Dreams & Letting Go: 2.5k Words on My Current World

At the end of February, I had a dream that concerned me.  A bulldozer came down the hill behind my house, destroying the wooded space until I could see my neighbors’ homes.  Later in the day I went out to my backyard to see that someone had destroyed my shrines.  Every last one.  All of them Roman – Altars included.  Busted and broken.  Scattered.

I was terrified.  I ran to my home, slamming the door shut, but all the locks were broken.  I kept looking for my dog (which in reality I don’t have), but I couldn’t find him to protect me from whatever it was coming for me.  Everything was going to be destroyed and they were coming for me.  No one was there to help me.

The next day in my waking life, a friend was kind enough to come sit down and look into the space.  I was scared for my hill.  I was scared about being attacked somehow, and I made sure to ward my home more than I had in years. I realized I wasn’t really in danger, but it scared me all the same.  We sat next to the man-made stream and sat with the hill.

As we got to talking, she said that there was something coming.  That it was big, dark, and cold.  I remember chuckling, because I know Who she was talking about, because I’ve spent so long with Him now.  I admitted I was still scared, though, because I couldn’t see what was on the horizon.  So much of my life is up in the air and prone to change at any moment radically.

She asked me why I thought what was coming was a bad thing.

That answer was both easy and hard to answer.  Despite the chaos of all the changes in the last few years and the rending away of things that didn’t really matter, I’d held on tightly to other things that I’d worked so hard to obtain for myself – Things that had been my anchor during other points of upheaval in my life.  Things that I always fell back on when I felt like I didn’t have anything else.

What I was talking about were my Gods, the Roman pantheon, and the rituals that layout the groundwork of Roman polytheism.

I knew that my path wasn’t meant to remain in Roman cultus, but it’s been hard to let go of.  The Roman Revivalist group on Facebook is one of the few friendly and (relatively) drama free Pagan/polytheist groups I’ve ever been in, and I’m very proud of the members being willing to work to keep it peaceful and open.  (It’s like we can all be adults on the internet or something!)  I’d started the project of laying out framework for bringing more user-friendly education out, though that’s been stalled for so long.  I was offered a blog about Roman polytheism on PaganSquare.

All of this happened the same month I was told by more than one person that my home wasn’t going to remain in Roman polytheism.  My journey was going to go elsewhere.  These things had just been fought for or had fallen into my lap.  At the time I thought eventually I’d publish some work and build a stronger community.  I didn’t want to give that up.  The relatively small Roman community, especially at that point, didn’t have a lot of voices in the larger Pagan and polytheist communities.  As someone who slowly came into the bravery to say, “Yes, I am a Roman polytheist despite not being a stringent reconstructionist,” I was, and still am, afraid that the wrong voices will try to fill the void in the larger community.  I’m afraid they will be taken seriously.

People say we need to keep politics out of religion, and to some degree I agree.  I think the various religious communities in the larger community should take responsibility to remove those who are likely going to do more damage by speaking even subtly (but obviously) about things like racism.  If people put the word minority in quotation marks, for instance, that’s a sign to me that maybe they are harboring some sort of race issue.  To me that’s concerning, because if they’re given a platform to speak in an area where there’s a void of authoritative voices, we find things possibly taking an ugly turn.  If you see them swinging around accusations of fascism without any proof what-so-ever given to the community to judge, it’s equally as dangerous.

Especially if they’ve expressed more than once that they want to be in a place of leadership and have their hand in our traditions.  Even more so when they’ve said it regularly and have years worth of blog posts bragging about their power, authority, and greatness while talking down to any group they see as less worthy than them.

More concerning to me, though, is that people are aligning with these two extremes.  They’re giving them a platform to speak and that inevitably hands them power.  Power in a place where their words can reach the ears of those who may be vulnerable or needing guidance, because despite us not being monotheists we still have those vulnerable and searching for the truth.  Our lack of vetted clergy and professionally trained support systems makes it everyone’s duty to watch out for those we claim are in our communities and tribes.  When we choose no leaders, when we revel in our lack of hierarchy, when we deny the need for education in our clergy due to fear that man will be corrupted by power, but still rallying to the sides of those who are the simply loudest, we are required to step up and care for our own.  The loudest and most charismatic become our leaders, and when drama is kicked up people are made or broken in the shuffle to take sides.

If you don’t consider yourself a part of the larger community, but you’re still selling services, educational materials, or items made specifically for the community that means you’re a member of it whether you want to be or not.  Many times those doing so are considered leaders or educators, and if they don’t see that then they are sadly not doing their duty to the group of people who are paying at least some of their income.  This may sound like it’s directed at a single person or one side, but it’s not.  Those who are in leadership positions of any capacity have a moral responsibility to protect their community from extremism, and we need to set aside our need to be right about something to realize that extremism comes in many, many forms.

