The first run of the UTAO class “Navigating Tower Time – Magic for an Era of Change” is now complete. Like all good classes, it ended with a post-class survey. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and included some good suggestions for future classes.
But the response to one question surprised me. I asked:
What one part of Tower Time will you focus most strongly on going forward (even though you’re likely to spend some time and effort on all these parts)?
The second most popular answer, with 43% of the vote, was “changes in the Spirit World: interactions with the Otherworld and with Otherworldly persons.”
That probably wouldn’t seem remarkable to anyone except me. But I’ve read all the homework submissions – I’ve seen everyone’s strategies and plans for dealing with Tower Time. And the overwhelming majority of those responses are this-world oriented: plans for finances, health, family, community, and other things we’ve drawn on over the past year of Covid… or that we’ve been reminded we need to build.
The Tower Time class covered theories of Tower Time, magical skills and strategies, and working with our Gods and other spiritual allies. But while it covered some of the changes we’re seeing between the worlds – in that part of the Otherworld that occasionally intersects with our world – it didn’t say much about monitoring those changes going forward… and adjusting our plans accordingly.
Nobody complained about the omission. Like me, they simply didn’t notice its absence. But this survey response tells me there’s an interest that I didn’t cover. I thought about adding a supplementary module to the course, but decided that at this point, it would be more useful to cover it in a blog post.
So, what do we need to do to pay attention to the changes that are happening in the Otherworld and between the worlds?
Build and maintain a solid foundation
This is my first answer to just about every spiritual question – it’s that important.
Begin with daily spiritual practice. Hopefully you’ve already got one. If not, this post will help you get started. Prayer, meditation, offerings, observations of the natural world… there are many different practices. Find the one(s) that work best for you.
Daily spiritual practice keeps us connected to our Gods and other spiritual allies, to our religious and spiritual traditions, and to our highest values. It helps us stay focused on our spiritual work – and that helps us be ready to see changes in the spiritual environment.
Participate in seasonal and special rituals. The eight high days on the Wheel of the Year provide a time to do more elaborate devotional and magical work – things that are more than what we do on a daily basis. If you can do this work with others, so much the better. If you can’t, do it alone. I have a series of solitary rituals on this blog, and a series of video rituals on YouTube.
And do regular magical practice. If you set magic aside until there’s some great need, you may find that your skills aren’t as strong as they could be when you need them. I do something every full moon, even if it’s just drawing and charging a handful of sigils.
These foundational practices help you get ready for whatever you encounter. But they also keep you from getting so caught up in the mundane world you forget to notice the magic that happens right in front of you.
Put yourself in places to see what’s happening
If you want to see a bird, just go outside – birds live pretty much everywhere humans live. You may have to do some looking if you want to see a crow, but you’re likely to encounter one sooner or later. But if you want to see an eagle, you have to go where eagles are.
Likewise, if you want to encounter an Otherworldly person, your odds are much better if you put yourself in a place where they’re more likely to be.
This starts with wild places. Now, true wilderness is rare in our contemporary world. But your back yard is better than your living room. A wooded park is better than your back yard. A national forest is better than a wooded park. Play the odds – the wilder the better.
It’s also liminal zones – those transitional places and times that are “neither within nor without.” Sea shores, mountain tops, doorways, crossroads. Dusk and dawn, equinoxes and solstices.
I can’t believe it’s taken me five years to recognize that my green glowing bird sighting was at dawn – a liminal time.
Ritual spaces are also liminal zones… or at least, they can be, if they’re properly invoked. A traditional Wiccan circle casting ends with the words “we are between the worlds, beyond the bounds of time…”
Don’t expect to encounter Otherworldly persons in your kitchen (and trust me – you don’t want to). If you want to experience them, go where they’re more likely to be.
So what do you do when you’re there, where ever there is? You listen – in the broadest possible meaning of the term.
This is why you meditate (or at least, one of the reasons why you meditate) – so you can tune out the distractions and notice what’s really there. Listen with your physical ears, but also listen with your inner ears, the ones that help you hear the voices of your Gods and ancestors. Look with your physical eyes, but also with your inner eyes. Pay attention to all your senses.
If you need help learning how to do this, read Psychic Witch by Mat Auryn. Pay particular attention to Chapter 4 “Extrasensory Perception.”
The more you practice this, the better at it you’ll get. Do it consistently enough for long enough and you start to notice Otherworldly persons and happenings even when you’re not actively looking and listening for them.
But even then, the best way to see what’s going on is to pay attention.
Being a passive observer is one thing. Being an active explorer is another.
I’ve always been reluctant to write much about the how-tos of journeying. I learned it first-hand, with a little instruction and a lot of trial and error. I’ve rarely tried to teach it, other than by saying “watch me as I do this, and ask questions after it’s over.” This post from 2017 is about all I’ve got to offer, at least for the moment.
There’s a demand for this – I need to figure out how to teach it remotely.
But for those who can do it, exploring off the map is the best way to see what’s going on in the Otherworld. There’s no substitute for going there yourself and seeing what’s going on.
Which is something I haven’t done enough of in the past year. You would think this would have been a good quarantine activity, but it really is best done with in-person support. Plus it takes more energy than I’ve had during much of the past year.
That’s something else I need to figure out how do more often…
This is not safe
Exploring the Otherworld in trance is not safe. It’s not terribly dangerous, but it’s categorically different from guided meditations, where you can come back (or be brought back) at any time. You can get lost. You can encounter persons who are not your friends, and who may not take kindly to you being in their space.
Even the more passive explorations of the Otherworld and between the worlds carry risks – mainly the risk of getting their attention. And “they” can be anyone from a God to the Fair Folk to an angry nature spirit to pretty much anyone or anything else.
I don’t want to scare people off. This is necessary work, it needs to be done, and we need more people doing it. But I want people to approach it with caution and especially with respect.
Pay attention to where you go, what you see and hear, and who and what you encounter. More most importantly, take care what you say and what you do while you’re there.
Share your stories
One of the homework assignments in the Tower Time course was to “tell your own story of weirdness … most people have one.” Almost everyone had a story to tell, from things that just pushed the boundaries of “rational explanations” to first-hand knock-down encounters with Gods and other spirits.
I wrote about this in this post that recapped some of the stories I heard at Pagan conventions (remember those? can’t wait till we can have them again!).
Telling our stories reminds us that they’re real. Hearing other people’s stories reminds us that it’s not just us – these things happen to other people too. We need that reinforcement.
But more than that, we need to compare notes about what’s going on in Tower Time. I can’t see it all – none of us can. What’s happening here in Texas may be different from what’s happening in California, or Ontario, or Wales.
When you experience something Otherworldly, please – share your stories.
Some stories are not permitted to be told, or can only be told to certain people under certain circumstances. I have a few of those myself. By all means keep your promises, and follow the instructions your Gods give you. But where you can share your stories, please do.
Make practical preparations, but pay attention to what’s going on between the worlds
I’m glad to see so many of the Tower Time class participants making practical and detailed plans to deal with the changes that will continue coming our way for the foreseeable future. That’s the best way to make sure you and yours will come through it in good shape.
But I’m also glad many of them are planning to pay attention to changes in the Spirit World and to our interactions with the Otherworld and with Otherworldly persons. Because while I’ve developed my own theory of Tower Time, I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even have all the questions.
Paying attention is how we’ll learn more.
Like all the UTAO courses, the Tower Time class is on-demand. If you missed it in the first run, you can take it any time you like.
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