So, I started out putting together my handout on the runes, and ended up listening to an hour-long recent interview with Freya Aswynn on a British talk radio podcast. (It turns out she is still really on the ball, though not as actively involved in Heathen things as she had been for, oh, the last 30 years. Also, Freya Aswynn = the first modern Heathen devotional polytheist, eh?) All of which I only did because I was waiting for the WoW client to install on my Windows laptop, but hey–Odin moves in mysterious ways. Such is life of a Heathen on teh Interwebs.
It’s been a month of all public things, all of the time. This is what happens when I put my head down and just keep doing what’s put in front of me to do.
Started the month with a Patheos post that unexpectedly went viral. Who knew that an article about the pros and cons of dedicating to a deity would be so popular? I honestly don’t think I said much that was completely new or novel. (Would that it were also one of my better written ones. C’est la vie.)
I followed this with my first public Heathen ritual in the area, Winternights. Winternights went well, even though the boyfriend was only able to attend the last round of the sumbel. It was a great small crowd with plenty of food and a lot of people trying out a heathen ritual for the first time.
Then I did my second Patheos column of the month, on ancestor veneration. (Which as not nearly as popular. Maybe people are just ancestor-ed out by now; I totally understand.)
Then I finally fixed the settings on my email from The Troth and was able to do an intro post there, and got some great suggestions and connections for my area. Heathens! Near me! Woot!
And I found out that not only did my Facets of Freya panel get accepted for PCon 2016, I’m also going to be in another Vanic-based ritual run by EmberVoices. And Jason, editor of the Pagan column at Patheos, wants me to be part of a Patheos authors panel at Convocation 2016 (which I’ve never even attended).
And then Sunday night I got an email from the organizer of our CUUPs group that a local reporter wanted to interview some of us for an article for the local paper. One thing led to another, and somehow I (or my altar stuff) ended up being in all of the pics. Good-sized article. For my hometown newspaper. Where many of my very Lutheran relatives live.
I hadn’t realized when this all started that newspapers need to use my given name and not my pagan name.
So now I’m outed to anyone who actually reads our local newspaper (which, considering the age of my relatives in town, will be all of my relatives.) So while part of me is like, woot! I’m in the paper!, the other part of me is like, Well, no more broom closet for you…. At least my very Christian grandfather is dead. I can deal with “religious disappointment face” from anyone but him. 😦 At this point he is a beloved ancestor and I don’t think he cares much one way or the other what I get up to, religion-wise, as long as I remember him. Funny how things work out. When I left home to go to college 20 years ago, I never dreamed I be back here now, staying with my parents, and appearing face-first in an article on local pagans. It boggles the mind.
I’ve been handed so many opportunities since I moved–as if given to me on a silver platter. So much less stressful than if I had tried to orchestrate it all.
A year and a half ago I couldn’t imagine actually blogging for a real blog. Or starting my own Heathen group. Or leading Heathen events solo. Or organizing a ritual for PCon. Or being willing to be interviewed by the media for anything pagan that also included my given name. Or moving back home and dating a Hellboy. 😉 (I couldn’t imagine moving back to my hometown, period.) But here I am.
In program, we say that we need to change our reaction to what the Gods give us from “No, but…” to “Yes, thanks.” i.e., be open to what’s given to us and not have a hissy fit trying to force what we think should be happening instead. At this point, all I’m doing ischecking my fear-based reactions and just saying “yes” and trying not to have any expectations of what will happen afterwards. I’m completely serious when I say that I have no idea what will happen next. And that’s okay. I just hope whatever happens nexts involves more contact with my Gods/ancestor/landwights, my boyfriend, my friends and my growing community out here, and my family.
So far, so good?
Also known as, everything looks better the day after.
Ever have that experience where the Gods put you in situations just to get a reaction out of you? (Granted, the reaction they are going for may be “growth”, but still. Poke the bear until they finally do what you want them to.)
Since posting about the “irreconcilable differences” between Freya, Loki, myself, and my guy, I’ve gotten a lot of feedback. It’s been great to hear other peoples’ stories of having gone through something similar with their gods, or who have seen similar issues between Freya and Loki in the past. It was kind of unusual, actually, that I posted about the drama on the blog. Normally I would have bitched about it to a few close friends and left it at that. But I gut checked before I posted, and got a green light, so… I posted. And like I said, I got quite a bit out of support and knowledge in doing so. (The Gods work in a multiplicity of ways; I can’t say for certain, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this reaction was one of their side goals from this incident.)
In any event, I can now say with some certainly that I know what Freya’s goal was for me out of all of this. I had to accept my role as Queen.
Get lost in the joy of love and living! Practice receiving and giving it, and relax. All is good; take joy with an open hand. Love, Freya
So, She’s gleefully twirling around in the rain as She tells me this. Just FYI. (Because being a Vanic goddess is srs bizniz.)
