Posted by: naiadis | October 21, 2014

Names Don’t Matter — An Update

My post Names Don’t Matter (or what to do when your god pokes around with your identity by poking around with his own) talks quite about about gods, identities, and the trauma that can come about when They play a sort of bait-and-switch on you. (Okay. It wasn’t exactly a bait-and-switch, but it was . . . something. Certainly something.) I’m a big fan of “keeping it real” — the goal I have with sharing glimpses into my spiritual life is offering a living example of how it can be — and that means showing how it can be terrifying, scary, miserable, and harrowing even as it can be joyous, wonderful, uplifting, nourishing, and can provide great strength. I understand people wanting to only show the good, the positive, but part of my way of making sure my vulnerabilities do not control me or grow into mind-numbing fears, is by naming them and exposing them to the light of day. I’ve had too many comments from readers who have thanked me for writing as I do to pretend that what I share and how I share does not help others. So, yes, that’s part of it. Keeping on keeping on. But, naming things and exposing them is a sort of letting things go, and it helps me even if I had no audience.

I do have an audience, though, and so many of you were so very kind and supportive in the aftermath of that post. I’ve wanted to explore this whole thing more — and I may still — but right now, words are not coming. I’m sitting with it, as He asked me to do so, and I’ve reached a point of not really being able to talk about where my mind is going with all of this. But, because so many of you were so very kind and supportive, I wanted to provide a small update. Another thank you, and to let you know that the mad-feeling (as in madness, not as in angry) flailing has subsided. The whole thing did work to get me unstuck from a Hellenic approach (He’s back to being MY Poseidon, informed by history, but rooted in o/Our past, if that makes sense? Our foundation is o/Our foundation. He’s back, I suppose, to being my Hearth, in my mind — my center, rather than this distant figure from history that belongs to everyone. Of course, He belongs to everyone — or, those He chooses belong to Him, rather — but . . . I can’t explain well. O/our foundation is better, because of all of this, and I’m rooted in Him, rather than in His history, or any history at all) and has me exploring more widely again, and this is very, very good. I’m holding the whole Hindu stuff at an arm’s length right now (in part due to NaNo being right around the corner — we’re about to get to writing for serious!) which is a timely and useful and valid excuse.

That’s where we’re at, right now. And it’s good. It’s very, very good.

Posted by: naiadis | October 20, 2014

[Marketing Monday!] Spirit Touched excerpt

If you’re thinking about signing up for my story subscription for December’s installment, here’s a free sneak peek at what’s in store! (Heck, even if you aren’t, here’s a free sneak peek anyway!)

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I crested the hill while the sun was still three finger-lengths above the horizon and stopped cold. Fear curdled in my stomach and burned in my throat. It wasn’t that the forest had grown in the half-season since I’d last passed this way. Forests often behaved in ways one couldn’t anticipate, advancing over this valley, retreating from that mountainside, devouring villages and villagers alike, or ringing the town with living, growing walls to keep the humans safe from the creatures that roamed the night. There was no predicting what the trees might do, not even the Summoners. To try was to tempt madness. The forest was closer to Midpoint Crest, the spot where I stood locked in dread, by roughly a morning’s hike, and the nearest village was three days back the way I’d come. No one had mentioned it in at the inn, and so no one was overly concerned, but then why would they be? This close to our stronghold, the forest was more likely to be friendly than not. This close to our stronghold, the humans were more likely to be friendly than not, come to that. No, the forest itself did not worry me.

Neither did the moon-wisps roosting in the tall grasses along the side of the road. Their ghostly forms looked like heatwaves that sometimes kicked up on the broad roads during the height of summer to the naked eye, but the day around me was chill enough that knowing them for what they were was no trouble. Nor was I was not dependent upon only my eyes to see them. They drowsed in the fading sunlight, their eyes closed, their red-tipped claws curled around their torsos. I counted less than a dozen on either side, eighteen or twenty all told. This was a new tribe, young and small. It could make them dangerous; young tribes were more likely to attack something that they had no hope of taking down, and while twenty had no hopes of causing me mortal harm, even alone as I was, it would take time I didn’t have to subdue them. I’d rather avoid it, if I could, and I had enough sunlight left to put distance between myself and the moon-wisps before they roused to their hunt.

What gave me pause – what rooted my feet to the road, kicked the bottom out of my stomach, and set the acid burning up my throat – was the blood-sickle brambles growing on either side of the road half a league from where I stood. The tell-tale glint of silver as the sunlight hit their leaves chilled my blood. The faint tinking of those leaves as they sought around them for food caused sweat to break out along my skin. For an instant I was fresh on my first solo journey, untried and nervous, with only my shadow, my eaglyn, and my power to protect me. I had years of experience under my feet since my first run in with the blood-sickle. I had confidence and practical knowledge and, more to the point, a larger network of allies at my disposal. I was close enough to safety that help would reach me before they cut my last breath from my body.

But, I had neither my shadow nor my eaglyn to send to fetch the help. There was less than three fingers left of sunlight. My other allies rarely ventured this close to the Summoner stronghold. None of the patrons at the inn mentioned anything about the blood-sickle being this close to a human settlement. Worse than that, I’d been traveling three days on this road without seeing any other travelers. This was the biggest, safest route running from Hell’s Gate to Riverbend Haven. This close to winter heavy traffic would be surprising, but no traffic at all was just as bad. Two days ago I’d sent Mecklin airborne to see if he could catch wind of any news. Yesterday I’d sent my shadow on to see what she could find out. That neither of them spotted the blood-sickle meant it hadn’t been there as recently as yesterday.

Which meant it was swarming.

Which meant there was not even close to enough daylight left for me to reach safety.

I stood atop the hill and gazed down upon my doom. Uphill and upwind from the blood-sickle, I knew that it was already aware of my presence. For all I knew its runners were already burrowing through the earth, racing to reach me, to seize my feet and hold me still until the long shadows of night freed the rest of the plant to come and devour me. It would follow, even if I ran all the way back to Riverbend Haven. It would head there next, if I didn’t destroy it all now – root and runner, seed and leaf, stem, flower, and fruit.