In my moments away from blogging in the last few months and doing my best to stay out of this recent polarized The Neo-Right and Progressives are Eating Our Babies drama has made me realize something.  We waste so much time debating and warring against each other that could be spent building our traditions.  We do it on Facebook.  We do it on blogs.  We do it one other social media… Except maybe Pinterest, but that’s only because no one has written a blog on how to preserve the heads of our enemies in mason jars yet.  Though I’m sure someone is working on it.

I stop nearly every day and ask myself, “Is what I’m spending my time on what I want my legacy to be?  Is this how I want to be remembered if I were to die tomorrow?”

Lately I’ve been saying no a lot.  Especially when it comes to my religious community and my place within it.

A week or two ago one morning when I was drinking my coffee, I looked out my back window at my hill to see this:

A small piece of riding machinery cutting away a wooded area.

The cloud of dirt as the trees and plants were broken or ripped from the ground looked like what I’d seen in my dream.  I don’t live in a forest overlooking a lake, and my back yard isn’t covered in shrines due to having an open yard.  The hill is there, though, and the spirit living there and I have been talking for much longer than I’ve lived here.  It’s not happy with the changes coming, and really neither am I.  The wild space is getting smaller and smaller where we are.

It was warning to brace myself for what was to come.  I just didn’t know what.

A few days ago I realized that I’m tired.  I’ve heard myself say all too often lately that I just want to be the witch by herself in the forest that’s left to her own devices.  I’m tired of the fact that no matter what I say someone will always come along and tell me how I’m wrong.  Most of the time that involves personal attacks or some expectation that I’m going to cave because someone doesn’t want me where I am.  I am endlessly thankful for those who stand up for me while I sometimes struggle in finding my words, because sometimes it takes me a while these days.  Two days ago someone accused me of supporting a group which is considered a dangerous cult and is run by a convicted child molester. They had decided that due to my announcement that I’m a progressive democratic socialist (a fact that has never been hidden, mind you); the humorous thing to me is I’d never even heard of the group and had to look it up.  Others people in the Facebook group stood up for my choice to ban someone who had a history of being openly racist and polarizing.  I finally got my shock and anger in check enough to stand up for myself.

But I was left with this entirely too realistic feeling that I’m done.  I’m done with the constant assault of new people coming into the group and invariably having to learn that in some parts of the Pagan/polythiest internet, there’s a group that doesn’t run in a way that is regularly business as usual with insults and shit-flinging.  This shouldn’t have to be a thing we deal with.  We shouldn’t allow for disruptive voices and a lack of common decency, but as a whole our community is a petri dish for it.

This week I also found everything finally fell into place and I realized fully what my entire journey over the last few years meant.  I realized where I’m going religiously.  I realized what I’m meant to be doing with all of it.  And I really, really realized how emotionally done with the larger Roman community I am, because we are absolutely infamous for being a bunch of stringently petty assholes with too many obscure sources to look down upon the less educated.

I have spent so much of my energy on trying to change that over the last few years, and somehow there is a constant influx of people coming into my world who attack me typically due to something personal – My sexual orientation, my gender, my disability, or my politics that have been absolutely woven into the movement I’ve been trying to build with others.  And they do that because on the internet the loudest and most aggressively knowledgeable or verbally charged  are the ones who gain power.

Recently I’ve seen some discussion and suggestion about how we can keep our elders and leaders in our communities.  Typically they involve giving them more power (and maneuvering for said position).  You know what the number one step should be?

We should quit being assholes. (Myself included.)

My swan song in the Roman community is being sung at the point where I see how the future has the possibility for some very, very bleak moments that will never foster the type of activity that makes the polytheistic traditions of Rome having a major voice in the larger community.  I see a handful of voices shouting out above the constant drone of drama and dreams of temples being rebuilt, but save for those few voices I have yet to see the work done that would bring the traditions to their full potential and awareness in the larger community.  I’ve seen bullying and posturing.

The Roman community is a microcosm for the larger polytheist community.  I’m sure these struggles have played out in multiple places over the ages.  I’m not entirely sure I will see a future where the people I’ve met over the years, those who I feel have a good grasp of what the true beauty of Religio Romana or Cultus Deorum is, aren’t worn down by the masses wishing to dominate with their self-weighed superior scholarly skills.

Y’all, our rituals are supposed to be what’s perfected, not our accumulated book knowledge.  More than once in my life I’ve been chided about my focus on the home cultus over the grand festivals of the State religion.  Rome, they say, was a religion of the community.  What they fail to understand is that without the flame in the hearth being fed every day, the People starve, and if the People starve than there is no one there to honor the Gods as a community.

There is no larger community if the flame goes out.

If our traditions are tiny candles being lit across the world one-by-one in homes, how do we get the fire built to feed not only the Gods but the communities we wish to build?  How do we feed the flame instead of fanning the fire that makes it burn too hot and fast?  What do we need to do to keep the fires burning in our hearth?  The blazing funeral pyre destroys.  It doesn’t nourish.  There is no future if, in the deepest darkest of nights, the flame goes out.  We freeze to death instead.

