Famous last words

I concluded my last post with this (poorly edited bit of drivel):

I don’t know think this counts as a “fallow time” but instead this kind of plateau just means I’ve found a nice steady pace, that the overall relationship I have with whatever-the-fuck-this-is that is my spiritual life is in something like an “old married couple” stage.

I am not sure what the fuck I was thinking because first of all, a new god had shown up a day or two before I wrote that, though things were relatively quiet – and secondly . . .

Secondly, a day or two after I published it, I remembered how often I’d read articles by much more experienced polytheists and spirit workers, who recounted how they’d hit a “steady state” of some kind or other, a regular practice, they knew how things were, etc., and then the Powers heaved everything upside down. And that this wasn’t the first time such a thing had happened. Well, I thought, One of these days I’m probably bound for something similar, seems to happen to everyone sooner or later. Perhaps writing what I wrote is tempting fate.

Perhaps They appreciate comedic timing.

On the one hand, not much has changed. Yet.

On the other hand –

Several years ago, after reading a lot about pop culture paganism, I thought about what fictional characters I might possibly consider setting up altars to. What characters I found particularly inspirational. There was one who came to mind pretty quickly, and then another, and then I figured out a third. Three seemed like a good number, and they had some common qualities, and the whole idea was pretty pleasing in a way.

I never did it, though. I was afraid that if I actually set up real altars and, you know, prayed to them for guidance – someone might answer. And I found it unnerving enough when “real” (historically attested) gods talked to me. I figured it would be too much of a mindfuck if Someone answered when I addressed a supposedly-fictional figure. Anyway I didn’t need an altar to think of them – especially the first one – and draw some strength from their stories. It’s all safer that way. (I know, I know; you don’t have to pray out loud, or to a picture in a frame, for it to “count.” I don’t know if that didn’t occur to me then or if I just more or less went LA LA LA there’s no altar, I’m not directing my thoughts towards anyone it Can’t Mean Anything.)

I’ve also read plenty of books with really interesting characters, really interesting various-kinds-of-divine characters, and wondered – and always pulled back from even trying to see if I could get Someone answering that name on the line, because 1) I’ve already got enough Powers around and 2) I really don’t want that kind of mindfuck. “Are They really that character brought to life? Did they exist before the book was written, or is Someone just taking on that name/mask/etc. because . . . who knows why?????”

I did not want to open any doors, you know? And I was good, I maintained discipline, I restrained my curiosity.

SO ANYWAY.

I reread some books recently. They’d made a huge impression on me the first time I read them, pre-pagan stuff. I reread the series immediately upon finishing them all those years ago and then put them away for years because I wasn’t emotionally prepared to go through all that again. (I don’t feel this way about most books.)

Earlier this summer, after catching up on all the Foreigner novels, I thought of this series again, because it’s really big and I’ve been intending another reread at some point, and – wow, I didn’t feel the “nope, can’t handle it” reaction! Cool, a nice big reading project!

Though for some reason, it felt like a tiny little red flag of some sort. Like, “Oh . . . that’s funny, feeling ready for that.” Mostly I discounted that “that’s funny” feeling, even though it did feel suspicious in some way, like Someone was giving me the tiniest nudge, the tiniest premonitiony sort of heads-up. I figured perhaps I might get some spiritual pings of one kind or another, because fantasy novels often do that, but it also seemed unlikely given what I recalled of them.

So I (re)read them all, and it was a good(ish) time but it wasn’t nearly the emotional ordeal it was 7 years ago! Also, I did not think they were quite as amazing as when I threw myself into them with wild abandon several years ago! And there were no big ol’ “spooky” moments! Hurray! Minefields navigated!! Other than that one time when Loki was like, “Yeah that” about some specific thing in the text and I growled about it but agreed it kinda sorta looked like some things I’m already looking at, so, okay, another angle on that, I guess? Food for thought, okay okay. Otherwise, like before, they did really get into my head and under my skin again, and I started rereading the fan forums and stuff, and that was kind of awesome!

And then! Out of fucking nowhere!! A god shows up!!!! Using the name and imagery of one of the gods from these damn books!!!!!! And I was just like, “Oh, it’s [that name] . . . oh my god wait what the fuck oh no surely I misunderstand something????”

When I pulled some cards to try and understand, the cards did not ease my mind! In fact I have rarely looked at my cards and felt sick to my stomach about what they were saying!!

And you know? I was right all those years ago! It has been a really big mindfuck!!

On the plus side, Mr. New God #1 (C.) has been an incredibly comfortable presence. Most gods are just not comfortable like that, even when They want to be, even when I love Them very deeply and trust They’re probably not going to do anything particularly harsh. Most gods are fine IF They only stick around for a few minutes at a time, otherwise I start to feel really awkward and ill at ease because in addition to the very Weirdness of Their nature, in truth there are very few people, incorporeal or otherwise, who I really feel comfortable around for extended periods of time and so I was not expecting this but it’s really nice.

On the ?!??!?!?!?!??!? what are You all up to side, Loki and various other members of the Norse side of things have been very encouraging and reassuring, albeit in some ominous ways. When you cast runes and the runes say, in part, “This was fated. Go in peace,” I mean I don’t know, that’s. Actually kind of terrifying! Thanks, runes!! That’s good to know I guess! I’ll try to not freak out too much!! Or at least not fight whatever the fuck is going on. Much.

