Author Interviews & Reviews

Yuletide Wishlist: Trance-Portation

December, 2008

Trance-Portation: Learning to Navigate the Inner World

By Diana L. Paxton, 2008, Weiser .

ISBN: 9781578634057

If there is still someone on your yuletide shopping list who needs – do we have a gift suggestion for you!

One of the more notable books out this year is Diana L. Paxson’s Trance-Portation: Learning to Navigate the Inner World. A thorough guide to trance and shamanic journeying, it is written specifically for those of us who have trouble “letting go” and reaching trance.

Better known for her works of fantasy, which include the well loved Westria series and the classic Avalon series (with Marion Zimmer Bradley), Paxton’s skill with words shines through in the way she can make it so fun to read what is essentially a metaphysical exercise book. Methodical exercises developed from over 20 years of teaching experience build on one another in a gradual way, and are interspersed with classroom anecdotes, practical advice and information. A lot of information. This book offers everything from breathing exercises, sensory cues and meditation practices to help develop skill in reaching the trance state. Especially helpful is a chapter on “Road Hazards,” what to do when something goes wrong, to ease uncertainty when following the instructions alone.

What really defines this book though is where Paxton takes shamanic journeying after the essentials are covered. The reader is lead through finding one’s power animal or spirit ally and exploring the internal landscape. Included are also methods to enter the spiritual realms of different cultures: the Nordic Midgard, the Celtic Faery Realm and Greek Arcadia. Most fascinating are chapters on journeying to meet divinities, and the book almost ends too soon. It is such a teaser in fact, we are left waiting for another volume on the possibilities on working with divinities and shamanic oracular practices.

In short, Paxton has done for shamanic journeying what Robert Bruce did for astral projection – redefined what we know in a concise, methodical exercise manual which not does a great job of the how but also gives a bit of food for thought on the why. Definitely a worth-while buy!

Doing It By The Book (Or is it “BUY” the book?)

June, 2006

(Author’s Note: Read this only if you consider laughter a sincere form of worship!)



     I looked in the yellow pages for a Pagan public school. I didn’t find any. Not one. But I did find a variety of metaphysical bookstores and magical supply shops. I went to a few of these stores. And there on the book shelf, I found all the secrets of the universe. Soft-cover, only $9.99.      

     So now I can do it by the book! I tried calling the four directions, but it took me so long to memorize the exact words verbatim. I tried purifying my sacred space, but I couldn’t pronounce all those ceremonial words. (It was some kinda foreign language; it sounded like what my Uncle Irving and Aunt Sadie used to yell when the old station wagon wouldn’t start.) I tried meditating too, but by the time I got comfortable enough, it was time to flip the cassette tape over. I’d like to just say a simple prayer to the Goddess, but I didn’t get to that chapter in the book yet, so I guess I’ll have to wait.      

     I went back to the store and the person there said that I wasn’t using the right color candle. In fact, I needed not just one candle — but 72 candles! (This is to balance the numerological energy between my magical name, the phase of the Moon, the exact weight in grams of my silver jewelry, as well as the last four digits on my Visa card.) And incense. I needed incense. And charcoal. "Don’t forget to have extra charcoal," they all warned me.      

     So when I did my ritual, I lit all my 72 candles and filled my hibachi FULL of charcoal. 91 packages. (13 for each chakra.) And incense too. I lit the whole pack! Purple Moonbeam Aquarian Sage Ritual Incense. (This is just a code name. I can’t find out the REAL ingredients until after a year and a day.) And oil. I poured in a whole bottle of Peace-Giving Psychic Wisdom Oil. (It’s lower in cholesterol than even Canola Oil!)      

     Well, in a past life, I must’ve blown out a candle instead of snuffing it — because the Fire Elementals got REAL mad. Whooof!!! Between all my candles and all the fumes from my charcoal and incense and oil and stuff, I barely had enough breath to dial 911. The ambulance driver said I had smoke inhalation and was lucky to be alive. (Gee, my first healing spell!)      

     After all of this, I looked at things a bit differently. I used my books as ONE way to learn from the ideas of others. Many of the authors were very thought-provoking and understanding several different view points helped me form my own opinions. I decided that I could learn from the books AND still do what felt right, for me, and for the moment. While I am very lucky to have freedom of the press, I realized that the greatest book of all is NOT for sale. It is written deep within us all, by a very special Author, and every day we turn a new page. I also found that the Old ways would speak to me through Nature, the birds singing, or the thunderstorms, or even that big ol’ tree behind the Post Office.      