These are the questions I’ve been asking myself while this blog has been generally silent.  I’m not sure I have answers yet, nor do I think I, alone, will ever have all them.

And for those of you worried that I’m going to run off from my community duties as soon as I hit publish on this, don’t worry.  I’m still going to stick around to wander into certain groups and say, “Hey, you crazy kids, be nice to each other” for at least a little while longer.  At least until I know my old sandbox is in safe hands.

I just can’t say I’m a Roman polytheist anymore.

My shrines have been destroyed and scattered by my neighbors.  My altars tumbled.  Well, metaphorically.  I’m not that impious.

But you know what?  There’s freedom in that.

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Depression: Round 4

Today I’m going to talk about depression. At some point yesterday, I felt myself stand still in a moment where chaos was unfolding in my home and listened to what my mind was telling me. I didn’t like what I heard. I have been watching since then, quiet and mindful of the words I’m using on myself. There is decidedly a part of my brain that needs to, quite bluntly, shut the fuck up. I’ve been here before. More than once. I’m sure this will not be the last time I am here again. This will be the 4th major depressive spell I’ve had in almost 34 years of my life.

This time is different, though. This time I have a certain quality of mindfulness that I didn’t have the last 3 times. This time I don’t have some defining moment where I take depression as a weird comfort, the apathy being a welcome difference to the deep, aching pain that had no origin.

Yesterday I was standing in the hall, as my daughter ran off from me in the middle of trying to get her dressed for the fifth time that morning while laughing and calling me all sorts of names, and I heard my inner-voice say, “Everyone would be happier if you were dead.”

There’s a certain quality of defeat I can’t even begin to describe over the moment where you are being verbally abused by a child and go there mentally. I don’t talk about my daughter.  I don’t feel like I have the right to talk about her life publicly; partially because I want to protect her. But my daughter was born of 2 adults who have ADHD and likely both are undiagnosed autistics. I have a wicked case of sensory processing problems, and she was recently diagnosed with sensory processing disorder while we wait on the 8-month-long waiting list to get an appointment to get her evaluated for behavioral health… I don’t talk about it in part because people don’t see the way she acts at home at night when she’s tired. They see a shockingly intelligent little girl who is absolutely gorgeous and sweet. They don’t see the nights where she’s beating her head against the floor, throwing her body into the wall while being unable to sit still, or gagging over each piece of food she tries to eat. They don’t see her at 3-and-a-half telling her mother she’s an idiot. They don’t see her refusing to have her hair brushed, struggling with potty training, or being unable to go to sleep on her own. And I don’t talk about it, because no one sees it or understands when I do. I know most of this she will grow out of, but there are things she won’t.

I wake up every morning facing this. I go to sleep every night worrying she’s going to fall through the cracks, that they won’t see it until she’s in her teens, if ever… I worry she’s going to have the same outcome of battling depression, social anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder that her mother has, because at 14 when I recognized I had ADHD and asked for help, I was told girls don’t get it, they just get depressed. I was “just” depressed. For some reason people still think women don’t struggle as autistics or have other behavioral differences… No, we’re just depressive. Hysterical. Irrational.

I have a reason to be depressed, but that situation isn’t letting up any time soon and is really just the spark that starts the fire. Some part of me had hoped that I would be able to hold out. Hold out until we get the phone call saying we’ll be seen soon. Hold out that my husband will get a residency and we’ll move back to a blue state. Hold out while I deal with the fact that my health is possibly declining more. Hold out…

Gods, please don’t let me crumble. Let me fight the stress of being poor, disabled, and a mom to the most magical little creature I have ever encountered.

There’s an ugly beauty to the depressive mind, a certain beauty to the art of being able to tear yourself down that only another depressed person will understand. In my experience, it slips in slowly at first. Depression pretends to be your friend. It understands your pain. It understands your suffering. It shows you the beauty of suffering. And for me there’s always been this defining moment in my episodes where I open the door and invite it in fully, seduced by that beauty. Where those little urges to harm myself cease to be quite as terrifying as they should be, because I’m too exhausted to ignore them anymore even if I’m present enough to not carry them out.

And there is a gift there. You get comfortable with the concept of death when you’re simultaneously wishing it upon yourself while fighting against that desire. You start to see the beauty in death. You, in short, get fucking morbid as hell.  That’s not necessarily bad… It’s the actively wishing to be dead part that is when, hey, you’ve got a life to live still.

But yesterday I was standing in the hall, listening to a 3-and-a-half-year-old tell me how stupid and scared I am, feeling like a complete failure, and when that little voice in my head said, “You’d be better off dead,” I stopped and named it.

Depression.

