Follow-Up To: She Only Hurt Me When She Left

So, almost six years on; time to update my relationship with Freya.

The past years since Freya left have been difficult. A good deal of this was my fault, of course. I worked a ton in the local pagan community, then started working with a group in Chicago, all the while attempting to navigate my biggest responsibility yet in my recovery program. Coming off of a near-burnout from very similar circumstances in the Bay Area, I didn’t have much bandwidth left; and with Freya’s loss, the extra fuel I was running on left as well. Unsurprisingly, I burned myself out.

First to drop off was my recovery. The responsibilities I was carrying at the time were not ones I really wanted to do, but felt guilted into doing; which, ironically, is one of the things my program trains us not to do. And ten years in, I was a good nine years past the relationship that had put me into recovery to begin with. Though I often miss it (and the camaraderie I felt, especially with the Bay Area groups), it had left me with many practical skills. And maybe after Covid has passed I’ll go back. Meetings were always some of the most spiritual events I ever attended. (Hate to say it, but many of the officially “spiritual” groups I’ve been a part of never even touched the spiritual depth that a really good recovery meeting could provide on a weekly basis.)

Next to go were my local groups, for various reasons; and eventually, the Chicago group as well. At the time my partner and I were focused primarily on our fertility planning, and I wanted all of my energy to go toward that.

Dealing with infertility, I found, can be a full-time job, especially towards the end of the process. It’s weirdly detached experience, and possibly one of the strangest things I’ve ever put myself through. Things did not go according to my plan, however, and we were unsuccessful. This may have been for the best, however, as a series of intense situations followed immediately: On Christmas Day, my MIL had a horrible stroke, and eventually died; as my partner is an only child, we were the ones to take care of everything afterwards. Then my partner had a horrible bout of pneumonia, and I got bronchitis; and then the very next month, Covid hit. The month after that, we bought a house and moved in. The following year was overshadowed with social unrest (legitimately based, in my opinion) and a horrible presidential campaign. And, this past February, I had knee surgery. I’d hate to be a middle-aged first-time mother and gone through any of that, much less all of it. A blessing in disguise? Who knows. We’re waiting until Covid passes to reassess the situation to see if we’ll try again.

Now, we have a decent president whom I trust to make sound decisions. I have both of my Covid shots, and my partner and all our immediate family have all had both shots. Hopefully we, as a country and me personally, are on our way back to something resembling our normal lives. And so I finally find myself reawakening and moving out of survival mode, now that the major threats and traumas have passed.

So where has this left me, spiritually?

One of the survival tools I used to get through all of this has been to work on my garden. I planned and learned everything I could about gardening with a passion–nay, an obsession–that kept me sane this winter through a horrible presidential election cycle and surgery, as well as my usual seasonal affective disorder. I now know the difference between a perennial and annual; cold-tolerant flowers and veg vs cold-sensitive plants. I created and successfully carried out an extensive seed-starting calendar (see my new gardening blog, Gerd’s Garden, for more details). I currently am tending more seedlings than many small greenhouses do, and have Major Plans for renovating the gardens at our new house. And, somewhere in the midst of it all, I became obsessed with growing flowers–the bigger and prettier, the better (I now have an extensive collection of dinner-plate dahlias, for example). And it finally occurred to me, WTF am I going to do with masses of extravagant blooms? At which point I got the distinct impression of a certain golden-eyed goddess saying, “I do have an altar, you know.”

So my garden obsession is accomplishing several things. It’s helping me to rebuild my connection with both Freyr and Gerd, in a very tangible way, and therefore one of which I believe Freyr heartily approves. And it’s allowing me a path to actively rebuild my relationship with Freya.

My connection with Her was never fully gone, however. I was able to act as Her priestess on many occasions in the last few years, both in ritual and in classes. I was able to talk with Her occasionally, though during the fertility issues, it was primarily Frigga that I reached out to, and it seemed right to do so. And I had kept up my daily devotionals and offerings (though, truth be told, with Covid, much of that stopped as well).

I see my recent time away from daily devotionals–and active connection with any of the Gods–as a necessary fallow period. I needed time to myself: to reacquaint myself with myself; to take care of practical, real-life stuff like setting up a new household and dealing with debt; and to reevaluate the last ten years or so of really intense god-work. Do I still want to be Heathen? Do I still want to be polytheist? Do I still want any of this? I’m giving myself the space to dwell on these questions; before, just the thought was anathema to me.

