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Oooshala - The Water Horse

Some of you have been following my wildspeak entries in my journal where I talk about my practices as a contemporary shamanist / animist / totemist / insert-other-ist-here. And so you will have heard of Oooshala, my beautiful, strong, and still-so-young spirit companion.

Oooshala, is a young water horse who is still finding his voice, and mostly helps me in my shamanism to carry things I need for healing myself and others from place to place.

There are many types of mythological water-horse. However, Oooshala is based off a European type (of which - by the way - there are many, like the backahasten and the nokken), where he is a small fey pony with a mane and tail of fire. He lives in the sea to keep his inner flame from burning out of control; but he can emerge from time to time, lighting the path, and protecting those who require protection.





larger, detailed version under the cut )
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The other day, I was writing a comment in response to someone's post on Livejournal; I can't remember who off the top of my head. Essentially - to paraphrase - they constantly had totems in their life that pushed and challenged them, and didn't always have the energy to be challenged. Sometimes it was just comfort, or reassurance they needed. I have seen this sentiment expressed before, in many places, so I asked them if they had ever thought of just searching for totems or spirits who would simply offer comfort, and reassurance. They hadn't, and so I think they began their search.

Spirit helpers and totem animals can help with a lot of different things. They can be the energies that take you apart during an initiation, they can be the ones to tell you to 'get your act together!' and the ones to give you a metaphysical kick up the backside to get you back on track, they can be the ones to offer advice in a difficult situation, or offer silence to remind you that you really can figure it out on your own; honest. They can be the creatures we are terrified of, or the ones we adore and admire, and they can be animal energies we didn't know we could appreciate until they came into our lives.

But they can also be the energies that simply love us for who we are, and soothe us when things are hard. Who offer comfort without us 'working' for it. Who take us in when we are broken and overhwelmed and give succour in exchange.

Heron, actually, is the animal energy that offers this to me. It's quite strange, really, because although I have always loved herons, I have mostly seen them as bold, powerful, graceful animals. Not ones I would immediately associated with softness and love. But then - as some of you probably know - animal totems never just fit into a box of select keywords. I mean sometimes they do, but very often they don't.

The heron that comes to me is large and grey/white, essentially a super-sized white-faced heron (Egretta novaehollandiae), he very rarely says anything, only comes into my life and lays his wings upon me when I think I cannot go on; when I think I cannot keep loving and caring for myself; when I just need some help. He doesn't ask for anything in return, though he has my love and gratitude always, and he has never pushed me away.

That said, I do not work with him as much as I could, because accepting comfort, and reassurance, and unconditional love is - of itself - very challenging for me, and for many of us. It's why so many of us don't even think about searching out or asking if there are any energies in our lives that would offer this to us. And no wonder, when so many of us struggle to offer comfort and succour to ourselves when we most need it. We are so often pushing ourselves past the next frontier, throwing ourselves into the next challenge, worrying we won't be good enough, or simply forgetting that accepting love, peace and comfort (from ourselves, as well as from spirits) is a form of valid spiritual nourishment; just as giving others love and comfort is as well.

For those of you who work with spirits of any kind, are there any who simply offer you comfort, love and reassurance? Did they come to you at a tough time in your life? Or did you have to search them out? If you have no spirits of energies in your life that could offer this, why do you think this is the case? Do you think you would benefit from knowing there was someone other than human who you could approach for succour?
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When I first started out, as a pagan, I was in highschool and I was one of those kids who did tarot readings for her friends, made her own Book of Shadows, was very interested in all kinds of energy work and healing (including Reiki) and basically starting to become obsessed with animal symbolism and so on. By the time I was 17, I was in an Alexandrian Wiccan coven. I thought I was dedicated. I meditated every day, I ran a meditation group for friends, I did rituals and spells, I had my own huge altar, I burnt a circle of salt into the grass in the back garden (sorry Mum!) and so on...

So, on the outside, I was a dedicated young spiritual pagan. But there was a problem. A big problem. There was a huge divide between my spiritual work, and my real life. The person I was spiritually was more ethical than the person I was on a day to day basis. A lot of what I learnt in meditation, I didn't apply to my 'real life.' The animals I worked with taught and said interesting things, but I didn't really know how to bridge the gap. How did I take the problem solving skills of raven and apply them anywhere? I didn't. There was a big divide between what I did, who I was, the lives I was leading.

