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Imaginal Journeys (Pathworking)

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S4E17 TRANSCRIPT:----more----

Yucca: Welcome back to the Wonder Science-based Paganism. I'm one of your host Yucca,

Mark: And I'm the other one, mark.

Yucca: and today we are going to be talking about the power of imagination and how we as Pagans can use that in a very conscious way.

Mark: Right. Yeah. Because our brains are so powerful and we are so built for the creation of narratives, of stories that we can harness. That propensity and that talent to be able to take ourselves places and have experiences?

Yucca: Right. We're the storytelling apes. That's who we are, right? Yeah. And that's what we do, right? Wh wherever you're from in the world, that's what humans do. That's something that all cultures have in common, is the storytelling that we do, and, and sometimes it's. Very subtle that we might not even notice it, you know, telling you about my morning.

And other stories might be these long epics to, you know, the Lord of the Rings and this and that, you know, but, but we do it all the time throughout the day,

Mark: Right, the, the connection of events into an arc that starts one place and ends in another place. Science is a storytelling process

Yucca: right.

Mark: in science. Just because it's a story doesn't mean it's not true. I. There are many stories that are factual stories. I mean, we, our hopes of history are that history will be as factual as possible.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Science is all about developing narratives that explain stuff first. This happens, and then that process happens, and as a result you end up with this.

Yucca: A and with science there's just very specific narrative rules you have to follow. Right. And in other types of stories, there's different kinds of rules that are being followed in, in the creation and the telling of those stories. And we do it, it, it's just the way that we're even understanding the world.

And so, Sometimes our, our imagination can not be in line with someone else's understanding of events or of a more objective perspective on what happened. And that can, either way, whether it's reflects other people's understanding or you're not, we still have an emotional response. To the stories that we're telling.

And that's where I think a lot of the power is in, is what is the response that we have to that story. Because stories they, they invoke a response.

Mark: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And a part of what's very interesting and powerful about our brains is that the same systems that are used to assess real world events and then draw, connect the dots between them to create a narrative, are also used in the imagination. And our brain is actually not very good at differentiating between what is imagined and what is actually experienced.

It's the, those kinds of narratives, they just run right parallel in our minds. And as a result, you can have a memory of how an event went that conflicts sharply with someone else's memory of how that exact same event went. And neither of you are necessarily right or wrong. Because we edit our memories.

We remember different things from different points of view, and our memories are constantly evolving. So if there's a car accident, for example, the two drivers might have very differing stories about who was responsible for what and so forth, and they believed them. Absolutely. And this is why eyewitness testimony is taken with a grain of salt in a court of law because just because you believe something absolutely doesn't make it true.

Yucca: Right. We were saying, Lord, the Rings earlier, it's, it's Gollum with, it was his birthday present. Right. He firmly, he told himself that enough times that he's rewritten his memory to believe that. But yeah, we do that with, you know, Whether you actually had your turn signal on or not. And what was it that, the, what, what was your tone?

What was your intention with that argument that you had with your spouse last night? And sometimes we're rewriting things in a way that is beneficial to us. Right. And sometimes it's not a con, it's not a conscious thing where it's like, oh, yes, I'm gonna talk myself into this. It's just. It just kind of happens, right?

You're just a little bit unclear in the details and your mind just fills in details for you

Mark: right. Fills in the gaps

Yucca: right now. This is,

Mark: what we don't like is a story that has holes in it.

Yucca: yeah.

Mark: Because it makes us uncomfortable. A narration that smoothly explains everything is more comfortable to sit with than one that's got these holes in it where it's like, okay, this happens. And then a while later this is happening and we don't know why, which is kind of what science is all about.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, and a physical, a perception example of this is actually our vision. We have blind spots and you can actually detect it by, if you take your thumb and you take it all the way out to your side to your peripheral vision, and then you slowly move your thumb to the front of your face, you're gonna find that there's a, a blind spot that you have, but we don't notice it because our brain fills it in for us.

Right. Our imagination fills that in, but it's, it's there.

Mark: What I've read is that what we experience is a, is a, an edit of about 15 seconds of sensorium. So the reason that your brain can fill in the stuff that's in the blind spot is because it caught it earlier when your eyes were looking in a different. Place and it just cuts and pastes over the proper location, which is miraculous when you think about it.

It's just, it's extraordinary that this thing is able to happen. Not to mention the fact that we should be seeing upside down, but we're not, cuz our brain turns it over. Our brains are very, very powerful in terms of editing this stuff to make sense to us so that we can create a coherent story about the events of the world.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: All of that is to say that we can create stories that we experience with as much vividness as if we were actually going through them.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: And we do that with books. We do it with movies, and we do it with radio dramas, and we do it with theater. We do it with all kinds of immersive sorts of experiences.

And in the context of Paganism, we can do it in our minds by doing what's called Pathwork or journeying.

Yucca: That's right. Well, and even on a much broader level, that's what a lot of our ritual work is. So we're gonna talk specifically about Pathwork or journeying, but those are, that's. It is more of a subset of ritual and working with the mind and working with imagination. So when we imagine that we are casting this circle, that's us working with our imagination.

Do we know? Do we actually know that? No. That we're not, there's not really this magical force that we're putting out. Yes, but the, there's still so much power in the imagination that it still helps us to feel things.

Mark: It reassures us, for example, that within that circle there is safety. And feeling safe is a prerequisite to being able to be vulnerable. And if you're vulnerable, you can access your emotions better, and then you can more easily kind of manipulate the sort of experience that you want to have coming, you know, out of this, this ritual.

So, you know, when we talk about creating the sacred container, for example, a lot of that, I mean, it's imaginary, right? I mean, hopefully you're not. Doing your ritual in a place where people are gonna come barging through. But but there's no physical impediment to them doing that. If there are, and I have had people come barging through into a circle that I've drawn and it's uncomfortable.

It, it really kind of throws you off. So, when we do this, when we do rituals, usually a ritual has a story. Right. A ritual has a story. Okay. The story is we are now in sacred space. We invoke powers to come to help us, whether that's elements and directions and gods and goddesses, or whether it's qualities that you invoke or whether it's, you know, spirits or.

Ancestors or whatever those things might be. Okay. We bring all those powers to help us, and then we go through a transformational process in which something that started out one way ends up a different way afterwards, you know? And then we thank the powers that have helped us and we express our gratitude, and then we close the ritual.

That's a story,

Yucca: Right.

Mark: yeah.

Yucca: And so for Pathwork or journeying, it's a story that might be a little bit more developed than. In terms of maybe you're imagining yourself going on a physical journey where it's more like depending on for the person, more like playing a movie out in your mind. So why don't we actually, let's, let's step back and talk about what, what this is.

So from your understanding, when somebody says journeying or Pathwork, what do you, what comes to mind for you? Mark?

Mark: Well, I, I think of two general categories. There is the solitary journey. Which doesn't necessarily mean it's a solitary ritual, but one person is going through the process of developing and experiencing the story, while others may be drumming and chanting or something like that. And then that individual, when the journey is over, will kind of report back to the rest of the group about what they've discovered.

