Posted by: naiadis | July 24, 2014

On spirits and spirit companions

Once upon a time, there was Angel.

Angel was a small, bounding ball of blond (blond, not white*) of fluff that came into my life when I was 15. Angel predates Poseidon in my life. We were a no dogs! household, until my mother started dating — er, I hesitate to call him a man — who’s sole good contribution, far as I’m concerned, was to bring Angel into our lives. The story went: he and his son found Angel out in the streets one snowy night and rescued him. Four or five years later I would learn that that’s not exactly how that went down, but I had no way of finding the people Angel previously belonged to (“man” was already out of our lives by then, and good riddance) and Angel and I were inseparable by that point. Let me be honest: I wasn’t interested in trying too hard to locate these people in the second largest city in New England.

We didn’t want to name him Angel, but Mum insisted. He was the “don’t get too attached, he’s not staying,” dog. He took to sleeping with Kevin right away, and he would mimic Kev’s sleeping patterns and positions, which was adorable to watch. They’d share the pillow. Once, when Mum went to wake Kevin up to go to school, Angel chased her away. Once, when Angel was running downstairs for something or other and he realized he’d forgotten his chewy upstairs, he made a very human sighing-in-exasperation sound and turned around to go get it. Angel was as much cat-like as he was dog. He’s the dog that got me over my small dog snobbery. He had all my cat-loving friends fawning over him. He was pretty, and he was wicked in the way that spitz breeds are, with that shit-eating grin, and that devilish gleam in his eyes. He was friendly with almost everyone, in a somewhat atypical Pomeranian way, though he especially loved Kevin, and he was utterly, utterly stupid about me. A house full of people, and if I simply looked at him he’d be on my lap in an instant. No command, no signal, nothing beyond a look.

The feeling was mutual. I lived, I think maybe a year, possibly not even that long, after I moved out of my mother’s house, without him, until I got permission from the landlady to bring him with us. I saw him a lot, even then, but oh, getting him to live with me again was just . . . that dog. That dog. He loved everyone, but he was mine.

I stayed with my ex longer, after it became clear that the relationship was doomed, because I didn’t want to take Angel away from him; they were close, too. But when I moved out of the bedroom, he came with me on his own accord. When we moved in with Beth, he slept for the first month by my head, with his paws on my face. When I was afraid that Beth’s Orion (a Keeshund) would bully Angel, Angel showed me that, no, the seven pound dog was going to be the boss of the house (or, second boss, after Sassy). He took the influx of cats with stride, even when baby Neech decided that Angel would make the *best* pillow (I have pictures!) When Corbie came to live with us, Angel showed him the ropes, and for six glorious, glorious months, we were flush with dogs, and it was wonderful.

He was always being mistaken for a younger dog. Aside from his spastic trachea he really had no health problems. And, one day, he developed a cough. A month later he was dead, having died a horrible, horrible death that I will never, ever, so help me, let any of my family suffer through again. (I maintain that he wanted it that way. He totally hid how bad it was, and that last day he was walking around on his own, navigating the stairs, hanging with us like he hadn’t done since we started medication, played “hunt” with some food I tried to get him to eat, even ate some of the food. He watched TV with us. He was downright perky — and once we called it a night, it all went to to hell.)

It shouldn’t be surprising that Angel’s on my mind a lot, with CHF that Corbie’s dealing with. Corbie presented symptoms much earlier, is responding to treatment, is likely not as old as Angel was when Angel got sick (I have the joy of not knowing exactly how old most of my animal companions are, and with Corbie, as with Angel, we don’t even know which year). But he is still on my mind, a ton.

In my spiritual landscape, family is family, and my gods care about my family regardless of species. Poseidon especially has a healthy respect for the importance of small dogs in my life, which renders them important to Him. (I balked at this, at first; I don’t any more. The whole point of marriage, of this sort of union, is, well, union, right? What matters to Him matters to me; why shouldn’t those things that matter to me matter to Him, as well? That’s not hubris; that’s marriage.) Much as I adore Him, He is not the psychopomp figure in my life. That is Odin. And Odin assured me before Angel even passed that he had a place within Odin’s Hunt, should he want it.