I looked over the months I’ve not wanted to do anything. The untouched tomatoes of summer that normally bring me so much joy. The unfinished art. The unstarted plans. The mess that’s my kitchen… The insatiable hunger and exhaustion that leaves me too tired to move. My friends who I’ve not seen in months. The dread of being responsible in any way, shape, or form of anything at all. The guilt over it all. So much guilt. Feeling like I’m not a good mother, a good friend, a good human… Desperate to be left alone.

Oh, Depression. You’ve been here longer than I realized. You sneaked in this time uninvited, and it’s taken this long for you to gather the bravery to really start talking to me.

This time I don’t have the luxury of breaking down. I don’t have the luxury of possibly swinging manic or even hypomanic. I’ve got shit to do and a life to live…

You aren’t welcome here, and you are not who I choose to be.  In short, you’ve got to shut up.

So I give myself a few days to get over this darkness I’ve found myself in, and then I have a psychiatrist picked out to start seeing if it doesn’t somehow magically lift… Because the “in case of emergency” plan for the unmedicated bipolar-not-bipolar-maybe-bipolar-who-knows-anymore person that is me has always been very, very detailed, and as soon as we got health insurance I picked out a psychiatrist in the event I needed one. Because depression never magically lifts. It magically implodes into all sorts of ridiculous fuckery that is not acceptable to me at this point in my life. Even if I had a 5-year remission, that threat of this happening has always been the elephant in my room just camped out in the corner smoking a hookah that I’m always aware of.  The what-if.  The please don’t let this happen ever, ever again, please.

Well, this time I’m not hitting rock bottom before I get help.

I’m going to practice what I preach, which is medication-based intervention is a completely acceptable and sometimes needed route to go.

Why did I decide to talk about it? This is my personal blog. Because people need to be open about this sort of thing. Because I refuse to hide this part of me due to stigma.

Also because it makes me feel better to write, and even better when I hear that what I’ve written touched someone else. So, if you’re that person needing to hear it… You aren’t alone, and neither am I.

A Polytheistic Dark Night of the Soul

In my soul I feel just that terrible pain of loss of God not wanting me — of God not being God — of God not existing. – from Saint Teresa of Calcutta’s journal, 1959

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m in period of what the Christian mystics refer to as the dark night of the soul. For a monotheist, this turns into a period of what appears to be at the very least atheist leanings, as expressed in the quote above from St Teresa of Calcutta (Love her or leave her). For a polytheist mystic, I guess this is taking on a little bit of a weird turn I didn’t see coming…

I believe in the Gods without a doubt. I even believe in Apollon.

This is where it takes a turn and perhaps get a little weird…

While I believe in Apollon, I’m not exactly sure the God I honor and have been married to for years is Apollon. Seven years later and after a vow renewal, I find myself going “I don’t know who You are.”

This has been playing out for months now. Save for 1 or 2 posts, it’s been playing out almost silently except to a few close, patient friends that I’m entirely too thankful for.

Am I married or divorced from this God? Who is He?

Is this God Apollon? Yes/no.

Is this God Odin? Yes/no.

Is this God Freyr? Yes/no.

Is this God Dionysos? Yes/no.

Dis? Yes/no.

Soranus? Yes/no…

This God isn’t an archtype, but He is all of these Gods and none of Them at the same time… That’s what He tells me.

This isn’t a case of an awkward attempt at syncretism. This is a God coming forth to step out of the shadows, which has left me feeling all too raw and wobbly. Who the fuck am I to think a God is talking to me? Who the fuck am I to think some newborn/forgotten God is messing with my brain?

Am I sure I’m not simply unstable?

This, my friends, is decidedly a dark night of the soul. I never thought I’d find myself doubting my faith in my own beliefs, nor did I think that it would play out as a space of doubting every part of myself at the same time. This is deeper than an existential crisis. This darkness is something that I feel down to my bones, and I find myself too choked by the grim reality of it all to put into perfect words. This alone frustrates me. I’m never for a lack of written word.

I’m not alone with this God. I know there are others out there who are experiencing Him, who have even experienced this change and shift.  I know, because of the delightful moments of getting personal gnosis confirmed.  This space where one God ends and Another begins, I’m not the only one who has experienced it. But is He a God I know? Or am I off in the recesses of my own mind working through some liminality issue that I wasn’t completely aware I had?  Perhaps looking for synchronicity of experience and finding it simply because I’m looking for it.

It’s been a strange, painful experience. One of the first lessons this God taught me, as Apollon, was to stop doubting myself. Stop doubting His voice. Just say what it was He was telling me, and slowly over the course of a year I discovered that He was using me as a bit of a mouth piece.

This was a decade ago. This was when I started to listen to the information I was getting constantly, because if I didn’t I was in danger of stepping into the void and never coming back if I didn’t get it under control. A marriage of 7 years was had, and I don’t believe it’s over…

But it was with Apollon.  Despite what everyone keeps telling me, I’m not sure this God wants to be called Apollon anymore.  Not by me, at least.  I’m no longer married to Apollon.

