Who is Queen here, anyway?

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.

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Sweden Trip: Last Night

This last weekend in Stockholm has brought us many blessings. One came in the form of Liam, a 60s-ish-old Irishman with a mouth full of blarney and a penchant for taking younger Americans under his wing. Under his care, my sister and I got a tour of the best views in Stockholm and an unexpected visit with Izzy Young, an American expat/folk music legend who’s been living for the last 40 years in Stockholm (apparently, he signed Bob Dylan and a bunch of other guys before they became famous *shrug*). Liam also drove us to our hotel (in the rain; thank the Gods for talkative Irishmen). The blessings also came in the form of Kerstin, a older woman from Stockholm who made us a traditional Swedish smorgasbord dinner in her home, and then took us to an ongoing traditional Swedish folk music and dance session in Gamla Stan (Old Town), walking us home afterwards.

Today was our last day, and it was All Things Sweden, All the Time. In addition to bring transported around town by Liam and Kerstin, we got my sister some homemade Swedish clogs (her one Must Have from this trip), and had a unexpected hipster meal of traditional Swedish meatballs (what’s old is new again, in Sweden as in America). Then we were just able to get in to see The Gold Room (Guldrummet) exhibit, a permanent exhibit at the Swedish History Museum (Historiska museet), which is where much of the expensive archaeological artifacts from Birka went. (It also includes a bunch of random gold and silver items–most of it from uncovered hoards and/or old churches–because GOLD. And SILVER. Why not?) And I picked up yet more useless Viking swag because, well….Vikings. 🙂

And tonight I’m sleeping on a boat. A BOAT, which is currently floating on Lake Mälaren. (It has a peephole window looking over the lake, and bunk beds, and everything!!) Between this and our visit to Birka, my inner child is running around in one constant state of SQUEEEE! Even the ugly rainy, cold, windy weather that we had today cannot put a damper on it. (Of course, our Irishman and Swedish woman helped out, too.) I am coming home tomorrow, assuming all things go as planned, with dirt and rocks from the mounds at Uppsala; a stone from my Aunt Hannah’s grave; shale from an even older family-ish graveyard; a beautiful new drinking horn (which I used at Uppsala on another cold and windy day when I hailed the Gods, ancestors, and landvattir with locally-brewed mead); a horn stand (it came with the horn /shrug); there more generations’ worth of ancestor details, thanks to a local genealogist; the love and connection with a town we never knew and the inhabitants who knew how special it was for us to visit; words and request from my deceased Aunt; pictures of the flowers I planted on her grave after we had cleaned it up after 35 years of neglect; an intimate understanding of the word and concept fika (apparently my sweet tooth is genetic); and a better understanding of the land the Vikings lived on and how it must have shaped their actions and choices.

And finally, a deep, deep appreciation of and longing for this world full of people who look like family and act so unpretentiously civilized, understated, and liberal (so unlike much of my family!) My sister describes much of the trip as being filled with constant occurrences of deja vu. No matter how you parse it, clearly, something in us was already ready and waiting for us in Sweden. As my Lady said when I first told her of the trip: “If you go there, you will see how they live, and your heart will never fully heal.” Now I get it. So many of the experiences we’ve had here have sunk in so deeply and so fast, like old gears finally shifting into place; and I have no real way of knowing if I’ll ever be back. It’s a wound I cannot heal, and I’m afraid that the more I visit, the bigger that wound will get. And that sucks.

Sweden, you are like a best friend I didn’t even know I had. And I wish I had less trite of words to speak it with, but I don’t. I just see the wall of pain and grief hanging out off of the shore, waiting to hit, and I just don’t want to go home.

And a God descended

So a few days ago, my lady said this: “The time of birth/Berkana is coming. What was hidden under the ground* will come forth. Be prepared. Love, Freya”.