Angel was not one of those dog-dogs. I don’t know how to explain it, really. Many people commented that he did not strike them as a dog so much as someone who was currently in a dog form. What really matters is, I knew that when he died, he wouldn’t leave. I knew that he had no intention of moving on, that our friendship was not going to end simply because he was no longer incarnate. He left for a small while, tucking his presence away from my awareness, because I did not handle that transition well at all, but he came back and when he did it was clear that he was getting a great handle on this whole spirit-being thing. He was only sometimes a dog. He was very cozy with Odin and, more, with Bestla. I did not see that coming. Bestla is one of Beth’s important kin, and She’s important to Odin but I don’t really have a lot of direct contact with Her, so, yeah, pretty humbled by that.

Now and again I make attempts to involve Angel in my spiritual life, but it hurts, still, so it’s not something I do regularly enough. He gets honored during the Festival of Treats, and when his presence is near-tangible I speak with him, but I don’t seek him out.

He showed up on Tuesday. He shared a desire to explore other areas, a desire of moving on. He made it clear that his preference was to stay around, that our relationship mattered more to him than moving on, but that he is pretty much spinning his wheels due to my lack of attention. He was the least canine like I’ve experienced him. And, I feel like an ass, because he is so very important to me. I don’t want to hold him back, but I also don’t want him to go. I’m not ready for him to move on yet — except, if it was just that, I would say, go, do what you are moved to do, I’m not going to be selfish and make you stay. It’s not just that — the moving on, the exploring other things is a second choice. There’s plenty he’s still got to explore without making any more permanent decisions. I just need to let him back into my life again. He was a constant companion and my best friend for fifteen years — for nearly half my life. And the feeling was so very mutual. So what the heck, Jo?

Sometimes we just fail at things, even when we allegedly know what we’re doing.

* He was often mistaken for white, as he was that bleach blond color. Dorkily enough I know that white Poms are more uncommon, and some say that this is because the white gene is connected to the size gene in some manner, so the smaller the Pom, the less likely they are to be actually white. Is this true? Unsure. What I am sure about is that he was blond.

naiadis:

A reminder that you can still get involved!

Originally posted on The Saturated Page:

But that’s not keeping me from continuing with it! This poor neglected blog is really suffering from both my new part time job writing (thanks to YOU!) and my spending way too much time at the day job of late! Hopefully that will be changing soon (there are books I want to talk about, writers I want to talk about, things to talk about!) In the meantime, however, I am going to remind folks that it’s not too late to sign up for this story subscription project.

A brief rundown: this is a pay what you want, $5 minimum offer, for which you will receive (in either .EPUB, .MOBI, or text) a story or story installment of at least 4,000 words. (This is roughly 8 pages). These are original, previously unpublished stories that you get to see first. The first four installments are part of a novella, primarily because I…

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Posted by: naiadis | July 15, 2014

I’m a Seeker, and why you could be, too!

Yes, this is a plug. But, bear with me for a moment, okay?

I’ve been plodding along in this course since mid-December, and I’ll be the first person to tell you that it’s not all easy-peasy. And I don’t mean that the course material is hard in that cerebral way. We aren’t studying dusty tome after unending dusty tome — in fact, there hasn’t been one single required reading assignment in all this time. Yes, I’ve discovered authors whose work I want to follow up on my own. Yes, my to-be-read pile continues to grow at an alarming pace. Books are indeed mentioned — of course they are. But even when we stop along our paths to dwell on more cerebral exercises, the exploration continues to primarily be one of experience. I find this to be very appealing, largely because if I’m left to my druthers I get sucked into the cerebral. I like books. I like knowledge gleaned from books. I simply do, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However falling back on only book knowledge is the opposite of living a, well, living practice.

What’s so difficult in that? Well, I keep deciding beforehand that I know what to expect, that I know where the path is going to go. I decide that I know myself thoroughly, and that this will all be smooth sailing. I <em>do</em> know myself pretty dang well, but by no means do I know myself  completely. I also fall into the “by the book” mentality, so that if I’m not doing the assignments exactly how I think Anni is expecting them to be done, then I’m doing them wrong, and if I’m not going to do them correctly, I shouldn’t be doing them. It becomes this cycle, and I start lagging behind, and then I’m faced with playing catch-up, and I start debating whether or not I want to continue. . .