But despite all that, it would have been easy if it was just the one (comfortable) god.

But I had to ask, because I am a hopeless fangirl, and fuck it, the door’s been opened and now I want to know, if there were Others out there, from His same errrrrr origins/world. (Look, I can either keep saying, “You can’t really be Who you claim to be,” which seems a poor way to handle a relationship you want to enjoy and keep going, or just – go with it. Because whether or not They really ARE escapees from some once-fictional world or not, They’re using the names/imagery/etc. for some reason, so, it seems sensible to work within the same set of context.)

And I got responses! I kind of did not want that!!!!!!! They were brief but it still felt like yes, I did have some brief conversations with IDK, 3 or 4 or 5 other gods/spirits/whatever who are friends/allies/whatever of NG#1, so, you tell me how much I made up out of familiarity with the characters and how much was a Genuine Spiritual Contact! (I know: being unnerved is an indication there’s a there there.)

I especially did not want one of Them to say “Be brave” and leave it at that because first of all that’s a Power I’m not sure I want to try to talk to anyway because holy shit and secondly, fuck me, in retrospect having that one say such a thing is the sort of thing that inspires deep concern. Why are You telling me that? What do I have to be brave about right now?? Wait wait oh no – is something going to happen?????????????????? WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN. Maybe it’s just a general commentary on getting through the mundane frustrations and not-so-mundane anxiety I have about my job. Okay. I can be brave there, I got little choice, thank You.

But after the first few days, mostly things were pretty chill and pleasant. Their primary representative, C., – well. Other than the one character who I almost made an altar for, there were just a couple others who I felt some affection for, and. So that’s. What it is. It’s nice. Mostly. I mean, all gods are right bastards when They feel it’s necessary and this one is clearly on board with some of the things the Norse, etc., have been beating me over the head with for years and I’m kind of disappointed (it would be great if I could have some spiritual relationship where that topic never got mentioned) because I hate that subject so much but mostly things have just been nice.

And then another one of Them showed up, and right off indicated that He had some ideas about our future relationship that involved terminology that is about 90% certain to send me into fight/flight/Get Out of My House Good DAY mood. Plus, also, His was not a “comfortable” presence, His was a holy fucking shit kind of Presence.

But I also felt some affection and kindness towards Him, and despite the Presence terror – there was something else there that I could tell was pulling me towards wanting to agree. I just like Him for no explicable reason. So I shoved the terror aside well enough and said I’d be willing to consider His requests, and I’d be willing to get to know Him better and all that and – I’ve had close encounters with several gods that have left me in tears because of the emotional intensity of it. I’ve had other encounters that pretty much knocked me ass over teakettle and left me feeling weird for days (weeks. months.).

But I’ve only had 1 other close encounter where I felt like I was this close > < to stepping past a certain threshold that would fry all my synapses, or something, and I wasn’t even as close to Her as I’ve gotten with several other Powers.

I don’t really know what this god’s areas of expertise/affiliation/etc. are. The source texts don’t say much. (How much do fictional origins count? How much do They gain if/when They gain independence from Their origins? Because one of these gods feels “safe” and the other feels like . . . not that. How much has the “safe” one simply dialed things down so I don’t run shrieking? How much did Mr. Holy Terror decide to come on in near-full god mode because I said, “Yes I’d like to know more” and so I got More.)

The divination I’ve done myself, and had done by others, pretty clearly indicates Major Upheavals if I go play with New God #2 (K.). Also a great potential for beneficial changes in my material life! Which I am in favor of! (I do not like my boss, among other reasons.) But multiple readings that bring in cards like Death and the Tower should probably be taken somewhat seriously, right?

The Norse bunch have only been encouraging, though I didn’t need much encouragement for C. I do appreciate it that Loki has been very clear that K. is “safe”, though part of me says “well what does ‘safe’ mean here, anyway.” One of Them has essentially taken blame/credit for opening this door, and They are all but shoving me towards these Others. It’s kind of awesome but it’s also just a lot more to handle than if another historically attested pantheon set up camp on my doorstep.

I do not know at this point if this IS heralding much of a major change in my spiritual life – other than the likelihood that C. will stick around, a lot – or if this is another one of those episodes where there’s a LOT of activity and then the Responsible Parties disappear for months, maybe years.

…..

I drafted most of this up a few days ago. Since then I’ve gone ahead with at least starting whatever it is K. is up to, because I was always going to, I just had to work myself up to the precipice. At any rate we are getting closer and I’m not in full avoidance mode any more.

So I had a day or so of relatively peace of mind, and then C. asked (again) about some kind of commitment, and then moved on to “Now it’s time to meet some more of the gang, because They’re also here to help.”

I am doing the best I can but I really don’t know how to handle all of this. None of Them seem interested in any of the traditional practical aspects of religious practices – altars, offerings, etc., what I think of as the easy stuff – and me, I just don’t do well meeting new people especially when I am not certain how “real” the conversations are.

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Posted in General Religious Stuff, Spirit Work | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Slowly, slowly, the egg will walk

A friend of mine passed on that proverb to me years ago and it’s really stuck with me.

