A significant part of my practice over the years has been working with skin spirits. This is my term for the spirits (or residual energy, if you prefer) that are in skins, bones and other animal remains. I have found that I can communicate intuitively with these spirits (whee, animism!). Generally I use this to help determine how to incorporate the remains into my artwork. I do this to give these spirits a better afterlife than hanging on someone’s wall, as well as to help them move past the almost invariably traumatic deaths they experience.
While most of the skins and bones end up with other people post-art, I do have some that stay with me. This includes a collection of skins I use for dancing and other forms of invocation and evocation; I have one particular section of my half of the ritual room where they all hang out. The way my altar is set up, the skins are always to my right when I’m facing it, keeping them in nice, close proximity. The walls in the alcove where the altar sits are also covered in animal skulls that have decided to camp out in my home for the time being, and the spirits therein tend to act as general guardians and spiritual company.
This past Sunday I decided to do a ritual for prosperity in conjunction with a particular project I have in the works. So I pulled out a deck of totem cards that I use specifically for determining good totems to ask for help for specific situations. However, before I’d even gotten the cards shuffled, I “heard” (obviously not with my physical ears) two of the skin spirits speak up to my right. “Me! Pick me! I can help!” each one said. So I went over to the lineup of skins, and both the badger and otter skins I have “jumped” out (again, not physically!). I won’t go into the details of how each one would help me, since it’s still a rather personal project. However, needless to say I was quite appreciative that they volunteered.
I decided to use one of my favorite forms of magic–the humble, often taken for granted, candle burning. Out of all of the various types of magic I’ve used, and the numerous objects I’ve charged with energy for a specific purpose, I admit that I have a definite fondness for those little two-hour candles as receptacles for collecting and focusing energy and intent, and subsequent release thereof. With skin spirits, I’ll generally dance with the skin and the spirit in it, and sometimes the corresponding totem will also join in, and then take the energy of the dance and place it in the candle. And that’s exactly what I did. Since I was a bit tired, I opted to just work with one of the skins that day, so I chose Badger–Otter would wait til the following weekend.
When I called on the directional totems, I tried something a little different to tie in with my elemental work as of late–rather than speaking out the evocations, I called up the element corresponding to whatever direction I was in, as well as shifting my energetic body to the form of the corresponding totem, and used that to evoke the totems. I found that this actually produced the strongest evocations I’ve ever had. It also worked for the various spiritual Friends, Family and Guardians that I routinely evoke for ritual attendance. This isn’t surprising, given that I’ve spent the past week and a half attuning myself to the elements on a several-times-per-day basis, and that I’ve been working with these directional totems through energetic shifts for years. Still, it was a nice reminder that my current elemental work does have practical applications beyond reminding me that the elements can be found everywhere, even in downtown Portland.
The “main course” of the ritual involved me laying the candle for badger energy on the floor in the center of my ritual space, draping the badger skin over my right shoulder, and dancing in a circle around the candle, invoking both the skin spirit and Badger the totem. Each species I dance has a distinctive way of dancing, and Badger/badger ended up giving me a sort of scuff-step-scuff-step pattern. As the dance progressed, I danced faster and faster, feeling my energetic body take on a distinctive badger shape. At the height of the dance, I stopped, “grabbed” the column of energy I’d raised, and “pushed” it down into the candle, condensing it into that container, sealing it in. I then placed the candle in a holder on the altar, set the badger skin near it (but far away enough to avoid accidental flaming badger skin) and lit it to release the energy in a more focused manner.
I said farewell to all the beings I’d evoked, again wordlessly, to great success, grounded, and went and ate since I needed it after all that dancing. The ritual itself went wonderfully, and it also gave me a chance to work with a couple of skin spirits I don’t work with as much as I’d like (I’ve set aside the new moon and the time around it specifically for working with skin spirits). Plus the validation of my elemental work was a nice additional perk. Of course, the proof is in the pudding, but I’m confident that the badger skin spirit can help me manifest the prosperity and opportunities I need. I’m looking forward to working with Otter this coming weekend.
On a different note, my hands are feeling better. Since I spend a lot of time on the computer at work and at home, I sometimes end up with sore wrists and hands–not as bad as carpal tunnel, but I’d like to avoid worse complications. Part of this is because I never learned to type correctly, so for years I was a four-finger hunt and peck typist. Plus I tend to push the buttons down hard! So I took my ergonomic keyboard to work (my home laptop doesn’t seem to cause me problems on its own), along with new wrist splints. I’ve also been training myself to use all ten fingers for typing, as well as type more *softly*.
However, in addition to this, I’ve asked my husband, Taylor, to do some healing on me every evening. Taylor is quite the accomplished energy worker, and was one of the main reasons I can still walk after all the damage I did to my knees a couple of years ago. I was working as a meter reader reading utility meters in rural Pennsylvania, and 4-10 miles of walking, plus getting in and out of a truck a couple of hundred times a day, hurt a LOT. I also wasn’t eating all that well, so I’m sure my body was cannibalizing the connective tissues for protein. I didn’t want to go to a doctor because s/he’d just tell me to stop working for a while, and I was out of sick time.
I noticed a distinct difference once Taylor started doing daily healing on me. Along with improving my diet, he did energy work every evening when I got home. Within a couple of weeks I was pretty much off the Tylenol, and after a couple of months I only rarely had any trouble, even though the workload was the same. And once again, I’m noticing a drastic improvement in how quickly my hands are recovering with this combination approach. His healing is definitely one of the better pieces of proof (for me, personally) that magic *works*.
I’m thinking I should ask Taylor to teach me the more subtle uses of energy work. While I can certainly sense and work with energy, I don’t have the fine-tuned ability he does. This would be quite useful for extractions of unwanted entities/energies in healing work.
* If you don’t get the reference for the title of this post, check out this link and make sure your speakers are on.