And this is a very traditional kind of healer magic person. Kind of tradition, like those that happen in cultures like in the Siberian North, for example, where you go on this, the, the, the shaman, then that's a Tousk word specifically to talk about those cultures uses the, the rhythm of a drum.

And other magical techniques in order to go off into their mind and have an experience. And then when it's over, when they come back, then they will explain to the rest of the people gathered there, what they learned for the tribe, what important information they gathered what actions they recommend, all those kinds of things.

So that's, that's the first bucket, is the kind of the individual journey, earth path.

Yucca: Which could also be solitary, right? You just described a, a kind of a group ritual, but it could be something that somebody does in the privacy of their own home by themselves or some, or, you know, in the forest or wherever they are.

Mark: yes, yes. And then the other category is one where, Once again, it can be solitary, but it can also be a shared group experience where there's a guide and the guide is telling the story and everyone else is hearing it and experiencing it in their mind. So, and we call those guided meditations. And yaka, I know you've created a whole lot of 'em.

You've got a YouTube channel with them and all that kind of stuff.

Yucca: On the nature guided meditations is the podcast I, I updated every couple months now for a while during the pandemic, I was doing it every week. It seemed like that was something folks needed. But now it's kind of when I've got a little extra time here and there, I'll put it, put one out. So,

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: yeah.

Yeah, so a, a guided meditation and in those, there's different structures, but often there's a, it is a. A physical journey that somebody is imagining that they're going through.

Mark: And in these journeys we can meet characters. We can meet people from our lives or from our memories. We can meet people we've never met before. We can meet we can encounter various kinds of challenges, like a wall of fire that you need to get through, or a big river that you need to cross. One of the, one of the prompts that I really enjoy for solo journeying is a giant plant growing up out of the ground, like a giant bean stock, and you climb and climb and climb and climb and climb until you get to this land in the clouds.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And then the adventure takes place. The experience takes place in this sort of cloud-like, like place, right? Which I call the overworld as opposed to the underworld.

Yucca: I've heard the upper world referred

Mark: Oh, Uhhuh.

Yucca: So yeah, the underworld, the upper world. And then there's the mid, the mid world where we are. And you know, there's a lot of different frameworks to, to think about that with.

Mark: Right. And that's one of the places where your own imagination and creativity really come into play, because you will imagine this in a different way than anybody else, and it works for you. That's great.

Yucca: and in, in either way, whether you're doing a guided journey or you're doing a self-guided one, so let's say you're listening to something that somebody's recorded or they're speaking live to you, and there's a. Two of you listening to the exact same thing, your experiences are going to be different of that, right?

You are going to imagine different things. The details will be different for you and the responses that you have to those those images are going to be different.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: And there's, you know, you can discover a lot about your current state by simply. Noticing what responses come up for you.

Mark: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Yucca: And there's, you can really play with how do you, if you're something you're guiding yourself how you.

Influence how you choose to respond. I find that, you know, trying to just be like, no, in real, like stern, like I'm not gonna do this fight. It just makes the idea stronger and stronger. And so learning to kind of go with the flow of it and redirect kind of, it, it makes me think of like a keto, right?

Like instead of trying to block the punch that the person is, is sending it, you just. Take it and, you know, pull 'em right past and move 'em past to you. Right. And you, you can kind of play with that when you are journeying with your own mind. Right. And just be like, okay, well I'm gonna redirect and how do I practice redirecting to go on this in this particular direction?

Mark: and you learn things by choices you make. So if you find yourself looking out at this vast landscape, well, Am I gonna follow the river off into the trees or am I gonna climb the mountain? Or, you know, you, you will learn things about your own inclinations. Like, okay, here's a huge, deep, scary mountain looking.

I'm, I'm gonna climb that. Well, do you always pick the hardest way to do things? Might, might be something,

Yucca: Oops.

Mark: might be something to consider. So if you're paying attention, which of course you really wanna be during this journey You, you can learn a lot about your own proclivities and habits and blind spots and all that kind of stuff just by watching the kinds of choices that you make.

And we'll be talking about ritual later. But one of the things that makes for a really good guided visualization is that key pieces are left vague so that you can fill them in with specifics that are really pertinent to you.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: So you might meet a wise guide figure, right? But you yourself know who that person is.

So you, you will put that specific person in the place of the wise guide figure.

Yucca: Right. And. You can, you can approach this in a lot of different ways. You can go in seeking a particular answer. Or working on a particular issue or problem that you're, that you're facing right now or mulling over. Or you can also go in as simply a, let's explore what's going on in my mind right now.

This is a landscape of my mind or whatever it happens to be. And so the, there isn't really a right way to, to. To be doing this. It's what's gonna, just like everything that we talk about on this podcast really is, you know, you can have different goals and Mark's goals. My goals, your goals, those are gonna be different, right?

And so what do you, this is a tool to, to approach those goals with.

Mark: Yeah. And and it really helps to capture as much as you can about the story. If there are particular things that you notice, like along the side of the path that you're walking along, you, you know, you notice mushrooms, well take note of that. You know, your mind put those there for some reason. You probably want to explore what that reason is.

You don't necessarily have to interact with them at all, or you can choose to, but the fact that they're there probably means something.

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: So, I mean, it can actually be helpful if you're doing like a solo journey, like I'm, I'm talking about it can actually help to sort of narrate your experience as you're having it.

And I've even recorded myself as I'm having this experience so that I can go back over the journey later and remember the pieces that I might not otherwise remember.

Yucca: Wow. So speaking doesn't take you out of the experience

Mark: It doesn't, but I, I'm sure that it does for some people though,

Yucca: Mm-hmm. Yeah. So you'd kind of play with that and see does it, if it takes you out of the experience, then. You know, maybe write it down afterwards. If it doesn't take you out, then recording that sounds like a great approach. Right. And then you can come back and transcribe that later or something like that.

Mm-hmm.

Mark: right.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Yeah. So there's the, the guided meditation approach is one that I think more people in Western Paganism are more familiar with. Because we've been doing that sort of thing for a long time in, in psychological circles. And of course its analogs are things like books and movies and, you know, having a story told to you and having that come to life in your mind is very familiar to us.

But the exploration of the open landscape of the interior, can be really powerful. Very moving can be terrifying. It can be a lot of things. And you, you learn stuff. I mean, you, your, your subconscious knows stuff. You don't, and you, you will learn things if you do this kind of journeying.

Yucca: And this is one of those practices which I really encourage people to be patient with themselves on. If this is the type of thing that you've never done before, it's, it's, maybe it's gonna take some practice, maybe you get into it and you find yourself kind of being pulled out of it. That's okay. It's really, it's a skill, right?

Just because it doesn't come supernatural the first time doesn't mean that it isn't something that could be useful for you given time. Right. It's like, it's like any other thing. I mean, remember the first time that you were learning to drive and how weird and awkward and how much your ankle hurt afterwards, right?

