This article is an elaboration and continuation of Pagliwanag: Homecoming Teachings, and is the last out of three articles which focus on the topic. Each clarification article describes the core of one of the axes in the Homecoming Teachings, then goes into how one can get lost from the Centre, and finally how one can come home to the Centre using Revelation, Embodiment, and Practice. Please read the original article first so as to get the full context of this one.
These teachings can be learned and practiced by oneself if absolutely necessary, but it’s strongly advised to work them out with another person or a group of people. These teachings can be considered therapeutic, but they are meant to be collective suggestions and guidelines for healing justice, especially around personal and collective soul wounding (trauma) and the transformation of oppression demons (internalized oppression).
The Axis of Expression
The axis of the Upperworld & Underworld is about our expression. When I’m writing about expression, I am talking about understanding the needs and boundaries we learned from the Healer and Protector, as well as the knowledge we gained from the Visionary and Seeker, and then acting and communicating all of that to the world around us, to all our relationships within ourselves and among our communities.
For example, I have the capacity to express myself verbally using my mouth, in a few different languages. I also can write symbols down to mean words and concepts, some of them representing languages I can speak, some of them representing concepts that are not part of a language. But my clothes are also a form of my expression– what I choose to wear, what they look like, how I wear them, when I wear them. My body gives off a type of language in its gestures, but also in its actions. When I’m picking something up, when I’m pulling or pushing something, when I’m running or walking or crawling or using a mobility aid — these all express something about myself. My face also expresses itself without words, such as the way my mouth quirks, my eyes narrow or widen, my eyebrows lift or come together, my brow furrows, and my nose crinkles. My hands can make movements and also sign a language. Lastly, where and when I put my body, the spaces my body takes up, the times my body exists and what it is doing during those times, these are all expressions.
How I express myself directly comes from my values and my purpose, which is at the Centre of these teachings. These values and purpose give me a sense of responsibility, which is then expressed through Service, while my purpose also has a wildness to it, which then is expressed in the cycles of Change. I act and speak about my values and purpose, which is shared and recognized by my Community — but they can only share in it and celebrate me if I’ve expressed to them those values and purpose first. This doesn’t just mean that I say the words; this also means that I have acted in ways where the Community has witnessed my values and how I manifest my purpose in the world. Community feedback then informs me on how I can live my values with more integrity, and manifest my purpose with more effectiveness and care. This purpose still is wild, and subject to the cycles of life and death, activity and rest, and the flow of reality. It is a continuing manifestation, a process that unfolds through daily, weekly, monthly expressions from my body-mind-soul.
When individuals and communities are attacked by their personal demons, community demons, and/or oppression demons, the soul wounding (trauma) that occurs pushes people away from the Centre, and they get lost far into the Upperworld or the Underworld. This means their expression is no longer aligned with Service and Change, their purpose and their values, but instead becomes focused on Control and/or Irresponsibility.
For example, when I get lost in the Adversary, I become irresponsible, and lack impulse control. I only want to answer to my own feelings, so how I express it is through a series of whims and acts of defiance to anyone I perceive is trying to restrict my expression. I may act in defiance of my own self, expressing a desire and attaining it due to my feelings, even if it will hurt my own body. I don’t care about purpose, or values, or being in a Community. I care about just speaking and acting based on what moves me, and challenging anyone that tries to stop me, even myself. When I’m an Adversarial Destroyer-Martyr, I may pick a fight with any person I regard as trying to exert authority over me or I may express my “truth” regardless of the consequences on myself and other people, because what matters most is what I know and say is right. When I’m an Adversarial Fugitive-Hermit, I may take whatever I want from the world, whether it’s an experience, a substance, a behaviour enacted on someone else’s body, and I may leave anyone or anything that bores me.
When I become lost in the Tyrant, I become controlling, and am driven by fear and rage to express myself in ways that will defy the cycles of change. When I’m a Tyrant, I believe that if I can control the people around me, if I can control as many variables in the environment and in my own body, I can stop people from abandoning me, hurting me, leaving me, dying on me. I believe I can stop losing things inside myself and outside of my life. I don’t care about purpose, or values, or being in Community. What matters is imposing order according to what I believe is orderly. When I’m a Tyrannical Destroyer-Martyr, I may manipulate people to get what I want through intimidation or seduction, pity or admiration. The words I say, the actions I take, are all so that people’s behaviour towards me is predictable and controllable. This manipulation also extends to every non-human in the world — I want things to be static, or at least, if something is going to change, it changes when and how I want it to. When I’m a Tyrannical Fugitive-Hermit, I must know as much as possible what’s going to happen, or how things work, with the end goal of being in control of the situation because I “know how it ends”, and I can plan my expression accordingly.