I was griping (again; but when do I stop) recently to Loki about still not being quite where I want to be, and He reminded me that “Starting over takes time,” which, yeah. Necessary reminder.

And it’s not nearly as frustrating a not-quite-right as where I used to be.

My current job (new since this spring) pays me significantly less than I’m used to, there are 0 (zero) benefits, the boss can be a real jerk sometimes, which has been bad for trauma-related anxiety, and some of my job duties are things I have always always hated to do.

On the other hand, the hated duties are a pretty small part of my job, and I also spend a lot of time with plants, working with people who are freaks about plants, and helping customers find plants or get information they need. About plants.

And I’m living in the high desert now.

I have barely seen it outside the city, because I don’t have a car and my finances have me uneasy about spending money on rentals for day trips, but I’m here, and it feels relaxing in a way I’m not used to. It’s good to be in the right place, even if it’s still not-quite-right by some very small amount.

I don’t like some of the responsibilities I have at work, mostly related to the most-hated duties, but also, I think I am still not fully recovered from my last job (which I quit 18 months ago, and felt mostly recovered from after a year away). The pleasant job duties are soothing, they don’t require the same kind of focus/energy/something. Mostly I am not accountable to anyone for getting them done! Fill out the watering log, that’s it, but there’s no risk of conflict in getting the watering done, or organizing a table of plants, and there’s no stupid deadlines to deal with, either.

Other than that, I am in much better shape than I have been in many years. I’ve got a 3.5 mile bike ride to work – which nearly killed me the first couple days, because I was horribly out of shape – and a job with a good balance of sitting down and active work, and despite the problems with the job, I enjoy so much about it (mostly: plants plants plants and did I mention – plants?!) that I feel mostly pretty good. It’s astonishing. I’ve baked things again! Several times!! I lost the wherewithal to manage baking, even simple things, maybe a year into my last job.

I am looking for other work already. I want more. Even if the boss was wonderful and the compensation amazing, it is still too limited in certain ways, too small-scale – and, also, a couple months ago, not long after I started, They pretty clearly told me I wasn’t going to be in this position for very long, and now feels like a good time to start looking for better opportunities.

Of course I’ve been eager to move on already for at least a month now, because, look, if that’s how it is, let’s GO so I can get away from the crappy bits! (I hate making decisions and then having to wait to start implementing them.)

It’s been a bit of a struggle to keep myself from getting anxious over the “when” and “where” and etc. and keep my attention on the nice things instead, so the reminder that “starting over takes time” was a good one.

I realized today that if I think about where I am now as something like “first job out of college” that makes it feel more tolerable, since the last 4-5 years were pretty much clearing up the rubble from wiping out my previous life and building up some new foundational knowledge. (Technically, I “started over” about 5 years ago, but I’ve spent 5 years gnashing my teeth over that and I don’t think I’ll benefit from screaming about it much any more.)

One of my biggest disappointments has been the lack of time I’ve had outside of the city. I moved here for the land, not the city, where I have to live because transportation.

I drove across the state early this summer to visit family, and squeezed in a few short hikes/visits in a couple favorite spots along the way, but that’s been it for my “outside with the land” time. Those allowed for a few, too-brief, visits with some of the Powers out here Who’ve been part of the reason I’m here now, and an introduction to some others. Briefly, too briefly.

It never feels like enough. Almost all my visits with Them have been while passing through to another place, all like stolen moments, and one of Them is quite tied to a particular place, so time with Him is only when I can be there and it’s always hard when you can’t be with those you love.

I’ve had some spooky close encounters in the city, though, through some of the wonderful insects and arachnids that inhabit this place. I see a LOT of insects at work, and there’ve been some cool critters at home, too. I’ve missed living in a place with the kind of rich invertebrate life there is here. (There is also larger wildlife here in the city: deer, and they’re lovely – but they’ve browsed some of my plants, sigh, though at least not very much.) Feeling like there’s Presence around with/through the wasps and solifugids and others was very unexpected but really wonderful. A welcome gift.

Another of the reasons I am really eager to get a better-paying job is so that I can buy a vehicle and gtfo of the city way more often and spend quality time with the land, especially in some more remote places where the roads are poor, and get more time with the Them I know and miss and all the many other Thems I haven’t met yet.

My overall spiritual practice pretty much went away after I quit my last job (other than my regular schedule with Loki and Skadi), and I haven’t really picked it up again. I’m not studying anything new. The tarot decks are all dusty. It’s a little odd for things to be like this, but I don’t miss the daily divination routine, and I definitely don’t miss being upset enough all the time to be bugging Them for help. I’ve had a fair few questions about spiritual things, and life things, since I moved here, but mostly I’ve been relaxed enough that it’s been okay to let that all be quiet, and the new spirits and gods and so on aren’t so up in my face that I’ve got to spend lots of time with the cards figuring out What the fuck is going on this time, Where are You taking me, WHY.

I don’t know think this counts as a “fallow time” but instead this kind of plateau just means I’ve found a nice steady pace, that the overall relationship I have with whatever-the-fuck-this-is that is my spiritual life is in something like an “old married couple” stage.

Posted in Land and Land Spirits | Tagged ,

Wynn

That was the rune that came up when I asked, “How bad did I fuck up?” late Sunday afternoon. Wynn.

