What it is and what it is not.

Currently, my personal theology comes down to this: I know that Freya is not omnipotent (none of the Gods are, in the polytheistic worldview), but in my life, she might as well be.

And perhaps that’s what it really comes down to: in my life, She has that much power. (And uses it, boy howdy. cf. the move to the Midwest that I’m currently engaged in.)


My main essential question, the one that has powered my life and guided my choices, has always been “What  can we know about the Divine?” And the smaller attendant questions: “Who is God (however it is defined)? What does it mean to understand Him/Her/It? Does this experience help me understand the Divine better? Where should I go to learn more about the Divine? Will I ever fully know what it means to be divine, and to be a human in relationship with the Divine?” And so on and so forth.

So it will probably not come as that much of a surprise to hear that, when I was a kid, I wanted to be a monk when I grew up (granted I’m female, but being a nun just did not seem nearly as interesting). Because, really–sitting around praying, meditating, discussing God, and living in service to that God all day, every day? Without having to worry about mundane things like bills and dishes and such? What could be more awesome?

Yes, I am a religious geek.

I have a lot to process regarding theology, most of which will probably make it to the blog. What does Freya think about my preoccupation with theological discussions at the moment? From what I can gather, She thinks it’s interesting but redirects my attention to the natural beauty outside my window and bids me to go join it. There’s always time for theology later. 🙂

Demonic flashdrives.

So in the process of looking up my journal entries regarding my fylgia for the article I revised, I found that 90% of the contents of the folders on my desktop–my main filing system, mind you–had been deleted. (All of the folders, perplexingly, had not disappeared.) I had originally though this was limited to just my pagan writings (in which case i was about to be both very impressed by and seriously pissed off at some deity or spirit), but then I realized that financial records, photos, and recipes were also missing. ALMOST EVERYTHING WAS GONE. It was seriously creepy.

I was able to recover the journeys from my Freya initiation (thank Gods!) because they were in my email from back when I was requesting feedback from my peers/teacher types on them. I was able to recover at least the basics of my Dedication contract because I have it posted on the blog. (Though thinking back on it again, I should have the full version of the contract in my email someplace as well.) The rest? Who knows.

The 10% of the articles that I was able to recover all turned out to be from this random folder called “Kingston misc”. Which is when I started suspecting that my old, barely working Kingston flashdrive might be the file thief. I vaguely remember trying to use it to transfer files between work and home laptops the week that I started moving. In the process I accidentally copied my entire desktop, which I then had to delete from the flashdrive–and then, in a rush, yanked it out of the laptop without ejecting it first, which is a big Mac no-no. Which somehow emptied all of the my desktop folders of their contents but not the folders themselves, making it appear as if everything was still OK.(Well played, demonic flash drive.) And I’m pretty sure I then tossed that flash drive, believing that everything on it was already saved on my laptop anyway. Damn you, Mercury retrograde shenanigans. Damn you all to the hell that I don’t believe in.

And here I am in the last week of couch surfing with all but a small portion of my belongings already shipped to my next home, so I have no way of knowing if I actually did throw that drive away, or if I have these docs on another harddrive, or if some of them are old enough to be either on my old laptop or on an older computer back-up. And all hard copies of many files got recycled when I moved because they were bulky and they were on the laptop anyway.

#&@#%&!@!!! Seriously, how does this crap even happen? No one could make this stuff up.

And thanks, universe–I realize I’m going through a metamorphosis and transforming and shedding a bunch of the old, etc., but COME ON, ALREADY. This is just ludicrous. Uncle.

Gods, I’m glad this Mercury retrograde is over. Gin? Wine? GF cupcakes? MIdas’ Touch beer? Massage? Movies? Snuggling? Over here, please.

Updated “On fylgias”

I’ve been reworking my article on fylgias. What is a fylgia? “Fylgia” is a fun Old Norse concept which can indicate either a guardian spirit (for a family or an individual), or the shape a person’s spirit takes while traveling. Some people have one or the other; I have both. Though they seem to be uncommon nowadays, my personal opinion is that more people have one than are aware that they have one.

