How to fail at slurs

Hee!

Busy Nurse Research

This is sort of related to earlier posts on the use of the word “queer” and sort of not. Mostly not. In fact, it’s actually more like the complete opposite. But since my “mind palace”* looks a bit more like the inside of Hogwarts, what with the moving staircases and magically appearing and disappearing rooms, it feels connected enough to me to say a bit about it. In fact, I think one of those mental staircases can even tie this back to Queer Health.

A bit of background is in order, because unless you happen to be plugged into the Polytheist Discourse corners of the internet (or know someone who is) this will probably all sound Greek to you.  Well, more likely Old Norse.  That will eventually make sense.  There has been some gatekeeping going on among various sorts of Pagans, not so much about who does/doesn’t fit under the…

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Adventures in Animism; or: Adopted by a Spinning Wheel

I remember the first time I laid eyes upon her sitting in the shop. We’d just begun our hunting, and our budget was extremely limited. Beth wanted a spinning wheel to learn to spin on. She wanted something used, something simple, something that would be friendly to a first-time wheel spinner. We’re fortunate in that we live in a city with a textile center that often sells used wheels. Even the most basic of wheels can set you back a few hundred dollars new; we couldn’t even manage $200.

She was plain to look at. A single treadle, basic cotton drive band, a standard mother-of-all. Her spokes were plain, her wood slightly dull from disuse, but her wheel wasn’t warped, and she looked . . . approachable. The price tag and the reputable brand name didn’t hurt, either. We walked out of that shop with a vintage Ashford spinning wheel for under $150, and called it good.

I’m not a spinner. I knit, occassionally, and I’m enthusiastic about fiber crafts largely as an excuse to dork out over heritage breed sheep and their gorgeous wool. Knitting is an excuse to purchase minimally processed hanks of yarn, still smelling of the farm, and shoving my face into them.

Of the two of us, I am slightly more mechanically inclined, but then, I’ve had training. Not with spinning wheels, but I attended a vocational high school, and spent four years in our print shop. Spinning wheels and printing presses are not exactly the same, but they have enough in common on principle that my training served me well. Associating particular sounds with particular problems. Correct alignment of the moving parts. Together, we set the wheel up and began the process of learning how to listen to her. Beth had to work hard on the mechanics of working with the wheel to create the yarn; she had to train muscles to the dance of spinning. Me? I watched, and I listened.

It wasn’t long before her personality emerged, and she reminds me most of an elderly cat, set in her ways, generous with her affection, but on her terms, and you’d best pay attention to her boundaries. There are types of fiber she does not care for spinning. There are particular speeds she simply will not countenance. There is some adjusting that can be done, but the limits are there. She is herself.

Neither Beth nor I are gracious when it comes to steep learning curves, and of course Beth started out wanting to do art yarns. Not simple worsted spinning, not for Beth, no. She wanted to master the advance techniques first! (This is typical of her, really, and it’s admirable and hard to watch at times.) More than once, she’d begin a project, get frustrated that the drive band would slip off, or that the twist was off, or that she wouldn’t be able to get the pacing down. She’d shove away from the wheel and stomp off, swearing off spinning, and cursing the wheel. (Lest you think I’m pointing fingers, please know I’m not. I have years – years! – of getting frustrated with a story that will not do as I think it should, feeling utterly inadequate to the task, and shove away from the laptop, swearing I would never write again. “I’m not a writer! I’ll just read instead, it’ll be fine!”) I would sit with the wheel, and see what the issue was, and see about the troubleshooting solutions. The wheel would sit and wait for Beth to come back, and the process would begin again.

I felt, at times, like I was acting as a translator for the two of them. She didn’t speak in words, but that was okay, because my time with Poseidon has taught me the not-words language, and I trust these ways of communicating. She was calm, and she was patient, and she waited.

I still am not a spinner. We’ve gained three other wheels since this first wheel came into our lives, and they are all of them quirky. They all have the things they like, and they all have personality. They are tools Beth has worked with closely. They’ve changed our lives. We’ve said all along that we’re animists in our worldview, and I hold that that’s true. We’re not speciesests, that’s for sure, though I can’t say that we don’t, a little bit, anthropomorphize other beings to help us connect better – but then I also can’t say that they don’t also do this to help us connect better.

The wheels have a place in some of our religious observances. They are cleansed and polished and blessed and petitioned. This particular wheel, for all that Beth spins with her, is forever in my heart ‘my’ wheel. Or maybe I’m her human, in this household?