Usually, that rune comes up and means something about joy. Sometimes it refers to clarity, but most of the time, it is about joy being present (or, sometimes, not present). And that was more-or-less what it felt like that time. The rune was upright and it felt gently encouraging and hopeful, and I teared up a little, because I really needed something like that, though it was also a little difficult for me to see where the “joy” was in the moment.

I was sitting near a roadside cafe, closed for the day, in a relatively remote place that does not even count as “tiny village,” waiting for someone to drive out from the closest actual city to pick me up. The vehicle I had been driving was stuck in a rut about a 2-hour drive, or a 2-hour hike, from the cafe (it was 6+ miles as I walked, my GPS tracked it for me), along some often-terrible dirt roads.

I had at least an hour to wait, I didn’t have a book to read, so why not spend some time asking wretched self-pitying questions of the runes?

Saturday hadn’t been very pleasant, either. It started out nicely, but I spent most of the day driving along some really terrible roads, and most of that driving made me very nervous, because I have very little experience driving on such roads, and while I believed the vehicle was the right kind for the job, I do not know where the cut-off between “doable” and “Absolutely Do Not” is. Very rocky roads, tossing the truck back and forth. Places with one deep rut and one shallow rut, and so one side of the truck rises higher than the other and oh god oh god it’s going to tip the fuck on its side fuck fuck fuck (it did not). Places with slick wet mud and ruts and gravity and etc. pulling the vehicle inexorably into a rut I did NOT want to end up in, oh shit, it’s sliding, fuck, ohmygod. Whew, managed to get away from that one. Many stops to have the shakes for a while (after the tippy places, mostly). Constant reaching out to Loki for reassurances and also constantly telling myself “these roads are navigable, you got through that last patch, just take it r e a l l y slowly, it’s okay, the pitch is not THAT steep, really, it’s NOT going to roll.” Many reminders to try and RELAX, stop tensing up constantly. Relaxing makes the bouncing easier to handle, too.

The landscape was fucking gorgeous.

Snowy Saturday morning. A nice spot to the left for lunch, under a juniper.

View from a ridge.

I wanted to get out and do some hiking, but I also wanted to get off all the bad roads well before dark, and get back to the city before total darkness. As beautiful as it was, it was hard to truly appreciate it when I had to pay so much attention to driving. I did manage a few times, and oh, some of the hills just took my breath away, made me glad to be there at that moment.

I was out there doing volunteer work: checking on the presence and condition of the roads, as well as a few other things, for an organization that monitors such things. If the nights had not been so cold, I would have been camping, but as it was, I was sleeping in a nice warm place in the city, thus adding at least 2 hours of driving to every day.

I was exhausted at the end of Saturday, and also felt pretty terrible about myself. I had no business out there doing that, did I? I have very little prior experience on bad roads.  I mean, I know, how else will I learn other than by doing it? (Well, perhaps by going on group expeditions, or maybe having a coach, somehow.) But what the fuck kind of foolishness or reckless “confidence” was this, anyway?

When I went to bed, I spent some time sobbing to Skadi about it all, and about how some of the fear was related to reaching out for reassurance – which I was getting – and having a layer of fear about how trustworthy that reassurance was. What are the odds Loki might reassure me to the point I do get into trouble, because He wants me to learn (again) to trust my judgment, not His? How much trouble would He actually let me get into? . . . Was it even Loki, or was I giving myself that extra boost in His voice? Etc.

At some point Loki showed up – or maybe Skadi was all “Dude, this is Your problem, You deal with her” – and I angsted at Him about it all.

One of Them told me there was no shame in quitting. I didn’t have to go out again on Sunday.

I knew that; the organization I was doing the work for would be fine with that.

But. But. I also didn’t want to let myself totally be ruled by fear, right? I knew some of my terror was absolutely related to inexperience, and you know, I had navigated those roads. I didn’t get into terrible situations. I controlled some vehicular sliding! (A first for me!) I did NOT get pulled into that one super-nasty rut!!

I knew I would feel deep regret if I called it off and went somewhere safer and more relaxing on Sunday.

Sunday I had two options: drive in the way I had on Saturday, or drive in along the place I exited on Saturday. The “in” road was kind of awful: it included several very steep slopes, and I wasn’t eager to revisit them. The “out” road was much flatter, and I knew going in that way would definitely get me to specific place I wanted to go explore – I had left it alone Saturday because of time left in the day, but I knew the organization would like to know more about it. However, if I went in the steep route, I’d also have to drive along another stretch I hadn’t visited yet, and getting info on that road would be useful, too. And it was a pretty level stretch of road, and my contact out there had said it ought to be pretty reasonable (he’d warned me about the steep slopes), but no one else had been this year to report on it. So it would be good to get current info.

When I felt out for hints from Them about which option to take, They nudged me towards revisiting the steep route.

When I drove in on Saturday, there were a couple inches of snow covering the ground; it was mostly gone Sunday. The drive in was much more anxiety-inducing than it had been on Saturday, which kind of perplexed me: I’d driven it before, why was I so bugged by the bouncing and shit??

