Tea for Durga!

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During my morning devotionals a few weeks back, Durga opined that She’d also like some tea, thank you, but tea of Her own, not to share, would be appreciated. I commissioned a tea made for Her from Mia over at The Forest Witch, and she came up with this blend for Durga. It is beautiful, and it smells amazing. I haven’t had any yet, because it’s primarily for Durga (and I’m a bit meh about green tea myself)

Beth has an appointment today, and I found myself with the house to myself*, so I decided I would have a somewhat fancier offering-giving bit at the shrine (read: would see how I felt about incorporating bells into my worship). I am awkward and stumbling in the face of more formal ritual in my own home with People I don’t know super well ,but Who are kind and generous and sweet.

Spoken praise, incense, tea, and gratitude.

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There’s a scarf that She’s expressed appreciation for, at one of our local stores. Once there’s money for it, I’ll be bringing it home for a new shrine cover.

Durga is kind. Truly. The bell ringing was quite nice, though there is a feeling of attention being redirected that was a bit unexpected and powerful. Her shrine is lower down than Poseidon’s, so it requires kneeling at, and I rather like that. Juggling the offerings and the bell was interesting, and I may need to figure out something else when presenting  more than one item at a time, because  I can’t exactly set them down on the floor  to wait.  There  is a need to choreograph that I am beginning to appreciate. She is kind, and patient, and accommodating.

 

*one is never really alone in our house.

Keeping It Real: Insecurities.

This is a common refrain here on my blog, but I think it’s important. Once upon a time, when I was a baby pagan, I was in awe of the people who’d been doing things for what seemed  like a long time, who seemed to have their shit together. With experience under my belt, I can  readily admit that the face that we present to the public may be, if not a mask, at least a carefully selected  choice of what we want to share, and the having one’s shit together may be more about being choose-y about what one shares than about actually feeling that one has  it all figured out. I’ve known people who have adhered to the “fake it until you make it” concept, and consciously present a strong front when in their private lives they are  filled with insecurities, fears, and doubts. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this: we are not obligated to share any parts of ourselves with people we don’t know well/don’t trust/just don’t want to. We’re not obligated to share any of ourselves with anyone else.

I realized a few years back that I’d been ‘doing things’  (wherein doing things translates to having a devotional relationship with People, namely Poseidon and Odin, with the heavy emphasis on Poseidon) for a while now, and that  I’d reached a point where, if I was my baby pagan self looking at someone else, I would have expected that person to have their shit together, and I realized that I do not feel like I do. Sometimes, with some things, yeah — there are a number of things I take as given, at this point. Like, it’s been a long time since I wondered if Poseidon was real, for example.  But there are other times — a lot of times, still — when I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants, and that the insecurities I feel like I’ve dealt with and have put to bed are as strong and present as ever, and it’s annoying and it’s exhausting.

I realized that I don’t ever want to come across like I have my shit together when I don’t.

I realized I wanted to admit that, hey, you know, twenty years on this path, it’s still amazing and weird and unexpectedly challenging, and there are days when it feels like I’m just starting out.

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A few days ago, By Star and Sea posted this beautiful photo and prayer to Poseidon. It’s gorgeous, and I’m always excited to see people talking about Poseidon (because, you know, Poseidon!) I’m grateful for the chance to exam the concept of jealousy (as in, do I have it?) in a way that’s more than just intellectual exercises, now that more people *are* talking about Him, about worshiping Him and loving Him and walking with Him, and all that fun stuff. I’ve been contacted by a few people who have given Him marriage vows, and I’ve always said I’m not a jealous person, and it’s neat  to have that backed up by experience. (Go me!)

The sort of brutal self-examination that I’m encouraged  or required to do does not allow for things to go unexplored, though, so when I came across the aforementioned photo and post in my reader and it pinged an uncomfortable feeling within me, of course I had to dig into that.

It’s stupid. It’s one of those things that, at this point in my experience with Him, with the relationship that we have that is built upon trust, and affection, and on allowing it to be defined by u/Us and no one and nothing else, I really ought to be beyond. Instead, there is a whisper of insecurity, a murmur of doubt. Not of Him, and not of u/Us, but of me, and, what if I’m doing this wrong?

I tried, instead, for a feeling of superiority, not because I actually think that I’m  better, but because I’m human, and superiority feels better than insecurity, and so maybe because all time is the time of Poseidon for me, maybe that made me better? Except, my heart isn’t in that because I don’t actually believe that, and I wish I could say that I don’t believe that for good reasons like, no one is better than anyone else when it comes to these sorts of things, we can only be as we are, and comparing ourselves to others is pointless and causes unnecessary angst. On my good days, that’s true, but in my heart of hearts I don’t believe I’m superior to anyone because in my heart of hearts I know I’m inferior.

(Intellectually I realize that’s just as bad, if for different reasons, as thinking myself better than others; mostly I ignore it because it changes nothing in my actual relationships. I trust Him more than I trust my feelings, in these weaker moments, and that’s stood me in good stead thus far).

I don’t know that I’d have such a strong ‘what if I’m doing this wrong?’ fear if I wasn’t heading into uncharted (to me) waters where He is really stretching things like names and cultural associations and the like. Would I have such a “what if He really ISN’T Poseidon after all??” fears if He wasn’t leaning so hard on Vishnu right now? Doubtful. What’s happened here is, insecurities have been festering below the surface, and the above post was a flash of light upon the waves that illuminated the depths so that I couldn’t pretend they weren’t there, and so I’m grateful for that. And I’m sharing this, because I think it’s important to be a voice that says, no, we don’t always have to have our shit together. No, we don’t always have to pretend that it’s okay. We can be challenged, from unexpected and unintentional sources, without making it into a huge deal, and we can be grateful for the chance to dig deeper and explore more.

