It came to my attention the other day that whilst I’ve dealt with my hobbies of writing and brewing on this blog – as well as venting about my dire employment situation – the one area I’ve not really covered is my pseudo-religious beliefs, even though I’ve mentioned it in the title.
Now, let me just say I don’t consider myself a religious person. I deeply distrust the human-driven agendas of organised religions. Religious texts are edited documents, designed to culture a doctrine which suppresses as much as it gives hope in my opinion. All religions can persecute and I dont imagine any kind of divinity being so selective, unless there are competing Gods at war with each other for the souls of human beings. Or its ancient aliens. I think that’s just as feasible.
So, why am I writing about this topic, if I, myself, am not religious? Well, the simple answer is that I believe there is a fundamental difference between ‘religion’ and ‘spirituality’. I have a genuine belief in the occult, a form of afterlife, energies living on, that sort of thing. I’ve had several experiences with the paranormal that have formulated this belief. And now, I have a new one.
The header photo for this post is my own personal set of ancient runes. Initially, I bought them as a visceral prop for my writing. I write magic fantasy, having arcane tools in your hands is very inspirational. But there’s far more to it than that.
There stones have power, a form of energy that I can feel.
Its like heat. Very subtle, but just hotter enough than nearby surface air to be noticeable. And I’ve tested this extensively in the few weeks since I purchased the stones. The runes carry power for pagan ritual, the stones vibrate with scientifically testable frequencies. They do different things to the environment they interact with, including the human body. I’ve tried placing them under my pillow…and my sleep has improved. I’ve arranged them around my writing space, and my creative thoughts are clearer.
I suppose as a Welsh, Celtic person, there may be some connection to paganism in my dim and distant past. Maybe my stresses have awakened that in me during my current life predicaments, which are flirting with high stress that borderlines in mental illness. But my partner has felt the energy of the runes too, so maybe its just a matter of science.
But I’m also into alchemy. The spiritual kind, which is a pity as I could really use the secret to making gold right now. I’ve got barely enough money for a ASDA own brand Mars bar at the time of writing! For those of you who dont know what alchemy is here’s a brief overview.
There’s a physical, Earthly form which was concerned with the pursuit of gold, a universal panacea and a Stone which would grant eternal life – called the Philosophers Stone. This was seen as a base, material pursuit, but the study gave rise to modern chemistry and has a rich and textured tradition.
Then there’s a highly spiritual version, where the pursuit of gold is simply an allegory for man attaining Enlightenment, or becoming gold – the purest of metals in the ancient paradigm. The alchemist goes through steps of purifying metals to make gold, or purifying himself to become an Enlightened Philosopher. It is a practice through the middle ages that was wrapped in symbolism, dripping in allegory and it makes a rich and endless source of inspiration for fantasy fiction, as it is a bedfellow of the Hero’s Journey narrative device. Classics from CS Lewis to Tolkien make use of this device (as well as Potter to a debated degree).
And so do I. Which is why I’ll get published. Eventually. I hope.
It comes into conflict with traditional religions, however, especially Christianity, which deemed it a heresy in the Middle Ages and beyond, persecuting its practitioners. So the practice became shrouded in code and confusing symbology, and I love it. It gives me a way to tell a story using subtext and symbolism and makes me feel far cleverer than I am.
So, I’m relying on runes to guide my life. Pity they cant conjure me a pile of gold…or maybe I’m just waiting for a leprechaun to knock on my door!