I could see the ground better, and thus had an “oh shit” moment when I realized the lovely red ground that set in on one of the steep slopes was a lovely sticky red ground. But I got down all those roads fine, if nervously, and soon got to the turn to the “new” road. Lots of it was pretty bumpy, but there were several relatively smooth flat stretches, too.

Then there were some places with a single deep rut running down it. I got past a section like that, the vehicle straddling the rut. Then another section. Then there was a side “road” that went around a short section of that crap, so up I went on the side.

Ahead of me was more deeply rutted ground. Not just another 10 feet, either. More like 70 or 80 feet. And I didn’t know how much more of this fucking road would be like that. And my nerves were shot. Okay. This is a nice flat clear area, I will back up and turn around and GTFO.

I backed up and bumped the rear tires into another rut and immediately knew I was fucked.

I’d noticed it as I drove into that “clear” area, but it was far enough off to my side I’d put it into “not a real threat” category. Plus, for most of its length, it was very shallow.

Then I forgot to check behind me thoroughly when I backed up, because the area was so clear of shrubs and big rocks . . .

I backed right into the 10-foot stretch of the rut that was actually deep enough to perfectly cup the tires, just deep enough I couldn’t drive out again.

I don’t think I can overemphasize how amazing that was.

I found literally the only spot in 50 feet of “rut” that could trap the vehicle. I spent a bunch of time picking up juniper and sagebrush branches to make areas of traction in front of each tire, but right in front of the back tires there were small woody plants growing, so I couldn’t jam any branches down in between the tires and the ground to be most effective, the little plants were in the way and were too tough to work past. Of course I didn’t have a shovel, or even anything I could use as a reasonable make-shift shovel.

I tried again to drive out, hoping the rear tires would grab onto the branches, but no luck, and I wasn’t about to keep trying and trying and end up digging the wheels in even deeper.

So I put my sandwich and water and most of my extra clothes into my backpack (I left my heavy winter coat; it wasn’t going to be cold enough I’d miss it), put a note on the dashboard that I was walking out in such-and-such direction, and walked out. I knew it was only about 6 miles, and it was pretty level going along the road. Much nicer walking the roads than driving them!

I hoped someone else might drive out there; I’d seen a vehicle leaving the area in the morning. It was unlikely, but . . .

If not, there were some ranch buildings once I got close to the highway. I might have cell reception? Worst case, I could surely flag someone down on the highway.

Eventually I was out of the hills enough that I had some cell reception. After trying to get help at the first house I found – no one was home – I was able to leave a message with my local contact and let him know I was stuck. He called back soon, said he had a vehicle capable of towing stuck trucks (!!), and we made plans for him to come rescue me. We decided that it was too late in the day to go haul my truck out – I figured it would be dark by the time we reached it, and I was NOT up for driving out in the dark.

So when the runes gave me Wynn, I thought okay, it was true, there was something positive here: I had help on the way, I was not hurt, the truck was not damaged, there was a likely solution at hand. Not all was lost, right?? Challenging, sure, but there’s hopefulness here! Maybe something else, too.

So back to the city that night, then an early start Monday. My rescuer said he’d had to help other people get out before in other situations, there’d even been other calls from even more remote places (though those other folks had eventually extricated themselves fast enough he didn’t have go out and get them). It’s kind of a fact of life out there, for people who drive out on those roads. He said it had taken him a while to get used to driving this stuff, too.

I knew that, intellectually. I know that even people with LOTS of experience sometimes get themselves stuck. It was still really good to hear these things from someone else. (Later he said it was a good reminder for him, too: even the experienced folks don’t always remember to take the time to toss a shovel into the vehicles before heading out.)

It had taken me 3 hours to get from the city to where I found the perfect truck-catching rut. So I figured the best-case scenario for Monday was that I might get back to the highway by early afternoon.

I had to contact my mom and let her know I wouldn’t be back in Portland until rather later than originally planned – she was driving through town and supposed to stay with me Monday night. She wanted to be by my place before dark, so she would plan to just wait outside my apartment until I got there. Monday morning I also contacted the rental place to find out what time I actually had to have the vehicle back: “Technically, you just have to have it back by 8:30 Tuesday morning.” RELIEF. Okay!!

I had a hard time sleeping Sunday night; too many anxious thoughts. I did not get much sleep, and I had to get up well earlier than works well for me. And I was sore from the previous days of driving and from the hike.

And then – we got to the truck and got it out about an hour before I expected we would even reach it, and I was on the highway less than an hour later. Then I had a long drive back to Portland, got there about when my pre-disaster plans had expected, found my mom had been waiting at my place for only 15 minutes, and then got the truck back to the rental place before it closed.

When we got to the vehicle an hour sooner than I expected, my relief was great: that was extra time, now. And then it came out so easy. I still had bouts of terror and nerves driving back out, because the fucking tipping. But overall I was so relieved, and felt fairly confident about getting through it, that my previous two days of saying “. . . I don’t think I should ever try this again” kind of evaporated, and turned into “hell yeah, I do want to come out to places like this again.”

I drove back home in an exhausted state of joy, thinking about what good old doom-and-gloom runes had told me Sunday.

If I had avoided that fucking hole in the ground, or even had a fucking shovel like a wise and smart person would have and dug myself out, and gotten back to the city on my own on Sunday, I would have felt defeated.