Or whatever the experience is. This is one of those types of things where it, it really just does p take practice. And it becoming skillful at something like this can also help you in other ritual practice as

Mark: Yes. Yes, because. The state that you're in when you're doing that? Inner journeying is definitely a form of trance, and lot of what Pagan ritual is about is going into a trance state so that we can tinker with our subconsciousness and Learn and discover things and grow as people, transform things that have hurt us, things like that.

So, being able to induce yourself into that trans state is a learned skill, as you say, but it's very useful. Once, once you've gotten good at it, it's, it's really a helpful thing to be able to do. And there are things that you can do that will help. You along with that, like there are certain kinds of music, for example, that can be very facilitative for particular kinds of journey.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: So it's a, you know, there, there are some things that you can do to make it easier on yourself.

Yucca: Right. A classic is a, a drumbeat, just a very simple drumbeat. I find the sound of running or rushing water for some people who have a deep connection with the ocean, the waves, those really repetitive but very natural kind of sounds. I mean, I suppose for some people maybe, There, you know, some screeches might work for me.

That doesn't work. Right. It's, it's definitely gotta be a very kind of a primal, natural type of sound there.

Mark: Yeah, but not an alarming

Yucca: Not an alarming. Yeah. Something that is, is very rhythmic. You know, it, I think of it as almost like being back in the womb and hearing your mother's heartbeat. Right or the, or you probably could hear her, you know, the gurgling of her digesting things and all the types of sounds that you'd kind of hear back in that most, most early beginnings of you coming into awareness.

Mark: Right. Yeah, I, I think that's really well said. And, and, and I mean, there is a lot of variety. Like, there's a, there's an electronic music album, a very, very old one by a group called Tangerine Dream, which I mean, they're, they, they existed in the late sixties into the 1970s, and I think there's some configuration of them that exists now, but I know that two of the three people that were a part of it are, are now gone.

They're dead. And there's this

Yucca: it hard to keep making music.

Mark: really? Yeah. Unless, unless you're, unless you're John Cage. And it's just that long silence. Do you know about that?

Yucca: I don't know.

Mark: John Cage has a piece, I think it's called seven and a half minutes, and it's

Yucca: Oh, I do know this. Yes. Yes.

Mark: it's subs absurd.

Yeah, I mean you can see the sheet music right. Rest, rest, rest, rest, rest, rest. The

Yucca: I could play that song

Mark: yeah, me too. So, the. This particular album has a very soaring, rhythmic kind of quality to it. For me. It makes me feel like I'm flying and particularly flying at night, like kind of gliding over the landscape, very low altitude.

So sort of following the contours of hills and valleys with lights below.

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: it's very, very visual to me. And So I, I will use that in journeying sometimes. So a, and you know, we've talked about this before, but that kind of, you know, repetitive, rhythmic, transi kind of electronic music, there's a reason why people dance to that stuff.

It's very trans inducing. You can submerge into your body and have this, you know, full. Non thinky experience moving. And I mean, dance clubs, they do it with low light conditions and, you know, colored lights and all the various things that we say are great for ritual, right?

Yucca: They're good at it. It's, it's literally their job,

Mark: That, that it, that is their job.

And so anyway, there, there are a bunch of different ways that you can facilitate these things. One of the. Tactics that's used in various kinds of religious practices is scent incense, right? Or essential oils, or, you know, or other things like that. I, I know that some people will choose a particular scent for their journeying.

Yucca: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Mark: it becomes a trigger. You smell it, and then you're in there, you're, you're on your way.

Yucca: Mm-hmm. Right. And so that scent, the sound people could probably do that with particular, Physical sensations as well. Right. Do you have a the particular comfy sweater or the robe or cloak that you put on and, you know, all of those sorts of things. The, the physical sensations can really pull us into a, into an experience more quickly.

Mark: Right, right. And the complete absence of those things can also pull us into a very altered state very quickly as well. You know, the, the isolation tanks that people submerge in and things like that. Or, you know, noise canceling earphones and a and a blindfold or a, an eye mask, for example. To really reduce your sensorium so that you're inside yourself and your imagination starts to take over and give you imagery.

The brain is strong, it does lots of cool stuff. So experiment, you know, have a, have a good time playing around with it.

Yucca: Right. Yeah.

Mark: So I guess we sort of segued into talking about ritual things that you can do. To do this kind of journeying. The, the thing that I think is really important when you're doing the solitary internal journeying is to have a really, a really firm sense of what it is that you're seeking to find out.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Because otherwise you'll be shown other stuff, which is also true, but may not be relevant.

Yucca: Hmm

Mark: Uh, at least that's what I find.

And maybe that's just cuz I have a d h d and I'm kind of all over the place. But I, I have found myself going down into cul-de-sacs that were about stuff that was entirely unrelated to what I was trying to do

Yucca: Great.

Mark: in some of these experiences.

Yucca: And I wanna make a clarification that I think our listeners will probably already be clear on. But when we talk about this, the framework that we're coming at it from is not that there's some outside entity giving us these visions. Right. This is, this is ourselves. This is a way that we are communicating with ourselves.

And this is this is our minds coming up with all of this and interpreting these just like, with dreams or this is the same framework that we talk about with practices like tarot or other divination. I mean, this is kind of a, I suppose you could. Kind of put this in the class. In the group of being a form of divination in some

Mark: Yeah. Yeah, in a way, I mean, it's the same sort of psychological temperature taking and trying to sort of get under the hood to find out what's going on in the subconscious mind.

Yucca: Right? And seeking understanding.

Mark: Right, right. But what's cool about the internal landscape that can be explored through this kind of journeying is that unlike the real world, where there aren't these super powerful supernatural beings that you can call on to help you and all that kind of stuff inside your mind.

Yucca: Oh, absolutely.

Mark: there is, and you're, it

Yucca: Right.

Mark: you, you are the all powerful being that can actually make decisions about what's gonna happen in this thing. And so that's a very powerful kind of experience to have.

Yucca: Right, and maybe, maybe you experience that by having characters, right? Maybe you come to the rattlesnake who swallows you or whatever that is going to be for you or the, the wise old, you know that that conversation with your grandmother who. Died many years ago or something like that. It's all you, but, but you get to, but you get to use whatever story and characters and anything that really is gonna speak to you on that real primal, emotional level.

Mark: Right. And that doesn't mean that you have to deliberately, consciously choose those things.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: A lot of that choice is gonna be made for you. And that's good because that means the subconscious is talking.

Yucca: Right, so the subconscious is making that choice for you. You still are the subconscious, but it's not your conscious self. Maybe

Mark: Yeah. It's not your thinking.

Yucca: it's not your thinky logical part going through and saying, Hmm, well what would be the next thing if this was a story that I was writing as a script, right? Just, you just kind of let it happen

Mark: I think I'll put a rattlesnake here.

