My newest post is up at Patheos:
I think the title is self-explanatory 😉
My newest post is up at Patheos:
I think the title is self-explanatory 😉
Thoughts from my work with Freyr this evening:
And I’ve been given the rough draft of a tattoo, likely for dedication purposes. I’m pretty sure it’s already been applied on spiritual body, though (long story). And given the location on my body that it got applied, I’ve taken to calling it my Freyr Stamp.
*sigh* Fertility gods. Whatcha gonna do? GO TEAM VANIR.
(Galadriel) ‘…Do you see now wherefore your coming is to us as the footstep of Doom? For if you fail, then we are laid bare to the Enemy. Yet if you succeed, then our power is diminished, and Lothlórien will fade, and the tides of Time will sweep it away. We must depart into the West, or dwindle to a rustic folk of dell and cave, slowly to forget and to be forgotten.’
Frodo bent his head. ‘And what do you wish?’ he said at last.
‘That what should be shall be,’ she answered. […] ‘For the fate of Lothlórien you are not answerable, but only for the doing of your own task. Yet I could wish, were it of no avail, that the One Ring had never been wrought, or had remained for ever lost.’
Sometimes the weight of my entire change in circumstances hits me all at once, and though I have hope and faith (and even patience, at times), and I am actively trying to be open to growing and changing… it overwhelms me. It’s a lot to take in. And a lot to grieve.
And sometimes I lose faith and, like Galadriel, wish that the option to change and grow had never come up at all. Even though I know I’d have ended up resenting myself for it, I sometimes wish I’d remained in the Shire, as it were. But then again, if I had–I’d have never have gone to CA to begin with. But I did, and here I am.
‘I pass the test’, she said. ‘I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel.’ “
I realized, while going through and organizing the Dedication process stuff I went through last year, that the reason I am doing all of that analysis work now is because She wants me to finish integrating it within myself as well. A new year, a new rendering of who I am and what it means to me to be a woman dedicated to a Goddess.
Dedication to Freya–Contract renewal, January 2015 (With a few minor updates and revisions)
Freya, I offer you my dedication. I stand here as your child, as your intermediary between Vanaheim and Midgard, the realms of the living and the realms of the dead.
I ask you to guide my way here in this world. You are aware of and understand so much more than I ever can, and from my many years of working with you, I know that you love me more fully and deeply than I can comprehend. You have given me gifts I would not have thought to ask for; you have fulfilled wishes I did not know I had. You continue to help me love myself and to see beauty in all things in the world. You have gifted me with many great experiences, and you have walked me through an initiation that has expanded and transformed the capacity of my heart.
I know that the gifts that you have given to me have been freely given. But I also know that I owe you in return.
I offer to help facilitate your voice and your presence here on earth. I will continue to spread word of your gifts and mysteries and to promote the Vanir, the Aesir, and Heathenry where I can. With your help and guidance, I will strive to be an example of a loving, compassionate priestess in a healthy God-relationship. I hope to become a living example that a relationship with you or any of the Gods can be one of the greatest blessings that we can receive.
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.
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.
My apologies for the lack of Love Notes recently, all. There’s a lot going on in Cara-land, and I’ve been keeping my God-roar on mute as much as possible. (Not as easy to do as it used to be, but what do you expect from a dedication?) Many changes, presumably architected by my lovely Lady (at least on some level).
Gods. I’m a Taurus; I hate change. As my friends in program tell me, though, don’t worry–we all get a chance to practice life lessons over and over until we get them right. Yay for being a conscious, constantly evolving person in tune with the Gods. Woot.
Along with everything else I do, I’m a member of a 12-step program. No, it’s not AA; there are many more 12-step programs out there. No, you don’t need to know which one I’m in. It’s anonymous; that’s the point. What you do need to know is that my experience in this program has helped to re-sculpt a lot of my underlying assumptions and beliefs about the nature of Deity and how I shape my relationship with Her (and Them).