Blood-sickle was tenacious and deadly but, unlike most of the nightmares that ruled the dark, it was simple. It was fast and it devoured everything in its path. It knew no discernment. Flesh and bone and blood was on its menu, as well as wood and sap and flower. It devoured wherever it went, and the land it left behind huge swaths of barren, cursed land. Nothing could grow, and anything dwelling upon the land for long would sicken and die. Even the beasts of darkness. Because of this, blood-sickle was destroyed where it was found, and in this, like in so many other areas, the nightmares ruled. We still didn’t know how they destroyed the blood-sickle so thoroughly. We used sunlight, lent to us by the Five, celestial fire captured and distilled and injected into the very soul of the plant. Most of the time this worked. Most of the time. But it was always costly, and it always left me vulnerable for days, and I’d never, in all the times I’d done this, managed it alone.

Could I destroy it? On my own, with little sunlight left, and tribe of moon-wisps waiting in the wings to take a bite out of me? Could I eradicate the carnivorous plant from the world before it sliced my life away and took my soul into its gut? Or was this going to be the time and place I died? Was this to be the end of Caleyna Summoner? Lost on the ancient road between Hell’s Gate and Riverbend Haven, picked apart by a plant that’s plagued humankind and nightmares alike since the world’s end?

I eyed the angle of the sun, sinking ever closer to the horizon as I stood and debated. There was nothing to be done for it. I was here. I was alone. If I did nothing, I was sure to die. Time was against me.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

If you want to know more about what happens to Caleyna, be sure to sign up by Dec. 1st! See my story subscription page for more details!

Often only in my head, but it’s still true. One of the things I dislike about my location (there are a few things, though not many) is the bus-wide conversations that happen. Not, mind you, a conversation that includes all or many of my fellow riders, but a conversation between two people who are sitting far apart from one another on the bus. (Why can’t you simply relocate??) It happens a lot. Because the bus routes I take go past the Sponsors locations, there is often a lot of bus-wide conversation about recovery, which almost always leads to religious conversations. This is where I admit to being an asshole, at least in my thoughts.

I resent having to hear bus-wide conversations about being saved, about finding Jesus, about coming to God. It’s annoying, it’s uncomfortable (dude, these are private conversations you are sharing with the whole bus!!), and, most annoyingly of all, it’s loud. I’ve gotten used to it enough that so long as I keep music playing on my phone, I can just deal with it. But as soon as I hear certain catch-phrases, “the Lord,” “found Jesus”, I can’t help it. I mentally roll my eyes and indulge in a moment of resenting the religious majority and the obliviousness they are allowed to have.

There was one such conversation that happened last week. It wasn’t bus-wide, but it was right behind me, and I didn’t want to deal with it. I cranked up my music (Magdalena by APC) and tried to not listen, but I only have one working ear bud right now, so I caught snippets. For which I was resentful.

Until I heard the one guy encouragingly share with this bus-mate that, since having found his Lord, he wakes up with hopes and dreams, rather than wanting to eat a bullet.

And I realized all over again that sometimes? Sometimes I’m an asshole.

Compassion as I strive to embody it is not simply for my fellow pagans. It’s not simply for the religious minorities. I know nothing beyond what people choose to share, and life can utterly suck sometimes — often times, for a lot of people. All the time, for some. It’s not my place to take from them what builds them up. It’s not my place to ridicule what sustains them — not even in my own head where they’ll never see or know.

Posted by: naiadis | October 19, 2014

Mornings with Poseidon

IMG_20141018_234238

Quickie post for right now — my morning at the shrine! I was up late this morning, and I need to roll out to go grocery shopping in half an hour, but the image touched me today and I wanted to share. My morning routine is extremely simple — I light incense, I pour Him some of my first cup of tea (with sugar, if you please, though He’s ambivalent about the creamer, with me) and I spend time touching in. There are prayers, sometimes, but often this time of year there’s just u/Us chatting. It’s a small ritual, but when I skip it, I feel it. This, more than shielding, more than showering, more than anything else, grounds me and prepares me for the day.

It need not be fancy. It simply needs to connect you.

Posted by: naiadis | October 18, 2014

Keeping it Real; or: I am grateful for moments of humility.

Today was an errand running day for me. In my capacity of (volunteer!) Fiberwytch Assistant (or, F’wytchlet), I made my way to acquire some additional storage drawers, a bead-and-charm organizer, and a sync cable that did not come with the new store camera, despite the sales clerk insisting that it did, indeed. Heading out to our big box stores is always interesting to me. If I only look at the buildings, I realize could be Anywhere, USA. It’s a type of magic, really, that playing with reality and space, that something can be the same no matter where in the country one find’s oneself. When I look at the scenery, everything changes. Huge open sky. Mountains in the distance — from one particular vantage point, I can see a snow-capped peak most of the year. At the right time of year (read: most of the year) I can see the storms as they roll in. It’s a beautiful location, and I enjoy the trip out, every time I go. I don’t go often, because I hate shopping. I hate being in stores. I hate being away from home. But, this trip needed to happen, both for the store and for a few things we needed for the house, and so off I went, knitting in tow.

~*~*~*~*~

Every time I venture to Walmart, a conflict sets up within my mind and my heart. It’s uncool to be seen as wanting to shop at Walmart. It certain economic sectors it’s undesirable to be seen as financially supporting Walmart as a business, considering how they treat their employees, how they’re underpaid, etc. If that’s not enough, it’s uncool in my particular location to choose to support the big box stores rather than thrift stores or local crafters/artisans/what-have-you. And, of course, I would rather purchase a handmade bedspread than a mass produced polycotton comforter — who wouldn’t? It’s all very well and good to say make do or shop local, don’t support this big box store that does not pay its employees well enough that they can afford to live on their own . . . .

Except, my employer does not pay well enough that I could live on my own. I work full time. I’ve been with them for a decade. If I was on my own, I’d qualify for food stamps. I cannot imagine doing this with children to support. This whole ‘eat locally, live sustainably,’ push is not going to work before we make wages high enough that people can live sustainably. It’s not going to go the other way around. I would love, love to be able to shop thrift stores — but I’m too fat and too short. I’d love to buy handmade or at least locally made goods. I often do go without. Currently, my wardrobe consists of two pairs of slacks for work, two tops for work, a pair of jeans, and one extra top. I own a pair of four year old sandals, and shoes for work that need to be replaced before real winter sets in. (heh. So I’ve got another two months before I have to worry about that.) Today’s trip included getting a second pair of sweatpants because the nights are getting colder, a second pair of jeans for Beth, an umbrella, and a splurge on a second set of sheets for Beth’s bed. I bought a three-drawer plastic drawer unit for the store, because Beth’s storage consists of shoving her material into bags, into the closet. It takes her most of her production time to simply find the material she needs for any given project. I have moral, ethical issues with the amount of plastic in our lives . . . but the solution isn’t always going to be go without, and the changes in a lot of these cases are not going to come at a lower level. How we consume needs to be changed . . . but there are some things that cannot be changed on a individual level.

