This week I worked with Foras, a demon who can teach us how to strengthen our minds as well as our bodies. And who wouldn’t want that? Me, apparently—or so I thought. Despite my best intentions and several attempts, I couldn’t connect with him at all.
There are many reasons why my invocations might have failed, but I didn’t need to dig deep into my psyche or journal for hours to figure it out in this case. Simply put, I couldn’t see past his description in the grimoires. Every time I set out to meet Foras the “strong man,” I ran into Arnold Schwarzenegger during his bodybuilding years. He would raise his oiled arms, flash me a gap-toothed grin, and bellow, “Get to the choppa!” in my son’s worst Arnie impression.
I just couldn’t. My laughter made my typical invocations impossible. After I talked the situation over with my partner, I realized Foras might be throwing me a curveball on purpose. After all, he’s supposed to help clear our minds, not befuddle them. Overcoming the Arnie nonsense my brain kept throwing at me might be all Foras needed to teach me! Next time Foras extended the offer, I climbed in the damn helicopter.
My life has been in chaos this week, I admit. I moved house on the fifteenth and—although good fortune smiled on us during the entire process—I felt completely wrung out from anxiety by the twenty-second. I kept waiting for something bad to happen. A catastrophe has occurred on every other family move, so my body was sure it would happen on this one too. Our cat also seemed to be waiting for the other shoe to drop; he sang constantly, the world’s furriest opera star. Perhaps he could sense all the excess adrenaline running through my veins. Unfortunately, it’s taking my poor cat longer to calm down than it did me, but he wasn’t able to soar with Foras over a vast field of green yesterday afternoon like I was.
As the chopper lifted into the sky, all the nonsense that had stood between Foras and I fell away. I could still hear the copter’s blades above me, their rhythm carrying me into the heavens like a shaman’s drum. I didn’t turn to see the pilot. I no longer needed to know what Foras looked like to sense his energy. My mind suddenly seemed as clear as the blue sky all about me. I watched as the palm trees dwindled in size below me and enjoyed the quiet. That might seem ridiculous given how loud helicopters are, but in that moment I felt like the only man in the world. I knew I could return to the deserted island below me anytime I wanted to do so—and that it would be free of singing cats.
My partner interrupted me shortly afterward. He winced when I told him I’d been meditating, and I don’t blame him. I haven’t cut him much slack lately, but I haven’t cut myself much either. In a world where disaster is a sure thing, there hasn’t been any room. My brief time with Foras gave me the space to breathe and be realistic again. The crisis is over. And of course, my brain threw garbage at me! I’ve been a little busy. During a period when many people wouldn’t have bothered meditating at all, I should be proud that I got in a couple even mildly successful sessions.
Looking back, the question is: did my invocations fail entirely? I assumed they did because images of a greased, near-orange Arnie kept flooding my mind. In all likelihood, I was being too picky about the face Foras chose to wear. I’ve counseled numerous newbie magicians not to dismiss pop-culture characters immediately when they appear in visualizations. Twenty years of pounding the drum and taking journeys to the Otherworlds has taught me not to toss out the advice of a superhero just because he arose from a comic book. Likewise, I won’t ignore Spock’s theories because he ‘doesn’t exist.’ Neither do most Pagan gods, according to the general populace.
I won’t argue one way or another whether characters like Spock can come to exist on the astral plane. On the other hand, I’ve heard more people around the world can recognize Darth Vader than Jesus. While that may not be true, Vader’s cultural impact can’t be denied. For many of us, characters like he and Spock were the real gods and monsters of our youth. It only makes sense for them to occasionally take the limelight in our meditations and journeys. What doesn’t make sense is when we throw out their lessons unheeded.
I’m not suggesting that anyone worship pop-culture figures, though some Pagans do. Again, different strokes for different folks. Whatever you think on the subject, I know I’ll be quicker to take my own advice next time such a weird, giggle-inducing image pops into one of my journeys. Once or twice might have been my brain churning up trash, but a third time? That kind of persistence means something, and I would have been a fool to ignore it. If I had, I would have missed out on what Foras had to teach me just because Arnie rubbed my rhubarb the wrong way. Strong men are fine, but all those veins? Yuck! And I never could get through Predator.
Even so, apparently Arnold had something to say to me… after a fashion.
All hail Foras.
NOW GET IN THE CHOPPA!