In the end, I’m not insecure, not even if my worship of Poseidon or my time with Him looks  different from other peoples, because we all have our  own personal relationships with Them. Which goes back to my favorite mantra: it doesn’t all have to look the same, and that’s okay.

TL;DR: sometimes even those of us who’ve been doing this for a minute or two need that reminder.

To Bear Witness

At a glance, my relationship with Poseidon might seem one-sided and focused mostly on me. Our path together emphasis my journey with compassion, my struggles with awareness, my healing and development of healthy, sustainable coping methods. We focus a lot on how I spend my time, we talk about projects I’m working on, or where my regular Reiki sendings are going to go. When we sit down to figure out the goals of a particular ritual or festival (yes, the goal is more often than not to praise Poseidon, but, as He is part of my life, He gets to weigh in with how He wants to ritual to shape up), what I want to accomplish or focus on is taken into consideration. His input shapes everything — how and what I eat, what I do with my time, how I go about my day, He even influences how I dress, from the veil upon my head to what sorts of clothes I buy and, too, what colors. He is my God, He is my Husband, He is my closest Friend, He is my Hearth. He is, more than anything else, why I am an adult who can interact with the world in a functional way and try to leave it a better place, each day. He is why my heart is open and capable of love, and He is why I am able to find joy, to choose joy, to aim for optimism more often than not. He is the biggest, strongest, most effective weapon I have against my anxiety, my depression, and my conviction of unworth. I love Poseidon . . . but I own that so much of o/Our time together is focused on my crap, or it’s focused on how I am in o/Our relationship, or how w/We are together.

Now and again — not super often, but certainly a number of times a year — He’ll push me beyond that. I’ve yet to experience anything even close to a reprimand about where my attention goes. He’ll be the first to remind me that we are finite beings, that we’ve got shit to work through. He reminds me that He does not want me to be subsumed into Him, and that a decent amount of my work in my life thus far has been about learning to take up the space that I take up, to be without apology, and that if I am truly letting Him guide my path, then following where He leads is not a wrong thing. Am I always comfortable that so much of o/Our time together is Him playing therapist? Eh, no, I’m not, but I maintain that we can be so very broken in how we interact with the world, with people, with each other, that therapy is often in order, and who is better to help us with this crap than our Gods, who see so much more, have such experiences to help us learn from? (I am not in the “the gods are not therapists” camp, in case you’re curious. I am firmly in the “the gods can fill whatever role they flipping want to fill” camp).

That said, I am uncomfortable, from time to time, on how much time we spend on me, on my issues, my crap, my fears, my projects, my life. Now — He did decide to partner with me, and part of that is living my life, and there is something to be said for Him living my life with me. There is something that dances so very close to a Mystery — for Him — when it comes to mortality and incarnations and physicality the way we humans experience it. I can’t explain beyond that because it’s not my Mystery, but there is a sense of awe and there is a sense that He is getting more out of this than I realize or can even hold in my mind. Most of the time, day to day, this is enough.

And then there are the times He pushes. The times when I’m caught up in yearning and longing and missing, in regret and a burning desire that is unfulfilled, with an accompanying sense of an inability for it to be fulfilled. It sometimes takes me a few days to realize that what I’m feeling are not my own feelings, that rather they are His.

It’s normal to want to name the feelings and find the root of their cause. What has rendered Poseidon — Poseidon — into a quiet, somber being seemingly burning from within by this yearning. This isn’t the typical “hey, w/We are two different sorts of beings engaged in a relationship that can sometimes be frustrating, and isn’t culture shock fun?” thing. This had nothing to do me, beyond that I could sense His feelings. This was frustration and helplessness, this was being tied to cause and effect, this was mourning, a deep, deep sense of mourning that goes on and on and on . . . .

Historically His moments like this correspond to some horrible natural disaster sort of thing. (Anyone who thinks that Poseidon gleefully sends tidal waves or earthquakes to destroy people has never bothered to spend time with Him after such things occur. He is tied to these giant movements, of water, of the earth, and I’m not saying that He can’t cause such things to happen, but I am saying that His grief over lives lost — and He does not only grieve for the humans — drives me to my knees. He is not cold, He is not aloof, He is not distant.) Because I am me, I want to know the reasons why. So, when He came to me this week and asked that our Poseidon Hippios ritual be more about being with Him, when I realized what I was feeling was coming from Him, I wanted to know why. What had happened? What was going on? What could I do to help?

Sometimes He tells me the reasons. When the tsunami of 2004 hit land, I knew what had happened before I heard about it on the news, because of Him. Usually it’s not like that. Usually, He doesn’t share that much detail. Usually, He requests that I simply be with Him. It’s as if He takes some time to lose Himself in the minutia of mortal existence. I wonder, at times, if He’s reminding Himself why He cares about the small things, about mortality, about life upon this planet. I wonder, when the feeling I get is of His intense presence and of His stillness, and of His seemingly open desperation, if He is holding bleakness at bay by will alone. I wonder what all else He’s got going on in His existence that I’ll never, never, never know about.

“Be with Me,” He pleaded, and every time I started to question what was wrong, He would repeat the request. Don’t be in my head, don’t be trying to puzzle it out, don’t strive for answers or patterns. Just be here. Be now. Be u/Us.

So, I had my ritual. I gave Him wine and pastry. I offered Reiki to the horses, and I wrote. But mostly, I sang, and when I became caught up in the fact that I was singing o/Our songs to Poseidon, when I became self-conscious, He pressed harder upon my heart, pulled me out of myself, and I sang louder. I cannot wrap my arms around my Lord. I cannot press His head to my heart and hold Him close. I can give Him wine and pastry, but what does He get from that that He needs? I can give Him incense, but what are these things when He is desperate and right there, and I cannot, cannot embrace Him?

Love is all I can give Him. My love, my heart, and my willingness to bear witness. To surrender the need to explain, to reason, to know in order to hold this, as much as I can of this, and simply be with Him.