It wasn't until much later, when I split away from Wicca, and embraced shamanism and animism, that I started to see very clear ways that my spirituality could assist my 'real life.' And around that time I started realising that there's no point to a spirituality that doesn't assist your real life. And absolutely no point in any spirituality that lowers your quality of life. If you're in any spirituality or belief system, no matter WHAT it is, that lowers your quality of life; get out!!!

These days, I don't meditate every day. I don't have a great big altar (I have a few shrines). I have no circles of salt burnt into the grass behind our house (we have no grass, so...), and I don't run a meditation group. But it doesn't matter, because I live my spirituality. In my work as a spiritual artist. In my mental health and therapy where I now see a therapist who will actually bring up the totems I'm working with as a way to communicate assistance.

An excellent example of this unification was recently I experienced a great deal of anger over a serious betrayal. I am very dysfunctional when it comes to anger, I'll be the first to admit it. I rarely feel it, let along anger that is so strong that I shake from it, and feel my heart pounding and my face heat up... I had no idea what to do. So I reached out to my perevrjni, my spirit helpers, and I said 'what do I do? Help me.'

One of my spirit helpers, a grumpy old man who is partial to wolverines, came forward around me and brought another one of my spirit helpers, a water-horse (a horse that lives in the sea, with a mane and tail of fire) with him. He took a jar and said 'pour your anger into this jar.' I did, and it filled up quickly. He grabbed another jar, and said 'pour your anger into this jar.' And so we went, on and on, pouring out white, and then red, and then blue and purple and green shades of anger, until my water-horse was covered in clinking jars of anger that shone with energy. I was grounded and more calm, and I had a stockpile of energy to use for later.

In 'real life' it gave me the ability to respond to the person who had betrayed me from a rational and honest place. I stood up for myself, made healthy decisions for myself, and essentially got out of a very toxic situation with most of my soul intact and a gratefulness in my spirit helpers, and a proudness in myself for being able to manage serious anger in such a way for the first time in my life.

Those anger jars came in handy. I use them in energy work, to protect myself against being attacked by two spirits, and as offerings to other spirits (including a local crocodile god, who now has all my anger jars, and I have to wait again until I'm very angry to make some new ones). It wasn't a psychological technique I was using, taught to me by a therapist; but a spiritual one with psychological and real life implications. It was taught to me by a spirit helper named Aka Oslo, who lives on a house, on a rock that reaches out of a rough sea, that smells of salt and fur...who may or may not be a figment of my imagination. It doesn't matter if he is; because any figment of your imagination that teaches you spiritual and therapeutic tools that keep you safe and true to yourself, is a wonderful, helpful figment. Of course, I think he is real. :)

Not only that, but a couple of other people who heard this story are using anger jars themselves now. This is a technique that can be very helpful. It reached into other 'real lives,' because of its practical implications. It allows you to keep your anger, which means you're not 'getting rid of it' (don't get rid of your emotions, they're valuable!); but it also allows you to take a step back and see exactly what you have, what the energy looks like, and how beautiful it is. Anger might be overwhelming, but when it's shining out of many many jars, it's beautiful too. And colourful! And mostly, practical and helpful as well.

So how does your spirituality translate to your every day functioning? Do you have problems making connections between your spiritual practices and your 'mundane' life? When you work with animal totems, where are the real life results of that? When you walk or commune with the land, what do you take back to your workplace or your other environments. When you are in crisis, how does your spirituality assist you?
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I have a non-conventional way of approaching some of the problems in my life. A lot of people do, I'm not alone. But I feel that some of my problem-solving methods are distinctly shamanic in nature. They are spirit-oriented. They look towards the sacredness of something.

Since moving into this new house, in a semi-rural, dry environment, I've been dehydrated. I'm not drinking enough water. I love water, staying hydrated is usually not a problem for me. I can tell, immdiately, when I'm dehydrated. I eat more, I get headaches in the afternoon, I feel sluggish and unmotivated.

So my first objective solution was to simply make myself drink more water. Make up a schedule, drink a lot in the morning, a lot at night. It wasn't an 'all day' thing, but hey, at least I'd be doing it right?

Wrong.

