Devotion Via Little Free Library

I’m fan of Little Free Libraries. If you’re not familiar with them, the idea is that you set up a cabinet or shelf for books (preferably outdoors) and people can take or leave a book. It’s pretty simple, but I’ve seen them all over, and there’s even a relatively organized movement ( I’ve used many as they’re prominent where I live, and I hope to start one pending some yard remodeling.

As nice as they are – and I encourage you to support and even start one – I also use them in religious devotionals and invocation, and want to share what I do.

First, select an deity-appropriate book to donate. You could:

  • Take one out of your personal library that you no longer read or are done with. It’s a good way to make space, show respect, and share something you’ve vetted.
  • Buy ones at a local bookstore or used bookstore. I’ve written before about how you can even invoke the spirits of the store. Plus it supports local businesses!

Next, find a Little Free Library. You can find some online or at the link above. Select one that fits whatever god you’re invoking if you can.

Finally – and obviously – go to the Library, make an appropriate invocation to your chosen deity, and put the book in the Little Free Library. Be discreet since these are public places and run by people who put time and effort into maintaining them.

It’s simple, effective, and good for your community! Because you put thought into it, it also helps connect you with your chosen deity and what you value, making it great no matter how you regard the divine (which I’ve written about). You also put money into local businesses – if that’s where you make your purchases.

I’ve taken to keeping a pile of deity-appropriate books around, which helps as I often check out local bookstores on my urban hikes. I also make donations parts of my regular exercise, walking to appropriate Little Free Libraries. Come to think of, this method is also good for my muscle tone and cardio.

So give this one a try. Let me know how it goes – and how you innovate!

– Xenofact

The Challenge of Sharing the Mystical

I’ve written here about my thoughts and opinions on the mystical – religion, magick, and the like.  What I haven’t done is share experiences I’ve had.  As you can surmise, I’ve had them, and had ones that stood up after examination – I just don’t like sharing them.

I wanted to explore why, and the hope that it provokes dialogue, dear reader – with you and with myself.

First, such mystic experiences are to an extent personal. They’re intimate things involving gods, personal motivations, and personal insights.  Sharing such things feels, to be honest, rather cringe as people younger than I say.  It’s like blogging about your marriage or when your friend confided their insecurities.

Second, I dislike the idea of sharing mystical experiences as it sounds like bragging – and the esoteric community has no shortage of annoying braggarts and grifters.  I don’t want to show off, I want to share and learn and have a few laughs.

Third, I fear being misinterpreted.  The realm of the mystical is not easy to communicate, and the bullshit out there makes it even more of a challenge.  I’d rather not accidentally lead someone down a painful path, and I’ve made my own mistakes.  Let’s just say I take Quigong much more seriously after what we shall call “an incident.”

Fourth, I sometimes wonder if I can explain mystical things properly.  I have notes on my experiments going back  about 25 years.  But I have to translate them from “me” to “other people and sometimes I’m not sure what I wrote down.

Fifth, let’s face it, all experience is incomplete.  My mystical experiences, even well-explained, might not actually be useful.  That might lead to people misinterpreting as well.

And, finally, I’ve seen plenty of drama among communities of magicians and mystics, and I want no part of it.  This also means I’m pretty bad at finding fellow practitioners, something I hope to remediate – but I don’t blame myself.

So that’s it.  Still, I think I should start sharing some of what I’ve done, and I am seeking appropriate ways to do so.  I will doubtlessly do some here.

Maybe I’ll share some of what happens here – but in a non-cringe way, of course.  I hope.

– Xenofact

Mystic’s Game

For this post, I am using the term mysticism to refer to the overlapping worlds of magick, spirituality, and religion.  It’s hard to divide the three up, so I chose to lump them together, and we can fight over that sometimes.

“Gamification” is a term I’ve seen in increasing use over the years – the idea of applying game elements (scores, achievements, measures) to various “non-game” elements of life.  When you place systems, rewards, and social recognition around something, people gravitate towards it.  We like systems; humans seek and make order.

Despite the term becoming prominent in the 2000s, humans have been doing this for our whole existence.  We have ranks in the military, systems of promotion at work, and ways of organizing territories, etc.  The title of Sergeant, the need to pass a certification test, and the idea of states or provinces are all gamification, at least in the broader sense.  As you noticed, I prefer the broader sense.

The world and people are complex, and we humans are good at making or finding rules and boiling them down to something we can work with.  If something needs complexity or simplicity, we’re damned good at finding either.

I’d argue that Gamification is critical in mystical practices.

When you dive into mysticism, you’re facing The Big Everything.  Call it the Good, Kia, Tao as I prefer, the Universe is simply so big it’s hard to deal with – and we’re part of it!  Even trying to understand and deal with our own minds is a challenge since you’re using your thinking to think about thinking.  No wonder we need to think of the great Powers as like us, understand stages of meditation, or develop cosmologies of Spheres and Paths.

Mysticism needs gamification because otherwise we have no place to start.  Even blowing your mind with ritual practices and substances is gamified because it’s safer – it’s easier to see the guardrails when there’s a plan.

I find seeing mysticism as a form of gamification to be liberating.  It provides appreciation of the systems people have built before me – and are building now.  It provides awareness that some of this is made up, but it’s made up for a good reason – it’s a tool to deal with the Big Everything.  It provides the power to make your own systems and ways of thinking when needed.  Finally, it provides humility to realize that what you think or believe is a construct as you need it that way.

And, of course, admitting mysticism contains gamification lets you apply knowledge from games, gamified activities, and gamification theory.

By the way, if you look at your esoteric practices and see the gamification within, turn that view on your entire life.  I think a lot of us know instinctively we’re gamifying our mystical practices since they’re big colorful, and wild.  We might miss how gamified our mundane life is.

Or maybe we ask if there’s any boundary between the mystical and the mundane.  Maybe that division is just a rule we came up with . . .

– Xenofact