Fylgias are highly useful and all-around cool things to have. I’m blessed to have become aware of mine, and I wish everyone else all the luck in finding and connecting with theirs. Consider it a rightful part of your inheritance.

Polytheist theology

From Magic from Scratch’s post regarding polytheistic theology:

So, what’s next?

In my opinion, Theology answers questions. The first step, I think, is actually to figure out what questions we hear ourselves and other Polytheists asking. Some will be broad, some will be narrow. From there, we should look at who else answered the questions that we are now asking, and determine the method by which they arrived at those answers.

So, theology is something I’d desperately been missing from Paganism since I first became pagan, lo those many years ago. I quickly found out that not many other pagans were coming at this from a academic comparative religions standpoint–few knew what theology was and even fewer cared to waste time and energy discussing it. It took me a long time to realize that no, I wasn’t missing something that every one else got; there just really wasn’t much theology to get yet. Since I went through the initiation/dedication and priestess-making stuff with Freya over the last year or two, these concerns have really started hammering the back of my mind. Possibly the first thing I need to do is to get a better foothold on what pagan (specifically polytheist) theology should answer for me.

Here are some of questions that I’d love to finish working my mind through: (For the record–these questions are rhetorical; they are meant to get people thinking, not to solicit specific answers. A full discussion would take a lot more time that I have to offer to a blog post. Email me or grab me at a convention or an event and buy me dinner for a full discussion. 🙂 I know myself well enough to know that I need to figure out what seems to me to be a legit, reasonable answer; I can’t just borrow someone else’s ideas whole hog, tempting though it may appear.)

1. How do the gods from all of these different pantheons all get along? All of the deities I’ve directly interacted with are busy with agendas of their own; they have to come into conflict with others at some point. How is that handled?

2. What about syncretic deities? (ta master’s thesis in the making right there)

3. Does a person’s beliefs actually affect where that person goes after death?

4. I’ve experienced my Goddess as everything from a slight change in air pressure to a full-on, intense, multi-sensory, transformative shamanic journeywork. She’s presented Herself as both small and petty (though not often) and so large that I could barely connect with her or see where she ended. Which one is the real Her?

5. Why can my Gods pass me around like a trading card? Do pantheons mirror baseball teams or something?

6. If the Gods exist…. then likely ancestors and nature spirits do as well. If so, what’s to stop divine, semi-divine, or supernatural entities from the monotheisms from existing as well (saints, angels, demons, etc.)

7. Can new Gods be created? How?

8. Why do the Gods need us?

9. What are the specific details of the powers do the Gods actually have?

And finally, as a new priestess, the one that’s probably most pressing to my mind is this:

10. Why should modern humans bother worshiping them at all? Are people’s lives consistently made better off from having worked closely with a polytheistic deity, or is it all just self-aggrandizement? Should everyone have the opportunity to try out paganism? (And all of the sub-sub-sub-issues brought up by this question.)

Mission Statement (Gently Used)

Yep 🙂 I’m so glad that polytheism is really delving into creating/finding its theology. Finally! This was what I had hoped to get (but never got) from Greater Pagandom twenty years ago as a newbie pagan.

Drinking From the Cup of Life

While reading the discussion prompted by Morpheus’s post on Theurgic Binding, I found this post by John Beckett.

In that post, Beckett says:

I want everyone to know Paganism exists, and I want them to know what it is and what it isn’t. I want those who feel the call to this path to be able to find it in minutes, not years. I want those who have started on this path to learn the difference between crap and not-crap.

I want those who are well down this path to know that deeper experiences are possible. I want those who have had those deeper experiences to know they’re not alone and they’re not delusional.

Beyond that, we’re debating the future of Pagan religion here and now. Our version of the Council of Nicaea is taking place every day on blogs, websites, and social media. I want to be a…

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I’ve been in travel mode for about a week now. Like a cat in similar circumstances, my mind, body, and emotions freeze up until the moving is done. Once I finally arrive at my destination (in three weeks or so) I’ll relax, I keep telling myself. But today, after three straight days of crazy bad tech issues and car issues, I gave up and admitted that I need to relax now, or I’ll break before I ever make it home. And one of the things I’m working on is being more aware of the status of various  parts of my life so as to avoid the pain and high cost of the actual breaking. as for the gods, mainly I’ve felt Hermes near (being god of travel and all, and firmly in his sphere), but his planet is in retrograde at the moment and He’s got more than enough to handle. In any event, I’m not nearly as connected to Him as I am to Freya, and so from him I get concern, but as from a great distance.