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

You may need me there to carry all your weight,
But you’re no burden I assure
You tide me over, with a warmth I’ll not forget,
But I can only give you love.
— Rob Thomas, Ever the Same

Poseidon Hippios 2015

Hail, Poseidon, Lord of Horses! I sing Your praise!
Hail, Poseidon, whose thundering hooves shake the very earth.
From Your seed did the horse spring,
From Your virility and Your generosity did this noble creature rush forth,
Companion to humankind, and so often, so awfully abused.
Shelter them, oh my Lord, for Your embrace is strong
and Your Love is boundless.
I pray to You, help us remember our debts.
Help us remember our partners in our lives,
Help us remember the advances of our species come upon the backs of others,
and may we be humbled.
May we be humbled
May we be humbled

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

I’ve been honoring Poseidon Hippios for a number of years, now. This was the first festival I “created” (quotes there because I’m sure I’m not the only one out there honor Poseidon’s various epithets with epithet-centered rituals) for Poseidon, the first themed-specific ritual I constructed to honor this god of mine. I don’t have much to do with horses. While they have the distinction of being the first “favorite” animal of mine (and while one of my grandmother’s favorite stories of me from my just-out-of-toddler-stages was to retell of our trip to the Big E and my exclamaning, lisps and all, “Look at all those muscles on those horses!”; I will forever remember my grandmother’s voice recounting that story!) horses, er, well? They rather intimidate me. The few chances I’ve had to go horseback riding I’ve always bowed out of. I’ll talk a good game about horses being treated like vehicles and the unfairness of it, and how I can walk, thank you very much — and it’s true that I’d much rather snuggle up with a horse than hop upon her back, maybe — but the truth, the real truth is, they scare me. They’re BIG animals, and I just . . .am intimidated. Fascinated, enraptured, yes, but also intimidated.

Poseidon Hippios 2015 shrine, painting by Samantha Lykeia in background

Poseidon Hippios 2015 shrine, painting by Samantha Lykeia in background

  And humbled. And horrified at our treatment of them. It’s bad enough, that we abuse and slaughter so many — abuse is never good. But to abuse those who have such a close relationship to our advancement of a species? They’ve helped us win wars; they’ve helped us grow food to stay alive; they’ve helped us stay in touch with our families; they’ve been subjected to the horrors of mine work, and the only saving grace we have is that we are just as bad to humans who do not have the power to help themselves as we are to other animals who do not have the power to save themselves. Human miners, for example, suffered (suffer!) just as horrendously as mine ponies suffered. And, really, that’s an deplorable saving grace.

Poseidon Hippios shrine

Poseidon Hippios shrine. Candle by Fiberwytch; statue by Samantha Lykeia; incense holder by the ocean.

Yes, this is a bit of a downer, but these “festivals” of Poseidon’s often are. While I may have had things in mind like the birth of Pegasos and the association with horses in general that Poseidon has, from the very beginning this day has been about sending healing, energy, love, compassion, and empathy to the equines of the world. Originally horses, yes, but the zebras, the wild horses, the Mustangs and the Brumbies, the various donkeys, any and all wild equine out there — and all those in captivity, and all the domestic horses as well. My Lord, He does not really do boundaries. I think of those coming into the world, and I ask for His blessing upon them — not that He needs me to remind Him of those who could use His aid. But, I hold it in my mind, and in this small way, I feel closer to Him. I feel like what matters to Him matters to me. I feel — in this, as in so many other things, as though I hold suffering with Him, so that we witness it together, so that maybe we together can alleviate *some* of it for *someone*.  It’s not enough. It’s almost nothing, and yet. Yet.

This year I scaled back. My honoring of Poseidon Hippios tends to vary from year to year. There are years when I’ve honored Poseidon and Loki, Sleipnir and Pegasos, and the Dioskouri. There are years when offerings have been apples and sugar cubes, carrots and oatcakes. This year? This year it was just Poseidon. It was wine and incense, baklava and a candle, and myself. Always there is Reiki; this year there was the breaking in of my 2015 “Letters to Poseidon” journal, a tradition I’ve let fall by the wayside and desperately want to resurrect. There was much singing. There was sitting and basking in His presence. There may have been crying.

Hail, Poseidon!

Hail, Poseidon!

There was also a reminder to keep things simple. It was going to be a big thing, originally. I was going to fetch carrot cake (because He made it clear days ago that He wanted/needed it to be a day for u/Us just to be, and so, yes, work toward Horse, but also just . . . u/Us.) and then process home with the offering. I was going to set up a new shrine space (by my bed, because I really need to do that). I already had the wine, and the venture out to get baklava was shorter and less involved than the carrot cake (and also, baklava) and the shrine was going to be made out of those connect-cubes, so I could also relocate much of my Hellenic books to the bedroom to clear up space for Fiberwytch storage in the living room. (Two people, a host of shrines, five non-human animals, and a store in 700sqfeet. It’s . . . interesting) But, those connect cubes) I hate them. An hour, a sore back, and tears later, and I gave up. We still don’t have comfortable seating in our living room (or any) and so sitting by the shrine doesn’t work, and our hearth shrine has become a test candle station, and a home to an Odin statue that has nowhere else to go, and I don’t begrudge Odin His statue, but I had nowhere cozy to set up this shrine except for in the bedroom and then the cubes fought back and grrr!

"It can be just u/Us! Just u/Us and baklava!"

“It can be just u/Us! Just u/Us and baklava!”

After a small melt down (there may have been tears) I erected a folding table and all was well, if temporary, and it was good. The whole time, the whole whole time I was getting so frustrated, He was there. “You know, I don’t really care about all the stuff. I mean, I like the stuff, there should be stuff, but right now I just want to be. I want to be, I want to be with you, I want you to see Me and just spend time with Me, being with Me. We don’t need all this stuff, the shrine isn’t necessary, I honor why you want it, but still it’s really not all that necessary. Okay, well, yes, go get baklava, let’s not be silly, but beyond that — well, that and the wine — I don’t need anything else . . . “

better picture forthcoming when Beth heads back into the photo studio!

better picture forthcoming when Beth heads back into the photo studio!