I remembered for half a day, and then promptly forgot and ended up even more dehydrated than before. Rinse and repeat for about two weeks, with only one day of me really keeping to my pretty objective solution.

So then I took it to my more non-conventional place, and I decided to talk with an internalised spirit of water since humans - like almost all animals with a high water content - tend to have one (or so I believe). I withdrew into myself, into the watery places within myself, and found a gentle, young female spirit sitting calmly within the waters with her head looking down.

I introduced myself to her, feeling the dryness around me, and seeing it in her environment. It didn't feel as wet as was appropriate. I felt like I should have taken several buckets of water with me and just let them go.

So I said what came to mind, and our dialogue went like this. I asked 'why have I been so combative with you lately?' And this water maiden looked up at me, smiled softly and shrugged. 'I don't know, why have you been so combative with me lately?'

I paused and thought about it, feeling dry and unhappy inside of myself, and then thought about my environment. The land around me. I've recently made a radical shift in my living environment. From suburbia, to a semi-rural area that borders directly onto bushland. Both behind my house, and not too far away from the house. I thought 'maybe it's because the land is dry,' but then I realised that there was a lot of ground-water beneath this land. So much so, that most of Perth's water come from underground aquifers right where I am.

And then as I thought about this, I had a strange brainwave. I said, 'there's not enough water here, I feel like I have to ration how much I drink.'

The maiden looked up, and smiled, though her eyes were sad. 'There's not enough water here, not for everything and everyone, but there is enough to drink of, and drink plenty. Maybe you are more aware of the land than you were before, the falling water table, the fragile water sources. Maybe in trying to understand your environment, you have become too much like it, and forgot to nourish yourself.'

'Maybe.' I said. 'Even if I don't know why, I'd like to help you more. I don't like how it feels down here.'

'Neither do I.' She said. 'I can help you, though. Lately I have been feeling dry and unhappy, my environment is dry and unhappy. But maybe that is why you don't like water very much as a taste or a flavour. What I can do instead, is try smiling more, for you and for me. It sounds little, but it changes the atmosphere down here, right?' And she beamed at me, and suddenly I thought 'I feel like some water.'

We said our farewells and we shook on it, and I've had a lot of water to drink today. So even though my methods were ultimately non-conventional, they were useful. I feel even more inter-connected with myself and my inner state of being, experiencing 'dryness' at a literal level. I feel grateful that part of this may even be because of my interconnectedness with my environment and local spirits. And I am grateful I have found what seems to be a solution.

Now, I don't know if it's a long-term solution yet! But of course if it's not, I will write another pathway like this one to let you know my next non-conventional way of dealing with dehydration. After all, shamanism is about things that seem small and simple, because often we build our health and healthy environments, from the ground up. :)
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...I have very little life at all.

Welcome to another ramble on shamanism and my footsteps upon this path!

It took me a little while to understand the statement: 'no spirits, no shaman.' I thought 'but I can do it without them!' And I am grateful that I know differently these days.

I have a few spirit helpers who are willing to walk with me on my spiritual journeys, a few gods that I visit, or who visit me, and a few 'acquaintances' in the otherworlds who, for trade (usually), will offer a wealth of knowledge, access, wisdom, growth or simply offer of themselves so that I may learn, grow, move, and so forth.

We live in a world where independence, at least in many of the circles I walk, is praised almost above healthy interdependence within a community/communities, friends, family, and the friends and family that the spirits can be. And so I feel an offshoot of this is a proliferation of solitary pagan paths that are praised almost above group and community-based faiths. Solitary paganism, Solitary Wicca, Solitary shamanists, and so forth. And many proponents of solitary paths will state 'I can do what I want, I like the independence it gives me.'

But is any path truly solitary, if you are walking with spirits and gods in your life? If you say 'yes,' then how much substance are you awarding these spirits and gods? How 'real' are they to you? If one accords spirits and gods with the respect I feel they rightfully deserve, then any path that involves these spirits and gods can never be 'solitary' truly. Unless of course you believe all spirits and gods are archetypes, and have no more substance than that. But this is not the sort of spiritual practices I'm personally referring to. It is difficult to practice shamanism with archetypal spirits. ;)

Can any person on a solitary or community-based pathway truly do 'what they want,' when it is balanced against the wisdom of the spirits, the gods, their own conscience and their will when it comes up against the will of others?