Is it the wheel? Is it some being attached to the wheel, like a dryad to her tree? Does the distinction matter? Is it all just me trying to understand and romanticize this dead tool made of wood, loved and neglected and passed from hands to hands?

Once, long ago, I asked Poseidon to define real. “Are You really here? Is this in my head? Are You a hallucination? Is this real? In what way is this real?”

His answer not only stayed with me, it shaped how I think about realness. “Does it matter? Do any of those answers change what you are experiencing? If I’m in your head, and not standing before you in the physical realm, is this solace lessened?” Something is real if it creates change in your life. I’ve heard this echoed, more recently, in a lecture I watched on Vedanta thought. The lecturer spoke of different realities – dreams, illusions, the waking world, etc. She spoke of dreams being real, not in the same way that the waking world is real, but also not not-real. It’s the first time I’d heard it spoken of that way, since meeting Poseidon two decades ago.

In the end, for my worldview, the trying to pin down exactly how things are and must be explaining can be a nice mental exercise, but ultimately does not matter. I’m not interested in arguing that I’m just anthropomorphizing an inanimate object, when I’m experiencing her mood brushing against my own, sharing with me her stories, her past, her preferences. She’s become a matriarch in our household, especially over the younger wheels, and she’s older than me. She’ll get my respect. I’ll leave the ‘how is this real?’ for someone else to worry about.

Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte on Etsy!

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My collection of short stories, A Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte and Other Tales, has been updated (woohoo working Table of Contents!), rereleased on Amazon.com, and released for the first time on my Etsy shop. The exciting thing (for me, anyway) about the release on Etsy is not just that the ToC works (which, mind you, is awesome. Yeah, basic formatting maybe, but I’ve only just gotten the hang of it, so I’m happy), but also: if you purchase this (or any of my books) via my Etsy shop, you are actually purchasing .pdf, .mobi,.and .epub files. (Is this the lazy route for me? Possibly, but I’m also excited at the idea of allowing people to buy my books direct from me, rather than going through a third party, should you choose to do so.)

As always, there are review copies available, so if you are interested, drop me a line!

 

Awesome book review, awesome website, awesome graphic — horn tootin’ time!

Yeah, that’s a bit tongue in cheek. One of the valuable things I gained from involvement with the heathen community years ago, was the practice of boasting. It’s uncomfortable, because it still makes me feel a bit like I’m all look at me look at me, and I’m so very not, but it’s also important, because, hey, when we accomplish things, even small things, that we are proud of, we should celebrate it.

I discovered an awesome write up about Poseidon of the Ponds at The Weeping Crow, and I’ll admit I’m still a bit giddy over it. I realize it’s generally considered bad from for an author to comment directly to a review, but I do want to thank Weeping Crow for such a great write up. The fact that someone is writing something like this about something I wrote is  a bit . . . . weird to me. Of course, just reading the part describing me as a 20-year dedicant to Poseidon throws me off. On the one hand, it’s not wrong. (Well, sort of? I’ve been involved with Him for 20 years, as of this year, but I didn’t officially dedicate myself to Him right away. Although, really that was just a formality.)

On the other hand, how the hell is that possible already???

My Polytheism continues to grow, as does the Facebook group. More voices are added, some conversations are happening, and I’ve got the promise of more material coming in the next few weeks.  I’ve had a number of friends requests since the page went up, more since the site was mentioned in Gods & Radicals, and it feels . . . good. It feels hopeful. It feels like the effective counter to my slight pagan burnout that I’ve been trying to deal with for the last however many months.

And then? Then there’s this.

rain

I’m not going to link to what this is reference to. I am going to say: if you like it and you want it, use it. It’s mine, I made it, you have my permission.

People keep talk about inclusion like it’s a bad thing.

Inclusion is a powerful thing.

Diversity makes you stronger.

Homogeny is a bad thing. Look at  our favorite bananas.

Inclusion good. Diversity good. Homogeny bad.

Poseidon of the Ponds

I made more things!

ppondad

Poseidon of the Ponds is the second volume in my Poseidon Liturgical Year project. It can be read alone, or as part of the series. In this volume, I write about the ritual I hold for Him, honoring my Beloved, along with others I call the Rainmakers, during what is for us a very dry, very warm, very dry part of the year.