I dressed up. New lipstick, a new shirt, the skirt of mine that He call my housewife skirt. A new necklace (a Beth Wodandis original made especially for this holy day!). I sat, and we drank wine, and I sang some of o/Our songs, and I sent Reiki, and I wrote. I recited Terence’s hymn to Poseidon Hippios, and then I offered my own, off the cuff.  I cried. I cried a lot, but they were tears of wonder, of joy, of . . . *waves hand helplessly*

journal book by Silence; oh the creamy paper! Oh, the beautiful texture! Oh, the fine stitching!

journal book by Silence; oh the creamy paper! Oh, the beautiful texture! Oh, the fine stitching!

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

This festival is always so different. It was today, April 10th, because it was my day off closest to the 8th. It’s in April because that is when I have time for it to be. Ages ago I had the idea of timing it to the local foaling time, but that varies so much and there isn’t really a set time. It’s moved, though, as I’ve moved. It hasn’t always been April, and it may not always be April. Who cares?

Hail, Poseidon!

Knowledge, Wisdom, and Gnosis — TPE March Week 1

Staring at this topic, I think: how am I going to write this? What am I going to write about? I think: I’ll go to the dictionaries, get some working definitions, and talk about how those definitions inform my path. I’m thick in some more academic focused books right now (Osun Across the Waters, edited by Joseph M Murphy and Mei-Mei Sanford,  and The Myths of Narasimha and Vamana by Deborah A. Soifer) and this certainly influences my approach to my writing. I want this to be well thought out and reasoned. I want it to be articulate, and I want to back my points up as I go. I want  —

But, no. Wasn’t I just staying to a friend yesterday how much I value anecdotal writing over the more dry, more structured scholarly writing? I enjoy both, but when I want to connect with something, when I want to bring in deep into my heart, rather than letting it live just in my intellect, I prefer the former over the latter. When I saw this topic in the prompts, I had an immediate thought about what I’d write about. Why am I then going to bury it for a form that I only want to want to write?

The touchstones of my path, the pillars that hold the roof over my head, the cornerstones that shore up my foundation? Awareness, mindfulness, and compassion.

Knowledge is a different way of saying awareness. It’s a gathering of information, a building of intelligence. I’ve paid attention to expanding my awareness, not so much in a metaphysical sense as a here and present sense. My path isn’t geared toward attaining a detachment from the living world, as much as I talk about detached compassion. Awareness was the first mantra Poseidon gave me, the first assignment, the first task, and it’s one that He’ll never retract. I gain awareness by reading and studying. I gain awareness by putting myself in other people’s shoes, by considering their back stories. This person jostling past me on the bus so hard that I stagger and hurt my sprained knee — I could get mad, and maybe I do anyway, but I try to hold within me also the awareness that there may be things going on in their lives that caused them to not be in the moment, to not see me or not have empathy for me. This customer that wants to stand and yell at me for the way corporate retail works — I could roll my eyes and give back as good as I get; I could conjure up my passive aggressive words, smile sweetly, and make them feel like assholes, and maybe sometimes I do, but I try to hold within me the awareness.

It goes beyond me and my immediate space. Social justice has been on my mind a lot since November, in a more constant, more present way than it’s ever been. I’m marveling at that, because historically I’ve retreated into a bubble of ignorance for months on end, have come out of said bubble to look at the state of the world around, have been numbed by all the suffering, only to retreat again. Lately, that hasn’t been the case. Lately — between educating myself by reading, studying, and listening — I’ve been holding an awareness of various issues in my mind at all times. It’s heart-breaking, and it’s overwhelming, and I feel utterly helpless . . . but I’m holding onto the knowledge, onto the awareness, because Poseidon says to.

Wisdom? Wisdom is knowledge applied, right? Wisdom in the combination of experience and knowledge and thought. To me, this goes nicely with Mindfulness. I realize that Awareness and Mindfulness can be seen as different words for the same thing, but in Their pushing for both Awareness (Poseidon) and Mindfulness (Odin) created a distinction between the two, a fine nuance. Mindfulness is more than just awareness. It’s awareness carried forth into how I interact with the world. It’s the more active version of this state of being. Awareness is knowing something. Mindfulness is holding that awareness when speaking, or acting, or thinking, or making decisions. It informs how I treat people, and it informs the standards that I hold myself to, even though I often fail to meet those standards.

It’s why I strive to not take things personally when people treat me like crap at my day job. It’s what drives me to think things like, they obviously need an outlet and I’m providing them with that. It’s why, when people are talking about injustices they’ve had to deal with and I have the urge to say, “but, *I’m* not like that!” I keep my mouth shut. It’s why, when people are talking about white privilege, I strive to listen and learn and not wade into the conversation as if what I have to say matters more — soothing the feelings of discomfort to make myself feel better about the world does not matter more than the fact that other people’s right to the pursuit of happiness pretty much does not exist.

What about gnosis? “In Christian, Islamic, or Jewish mysticism, mystery religions and Gnosticism gnosis generally signifies a spiritual knowledge or “religion of knowledge”, in the sense of mystical enlightenment or “insight”‘ 

Simple put: gnosis defines my life, certainly my spiritual life, and my spiritual life is the lens through which I view the rest of my life. Gnosis is how I interpret my relationship with my gods and spirits. It’s the delivery system for the lessons They teach me, the guidance They offer me, and the tasks I see to for Them. Yes, I look to the past, past cultures, past relationships, previous ways of approaching Them . . . but my relationship with Poseidon is not based in any of those things. My relationship with Odin is not determined by how relationships with Him came about, according to ‘the Lore’. My relationship with my spirit beings are not based on anything other than our interactions — the same way I strive to let my own interactions with human people inform my opinion of them and the relationship we may or may not have. In short: how Poseidon is with me, how Pops is with me, is what the relationship is based on. How Their input in my life influences my life and trust determines how w/We go forward. My lens is what matters most, not the lenses of other people in other times or places. They can be interesting to know about, and they can be valuable, but they cannot be what my relationships are based on. Personal gnosis. My life with my gods and spirits is my own walk in Their Mysteries. There is no substitute for that. There is only my immersion.