I remind myself of the benefits taking this course with Anni has already bestowed upon me. She has, along with other cherished friends and spiritual family, helped me rediscover the simple joy of living my spiritual practice. When I find myself deciding “she expects this or that other thing,” I remind myself that Anni has shown she expects that we honor our experiences, our pasts, our histories, that we — if you’ll forgive me, Anni — acknowledge and hold dear that which we come knowing.

There have been, in the duration of this course so far, at least three pivotal, paradigm-shifting moments, three epiphanies that have enriched my life and helped my spiritual practice grow.  Three epiphanies in eight months that have been so positive that the struggle I have with the pace of the course is worth it.

What about the pace of the course? Anni is thorough in her coverage of the material she presents. For some, focusing on one particular element for as long as we do may seem like  a very slow process — at the same time, the average of two exercises, two journaling assignments, and two videos to watch each week can seem awfully fast-paced. I find it challenging to keep up with the pace and work full time and care for my animals, and attend to my spiritual practices, to the point that, when I’m not paying attention, the coursework becomes my spiritual practice. I don’t mind that, until I do, and then I have to reassess and fit back in what’s slipped off while my attention was elsewhere.

Yes, that’s right. Most people call that living life, don’t they?

As I mentioned previously, Anni has opened her course and is forming up a new group. You can learn more about Season of the Seeker here, as well as reading up about it over at her webpage The Greystone Path. I have such admiration, respect, and affection for this woman, and I am so grateful that our lives have touched. (Also, she’s utterly stupid about her dogs; how can I not relate to that?).

If you want to delve deep into an Elemental practice, or if you’re curious about exploring yourself from a slightly different angle, or if you need help shaking yourself out of a rut that is no longer serving you, you may just want to give this course a chance.

Posted by: naiadis | July 15, 2014

Thoughts, links, babbles — in bullet points!

  • Season of the Seeker is enrolling for a new class! I’ll talk more about this in a future post, during this week, but for now I want to pass on that Anni has opened up enrollment for another class. Go watch her video about it. I’ve gained much from participating in this course, despite the ground being covered being quite elementary (heehee). Joking aside, this has helped me shake up assumptions I’ve made about myself, and Anni’s enthusiasm for learning and sharing alone is enough to make this course worth it.
  • The Vigil has come to an end for this year, and I’m still processing the entire thing. I feel as though I’ve failed in a number of ways — primarily in that my day job really took precedence this year. Was that avoidable? Not while also working at said day job. We are seriously understaffed and have undergone a remodel, and the stress is through the roof. Because of this, Poseidon lifted a number of the taboos that surround this vigil, and He set some alternative ones down in their stead. Energy work did happen, though not precisely the way I would have preferred, but that’s on me, and I can’t say that I failed in that, either. I feel that I failed to keep my mind  where I feel it ought to have been. He says that I’m trying to make it have been exactly like last year, and that I need to guard against making the previous year be the gold standard. He reminds me that the point of these things is to be here, now. It’s not really a vigil if I’m not here holding the vigil.
  • There have been some awesome videos on Youtube lately, talking both about Revivalism as an approach to polytheism, and about Immersive  polytheism as a methodology in bringing that polytheism into our lives. Immersive is a term coined as a distinction from devotional polytheism, and it’s one I like quite a bit. I’m still on the fence regarding that distinction — Silence points out quite correctly that ‘devotional polytheism’ serves as a decentralized term, something that is useful and needful for those of us who are not walking a tradition-specific path. I don’t favor the term devotional polytheist, largely because I fear there are connotations of elitism (intended or not) with that term, but also because immersive is just more inclusive. Devotion in the modern sense of the word is part of my daily life with my gods — it’s neither better nor worse than whatever daily life with ones gods looks like if it does not include standing at a shrine and offering prayers, but simply different — yet standing at the shrine in the morning is not the be all, end all of my life with my gods, and sometimes, I skip that shrine stop altogether. It is where I am, internally with my gods, that really matters. A shrine is, in the end, a physical representation for me. Poseidon has made it clear that He is not the shrine, does not live in the shrine, etc.
  • Check out those videos! Camilla Laurentine’s can be found on her channel; Beth’s response is here, and her addendum is here; Silence’s video is here; (and so, so very happy to see Silence make a video!); Columbine’s video is here. This is, to me, a thought-provoking discussion on the words we use to explain ourselves, without the holier-than-thou attitudes that quite often seems to permeate this discussion. (Admittedly I’m biased. These are some of my favorite people.)
  • Vet visit, in an hour and a half. Nervous about that. The Corbster has been coughing more, lately.
  • Dentist visit, in six hours. Less nervous about that, will be more so once Dr. Bonnie has come and gone.
  • Excited about writing again. This means that I’m becoming less exhausted as the time goes by. Now if only I could score two days off in a row . . . .
Posted by: naiadis | July 10, 2014