In the colonial world, the Adversary’s behaviours can be understood as a slew of different kinds of impulse control disorders, or impulsivity and narcissism in general — though the attachment style is decidedly avoidant. The Tyrant’s behaviours in the colonial world can be understood as an anxious attachment style, with a tendency towards obsessive-compulsion. Also, some disorders or syndromes that can look like the poor impulse control of the Adversary, may actually be the manipulation of the Tyrant — such as certain diagnoses of psychopathy, antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder. In many cases, folks can swing back and forth from Tyrant to Adversary, as they respond to their emotions by alternating expressions of impulse chasing or by controlling other people. However, whole communities in the colonial world can get lost in the Adversary or Leader, goaded by community demons and oppression demons.
Communities become lost in the Adversary when they revolve around entitlement — they prioritize their own freedoms against other communities and also against other community members. They may also foster a culture where everything is up for debate, including the humanity and dignity of other human beings. Adversarial Communities can be created by oppression demons, but they can also have started as liberation and resistance movements that became so entrenched in being oppositional instead of realigning with purpose and values.
Communities become lost in the Tyrant when they believe and enforce unjust hierarchies, attempting to create “order” through surveillance, policing, punishment, and reward. These communities have a culture of constant and overt fear, or fear hidden under moral outrage and vengeance-thirsting. Tyrannical Communities tend to be shaped by oppression demons, and even activist and progressive groups can become Tyrannical if they focus on controlling community members instead of celebrating everyone’s unique purpose and making decisions based on collective values.
The first part of the Homecoming Teachings, to begin a person and their community’s return to Centre, is Revelation — for the Axis of the Upperworld & Underworld, it means creating space and time for authentic expression.
In the colonial world, if you are a person whose community may also be lost or wounded, so they cannot perform a ritual or ceremony to help bring you back to the Centre, then you can start by connecting your mind to your ancestors and to the land, as well as to non-human guiding spirits that mentor you in your purpose.
In regards to the ancestors, you may prefer doing a DNA test (though this does not mean you can claim a culture automatically due to DNA), or looking at records and interviewing living family members. Another way to get information, if you already know a bit about your ancestry, is to research what has been written about your ancestral lineages in broad strokes, such as those from the same region or from the same culture or from the same religion. Lastly, as much of the specific history of your deceased family members, and the broader history of generations of your ancestors should be learned, if possible. Remember: this is about learning ancestry and ancestral cultures, but this does not mean you can claim a living culture because different cultures have different protocols and histories of re-adopting or recognizing someone raised outside of the culture.
In regards to the land, you can start by seeking out and connecting to the sacred spots or power areas of the land by reading articles and books, or attending organized tours and going to museums (note: many museums are historical sites of oppression and colonization demons, so be careful about which exhibition you attend). If you are on stolen land, learn about the indigenous peoples of the land, what they considered sacred, and find out what are the treaties or protocols to build a respectful and reparative relationship, though a an easy start may be to volunteer at and donate to a local Native Friendship Centre or pow wow.
In regards to non-human spirits, perhaps there is a pagan pantheon that your ancestors already were connected to, or a religion, or a spiritual practice. Read the histories of the non-human spirits that your ancestors already have a connection to. Perhaps you already have a connection to non-human spirits as well, that were never connected to your ancestors. Regardless, once you can pinpoint some that resonate with you or may mentor you in your purpose, research what was written or talked about in regards to how these spirits viewed family, community, and service. How did they serve humans? How did humans serve them? From what you understand of your own purpose, how can your purpose be of service to humanity based on the traditions you’ve been researching?
To connect to your heart and spirit, Revelation should also include a journey into the spirit world (if you are trained in spiritwork). If you are not trained in spiritwork, you can try a visualization exercise similar to what I’ve written below.
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Remember to set an alarm if you can, so that you can then return through the gate back to your Centre and thank and say goodbye to your new guide, before your next activity for the day.
Revelation is a constant unfolding, and you can also move on to Embodiment and Practice while you continue to develop an understanding of these teachings. You can also attend workshops or sessions that I run on these teachings specifically.
If you feel that you also need to bring your community into this Revelation, you can organize a workshop or skillshare about ancestor work, land reconnection, indigenous solidarity, and/or service that can be facilitated by you (depending on how far you’ve continued in this practice or returned to Centre) or by someone that you know embodies the energies of Leader and Trickster, and has the capacity to relay these Revelations. Having this group gathering, even if it’s not a formal ritual or ceremony, also supports your own Homecoming, in addition to your community’s.
The Upperworld & Underworld Axis is connected to the upper and lower halves of our bodies. If the center, our core, is our solar plexus, that includes our major internal organs like our heart and genitalia, then our upper half is our upper chest, upper back, arms, shoulders, neck, and head. Our lower half is our hips, legs, and feet. Our lower half touches the ground more often and connects us to the Underworld. Our upper half is the closest to the sky, and connects us to the Upperworld.
Here are some embodiment activities that you can choose from based on how your body reacts. This means that your body expands, relaxes, or moves forward when you read or say aloud the activity, as opposed to a negative reaction that can look like your body contracting, stiffening, freezing up, or moving backward. You may also have a pattern that’s different from this that you’ve already observed in your body when it chooses something or refuses it.