Never mind that Walmart and Target and other box stores in my area employ local people. My neighbors. You want to see these people working better paying jobs at local-focused industries, that pay them a living wage and allow flexibility? Unless you’re stepping up with a solution to that problem, pipe down. Also, get over yourselves with being too good to shop in “those” places.

~*~*~*~*~

I know I dislike shopping in Walmart, but so much of that for me is the atmosphere — not the people (and I despise people making fun of people shopping at Walmart, and how they may or may not look. If you laugh at people based on how they look, shame on you, and kindly remove yourself from my blog, thank you, bye) — but the lights. The vaulted ceiling. The noise echoing. It’s too much background stimulation, and it’s uncomfortable. (As in, now that I’m home, I’m pretty much done for the whole day. I need to nest and regroup). I do like being able to go and get a bunch of much-needed items for a price that isn’t going to break me.

I dunno. Relevant to my spiritual practice because now and again I get full of myself — “I’m going to eat locally! I’m going to eat organically! I’m going to support local artists and craftspeople and recycle/upcycle/do everything from scratch!” Except, I have three jobs. THREE JOBS. And a very expensive dog, a slightly less expensive Beth, a slightly less expensive cat, three low-cost cats ;) and a house to help upkeep. I don’t have time to do it all from scratch.

Get over yourself, Jo.

And keep it humble. Keep it real. Stop the shame-cycle, even when it’s just effecting yourself.

Posted by: naiadis | October 17, 2014

Sock, Part Deux! [FiberyGoodnessFriday]

socks! and one gouty toe . . .

socks! and one gouty toe . . .

No, you’re not seeing double. That’s my sock. My second sock. That I made. With glorified string. By myself. My very own sock.

Er. Beth’s very own sock! SockS!

For those interested in such things: the yarn I used was Jacob yarn from Shaggy Bear Farms here in Oregon. For the last few years their booth at Black Sheep Gathering has caught my eye, and caught up in my “by golly I’m gonna knit socks!!” fervor this summer, I finally, finally purchased some of their yarn. Jacob yarn, because, dude. Jacob sheep.

Jacob sheep.

Jacob sheep.

I'm not kidding, you guys.

I’m not kidding, you guys.


Based on the sheep breeds that I’ve had the opportunity to be around and whose fiber I’ve been able to knit, if Beth and I had land and could support a spinners flock? I’d want Shetland sheep, hands down, but I want Jacob sheep for their fleece, and they are my second choice in any case. Those faces. Those horns! *dies*

So, I purchased two hanks of yarn; one in their Jade colorway, one in their Triple Berry Pie colorway. The socks above are, despite how the phone camera depicts the color, are knit in the triple berry pie colorway.

The pattern I used was Easy Cuff-Down Worsted Weight Socks which I found on Ravelry for free. The pattern is pretty simple, which is exactly what I needed: a length of ribbing, a length of stockinette, some heel shaping with some less than terrifying but still unnerving picking up of stitches, and then more stockinette. I altered the length of these because I didn’t have a ton of extra yarn, and because I started them in the summer. I thought: ankle socks.

The pattern is upfront in that the heels are narrow, so I can’t exactly complain that the actual heel only covers three quarters the width of my heel — I’m a bigger gal, sideways if not up, and I know I have wide feet. Wool is, thankfully, stretchy and forgiving, and really, I could keep these socks, wear them, and have no problem with the decrease ridge being under my heel rather than framing my ankle. But, Beth has narrower feet than I do, and it was nothing to just make the foot longer and decide that they would be hers, and that the second pair could be mine.

I’m still unsure if I’m going to try to find a different pattern, or if I’m going to try to compensate for my wider heel. I like this pattern — it knits up quick, it makes some comfy basic socks, and most importantly right now, it’s familiar. Knitting what I know, knitting around the same block a time or two, bolsters my courage . . . and you know, there are still cables to try at some point. Courage could come in handy.

Next up? Another pair of socks! If my brother ever gets around to giving me his measurements, I can start his, but if not, Beth can always use some more. I suspect store-bought socks will be tapering out of my wardrobe right quick.

What’s on your needles?

(may the writing of this get the bee from my bonnet)

This is a follow up to my previous post, A Problem with a Human-centric View of the Spirit Worlds which was, in essence, a rebuttal to Erin Lale’s “Humans, Stop Misusing the Rainbow Bridge.” In truth, the first was not truly a rebuttal, but more of “ . . . er?” This post, however, is more properly a rebuttal, though it’s my intent that this essay be more than just a rebuttal. I’m not interested in arguing for the sake of arguing, and I’m not really out to change peoples minds so much as I am out to explore as fully and as deeply as I can the ideas that I come across that disturb me – and the imagery of Bifrost being littered by carcasses of dogs and cats, far as the eye could see, does disturb me, deeply. Why? Where do I start?

The most immediate and perhaps the most simple of the reasons I find this disturbing is the image Erin’s story conjures up: the bodies of dogs and cats across the bridge, curled up like dead ants, a throng of the inanimate dead, without their souls, whose physical weight is such a burden to this divine bridge that Bifrost is weakening, is threatened. This image does not mesh at all with the image that’s put forth in the Rainbrow Bridge poem. In that poem, the souls of our beloved animal companions are active, are happy, and are running around fields, unburdened, whole and hale and content – or, mostly content. They are, after all, waiting for their beloved humans to join them, to be reunited with their special people. I have issues with the idea of Bifrost as a pathway for the dead to the underworlds, as that bridge is Gjallarbru, but I have to remind myself I am not a lorehound (I view the lore as UPG with the weight of tradition behind it, nothing more) and that alone is not a reason to have such a reaction to this idea. Once I have that nit-picky reaction set down, what really bothers me with this idea is: now I have this fucking image in my head that I cannot get out of my head, and I find it emotionally and mentally disturbing.

If visualization has power, if how we imagine things matter to such an extent that we are shaping the afterlife of our loved ones (rather than they themselves, as beings with their own agency) then it does not follow that the imagining of thousands of people – people who may have skill and focus and practice with visualization, but at the same time people who may not – of their loved ones, romping and playing and well in some halfway-world that they reached along a rainbow bridge thus becomes an image of dead bodies littering Bifrost. Are these their bodies, or are these their spirits? Does visualization have power, and thus we create what we visualize, or is there only one Rainbow Bridge possible, and only one way of existing in the afterlife, and thus, no matter how you picture it, there are dead physical bodies scattered all over Bifrost? Which is it? Because if it’s one, then I don’t see how Bifrost can possibly be threatened, and if it’s the other, than visualization cannot possibly matter and surely they are ending up there anyhow.