Which seems to not only be throwing people off when I say this, but it seems like my own discernment and judgment of the situation is wrong.  Do I trust myself, which is what He taught me to do?  Or do I listen to literally everyone else I’ve talked to about this?

I say “Apollon left me.”

I hear from others, who I trust hear Him, say, “He would never leave you, and He wants you to understand that.”

And the words that keep falling into my mind, like leaves from a tree, say, “When the Romans took Apollo’s hand, He swallowed a dozen Gods as he moved through the known world. He became Them. They became Him. But that is never truly the case.”

Syncretism is something a lot of people are talking about these days… And here I am, over in my corner, feeling as if I’m on the brink of un-syncretizing Apollon.

He told me a few years ago to go north. Now He tells me to carve Him from the side of the rocks.

Now I’m slowly getting comfortable with the thought that perhaps this is Something new and different to us. I’ve said for years that He is wanting me to build a new tradition for him, a new cult. I glean images and symbols. I find a way to explain something. I doubt. I distrust. I feel like my insides are filled with glass, and I can’t tell if it’s Truth or not.

That’s hard to understand if you’ve not been there. I hear, over and over again, that I should stop worrying about who He is…

As He whispers in my ear Find me. Create me. Birth me, my bride.

Three evenings ago, on the front of a cold spring rain, He returned into my world in the form I’ve known as Apollon. At first it was a mere hint as I was cooking dinner. I felt the vibration in my lumbar spine that I usually feel when He’s trying to get my attention, a place aligned with the solar plexus (or I’ve been told the Gaster in Plato’s work, though I’ve yet to dig into this). As I cleaned up, He started to talk to me. By bedtime, mid-conversation with a friend online, I had to stop to meditate. I wrote a lot of stuff down that He wanted me to understand and spent some time sitting with the visions I was getting.

I’d been so happy, so relieved He was home that I found myself crying. But His return only brought me more questions and no answers…

I’m admittedly terrified of what stands before me. Not the God, but the implications of what I believe my future holds if I’m on the right track. The weight. The responsibility. It was all there before, but for some reason it was easier when He was Apollon. Safer, somehow…

So I have sent out questions to others who are God-touched. Am I on the right path? Can they untangle what I can only describe as a God-knot?

And underneath it all is this alienation, both from Him and others, who both understand and don’t understand at the same time.

This place is ambiguous and uncomfortable, liminal and immense.

My God is ambiguous and uncomfortable, liminal and immense.

I feel moved to talk about it here if only for the hope that someday this journey will help someone else thrown onto this path.

Welcome home, my Love, welcome home… Whoever You are.  Welcome home.  I’m angry, but I’m sure we’ll get through this eventually together.  (I hope.)

When Heathen Gods Crash Your Roman Holiday

Or: A Spirit-Worker’s Year in Review

I haven’t written much about the way Odin has really turned my world upside down in the last year. Not a lot, at least. I think partially, because I’m not really sure where it’s going in regards to where I fall within a religious practice. I think, perhaps, in my private practice I’m coming to terms with simply being a Pagan and Polytheist without a cultural descriptor ahead of it. But I’m not there yet. It’s funny to me that I’ve spent so many years debating the usage of Roman in my label that shortly after finally accepting it, I would be clinging to it and uncomfortable leaving it behind while Gods scream in my ear “Go Heathen, go Gaul, go somewhere else…”

December 17th was the beginning of Saturnalia, which was the first Roman festival I ever celebrated. But last year at around 1 in the morning on that day, I was up too late reading in bed. Suddenly I heard howls coming down the large stoney cliff and over the creek in my back yard. Then I felt a Presence standing outside of my window, which due to the split level is directly above my head. I got the very distinct message that I wasn’t supposed to peek out the window, and honestly I was too terrified to look anyway. In my mind’s eye I saw a pair of brown work boots and dark blue jeans.

My first thought beyond staying as still as possible, like a deer locked in the gaze of a predator was, Holy shit. It’s the Wild Hunt.

Slowly the howls traveled up my drive way, out into the street, and further down it.

The next day, I set about trying to figure out what had happened, because surely I had been in the presence of a God. But it wasn’t Hekate. It wasn’t Apollon.

By the time morning came around, I’d decided to not go with my original instinct, because at the time I was obsessing over Romanizing the local world around me. I quickly talked myself out of the Wild Hunt theory.  That was not my thing.

I asked Facebook. Coyote was brought up. Local Gods. Silvanus. I decided Silvanus was a good enough God for me, so I ran with it despite feeling like I’d gotten something wrong.

The following day, I caught sight of Someone standing on the hill, watching me. I felt Them in my home despite drawing the very specific line of You shall not come into my house. Mr Foxglove reminded me that he’d watched a man walk up the incredibly steep almost cliff-like limestone hill only to duck behind a tree and disappear. I’d rolled my eyes at the time, telling him that there must have been a small hill the man had gone behind.