The spirits and gods in my life inform me, and therefore inform my path. Just as my friends, my family, my 'fremily' (...I think I hate that term), any therapists, co-workers, colleagues and acquaintances inform me, and therefore inform my path. I am no shamanist without the spirits and gods. I am no shamanist without the community around me, the people in my life, my animal companion, the plants, the land, my clients, the rocks that bear my weight as tiny grains of sand in the structure of this house.

I used to think it was a sign of weakness to essentially say that I was nothing without the spirits, but now I see it as a sign of strength. I do not have to surrender my will, my ability to discern, decide, and see the truth of a matter, in the recognition of my interdependence on the spirits around me. They enrich my existence, my perspective, bring me to greater state of health, just as the people around me - through their support, and love - also do.

What are the spirits and gods to you? Are they archetypes? Are they integral to your practice? Are they an afterthought? Have they helped you to grow as a person in all aspects of your life? Can you apply wisdom or knowledge that spirits and/or gods offer you in the 'real world'? And have you applied the wisdom or knowledge of friends and/or family in places like the otherworlds?

Right now I am mostly all about gratitude, and the gentle warmth that comes from knowing that if these spirits and gods, friends and family, choose to walk in my life, maybe they get something out of my existence, just as I very much get something out of theirs.
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(Making this post public, because I'm insane. Sorry to the non-interested people on my LJ!)

A lot of people are familiar with the otherworlds as places to visit in order to perform soul healing for the self or others (including soul retrieval, extractions etc.) or to psychopomp / shepherd the dead, or help a deceased spirit on its way to a more peaceable place. These functions of the shamanist have been popularised in contemporary and anthropological literature, and I personally do think they are two extremely important functions of the shamanist in the otherworlds.

However, there are other spiritual things one can do in the otherworlds. Both before you feel qualified to do active soul healing or psychopomping, and in between these events. And all are important things that can be done.

here's a big list!!! )

This will eventually get put on my website. For now though, it's just here.
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EHREMBI

Name: Ehrembi the four-winged raven

Form: A raven with four wings, these show as two sets of wings on an elongated torso. He has lightning that strikes within and from his eyes, a silver-grey beak that flashes like steel, and a forked snake's tongue. He can change his size and also the materials of which he is made, sometimes appearing as being made of steel or fire. Ehrembi often changes genders, but generally appears as 'male.' He is always smiling, laughing or chuckling to himself.

Alternative Forms: A larger than normal raven with two wings. A white or silver raven. Probably many other forms I'm not yet familiar with.

Known for: Over 6 years.

Presides Over: All worlds. He is able to move between the upper, middle and underworlds with ease, though he seems to prefer the middle and underworlds. He is diplomatic and able to negotiate his way past almost all troublesome spirits and demons. He is also able to find his way nearly anywhere.

He is connected to laughter, ceremonial rites, shamanising, shamanic techniques, jokes, wisdom, learning and solar ritual. He is constantly laughing, but it is often the laugh of someone who gets a joke that no one else gets, and he rarely explains the punchline.

He is quite 'alien.' He does not often act like a normal 'raven', and is quite different from the personality of my totem. It is difficult to read his thoughts, body language and intentions just by looking at him, but my experience of him is that he has always been supportive and a steadfast spirit helper.

Assists With: Ehrembi is my primary spirit helper because he appeared first, and also because he takes me nearly everywhere, and comes nearly everywhere. He also assists with soul-retrieval and healings, and enables me to maintain my emotional distance so that I can view situations with a stronger sense of clarity.

He introduced me to the underworlds, and does almost all the negotiations with entities in the otherworlds. I think of him as a negotiator, he seems to 'get along' with all spirits, perhaps because he himself is so neutral.

He helps me to laugh at myself, and at the world. His energy is gentle on the outside, and both as strong as steel and malleable as fire under the surface.

Chants associated with him:

On a day of blue skies,
under the blue skies
the beast with four wings,
the ever-flapping raven
clacks his beak at the skies
and holds up the skies with his beak.
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SCHI'ASKALA

Name: Sch'iaskala

Other (celebratory) names: unknown

Form: True shape-shifter (no one true form.) Schi'askala presents to me as a 'she.' She presents as fast shifting mist / fog which occasionally forms into fragments of inert objects or real creatures. More recently she has been a clear voice without form in the otherworlds. She has also appeared as a lithe, 'white' woman with white hair, eyes, lips, etc.