I can’t forget the amazing string of small oversights that lead to perfectly planting the truck into that perfectly tired-sized section of rut.

. . .

There are questions I’m not sure I want to ask, you know?

It could have all been entirely “shit just happens,” especially if you forget to pay the fuck attention to potential troubles.

It could have been “shit just happens” and then “strings were pulled by Powers to get me out super-easy.” Loki is good for finding solutions to sticky situations. Perhaps the land spirits helped, because They want me to be safe out there. Perhaps other gods or spirits Who watch out for me pitched in.

It could have been “shit just happens” and “good things just happen.”

It could have been . . . other options, too: I know some of the “trouble” I’ve been in before has been caused.

I know what I was worrying over Saturday night.

Knowing Who I know, any of the above are plausible . . .

I don’t know if I want to ask.

But fuck, no matter how it happened, that was amazing luck, putting the truck right there.

Coda 1

My mom left after lunch today with a group of her friends. I spent some time talking to them about my adventure over the weekend – one of them told me she’d once had a job that had her out on terrible roads, and she’d had to change a tire, 40 miles from where she lost cell reception, in cougar territory – and the danger with cougars is that they see a crouching person as prey-like.

When I told her about how I so amazingly planted the truck in the one deep section of that damn rut, she said something about how she thinks that when things like that happen, “it’s just meant to.”

I’m not going to ask.

Coda 2

After they all left, I went to a local cafe and had a nice cappuccino and a pastry. Caffeine helps with muscle aches, right? And oh gods I am in so much pain. I think a lot of it is from all the driving, but some of it is probably from the hike, which was a lot more walking than I’ve done in many months (and more than I have been capable of for most of the year).

Parked across the street was a big Ford, the kind that was the first big truck I drove on terrible roads (and I had a pretty great time, that time, but in retrospect those roads were BEAUTIFUL compared to the shit I saw this weekend).

I noticed a really amazing number of other big beefy trucks driving up and down the street. I know; trucks are on my mind now, I’m attuned to them, but still. So many in 20 minutes! In Portland!!

I’ve been thinking for months and months that when I move out there, I’m probably going to need to buy a car. Not just “a car,” it will have to be a truck. How else can I reasonably get out to the lovely remote places??

My truck will always have a shovel in it.

Prelude (Motivation)

Saturday morning, I drove to a supermarket to buy a sandwich for lunch, and when I turned onto the main street, I was confronted with a staggering view of some of the nearby mountain peaks. The sky was cloudless brilliant blue, the morning sun illuminated them beautifully: it had snowed recently, and they were shining white, and I choked up.

If I weren’t already so in love with the area . . .

About an hour out of the city, there was snow on the ground, and snow and frost dusting all the rabbitbrush (low, shrubby plants) and other vegetation. It was exquisitely beautiful, and there was soft welcoming Presence. I wanted to pull over and cry, but there’s no shoulder out there.

Then there was a fog bank, and – it was – even more.

That place has my heart, so much.

Then the first stretch of drive up into the hills was exciting!

I was alone. I was surrounded by my beloved sagebrush and juniper and the hills were so beautiful, and it was gorgeous in the way that wintery landscapes so often are, and I was so happy to be out there.

Near the end of the day on Saturday, finally on “gentler” roads, I could really take in and appreciate the land again.

 

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“When They come courting” post-con post

As promised, here is the text of my presentation on spirit marriage and etc. at Many Gods West: “When They come courting.” It includes the sources I used as well as a bigger “resources” section with things I couldn’t fit in at all. I’ve also included an Acknowledgements section, because I got a lot of help, both from friends and from years of reading what people on this path long before me have said.

The presentation was received well, and I’m pleased that a number of people told me afterwards that it was useful and interesting! I also know there were several other people who were interested in being there, but had other conflicts. (The number who did show up – 14 or 15 – was just about right for my comfort level. I had two fears going in about audience size: that only a couple people would show up, or there’d be, like, 50.)

I had slides prepared which I wasn’t able to show, and I think things went fine without them. However, I’d found a bunch of images that I found evocative of different aspects of the pagan experience that I still want to share, and collecting them online means I can add a few more than I had in the slides, so here, follow this link.

The time restriction was also tough: there were a lot of things I wanted to say more about and I had to really simplify the historical and non-pagan examples. There is a huge amount of complexity and richness in all of that, and for anyone interested in this subject, I strongly recommend reading more about it! My top general recommendations are Emma Wilby’s Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits and the dissertation “Marrying Jesus: Brides and the bridegroom in medieval women’s religious literature;” of all the non-pagan reading I’ve done, those have been the most meaningful for me, and not just for marriage-related reasons.

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing an expanded and revised version of the document so I can put in more on some of those examples, and include a few other examples that I couldn’t work in AT ALL. There were also several parts of the pagan section I wanted to say more about. I didn’t really get into the sexual aspect that can exist in such relationships, like what purposes sexual connection serves (there can be many, including “some spirits really like that energy”). We’ll see if that happens . . .