What scared me the most about the situation, though, was that I had local apples that earlier in the day had been absolutely fine. Suddenly there was one that was so rotten that it was nearly seeping through the hanging basket it was sat in. I threw it out.

About an hour later I turned around and the apple was back again. Along with the Man on the Hill.

So I proceeded to flip out. It had been years since I’ve particularly terrified of things like this happening, because in my life these things happen far too often not only to me, but those who are have contact with me. Non-believers. People who have to believe on some level, because shit happens and Gods arrive. Gods come into my loved ones’ lives like ghost stories. Sometimes They stay. Sometimes They were just there for a fleeting moment. Hekate on a street in Los Angeles, letting an internet friend at the time know that She was watching; Her presence clearly giving me warning that I ignored at the time that another point on my spiritual path was about to be unlocked. The Man with a Hat, now understood to be Odin, chasing off boyfriends in high school as a ghost… Even Mr Foxglove saw Him in the house in Iowa the first time he came to visit me there; I told him it was simply an angry, drunken ghost who lived in the house.

Gods arrive in my life like a knife in the ribs; none of them particularly gentle in Their handling on first contact. I suppose my stubbornness is a strong bolt on the doors They walk through, and when They discover a gentle shake isn’t going to be enough to get my attention, They get out the battering ram…

They stand outside my bedroom window with howling creatures and cause me to panic. That is how you get my attention. I’m almost ashamed to admit it.

The following day, I grabbed up the remaining apples in my home, some pork I’d made the night before, and a jar of milk. I made the trek up and around the block to the hill at the back of my yard. I’ve discovered the logistics of living on the edge of the Ozark Bluffs makes even a small hill one you have to walk around the block to get to the top of. It screws with your spacial understanding… There’s a magic to it, though. Almost like the Tardis, a world bigger on the inside than it seems from the outside.

From the top of the hill, it is another world. It’s a place completely ignored by man, save for people occasionally making a jaunt up the steep almost cliff-like hill to cut across it. It’s surrounded by urban expansion such as a school, golf course, and homes, but for the most part it’s simply an abandoned .6 acres that was possibly meant for constructing houses upon before someone thought better of it. It’s filled with discarded street cement. It’s wasteland. And, amusingly, due to that fact it’s filled with native plants such as horsenettle, which I would have never learned about had I not gone on that walk. In fact, any time I wander up there, I find myself learning something new about the land. I notice a plant or a certain quality of stillness. Coyote droppings. A deer herd. This is the magic world of the liminal, and I understand that is why I love it the way I do.

At the top of that hill, my home looks a million miles away.

And now, randomly during meditation, I will find myself dropped into the middle of that space again and again. I’m a gray squirrel running up the hill towards it. I am laying in the weeds naked. And the Spirit of the Hill, who is wild and far too interested in me now that He’s aware that I’m aware of Him, regularly comes to show me something new.

On the day I left my first offering, I didn’t know any of this was coming. I wanted to be left alone. I asked politely to please stay out of my house. I promised to compost in offering, which has only manifested recently in a place I was shown would be where to take dying plants… A place my husband picked out one day after yardwork, and my mother followed suit. The neighbors, before they moved or died, put their own yard scraps in that place as well.

That day, the first day I was up There, I walked home with my eyes to the ground. These were the days where rocks were appearing as I found myself becoming more and more in tune with the land of my blood. I plunged my hand into the Missouri River 2 months before when It called me to the point where I could no longer ignore visiting it, and pulled out rocks to take home. While getting family pictures taken on a day the winds were ridiculously strong, a rock fell from the sky to my feet. The adults with me looked at it with confusion, wondering aloud where it had come from. When no one was looking I made sure to calmly tuck it into my pocket and carry it home. The golden limestone I brought home from the hill is large… Nearly the size of a baseball. That was the rock I was given that day.

It wouldn’t be until February that I woke up one afternoon from a nap, having dreamed that Odin came to me. We talked of obligation, the blood of my people, and other things I could no longer remember upon waking. He gave me a golden, jeweled cup to drink from that was filled with blood. We both drank from it. I woke up wondering what it all meant. I had spent my time avoiding the Norse pantheon, because I had no interest in it at the time… Or perhaps I was a little scared of it.

Slowly it started to occur to me that Odin has always been in my life. On looking over His Wikipedia page, a picture of Him peering from under His hat made my blood run cold. In my teenage years, I was haunted by a shadowy figure that was the shadow man in a wide-brimmed hat. At times I would catch glimpses of Him about the house, watching me in mirrors for instance. But most of the time I would smell beer or whiskey, feel Him around me. I’d wake up in the middle of the night to Him standing over me and talking in a mumbled language I could never understand. Others started having run-ins with this ghost.

The day it really hit me this was a possible reality, I remembered that shortly after my daughter was born, my mother hand put a letter into my hands from a psychic in the United Kingdom I’d written to in 2001. She said, “I thought you might want to see this.” I remembered it spoke of the Man in the Hat, as I called him. I hadn’t actually re-read it at the time, but I scrambled to find it when it came to mind.