A new video!

Because Beth says I have to share, here’s my VR to Camilla’s Introduction to Revivalism video . . . yay!

naiadis:

If all goes accordingly, I’ll be adding my voice to this topic shortly, but i the meantime, check out Beth’s VR to Camilla’s Revivalism topic! (Be sure to check out Beth’s addendum video that follows!)

Originally posted on Wytch of the North:

My video response to Camilla Laurentine’s discussion of Revivalism and immersive polytheism, touching on her ideas about social justice, social services, the internet as a social equalizer, and integrating the gods thoroughly into our daily lives.

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Posted by: naiadis | July 10, 2014

Poseidon loves me, this I know . . .

The Vigil continues to go forward with unexpected results. I will share some of this later on, when it’s less new, because it’s making my uncomfortable, and the fastest, easiest way to cure that discomfort is to talk about it in a public manner. Hooray! It is mostly uncomfortable because I’ve gone into this expecting it to be more like last year. So, in 2010 or 2009 I first had the idea for this holy observance, but I didn’t know what I wanted it to look like. (I’m pretty certain the idea came in 2010). In 2011, we were focused on Corbie and his back injury — he was on crate rest for a solid month, and you better believe Beth and I were spending all our time home with him, camped out in the bedroom, reading to him, talking, knitting, spinning, and just being there with our drugged-out-of-his-mind pooch. 2012 I marked the week by burying my grandfather. 2013 was the first one where it went at all like I thought it might, and it was one of those times when He pushed all sorts of boundaries. I experience moments when I know He is leaning heavily upon what my mortal brain can cope with, moments when I can’t help but think of Semele and Zeus, and I feel as though this is Poseidon, keeping that cautionary tale in mind and doing His level best to expand the amount of awareness of Him and what He is in my consciousness without making me go all explodey. It’s unsettling and glorious, and last year there was so very much of it. I thought, okay, awesome! I can count on this holy observance to fill that role of going deeper into His mysteries.

And now, this. Which is not going the way I expected it to, but maybe I should have expected something like this, considering o/Our history?

Not yet ready to talk about it. What I do want to talk about is the generosity of the gods, is His love, He and Pops, and the Others who are part of our tribe. Our forecast for the next week is pretty intense. I say that knowing that we experience a good 10 to 20 degree drop at night, so even if we do hover at the high 90s like they say we’re going to, it’ll get better at night. However, Corbie doesn’t tolerate the heat well. Already, this past week we had a few mid-90s days, and we spend them continually wetting him down, rubbing rubbing alchohol on his pads to wick away heat, giving him diluted juice (peach, mango, and orange blend thank you very much!) and giving him (vet approved) pedialyte pops. His walks have been kept to a minimum during the hottest parts of the day. Last year, he had heat stroke. He was caught up in seizure for a good hour, and in after-seizure hangover for five, so this is something we are pretty heavily on top of. When I saw the forecast, I realized that I was going to break down and buy an AC unit, with money I really don’t have. It was a week long spell of similar temps that brought him to seizure last year, and there was no way in hell that we were going back there. So, my plans for today were to go shopping around. My favoritest thing in the whole wide world.

