Killer introductory article by Dagulf Loptson about starting and deepening your relationships with your various spirit entities: Gods, ancestors, and landvaettir (land spirits) alike. The TL:DR version: Treat your Gods and spirits the way you would treat your good friends. Visit them or talk to them on a regular basis; be courteous and respectful in your dealings with them; give them gifts; and honor any vows or oaths you made to them. It’s simple in theory, but not always easy in practice.
So, I’ve gone and completely overbooked myself again. Again, my own fault. No one is pressuring me to do most (if any) of it. I thought perhaps it was the Bay Area’s influence; but no, it’s happening here. It’ll likely happen wherever I go. The problem with moving is that you take yourself with you, you know.
So, now that I’ve met a bunch of people in the area and found some people with whom to do the things I’m most interested in, I’ll be dialing back again. My focus now will be finishing up/deepening ancestor work; continuing and upgrading my work with the Gods (including blogging); and starting to build Heathen community in my area. And relearning to trust other people while I’m at it, it seems. So, we’ll see how it goes
Any energy or blessings or good thoughts people want to send to help me achieve this balance will be appreciated 🙂
A Cara Miscellany.
I was talking with my sister the other day about our trip to Sweden (t-minus 6 days and counting!), and had a revelation. Though my sister is not Christian, and in fact could definitely find herself on one end of the Neo-Pagan spectrum, our personal beliefs are very different. (Let me reiterate: I love my sister, but we are very different. Oddly, we look enough alike that people have in the past mistaken us for twins, and our friends are thrown off a bit more when they meet us together and realize exactly how different we are.) In any event, though we have the same genetic material and she’s open to a lot of pretty far-out spiritual concepts, she is not at all Heathen or polytheist, though she has been pretty accepting of any spiritual processing work I’ve done with her.
So it was really weird that she was the one to come up with the idea of us visiting our ancestral homelands in Sweden and Norway together. Talking with her last week, she said something else that threw me for a loop. “You know, things have fallen into place too smoothly for this trip to be about us. We need to do some ancestor work while we’re there.”
I’m processing quite a bit more about the Scandinavian trip than I thought I would. So! New blog: https://prilgrimagetonora.wordpress.com/. (Nora is the name of the town in Sweden that my grandfather’s family is from.) With the trip coming up in less than a month, a lot of my energy, both spiritually and physically, will be focused on it. I’m not going to go as in-depth into God woo-woo things in the travel blog. That’s what this one is for 🙂 But if you want to hear about how things are going with the trip, follow the new blog.
Two years or so ago, I came across this short story by Seanan McGuire. It was fervently being passed around among the Heathens in my area, and as a Freyaswoman, people strongly suggested that I read it. I glanced at it, saw that it was about high school football, and passed it over. Only after I finally sat down and read it did I get what the fuss was all about.
Now? Now I file it under “Things That Make Me Cry,” because reading it makes me cry, each time. My first read through, the tears didn’t start until halfway through the story, when I caught on to what the author was doing. When I reread it yesterday, though, I started crying before the “cheerleaders” even left the locker room.
Not that it will necessarily make you cry, too. The thing is, it’s not a sad story at all. It’s like the best kind of feel-good story there is, really. If you work with a deity whose realm includes death, or fighting, or courage, I recommend that you check it out. (If you like football, or understand the power of a late autumn night, even better.)
“Winning? Losing? Children died, and now somehow we’re . . . how am I here? How are we playing football? I haven’t played football since high school.”
“But you did,” says another girl—Elle, with her white-blonde hair streaked in Falcon blue, and she’s lovely, she’s an angel, but her eyes are cold as she looks down on Clarice. “If you hadn’t, you wouldn’t be here. You’d be playing water polo, maybe, or chess, or competitive Pictionary.”
“There are as many battlefields as there are fallen warriors to fight on them,” says Rona. She straightens, offering Clarice her hands. “You earned your place here, I swear that you did, and now all you have to do is see the game through to its end in order to get your reward.”
Clarice looks at her, this teenage girl with her hair tied up in ribbons, and nothing has ever been more wrong, and nothing has ever been more right. This is Homecoming, this is the October that never ends, and she has earned her place here, on this field, on this team. She slides her hands into Rona’s without deciding that she’s going to do so, and Rona tugs her back to her feet, stronger than she should be for a girl so slight.
“Fight on, warrior,” she says, letting go of Clarice’s hands. She smiles, and for a moment, she is something else; not a cheerleader, exactly, but something older, and wilder, and serving the very same role. She cheers at the edges of the battlefield. “Fight on, and win.”