 

http://thepaganexperience.com

 

Nauthiz

Need drives me.

I’m not special in that; I suspect that need drives a lot of people, when (heh) the need arises. Holding what I know of myself (I’m not driven by want or by interests — I’m more gentle in my approach when I’m writing regularly or when I’m knitting) and thinking about need, I realize that need is the fire that gets kindled under my tuchis.

Need. Things that need attention, things that need to be taken care of, things that are beyond the reaches of procrastination. I finally gave in to Poseidon and accepted a Reiki attunement (and thus my initiation into energy work) because the need was undeniable. I accepted Odin into my life before vows were given to Him, and need was the initiator of that, as well. The majority of the animals we share our home with came because of need — our help, shelter, security, love — and we had it to give. I started my Story Subscription — that is, I started taking my own deadlines and writing seriously — because I had no other way to pay that particular bill. I made a bargain with Loki a few weeks ago — which I’ll be partially fulfilling this weekend and beginning the rest of the fulfillment, as well — because I had need of His aid. (That there is much satisfaction on His part that a bargain, an official relationship beyond His being related to People I’m related to, is a curious by-product. It’s a seemingly minor shift; He’s gone from being near and dear to my heart because He is near and dear to a number of People and people whom I care about, to being near and dear to me because of Himself)

There are aspects to my devotional work and my energy work that overlap, aspects which, if I devoted more time, more effort, if I would be less satisfied with what comes naturally and would apply myself more, could be grown/rooted deeper/be more. I put this off because . .. well, I’m not driven. If something comes naturally to me, I tend to not go deeper than that — except with writing/story telling. For a long time, Odin’s been after me to spend more time with Him, not being with Him, but studying with Him. And, I’ve always intended to, but then something happens, and then I just don’t. Or, because Wednesdays is never a good day for it, and then I start fantasizing about the perfect set-aside day for spiritual work and study with Odin, and that perfect day never happens, and then . . .

I mentioned I’m a defeatism perfectionist, right? If it can’t be perfect, why even try? Yeah. One of those.

I have a number of people — beings in various animal forms — on my prayer list. I don’t do anything fancy for that. I place their names and their issues before Poseidon, and I ask for help for them, in whatever form they most need it. This last week, I learned of some serious illnesses with a few different people, and I thought, I should work in some Reiki treatments, too. So I sought about asking for permission to do such a work. When this can’t be done in person, face to face, I go in and down and out, and I try to get a feel for what they would want/what they do want, and I go from there.

Odin met me, when I went in and down, and we didn’t go out that time. I won’t talk about specifics. I will say, it was intense, and it was something I threw myself at, and there was no “It’s about time, daughter,” from Him, because there was a task at hand.

Thing with Pops is, there’s always a task at hand. Need fires Him, too.

Three nights of working, and three days of studying what I’m reading in a new light (it’s a book on Osun, Osun Across the Waters, and I highly recommend it). I had last night “off” because I dropped into bed without any time for Work, but I dreamt of Angel for the second night in a row. I don’t remember the first dream clearly, though I do recall a sense of him being with me and us being focused on something. Last night he was with me for the entire dream, and it was focused on him coming with me about my day, being my companion animal.

He’s made it clear, time and again, that he is hanging around to keep an eye out for Corbie, that he’s biding his time, to help Corbie’s transition, but if, after that, we are not spending more time together, he’s going to move on. Not necessarily into a new life, but that there are things he want to check out, and he’s done cooling his heels while waiting for me to make time for him in my life. He’s not asking a lot — half the year is taken up with Hunt stuff anyway (oooh, my blondie bear!) but . . .

So, we’ll see what we see. Need, though. Need drives me. I wonder how i can harness that power toward my wants, as well?

Sex!

Oh, did that get your attention? My bad . . .

It’s a timely topic though, right? We’ve just had Valentine’s Day (and while it’s not a holiday I celebrate, it is a holiday that’s thrust into my awareness, thank you Retail Reality); Theogamia is staring us in the face, Anthesteria is right around the corner, and as you already know since you’re reading this post, which is part of my YAY TWELVE YEARS posting spree to celebrate my marriage anniversary, I’ve just celebrated my wedding anniversary. Now, I don’t talk about sex a whole lot on this blog — which, for those of you who know me in person may find . . . amusing? I have an incredibly naughty mind. Beth likes to say that my double entendres have double entendres. Seriously. If something can be made into a sexual innuendo, I’ve already went there. I am have the maturity of a seventeen year old male, in my head. And the worse thing is, Poseidon is right there with me.

Except, that’s not accurate, really. Poseidon has a healthy, well-balanced and (likely the most important for me) appropriately timed sexual mindset/sexuality/sensuality/something.

I don’t have a whole lot of sexual hang-ups that is typical of women in our culture. I’m fat, and I’ve always been round, but any uncertainty I’ve had in sexual exploration has not been because of my body. (I’m lucky, and possibly an odd duck, in that somehow, despite convictions of unworthy growing up, it never really became about my body. Sure, I thought I was fat in high school, but never in a dieting sort of way.) I have had a number of sexual partners that I’m not uncomfortable with, and most of the experiences were enjoyable enough. I’m open enough about my sexuality in general that people who know me realize I’m not heterosexual; a few people know that I’m not wired monogamous, as well — what most people don’t know, because I don’t talk about it, is that as far as mortal partners go, I’m celibate.