Out in the Bay Area, there’s a phrase we often say: “Suddenly Odin”. It’s shorthand for “some poor sod just got gobsmacked by Odin and we need to rush in an help the newb get their sanity back and give them some groundrules for dealing with the Old Man”. (At least, that’s my interpretation of it.) From what I’ve seen, Odin has a habit of landing in people’s lives in a dramatic way and breaking open their heads.

Well, tonight was “Suddenly Freyr”. I had no idea he could be so sneaky, but I guess my days of living without him are over. Suddenly Odin = head cracked open. Suddenly Freyr = heart cracked open, like in a major way. Likely other things will be cracking but it’s too soon to tell. But it’s not like Freyr hasn’t been hanging around, leering. (Well, I’ve seen it as leering, mainly because I’m not real comfortable with male gods getting all up in my personal space.) The sky Gods in my life–Zeus and Odin, and to a lesser extent, Hermes–do it too, but I’m more comfortable with them. They’re, well, off in the sky more often than not, and more detached and in the realm of the mind. Freyr… well, he’s like my Lady (being her twin brother and all). He’s RIGHT HERE, up close and personal.

RIGHT. HERE.

And this had to happen right before PantheaCon, which will have been–this year in particular, for a variety of reasons–a heart-wrenching experience in any event. Well, at least now I can go into it with Freyr at my back. And yet I feel oddly comforted that he’ll be there. This will be fascinating.

At least my goddess can’t say that She didn’t warn me.

*Freyr goes “into the mound” during the winter, and we just passed the first holiday of Spring, Imbolc. The Vanir are much more in tune with the seasonal/Wiccan calendar than I am, apparently.

A (belated) reply to “S#!t just got real”

I’m in the process of creating a section on my blog about Dedication: ideas, opinions, and my own experiences with it. All I really have to share are my experiences; but it’s really cool to see what other people have gone through as well, and their thoughts on it. In doing so, I came across the controversy over Morpheus’s broken ankle.

Last October, a big thread went around the pagan blogosphere about how dedication and/or working with the Gods can change one’s life. The discussion was kicked off by Morpheus in her Shieldmaiden blog, here, and was added to by many others. (I’ll link or paraphrase as many as I can in the dedication section itself, once it’s completed.) Her post came down to this: She promised to write a book for her Goddess, and she had been given a deadline by which to complete it. Though she was actively working on it, she was also participating in other groups and duties. It came to pass that while she was in the middle of one of her other activities, she busted up her ankle pretty badly. This injury ended up keeping her off of her feet–at home, writing the book–until the deadline of her book had passed. (Literally. Her deadline was December 31, and I think she gets rid of her boot and off of one crutch this week.)

The response from members of her group, and many of us in the larger community, was pretty straightforward. You promised your Goddess a Thing, and She helped you get it done on schedule. Not, perhaps, in a friendly or easy way; but then again, perhaps, a nicer way wouldn’t have been as effective. To me, it was as clear-cut a case of deity intervention as I’ve seen, and I took it in stride. I thought most other people had, too. What caught me off guard was all of the hoopla in response to it.

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The Cat Story; or, Why you should be very specific when asking your goddess for a favor

In 1998, I was in grad school. One of the many reasons that I decided to go to grad school was to find, not to put too fine a point on it, a husband. Once I got there, I realized my field was full of women and gay men, and those straight men who were there were taken. So there were just not that many eligible guys around. Having never been one to pick up guys at bars, and internet dating having not really taken off yet, I was kind of stuck as to what to do about it.

Enter my first kindred. The gay Freyrsman who was to become my first gothi learned of my plight and offered me a spell that he had created which would ask Freya to help bring love into my life. Having done my own research on Freya back when I first became Wiccan, his suggestion made a lot of sense to me, and I followed his instructions.