But this is still nit-picking at what I see as a lack of logic as well as human-centric shortsightedness. Because I’m interested in being as honest as possible, I’ll admit here and now: I find the idea offensive. There are few ideas that reach out and hit me in the “ugh, sacrilege, hubris, repulsive!” center, because we all come to things as we come to things, and what other people think is none of my business. If I only found the idea offensive, I’m not sure I’d even be moved to write about it, because, again: not my business, and the gods and spirits do not need me to defend them or anything of theirs. But I’m more than just offended and repulsed – I’m also a good deal angry at this very idea. Why?

We are so ill equiped in our society to admit that death and dying is a thing that happens. There is very few rituals and rites of mourning, of recognizing the agony that can be surviving our loved ones, especially as we move outside of religious communities and are dealing with by and large secular culture. To give you some understanding of where I’m coming from let me explain to you that death and dying was a part of my life from a very young age. I know there are people out there who go for decades before they experience losing a loved one. Not so, in my case. I was two when my father buried his eldest daughter. I was four or five, maybe six, when my great-grandmother died. Her husband followed her the year later. The year after that my paternal grandmother died, and it took two heart-attacks to finish the job. My mother gave birth to and lost a daughter when I was seven. We lost my paternal grandfather two years after that. There were a number of great aunts and uncles that died between my Papa dying and my own father, who passed away after five years of fighting his illness, five years of the doctors saying he really ought not still be alive, five years of bedside vigils and wondering, is this the time he won’t wake up again? Will this be it? We reached a point, once, when they could not get him to come off the respirator, and we were faced with making that call – is this it? Do we have him come off and let him die? (He woke up, and made it clear that no, he wanted to keep fighting, which thank the gods that he was able to wake up and let us know, but how, in all those years of near-misses, had that not already been made known to people? I had no idea, but I was thirteen when all this started, and it wasn’t really my place to know such things. And yes, this is when a lot of my ‘what the fuck is wrong with people? Head – > sand-ing this does not make it go away?’ took root in my heart) Five years is a long time to play the denial game, but in the end, he died, as well. Because we do, you see.

It doesn’t stop there. I lost a few classmates while in highschool. Parents of friends passed away. And then, it did stop, at least for a time. And then, then? Then the Big Ones began hitting. In 2007, Angel, my beloved companion, my best friend, the being who wedged his place into my heart before Poseidon ever uttered his name to me, died. One weeks before my birthday he was diagnosed with end-stage heart failure. A week after my birthday he was dead, and I was inconsolable.

I knew he was going to die – I’d been mentally preparing for his death for most of the time he’d been with me. It’s something I still do – I play what-if. What happens if my younger brother dies before me? What will that funeral be like? Will I even be able to attend? What about if my mother dies first? What will that be like? What’s it going to be like when our dog dies, when the cats start going. It’s part of how I hold onto the idea that the last time I see anyone could be the last time, and it helps me remain aware of our mortality, to how fleeting life can be. But, mentally preparing is shit, utter shit when it comes to some deaths, and Angel’s death broke me. I knew it was coming – he was a Pomeranian; chances were good that I was going to outlive him. He was my first animal companion. He was by my side for fourteen long years. He was with me as I left my mother’s house. He left Massachusetts with me, first to northern PA, and then, later to Philadelphia. I was terrified that he’d be picked on, both by Beth’s Maine Coon Sassy and her Keeshund Orion (in fact, Sassy took to him like she did not take to most of the other animals that came into our lives, and Angel bullied Orion.) He saw me through many changes in my life. I wrote my first book with him at my feet. We rambled through nature together. I shoveled pathways for that dog through feet and feet of snow during our long winters. We had a kinship that went beyond words, beyond species, and everyone who met him commented on his spirit. He was a dog . . . but barely, it seemed. Angel was . . . Angel. I don’t have words. And when he died, I was wretched. Grief unlike any I’d ever known consumed me. On the one hand, it made no sense – I was already Odin’s by this point, already Poseidon’s. I believed in, and interacted with, spirits and gods, and I knew that death was just a gateway, that it was nothing more than a transition. On the other hand, having someone physically present, and then having that physical, tangible presence taken away is a hard, hard adjustment. It hurts.

I wish I’d had something in place, some tool, something, anything, that could have provided comfort. Instead, I went a tad bit insane. Everything came into question at that point – all my decisions in my life up to that point, everything I planned for my future, everything. And then, it didn’t stop again. A year and two days after Angel died, we had to put Orion to sleep. The year after that my uncle died – and that was a hard one, too. He’d been more like a father to me than my own father had been, and his death was, while not entirely unexpected, still hit hard. But – and here’s where the “cold” bits come in, though I maintain that we all grieve differently – it did not have the impact that Angel’s death had on me. It’s likely because Angel was part of my every day life, whereas I saw my uncle on holidays and for birthdays and the like. He wasn’t a daily part of my life. And, he’d been sick and fighting it, for some time. It’s possible, too, that Angel helped pave the way for the devastating deaths, so that none would ever hurt quit that much again. I dunno. Grief is funny. Whatever.

There was a year off, then. Such a nice year. And then in 2011 Sassy died – at home, and Icannot praise our lovely vet team enough, that made such a thing happen. My grandfather followed half a year later, and his death really put to the test the theory that none would hit as hard as Angel’s did. My grandfather’s death threw me down into a very black place. We lost Princess two months after that, and then my grandmother died in December – five months after my grandfather, to be buried on his birthday.

So – I’m not one of those people who make it into my twenties or thirties before I have any experiences with how we deal with death, dying, and mourning. And I learned that, mostly, we don’t? In my family, we have the wakes. We have the funerals. Sometimes they get combined. We have the reception. We don’t talk about death, save for making gallow’s humor jokes. (Guilty of that myself. Kevin and I giggled all the way through Gippy’s funeral mass, so I’m not judging) We don’t, for example, talk about people looking at death as though they are looking at death. We don’t talk about end of life care frankly and openly – we use euphemisms, and we dance around it, and we talk of hope. When death has come, we talk about life, and we make jokes, and we eat food – and I understand the point to this ritual, but we do these things, and then we are expected to get on with life. We get time to grieve for our parents, our siblings, our grandparents or our parents’ siblings . . . but barely. Grieving is a private thing, and we don’t talk about it with others, and when we are caught up in it, we do our best to not bring other people down. When it lingers, when months and then years we are caught by this grief, seized by it all unawares, we do not share it. We hold it close and we pretend all is fine. We would rather scream our lose, our pain, our agony, but we don’t. Because it’s private.