- In a comfortable position (sitting or standing preferred), focus your attention and energy on your feet (or whichever part of your body is closest to the ground), and feel your energy sink into the ground, connecting with the earth and Underworld. Thank the earth and the Underworld as the energy that is now mixed with the land and ancestors begins to travel up your feet, to your knees and hips, up to your genitalia, lower spine and stomach, and crossing over to the upper spine and chest and heart. The energy and attention continues to rise, and if you have arms and the capacity to move them, raise your hands over your head as the energy flows from your shoulders to your neck and elbows, and then to the top of your head and your fingertips. Once you’ve reached the part of you closest to the sky, you push the energy upwards, giving thanks to the sky and Upperworld as that energy flows upwards. Then begin to receive the energy from the Upperworld and sky through your fingertips and the top of your head, and bring the energy back down the way you came, all the way through your feet and into the earth. Give thanks and love to your body as you do this.
- If you are familiar with herbalism and crystals, you can ethically harvest or acquire herbs and crystals that focus on self-expression, communication, service, and/or getting in touch with your innate wildness. You can draw a grid that is your body and put the crystals on that grid, making sure you have the same crystals and herbs on the upper half of your body as you do on the lower half. You can make ointments or oils from the herbs and anoint both the lower half and upper half of your bodies. Make sure you give thanks and love to your plant helpers and stone helpers as you do the work.
- If you are practiced with sigils or drawing symbols, you can draw symbols or sigils of your ancestors, of self-expression and communication, of service, or of wildness on the upper and lower half. For example, if you’re going to draw a specific sigil on your left hand, make sure you draw the identical one on your left foot.
- If you are comfortable and have the capacity for dancing, find a clear place where you can stretch out both the lower half and upper half of your body. Then begin to move (with or without music), orienting towards what feels pleasurable for your body, and pay specific attention to how your lower half responds to your upper half, and vice versa, as they dance in tandem or alternately.
When you are doing Embodiment in a community setting, you or a trusted facilitator can do the above practices together, explaining before you begin that these activities have the intention to connect deeper into our values and expression. At the end of the activity, the group can journal together and have a discussion about what came up for them. Some communities may already have rituals and ceremonies that incorporate Embodiment activities as a way to bring individuals or their whole community back to the Centre.
Traditionally, many communities would have a respected leader or trickster that you could study from or apprentice to so that you could practice the teachings of Trickster and/or Leader. If you don’t have that option, you could watch internet videos or sign up for classes involving leadership skills, giving good service, rewilding, the cycles of life and death, reconnecting to pleasure and play, improvisation, general self-improvement, finding your purpose, connecting to your values, revolution, stand up comedy, and so much more. You can watch documentaries/movies and read articles/books on historical or fictional figures that embody your values as an ideal Trickster and/or an ideal Leader. From these experiences, you can also come up with your own set of practices, and then journal what changes for you as you do the work and your practice transforms into habit.
Here’s examples of my own Leader practices:
- When I join any kind of group, whether it’s a team at a paid job, or a household, or a grassroots collective united by a cause, I try to ask folks to think about what our shared values are, write them down, and discuss them. I also ask for everyone to discuss their different personality styles, their conflict styles, their triggers and access needs, and how to build group accountability from all of that.
- I’m building a habit of checking in with each of my decisions before I make them to understand who else is affected by them, and then trying to check in and get input from everyone who will be affected by my decision.
Here’s examples of my own Trickster practices:
- I try to carve out a time every week, every month, or every year where I can relax in my own home or in another area, by not having anything planned or scheduled, and not having immediate and urgent responsibilities. In those moments, whether it’s an hour, a weekend, or a full week, I allow an authentic expression of self, and the throwing off of social norms that I find stifling and controlling (as long as rejecting these social norms during this place and time doesn’t cause harm to myself and others).
- I have a yearly feast for my ancestors and seek guidance and messages from the dead during the feast. I also have a yearly feast for all my non-human spirit companions, and at least one yearly event I attend or support that nourishes the land and celebrates indigenous people, especially seeking justice against settler colonial states.
If you’d like your community to enact more Trickster and/or Leader practices, you (or find a trusted teacher/facilitator who) can organize a gathering or ceremony of initiation. Initiation specifically gets folks in touch with ancestral guidance, non-human spirits, and their purpose. Initiations may involve a series of tests or trials, or a journey through unknown areas of the land, all with the intention to remember and realign with your purpose that may have been assigned right before your birth. Initiations may also involve visiting all the important ancestors and spirits that have and are mentoring you, receiving blessings and teachings. For me, as someone who still struggles constantly with getting lost in the Adversary or the Tyrant, it is so crucial for me to be part of initiations with others that balances and brings us all home in the cycles of Change and Service to each other.
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