As part of this reevaluation, I took up the offer of a divination from a priestess I respect and support on Patreon. I have only rarely done any divinations in the last ten years or so, mainly because 1) if I wanted to know, I’d ask Them directly, and 2) if I have hard times ahead, I’d rather not know. So, me asking for a divination was a pretty rare occurrence. The result of the divination was that my next direction was toward more nature-based magic and more community building. What struck her strongly was that I had many Skills (a very Magician-card vibe), so whatever I decided to do, I would be competent at it and succeed. She was a bit surprised, given my devotional experiences, to find no direct messages to me from the Gods–telling me to get back onboard; or to make reparations for being distant; or do this or that for Them. My response kind of surprised me as well as her. I told her, completely confidently, that tI knew the Gods would be there when I decided to go back to them.

I had, and still have, complete faith in this. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just not possible to have worked with a community of Gods, and to have held one so close for so long, without a permanent connection being formed. (Or, at least, to have formed a permanent faith in the existence of and connection with the Gods.) My belief and connection with the Gods was a hard-won one, fought over several decades. I fought myself; I fought a Western rationalistic society; and I even fought evangelicals determined to convert me from day one (literally!). From all of this, I came to the understanding that faith is a choice; like recovery, it’s something you must chose, every day. It’s a decision to make, not something that is forced on you or that “happens” to you.

A pivotal moment in my initiation with Freya illuminated a similar idea: in order to deepen my relationship with Her, I had to actively choose Her, despite my fears and the unknowns, and choose to deepen the relationship. It was not something that She pushed upon me, or that others pressed me to do. It was a leap of faith that *I* had to take in order for it to be real. Which is why, whenever people come to me to fret that they don’t know how to overcome their disbelief or mistrust in the Gods, at heart my response is always the same: Faith is something you choose to do. Choose to believe, and it will happen. Or, if necessary, come to a place of understanding that belief is a choice, and then choose to believe.

I feel that my relationship with the Gods is still there: a vast resource waiting to be tapped, when I am ready to do so. And because I feel the truth of this, I’m sure that iI will have it again. I just need to walk my path as a “normal” human for a while longer before I do so. And, after all of my reevaluations, I’m fascinated to see where I’ll end up next.

Blame It All On Yourself, Cause She’s Always A Woman To Me

The most she will do is throw shadows at you / but She’s always a woman to me

Midnight musings:

I knew a guy a while back, many years before my initiation with Freya, who absolutely hated Her. I can’t remember at this point if he was pissed because he felt She guided him to a horrible relationship, or if it was that the ex who spurned him had worked with closely with Freya, or what–but he brought his hatred of Her up quite frequently. It was very surprising to me; he is really the only person I think I’ve ever interacted with who has had this intense, personal hatred of Her.

Generally, in my experience acting as Her priestess, most people are fond or very enamored by Her. A few are wary and occasionally even afraid, possibly because the kind of passion She can so easily incite can lead people to making what are, in hindsight, poor decisions. (It’s what any kind of passion does; passion can have a price.) But people actually hating Her is very rare.

And it made me think, then as well as now, if his hatred had more to do with him and whatever issues he brought in than it did with Her. In addition to other red flags, it made me very leery of a relationship with him.

Freya will, in my experience, reflect back whatever She wishes you to see. She can show you your beauty, and she can show you the things that are keeping you from realizing your full potential. Her work is powerful and emotionally raw and transformative. It can be very overwhelming. So I imagine that if someone has irritated Her, She very probably could mess them up in many intense ways. But what would someone have to do to possibly get her to fuck with them that much, I have to wonder? Wow.

(I mean, Freya doesn’t love everyone–She’s not Jesus, or some kind of compassionate saint–but still, I’ve only ever seen her love, inspire, and heal people, even if that healing is not comfortable or fun.

So I think that–if you ever find yourself in a love/hate relationship with Freya–or any other love deity, for that matter–check yourself first and see what it is that you have brought to the party. If you have issues with women in particular–with sexual women, or powerful women, or women who just won’t complacently fit in–yeah, you probably will run into some problems with Her. But if you don’t…. well then, enjoy the ride.

She can kill with a smile, she can wound with her eyes.
And she can ruin your faith with her casual lies.
And she only reveals what she wants you to see.
She hides like a child, but she’s always a woman to me.

She can lead you to love, she can take you or leave you.
She can ask for the truth but she’ll never believe.
And she’ll take what you’ll give her as long as it’s free.
Yeah, she steals like a thief, but she’s always a woman to me.

Oh, she takes care of herself, she can wait if she wants
She’s ahead of her time
Oh, and she never gives out and she never gives in
She just changes her mind

And she’ll promise you more than the Garden of Eden.
And she’ll carelesly cut you and laugh while you’re bleeding.
But she’ll bring out the best and the worst you can be.
Blame it all on yourself, cause she’s always a woman to me.

She is frequently kind and she’s suddenly cruel.
But she can do as she pleases, she’s nobody’s fool.
And she can’t be convicted, she’s earned her degree.
And the most she will do is throw shadows at you,
but she’s always a woman to me.