However, and this is very exciting, I spent some time over the weekend talking with someone who has experience with faery lovers in the context of traditional witchcraft, who said they’d been thinking about doing an anthology on that subject. I have also been thinking for a while that a book on spirit marriage, godspousery, etc., would be great, but I do NOT want to write it (it would take years to do the research, and I do not want to do years of research!), so I was thinking anthology thoughts. So we’re talking about putting something like this together, to cover a broad range of experiences, which would be really awesome. I’ll post updates when there’s something to update about it.

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MGW summary

I write “summary” but let’s be real, it’s not going to be all that brief.

I had a really, really great weekend. Some of it I am sure I am going to be processing, and continuing to benefit from, for a very long time. I got some things I wanted from it, and some things I really needed; some of it I hadn’t dared hope for and other things I really could not anticipate (but the nature of such events is such that I do anticipate that unanticipated surprises will happen).

There were a lot of great-sounding presentations that I opted not to go to because the alternative was to spend time with people whose company I really enjoyed. Even with that, there were several people I wish I could have talked with more. I know that is the nature of these events, and I go into them expecting it (as well as the inevitable “these two presentations both sound amazing and they are scheduled at the same time!!”) but I feel obligated to complain about insufficient time for all the things regardless.

One of the first presentations I went to was “Embodied Practice and Devotion.” A part of that was experiential; we got comfortable in a still position of our choice and then tuned into how our bodies wanted to move or adjust. Then we were instructed to tune into whatever spirits were around us who wanted to engage with us, to feel how our bodies reacted to their presence, and to then move into a position that we felt would bring us into a closer connection with Them. The first deity I was aware of was Loki, no surprise, but there was Someone else with Him, and then Loki kind of disappeared. The other deity is one I’ve had a relationship with for years, and it’s often been a very uncomfortable relationship; some aspects of it have been incredibly distressing. Anyway, when I figured out how to get my body configured right, She said something to me and I had an immediate response to that, to Her, from what felt like something deeper than my heart, from my very core, to Her, that left me in tears. It was still . . . positive. I’m going to have to revisit it, probably a lot; I think there’s a lot of stuff to unpack there.

I’ve read about how different trance positions can open a person up to very specific experiences, but I’ve never tried any of the recorded positions, or tried to find any specific to Powers I know myself, so it was really interesting to experience something like that. I’ve mentally filed this away as something that would be interesting to explore with Others, but also as something I am nervous to explore with Others.

I also have homework after a fashion from the presentation/workshop on “Apotheosis: An Exploration of Your Mortal and Immortal Personae.” I’ve read Thenea’s blog posts on the topic in the past, but actually going through some of her suggested practices was useful, and having started, I think I want to try and get even more out of it. It also feels like something I need to do, given both some long-standing trends in my practice as well as some more recent realizations. I am really uneasy about it, but. It may be better to throw myself off those cliffs rather than wait to be thrown, you know?

I went to the “Advancing Devotional Practice” discussion; I went to it at Pantheacon, too, but since it was a discussion I figured it wouldn’t end up a repeat experience, and it wasn’t. It was interesting, though I don’t know that I personally got a lot out of it, but it was very well attended (I’m pretty sure there more people than at Pcon) and the discussion went very well.

I also went to another presentation I’ve seen before, “Three Tales of Devotion,” about the mystics/poets Sri Andal, Akka Mahadevi, and Mirabai. It was mid-afternoon on Sunday, and I was very, very tired, and the stories about these women are really lovely, and that was just the right speed for where I was Sunday afternoon.

The summaries given from the opening session sounded good – I went off with the neurodivergent group, but I got the impression that all of the groups had really good discussions. It is now too far in the past for me to be able to summarize any of it. (I was pretty well-rested on Friday, but that did not last long, and I’m not fully put back together yet.)

I was sad the Mni Wiconi presentation had a relatively small group of attendees. The work the presenters were there to discuss is so important, to me personally as well as, well, globally. But the presentations and discussion were good, and I came away from it with some ideas about other ways to get more involved.

I was also sad that the public altar I set up was not interacted with more, but what I did see there from other people was very moving. And, when I visited it at one point on Sunday, I saw that someone had placed a paper crane on it. There’d been a workshop that morning, “Senbazuru: One Thousand Cranes for Peace,” and then there were cranes left on each of the public altars. My feelings are really too big for words, but I’m tearing up over it again.

After I took the altar down, and was changing back into normal clothes, the Power who had guided the setup of the altar come forward with a few words about what I had done. (They may have been the first words I’ve ever gotten from that Power, in fact; the previous communications were more like gentle ‘yes’ or ‘no’ nudges in various directions.) And. Um. I find myself repeatedly floored by how what seems like very much “not enough” to me, wholly inadequate to the immensity of what I perceive is still meaningful to Them.

My presentation on spirit marriage went very well!! But I’m going to do a separate post on all that. I’ve given myself a deadline of Wednesday of this week.

Also, the conference, or wyrd, or the Powers, or whatever, conspired to pitch a significant curveball at me. I had not even expected baseball to be on the agenda!! But it was fine. It was actually good. I lost some sleep thinking over it but I knew how I wanted to handle it, and I did, and it was fucking amazing. Apparently I have learned how to baseball without knowing that learning was happening.