It went something like this:

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Careful what you wish for (recovery)

Tonight, I went to my first meeting since moving, and damn if Freya did not talk to me through every woman there, and all but slam into my hands the exact opportunities and community I was wishing I had from back home. Wish = Granted. The group was small but on point, and I get the chance to do exactly what I know love to do. (Let’s hope that remains the case after the rosy glow has worn off!)

I always joke with my friends in recovery that my Higher Power is not subtle, because they are continually amazed by any of the (honestly, really pared down) stories I tell them. Subtle! If only they knew. Try working for a pagan goddess and see how “subtle” a Higher Power can really be.

Unthawing

I’ve been in travel mode for about a week now. Like a cat in similar circumstances, my mind, body, and emotions freeze up until the moving is done. Once I finally arrive at my destination (in three weeks or so) I’ll relax, I keep telling myself. But today, after three straight days of crazy bad tech issues and car issues, I gave up and admitted that I need to relax now, or I’ll break before I ever make it home. And one of the things I’m working on is being more aware of the status of various  parts of my life so as to avoid the pain and high cost of the actual breaking. as for the gods, mainly I’ve felt Hermes near (being god of travel and all, and firmly in his sphere), but his planet is in retrograde at the moment and He’s got more than enough to handle. In any event, I’m not nearly as connected to Him as I am to Freya, and so from him I get concern, but as from a great distance.

So at the end of this week–a massively challenging week–I land at a friend’s house where most (if not all) of my needs are met, and I can breathe. I finally decide to relax my shields and let Her in.

Her first words? “Don’t run from Me. Don’t fear Me.” If by “fear”, she means “shut down by ability to sense”, and by “Me” she means “all the emotions”, then She has a good point. But I’m not in the mood for feels, either good or bad, at this point. I’m happily (well… doggedly, at least) avoiding most feels because there’s just too much to handle, and anyway, I’ve got a zillion other practical concerns to address first. So, feels are still on the back burner for the most part.

Still, I miss her, and I miss it. I miss the connection with my Gods, ancestors, wights; with my emotions, however painful they may be; with my connection with other humans, which has also been impaired by this shutting down. So I turn my thoughts and consciousness towards Her.

She heals me in the ways that only She knows how. Today She’s a lover as well as a nurturer, and She lovingly embraces my body and helps me relax. Come back to your flesh, She says. Feel how nice it is to have a body, how nice it is to be caressed. I don’t usually experience Her as as the Lover, but, well, she is Freya. And like a familiar lover, she knows exactly how to open me up.

Unwind, open up. Feel us with you, surrounding you. You are not alone. You have never been alone. I know this, but the instinct to shut down is a deeply embedded one. Sometimes I can fight it; sometimes I can’t.

She pulls my hair back away from my face, one lock at a time. She caresses my head, neck, chest, shoulders, and kisses the bridge of my nose. I sigh and look up. The air has become warm and golden colored–not the metallic gold of coins, but the translucent gold of honey. The world has gained back some of the glow that it had lost when I shut down. I bask in Her warmth and radiance, and expand my consciousness outward.

I feel many presences surrounding me. First there is Thor, of all deities, giving me a rough, protective embrace and telling me to buck up (though not in a mean way). Njord is next–always a reliable, loving presence. Never demanding anything of me; just offering support. Calm, yet strong and masculine all the same. Odin stands back impassively and nods hello. Skadi shoulder bumps me and smirks. I feel more connected to Her during this phase than to my Lady; maybe it’s because She can freeze out emotions as well, or at least has more experience dealing with this mode. (She and I have more in common that I’d like to admit.) Freyr sits back in a corner and leers. I get some version of this response from Him most of the times I interact with Him. (It sounds bad, but it’s true.) The others–those who are interested in my welfare–are around somewhere, I gather. My fylgia unwinds from me and stretches and breathes a sigh of relief as he wanders around, taking stock of the situation and continuing to spread my consciousness outward. (I’m still figuring out the extent of his consciousness, usual modus operandi, and powers; apparently, unlike the others, when I freeze up and shut down, he is stuck in here with me; which is as uncomfortable for him as it is for me. But, he’s my follower, so that’s how it goes.)

