers do not treat their spiritual practice as a unique form of identity, because they recognize that soulshapes are available to anyone with the inclination and drive to explore their own natures.

Soulshaping is a way to philosophically, spiritually and creatively balance many of the things that are valuable about both spiritual shapeshifting, paganism and furry culture without becoming trapped in the unhealthy attitudes of otherkin philosophy. It connects to lots of similar ideas throughout the cultures and histories of the world – in a manner that is modest, neutral and straightforward.

Soulshaping, as you might expect, also connects intrinsically to the primal nature of divination for seers. One’s soulshape and those of others can often be strongly emphasized by the appearance of both omens in nature as well as dreams – both for practitioners and those they use their gifts to assist in their spiritual journey. This is why soulshaping can be considered a way of connecting spiritual practice to many of the animistic qualities of other ancient traditions.