Yucca: Yes. It's like, oh no, maybe, maybe that rattlesnake just is there. Hmm, maybe. Maybe I've been thinking about those. Maybe that's a powerful symbol in my life right now for someone else, you know, grew up in Alaska, you're probably not gonna think about rattlesnakes all that much, but it's really gonna be really, really personal to you experiencing it as the.

As the journeyer or the practitioner.

Mark: Uhhuh. Yeah. So, talk a little bit about ways that groups can be involved in that solitary journeying. As I mentioned before it can be really helpful, you know, that that simple drumbeat is something that a group can do together.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And they will get all trad out too. They may take their own journeys. Just sitting there beating a drum repeatedly over and over and over and over again, and feeling the sound welling around them and through their bodies, they may have, you know, experiences to report out as well.

Yucca: Right. So you might all choose to, okay, we're going to together. We're going to intern to a ritual space, and then we're each going to go and have these journeys and maybe report back to each other what you're comfortable sharing or maybe not, right?

Mark: right. Yeah, and, and I, we should say at this point that this kind of activity is a universal human activity.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Cultures all over the world have specific protocols around it. You know, particular symbols and particular practices that they do, that they've evolved over time in order to be really effective for them.

And we don't wanna steal those. That's cultural appropriation. We're, we're, you know, we don't wanna steal those and we don't need to steal them.

Yucca: right.

Mark: This is something that people have done from time immemorial. And so you can have your own journey and practice in a way that doesn't steal culture from any other, you know, marginalized or oppressed people, and still have every bit as vivid an experience as someone else in another culture.

So, so it it's about learning the skills and about Letting your mind be free in that way to, to go and have those kinds of experiences.

Yucca: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Thank you. I think that's really important to, to add into the conversation. Right.

Mark: Right. Well, we were talking before we recorded and you know, I, I had mentioned that word shaman before, and that's, I. Kind of been glommed onto by social scientists as sort of a generic term for this kind of journeying. And the people who actually use that word, who have that word in Siberia are not happy about it at all.

They don't feel that their practices should be lumped in with everyone else's. And people in other indigenous cultures don't feel that they should be labeled with a Siberian word. So the whole thing just gets really messy. So, We don't call it that. We, we call it journeying and, and path working.

Yucca: Yeah. Yeah, and there's, there's a lot of examples of of places where things like that have happened and it gets tricky because then you're going, well, okay, how do we talk about it and how do we be respectful and, and. You know, there's, there's just so much to really think about and reflect on in these areas, so,

Mark: Yeah. Yeah. So, I, I mean, I guess in, in summation, just really encourage you to check this out. You know, try this if you feel like you aren't very good at this sort of visual imagining thing for one thing, it doesn't have to be visual, it can be words or however your mind works. People's minds work in different kinds of ways.

But start with guided meditations. You know, start, start with someone else helping you with imagery, and then see what comes up in the spaces that they leave for you to create your own things. You know, if a figure gives you a gift, what's the gift? You know, that's an important message from your subconscious.

What is it? You know, is it a container? What's inside it? What does it do? You know? It's funny, when we talk about this stuff, I'm reminded both of us are Dungeons and Dragons players. Although here's a complete tangent, I'm probably moving away from Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons because I'm very angry at

Yucca: SRDS shenanigans that

Mark: Yeah, well that, and then this thing that happened recently where they accidentally released a set of magic, the gathering cards to a YouTuber who made a video about them.

Yucca: that. Yes. And they

Mark: And they hired Pinkerton detectives to raid their house

Yucca: can you believe that the Pinkertons are still like, I can't believe they're arou. Yeah. Yeah. They got essentially hitman like, yeah.

Mark: just what, what we, I'm not giving you any more of my money. I'm

Yucca: Yeah. Wizards has made some real bad calls. I mean, they've got some folks there that I really like, but. They also have some executives making some really, really dumb choices.

Mark: absolutely. I mean, I think the creative team is great, but yeah, anyway,

Yucca: but there's plenty of other awesome systems out

Mark: there are, there are, and don't get me started on those cuz then this gets too long.

Yucca: For that.

Mark: Huh. So, but I'm reminded of role playing games, which is this collaborative storytelling enterprise where the imaginations of the participants fill in the blanks of what's gonna happen next, what the characters are going to do.

And there's a rule framework, unlike in journeying,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: BEC, because that gamifies it, right? That, that creates more tension because you don't know whether events are going to,

Yucca: There's risk. Yeah. You, you roll the die and what happens as a respon? Yeah. You don't, you aren't automatically successful, like in the make believe stories we all played when we were little. Right. I remember getting so frustrated with some of my friends because they'd never let anything bad happen. Right. And you're, you know, when you have the die, that's, that allows you to let bad things happen without it being someone's fault. Now, maybe that isn't necessarily what you want to be doing in your journey but you know, you've got, when it's just you, you've got the freedom to make it just the positive things happening that you want.

Or you can kind of let some of those struggles happen and kind of, and explore what happens with those.

Mark: Or some sort of a mid ground where you find a magic mirror and you look in the mirror and you witness events that are challenging or threatening or dangerous, but they're not immediately threatening to you because you're just watching them in a mirror. You're not actually there. Being threatened by them, right?

So there are, there are lots of techniques that you can use in this imaginable landscape to keep yourself safe while at the same time addressing, you know, really very sensitive issues that you may struggle with or that are up in your life or that are up for your community, whatever it is.

Yucca: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Well, this was a lot of fun.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah. I really enjoyed this one.

Yucca: And you know, we actually

Mark: like I always say that.

Yucca: well it's fun talking with you. We talk about great stuff and we actually did touch on this this topic, but we were looking back through some of the episodes that we've done and we hadn't talked about it since 2020.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: So, yeah.

And you know, I didn't re-listen to the episode before we did this, so I might go back and see, did we say the same things or did we say something different?

Mark: Yeah. I mean, one thing, we've, we've been doing this for more than three years now, and that means that there are more than 150 episodes, and that necessarily means that we're gonna be repeating some topics. I. Just like we do with the holidays when they come around, we always do we always do an event a podcast for each of the Sabbaths of the Wheel of the year.

So that's just something to be You know, it's part of the package, it's part of what we come with. And that way you don't have to go back all the way to episode one and listen to all of them to catch up. Although I know some people do that, which is really kind of amazing to me.

Yucca: Yeah, but it, it kind of, it means that, yeah, there are some of, some of you who have, and some of you've just jumped in more recently or you've been with us for years, but maybe not three years, maybe two years. So, but it's also, it's fun to, to go, to come back around and just see how, how our perspectives have changed and.

You know, because even on, in only three years, on the one hand, that doesn't seem like a long time. And on the other hand, there's so much that's happened in the world and so much that changes about us and you listening. And so I, I, I really appreciate the, we have the opportunity to revisit some of these topics together.

So thank

Mark: too. You're, you're welcome and thank you. All right, so, that's another in the can. And really thank you to all of you for listening. As always. You can reach us at the Wonder podcast cues@gmail.com and always appreciate your, your emails and suggestions and questions and all that good kind of stuff.