I’ve struggled for years now in making my hard polytheistic worldview work with the 12-step concept of a higher power. Sometimes I can make it work, sometimes I can’t. Even so, one of the most useful concepts I have about working with the deity comes from my program: the idea that if my Goddess is not working for me–if She is limiting me or critiquing me or undermining me or whatever–I can (and should) make my understanding of Her bigger.
Before I landed in my 12-step program, I had what amounted to a superhero understanding of the Gods. The Gods were like us, just a bit bigger. They could do a bit more than we could and could help us out a little. They had the same idiosyncrasies as humans, and were bitchy, fallible, and easily bored. My understanding of them, and how I experienced them–while interesting and exciting–did not bring me a whole lot of serenity or peace in times of crisis. While intellectually I knew that I should be able to rely on them, I did not actually feel like they would help me through tough times. After all, they were barely bigger than us humans. But then, what is the point of having a relationship with a deity if He or She is not there to help you through tough times?
My attitude towards deity changed abruptly after I hit rock bottom and found myself in a 12-step program. (I don’t think it’s possible to emphasize strongly enough how much my program helped me get my sanity and my life back, in a way that Heathenry or the larger pagan community just could not begin to match. [Long rant for a different time.] If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction of any kind, go to a 12-step program–at least a for few meetings, just to see what they have to offer. It can’t hurt, and it might even help.) If you’re unfamiliar with 12-step programs, the way it works is this: 1. Admit that your life is unmanageable and you can’t fix it (some people have spent decades coming to this realization); 2. Open yourself up to the possibility that there’s something bigger out there that can help you; and 3. Ask for that bigger power for help (Steps 1-3, in other words). There’s more to it, obviously, but this is the foundation.
I remember thinking when I found out what the 12 steps were and our overall plan of attack, This should be easy. I’ve already spent my entire adult life finding my own spirituality and delving deeper into it, often at odds with my family or the larger culture around me. Not a problem. I’m halfway there!
Or not. It’s a lot harder, it turns out. I had spent a a great deal of time and effort learning about and working with my gods, but in all that time and work, I hadn’t learned what I’ve come to consider to be the most important part of any belief system: I hadn’t learned to trust my gods.
I started out writing a post explaining the love notes, but ended up writing the “why she makes me cry” post. It is what it is….
I “check in” with Freya every day–kind of like I check my email–to see if She has any words of inspiration to pass on. I do it because it’s part of my commitment to Her, to write these love notes and post them for people. It’s not because I’m particularly holy or special; I just do it because I promised that I would.
It’s not that simple, though. I’m very sensitive–physically, emotionally, pretty much in every way–and I can get overwhelmed quickly, so normally I keep my emotions and ability to sense things tightly locked down. In order to hear Her, however, I need to open these senses back up. What I usually get when I open up my shields is a feeling; an image; and anywhere between one word/or concept and a full sentence or two. Sometimes it’s easy–I just think of Her, look at Her statue, and Bam! message received. Sometimes I get just the barest thread of a message and have to go digging for it, which ends up being a big drain on my time and energy. Sometimes I get nothing–nada–no matter what I do; and I’m not always sure if it’s because I’m too emotionally or spiritually exhausted that day, or if She just doesn’t have anything to say. Regardless of what I need to do to get the message from Her, more often than not I get punched in the gut with some kind overwhelming emotion, either good or bad. I really can’t prepare for this because I never know what I’m going to get.
I had meant to do my “Why Freya makes me cry” post, but this is what came out instead (though they are not entirely mutually exclusive). I’m just one among many overworked people, I know. I’ll keep my bitching to a minimum.
Currently, my responsibilities, both real and perceived, are as follows (not necessarily in order of importance):
So yeah, I’ve got a lot on my plate at the moment; a great and exhausting balancing act. No wonder Hermes loves me so much (or so I’ve been told).
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