Bringing the sacred back into my sexuality — back, hah! Introducing my mind to the idea of sacred sexuality rather, was a big deal. It’s one I balked at, at first. Hands down, the biggest problem in my marriage with Poseidon was the idea of sex as an offering and the baggage the subject brought with it. Now, you have to understand, while I was raised nominally Christian, we were never involved with any fire and brimstone type churches. New England, people. You have to talk about sex in order for there to be any premarital sex is sin you are all going to burn sermons. It simply didn’t happen in our church while I was there. But despite being pagan by that point, and despite knowing all about the lovely stories of the Hellenic gods having all Their many trysts, and despite having had my awareness of Poseidon’s presence in my life extend to knowing He was around when my then-boyfriend and I were intimate (there is precious little privacy, living with gods and spirits. If we devotional types and spirit-worker types can agree on one thing, I think it would be that), the idea of sex as an offering to Poseidon just . . . Well, I was intrigued, of course — because yay sex! — but I also internalized this whole “sex is animalistic and He is A GOD WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” thing, too.

Suddenly, for the first time ever, sex started to become this shameful thing. What the hell? And then? Then Poseidon began to put a stress upon sex happening. He encouraged. He proved to me that my pitiful double entendres were no match for what He could come up with. He poked and prodded, urged and suggested, and lead me along paths of exploration. Because it’s me, this involved reading of various things — sexuality as expressed in various cultures, in various time periods — as well as seeking out blogs, and revisiting some of my own adventures in my past. My relationship with Poseidon was founded upon Poseidon-as-Healer, and Poseidon-as-the-Sea, but for a time He really placed an emphasis as a more earthy, more virile, more earthy Poseidon. Did I mention earthy? Because, like whoa.

Interestingly enough, a lot of that corresponded with the time period in which He began to urge me to veil. It was an interesting turn of events. When I speak of being married to Poseidon, I mean it both in a blending of wyrd/binding of spirits/alliance of loyalty sort of way, and also in a He is my spouse, He is my Husband, I am His wife sort of way. I mean it in that, before Odin, before Beth, before a/Anyone else, He has the first and often the most weight in any life decisions I face. I mean it in that, He is the most innermost part of my immediate family. I mean it in that, we have a wedding anniversary. And I mean it in that while I’m celibate as far as other humans go, I am not the least bit celibate when it comes to Poseidon. No, you’re not getting the nitty gritty, but yes, I’ll admit that sex happens. I’m not a prude.

One’s sexuality can exist when one is not involved sexually with mortal partners. Hell, sexuality can exist if one is only sexually involved with one’s self, period. For my part, it was when Poseidon placed an emphasis on exploring and celebrating my own sexuality for the sake of exploring and celebrating my own sexuality as part of being an animal upon the mortal realm, that the issues I had regard sexuality, sex, and Poseidon worked themselves out.

There’s a structure to the forms my sexuality can take, in the ways it can be expressed and, more to the point, whom it can be expressed with. I can talk sex in pretty general terms with just about anyone — much to my mother’s embarrassment! I’m fairly comfortable talking about my sexual history with friends, more so with females or in a female safe space. When I say that I’m not wired monogamous, I’m saying that in o/Our relationship, sexual expression does not always just involve He and I — but it also does not involve other mortal partners — and I’m comfortable with that. I am surprisingly not so much of a jealous person. Surprisingly because, in my past, in my history with other, mortal partners, I had been. Why am I not jealous now?

Because I am secure in o/Our relationship. I’m secure in the forms it takes, and I’m secure in knowing that Poseidon in one thousand and ten percent capable of letting me know what’s up.

Look, I’m not saying that all the gods and spirits want all the sex with all the mortals all the time. It may not be a part of your relationships at all. I’m also not saying one has to be wed to a god or spirit in order to have sex be part of the relationship. I am saying that sexuality is important — or can be important, and can be surprisingly healing, illuminating, and dare I say, satisfying . . . even if you’re called to a path that looks, from the outside, well, celibate. My sexuality is something that He and I share and explore together, and having the walls of celibacy around me, removing my availability as a sexual being to share with other humans, has allowed me to fully appreciate how much my sexuality is my own.

There are so many ways in which living this life I’m living, walking with Poseidon, has enriched my whole being, has allowed me to appreciate how much of ourselves we give away to others as a matter of course, without really thinking. It’s allowed me take in those pieces, to become mindful of what I give to others, what I allow others to decide for me, and what I decide to keep for myself. Having complete power over something so intrinsically me as my sexuality has been liberating in ways I could not even begin to imagine years ago, never mind articulate.

My god is an awesome god (The Pagan Experience, week 3)

Somewhat recently I was listening to an interview with a Catholic nun during which she spoke of Psalms. More to the point, she spoke of the belief that, when a Christian calls out to their god, when they reach out in need, in pain, in suffering, their god hears them and reaches back. The sister was recounting a particularly dark period in her life, sharing with the listeners a moment of perceiving the state of her soul, becoming aware of her suffering, and being lifted up and out of herself, and being made aware of a sentient being who saw her, heard her, and was with her. The story was a touching story, and it was one I could relate to.

I was younger when I met Poseidon than she was when she met her god, by about a decade, but there were similarities. The most important similarity, to my mind, was being at the bottom. I find it difficult now, nearly two decades later, surrounded by my family whom I love dearly, living a life that I find fulfilling, to recall just how it felt to be at the bottom. Backed into a corner, with nowhere else to go, with no hope in sight, and just being . . . done. So very done. I know that I was there. I know I felt shattered. I know that, with the way that I am, with how stubborn and how grounded and how hard it is for me to release control, that what happened could not have happened if I hadn’t been at the very end of my rope. I was suffering. I was in pain. I needed saving. She spoke of her heart crying out for help, even though she was not aware that it was doing so, and I thought, Yes, yes! Yes, me too! She spoke of the generosity of her god, the goodness, the compassion, the great love, and I thought, yes, yes! I know this!

neptune and amph

And I do. It’s just that, when I speak of the god who saved my spirit, the god who saw me shattered before Him, who scooped me up, brought me close, and has never once let me go since, I’m speaking of Poseidon.

