Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a young woman. She did not belong, completely, to the world in which she lived. She loved her family, but she felt a yearning toward something more. She was guided by the natural world around her. She felt things that her loved ones maybe didn’t quite understand, although more she likely lacked the vocabulary to try to share those feelings. She discovered Wicca – the sort of through books, solitairy Wicca one could find in a small New England town in the early 1990s – and parts of it spoke to her. The inclusion of the elements, the glimpse of the Elements and Elementals, yes. The place of humanity within the animal world, yes. The observance of the year progressing every forward, yes. But there were parts that felt empty. Flat. Off. Not quite right.
One night, a few years into her questing, she met a god. More than that, she met an ally, a friend, a mentor. He changed her; He began the process of helping her move into who she would become. He watched with gentleness and love and compassion while she tore herself apart, and He held her pieces until she could start taking them back.
He set her upon the path to polytheism. It was hard, unwinding the wiring that living in a monotheistic society creates in one’s brain, but she was diligent, and eventually the rewiring was complete. It did not hurt that after years upon the path with this, her Beloved God, another god arrived, and brought with Him His whole Family, and suddenly, her world was awash in spirits and gods and other non-incarnate beings.
I will not say that my time spent studying other pagan paths was time ill-spent. I gained much from my interactions with the Asatruar community, and I still consider myself Heathen. Whatever elements I add to my practice, in ways I cannot rightly explain (despite trying, again and again) Heathenry speaks to my soul. It’s almost effortless, especially when compared to Hellenic paganism, which has always felt like learning a foreign language. I’ve picked it up, I can speak it, and it’s a part of who I am at this point . . . but it’s never had the ease that Heathenry has. (I wonder how much of that is based on language?) I’ve gained much from interacting with those upon a Hellenic path, too. It has ultimately been good. But, at some point in the last year, I realized that, in the time that I’d thrown myself into studying – reading what contemporary Heathen and Hellenic pagans were up to, studying about our spiritual ancestors and the past, studying about ways our gods were worshiped and spoken of in the past – I set some things aside, and it was time to pick them back up.
I started out as a witch. I flirted with Wicca again, more formally, the year before we moved to Eugene, and I confronted some of the thought processes that found their way into my brain, simply by being around more Recon-inspired folk. Thought processes I wasn’t happy about. When we moved, when our immediate community was not exactly Recon-inspired but certainly not Wiccan-flavored, I set it down again. Not because I had to, but because there were these other things to be doing and studying and reading, and it’s easier to talk about things in common when trying to build community, right?
That eventually fell apart, and as sorry as I was to see that potential go at the time, it has ultimately been for the best. It has lead me to here. Where is here?
Reclaiming bits of myself that maybe I shouldn’t have let lay dormant for so long. Placing myself back into my relationship of my gods. Without shame. Without guilt. Earlier, last year, Poseidon said, “Make magic with Me,” and I think, we have. I’ve looked outside the small pond that is made up of god lovers and god spouses and devotional polytheists, and reminded myself that there is more, and it is varied, and it is beautiful.
So, where’s the plug? Here’s the plug!
In part of my effort to broaden my horizons, I discovered The Pagan Perspective Collaboration channel on Youtube. (Youtube was amazing during bed confinement!) My ever-narrowing definition of ‘pagan’ was forced to expand again, and that alone was worth it. Through that channel I discovered Ahneke Greystone’s videos. Her soothing voice, her down to earth material, and the lovely background noise of one of her sweet dogs comforted me while I healed and rested, and kept me from being bored out of my skull. (Two days of bed rest is about all I can manage before I’m stir crazy. I couldn’t even KNIT, you understand. I could not hold. A. Book.) I’d already been exploring witchcraft again, because Poseidon had already started His “enough playing solely in the waters of Hellas,” campaign, and I had already begun to realize that I had taken myself too far out of my devotional practice. (Gebo, right? It’s supposed to be about US. Not just the gods, and not just us, but that ground where we intersect. It’s an exchange, and we are part of that exchange, and in my understanding, our place is not simply to mindlessly adore the gods because they are gods. I don’t love Poseidon randomly, otherwise I would have to love all the gods as much and as deeply as I love Him . . . and I don’t. I am His because of our past, because of what we’ve built, not just because He is.) So, foundations had already been set in place . . .
Ahneke’s videos are inspiring. At first glance we did not have a lot in common – she comes from a very traditional Wiccan background, and it definitely shows. Watching her videos continued to remind me of things I’d set down that maybe I wanted to pick up again. More, I learned that, if I had had access, back in the beginning, to more formal forms of Wicca . . . well, what, I don’t know. I do know that there was a depth to the material, when she spoke, that I did not find in the books I had been reading, all those many years ago, Most importantly, though, her videos are infused with her joy of learning, of constantly always being a seeker, the delight in finding new ways of doing things, of learning about people doing things differently. There is security, in her approach to the world – that is, she comes across as being secure. Not threatened by others doing things a different way. Not threatened by sharing bits of herself with us. Open, and humble, and secure in both her knowledge and her history.
I reached out to her, because these were things I desperately needed to see in people around me, and I was grateful for having discovered her material. I reached out to her, because she talked a bit about elemental witchcraft, and that phrase speaks to my soul, because it sums up so much of what felt like had been missing. I continued to watch her channel, which is how I discovered the course she was beginning to offer: Seasons of the Seeker.
Beth and I joined up. We’re part of her second group; she’s got a number of them going at this point. The course is fast-paced: two exercises and journal prompts a week. We’ve been going since December, and I’ll admit that, the first few weeks, I was hesitant. It seemed like so much of what we were going over was basic, was no brainer, was . . slow, for all that the pacing was fast. I debated dropping out . . . and decided, you know, no. I would instead stop expecting things to be one way, and I would experience what I was experiencing. What’s the point of saying that going back to basics is good, if I’m not willing to do that, even in areas where I think I may not have to?
Anni is a fabulous teacher. I’m over twenty years into my pagan studies. I’ve been a devotee of Poseidon’s for nearly that long. I know a thing or two, yeah? But if I’ve learned anything from Pops, it’s that you never stop learning. One should not be so cocky and confident that one closes oneself off from learning. Though interactions with others. Through experiences on one’s own. From what others have to share. I’m getting as much out of the interactions with people in my group who are not exactly pagan the way I am pagan as I am getting from the material covered.
Anni gives generously of herself. Her Seasons of the Seeker course is ridiculously inexpensive. She asks for a one-time donation of $10, which is absurd for the amount of time and work she puts into this. Each group has is capped at 30 members. There are discussion groups, and she monitors those. She interacts and shares of herself. She puts time into creating the videos and the PDFs. She shares so much of her own experiences, and she very clearly values what we share, as well. She has a genuine love of Wicca, of her path, of community, that inspires me, and she has, in the short time that I’ve known her, quickly become one of those shining lights that helps me remember what can be gained when we share bits of ourselves with others. Knowing her, knowing that she is in the world as she is, has gone a long, long way to tempering my cynicism, and has helped rekindle genuine excitement and joy in being who I am and what I am, along my path. I cannot praise her work enough. Take advantage of her presence on Youtube, if nothing else, but certainly go and check her out.