And now for something more serious then my usual posts. If you read the blog at all, you’ll know that my currently developing relationship with Freyr is not one that’s gone smoothly. Despite working with Freya, his sister, for a very long time, and despite the fact that Freyr energy still makes me very comfortable and happy, and even despite the fact that if you were to put together all of the male deity characteristics that I have ever liked and admired, it would look an awful lot like Freyr, I’ve still been fighting it tooth and nail. Ever wonder why?
It doesn’t make a lot of sense, I know. Trust me, I’ve been getting flack about it from my Heathen friends and colleagues for years. “But he’s Freya’s twin brother!” they argue. “What, you thought you would get the one and not the other?” Or,”‘But he’s sexy! And has that antler thing! And is easy-going and not all battle-grr-argh like most Viking male deities, and did I mention sexy? Where is the problem?”
Yeah. So. The problem, it turns out, is my ex; or, rather, our history together. I had forgotten exactly how much the blockage was about him until I finally sat down and accepted that it was going to happen, and decided that I might as well take it like the strong Freyaswoman I know myself to be. And I ended up running head-first into unresolved issues with my gods due to my ex.
So, now you get the story of my ex. A shortened, names-removed, bare-details version of it, anyway.
“Come here,” She said, smiling, and enveloped me in Her arms. “You are too hard on yourself.”
I stood for a moment, basking in Her warmth and love.
“I feel like I keep cracking–tons of small cracking around the edges,” I told Her. “I’ll randomly start crying at commercials, or songs on the radio. I don’t know what to do.”
“You will keep cracking, ” She agreed, “like very thin ice on a river that freezes and melts, freezes and melts, freezes and melts without ever fully thawing, getting bumpier and more convoluted as time passes. But you don’t have to keep cracking. If you agree to let yourself melt fully, the ice won’t be able to take purchase and form again.
“It’s summertime. The time for ice has passed. You will need help from the Sun or a friend or a lover to heat the surface, but you must do your part to help melt the ice from below. Then, your river of creativity, love, and joy can run freely again.”
In which I try to get Ratatosk’s kin (aka squirrels) out of my head, and remember to ask the Gods for help.
Terrence Ward wrote up a nice long piece for The Wild Hunt this month about how pagans handle depression. He quotes a variety of people in his article, including me. I always get mixed feelings about talking about my challenges with depression publicly, but I think he’s handled the subject well. Other people quoted in the article are Shauna Aura Knight, Selena Fox, Tony Rella, and Jolene Poseidonae. Ward’s decision to organize the content in the article by Element seemed a bit of a stretch at first, but ultimately I think it’s useful in attacking depression for what it is: a multi-layered disease that affects people on all levels–physical, emotional, mental, creative, and spiritual. And thus a successful program to combat it must needs meet it on the front line in each of those areas.
(I’m only just now realizing how much I see it as an Enemy to be attacked. How martial of me! And odd, because one of the most effective strategies I’ve found is to let it come and then let it pass; but often what happens when people try to “fight it”, they are actually belittling and fighting themselves for having it–a no-win situation, that. But as someone who’s dealt with it since my teenage years, do I have a lot of experience fighting It–and slowly I’ve learned to protect myself from getting hit with too much collateral damage in the meantime.)
(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.’ “
It’s been a good holiday season and a bad one. Good, in that I got to see family–I think I’ve seen all my relations on both sides of the family since I moved in November, which is no small feat. (And there were no drama or fights or even many awkward situations, which is pretty impressive, imho.) Freya said that when I moved out here, I should look to them for guidance and advice. I’m still not sure how that will all play out, but I’m in Jera; everything will come to fruition in its own time. Sit and wait; sit and wait.
The bad side of the season has come in two forms, emotional and physical. Physical was (and still is) that I’ve been dealing with enormous tooth pain (I hate dental work.) Good news is that my dental insurance starts in January, so the goal is to hold on until then if possible. Yay for pain meds! The emotional side kicked in in comparing this Christmas with last year’s, and the various ghosts of Christmases past–ex-husbands, ex-jobs, ex-houses and living situations, ex-cats; and the ghosts of Christmas what-might-have-beens–kids, a house, a lasting marriage with a stable, reliable partner who is supportive and kind (add in some charisma and open-mindedness, and I’d be a happy camper). A good friend of mine ends her emails with this quote:
Gracious future: won’t you lend a hand to pull me through? Cause me and you got some things we need to see to. Let’s get to work. Lifeline ~ Imogen Heap
If I could go back and talk to my 20-year old self, or even my 35-year-old self, I’d tell her to hang on; things will get better. In other words, I know the future will be better than it is today–and, all things considered, ‘today’ is not that bad at all. But I hate the not knowing.
Sit and wait; sit and wait.
Tis the season for analyzing the past year and coming up with a plan for the new. Whatever this next year brings, I know it will be something I won’t expect and can’t even imagine right now.
All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.