Elemental

Tonight I found my small box of Nag Champa incense and it made me think of my elemental (nature spirit) friend back home.

As I take in its sweet, heady scent, I remember how we didn’t used to be friends: how they used to hate me and how I used to be scared of them. But somehow, despite my egocentric, human-conqueror-minded stupidity, we eventually grew to enjoy each other’s company (once I stopped talking at them and started listening. But that’s a story for another time).

I’m reminded of that one time I wanted to burn incense as a gift to them to thank them for sharing their practical wisdom with me.

I often burn incense and candles to God (rose in particular), but I didn’t know whether forest elementals liked incense. I certainly didn’t want to give them a gift they wouldn’t enjoy.

So I thought back to our previous conversations, to think of something they would appreciate, and I remembered that when we were talking about plants, I had mentioned the plant I was tending in my room and how they said they’d like to see it sometime.

With my phone, I took a few pictures of my plant, showing how it had grown. Then I brought my phone to the forest where the elemental resides and we looked through them together.

That elemental is one of my best friends, and I miss them terribly. I can’t wait to sit and talk with them again.

Advertisements

Distractions

I went back to the park with the saturated spiritual feeling and sat on the bench for a while. However, there were too many people around for me to focus properly. Since it’s in a busy part of Tokyo, I don’t think there will be any time that there aren’t at least five other people there.

I need to regroup and think of some new strategies to achieve that kind of focus, even when there are plentiful distractions. Maybe noise-cancelling headphones and quiet meditative music would be useful. It’s not as effective as solitude and silence for me, but maybe it will allow my thoughts to be quiet and focused enough to listen.

God’s Little Gifts

All spirits have their own trademark qualities and God, being a spirit himself, is no different. It is an interesting exercise pondering which characteristics God has, especially those that aren’t explicitly listed in literature.

One that I am continually reminded of is how he likes surprising his church/hosts with little gifts. These are often unnecessary and unrequested extravagances. Just little gifts to surprise us and make us smile.

Some branches of religion get caught up in these gifts, which is sad because it misses the point. Following God for his gifts would be like marrying someone for their house.

But the fact remains that God likes to give those little surprises. Like a mother who picks up chocolate bars for her kids while grocery shopping, even though her kids are at home and weren’t expecting anything. The gifts are an expression of love. And, though he doesn’t give expecting anything in return, his love makes us want to surprise him back.

Negativity

I told a friend something in confidence and was rejected for it. God has been teaching me not to look to others for validation, but instead look only to him. This is just the latest lesson in that vein, I suppose. I do not regret telling them, but I am still sad we couldn’t stay friends.

I avoided the large, saturated park on my walk home. As much as I’d like to deny it, I have some strong stormy emotions swirling inside me today. I don’t want to pollute its space with my negative energy. I don’t want to start our relationship that way.

Negative energy is potent and it spreads like rot. It hurts positive spirits it comes into contact with. I learned this when I was struggling with depression and I continued to visit my elemental friend back in America. They all but booted me out of their forest. Nothing personal, but they didn’t want me spreading that in their forest, because it’s hard to remove. You may notice negativity is contagious from human to human as well.

I went back later when I was in a better mental place, apologized, and promised to be more careful in the future. The only spirit I’ve met who is unaffected by negative energy is God/the Creator/the Source/the Holy Spirit. Perhaps because he is the base of the stem where all energy originates.

A Surprise in the Park

Today, I walked home from class instead of taking the train. What I was expecting was a nice walk through a part of the city I don’t usually get to see while saving myself a bit of money. What I wasn’t expecting was the park I walked by, or the strong spiritual charge it had.

One little alcove in particular felt saturated with something: a feeling I’ve learned to associate with spirits nearby. It’s the first time I’ve felt this kind of sensation in Japan.

I think that park will be a good one to visit on a regular basis, to just sit in quietly and make myself available, if whatever resides there wants to make contact. If it doesn’t want to, that’s okay too. It’s not my place to pressure anyone to do anything.

The Observation Stage and Brief Contact

In my free time, I try to walk around through the parks and other green areas in my city, putting out feelers for anything supernatural.

Spirits don’t only hang around places with a lot of nature, but I’ve found that, like people, they don’t like to be disturbed, so that means they usually find quiet places that aren’t disrupted by humans. Some probably prefer hustle and bustle more than nature and quiet, but I find I have the most encounters in the quiet places.