It read:

I do pick up spirit activity around you – You are especially susceptible – he needs to touch your hair he tells me. “You have such beautiful hair.” I know that he means you no harm and is simply there to watch. If you desperately want rid of him, tell him loudly and firmly to “Get lost.” It may take a few goes to get through to him, but he’ll get the message eventually. If you’re okay with him, let him stay. He’s harmless enough.

The other one is not like this. He’s dark and not so happy. He’s old and has beer around for a long time. He says his name is “an old family name in the village.” Sounds like Edward or Edwin. He has clean hands, so he’s never done hard work, but he says “All of this was our farm.” And if you go to the bottom of your land, you’ll see a boundary or a wall, which was a bit of the farm yard. (I would like to see this myself. Nice little bit of history.)

He speaks with an accent, which seems to be broken. Like Swedish or Norway by the sound of his “S” like “Ssss.” Take care, because he’s bossy and used to having his own way.

As a note, the house I was living in was a farm house, but the letter had always been a mystery to me. She was correct about the beer and the darkness. However, I’d spent a good amount of time researching. There were never any Edwards or Edwins that owned the land my house was built on in the town. There were no Scandinavian people. There was no boundary wall. And yet, I didn’t write off the letter; I just brushed it off at the time I was researching. Psychics are rarely 100% right.

Edwin, however, is one of Odin’s names. Reading it now with what little education I’ve gathered of Odin is an exercise in understanding His sense of humor. Finding the letter somehow confirmed momentarily that I wasn’t completely losing my mind, which honestly is something a person who is God-touched likely fears even more than the average person.

Things have gotten stranger and stranger… This last year has been nothing but an exhausting, wild ride as my physical health has turned from bad to worse to tolerably terrible yet hopeful. I feel like it’s just about time for me to start trying to piece it together into a chronological timeline… Like all the things I’ve been experiencing, things I don’t even have the energy most days to talk about let alone write about. Dreams I only have fragments of… The Gods who come to talk to me… Gods I’m not even sure I know who They actually are… An insanely complicated and convoluted language of symbols that I’ve yet to fully figure out what they all mean.

All this year has gotten me is the absolute deconstruction of the very core of my beliefs, friendships, and my body. And yet I have faith. Some argue that faith isn’t a Pagan value… That we don’t intrinsically hold faith as a polytheist value… But I do. Some days I’m not even fully sure that I exist, because more and more my life seems like some novel I should have read in my early teens.

But the Gods exist. The Gods are real. They are here. With us. Meddling. Forcing us to grow.

The Gods are here. That’s my message through all of it. They are real.

Two nights ago, a bomb was dropped that left me uncomfortable and alone. It ripped out my heart and caused me wonder exactly what the end game to this journey actually is. I’ve been told over and over again that the reward will be great, but sometimes I have to wonder if perhaps the reward will be great for someone other than me… And then I’m disturbed by my own internal urge to keep walking the path I am without actually knowing where I’ll end up.

I was told my time with Apollon is over, and I understood that the love is still there. Part of this journey is attempting to find this God’s light in the darkness again, but He is no longer Apollon…

I don’t know who the God I’ve loved all these years is anymore. My mortal mind finds this a hard concept to adjust to. Syncretism is painful, my friends, as much as it is joyous and beautiful. The same could be said about spirit work and mysticism… The Gods are not always beauty and joy. We carry this truth in the pit of our bellies, and despite our attempts to step away from the concept of appeasing the Gods we still seek Their hand in our life with each offering laid out to Them.

I can almost remember the point where I realized that I was to spend my life seeking to make each moment a prayer to Them. Each action a direct connection, an example of how They work through others. People may not know that I am a Pagan, but I try to live my life in a way that gives honor to the label and the Gods we carry in our hearts as if they did should they ever find out.

I said at one point that we shouldn’t seek to be martyrs of our religions, but I’ll openly admit that I sometimes wonder if that’s exactly what some of us are destined to become. Because if we touch the Gods, if we find ourselves woven into the fabric of the World where the Gods truly are, then we run the risk of being wounded by the truths w/We make with each other. We may not be made in the likeness of our Gods, but we are made of the same emotions… I would argue that, truly, our emotions are part of what makes a spark in each of us reach towards the possibility of our own divinity within us.

There is a path taken. The choice must be made on some deep soul-level to walk it. But walk it we must, because sometimes the only other option is to die. So perhaps it’s not a road but a river… Swim with the current or die. Or, in my case, give up and let the current take you where it will.

I don’t know where I’m going. But I know that, even if I wanted this all to stop, They wouldn’t let that happen. The Gods don’t always take no for an answer. There’s no point in being upset about it, because that’s not something that’s going to change. And that, in itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. Why would I honor Gods who didn’t know better than I do?

