I got to read a book recently which I had been wanting to read for quite a few years: “A Voice in the Forest” by Jimahl di Fiosa. It is the story of a group of Wiccans who contact the spirit of Alex Sanders with a spirit board while camping in a forest in New England. It is a fascinating story, and various people who actually knew Alex Sanders have been struck by a sense of the authenticity of the communications.
For those who don’t know, Alex Sanders was an occultist and Witch who, with his wife Maxine, brought initiatic Witchcraft into both the media limelight and the countercultural stream of the 1960s and 70s. They founded a tradition of Wicca, and I do feel in many ways that the eventual growth of popular Witchcraft was in part thanks to the cultural transmission which they brought about. Alex has an enduring place in my memory, thanks to that transmission and the impression it left on me as a teen in the mid 70s.
There are a lot of extraordinary things about Jimahl’s book, and things which couldn’t have gone into a more conventional piece of writing. It is very direct and honest, it doesn’t “neaten up” the material over much, and the book is I think something that grew out of the communications. Jimahl is a good writer, but in the rawness and the allowance of the unresolved, something more comes through. A book about a series of spirit communications lets some of the meaning of that spirit actually come through.
Many of the messages in the book were directed towards members of Jimahl’s circle, or the wider Alexandrian community, and yet something in this book reaches beyond that, just as Alex did in his life. Of course I never knew him, nor was I connected to him except through being touched by his work as untold people were during the 70s. But something about the man and his work seems like a river fated to flood its banks, and even in this book there is some of that feel of crossing boundaries to get through.
Aside from the subject himself, a really interesting aspect of the book is the mechanics of spirit communication, and the conundrum of “where” and “who” someone is after they have passed on. When I have had experience of spirit contact, that very question of how someone can seem to be both “here” and gone, passed on beyond and yet also not, has been implicit there, luminous, simultaneous and trans-rational. Whatever laws or tides govern this, they are a long way past “either/or”, or neat narratives. I felt this book honored that complexity.
The messages that come through the book are in many ways simple and heartfelt. Worship the goddess. Togetherness. Love. Take care of the children. Have faith. Others are specific and personal.
What impact did this have upon me? A remembrance, that we can let the transformative power of the divine into our lives, that we can open to that, and live beyond fear, with the courage of love opened. That the earth is magnificent, and her energy engulfs us, opens into us, around us, constantly. Hope, certainty, love.
Relating to “the goddess” hasn’t been my particular thing in general. I was originally drawn to Witchcraft by the figure of the Horned God, and my relationship to deities has been essentially polytheistic for years, within the context of a wider spiritual ecology. The “goddess movement” of neopaganism always held something spiritual and significant, but after years of listening and allowances I was finally done with hearing sexual ego, gender dogmas, politics. But is that the goddess? No. Beyond what the world chooses to employ Her as, she is here. Beyond gender and including all gender, she is here. In the leap, and the vision opening out, and all embodiment, and the continuity of all embodiment. In the living transformation, and the courage to open to it. In the “what if”, running towards the limitless.
Breathe out, and breathe in.