And these are for people. What tools do we have for mourning our beloved companions? Angel’s death laid me low, and his constant press against me, the awareness of his presence, wanting to reassure his dear friend, made it all worse. He left for a time – of his own violition, not mine – so that I could adjust, but it would be years before the brush of his mind against mine did not have me sobbing out the ache in my heart, or before just a glimpse of a Pomeranian wouldn’t bring tears to my eyes.

Personally, my mourning rituals are established at this point. I hold the grief as it comes up, and I refuse to pretend it’s less or more than it is. In our tradition, Hunt Season, the time of year when Odin’s Hunt rides the worlds, informs our yearly cycle. Hunt Season spans a huge part of the year, from September to May Day, and in our practice, the veil between the worlds (which is never more than a thin veil for us anyway) is non-existent. Our beloved dead are welcome in our home and in our lives year round, but during this season we make sure to set aside time to honor them. For years, we held the Festival of Treats on September 29th, between Angel’s death and Orion’s death, but when Sassy died in October, we decided to move the Festival of Treats to Samhain. We hold a Dumb Supper for our human dead, and the Festival of Treats for our animal companions. We honor people individually on their birthdays, or on other anniversary dates, as well. We don’t pretend death doesn’t happen, or that it hasn’t happened, and we don’t pretend to that the boundaries between the worlds are not porous, flimsy things. I maintain a relationship with my father. I’ve received messages for cousins and aunts. It’s not regular – I’m not a medium – but it has happened, with somewhat unsettling (for me) results.

Now – I understand the merit of “faking it until it’s true” as a method of coping for some people, in some instances. Hit with the avalanche that can be grief, letting it consume you and tear your life apart around is not necessarily the path you want to take, because eventually life does have to go on. We have, though, a decided lack of mourning customs and rituals in our society. I’ll go so far as to say that even within religious communities, there is a lack. While I do believe that the best way for any one person to process their grief is to do what works for them, there are a range of tools and options that many people simply do not know about because we don’t talk about these things. It’s better to have too many options rather than not enough. Mourning traditions, which can include not speaking the deceased’s name, wearing certain colours or refraining from wearing certain colours, avoiding certain places or seeking them out, telling stories about the deceased, avoiding certain activities. I know in some places, in some cultures, not speaking the names of the dead was a method to keep their spirits away, though I see that less of a warding away danger and more of a not getting their attention as they transition into a new way of existing.

After my grandfather died, I started wearing my black veil all the time. I wear two at a time, wrapped together, so there was still colour, but I rarely wear the black one, and it’s set aside now specifically for mourning, ancestor work, and deathwork. (During the Vigil for the Bulls, for example, it’s worn). I made a greater effort to walk part of the way home from work every day, because walking the near two miles each day was symbolic of some in-jokes, reminded me of the rambles we used to talk around town, honored his memory of being the man who walked everywhere (once, including some absurd distance – close to 40 miles round trip, I believe – to watch a college football game), and helped me feel closer to him. The spring after my grandmother died, I mentally and then physically wrote her letters detailing the transition from winter into spring as the flowers began to come out – something I had been doing since our move to Eugene, because springtime flowers in January. I found myself missing that exchange, and so I wrote to her, anyway.

Beth and I still haven’t worked out the mechanics of our Dumb Supper to where we want them to be. We want to honor people with favorite dishes, but we have a huge assembly and that’s too much food from too many different cultures – traditional Jewish noms (that would in no way be kosher), traditional American south dishes, Germanic-American foods, some nice apple pie with cheese . . . I just . . . it’s too much, and too overwhelming, and maybe we need to start a rotation or something. I dunno. But, we are working on it, and though the Dumb Supper in 2012 was hell on earth for me, having them regularly has helped, a ton.

Our Festival of Treats is a longer standing tradition – that started in 2008, and we’ve held it every year since. I also tend a shrine that houses the remains, or visual reminders, of Angel, Orion, Sassy, Princess, and Amadeus, a former cat of Beth’s who I wish I’d been able to snuggle in life. An icon of Bastet presides over the shrine (we were, for a time, a family of eight cats, and we’ve done cat rescue in the past. We’ve got a working relationship with Her, and it suits us all) and in the morning, as part of my opening-of-the-shrines-to-the-day ritual, Angel gets hailed, welcomed, and I spend a moment being with him, being together. They get offerings and they get attention, and they are as part of our lives as our gods are – and that helps, too. This, too, is part of my dealing with my grief, and having this ritual helps immensely, on days when the grief rears up and threatens to overwhelm.

What about people that don’t have this? What about people that don’t have anything in place? No one in my extended family would dare say to me that Angel was just a dog, and I should get over it – they know me too well, even if they hadn’t seen our bond in action, to utter such a foolish phrase. But not everyone is lucky enough to have family members with the sense of when to hold their tongues. What of those people, with no methods of grieving in place for those whom they love, with friends and family who do not understand the grief that can come from losing one’s animal companions, and whose attempts to help sound callous and unkind? What of these people whose first experience to pet grief and grieving is the Rainbow Bridge – a useful, sweet imagery that is, in many cases, all a person has, the only accepted outlet that wider culture may recognize, know, and understand? For many people, this is the reality, and the idea of taking that away, more than any other part of this conflation between the two bridges, is what sets a sour feeling in my stomach and revulsion in my heart. It is the part of this entire idea that creates a visceral reaction and ignites anger. This is the root of why the very idea turns me off and upsets me so. Not the conflating of Bifrost and the Rainbow Bridge. Not the idea of cultural appropriation (which I cannot seriously entertain, because I cannot get my brain to accept that the two are one and the same; no one owns the rainbow imagery, and the Scandinavians were not the only ones to use it as such). Not the seeming confusion about the power visualization can have (does it make it one even if people have no idea of Bifrost, or are they creating their own, other bridge? Is there power to visualization, or is there not?), but this. We are so lacking in tools for grief and grieving in this culture – to take one away that many people find comforting, and useful, over such an absurd idea that anything we humans at all can do could threaten the integrity of a construct of the gods, that exits for the gods – and, too, the temerity that humans will or can make or break something of the gods has fueled these essays, I have to admit, hence the previous part of this – bothers me. On the compassion and empathetic levels, it bothers me. I don’t think that challenging ideas are wrong, necessarily – but I do feel that we should be held to a certain standard of compassion and empathy when we are doing so. I believe more harm than good can come from doing so carelessly. Grief and grieving is, in my worldview, a sacred and oft-times neglected place. The process, the stages, deserve (and in my view, need) honor and respect and care, and the people going through the stages also deserve that honor, respect, and care. Compassion, humility, empathy. Not the stripping away of one tool that may be the only tool some people have access to.