     And now when I shop for the few things I use in rituals, I do it very carefully. I realized that SOME of the people selling me stuff, were just that — people selling me stuff! But others were more sincere about their vocation. They seemed more like teachers and mentors, rather than Retail Clergy. After a while, it was easy to tell the difference.      

     I stopped worrying about saying all the RIGHT words to call the Elements or to purify the Circle, and just spoke from my heart instead. I also discovered that once I stopped trying to use the exact verbatim words, that I could actually THINK about what I was saying, and WHY it was being said. I like that much better!      I even tried new things, like facing the Lake out back, or the maybe the Ocean, instead of always facing West for Water. It just feels right, like politely facing somebody when you speak to them in person. I guess facing West made sense for folks back in England, but where I live Water is someplace else! And instead of burning a green candle for Earth, I used a little cup of soil from my garden. Any candle — even a green one — is still Fire. But there are lots of stuff that, to me, FEEL more like Earth.      

     And when I think about the Goddess, I just call Her "The Goddess." That’s it. No elaborate names that I don’t fully understand, no historical baggage from all the wars and stuff in the mythology books. Just "The Goddess." And when I think about the God, He’s just "The God." I know They both love me, no matter what phase of the Moon, and even if I’m not dressed in black.      

     I’m not exactly sure how to do magic, but I did find that there are PLENTY of stuff I do every day, without all the hocus-pocus, that are very magical already. Today I sent my sick friend a Get Well card. (Gee, is that a healing spell too?) And last night, I said a simple thank you before eating dinner. And the night before that, when I took a hot shower, I visualized myself washing away all my tension and stress. Ahhh. Now THAT was magic!

     Maybe someday, I’ll even write these ideas in my own book. Soft-cover, only $9.99.

     

***


author bio:


Link (Anthony)

6538 Collins Avenue,

#255 Miami Beach, FL 33141

USA


AnthLink@aol.com


People often ask me why I chose the name Link. One important lesson for me this time around is to understand how all things "interconnect" — like noodles in the same cosmic broth. (Okay, I also wanted a really simple name that would not raise eye-brows in a mundane setting. Something like RunningBuffaloMoonFeather just doesn’t fit me…)


Most of my writing focuses on how ordinary parts of everyday life can be sacred and magical. Being ordinary makes them no less special! I try to erase the lines that separate spirituality from the rest of life. I don’t spend too much time in elaborate ritual, but rather see nearly every action as a magical event, from slicing an apple to licking an envelope. I often encourage readers to not blindly follow traditional spoon-fed teachings, but to discover what feels right for themselves, and for the moment. The most important Book we could ever find is written deep within ourselves, and within nature — and every day we turn a new page!


I grew up in a small suburban NJ town, the youngest child of two hard-working parents. I survived 12 years of Catholic school, which helped shape my "everyday" spiritual views (With the nuns of Saint Mary’s School, everything was a religious experience – from lunch to recess to taking tests and doing homework.) While I shed much of what I learned there, I think a few things stuck.


I began learning about alternative religion, divination and magic in the mid-1970’s, but did not really become active in the Craft until 1993 (what I call reaching "Spiritual Puberty"). My first teacher was a dear friend and neighbor, a Gardnerian 3rd Degree, who was killed in a car accident in 1984. (Great guy, lousy driver…) In 1993 I became a member of a small Tradition with only a few members spread out around the US. This gave me the opportunity to spend time with/learn from elders well-recognized in the Community. I have also been a member of Covenant of the Goddess, Pagan Federation International, Earth Spirit, Circle Network, Free Spirit Alliance, Pagan Federation International and ADF. I am legally certified as clergy with both Covenant of the Goddess and ULC (for whatever that means). My work has been published in many places throughout the US, plus Canada, England, Ireland, Holland and Australia.


Jobwise, I have worked for/with large international telecommunications companies since 1984. (Again, a lesson in how things connect…) I hold a bachelors degree in Communications/Journalism, and a masters degree in business and government policy. I moved from New Jersey to Miami Beach, Florida on August 1, 2001 and enjoy Miami’s internationally diverse culture, with a Latin spice!


Fun? I enjoy good food and good wine, bad humor, camping, gardening, traveling, almost anything Brazilian, the Ocean, SciFi, and sleeping late at least once a week.