It’s not revolutionary. These books are not meant to be scholarly works. This is just a glimpse into what it might be like, to be devoted to a Power who comes to us with very little information about past rituals held in His honor.

With this series, I really want to encourage people. Yes, to maybe consider Poseidon — because He is amazing, after all — but beyond that, more importantly than that, I want people to be encouraged to walk their own path. You are not bound to holy days or festivals that already exist. If your devotional path is missing something, or doesn’t quite have the shape you want it to, make it up. These are  living traditions we are making, here. If the festivals you have for your Powers do not connect with you, or with Them, or are just . . . off . . . experiment. Explore. Create.

Celebrate.

~*~*~*~

Poseidon of  the Ponds e-books are available at Amazon.com and at my brand spanking new  Etsy shop. The price is the same at both locations; I’ll see more of the money if you purPoseidon of  the Pondschase it through Etsy, but either way works for me! If you’re interested in receiving a free copy in exchange for a review, please contact me. And as always, thank you for your support!

 

mypolytheism.wordpress.com

So, I made a thing.

What are my goals with this new site?

Celebrating diversity in contemporary polytheism with a strong emphasis on building up. I want to honor our differences without having to use divisive language. I want there to be a visible, vocal alternative to the would-be gatekeepers. If the polytheist movement is to be a thing, I want it to be a diverse thing.  Mostly: I want those finding their way to polytheism, and those who are maybe not new to polytheism but new to interacting with other polytheists online to see that not all polytheists online are eager to tell them what they’re doing wrong.

I’m planning on purchasing a domain once I have the money for it, and I really want this to be about us, and not about me. It’s been suggested that questions get fielded, to keep conversation going, and my mind turns toward something like the Kemetic Round Table — like, a Polytheist Round Table, though I’m foggy with pain that I can’t think of anything to start off with. I want other people contributing. I want this to be big and loud and VISIBLE.

But, I’ve never even tried to do anything like this before, and right now I’m just thrilled to have those links and reblogs.

So, this is me, asking for help here. Suggestions are so very welcome. Critiques, cautions, etc. Anything. Help me make this into a good thing?

My Polytheism

There are plenty of folks abounding who are eager to tell you what polytheism is, and is not. There is no shortage of people with opinions they wish were firm boundaries. You aren’t a polytheist if: you don’t put the gods first; you don’t believe in the gods in the right way; you ‘bring politics’ into your religion; you don’t decry the destruction of ancient polytheism and the ruthless conversion of entire peoples.

There are plenty of people talking about The Polytheist Movement, and I’ll be honest here: seeing such a wide variety of ways of practicing, of worshiping, of bringing the gods into our world narrowed into such a small, singular way of speaking, makes me weep. It makes me frustrated. It makes me want to run far away and bury my head in the sand. Bottom line for me: I don’t give a fuck how you worship. I don’t give a fuck what the Powers you’re involved with ask of you.

Look: there is no ‘Polytheist Movement.’ There are a bunch of people who are working hard to make polytheism visible, who want to see it as a viable option, who want people to find the gods and know they’re not alone. Even with those I disagree with vehemently, I’ll concede that that’s something we have in common. But that’s where it ends. Don’t let the vocabulary trick you into thinking there’s one united Polytheist Movement, where we all agree on some fundamental things. There isn’t. We don’t.

My gods do not need me to help people find Them. They’ve been doing just fine for all this time. Who the fuck am I, that Poseidon needs me to get people to worship Him? I adore this God. I love this God with all my being. I tie myself up in knots for Him, and surrender, again and again and again, my comfort, my desires to be private and uninvolved. He’s created a person who strives to be compassionate and kind, where once there was only apathy and distrust. He is amazing, and I’m grateful that He deigns to share anything at all with me — but let me make this clear. He does not need me to get people to Him.

Within traditions, sure, there should be unifying goals and tenets. But polytheism is not a singular tradition, and I hope to all that is holy it never will become one. The way to counter monotheism — if we must — is not to model how we build communities based off what they’ve been doing, and getting wrong. Common ground MUST be rooted in hospitality, and not in same-ness seeking.

My polytheism does not tell you how to worship, and it never will.

My polytheism does not tell you how to believe, and it never will.

My polytheism does not tell you what the gods want from you, and it never will.

My polytheism does not pretend to be a holy war seeking enemies at every turn. Holy wars cannot be won; that’s not just a bad analogy, it’s a doomed one.