The disturbed feeling remains. The very concept still hits my ‘eh, hubris, sacrilege, uggh’ centers. But, I’ve explored why, and I’m content that I understand why, and I’m happy, now, to put the very concept out of my mind. Someday, I hope to get the fucking image of dead animals strew about Bifrost like so many grains of rice out of my head, too.

I meant to post this when the review went live, but time is a thing that I keep not having. That and memory. I need to maybe start a list of the things that need attending. (Three jobs, y’all. Three.)

Aphrodite’s Tortoise is about the veiling practices and customs of women in ancient Greece. It was a thought-provoking, interesting book that gave me absolutely no historical precedence for my veiling practice, much as I’d hoped it would. The reading of this book helped me realize that 1) I really need to stop deciding I need historical precedence for my veiling practice (Poseidon said do it. I’m doing it.) and 2) I’m not sure how comfortable I am with “modesty”, though I’m not sure what (less used by those in a power-over position as a tool to control) term I’d use instead.

For those of you not in the know: my story subscription is pretty simple. For $5 a month, a previously unpublished story or (more likely) a story-installment of at least four thousand words will land in your inbox in the formatting of your choosing (provided Calibre can handle said format.) It’s nothing fancy — at this point in time there’s no cover art, no fancy formatting, just text written by yours truly. The material will eventually see the light of day for mass consumption, but you get to see it first. In the case of the shorter stories, I plan on publishing them either in collections or individually. In the case of novellas, I plan to release them as one work once their time in the subscription is over. In either case, if you’ve signed up for the story subscription you will receive a free file of the released material in an ebook format of your choice when it goes live. What you get out of the story subscription is: the chance to see the material before the general public does and the knowledge that you are directly and immediately supporting this writer pay down her darn dental bill. Which means: my undying gratitude, too!

My preferred length, when it comes to writing, falls within the 10k-40k range mark. To give you an idea, 10k is roughly 18-20 pages worth of material. The first story I’ve released via the story subscription was Igraine’s Flight, a story about a shapeshifthing hellhound ensnared by a hunter in the Wild Hunt, who slips her leash and dares to seek freedom. She finds it under the care of Marion, a brave woman involved in high-risk dog rescue with nerves of steel and a warm heart. I love this story, I’m very proud of it, and I was very excited to have an outlet for it. It began life as a submission for an anthology, but by the time I hit their upper word limit the story had only *just* begun, and I knew I’d have to find something else do to with it. Then came the surprise surgery, and was I ever glad to have this story mostly written and ready to go!

I’d be lying if I told you that releasing this four thousand-ish words at a time was easy for me. What that sort of a schedule means is that there are folks who will have paid $25 for a novella. Hardcover prices for less than a novel’s worth of material. I have no problem doing that for authors I want to support, but to have people doing so for me . . . it’s humbling, and it comes with a nice helping of guilt, as though I’m sneaking something by my readers, somehow.

Except, my readers are grown-up people who can make grown-up decisions about what they’re doing with their money, and it’s five whole dollars a month. (It’s actually a sliding scale, pay as you will, because generous readers have asked for the option, but $5 is the minimum). So I decided to not insult their intelligence, and I’ve worked to set the guilt feeling aside.

But I can’t. So, my new solution is this:

The story for December is going to be a stand-alone, complete unto itself story, Spirit Touched. Spirit Touched takes you far into our future and introduces you (and me!) to Calenya Summoner, a post-apocalyptic witch who travels her world trying to fight back the darkness the gods let loose upon the world. Spirit Touched is, hopefully, the first in a series of stories that follow Calenya around because frankly, I’m fascinated by this idea. What if the monsters of myths and legends were not only real but were native to our world, natural predators with terror and magic enough to beguile us into submission, creatures that, only through the grace and blessings of the gods, were beaten back into the far reaches of our understanding in the dawn of our species’ history? What happens when the gods, tired of being ignored, tired of being denied, removed themselves from our world and washed their hands of us?

Not all the gods left, of course. The Five remained — five gods unwilling to give up their investment in our species, five gods who have walked with us and given us much during our long history. Five rebellious gods more concerned with progress than with punishment. During the End of the World, when the rest of the gods bound the eyes and stopped up the ears of humanity so that humanity had no hope to fight magic with magic, the Five gathered and sheltered humans who could already see, who already held magic within them. They took those humans to a safe place and taught them how to use that power — how to fight back the darkness, how to heal those in need, how to seek out the blessings of the spirits of the earth. They charged them with a sacred task: to be a light in the coming darkness, and to walk the world, healing it with their presence. The Five move and speak in the world still, but only the Summoners can hear them. Only the Summoners can see them. And only the Summoners stand a chance of holding the press of the nightmares at bay, only the Summoners who give humanity any hope of surviving as a species. It is this power, this gift, that has the Summoners reviled as often as they are embraced, for much of their human cousins believe they called the nightmares from the recesses of the darkness. Feared or loved, reviled or welcomed, the Summoners walk the world and offer what aid they can.

As I’ve said, Spirit Touched is a stand-alone, complete story. (Mostly. It is written as an introduction to a serial, so there are some loose ends, of course, but the story, the main story, has a resolution by the time we hit the end.) I’m offering Spirit Touched as a single installment in December. This means, if you are the least bit interested in signing up for the story subscription, December is the time to do it!. For those signed up by December 1st, you will receive a 10-12k word story for $5. That’s roughly three months worth of material, for the price of one month. If you are even remotely interested, don’t miss this chance! Between the second of Calenya’s stories and Tangled Roots, it’s going to be a while before a complete story in one installment is offered again.

Interested in signing up for Igraine’s Flight? It’s not too late! The final installment goes live Nov 1st. If you sign up by then, you can still receive the previous installments. Simply paypal me the $25 ($5 each for five installments) by Nov 1st (let me know in the comment that that’s what your paying for!) and when I send the final installment out, I’ll send the other four parts with it. After Nov. 1st Igraine’s Flight will not be available to purchase and I do not know yet when it will be released to the general public.