Yucca: All right. See you next week everybody.

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S4E17 TRANSCRIPT:----more----

Yucca: Welcome back to the Wonder Science-based Paganism. I'm one of your host Yucca,

Mark: And I'm the other one, mark.

Yucca: and today we are going to be talking about the power of imagination and how we as Pagans can use that in a very conscious way.

Mark: Right. Yeah. Because our brains are so powerful and we are so built for the creation of narratives, of stories that we can harness. That propensity and that talent to be able to take ourselves places and have experiences?

Yucca: Right. We're the storytelling apes. That's who we are, right? Yeah. And that's what we do, right? Wh wherever you're from in the world, that's what humans do. That's something that all cultures have in common, is the storytelling that we do, and, and sometimes it's. Very subtle that we might not even notice it, you know, telling you about my morning.

And other stories might be these long epics to, you know, the Lord of the Rings and this and that, you know, but, but we do it all the time throughout the day,

Mark: Right, the, the connection of events into an arc that starts one place and ends in another place. Science is a storytelling process

Yucca: right.

Mark: in science. Just because it's a story doesn't mean it's not true. I. There are many stories that are factual stories. I mean, we, our hopes of history are that history will be as factual as possible.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Science is all about developing narratives that explain stuff first. This happens, and then that process happens, and as a result you end up with this.

Yucca: A and with science there's just very specific narrative rules you have to follow. Right. And in other types of stories, there's different kinds of rules that are being followed in, in the creation and the telling of those stories. And we do it, it, it's just the way that we're even understanding the world.

And so, Sometimes our, our imagination can not be in line with someone else's understanding of events or of a more objective perspective on what happened. And that can, either way, whether it's reflects other people's understanding or you're not, we still have an emotional response. To the stories that we're telling.

And that's where I think a lot of the power is in, is what is the response that we have to that story. Because stories they, they invoke a response.

Mark: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And a part of what's very interesting and powerful about our brains is that the same systems that are used to assess real world events and then draw, connect the dots between them to create a narrative, are also used in the imagination. And our brain is actually not very good at differentiating between what is imagined and what is actually experienced.

It's the, those kinds of narratives, they just run right parallel in our minds. And as a result, you can have a memory of how an event went that conflicts sharply with someone else's memory of how that exact same event went. And neither of you are necessarily right or wrong. Because we edit our memories.

We remember different things from different points of view, and our memories are constantly evolving. So if there's a car accident, for example, the two drivers might have very differing stories about who was responsible for what and so forth, and they believed them. Absolutely. And this is why eyewitness testimony is taken with a grain of salt in a court of law because just because you believe something absolutely doesn't make it true.

Yucca: Right. We were saying, Lord, the Rings earlier, it's, it's Gollum with, it was his birthday present. Right. He firmly, he told himself that enough times that he's rewritten his memory to believe that. But yeah, we do that with, you know, Whether you actually had your turn signal on or not. And what was it that, the, what, what was your tone?

What was your intention with that argument that you had with your spouse last night? And sometimes we're rewriting things in a way that is beneficial to us. Right. And sometimes it's not a con, it's not a conscious thing where it's like, oh, yes, I'm gonna talk myself into this. It's just. It just kind of happens, right?

You're just a little bit unclear in the details and your mind just fills in details for you

Mark: right. Fills in the gaps

Yucca: right now. This is,

Mark: what we don't like is a story that has holes in it.

Yucca: yeah.

Mark: Because it makes us uncomfortable. A narration that smoothly explains everything is more comfortable to sit with than one that's got these holes in it where it's like, okay, this happens. And then a while later this is happening and we don't know why, which is kind of what science is all about.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, and a physical, a perception example of this is actually our vision. We have blind spots and you can actually detect it by, if you take your thumb and you take it all the way out to your side to your peripheral vision, and then you slowly move your thumb to the front of your face, you're gonna find that there's a, a blind spot that you have, but we don't notice it because our brain fills it in for us.

Right. Our imagination fills that in, but it's, it's there.

Mark: What I've read is that what we experience is a, is a, an edit of about 15 seconds of sensorium. So the reason that your brain can fill in the stuff that's in the blind spot is because it caught it earlier when your eyes were looking in a different. Place and it just cuts and pastes over the proper location, which is miraculous when you think about it.

It's just, it's extraordinary that this thing is able to happen. Not to mention the fact that we should be seeing upside down, but we're not, cuz our brain turns it over. Our brains are very, very powerful in terms of editing this stuff to make sense to us so that we can create a coherent story about the events of the world.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: All of that is to say that we can create stories that we experience with as much vividness as if we were actually going through them.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: And we do that with books. We do it with movies, and we do it with radio dramas, and we do it with theater. We do it with all kinds of immersive sorts of experiences.

And in the context of Paganism, we can do it in our minds by doing what's called Pathwork or journeying.

Yucca: That's right. Well, and even on a much broader level, that's what a lot of our ritual work is. So we're gonna talk specifically about Pathwork or journeying, but those are, that's. It is more of a subset of ritual and working with the mind and working with imagination. So when we imagine that we are casting this circle, that's us working with our imagination.

Do we know? Do we actually know that? No. That we're not, there's not really this magical force that we're putting out. Yes, but the, there's still so much power in the imagination that it still helps us to feel things.

Mark: It reassures us, for example, that within that circle there is safety. And feeling safe is a prerequisite to being able to be vulnerable. And if you're vulnerable, you can access your emotions better, and then you can more easily kind of manipulate the sort of experience that you want to have coming, you know, out of this, this ritual.

So, you know, when we talk about creating the sacred container, for example, a lot of that, I mean, it's imaginary, right? I mean, hopefully you're not. Doing your ritual in a place where people are gonna come barging through. But but there's no physical impediment to them doing that. If there are, and I have had people come barging through into a circle that I've drawn and it's uncomfortable.

It, it really kind of throws you off. So, when we do this, when we do rituals, usually a ritual has a story. Right. A ritual has a story. Okay. The story is we are now in sacred space. We invoke powers to come to help us, whether that's elements and directions and gods and goddesses, or whether it's qualities that you invoke or whether it's, you know, spirits or.

Ancestors or whatever those things might be. Okay. We bring all those powers to help us, and then we go through a transformational process in which something that started out one way ends up a different way afterwards, you know? And then we thank the powers that have helped us and we express our gratitude, and then we close the ritual.

That's a story,

Yucca: Right.

Mark: yeah.

Yucca: And so for Pathwork or journeying, it's a story that might be a little bit more developed than. In terms of maybe you're imagining yourself going on a physical journey where it's more like depending on for the person, more like playing a movie out in your mind. So why don't we actually, let's, let's step back and talk about what, what this is.

So from your understanding, when somebody says journeying or Pathwork, what do you, what comes to mind for you? Mark?

Mark: Well, I, I think of two general categories. There is the solitary journey. Which doesn't necessarily mean it's a solitary ritual, but one person is going through the process of developing and experiencing the story, while others may be drumming and chanting or something like that. And then that individual, when the journey is over, will kind of report back to the rest of the group about what they've discovered.