My polytheism does not require you to leave your concerns and issues at the door. It doesn’t demand that you pretend that our experiences are not connected, and the world in which we live does not inform our interactions with the Powers.

My polytheism will never pretend to be something it’s not. It’s contemporary and new and messy. It’s not a revival of polytheism of yore, because we will never be removed from the context we are in, and the wide spread of monotheism will not be undone. I don’t dream for a world in which these things never happened, because it’s not the point, and also, call me a heretic, but I don’t want a polytheism that is controlled by groups of people.

My polytheism is not rooted in PCPG, and it never will be. My relationship with my gods is mine alone, and you have no power in it. You’ve got no place in it, any more than I have a place in yours.

My polytheism is not concerned with whether you’re a theist or not — in fact, I’m likely to be curious and intrigued, because my polytheism is not threatened by your lack of belief in the gods as distinct, individual beings, and because different ways of telling the story of how and why and what is fascinating. If the only thing we can find worthy in common is how we believe in the Powers, we’re in trouble, and no amount of ‘correct polytheism’ is going to fix it.

My polytheism does not look like yours, maybe. I’m concerned with polytheism remaining visible. I’m concerned with those coming after us not necessarily having to do SO MUCH WORK to get to the point of simply interacting with the Powers. I’m not concerned with building close, intimate community beyond my immediate family, because quite frankly, I don’t trust people. I’m not involved with various communities, because generally I’m a home-body, and except for this blog, private. I’m a solitary worshiper, and I’m not interested in doing religion with other people, which is another thing that maybe makes me a ‘bad’ polytheist.

Don’t know.

Don’t care.

I’m still a polytheist. I’m still a devotional polytheist, even. I still want polytheism to be a visible, viable option for generations to come.

When people speak of ‘the Polytheist Movement’, when people speak of polytheists as though we are one homogeneous group of people, please remember this is bullshit. We are not. If the Gods are good, we never will be.

Slipping back in

I really need to bring the lesson home: don’t worry so much. Stop over-thinking. Just come and sit and be. Just say hello.

Writing my last post helped me to confront that, yes, I was actually struggling with this whole thing again, and yes, it was mostly my doing, and yes, it needed to be confronted head on. Is it all my fault? I don’t think so.

I struggle with reconciling Poseidon’s desire for me to regard Them as One Being, while dealing with two distinct personalities, with different expectations and preferences. Is that a short coming on my part? I’m okay saying that it is, but owning that does not make it easier to deal with, and  right now it’s hindering me rather than helping me grow.

I struggle with having a shrine space that is less mine and more Theirs — and there’s nothing to be done for this except getting in front of that shrine and making it a part of me. The whole reason the shrine was so much O/ours was because I’ve kept a shrine for Him, and then for U/us, for  over a decade. Of course this new one is going to feel, you know, new. That’s sort of the point. So, own that discomfort, and then yes, in this, work through it by working through it, by giving devotions despite the discomfort, because that’s the only way to move beyond this particular discomfort.

I struggle with missing Him, so I reach out and make an effort. I set aside the self-recriminations, because those serve no purpose and only work to distract. I reach out, offering Him tea, and love, and praise, sharing my thoughts with Him, drawing upon O/our history, and what I know of Him, and my Beloved rushes at me like the incoming tide. Having been to the Atlantic so recently, and then to the Pacific twice in a season, I can compare and contrast the experiences, and I can say that while I love the Pacific, the Atlantic feels like home. I find Poseidon in both places — I find Poseidon everywhere I look — but, because I met Him at the Atlantic, that location is just more viscerally His, and it’s a super fast and powerful touchstone. And I wish I had that at the Pacific . . . but also, a little bit I do. It’s just not as powerful, not as immediate. Possibly the local spirits of place sing to me strongly and distract. It’s not a bad distraction. Possibly I simply do not know the Pacific as well as I do the Atlantic. Possibly there’s ancestral ties that strengthen that bond that I don’t have with the Pacific. I don’t know. Possibly a dozen things; at some point trying to suss out the finer reasons why a thing is or is not serves no purpose, and it’s time to just accept what is without having to seek a pattern.