Alternative Forms: None. As a true shape-shifter, all her forms are her true form, while none are at the same time.

Known for: Since early 2004.

Presides Over: The upperworlds, though she can move anywhere from what I can tell.

She also presides over the custodianship of lost Vilturj lore. From what I can understand, within her quiet voice and stretching forms are the secrets of many religions. She also carries within her the secrets of eudialyte, or ch'kra, the 'shaman's blood.'

Assisted With: Journeying in the otherworlds. Discovering 'lost' knowledge.

Chants associated with her: unknown.

Potential connection with deities or recorded lore: At first I thought there was a connection with the Slavic Wila/Vila, but these days I'm pretty sure she's a direct incarnation of the non-personified weather god of heavy and storm clouds: J'shiask'la, whose similarity in name cannot be denied.
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OOOSHALA

Name: Oooshala

Other (celebratory) names:

Fiery Water-Horse
Horse-Screamer of the Water Spirits
The Three-Tongued
Water Ancestor
Wave-Walker

Form: Oooshala appears as a water-horse, a mythological creature that is bound to the ocean (and sometimes other forms of water). They are often fierce creatures with waves, or undying flames for their mane and tails. Oooshala has a tongue that is forked three times, each tongue represents a different type of truth, or one of the three truths (hint: choose the left one, the middle road is a trick). His eyes contain the reflection of undying flame, and he is never found away from water. He is a smallish horse, with a ponyish, muscular frame. He has golden to grey hair, and his mane can be anything from green to red.

Alternative Forms: None.

Known for: Since late 2004.

Presides Over: Oooshala is specifically associated with the act of shamanising during rage states, or during times of peak emotion. His connection to the ocean seems to suggest the uncontrollable and massive nature of human (and all) emotion, and its potential to create great change and growth. His connection to fire represents passion.

Oooshala only appears in the middleworlds. He presides over the three truths: the harsh truth, the insincere truth and the balanced truth.

He does not openly converse, I tend to 'know' what he wants when he appears. Without his assistance, I would have torn my whole life apart, and never been able to locate some of the fragments of my Urt.

Assisted With: Specifically emotional management and the use of emotion in magical techniques.

Chants associated with him:

My wet feet on the wet sand by the ocean
and in the ocean a field of golden wheat
and by the wheat a golden field of golden horses
and there, the golden horse with the reddened tail
the ruddy eyes and the ruddy mane!
And in the eyes the secrets of the Water!
And in the ears the voices of the Water-beasts!
And from the mouth the three tongues of truth!
Ooooooshala Ooooooshala
mighty Water-Horse of the streaming skies,
mighty Three-Tongued of the bloodied ocean,
mighty Horse-Screamer of the Water Spirits!
Oooooooooshala!

*

Ooooshala Ooooshala,
each cresting wave
makes a mountain of foam.
In each foam mountain
is a golden palace,
golder still.

Ooooshala Ooooshala
it is the Water Ancestor
Wave Walker!

Ooooshala Ooooshala
The push of the winds in your ears
The push of the wisdoms into your ears
The push of the ancestors in your ears!

Ooooshala Oooooshala!
It is the antlered one with the blue tail!
What is on your back?
It is the xansan saddle.
What man can saddle your back?
None. Oooooshala!
You have woven it with your antler tips!
As fine as golden needles

Potential connection with deities or recorded lore: Water-horse mythology.
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OVATNE

Name: Ovatne (pron. Oh-VAHT-nee)

Other (celebratory) names:

The Killing-Whale
D'miezak'r


Form: A mountainous, slate-grey killer whale, with markings in varying shades of grey. Ovatne is huge, words aren't 'gargantuan' enough to describe how big he appears. His eyes are cold and dead, and he has row after row of shark-like teeth. He appears while shamanising as a form within the ocean, or resting above it. Sometimes he is a disembodied voice.

More recently, he swims across the 'sky.'

Alternative Forms: A narwhal. D'miezak'r the Moon God.

Known for: Since mid-2003.