Due to a variety of sources (not the least being input from Odin, Freya, and my ancestors), Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey has become my Norse altar’s house libation of choice. It’s also become a good indicator as to whether/how strongly Freya is in the house; if I can take shots of it as if it were sugar water, She’s in. If it burns my throat the whole way down, She’s not at home.
New Matronae altar (in progress)
The closet altar is dark, with a large electric beeswax candle flickering seductively in the center. Freya and Odin sit perched on either side, with tokens for the Vanir, the ancestors, my fylgia and other helpers, and Yggdrasil set in place around them. I lean over the top of the altar and gently rest my neck and chin on one of the antlers perched there. I inhale deeply. The smells of honey, beeswax, honey whiskey, sugar, and chocolate meet my nose. The whiskey has been out for almost two days now, and is starting to smell a bit musky, but I’ll leave it out until tomorrow. No sense in rushing it. It’s not for me, after all.
(The honey whiskey had originally been bought for my ancestors–that’s what they used to get in California, before I moved. This time, however, with Odin (and therefore Loki) being honored along with Freya on the same altar, the Blood Brothers decided to abscond with the Jack–and they are going through it mighty quickly, I have to say. I’ve already had the finances talk with all of Them, which boils down to, “If you want good liquor, and frequently, make sure that I have the money for it.” Luckily my ancestors are a pretty easy-going bunch, and are just as happy with beer or cider. And everybody seems to love the smell of honey.)
So, I’m here in the Midwest. I was shocked when I realized that I’d have to move, and pretty emotionally wrung out by the time the move actually happened. The drive out here is pretty much a blur (luckily we got out here right before the winter weather kicked in) and the settling down period was lost in a blur of holiday visits and work projects. Now the holidays are over, and people at work are all back from their various vacations. I’ve gotten involved in program meetings out here and started making connections with the local pagan community. Even my new health insurance kicked in (and already the ACA is kicking the ass of California’s state-run health insurance). So, life has officially re-started. Here I am. After three days in a row of double-digit negative temperatures.
So, how are things going? Freya had a complex agenda when She sent me out here. I only know part of it and half of what I think I know will inevitably turn out to be wrong, but there are a few areas of my life that I can take a pretty good guess at:
Family. I have seen 90% of all of my close family members (5% were unavailable during the holidays and the other 5% have died in the last five years–though one is now near and dear as an Ancestor.) I haven’t that much family in such a short about of time since I graduated high school, for crying out loud. I’ve always been an in-between child–I’m the oldest grandchild on my Mom’s side of the family and the second-to-youngest grandchild on my Dad’s side of the family, so, no matter what family we’re with, I don’t have many people my age. Now I can hold conversations and interest with the cousins who are fifteen years older than me with kids in college as well as with my cousins who are just out of college themselves, and I did so willingly, and with relatively little effort. I watch them all really closely–who has my Mom’s facial expressions? Who walks like my dear departed grandfather? And more importantly, which of them looks like me? What piece am I filling in on this family tree?
My last visit home I discovered the power of taking pictures of old photos will my iPhone. The quality is as good as, if not better than, we get when we scan them. So far, I was able to grab a bunch of 70s photos from my aunt’s wedding album and some of my Dad’s old Vietnam and family photos. I even came across my Dad’s birth certificate (no birth time recorded, unfortunately–what were they thinking back then!? slackers) which I promptly snapped as well. Pretty much any time I come across a piece of family memorabilia, I save it to my phone or my computer somehow. And so, family memories remain preserved. I wish I could do the same with what I hear–my Mom and Dad will bust out with a new piece of family lore pretty much daily–“You know, we said so-and-so died of a heart attack, but he was actually an alcoholic”; and “Did you know your great-grandmother was married twice?” and “Your great-uncles and great-grandfather were all amazing craftsmen–they would build anything out of wood.” Who knew? It’s not like my sister and I haven’t been asking my parents for this kind of info for years, but it just never comes out under direct questioning; it comes out at the dinner table while talking about the local game and the sales at Macy’s. You can’t force this kind of data-retrieval and you can’t replicate it, which is part of the reason I am living with them here, now. (And also part of why I am traveling to Scandinavia in a few months.) It’s both heartwarming and completely frustrating when anything new comes up.