In short, I get my posse back.

Wow. This is what I’ve been shutting myself off from. Love and warmth and agency; insights, guidance, and marching orders. Kind of like hearing a tune from long ago, I remember it all at once, and my heart both is both saturated with love, and shrinks from the intensity of it.

She laughs at my metaphor. Don’t take yourself so seriously, She says (or at least strongly implies).

It’s great, this feeling. Maybe in a few days I will even be able to access my Love Notes channel again. The journey is not yet over, though, so it’s okay if I can’t. I just need to learn to keep the channels open while I wander. I never thought it would be a problem, but apparently it’s a skill I need to learn. For now, though, I can be relieved that, though I shut down, when I reach back out again, everyone is still there. I am not alone.

Moving from altar to energy

So, I’m smack-dab in the middle of packing, and watching what I’ve built for the last 2.5 years be slowly deconstructed. I’m very big about having each thing I own go to the right person, someone who needs it and will appreciate it. As I’m dedicated to Freya now, this also means I can’t just give things away like I used to. She expects me to actually get compensated for expensive things, like the lovely brown leather corset with embossed harvest-colored leaves on the front, or my fancy set of original Pavel kettlebells. Moving would go a lot faster if I just gave these things away, but I can see her point, especially as this move is primarily financially motivated.

The long and the short of this is that big sections of my life have already been packed up, given away, or sent off to my parents’ house–including parts of my altars. Their sense of presence and power have been disrupted, and I’m kind of unnerved by it.

However, maybe there is a silver lining. When I was Wiccan, way back in the day, I was always that Wiccan, the one who felt that I needed no wand or pentacle or what have you because those things were just symbols and tools for accessing what I already had inside me. So, why waste the money? Just visualize it. This worked out ok, actually, until the Wiccan love for fancy regalia and my own Taurus tendencies to own things took over. But I always remembered that attitude. That’s at least part of why became Heathen. We don’t need no stinking regalia! Heathenry works just fine without it. (Though, of course, that doesn’t stop me from having fancy regalia. I am a Freyaswoman after all.)

Now, with most of my altars broken and their components scattered or given away, I’m connecting more with the energy that was behind the altars. It’s great that my Freya altar had tons of amber, gold-ish things, hearts, sweet libations, love notes, and jewelry, but the altar can be just as powerful without them. In fact, it is.

I might even say that my altars may have gotten in the way of my connection to the Gods sometimes. Now, I just have the God-shaped energy hanging out in that general area, unattached to any specific item, and I can feel more of what that energy is and what it is doing. My Gods are bigger than my altars! Who knew? They also feel more mature; or, at least the energies that I’m connecting with seem to have a lot more depth and maturity to them than those that hid within my trinkets. (Of course, that could just as easily be because I’m doing a lot of owning up to past behaviors and making serious, grown-up changes in my life. Maybe it’s both. /shrug)

I’m just trying to find the gold beneath the trauma of moving (yet again), of experiencing the trauma of my lovely, hand-picked, highly valuable possessions being passed on (yet again)–to homes that will appreciate them, granted, but still–out of my life, and into the life of another. But as She says, if you want to have newer and better things of all types come into your life, you need to let the old ones go (preferably freely and without resentment). Sigh. Yes, ma’am.

Dwarves!

Cinderella’s (soon to be Sleeping Beauty’s) Prince: Yes, but even one prick–it’s my thing about blood–

Rapunzel’s (soon to be Snow White’s) Prince : Well, it’s sick!

CP: It’s no sicker than your thing with dwarfs!

RP: Dwarves!

CP: Dwarfs.

RP: Dwarves are very upsetting….

Actually, they’re not that upsetting at all, just kind of surprising. And happy folk for Freyaspeople to come visit. So, let’s talk dwarves, shall we?

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