Lost in Translation

Too often I realize that I’ve jumped the gun and gone with my own incomplete knowledge of what a non-corporeal entity has said, and it’s often to my detriment. I’ve also noticed that sometimes I don’t communicate my experience with the Unseen adequately, to the point that I may have led some people to the conclusion that all the ‘messages’ I get are loud, clear, and definite, when in reality nothing could be further from the truth.

In many situations, I don’t receive words directly from beings I communicate with astrally, but rather the feelings and intent behind the words. However, since I have a human brain that has been conditioned to synthesize stimuli in terms of language, my brain will then interpret the message it’s receiving into English -or at least, do its best to do so. I find that the closer I get with an entity, the more comfortable my brain gets with allowing a message from them to remain nonverbal for much longer, allowing more depth and richness to develop with an idea being communicated before I label the idea with words and give my brain a “shortcut” for said idea (as this can often do more to limit my understanding than to help it). In worst case scenarios, this mental shorthand can lead me to interpreting something benign as a threat, or something manipulative or deceptive as benign.

Of course, my own expectations factor heavily into why I receive the messages that I do in the way that I do. I have been in legitimately abusive and traumatizing situations Over There, and for that reason part of my brain is always looking out for a threat from the other side. This causes me to be more discerning in some cases, which is good when a healthy amount of skepticism is required (dealing with trickster or chaos gods or entities in general, or when dealing with someone who wants something from you in general) or when someone is showing the ‘red flags’ of manipulation or control. It helps because it quickly alerts both me and the entity that I’m not okay with something that’s going on, and often it helps us both to adjust our approach to the conversation or relationship so that we can work it out without conflict. However, it can also mean that I default to mistrust and therefore confrontation, which often means an entity trying to communicate with me has to either drop a subject completely, or be more forceful in trying to communicate with me. It also means that sometimes an entity will go along with my assumptions, often to sort of to test me or to find something out about me.

I have, however, found that there are ways to avoid these misunderstandings and give myself a better chance of accurately summarizing the reality of a situation that is so intimately influenced by my expectations. The first step is to ask non-corporeal entities for elaboration and details when they say something I’m uncertain about. For example, if Set tells me “I want you to do a thing”, he won’t send me his perspective on the thing that he wants me to do. Rather, he’ll show me my own memories and thoughts of me doing a thing, or a very similar thing, and I’ll intuitively understand what he’s requesting. (This is where the familiarity comes into play: entities that have spent millennia around humans understand how our brains work and will take advantage of the shortcuts our brains are prone to taking. When an entity knows you well, they’ll also take advantage of the shortcuts your brain holds embedded by your culture, your experiences, your interests and your belief system. For example, Set and Heru will understand that in some contexts I respond to being referred to as someone’s sheep would imply I trust and follow them because I understand they are worthy of my trust, while in other contexts I would take it as an insult to my intelligence and mental strength.) Non-corporeal entities like to use metaphors and parables, as there often isn’t an English word for the concept they’re describing. That’s where you get stuff like “gods are like trees” or “you are my mirror” or “it’s like that movie you like where…” and other statements that sound like nonsense at first, but reveal deeper meaning if you poke at the statement long enough and allow them to tell you what you are right and wrong about as you do so.

One such example can be found in my conversations with Fenrir. When I first began speaking to him, he referred to me several times as “belonging to him”. For obvious reasons, these statements made me bristle, and an argument very nearly broke out because my knee-jerk reaction was to insist that I in fact belonged to myself, thank you very much, and who the hell did he think he was. However, by reigning in my immediate fear and anger response and asking Fenrir to clarify, I learned that he didn’t mean to imply ownership but rather similarity and a sense of familial bond based on that similarity. When I asked specifically about what made me uncomfortable with his statement, the idea that he would behave in some way forcefully or possessively toward me, he clarified that he wasn’t interested in a relationship where I felt obligated or “bound” to him in the slightest. So by resisting my immediate urge to jump to conclusions and choosing instead to give the benefit of the doubt while simultaneously clearly illustrating my boundaries, I was able to walk away from the encounter feeling not threatened, but understood and valued.

This method works for me most of the time, but when confusion and fear still remains after I continuously try to reframe an entity’s statements and requests, I generally follow the discernment strategy that works for me: first, to tell the entity I am frustrated and uncomfortable and would like time to myself, or at least a change of subject. If the entity resists, I use warding techniques or request that another entity “get them away from me”; most of the time, however, the entity will leave before I have to force them out. I believe this is because while I tend to expect entities to push my boundaries for the sake of learning and growth, once I begin taking efforts to force them away from me, they understand they are crossing a line and to continue doing so will compromise my trust and willingness to communicate with them at all. (Entities, including deities, are much like people in that you can determine their trustworthiness by their reaction to being defied or otherwise challenged. If an entity will not respect your boundaries, they are almost always not who they claim to be, or have some sort of ulterior motive.) Once I have the space I need -usually this requires me to do something else altogether to distract myself so that I don’t continuously “call the entity back” with my thoughts and questions on the matter, and then become increasingly annoyed when they respond- I mull over the conversation, talking to people and entities I trust about it. If it’s anything important, I write down my thoughts and suspicions before turning to divination and asking for signs from an entity that I’m interpreting their statements or requests correctly. In almost all situations, this routine yields answers that can be confirmed in some sort of corporeal, scientifically observable pattern.

My particular methods will probably not work for everyone, but I highly encourage anyone with discernment issues to come up with some methods that correspond to the scientific method:

  1. Ask a question (What is entity trying to say?).
  2. Do background research (What experiences have you and others had with the entity that could shed light on the issue? Is there a pattern in their behavior that could explain their actions and words? Is there a historical precedent for a request or statement that seems nonsensical to a modern practitioner?).
  3. Test with an experiment (your preferred divination method).
  4. Continue experimenting, and changing the procedures of your experiments, until a pattern can be identified (alternative divination methods/asking for signs from an entity).
  5. Evaluate data and draw conclusions (interpretation of divination and patterns you have observed).

This method of observation, experimentation, and study is the basis for all humanity’s search for knowledge about the universe because it works. Remember to write down every step and be as self-aware as possible when recording your own biases and assumptions as well; try your best to emotionally distance yourself from the subject of your study in order to evaluate the results of your experiments objectively. Don’t only ask one source, either! Get blind readings to confirm yours. Specify you are asking, say, another trusted entity for their opinion on the matter; I often find that this is the most efficient way to find out if an entity is deceiving you or what assumptions you are making that is contributing to any miscommunication.

It’s worth adding, as a quick disclaimer, that it’s tempting to tell yourself that any issues you have with something an entity is saying or trying to do -particularly when said entity is a deity or someone you trust and respect- is actually just miscommunication, because the entity couldn’t possibly be doing something to hurt you or something ethically wrong. This can be just as destructive as being too ready to believe an entity would mistreat you or do something wrong. It’s usually a good idea to think about your boundaries and openly discuss them with entities you work with, no matter what your paradigm happens to be concerning the level of submission and trust one should have for said entities. If you seem to be running into the same conflicts over and over again with different entities, however, it’s always worth looking at your own assumptions and fears, in case they could be influencing the way you’re interpreting what’s being said.

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