For more information about the story subscription in general, please visit Buy My Fiction page.

Want to read some of my fiction for free? That’s an option, too! You can read Sanctuary Farm; Hieros Gamos; The Bone Boy; Artemis Iokheira; Seeking over at Eternal Haunted Summer (and while you’re there, check out the rest of that magazine!), as well as Promised available over at my writing blog, all at no cost to you.

Posted by: naiadis | October 12, 2014

A Problem with a Human-centric View of the Spirit Worlds

Angel joins the Wild Hunt

Angel joins the Wild Hunt, by Lykeia

To enter into the writing of this essay with the pretense that this is anything other than a rebuttal would be dishonest, so let me be as transparent on that front as I can be. This (and a forthcoming essay) is, indeed, a rebuttal inspired by Erin Lale’s Humans, Please Stop Misusing the Rainbow Bridge, published in
Eternal Haunted Summer’s Autumn 2014
issue. I will not pretend that I did not find her essay thought-provoking or inspiring; clearly I have, and I’ll give credit where it is due. It is not my intention to belittle or antagonize anyone’s experiences with the gods or the conclusions that they’ve drawn from discussions, meditations, omens, signs, or any other such interactions with the gods. (These things are incredibly personal, can be deeply meaningful and fulfilling; it’s not my place nor my desire to belittle these interactions) I am intending to share with my readers why, in my own beliefs, religious practice, relationship with my gods and spirits, the idea that we humans, in holding a certain belief or tradition regarding th the bodies of our beloved animal dead, could cause harm to the bridge that connects Midgard with Asgard, is at best appalling and, at worst, abhorrent.

To begin with, we must first consider: what is Bifrost?

Then spoke Gangleri: ‘What way is there to heaven and earth?’

Then High replied, laughing: ‘That is not an intelligent question. Has no one ever told you that the gods built a bridge to heaven from earth called Bifrost? You must have seen it, maybe it was what you called a rainbow . . . . strong as it is, it will yet break when Muspell’s lads go and ride it . . . ‘

Then spoke Gangleri: ‘It does not seem to me that the gods built the bridge in good faith if it liable to break, considering that they can do as they please.’

Then spoke High: ‘The gods are not deserving of blame for this work. Bifrost is a good bridge but there is nothing in this world that will be secure when Muspell’s sons attack.’ (1)

The above is the first reference to Bifrost from Gylfaginning in Snorri’s Edda; there are more, almost all of which are in Gylfaginning. Other references in ‘the Lore’ to Bifrost mention instead, either bilfrost (2) or call it simply Asbrú (3). Whichever name we call it by, it is the bridge that connects Asgard to the upper reaches of Midgard, where it is guarded by Heimdall, until the Ragnarok arrives with the destructive sons of Muspell, whence the bridge shall fall. Going on ‘the Lore’ (which I acknowledge as nothing more than UPG with the weight of tradition behind it), Bifrost (or Bilfrost, or Asbrú) is not to be confused with Gjallarbrú, the bridge on which the dead travel to the otherworlds. Bifrost, as we read about in the Lore, is a thoroughfare of the gods – not of mortal kind.

Now – I’m going to leave aside the broader problems I have with using Snorri as a primary source without keeping in mind that he was writing post-conversion, and that he was a gothi (and not a heathen one). Neither will I touch upon how authentic to our pre-Christian ancestors I believe the concept of the Ragnarok it comes down to us is (I don’t); I haven’t the time to dig up my notes on these particular subjects, and I’m not all that interested in convincing people of my view on these. I’m not even really interested in quibbling over the actual name of the bridge, though I very well may in the next essay to come. What I want to address here is: the problem of, as I see it, the inherent hubris when we decide that just because we humans are human-centric in our understanding of the worlds that the worlds are, in fact, centered around us.

Many people, in many faiths over the span of many millennia, have viewed human form as the pinnacle of animal existence. While dominion over the earth is a belief that is built in to Christianity, Christians far from the first to have such an idea (and the idea itself need not necessarily lead to abuse and destruction; there are many Christians who espouse the idea of sacred stewardship. Frankly, I wish there were more people like them.) So, this is hardly a new idea, and really, we’d be hard pressed to blame them. Most people see things from their point of view; why wouldn’t that be true as as a collective, as well? But, one of the perks of being as sentient as we allegedly are is, we can choose to move beyond such a limited scope of thinking. Or, at the least, we can choose to be aware that we are coming at things from a certain bias. It makes good, natural sense for humans to be human-centric – to think like a human, to experience the gods like a human, to make sense of the world around us in a way that a human can. I am in no way saying that this is wrong, or even small-minded. I think it’s natural, and I think that it can be useful.

I don’t believe it is the only lens through with to view the worlds, and frankly, whenever I see a pagan (someone I rightly or wrongly assume would have a worldview closer to my own) speaking as though it is the default lens through which to view the worlds, I’m always caught a bit off-guard. I’m reminded that, oh, right, there are even those among ‘my kind’ that don’t see things the way I do.

Caveats I need to include before we go further: I am extremely tribal in my understanding of how familial and societal groups work. I also do not see humans as having any inherent worth that is better or worse than other animal groups. We are adaptable, we are long-lived, we reproduce quickly, and the biggest natural predator we have to worry about is our fellow humans. I do not believe our success in covering this planet is because the gods have blessed us above all other creatures. I believe our so-called success is due to the four points mentioned above. Do the gods bless us? Yes. Do they love us, or support us, or have any number of beneficial feelings toward us, and do they gain something from forging relationships with us? I’m devoted to Poseidon and Odin, what do you think I believe? When I speak of my immediate tribe, I speak of: one fellow human, four presently incarnate felines, one presently incarnate canine, a variety of disincarnate felines and canines who come and go depending on the time of year and their inclination, two Gods, our house wight, and a smattering of other never-incarnate spirits. That is my immediate family, my hearth-tribe, my kindred. You need to understand – when we’re playing the “who would you save in a burning fire, this random child or other type of adult person, or your dog,” game, I mean it when I tell you, my dog is coming out of that building before your brother whom I’ve never met. I am tribal. If the question is between a human I don’t know and another animal I don’t know, there’s some wiggle room, but if it’s between my family and not-my-family, it is my family first, and I don’t understand the mindset of anyone who tells you differently. For me, species does not even enter into the equation. (Any longer. Once upon a time, it would have, and the humans would have had automatic points against them, just for being human. Poseidon has gotten me to the point I’m at now, which helps me be kinder and more compassionate.) Family. Not Family. This particular view has gotten me labeled ‘cold’ and ‘weird’ in the past – and worse – and truth be told, I understand that this view is not the norm.