So at the end of this week–a massively challenging week–I land at a friend’s house where most (if not all) of my needs are met, and I can breathe. I finally decide to relax my shields and let Her in.

Her first words? “Don’t run from Me. Don’t fear Me.” If by “fear”, she means “shut down by ability to sense”, and by “Me” she means “all the emotions”, then She has a good point. But I’m not in the mood for feels, either good or bad, at this point. I’m happily (well… doggedly, at least) avoiding most feels because there’s just too much to handle, and anyway, I’ve got a zillion other practical concerns to address first. So, feels are still on the back burner for the most part.

Still, I miss her, and I miss it. I miss the connection with my Gods, ancestors, wights; with my emotions, however painful they may be; with my connection with other humans, which has also been impaired by this shutting down. So I turn my thoughts and consciousness towards Her.

She heals me in the ways that only She knows how. Today She’s a lover as well as a nurturer, and She lovingly embraces my body and helps me relax. Come back to your flesh, She says. Feel how nice it is to have a body, how nice it is to be caressed. I don’t usually experience Her as as the Lover, but, well, she is Freya. And like a familiar lover, she knows exactly how to open me up.

Unwind, open up. Feel us with you, surrounding you. You are not alone. You have never been alone. I know this, but the instinct to shut down is a deeply embedded one. Sometimes I can fight it; sometimes I can’t.

She pulls my hair back away from my face, one lock at a time. She caresses my head, neck, chest, shoulders, and kisses the bridge of my nose. I sigh and look up. The air has become warm and golden colored–not the metallic gold of coins, but the translucent gold of honey. The world has gained back some of the glow that it had lost when I shut down. I bask in Her warmth and radiance, and expand my consciousness outward.

I feel many presences surrounding me. First there is Thor, of all deities, giving me a rough, protective embrace and telling me to buck up (though not in a mean way). Njord is next–always a reliable, loving presence. Never demanding anything of me; just offering support. Calm, yet strong and masculine all the same. Odin stands back impassively and nods hello. Skadi shoulder bumps me and smirks. I feel more connected to Her during this phase than to my Lady; maybe it’s because She can freeze out emotions as well, or at least has more experience dealing with this mode. (She and I have more in common that I’d like to admit.) Freyr sits back in a corner and leers. I get some version of this response from Him most of the times I interact with Him. (It sounds bad, but it’s true.) The others–those who are interested in my welfare–are around somewhere, I gather. My fylgia unwinds from me and stretches and breathes a sigh of relief as he wanders around, taking stock of the situation and continuing to spread my consciousness outward. (I’m still figuring out the extent of his consciousness, usual modus operandi, and powers; apparently, unlike the others, when I freeze up and shut down, he is stuck in here with me; which is as uncomfortable for him as it is for me. But, he’s my follower, so that’s how it goes.)

In short, I get my posse back.

Wow. This is what I’ve been shutting myself off from. Love and warmth and agency; insights, guidance, and marching orders. Kind of like hearing a tune from long ago, I remember it all at once, and my heart both is both saturated with love, and shrinks from the intensity of it.

She laughs at my metaphor. Don’t take yourself so seriously, She says (or at least strongly implies).

It’s great, this feeling. Maybe in a few days I will even be able to access my Love Notes channel again. The journey is not yet over, though, so it’s okay if I can’t. I just need to learn to keep the channels open while I wander. I never thought it would be a problem, but apparently it’s a skill I need to learn. For now, though, I can be relieved that, though I shut down, when I reach back out again, everyone is still there. I am not alone.