I had an unexpected conversation with a spirit last week in my room, but I’m still not sure whether it was God or a local spirit. (They feel different to me. When it’s God/the Holy Spirit, I get this burning pressure in my heart that makes me feel like I’m going to explode in the best way. Other spirits feel different. For example, the one by my house  in America that I have the most contact with has a breezy snark about it and feels like cold water.)

The spirit I spoke with felt like some combination, so I’m not sure whether it was a kind of spirit I’d never encountered before or if God had just taken a different tone. Though based on the tone and the feeling, I’m inclined to say it was something else. Maybe from the shrine a block up the road.

It said “You fancy yourself some kind of necromancer?” I answered that I would like be, but that I had a lot to learn. (“Necromancer” meaning a medium with nature ties, rather than someone who yanks ghosts back from the dead and such. Though I am nowhere sensitive enough to call myself a medium.). I asked if it had any teachings it would like to share with me. (Never demand lessons from spirits. It’s so rude. But it’s common that, if a spirit makes contact, they have something that they’ve been wanting to tell either you as an individual, or more often, something they want to tell humanity in general, and you just happen to be the one who is listening). It gave me two points to chew on:

  1. Food is glory, but it’s also unimportant. Be okay with simplicity. (Image of an old man who eats the same kind of sandwich everyday for lunch. This is both literal and a metaphor for extravagance vs. simplicity. Extravagance often clogs up the senses.)
  2. Each element has a different energy. They connect at the stem, but you can’t really “connect to the elements” for that reason. You must choose one to align with and train to channel that energy.

I haven’t heard from that spirit since, nor have I heard from any others.

In my brief experience, spirits are shy. Especially nature spirits. They will hide and watch you for a long time before making contact and then only if they decide you aren’t dangerous (or you’re too dangerous and need to be stopped).

I’m new to this area. If there are any spirits around, they’ve probably only seen me once or twice. I’m hoping that as I visit the quiet places more frequently, we’ll get to know each other better and they’ll realize I’m not a threat. And hopefully I’ll learn how to sense them better.

Grounding

I’ve been going to church every week for the first time in many years. There was a period of time where I could hardly stomach anything Christian. Right around the end of college. Church, then, was out of the question. Why would I give up one of my few free days to go somewhere I didn’t want to be? Somewhere that taught things I didn’t agree with?

The answer was obvious: I wouldn’t. And I didn’t.

However, even though the Church has many faults, one thing it does well is providing a safe and caring environment in a cold, distrustful world.

While I am here in Japan for three months, an ocean away from all friends and family, I thought finding a church would be a great way to quickly build a safety net and give me people to hang out with. (It has been good for other things as well, such as learning about God etc, but I admit that was the main draw.) Now, three or four weeks in, going to the same church, I find it has a grounding effect as well.

Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Some people are too grounded and they have trouble focusing on things outside of this current world.

Other people, like myself, aren’t grounded enough. Without an anchor keeping us tethered to the ground, we float away into a void where nothing matters but the spiritual and nothing has context. Without an anchor, it’s extremely hard to care about anything that’s going on on earth. It breeds apathy, boredom, dissociation, isolation, and sometimes depression.

Church is the remedy for that, no matter what “church” means for you. The act of meeting with other people, other physical, living people, who are interested in the same thing as you is important. Where you study God together, but then eat and chat together as well. Reminding you that, yes, the spiritual realm is important, but so is the physical realm.

I had never realized the importance of grounding yourself in this manner. But now that I have, I wonder how I ever managed without it. I wonder how I didn’t just blow away altogether.

Why “Devoted Heretic”?

I call myself “Christian” because I follow the God described in the Christian Bible. I’ve vowed to serve him in particular, he’s the one who has taken care of me my whole life, and he’s the one who has the final say in everything I do. It’s him I’m in love with.

At the same time, my spiritual journey has taken me to a lot of places, notions and conclusions that a lot of Christians probably don’t agree with. For example, I believe part of my purpose on this earth is to serve in a kind of mediator capacity between humans and other spirits. Helping them understand each other. Not exactly an Evangelical doctrine. But hey, that’s me.

I’m keeping this blog both as a meditation for myself and to help anyone who might be struggling to do the same thing.

Because, boy, it can be a lonely road sometimes. So let’s journey into the finer things of this world, together.