And this is a very traditional kind of healer magic person. Kind of tradition, like those that happen in cultures like in the Siberian North, for example, where you go on this, the, the, the shaman, then that's a Tousk word specifically to talk about those cultures uses the, the rhythm of a drum.

And other magical techniques in order to go off into their mind and have an experience. And then when it's over, when they come back, then they will explain to the rest of the people gathered there, what they learned for the tribe, what important information they gathered what actions they recommend, all those kinds of things.

So that's, that's the first bucket, is the kind of the individual journey, earth path.

Yucca: Which could also be solitary, right? You just described a, a kind of a group ritual, but it could be something that somebody does in the privacy of their own home by themselves or some, or, you know, in the forest or wherever they are.

Mark: yes, yes. And then the other category is one where, Once again, it can be solitary, but it can also be a shared group experience where there's a guide and the guide is telling the story and everyone else is hearing it and experiencing it in their mind. So, and we call those guided meditations. And yaka, I know you've created a whole lot of 'em.

You've got a YouTube channel with them and all that kind of stuff.

Yucca: On the nature guided meditations is the podcast I, I updated every couple months now for a while during the pandemic, I was doing it every week. It seemed like that was something folks needed. But now it's kind of when I've got a little extra time here and there, I'll put it, put one out. So,

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: yeah.

Yeah, so a, a guided meditation and in those, there's different structures, but often there's a, it is a. A physical journey that somebody is imagining that they're going through.

Mark: And in these journeys we can meet characters. We can meet people from our lives or from our memories. We can meet people we've never met before. We can meet we can encounter various kinds of challenges, like a wall of fire that you need to get through, or a big river that you need to cross. One of the, one of the prompts that I really enjoy for solo journeying is a giant plant growing up out of the ground, like a giant bean stock, and you climb and climb and climb and climb and climb until you get to this land in the clouds.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And then the adventure takes place. The experience takes place in this sort of cloud-like, like place, right? Which I call the overworld as opposed to the underworld.

Yucca: I've heard the upper world referred

Mark: Oh, Uhhuh.

Yucca: So yeah, the underworld, the upper world. And then there's the mid, the mid world where we are. And you know, there's a lot of different frameworks to, to think about that with.

Mark: Right. And that's one of the places where your own imagination and creativity really come into play, because you will imagine this in a different way than anybody else, and it works for you. That's great.

Yucca: and in, in either way, whether you're doing a guided journey or you're doing a self-guided one, so let's say you're listening to something that somebody's recorded or they're speaking live to you, and there's a. Two of you listening to the exact same thing, your experiences are going to be different of that, right?

You are going to imagine different things. The details will be different for you and the responses that you have to those those images are going to be different.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: And there's, you know, you can discover a lot about your current state by simply. Noticing what responses come up for you.

Mark: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Yucca: And there's, you can really play with how do you, if you're something you're guiding yourself how you.

Influence how you choose to respond. I find that, you know, trying to just be like, no, in real, like stern, like I'm not gonna do this fight. It just makes the idea stronger and stronger. And so learning to kind of go with the flow of it and redirect kind of, it, it makes me think of like a keto, right?

Like instead of trying to block the punch that the person is, is sending it, you just. Take it and, you know, pull 'em right past and move 'em past to you. Right. And you, you can kind of play with that when you are journeying with your own mind. Right. And just be like, okay, well I'm gonna redirect and how do I practice redirecting to go on this in this particular direction?

Mark: and you learn things by choices you make. So if you find yourself looking out at this vast landscape, well, Am I gonna follow the river off into the trees or am I gonna climb the mountain? Or, you know, you, you will learn things about your own inclinations. Like, okay, here's a huge, deep, scary mountain looking.

I'm, I'm gonna climb that. Well, do you always pick the hardest way to do things? Might, might be something,

Yucca: Oops.

Mark: might be something to consider. So if you're paying attention, which of course you really wanna be during this journey You, you can learn a lot about your own proclivities and habits and blind spots and all that kind of stuff just by watching the kinds of choices that you make.

And we'll be talking about ritual later. But one of the things that makes for a really good guided visualization is that key pieces are left vague so that you can fill them in with specifics that are really pertinent to you.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: So you might meet a wise guide figure, right? But you yourself know who that person is.

So you, you will put that specific person in the place of the wise guide figure.

Yucca: Right. And. You can, you can approach this in a lot of different ways. You can go in seeking a particular answer. Or working on a particular issue or problem that you're, that you're facing right now or mulling over. Or you can also go in as simply a, let's explore what's going on in my mind right now.

This is a landscape of my mind or whatever it happens to be. And so the, there isn't really a right way to, to. To be doing this. It's what's gonna, just like everything that we talk about on this podcast really is, you know, you can have different goals and Mark's goals. My goals, your goals, those are gonna be different, right?

And so what do you, this is a tool to, to approach those goals with.

Mark: Yeah. And and it really helps to capture as much as you can about the story. If there are particular things that you notice, like along the side of the path that you're walking along, you, you know, you notice mushrooms, well take note of that. You know, your mind put those there for some reason. You probably want to explore what that reason is.

You don't necessarily have to interact with them at all, or you can choose to, but the fact that they're there probably means something.

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: So, I mean, it can actually be helpful if you're doing like a solo journey, like I'm, I'm talking about it can actually help to sort of narrate your experience as you're having it.

And I've even recorded myself as I'm having this experience so that I can go back over the journey later and remember the pieces that I might not otherwise remember.

Yucca: Wow. So speaking doesn't take you out of the experience

Mark: It doesn't, but I, I'm sure that it does for some people though,

Yucca: Mm-hmm. Yeah. So you'd kind of play with that and see does it, if it takes you out of the experience, then. You know, maybe write it down afterwards. If it doesn't take you out, then recording that sounds like a great approach. Right. And then you can come back and transcribe that later or something like that.

Mm-hmm.

Mark: right.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Yeah. So there's the, the guided meditation approach is one that I think more people in Western Paganism are more familiar with. Because we've been doing that sort of thing for a long time in, in psychological circles. And of course its analogs are things like books and movies and, you know, having a story told to you and having that come to life in your mind is very familiar to us.

But the exploration of the open landscape of the interior, can be really powerful. Very moving can be terrifying. It can be a lot of things. And you, you learn stuff. I mean, you, your, your subconscious knows stuff. You don't, and you, you will learn things if you do this kind of journeying.

Yucca: And this is one of those practices which I really encourage people to be patient with themselves on. If this is the type of thing that you've never done before, it's, it's, maybe it's gonna take some practice, maybe you get into it and you find yourself kind of being pulled out of it. That's okay. It's really, it's a skill, right?

Just because it doesn't come supernatural the first time doesn't mean that it isn't something that could be useful for you given time. Right. It's like, it's like any other thing. I mean, remember the first time that you were learning to drive and how weird and awkward and how much your ankle hurt afterwards, right?

