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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Posted in Land and Land Spirits | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

“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.

Posted in Spirit marriage | Tagged , , ,

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.

Posted in Land and Land Spirits, Pagan Community | Tagged , , , , ,

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?

Posted in Communication with Spirits, Land and Land Spirits | Tagged , ,

Five years on

I saw a post recently on Tumblr in which the original poster was making an attempt to list what sorts of magic/energy work/etc. skills, techniques, etc., ought to be considered basic, intermediate, and advanced. Some of it seemed reasonable, but there was plenty there that really made no sense to me (talking to deities: on the advanced list; ummmm why? that was my first basic step, and I know that’s also true for lots of other people). I suppose there are a LOT of ways people can take their first step into witchy/pagan ventures, and thus a lot of ways to go from Beginner to Advanced, but at any rate, it got me thinking about what sort of progress I’ve made over the last five years. Because it’s been five years and change since I set out the door, literally, to try out this polytheism thing, and WELL. It’s brought a lot of other things with it.

But I can’t say I feel like I’m an advanced anything.

I feel pretty confident and comfortable with how my relationships with my Spouses are (“pretty confident” is not the same as “100%”). So there’s definitely been advancement there!

My divination skills are way better than they used to be; I’m pretty comfortable reading cards intuitively vs strictly by-the-book, though sometimes I do turn to the book when I feel stumped. I’m also comfortable just pulling cards as needed, rather than needing the structure of a spread to answer questions; lots of spirit communication happens this way – pull cards and lay them out as needed.

I’ve also started to learn Lenormand and geomancy in the last year. Those are both fun! Lenormand is something of a challenge because it isn’t supposed to be read intuitively, and memorizing the cards’ meanings, and how to relate them to each other in spreads, is kind of slow going.

I’ve never done much witchcraft or other forms of magic, so my skills there are, like, whatever. LOL. Ad hoc, and I’ve no idea how successful they’ve been (for some of the things I’ve worked on, I seemed to get results, but how can I tell if that was truly my doing).

One of my biggest frustrations has been the seeming lack of advancement of my visionary skills, or perhaps only minimal improvement. I learned real early on how to “daydream” and let that become the platform for an encounter/communication with a god/other spirit, but while that is a SUPER USEFUL technique, 99% of the time that feels less “real” and vivid than most of my regular old dreams. (Not that the encounters themselves feel unreal; they are plenty real, sometimes VERY VERY IMPACTFUL, they are just mostly in black and white, and lack some of the other details I experience in real dreams.)

Part of my frustration comes from the fact that various Powers have done things to me that apparently were supposed to improve some of my “communication” skills, but I’ve never noticed any immediate change. Perhaps it’s something that, for me, requires lots of adjustments over a long period for there to BE a noticeable difference? I should ask.

I have noticed, in the last year, an increase in the number of not-really-dreams I’ve had during my first few hours asleep in which spirits who are not Loki have been showing up and communicating/interacting with me. Is this because something about my skills have changed, or did some other barrier get shifted?

I’ve also noticed that certain dreams in the last year have been WAY more vivid in particular ways than those types of dreams ever used to be. But again, I’m not sure why.

I haven’t been putting much into trying to improve a lot of skills, either. So much of my energy has been burned up just with my (now former) job, and trying to survive, that even contemplating doing more stuff – trance techniques, whatever – felt exhausting. And, you know, what I’ve been able to do seems like it’s been plenty good for what I’ve needed to do, so I haven’t had a lot of motivation to put more effort into any of it.

A total noob I am not, but I also don’t really give a shit if I’m considered “intermediate” or “advanced” or whatever.

I’m also curious about what the next few months or year might bring. Pretty sure some of it may qualify as “advanced” or something (terrific, just what I need). Last fall, the Plant Powers, and some Others, indicated there were some fairly significant tasks and roles They’d like me to take on.¬†Some of this stuff seems like it requires a lot more responsibility than I’ve had for the previous years. I’m sure it will be fine, I just need to figure out what it is. I love plants, so I said I would, and then – typical spirits – They basically stopped talking about it except to indicate more would come when certain other conditions were met.

Some of those conditions seemed to be related to material aspects of my life, and those have undergone some major changes, and are about to undergo more. I left my job near the end of winter, due to being super awfully burned out, and have spent the last few months recovering my physical and mental stamina and considering my next move.

I also realized about a month ago that I need to move out of this city, and NOT to another city, to a much more rural environment in Central Oregon. The landscape there has taken hold of my heart several times in the last few years, some of the spirits told me a couple years ago They wanted me “home,” and now is apparently the time. It hasn’t been an easy realization. I’ve built a life for myself here over the last four years and had hopes and expectations to continue building on some of that. I thought I’d have more years here; as much as I want to be out there, the impending change has been hard to cope with at times.

I am not going back to another fucking desk job. I cannot. (If need required it, I’d temp again, but only that.) There is work I want to do, in a place I love, and these things seem maybe kinda more-than-slightly related to Plant sorts of concerns, so I suppose I’ll get more info from Them about these tasks once I’ve made the move and gotten going with my new life.

It will also be great to be living in a place that feels good, and relaxing, in a way that I can’t find in densely-built places. I’m hoping for further recuperation, and along with that, more involvement with my spirits and the work They have in mind. Might even finally learn what They’ve been slowly working me up to!

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“When They come courting” at Many Gods West

So there are some really awesome presentations and rituals planned for Many Gods West this year, again.

I’m scheduled for Sunday morning, for this one: “When They come courting: Spirit marriage and related relationships”

“A presentation on spirit marriage, godspousery, and similar relationships, in two parts. First, I will present examples of such relationships from numerous cultures past and present, drawing on myth, folklore, and contemporary traditions. Secondly, I will provide an overview of experiences of modern consorts, lovers, and spouses of gods and other spirits, focusing primarily on relationships with gods, as those typically get the most attention and draw the most controversy. In this part I will also debunk some misconceptions, discuss struggles people have in those relationships, including problems within the pagan community, and address cultural biases contributing to the problems.”

I am planning on publishing some notes/sources/etc. here after the conference, because I’ve found A LOT MORE stuff in books than I can possibly get into during the presentation (and more than I’m even going to have time to read up on by August), and because I want the information to be available more than just that one time.

So that’s a thing that’s happening.

I’ve done public speaking and presentations before in a variety of contexts, but I’m way more nervous about this one than anything else; I’ve never talked publicly about anything as personal as this – not mentioned in my brief summary is that I am going to talk a bit about my own personal background and experience, to give some context for my perspectives (and what limitations that puts on my perspective). So. That’s. Um. Yeah. Exciting.

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