Presides Over: Ovatne appeared for the first time, when I was shamanising on behalf of two friends. He came as the embodiment of the spirits, to share their displeasure with me and my learning. In this first vision, his lesson to me was prompt. He 'killed' me twice. Essentially, he makes sure I'm not too much of an idiot. He introduces a concept of self-censorship and observation within my own practices, and attempts to aid my growth and refinement as an Oraiyjek. He is often terrifying to encounter, but oddly comforting at times.

Ovatne appears mainly in the middle and upperworlds.

He has also presided over my 'death' states. He helps me to become the best healer I can be. I try to be adequate for him, but I am a recalcitrant and immature student, and he is immeasurably wise. He can seem cruel at times, but he is also at times forgiving. I consider him just.

He presides over the Moon and the ocean, as well as all sea mammals with the exception of the beluga and dolphin (who are the domain of Karijiana).

Assisted With: Soul retrieval and healings. It was he who enabled me to find my 'moon voice,' which is a voice of spiritual truth and power. He aids reclamation of the spirit to help in making all things whole.

He doesn't often ask for a clear 'price' beyond true dedication and loyalty. Since his presence in my life, my practices have been very dedicated, and even during times of rebellion, I find myself unable to shake the constant awareness that this belief system is what I am.

He reminds me that death and the Void is always near. He also aids in journeys to dangerous places. He doesn't tend to negotiate with other spirits because his presence alone tends to send most of them packing.

Chants associated with him:

In the slime, in the darkness
of the shadows, in the bloodied waters,
the silver glint of razor teeth,
the slimy slaughters of spirit meat,
a tragic monster, a silver fiend,
to rend and bite and tear and eat
a calm fury, to kill and chaos make
to direct the death through the murk channels
to make lights at the end of decay,
wisdom in the bloodied darkness
love, in the slimy shadows, in the fury-monster
OH - VAT - NE
ouh var
ouh var
kalanatne, kalanatne
obisk!

Potential connection with deities or recorded lore: He is a manifestation of the Moon God, D'miezak'r.

Other notes: Ovatne will only be 'summoned' with a particular drum beat, on a big enough drum, which means that currently - with the small drum I am using - I cannot 'summon' him. I do not work with him often, though I am 'aware' of his presence in the otherworlds.

He is more forthcoming with physical world 'omens' than any of my other spirit helpers.
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FINDING YOUR SPIRIT HELPER

Finding Your Spirit Helper

In Vilturj, you do not find your spirit helpers. There are no specific journeys one can make in the otherworlds that will guarantee you walk away with a perevrnija, and meditations are useless - as they generally take you to internal visualisation states, which are not the same as true walking through the otherworlds.

Perevrni find you when they feel you are ready, and not before. You cannot rush the process, nor is it a matter of simply announcing 'I'm ready', without truly being ready within your heart or spirit.

Over time, a shamanic practicioner will acquire more than one spirit helper, and there is quite a skill to know how to make offerings to each, while knowing who to appeal to for help, or resources. It is also possible, over time, to piss off existing spirit helpers and drive them away. If you rarely offer your respect, offerings or time to the perevrni, they will leave if you are lucky, if you are unlucky, they can make life quite difficult for you in the otherworlds, flat out sabotaging efforts to journey. This depends on the nature of the practicioner, and the types of perevrni they attract.

The relationship between the shamanic practicioner and the perevrni is precious. If they leave, the shamanic practicioner is helpless. If they leave the practicioner while in the otherworlds, it can be very dangerous.

Perevrni are not crucial in the practice of those who simply incorporate indigenous or native practices (often simply called 'shamanic practice' which can be a problem, as it reduces many cultures into one vague, inaccurate culture) in to their own eclectic practices. Like the totem and animal energies, they are not collector's cards to be paraded around as a sign of status that you haven't actually earnt.
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ROLE of the SPIRIT HELPER

Amongst all indigenous practices, whether derivative, native, new age, etc. there is a discrepancy across cultures when it comes to the meaning of words like 'guide,' 'spirit guide,' 'totem,' and so forth. Because of these discrepancies, I seek to make it very clear what terms I use and what they mean:

The spirit helper is an English translation I have chosen to differentiate between those amorphous terms of 'guide,' 'energy,' and an actual being which is designated to specifically help those shamanising in the otherworlds. In Vilturj, the spirit helper is traditionally called the perevrnija, or perevrni (plural).