I struggle with wanting to come to know Vishnu better, because my method for doing so tends to be 1) gain some working knowledge of tradition and then 2) retreat from that to establish a personal relationship free from the trappings of tradition. I’m cognizant of the fact that this is a privileged stance, and I’m mindful of appropriation, and so these are interesting waters to navigate. Except, I’m not a person to join traditions, and anyway it’s not like there’s any locally that I can explore that focus on Vishnu. I want to be fluent in the language of His worship, so to speak, but that’s as far as that goes.  I really am grateful that the foundation of my relationship with Poseidon happened outside of Hellenic paganism, happened outside of social media and the scrutiny of peers, and I realize I want that, too, for this exploration with Vishnu-with-Poseidon. At the same time, I can pass up an opportunity like this to share with you as I go, because it’s messy and uncomfortable and did I mention messy? But I think it’s so very important to share that, to show that. My refrain: it’s been two decades (or will be, in a week) and I don’t have my shit together, I still flail about, it’s not neat and tidy, it will never be neat and tidy, let’s keep it real.

There’s so much tradition out there, too, with Vishnu — His worship is so established, so it’s not like I even had access to anything on that scale with Poseidon. Do we get to just disconnect Them from that, to take Them out of context? I need, I think, to find a happy medium, because I need to make this personally relevant for me, and when it’s just study and holding Historic Vishnu in my mind, He becomes unapproachable and so different from the Vishnu-with-Poseidon. So, I struggle with this as well.

Struggles aside, when I reach out, I am met with love and compassion, and patience. I’m reminded that often, when Poseidon encourages me to do a thing, we stumble together. This would not be the first time He has decided I need to approach something a certain way, only to have it damage rather than help. He stumbles, my Beloved, and it’s not His fault, for my emotional responses are a quagmire, and what works one time might blow up in His face the next. So we’re rethinking this One and the Same approach, and we might relax it a bit, and just take attention off how I’m supposed to regard Them for bit, and just allow myself to regard Them as I can, as I may, and just let it go from there.

Poseidon is steadfast. He is constant. I pull away, and I miss Him, and He reaches for me, and closes that gap, until I’m able to reach for Him again. His heart in where I reside, and it feels like He is my heart, that He is my capacity to love and be loved.

#

In other news: I miss my brother.

Confessions; or: Keeping It Real

I just had the bestest visit ever–my brother and his partner took a road trip, and spent three days with us, for his 30th birthday. (Yeah, I can’t even with that, right now. Just, no.) We ventured to the coast, and had the best coastal trip ever, too. No time limits, and them poking around and watching stuff  and exploring just as much as we were. Sunburn, windburn, and sandburn all happened, but I don’t care. It was fucking awesome.

Beth remarked a few times that my brother is just like me. “I knew you were similar, because you get along so well, but you’re like twins separated by eight years.” They left, and we miss them.

Spending time at the coast was . . . interesting. I’m not going to lie; I’m apparently not doing all that well with my relationship with Poseidon. And, I mean that *I* am not doing well —  it’s all my own doing. I’ve been neglecting devotion, I’ve been neglecting including Him in my thoughts, for some time. A bit when we had Beth’s daughter out in May, but really a lot because of the Vishnu thing. We’re . . . tugging back and forth, a bit, over how I’m to regard Him, and while I appreciate that Poseidon wants there to be a fundamental understanding that this particular Vishnu is very similar to Him/is Him, apparently I’m wired hard enough that it’s just fucking up my ability to  get there. Tell me that You can slip into that mask easily enough; tell me that You’re spirit-kin, tell me that water conforms to the container it is in, tell me that the lines between You and Him are blurry and porous . . . but don’t feel so different and expect me to have an easy time with things. Don’t tell me to think of You as the same being, and then express such contrary preferences.

I’ve already dropped pretty much all contextual research, which is what I did when I first started getting to know Poseidon, and that helped. But it’s still difficult, and it causes me to distance myself, and I’m feeling that, and I hate it. So I’m working on it.

There’s distance, too, because of the project I started for Him, that I’m now wondering if I’m going to continue. And, I’m going to continue, but the idea of getting all of it done this year is ambitious and burn-out-y, and I’m easing up on my self imposed deadline.

Possibly, I had company for a number of days and I’m tired now.

Also, if I had any doubt that I’ve developed arthritis in my right hand, those doubts are banished. Ouch.

Twenty years into this relationship. It’s amusing, in a detached way, to see that I still struggle with just making sure that I put the time and attention into it that there needs to be. It’s amusing to see that it’s just like any other relationship, in that way.

I hate missing Him. I hate when it’s my own damn fault.