May check-in and Sweden debrief

A Cara Miscellany.

It’s warm and muggy, finally. Two adjectives that will never meet in a weather report for California. I will probably hate it come July, but right now I’m reveling in it. Reveling, I tell you. I feel like the air is my long-distance lover and I want to strip naked and roll around in the tall, wet grass, pretty much everywhere I can. (At which point I would probably pick up several ticks and a zillion insect bites, but still. One can dream.) And there goes the first June bug of the season…Yep. I’m back in the Midwest.

We have finally decided to let my cat become free-range. This was one of the biggest draws to moving back to the Midwest, actually–to finally let the cat roam free like he so desperately wants. When I was a kid, all of our cats were free range. It wasn’t a big deal. When the cats wanted to go outside, we let ’em; they always came back. Of my current cats, my red tabby (a huge Maine Coon mix) just wants to be wild and free–as he will tell you, loudly and constantly, for weeks on end. He and I have played many rounds of “cat chicken”–he wins, hands down. No small feat considering that I am a stubborn Taurus who has a lot of experience playing chicken with cats and their various idiosyncrasies. My other cat, a black cat whom I call my “starry night sky”, is so much a homebody that if we take him outside, he immediately hides under the porch. So, black cat stays inside, and is happy, and now red cat can roam freely outside at night, and is happy. (Though during the day he is still on a long leash in the backyard.) Problem solved (hopefully!), and with no need to make me a new pair of catskin gloves. (I’m sitting outside at night as I type this, and every so often he circles back around to give his momma some love–it’s working!!! I’m euphoric. I had been feeling like Daenerys and her dragons, and it has been tearing me up; you guys have no idea.)

As regards to the Gods, I like to say that I came home from Sweden with three new guys:

IMG_7002

I call them Odin, Frey, and Thor. (Here they are, nestled with some of the rest of my Sweden loot. (Yes, those are amber necklaces, a new horn, and beeswax candles in the background, why do you ask? *blinkblink*)

Oddly, or perhaps not so oddly, when all is considered, I didn’t actually hear or feel the Gods very strongly while I was there. I attribute this to a variety of things. One, this was clearly an Ancestor trip, beginning to end, top to bottom. I went with my sister, not another Heathen, and though she humored most of my Viking Age stops, she wasn’t as nearly as into it as I was (our trip to Birka being the only exception.) And on the ancestor score, we ended up achieving a huge amount of healing and knowledge, which, given the Memorial Day holiday, has continued apace, regardless of the fact that I am back on US soil. Possibly even mores now, because my experiences gravewalking in Sweden with several friendly and helpful (though unfortunately monolingual) Swedes has made me realize how much easier it is to do this kind of work here in America, where I have a car and maps and living relatives who all speak English. (Possibly this entire Midwestern sojourn I’ve undertaken is really just ancestor work by another name. Look! They said. You can save money and pay debt and get to know your parents and other relatives again and learn from and meet new pagans and be in a place that’s warm and dark and humid, all at the same time! Oh…and also do shitload of ancestor work. Ahem.)

I brought back with me at least one powerful ancestor from Sweden, and there’s been some resultant shuffling within the Team. I’ve had to do a bit of explaining that, yes, we’re all related and such, but Freya runs the show here. See the lovely golden lady shimmering at us? Yes? That’s Her. She’s bigger than all of us, loves me dearly, and has the closest thing to a game plan that any of us know about, so She’s in charge. My ancestor altar has to be completely redone, and it’s looking like the Gods altar will undergo some big changes as well.

The other main reason I think the Gods were quiet during my trip is pretty practical. I was really out of my element traveling, especially those first five days when I was desperately trying to find my bearings. I hadn’t traveled through a foreign country in 17 years, and it showed. 😦 I’m glad I went, obviously, but the just logistics along were a tremendous source of stress. Needless to say, for the most part I was not walking around Sweden with my psychic senses wide open. And at places where I did consciously unlock the gates, I was surprised to find the Gods muted or silent. Gamla Uppsala, the pre-Christian political and religious center of the land now known as Sweden, and seat of the Yngling dynasty of kings, was that way. I had expected big booming voices and a huge psychic imprint–and to an extent, I did get that, if only briefly, when I sat out on the top of the biggest burial mounds–but the church that was built on top of the old pagan temple has been in active use there for almost a thousand years. Heathen Gods and beliefs were relentlessly hammered down at that very location for almost a thousand years, and it shows. YMMV.

Birka, however–the large trade center that was Birka was not built over, or peed on, or had anything so demeaning done to it. Birka ended up losing its strategic importance to a town closer to Stockholm, and was forgotten and lightly farmed for a thousand years until the Swedes went ahead and got it registered as a World Heritage site. Today, Birka is beautiful. Birka feels spiritual, in the way that I had hoped Uppsala would. Birka is clearly honored and respected and given every courtesy by today’s humans. There’s not much to see at the Birka site–it’s just a wide, wild green field bordered by a huge burial mound “cemetery”, but even so, it was an amazing place to visit.

Anywho. Once the pics and such are organized I’ll post some of them up here with some explanations, but that day is not today. Today, I’m going to head back inside, because it is still a bit chill, and the cat wants in, and that damn June bug is really persistent. Till later.

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