Finally, my Spouses were an incredible source of support at times leading up to the con. They have told me repeatedly They are here for me, and I admit I am very good at not asking for help, but when I do, They are amazing, and I am really, really grateful for how They help. Even when I don’t ask for things, They are amazing. I know Loki in particular had something to do with some of the good things that happened this weekend, and I am overwhelmed by how loved I feel.

Posted in General Religious Stuff, Pagan Community | Tagged

Altar for extinct species and ecological losses at Many Gods West

I will be setting up a public altar at Many Gods West this year for honoring extinct species, destroyed places, and other ecological losses.

There will be two parts to it: one small-scale Life Cairn, and a Memorial Wall where people can post writing or artwork.

The Life Cairn at this altar will differ from the original Life Cairn (see also Life Cairn on Facebook and this essay from a founder of the first one). For one, it will be small and, unfortunately, temporary. In addition, the original Life Cairns are for honoring extinct species, but for the conference, this Life Cairn can also be used to honor other ecological losses (mountaintops destroyed for coal, the forest you played in as a child that’s been turned into a housing tract, etc.). There will be stones and marking implements provided (marking the stones is not required, just an option). The materials – unfired clay and charcoal pencils – have been selected to have a low impact on the earth when the memorial is reverted to the land after the conference.

The Memorial Wall of the space will function as a place for people to leave writing, artwork, photos, etc., acknowledging losses as an alternative to – or in addition to – contributing to the Life Cairn. There will be some paper and pens/pencils provided, but people are also welcome to bring photos, drawings, or other lightweight, flat materials from home. People may reclaim what they leave here at the end of the conference (or when they need to depart); anything that is left when it is taken down will be handled in a respectful manner.

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If it was a novel, it would have been foreshadowing

I know, looking back makes it easier to see the trail that got you here, but some of those bread crumbs really were much more meaningful than I assumed at the time.

1.

Four years ago, about a week before I left Boston, Odin showed up. During our first conversation, He asked me where I saw myself in five years.

“Well, Portland, I guess.”

There was no response. Okay, good enough, I guess.

More tentatively, “And – doing architecture . . . ?”

“No,” He said. “Landscape.” (This was slightly distressing to hear but not a total surprise.)

2.

I’ve often felt, cycling or walking or driving through Portland, that I was not just moving through the city, but just passing through. I’ve kind of always felt a . . . not-quite-here feeling.

I haven’t been involved in pretty much any of the social or cultural scenes here, despite having been an active volunteer with several organizations, two of them for over 3 years each. I’ve been much more interested in all the plants growing here than the people-stuff.

But, well, I was more fascinated by the gardens some people had in Boston than some of the social stuff, so that feeling of “just passing through” wasn’t anything I paid (enough) attention to.

Even after it would have made more sense to.

3.

This was blatant and clear:

Two years ago, trying to help me cope with some great distress, They said, “Think of this place as a way station.”

This was a few days after I had a visit with one of Them, associated with a place about 200 miles from here. I went there to ask for some insight into an encounter with Them/that place the previous years, which involved an utterly overwhelming sense of “welcome home” from the forest around me. “Home?” . . . I had never lived in that area, I’d maybe been there once before in my life.

So this Power explained. “It is our desire to bring you home.”

The implications that could have for some of my Portland-area relationships were devastating at the time. (Now I do not think it will be disruptive; then I was a mess.)

Shortly after the “way side” conversation, I dreamed an enormous scaled and clawed hand gently plucked the back of my shirt between claw tips, lifted me, and set me down in some other hilly foresty landscape than what I’d been scrambling over.

It was a comforting dream.

I assumed I’d have more time here; I never put Odin’s non-response into context with this until very recently.

Fool.

4.

When I lived in Boston and would come home to Oregon to visit family, I flew in to the Boise airport.

During the drive home, we’d pass through many miles of very dry, sagebrushy landscape. Some parts had awesome views of hills in the distance. I loved seeing this landscape. “It’s good to be home,” was the general sense of my feelings.

I didn’t grow up in that landscape, it was never home; I grew up surrounded by agricultural fields on former grasslands and marsh. So, a silly thought, probably just tied to “Idaho” and “en route to home in Oregon” being just as good as being home, compared to Boston.

But has “home I grew up in” felt like a place I would want to return to now? I love it so much, and I’ve asked myself that often over the last few years – no. It makes me very sad, but it doesn’t feel like my place.

5.

This one sounds really ridiculous to me but for many, many years I’ve thought of myself as “really probably a desert creature.” Because I like heat; I can adapt well to it. And I like dry heat. (I did grow up in a dry place, with hot summers and chilly nights, though I never thought of it as a desert.)

So: now I am going home. To the sagebrush and desert east of the big mountains. Close to the magnificent and heart-wrenching Ponderosa pine forests. Not quite as far as the forest that reached out to me three years ago, but – close enough, I guess? I never checked up on precisely what that Power meant by “home.” I assumed it meant “near those mountains” but . . .

Anyway. Perhaps in the future I will pay more attention to things like odd “gaps” in conversation, or weird answers, or pay more attention to odd thoughts I have about the places I am in. But sometimes I have wondered, when I’ve looked back at assumptions I never questioned – do They ever nudge me to just a tiny bit of forgetfulness, or to not caring enough to ask too many more questions, because it’s better if I don’t get a high-resolution roadmap earlier?

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