Spirituality. Well, there are no Heathens here from what I can see, so I’m hanging out with Druids (not a big stretch, honestly) and visiting a fascinating variety of my hometown’s New-Age, pagan/hippy-ish hybrids, not the least of which because they are occurring in my hometown. (My hometown has more Christian churches per capita than any place else in the state.) I’m looking forward to meeting even more new people and trying out the various Pagan gatherings that the Midwest hosts (yes, Jason; I’ve got ConVocation on the books already, though it may be a stretch getting there so soon after PCon).
The Land. Flat plains; lush, damp river valleys: how I have missed you. You, with your four full seasons and deciduous forests complete with oak, maple, and buckeye. Your white snow and bare trees, stubby dead cornfields and, above all, water. I sat in my car one evening last week in a local park that overlooks one of my favorite childhood places: Sinnisippi Gardens. Ah 🙂 The greenhouse, the duck pond, the flower clock, the white Roman columns, the bike path, and, flowing gently behind it all, the river. My river. (If you look closely at its banks, you will see “Cara’s River (TM)” inscribed every hundred yards or so. True story.) I just sat there in my car, rapt, getting high off of the fact that I was now back in my hometown and living in a place where I could go see that area any time I want to, for absolutely no reason at all. My land. As I sat there I imagined I could feel 18 years worth of deposited (mostly) happiness flowing back into me. It was a high like few I’ve ever experienced, and I hope it doesn’t go away any time soon. (Though the -30 wind chill can go away now.) But, dude–I knew I was an earth sign, and that I missed my land something fierce, but nothing really prepared me for that kind of reaction. I’m really fascinated to see how it will grow and change.
Sigh. And now off to bed early so my Mom and I can get up early to head out to the closest Trader Joe’s, an hour and a half away. Love you, Chicago!
I’ve been busy, busy busy this week. Work has been stressful (end of quarter shenanigans), plus the holidays, which are not any less busy than they would have been back in CA. The only difference is that here the events are celebrations with blood relatives whom I haven’t seen in five years or more. Generally this hasn’t stressed me out, but today’s gathering will include the successful Chicago-based relatives. Oh, joy. At least the weather isn’t bad.
Tonight is a Yule with a Wiccan coven I haven’t met yet, so that’s also a bit stressful as well. I want to make a good impression, and I wonder who I’ll meet. Hopefully they aren’t crazy or drama-ridden, but it’s not like I can control that, unfortunately. Tomorrow is a Yule Feast put on by the Druid group I met the other day, so at least I will know most of the people there. But still, stress is stress. Yay, being an introvert.
So, the upside. What is the upside? A) I have family, who aren’t crazy alcoholics or drama queens, who do want to hang out with my family, and whom, for the most part, are friendly. B) As far as I know, we’re all in good health. C) The event should wrap up in time for me to go to the Yule gathering. D) Maybe I’ll meet some interesting, friendly people at the Yule gatherings. 🙂
I read a quote from one of my program books the other day. It said, “When one door closes, another one opens wide. But being in the hallway is hell.” Also, “This too shall pass.”
Heilsa to that.
(I’ve given away the statue of Freya that was my focal point for many of my Love Notes, so we’ll see how it goes minus that crutch.)
Listen to your mothers, the Ancestors. Walk where they have walked. Fight what hey have fought. Draw (tell) what they have written down. Let this manual, based on their combined experiences, guide you in the here and now and help mark the way for your future. For your future is theirs, also. Reap what they have sown. Love, Freya
I’m not sure if I’m getting so many ancestor worship notes recently because of where I am in life (moving back to my old hometown and living with my own mother, albeit temporarily). Or maybe we all just need to spend more time reconnecting to those who came before. They already did half of the work. No need to redo it constantly.
A good friend and fellow priestess explained the relevancy of connecting with our ancestors in this way: “They’re dead. Everyone in their family line, except those few of us who are alive today, are dead. Who else is going to advance their agenda in the living world? YOU! Therefore, you receive the full attention and energy of all of your ancestors, if for no other reasons than YOU’RE THE ONE WHO IS ALIVE NOW. No one else on their team is up to bat; just you. It’s your turn. They have power, knowledge, and many gifts to give; let them use this knowledge. Accept their gifts.”
Of course, I appear to be blessed in that my ancestors don’t appear to have major issues that I need to help them work through (yet). So, take it for what it’s worth. Still, Freya is the Vanadis–the main guiding female ancestor spirit of the Vanir–so maybe She does know what She’s talking about when it comes to ancestor work. Food for thought.