Traveling Freyaswoman

And I’m a Freyaswoman wandering. Apartment is completely moved out of and red cat is temporarily housed (and in an ideal situation; I couldn’t have asked for better, I think. Still–sobsobsob 😦 My baby is gone! sniff). I myself am temporarily housed with my black cat with a friend in the south bay; I’ll be heading up to a friend in the east bay tomorrow night, and then to a friend in far east bay for a few days later this week, finally ending up back in down in the south. This weekend was insane with travel and medical appointments, but rest stops with my friend in deep east bay (for wine, warm weather, and a taco truck); the South Bay (good convo, catching up, and Freya!); and landing at a very welcoming home of another friend, made it bearable. And as I realized when I went through my divorce a few years ago, I really am blessed with a smorgasbord of friends and loved ones out here in CA.

Looking back now, I’m three years older, three years wiser, and three years healthier, though I’m still not a fan of all of this traveling. (Though, in a way, I am. Probably one of the reasons I like Hermes so much is that I fall into my traveling/delivering items and news/helping others out/bringing good cheer schtick pretty easily, and I enjoy doing it. But I prefer to have a permanent place to crash after my traveling, and that is still being worked out.) Still, in the larger scheme of things, as usual… “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

Initiation–the fun just keeps coming

So, one of the things that I am learning–somewhat belatedly, I’d like to point out–is that intense initiations, regardless of the tradition, often have powerful, long-lasting, real-world side effects.

To wit: Almost exactly a year after my initiation by Freya, I am leaving NorCal (my home of the last 14 years); selling or otherwise discarding the vast majority of my belongings; and moving back to my hometown to live with my parents. As a good friend pointed out, I’m literally returning to the womb. (Or, as close to womb as you can get at age 38.) Talk about your cycles of death and rebirth. Sigh.

(Bear with me;  I seem to wander, but really, I do wrap back around to my main point.)

There are upsides and downsides to having your main religious/spiritual tradition be a reconstructed religion. On the upside, yay! working with ancient deities and adapting ancient worship patterns to life in the modern world! Exciting! I am working with a organic, coherent, time-tested, fully functional spiritual tradition, working with deities who are at least 1300 years old. Talk about being legit. (My inner hipster pagan/folklorist does a happy dance.)

On the other hand… while the deities and practices I work with/draw from were part of a coherent religious system at one point, we don’t actually know most of the details of that system. The Vikings wrote on gravestones and left some raunchy graffiti, but they were primarily an oral culture, and unfortunately, not much else got written down. Which means that Heathenry, my primary trad, doesn’t really have a strong foundation of experience to draw from to support those of us who go through initiations or dedications of some kind. So, we don’t know what those people need and what to tell them to expect pre- and post-initiation.

A lot of people in my area, being multi-trad of one kind or another (either with some form of Wiccan, or another recon group like the Kemetics, or part of a living trad like Santeria) all argue that, well, between the various trads currently being practiced, we have a good general idea of how this process works. And to a certain extent, I agree. Some spiritual experiences are universal; then again, some are specific to context of the culture that fostered them. I’m not going to argue that I know which ones are universal and which ones Heathen-specific, Vanir-specific, or even Freya-specific. (Not yet, at least. Hopefully my experiences and those of others–Embervoices’ experiences being a great example–can help to shed some light on this.)

So, back to my original point: my Freya initiation. Side effects, which may or may not be due to the initiation process, have been: a formal dedication to my Lady, witnessed by my community. A year of almost obsessive community building among various pagan groups. An accumulation of new spirit guides, protectors, etc. Random situations in which I get to do Freya priestessing (for example, a FB message I got out of the blue about how to properly honor a Heathen-identified warrior at his funeral). Paring down my belongings to the highly valuable, the emotionally memorable, and the bare essentials–an intense, visceral exercise in finding out specifically what it is that I value. Getting my finances in order, at pain of death. Finding out how far I am willing to go to do this priestess thing right (apparently, 2000 miles to the east, where current consensus says that a Freya priestess is needed.) Temporarily giving up one of my most treasured possessions–my adorable punk of a young male red Maine Coon cat–so that he can be somewhere where more of his needs can get met. Focusing more on family and my ancestors. Walking/blazing my own path. Being happy.

And more will be revealed. A recent conversation I had with a friend sums it up well:

Her: “I’m fascinated to see what you end up doing next!”

Me: “Me too!” 😉  Because, really, I have no idea where she’ll put me next.