I know how it sounds, or how it could sound. I know the words I use: humility, compassion, love, grace, empathy. I know that with my veiling, and with my mode of dress, my inclination to be at home with my family and my preference to not mingle socially or casually with people, how it could look. With compassion being my biggest signpost along the way, I’ve had people point blank ask me why I’m not Christian.

My path is created (or co-created?) with my gods. I look toward the Hellenic stuff because of Poseidon (and never mind all this “Hey, about Vishnu . . . ” because oh gods all the things to read, why, I thought You loved me, waaaah). I look toward the Heathen stuff because of Pops. (Er. Odin, to those of you new to the blog). But, I’m Poseidon’s, heart and soul, because when I was in that space, when I was a wretched soul in need of saving, when my heart was in its death throes and in need of shelter, it was His hand that reached out and covered me. It was His touch that brought me into His heart. When I was in need and not really looking for anything other than an end, He brought me home.

I am His. I love my Father. I love my Family, and I’m grateful every day for all of t/Them* . . . but I am Poseidon’s. I don’t care that my path looks to some like maybe this crazy lady shouldn’t really be calling herself this thing or that other thing. I don’t care that people consider compassion and healing to be way outside Poseidon’s realm. His realm is whatever He decides it will be . . . and I will be there, because there is no where I’m going without Him.

*In our household, family is a pretty open-ended term. Or, rather, it’s rather narrow in its definition but wide in its inclusion. We are not a speciesest house, nor do we require our family members to be incarnate. Our immediate family is made up of two humans, an assortment of feline and canine spirits in various stages of incarnation, Poseidon and Odin. Their family is also our family, and our extended family thus becomes even more . . . varied.

 

 

Musing on those small things — but with a migraine!

(I mention the migraine because it makes a difference in my writing quality. This post is raw, and it’s unedited, and it’s mostly for my own record. You’ve been warned 😉 )

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m finding a host of small things coming together, adding weight, one thing on top of the next, that is helping me come to terms with this revelation Poseidon has placed upon my lap. I’m writing them down here in part so that I can see them lined up, so I can count them, so I can say to myself, “See? These things are not your imagination.” I’m posting them publicly not so much that others can see them and validate them or see them and challenge me on them, but rather because I find seeing such things useful, and maybe you do, too. Now, I realize that something to consider when it comes to seeing omens and signs, portents, and the like, is that we are all biased to one degree or another. Yes, of course, given my history with Poseidon, I am going to see connections to Him in yoga. I’m going to see connections to Him in the various topics of healing and emotional wellness. The choices I’ve made in my life since He entered it have lead me to where I am now: living in semi-seclusion with my devotion to Poseidon at the center of it. Obviously, obviously, I’m going to see all things through that particular lens, with that particular bias. This goes all the way back to the early decision in this that, if I am deluded, if this is all just my imagination, it does not ultimately matter because living my life looking through this lens makes life infinitely more tolerable and helps make me be a better person. That’s all justification I need. Know, going into this post, that these are small things and that none of them have anything objectively to do with Poseidon – they do not stand up on their own without the support of history and context of o/Our relationship as having anything at all to do with Him. There’s that bias, again.

But, that said, what are these little things?

There’s the big things, the signposts of this walk that my life with Poseidon, the cornerstones of my foundation: Awareness, Healing, Compassion. (It’s a triangular building I’m making, clearly.) Three big, huge things that one cannot obviously link back to Poseidon of Hellas. That is, clear, objective, historical connections cannot be made. But do I believe the gods are stagnant? Do I believe They are trapped in those lovely pigeonholes we like to shove Them into? Hardly. (It’s not our fault; we like patterns, remember). Historical connections to a specific place and time was not something that mattered to me in the beginning, and it’s really gotta get back to not mattering to me. Awareness. Healing. Compassion.

I think of Vishnu, and my admittedly small understanding of this being. Obviously, obviously, I cannot think of Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma without thinking of Poseidon, Hades, and Zeus. I think of Poseidon, when I’m at the coast, and how immense and huge and beyond me, and unendingly, unfailingly intimate, He feels. How immediate. How great, how much I long to be devoured by Him, to disappear into His radiance, His passion. But, I think now of Vishnu, of His role as Preserver. I think of our first meeting, Poseidon and I, and I consider His actions, His words, His kindness.

For years and years and years I thought Poseidon did not much care for humanity as a whole. I’m still not entirely sure that He does – certainly there are humans He likes. Our first meeting was rooted as much in environmental distress as it was in emotional, personal distress – for me, the ugliness that was humanity was both personal and impersonal. When He first started speaking of compassion, I understood it as a tool I needed in order to be a better functioning human, but not necessarily as something He Himself valued or used, at least not when it came to humankind. It would be some time before I realized that He truly did not set us much apart from other animals on this planet. We were, we are, neither better nor worse. So, in my experience with Poseidon, there is not that “the humans are the pinnacle of creation” mindset that can be found in much of the literature from our Greek and Roman philosphers. There is not that interested in human cultures that seems to be found with other gods. Biases again – this could very well be my understanding, opinions, and thoughts about the human animal coloring my interactions with Him, coloring my understanding of who He is. I’m not sure how much of that is true, since from the beginning He challenged my stance on my species and if this was my biases informing how I saw Him seeing something, surely it would have been easier to remain apathetic and indifferent. In my experience with Him, He does not see us as better or worse. We are animals responding to opportunity with an eye toward security, and if we are too short-sighted to see long-term security instead of short-term security, well, we are still animals, after all.