Or whatever the experience is. This is one of those types of things where it, it really just does p take practice. And it becoming skillful at something like this can also help you in other ritual practice as

Mark: Yes. Yes, because. The state that you're in when you're doing that? Inner journeying is definitely a form of trance, and lot of what Pagan ritual is about is going into a trance state so that we can tinker with our subconsciousness and Learn and discover things and grow as people, transform things that have hurt us, things like that.

So, being able to induce yourself into that trans state is a learned skill, as you say, but it's very useful. Once, once you've gotten good at it, it's, it's really a helpful thing to be able to do. And there are things that you can do that will help. You along with that, like there are certain kinds of music, for example, that can be very facilitative for particular kinds of journey.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: So it's a, you know, there, there are some things that you can do to make it easier on yourself.

Yucca: Right. A classic is a, a drumbeat, just a very simple drumbeat. I find the sound of running or rushing water for some people who have a deep connection with the ocean, the waves, those really repetitive but very natural kind of sounds. I mean, I suppose for some people maybe, There, you know, some screeches might work for me.

That doesn't work. Right. It's, it's definitely gotta be a very kind of a primal, natural type of sound there.

Mark: Yeah, but not an alarming

Yucca: Not an alarming. Yeah. Something that is, is very rhythmic. You know, it, I think of it as almost like being back in the womb and hearing your mother's heartbeat. Right or the, or you probably could hear her, you know, the gurgling of her digesting things and all the types of sounds that you'd kind of hear back in that most, most early beginnings of you coming into awareness.

Mark: Right. Yeah, I, I think that's really well said. And, and, and I mean, there is a lot of variety. Like, there's a, there's an electronic music album, a very, very old one by a group called Tangerine Dream, which I mean, they're, they, they existed in the late sixties into the 1970s, and I think there's some configuration of them that exists now, but I know that two of the three people that were a part of it are, are now gone.

They're dead. And there's this

Yucca: it hard to keep making music.

Mark: really? Yeah. Unless, unless you're, unless you're John Cage. And it's just that long silence. Do you know about that?

Yucca: I don't know.

Mark: John Cage has a piece, I think it's called seven and a half minutes, and it's

Yucca: Oh, I do know this. Yes. Yes.

Mark: it's subs absurd.

Yeah, I mean you can see the sheet music right. Rest, rest, rest, rest, rest, rest. The

Yucca: I could play that song

Mark: yeah, me too. So, the. This particular album has a very soaring, rhythmic kind of quality to it. For me. It makes me feel like I'm flying and particularly flying at night, like kind of gliding over the landscape, very low altitude.

So sort of following the contours of hills and valleys with lights below.

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: it's very, very visual to me. And So I, I will use that in journeying sometimes. So a, and you know, we've talked about this before, but that kind of, you know, repetitive, rhythmic, transi kind of electronic music, there's a reason why people dance to that stuff.

It's very trans inducing. You can submerge into your body and have this, you know, full. Non thinky experience moving. And I mean, dance clubs, they do it with low light conditions and, you know, colored lights and all the various things that we say are great for ritual, right?

Yucca: They're good at it. It's, it's literally their job,

Mark: That, that it, that is their job.

And so anyway, there, there are a bunch of different ways that you can facilitate these things. One of the. Tactics that's used in various kinds of religious practices is scent incense, right? Or essential oils, or, you know, or other things like that. I, I know that some people will choose a particular scent for their journeying.

Yucca: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Mark: it becomes a trigger. You smell it, and then you're in there, you're, you're on your way.

Yucca: Mm-hmm. Right. And so that scent, the sound people could probably do that with particular, Physical sensations as well. Right. Do you have a the particular comfy sweater or the robe or cloak that you put on and, you know, all of those sorts of things. The, the physical sensations can really pull us into a, into an experience more quickly.

Mark: Right, right. And the complete absence of those things can also pull us into a very altered state very quickly as well. You know, the, the isolation tanks that people submerge in and things like that. Or, you know, noise canceling earphones and a and a blindfold or a, an eye mask, for example. To really reduce your sensorium so that you're inside yourself and your imagination starts to take over and give you imagery.

The brain is strong, it does lots of cool stuff. So experiment, you know, have a, have a good time playing around with it.

Yucca: Right. Yeah.

Mark: So I guess we sort of segued into talking about ritual things that you can do. To do this kind of journeying. The, the thing that I think is really important when you're doing the solitary internal journeying is to have a really, a really firm sense of what it is that you're seeking to find out.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Because otherwise you'll be shown other stuff, which is also true, but may not be relevant.

Yucca: Hmm

Mark: Uh, at least that's what I find.

And maybe that's just cuz I have a d h d and I'm kind of all over the place. But I, I have found myself going down into cul-de-sacs that were about stuff that was entirely unrelated to what I was trying to do

Yucca: Great.

Mark: in some of these experiences.

Yucca: And I wanna make a clarification that I think our listeners will probably already be clear on. But when we talk about this, the framework that we're coming at it from is not that there's some outside entity giving us these visions. Right. This is, this is ourselves. This is a way that we are communicating with ourselves.

And this is this is our minds coming up with all of this and interpreting these just like, with dreams or this is the same framework that we talk about with practices like tarot or other divination. I mean, this is kind of a, I suppose you could. Kind of put this in the class. In the group of being a form of divination in some

Mark: Yeah. Yeah, in a way, I mean, it's the same sort of psychological temperature taking and trying to sort of get under the hood to find out what's going on in the subconscious mind.

Yucca: Right? And seeking understanding.

Mark: Right, right. But what's cool about the internal landscape that can be explored through this kind of journeying is that unlike the real world, where there aren't these super powerful supernatural beings that you can call on to help you and all that kind of stuff inside your mind.

Yucca: Oh, absolutely.

Mark: there is, and you're, it

Yucca: Right.

Mark: you, you are the all powerful being that can actually make decisions about what's gonna happen in this thing. And so that's a very powerful kind of experience to have.

Yucca: Right, and maybe, maybe you experience that by having characters, right? Maybe you come to the rattlesnake who swallows you or whatever that is going to be for you or the, the wise old, you know that that conversation with your grandmother who. Died many years ago or something like that. It's all you, but, but you get to, but you get to use whatever story and characters and anything that really is gonna speak to you on that real primal, emotional level.

Mark: Right. And that doesn't mean that you have to deliberately, consciously choose those things.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: A lot of that choice is gonna be made for you. And that's good because that means the subconscious is talking.

Yucca: Right, so the subconscious is making that choice for you. You still are the subconscious, but it's not your conscious self. Maybe

Mark: Yeah. It's not your thinking.

Yucca: it's not your thinky logical part going through and saying, Hmm, well what would be the next thing if this was a story that I was writing as a script, right? Just, you just kind of let it happen

Mark: I think I'll put a rattlesnake here.