Except in a rare example of giving in to her paranoia about turning things off before she leaves the house, Beth returned home to make sure the fan we leave on for Corbie was in fact left on. And she ran into our neighbor, and the subject of air conditioners came up, and she told him we were breaking down and buying one for next week. Lo and behold, didn’t he have a portable one that he wasn’t using, in his storage, and couldn’t we, in fact, use it, if it still worked? Yes, yes he did, yes we could, and yes, it does.

So instead of trying to figure out how to deal with vet bill (because he’s coughing a bit more, and I want to make sure it’s just summer stress and bad air, so they’ll be out this coming week) and pay utilities and afford to put $150-$200 into getting an AC unit (usually we opt to skip the utility bill and then take a season playing catch up), we now have an AC unit on loan, that is probably better than anything I could buy.

Am not looking forward to what this will do to the electric bill, but I figure, it’s better than more vet bills or worse, so it’s good.

I bring this back to Poseidon, to the gods, to the spirits of my tribe, because — things like this happen. And yes, one could say that it was just our neighbor being kind and generous, and the gods may have nothing to do with it at all. (One could, in fact, say “what gods?”) But I don’t see things that way. I don’t see things being so disconnected. Poseidon and Odin provide for us, so long as we are open to allowing Them to do so. I may not get that stipend that I (sort of) joke about, but I can’t say that He doesn’t provide, in other ways.

My dog is not going to have a heat stroke this coming week, and it’s because Poseidon and Odin are awesome.

Hail the gods.

Posted by: naiadis | July 8, 2014

Intro to Revivalism

naiadis:

I am so excited to see Immersive polytheistic Revivalism becoming a thing. I do not like the term ‘devotional polytheism’ for a number of reasons that I’ll possibly get into int the future. Yes, immervise polytheist revivalism is a mouth full, but it is also the first collection of labels beyond “pagan” or “polytheist” that have made me say, “oh, yes, that’s exactly right!”

Camille talks specifically about her Roman variety of Revivalism in this video, and also what she means by Revivalism. I cannot wait to see more videos by her on this topic, and I can’t wait to see others writing about this. I know I’ve already got a view videos in mind, and oh look, I have some time off on Thursday . . .

Originally posted on Foxglove & Firmitas:

My basic run-down of what I mean when I talk about Revivalism and the Revivalist Movement within Polytheism and Paganism.   I promise to get better at video blogging! And I will be attempting to get a transcript available asap.

 

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Posted by: naiadis | July 8, 2014

Some thoughts on the Vigil

Minor babbbling — I was spot on with regards to how this observance of the Vigil is playing out. Poseidon and I are having some great/heavy conversations. I can’t say that this year isn’t as intense as it was last year, because I find myself overwhelmed and struggling, but it’s intense in different directions, and I feel a bit as though this year He is trying to distract me (possibly Himself?) from the depth of the Grief that He feels over this slaughter. (And it’s not just THIS slaughter. This slaughter is acting as a representation over all needless slaughter.) There are taboos that I observe for this Vigil that have been lifted, some that have themselves been made taboo for this year, and new taboos put in place. Living tradition, right? Walking with the gods and spirits. The same journey is never the same journey.

Posted by: naiadis | July 6, 2014

It Begins

naiadis:

Funny how these things feel different from year to year. Last year, I wanted to post about each day of the vigil, and I’m already thinking about how to share it next year, but this year I want to hold it super-close. I want to sit and let the Holy Grief wash over me, and I don’t want to have to worry about words. Instead, I’m reblogging this poem that I wrote last year, to mark the start of the vigil. Hail, Poseidon.

Originally posted on Strip Me Back To The Bone:

bull

It begins in the night,
half the world away as dawn gives way to day
and is over in the blink of an eye
until the next day
and the next day
day upon day
a dance of danger
of life racing
towards the end.
Adrenaline and fear
excitement and daring
of the air charged with the promise of violence.
Blood awaits at the finish line
day upon day
and the next day
and the next day
until the adrenaline snaps
and the blood is shed
and we are gored to the bone
our flesh torn to ribbons
our blood running in rivers,
and it is over in the blink of an eye.

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