Yet I can see why Odin would give His eye these days. I understand that desire to see everything, know how it all will end.

Hail, Apollon. Thank You for Your lessons. I’ll forever love You.

Hold on tight, y’all… I’m heartbroken, but I get the feeling this has just turned into a very interesting ride…

(Hail Florence, patron saint of godspouses everywhere…)

Reblog: E Nos Lases Iuvate: Si vis pacem…

Preparation in time of peace, when it seems that everything runs smoothly and nothing seems to trouble us, means to achieve those tools – through study, practice of otium, care of the spirit, martial arts, the agricultural/gardening activities, walk in the way of meditation, spiritual exercises – necessary to deal with adversity. It is obvious that it is not an easy and simple path. It takes a lot of effort because the precondition for achieving the Pax Deorum is first resolve your own “inner war.” We must first be prepared to dominate our inner chaos, our agitation if we are to achieve spiritual peace. Inner peace is a precondition for peace outside. Unpreparedness introduces us into a state of war in which we will be surely defeated.

via E Nos Lases Iuvate: Si vis pacem….

 

I loved this entire article and wanted to share it.  I don’t feel that this is the only spiritual path towards being able to attain this, but this is an outlook I encourage others to explore for themselves in their own practice.  A solid foundation in the face of adversity through practice of what you are called to cultivate with the Gods and Spirits is a true gift that is attainable through dedication and strength of purpose even during the easy points in life.

What 20 Years Has Taught Me

Missouri River by http://www.flickr.com/photos/shotaku/870553709/in/set-72157600194555080
Missouri River by http://www.flickr.com/photos/shotaku/870553709/in/set-72157600194555080

Warning: I swear in this a few times.  Please don’t be too shocked.  My mouth is well-versed in the sailor’s language in person.

I looked at my calender to realize that today marks 20 years with Paganism as a conscious choice in my life. I have officially self-identified as a Pagan for more than half of my life. I remember this type of experience being thrown around as credentials for being an Elder in the community when I first started. “I’ve been a practicing Pagan for 20 years,” someone would say to qualify their argument in online spats. And I would quiet my brain. I would listen to what they’d say, thinking This person has been doing this forever, and surely they’ve discovered many truths on their path.

Standing at 20 years, you know what I feel like I know about Paganism, Polytheism, Roman What-Have-You, and the Universe Around Me?

Absolutely nothing.

Seriously.

Abso-fucking-lutely nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Maybe I’ve been Paganing the wrong way. I have no community in the flesh near me; in fact, I’m starting to suspect I may be a bit of a misanthrope when it comes to finding a brick and mortar community. I have no special titles. No awards. No laurels and accolades.

Dear Little Camilla of the Teenage Years, how I want to kiss your forehead. How I want to let you know that gut feeling you had that measurement of time isn’t what makes an Elder was the correct one. What matters is the quality of their heart and the wisdom (which doesn’t automatically come with age or time) gained from experience is not a one-size-fits-all game. No one gives you the secrets of life at 20 years in or at 60 years of age.  You who were pissed off from day one about the Crone archetype making people feel that, just because they’ve managed to survive X amount of years that they’re suddenly wise and elders. You were right. It’s quality. Not quantity.

At 20 years, I’ve been doing it all wrong… I hold a firm understanding of my own understanding of How Things Work. Oh my Gods, I’m shocked when people tell me I seem to know what I’m talking about. Oh my GODS, I have an informal student or two lurking about out there in the world…

Oh my Gods…

Is there such a thing as a Pagan and/or Polytheist Quarter Life Crisis? Because I’m afraid I may be headed into one a little early…

Because here are the real secrets I’ve learned in the last 20 years:

The minute I assume I’ve got a firm grip on something, the Gods see fit to knock me off my feet. The moment I say “I am XYZ,” Someone grabs me by the head, spins me, and sends me off in another direction. The very second I publicly called myself a Roman Polytheist, I heard a little whisper in my ear of “No, you’re not. You are a child built of Missouri River clay, and your blood is the sweat of this land. Your heartbeat is the ghostly echo of the Katy in the river bottoms, rolling prairies, and forested hills. You are the yellow limestone bluffs you love so much. You are a Midwestern mystic. You are an American Polytheist, and that’s not a 4-letter word. Stop trying to be things you are not.”

Then Odin lays His hand down on the table in a game of cards I wasn’t even aware I was playing with Him, and all I can say is “Oh. Shit.” as suddenly a dozen mysteries, coincidences, and odd happenings from my life make sense.  Because where did Odin even come from?!

That is something else I’ve learned in my 20 years: When a God comes knocking, you answer the door. Even if you’re terrified of what it could mean. They tend to know when you’ve shut off all the lights are are hiding behind furniture trying to pretend you aren’t home. Imagine that.

So what does this all mean? I have no idea. Sometimes you just have to put your trust in the Gods and go where They take you.

That’s what 20 years as a Pagan has taught me.