What I don’t understand is why humans think that their view is the norm, is the default set up of the universe, if the worlds are made up of more than just mankind. If the gods are real beings, if the land spirits and the water wights are real beings, if the various spirits that make up the various worlds – and in heathenry we have a very populated, very varied cosmology – why are the worlds built according to our specs? I don’t mean to suggest a “if you believe the gods are really real, how can you believe/think ______?” challenge here. This isn’t a “you don’t believe the way I do and thus you are obviously wrong” accusation. This is me expressing bafflement without value-judgment. I literally do not understand, if these are all real and all not human, then how does this human centered ordering of the worlds and how they work make sense? This is me saying Why are our actions the ones that have the most weight? Why is it what we believe that effect the whole of everything, regardless of what other beings may be experiencing? Why, by all that is holy, would a prayer that is written to help people grieve for their beloved pets – in a world that by and large ignores death even as it’s happening and has a pathetically unhealthy approach to the grieving process for our fellow humans, never mind the family cat – have anything at all to do with the structural integrity of a cosmic bridge that was built to sustain the heavy foot traffic of the gods?

For those who are not familiar with the Rainbow Bridge (not to be confused with Bifrost) : Just this side of heaven is a place called the Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to the Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water, and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who have been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing: they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind . . . It goes on in that vein (you can read it in full here) and the end sentiment is that, when their special person crosses over, they are reunited.

The conflation of Bifrost with the Rainbow Bridge bothers me, for a number of reasons, and I’ll get into some of them a bit more a forthcoming essay (because yes, it bothers me that much – not in that I’m angry or mad, but rather in that the idea is unsettling and disturbing, and one I want to explore further, to better understand why it’s so unsettling and disturbing). I could use this space to point out that, if only the animals with “special connections” are waiting on that rainbow bridge, and that they are only waiting until their special connection dies to then move on with them, then the idea of Bifrost being littered with the dead bodies of cats and dogs does not mesh with the idea behind this other, different Rainbow Bridge. I could talk a bit about how, if visualization matters, then the fact that the vast majority (if not all) of the people visualizing their beloved pets waiting for them upon a rainbow have no idea and no intent in visualizing Bifrost, it does not follow that Bifrost is at such a risk. It’s very likely that I will talk about that more in a forthcoming post regarding the shit-tastic way our culture deals with death, dying, and grieving, and why I don’t believe Bifrost can be threatened by this other, different Rainbow Bridge, but fixating on these two pieces of writing and using them to refute each other really isn’t my aim here.

What is my aim here? My aim here is, in the end, to challenge our assumptions. The assumption I’m focusing on right now is the assumption that the afterlife of our animal companions is in any way, shape, or form, decided upon by us. I hold that all animals have spirits. It has been my experience, with the animals I’ve shared my life with, with animals I’ve held while they’ve died, with animals I’ve interacted with after they’ve crossed over (in some cases an animal I’ve shared all stages with; in other cases animals I’ve shared one or two stages with) animals are individuals. They are people. They are love and fear and pain and mortality embodied, and then disembodied, and they experience a wide range of emotions and ways of reacting to these situations. In my experience, they are not better or worse at any of these things than we are. In my experience, humans do not hold a monopoly on spiritual existence, and my belief that this or that companion of mine may do this or that thing after they’ve left their bodies behind does not mean it will happen. So, the idea that millions of people imagining their cats or dogs residing on this rainbow bridge while waiting for their humans to come join them and continue on their way to the otherworlds does not necessarily make it true. I might try telling Angel – the first dog I shared my life with, whose death was horrible and traumatic and exactly the way he wanted it to be (the stubborn ass), who has remained in my life and in my family since he left his body – that he’s gotta go wait for me at some other location until it’s time to for me to fetch him again, but he’s not going to listen any better than he did while he was alive (which was only when he wanted to. I still maintain he was half cat.) The rainbow bridge is not something I personally relate to, but then, in my understanding of things, my beloved companions have a ‘go directly to Bestla’s lap’ pass, so they don’t need to mill about waiting for me.

Now, anyone can point to these experiences and say, “But, Jo, that may be nothing more than a story you tell yourself to make sense of what you’ve experienced, to give your emotions and your grief some structure that you can live with,” and I’ll be the first to agree with you. Yup. It could be. Yes, obviously, I believe that my experiences with my beloved non-human dead being welcomed by the other not-incarnate members of my immediate family is real. We as pagans with (I hope!) a healthy respect and approach to death and dying, with an understanding that the otherworlds and their inhabitants are real, have the benefit denied to those who do not exist in a world where communication between the realms is encouraged or believed to be possible. It is one thing to say, ‘my experiences are framed in a way through which I can best understand them.’. It’s something else entirely to say, ‘The ordering of the spirit world is dependent upon my beliefs! My animals go where I decide they go, and they have no will of their own!’

I don’t believe for one minute that anyone is thinking things out to that much detail, that people are necessarily consciously deciding that is how the spirit world works. But I don’t know how else to interpret the idea that, because millions of people hold in their head an idea that gives them comfort in their grieving process, that Bifrost (which may not even be “Bifrost”) is becoming structurally unsound. That the weight of billions of ‘bodies’ of dead cats and dogs are as troubling to this great divine marvel as the destructive force of Muspell’s sons, who may or may not come. . . .

I find myself considering, all over again, what other people mean when they talk about spirits, and the spirit world, of these very non-human things being real . . . but being real, apparently, in a very human-centered way. Because I don’t know if it means to them what it means to me. I don’t think my experiences are really all that unusual, and yet . . . this comes up, and I’m taken aback. I understand that we are going to be human-centered in our understanding, by and large – what I don’t understand is why the assumption is that all of creation is set up that way.

edited to add: so much for credit where it’s due. Sorry Lykeia! Angel Joins the Wild Hunt was a commissioned painting, painted by the immensely talented artist Lykeia. If you haven’t checked out her work yet, please do so! You can see samples on FaceBook at Lykeia Botanica

Notes:
1 14, Gylfaginning, Snorri Sturluson
2 44, Grimnismal; 15 Fafnismal, Poetic Edda, Larrington
3 15, Gylfaginning, Sturluson

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