If you could have an emissary to the source of existence, to keep you linked up while you were sober and before you became an adept, would it matter what it looked like? I'm talking about the holy guardian angel from Hermetic Kabbalah, yes; but the use of a daemon, a guiding spirit, is not restricted to the initiatic line that has brought us to this. So yes it's appearance matters, and its character- but only to you, unless people could be said to derive meaning from the art you produce under its direction.
I thought for a long time that my HGA's appearing clearly different, and separate from everything else, because it is such a special thing that it would have to be above the rest of it? Sacred and profane, you know? This, however, was a misguided assumption. I could have guessed! I'm a mystic- I don't turn off my high vibrations deliberately, and I work to re-attune them efficiently when I fall off my horse. The overblown thirst for novelty is another possible source of misconception, god bless it.
I was hands off on this one. I desired for the spirit helper to just appear to me, as it seemed that developmentally I am ready for it but too busy to write a big ritual- and besides, I wanted to give it room to make an entrance as it would, once I put it out there that I was in the market. It did show up, then, just like that, and in in the most meaningful context it could: while I was doing impassioned work that had the force of my idealism behind it.
I was sitting at the library. It was about 3:30 AM, and I was enthralled with a lab report that had all my enthusiasm pouring into it. It was a demonstration of the "stream continuity concept", basically just that something that happens upstream happens downstream, too. The amount of dissolved oxygen, organic sediments and creatures at any given point in the stream are a result of what was happening in the direction from whence the water flows. Playing in streams is what I remember most clearly from my childhood experiences in nature. The fun there made me connect as much with nature as I did human culture, if not more. So besides being fascinating to me, and possibly assisting in job prospects as a stream quality monitor, the subject of the studying was near and dear to my heart from childhood.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a little angel flitting around. It was clearly in my imagination, and very high up: visible as someone on the other end of a soccer field. They were wearing robes (sometimes they seem to be orange and green in my memory, and at other times blues and reds and purples), and had big strong wings. It did some lazy, looping laps above my head. I smiled at it, wondered if the prescribed amount of adderal I had taken was helping to coax the critter down, and it flew back above the range of my vision.
The next time I heard from it was during meditation, two months later. I was at a Vipassana retreat, and after the dross emotional had burned away in the furnace of focus- just attending to the spot on my upper lip where breath passes over as it exits the nostrils- it started speaking to me. I was so unusually quiet, that the tathagatagarbha spoke up clearly about what I could do that would be worth stopping the sitting for.
It is difficult for me to write to an abstract audience, for some reason. I will just quote what I told my friend the other day about what I heard:
"Over winter break, I decided to grow mushrooms during a marathon meditation sesh with a Goenka Vipassana school. Theravedan Buddhism is cool, but it's pretty outdated and rough if you ask me. Still, I have to say that the visions of mushroom growing- really inspired ideas, like I had an artistic angel sitting in my brainstem, tossing paper airplane notes to my frontal cortex- were worth the suffering. My idea is to chip these damn bush honeysuckles that grow all around Cincinnati, OH. Coppice them, and put their chips in swales on the less steep parts of the steep, slippy hillsides- and grow oyster mushrooms in the chips! That way, when it rains they'll be sure to flush, and as they devour their substrate, I can just keep adding chips at the end of the ditch. At the end, organic matter will have been worked into the hillside as terraces, and I can plant persimmons and hardy pecans. Yum. Permaculture!"
The angel or whatever wasn't telling me anything I wasn't already desperate to hear- it just came up from deeper than I am used to coherent thoughts coming from, and it was charged with such ecstatic excitement that it sticks with me, even after that gnarly meditation retreat was over.
Emile Durkheim said that totems, gods of tribes, are living symbols of everything that the tribe stands for- our ideals. Let us assume that Durkheim is right- God serves as the embodiment of a culture's ideals, and is imbued with enough of the groups moral authority to act upon the command. So, when the little voice inside says "do this, don't do that", then you believe it- even if it's exactly what the rest of the culture says you should do, it is the internalized voice that you HAVE to listen to.
But what about the totem of someone who is a culture of one? You have to make your own god, period, we all do- sometimes people try and Xerox from the Bible, or some sutra, and say its theirs. But they didn't write it! You god has to be more than you are, and of the best of you- it has to be open ended enough to pipe through innovative thoughts, like these, but coherent and discrete enough to be credible for you to act on your intuition. I'm making meaning up as I go along, with the best praxis I can glean from diverse groups that have pieces but not the whole of what I am to embody.
I'll post pics of the shrooms once that happens. In the meantime, my brother Ben and I are in the brainstorming stages of establishing a homebase in Athens for post graduation. Read about it as it unfolds, here
BTW, I am calling my HGA Raphael. THE Raphael is alleged to be a healer, and the personal guide and guardian of Tobit from tradition who normally is the Semitic angel that lives in the Sun. Also, supposedly he is watching over and tending to the tree of life in Paradise. Maybe I can bum some seeds? :) The name just came to me, though. Sometimes words just pop into my empty mind like that. I stopped discarding them when I realized they might be significant, back at Mountain Gardens in '07. Belief in Fortune is a reality I've created for myself. Believing life matters because I have agency and direction, the path opens up ahead of me as I cultivate insight and act on it.