Yucca: Yes. It's like, oh no, maybe, maybe that rattlesnake just is there. Hmm, maybe. Maybe I've been thinking about those. Maybe that's a powerful symbol in my life right now for someone else, you know, grew up in Alaska, you're probably not gonna think about rattlesnakes all that much, but it's really gonna be really, really personal to you experiencing it as the.

As the journeyer or the practitioner.

Mark: Uhhuh. Yeah. So, talk a little bit about ways that groups can be involved in that solitary journeying. As I mentioned before it can be really helpful, you know, that that simple drumbeat is something that a group can do together.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And they will get all trad out too. They may take their own journeys. Just sitting there beating a drum repeatedly over and over and over and over again, and feeling the sound welling around them and through their bodies, they may have, you know, experiences to report out as well.

Yucca: Right. So you might all choose to, okay, we're going to together. We're going to intern to a ritual space, and then we're each going to go and have these journeys and maybe report back to each other what you're comfortable sharing or maybe not, right?

Mark: right. Yeah, and, and I, we should say at this point that this kind of activity is a universal human activity.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Cultures all over the world have specific protocols around it. You know, particular symbols and particular practices that they do, that they've evolved over time in order to be really effective for them.

And we don't wanna steal those. That's cultural appropriation. We're, we're, you know, we don't wanna steal those and we don't need to steal them.

Yucca: right.

Mark: This is something that people have done from time immemorial. And so you can have your own journey and practice in a way that doesn't steal culture from any other, you know, marginalized or oppressed people, and still have every bit as vivid an experience as someone else in another culture.

So, so it it's about learning the skills and about Letting your mind be free in that way to, to go and have those kinds of experiences.

Yucca: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Thank you. I think that's really important to, to add into the conversation. Right.

Mark: Right. Well, we were talking before we recorded and you know, I, I had mentioned that word shaman before, and that's, I. Kind of been glommed onto by social scientists as sort of a generic term for this kind of journeying. And the people who actually use that word, who have that word in Siberia are not happy about it at all.

They don't feel that their practices should be lumped in with everyone else's. And people in other indigenous cultures don't feel that they should be labeled with a Siberian word. So the whole thing just gets really messy. So, We don't call it that. We, we call it journeying and, and path working.

Yucca: Yeah. Yeah, and there's, there's a lot of examples of of places where things like that have happened and it gets tricky because then you're going, well, okay, how do we talk about it and how do we be respectful and, and. You know, there's, there's just so much to really think about and reflect on in these areas, so,

Mark: Yeah. Yeah. So, I, I mean, I guess in, in summation, just really encourage you to check this out. You know, try this if you feel like you aren't very good at this sort of visual imagining thing for one thing, it doesn't have to be visual, it can be words or however your mind works. People's minds work in different kinds of ways.

But start with guided meditations. You know, start, start with someone else helping you with imagery, and then see what comes up in the spaces that they leave for you to create your own things. You know, if a figure gives you a gift, what's the gift? You know, that's an important message from your subconscious.

What is it? You know, is it a container? What's inside it? What does it do? You know? It's funny, when we talk about this stuff, I'm reminded both of us are Dungeons and Dragons players. Although here's a complete tangent, I'm probably moving away from Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons because I'm very angry at

Yucca: SRDS shenanigans that

Mark: Yeah, well that, and then this thing that happened recently where they accidentally released a set of magic, the gathering cards to a YouTuber who made a video about them.

Yucca: that. Yes. And they

Mark: And they hired Pinkerton detectives to raid their house

Yucca: can you believe that the Pinkertons are still like, I can't believe they're arou. Yeah. Yeah. They got essentially hitman like, yeah.

Mark: just what, what we, I'm not giving you any more of my money. I'm

Yucca: Yeah. Wizards has made some real bad calls. I mean, they've got some folks there that I really like, but. They also have some executives making some really, really dumb choices.

Mark: absolutely. I mean, I think the creative team is great, but yeah, anyway,

Yucca: but there's plenty of other awesome systems out

Mark: there are, there are, and don't get me started on those cuz then this gets too long.

Yucca: For that.

Mark: Huh. So, but I'm reminded of role playing games, which is this collaborative storytelling enterprise where the imaginations of the participants fill in the blanks of what's gonna happen next, what the characters are going to do.

And there's a rule framework, unlike in journeying,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: BEC, because that gamifies it, right? That, that creates more tension because you don't know whether events are going to,

Yucca: There's risk. Yeah. You, you roll the die and what happens as a respon? Yeah. You don't, you aren't automatically successful, like in the make believe stories we all played when we were little. Right. I remember getting so frustrated with some of my friends because they'd never let anything bad happen. Right. And you're, you know, when you have the die, that's, that allows you to let bad things happen without it being someone's fault. Now, maybe that isn't necessarily what you want to be doing in your journey but you know, you've got, when it's just you, you've got the freedom to make it just the positive things happening that you want.

Or you can kind of let some of those struggles happen and kind of, and explore what happens with those.

Mark: Or some sort of a mid ground where you find a magic mirror and you look in the mirror and you witness events that are challenging or threatening or dangerous, but they're not immediately threatening to you because you're just watching them in a mirror. You're not actually there. Being threatened by them, right?

So there are, there are lots of techniques that you can use in this imaginable landscape to keep yourself safe while at the same time addressing, you know, really very sensitive issues that you may struggle with or that are up in your life or that are up for your community, whatever it is.

Yucca: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Well, this was a lot of fun.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah. I really enjoyed this one.

Yucca: And you know, we actually

Mark: like I always say that.

Yucca: well it's fun talking with you. We talk about great stuff and we actually did touch on this this topic, but we were looking back through some of the episodes that we've done and we hadn't talked about it since 2020.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: So, yeah.

And you know, I didn't re-listen to the episode before we did this, so I might go back and see, did we say the same things or did we say something different?

Mark: Yeah. I mean, one thing, we've, we've been doing this for more than three years now, and that means that there are more than 150 episodes, and that necessarily means that we're gonna be repeating some topics. I. Just like we do with the holidays when they come around, we always do we always do an event a podcast for each of the Sabbaths of the Wheel of the year.

So that's just something to be You know, it's part of the package, it's part of what we come with. And that way you don't have to go back all the way to episode one and listen to all of them to catch up. Although I know some people do that, which is really kind of amazing to me.

Yucca: Yeah, but it, it kind of, it means that, yeah, there are some of, some of you who have, and some of you've just jumped in more recently or you've been with us for years, but maybe not three years, maybe two years. So, but it's also, it's fun to, to go, to come back around and just see how, how our perspectives have changed and.

You know, because even on, in only three years, on the one hand, that doesn't seem like a long time. And on the other hand, there's so much that's happened in the world and so much that changes about us and you listening. And so I, I, I really appreciate the, we have the opportunity to revisit some of these topics together.

So thank

Mark: too. You're, you're welcome and thank you. All right, so, that's another in the can. And really thank you to all of you for listening. As always. You can reach us at the Wonder podcast cues@gmail.com and always appreciate your, your emails and suggestions and questions and all that good kind of stuff.

Yucca: All right. See you next week everybody.

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