The spirit helper, or perevrni, is neither a totem, nor is it an animal energy or guide. They are not specific gods, though they may eventually be deified. They often have no specific folklore attributed to them within a living culture. They may, at times, be an ancestor - a human Oraite (shaman) - who has chosen to exist in the otherworlds for a multitude of reasons, but often to help younger generations of Oraite on their spiritual journeys to help their community.

However, spirit helpers most often appear as animals with something 'off' about them. It may be a horse with a lizard's tail, an eagle as big as a sequoia, a white shark with iron teeth, a human with feathers for skin.

The spirit helper is an entity that appears specifically to shamanic practicioners in order to help them to shamanise and work within the otherworlds. They are different for each person and often uniquely individual, though they can also be 'inherited' from other Oraite within the bloodline or familial culture. Their appearance and symbolic meaning often tells us something of the Oraite themselves, and their practices.

The spirit helpers / perevrni can assist in several ways:

- They negotiate on behalf of the Oraite in the otherworlds.

- They increase the Oraite's ability to travel to destinations they may not be able to normally reach on their own. They also enable the Oraite to travel to destinations at speed.

- Refining the Oraite's practice through teaching specific lessons in the otherworlds. This includes overseeing shamanic death states, aiding and causing initiations, and 'gifting' the Oraite with the powers that enable him or her to be successful in their ventures.

- Aiding the Oraite in all aspects of soul retrieval and possession.

- They are able to sometimes locate the totem, animal energies, ancestors, and spirit helpers of other people. This assists greatly during healings and magical works.

- They foster a sense of humility, respect and self-confidence. Without them, the Oraite is nothing of worth in the otherworlds.

Each spirit helper is helpful in different ways Some will specifically aid one's movement between worlds. Others will help with healing, 'travelling' or negotiation. Some will specifically teach lessons of fear and humility to remind the Oraite that he or she must be focused on the community, and not just themselves. They are not slaves to the whims of the practicioner, though some will (rarely) permit to being commanded. Others will make the commands, and treat the Oraite as a slave.

Spirit helpers are bound in the otherworlds, that is their realm of existence, and they may only present themselves in the 'real world' or material plane through omens and signs. They cannot be physically present.

Spirit helpers are also limited in what they are able to do. Some are able to move between all worlds, but most - like many animal energies - cannot move everywhere. For example, one of my own spirit helpers can never be of any meaningful assistance in the underworlds, and another one likewise can never visit the upperworlds. This is why it is important for the Oraite to negotiate healthy and positive relationships with all of their spirit helpers, because one will not be enough to create a powerful Oraite.

I cannot stress this enough, without perevrni, we truly believe that the Oraite is nothing more than a figurehead without any real power in the otherworlds. There might be some places they can traverse, but many of the more dangerous places become 'off limits.' Any Oraite who attempts to 'heal' others without the aid of their perevrni are selfish, and putting the people they are trying to heal in danger. Do not trust anyone who says, 'I'm fine in the otherworlds on my own.' They are either deluding themselves, simply 'visualising' and not truly journeying, or flat out lying.

Without perevrni, or spirit helpers, the Oraite cannot attempt to heal others or the community successfully. Some might ask why the totem or 'gods' couldn't help instead, but in our belief system, the totem does not perform the function of soul-retrieval, and gods are fickle and often demand higher prices than spirit helpers which is why we only appeal to them when necessary. We also do not address gods during every healing or journey out of respect, in the same way you might not bother an elderly and respected family member every time you wanted to get dressed - after all, you can do it yourself! Or you could certainly ask a sibling to help you first.

In some practices, the spirit helper is the 'highest' entity an Oraite will worship, before turning directly to non-personified deities like 'rain' or 'forest.' They are often deified, and over time they will gain their own stories and folklore if they are successful while working with the Oraite. Some might think that the perevrni is a manifestation of the higher self, but in Vilturj, they are external entities and can exist and function in the otherworlds without us. They are generally infallible.

In my practice, totems, guides and animal energies etc. cannot ever be perevrni. They can 'help' us, certainly, but they do not fulfil the same functions of the perevrni as adeptly as they can.

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August 2017

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