The idea of Poseidon having a past in Vishnu, the idea that He may be a part of Vishnu, knowing about avatars, about Vishnu incarnating to help mankind, challenges all over again my ideas about Poseidon and humanity. Except, the idea comes that we have the human stories, because we’re human, so at the same time, it does not challenge my ideas that much. Poseidon is greater than I know, and I know that much at least, so it’s easy enough to say, “Oh. Yes.”

I think of Vishnu the Preserver, I think of Poseidon, holding me, mending me, giving me the tools I needed in order to eventually be whole and hale again, and I can’t help but think, “Yes, yes, this.” I think of Poseidon and His ever present urge that I be mindful in consuming, but that I balance that with compassion, even compassion for our limitations, and I think, “my god, yes, yes.” I think of these things, and it’s not a very big stretch to see connections between the Two.

Small things adding up. There was that lion dream, ages and ages ago. Four giant creatures came floating in through the sky, like space ships: an elephant, a monkey, a lion, a tiger. They were colorfully adorned, obvious-in-the-dream sentient in a human-like way. The elephant and the monkey quickly became part of the background, but I had interaction with the two big cats upon an open field. An open field with a clear demarcation between territories. The tiger was stalking me – in that way that makes one unclear what sort of prey one has become – until the lion, who even in the dream was “I Am Poseidon” – stepped in and thoroughly, thoroughly surrounded me, trapping me, holding me safe, owning me. A small thing, to wake up from and to bring lions to my worship of Poseidon, except it was one of those tangible dreams that almost seem to follow you halfway out, upon waking.

Small things – anthropomorphizing Poseidon was a learned behavior, something I did in order to give Him more tools, to give o/Our communicating more tools. Something I did, later, to challenge my anti-human bias. Originally, beyond that first meeting, He came in animal shapes – horses, bulls, lions later on – or He came as parts of the environment. Cloaked in a rainstorm, wrapped in the sea. In dreams and in waking life, He would be the sea, He would be the steam of a sauna, He would be low hanging, heavy clouds. In dreams, He would often be statues – a statue garden sanctuary in Dream Philadelphia that I visited again and again in dreams until it was destroyed/dismantled after our move west; a statue complete with a gazebo overlooking a lake I spent a lot of time at growing up, with such a sense of embodiment that, in the dreams, I always stay by the statue’s side; the dream that inspired the commissioned painting (which will be here soonsoonsooooon!!) with the colossal Poseidon presiding over the harbor of Dream Alexandria, massive arm outstretched, the palm a perfect size for a pilgrim to curl up within. The, ahem, blue colossal Poseidon . . .

Small things. Head covering is a touchy subject, and it was His encouragement on this that had me wondering about People and places more middle Eastern than Mediterranean, honestly. Looking back I can list all the benefits that veiling has granted me, some obvious, some less so, but I wasn’t given those reasons beforehand. When He brought it up, it was sort of out of nowhere, and He did not give any reasons, simply gave me an urging to do so. Now, the topic of veiling within any patriarchal society is fraught with issues of gender inequality, and I am in no way denying that this is not something to be aware of. I struggled with this: considering the historical culture whose literature gives us an idea of the cult given to Poseidon throughout the centuries, can I really divorce the veiling of women and their treatment as subhuman at best from my veiling practices? Reading Aphrodite’s Tortoise really brought this struggle to heart, and I still don’t have a sound answer, except to say that my veiling practice at the behest of my god is free of the more negative connotations. Of course it is to a degree a sign of His hand upon me. Being owned by a god is not the same thing as being owned by a human, and I’m not sub-anything to Him, He has made clear enough. I am simply His, and I see my veiling as one outward manifestation of my various oaths to Him. Veiling in antiquity is widespread enough that there can really be no distinct claim from one region or another, and my style of veiling is pretty simply and not so much modeled after any historical sort. If anything, it’s closest to various tichel-styles, depending on what my head will tolerate on any given day.

Little things. A push to cease from dyeing my hair, to switch exclusively to using henna. This is part environmental, part mindful consumerism, part “why the HELL are you putting HEAVY METALS on your SCALP what is WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?” ahem. I don’t dye my hair a lot, because henna is a pain in the ass to use (I hate having wet hair. I hate getting my face wet. I hate having to wait so long for such little change) but now and again I get the urge, and sometimes I use henna. Sometimes I use box dyes. Most recently I went on a “I’m going to dye my hair blonde before surrendering to henna!” kick. (It didn’t happen. I tried a few, but quickly got tired of the work involved, dyed it back to a dark burgundy, and am back to using henna if I want to dye it at all.)

Little things, like a push to use henna for ‘tattooing’ all of the tattoos I dream of having. I have one tattoo on my arm, a tattoo that Beth and I got right after we moved out to Oregon, a beautiful bindrune of Laguz and Jera, that is a pretty thorough representation of our little family. I have wants! A valknut; a trident; a red ring around my wedding finger; an octopus; a hymn for Poseidon across my back; a stylized tree; memorial pawprints around my foot and ankle. For the last three years He’s made it clear that I am not to get any more permanent ink upon my person, that He would prefer mindful, interactive henna tattoos that would need to be reapplied, that could be changed and altered. I haven’t incorporated this into my practice, mostly because henna tattoos are about as high up on my priority list as ink tattoos (in the scheme of things, they just never make it to the top of the list).

Neither of us began existing the day I found you upon that shore, He is quick to point out to me. This is a part of My past. I have not stopped being who I am, but this is part of what has lead Me to here..

Small things – like how His asking me to sit with this has brought me back to o/Our foundation in ways I could not manage to do in the months since He asked me to come away from Hellas. Our foundation of love, of healing, of a mutual-clingy.

He asked me, not that long ago, to make magic with Him. He presented a way of understanding magic by understanding that we are the magic of our gods, made flesh. We are Their spells. I struggled with understanding Poseidon approaching me regarding magic (shouldn’t that be Odin?), but this makes it, for whatever reason, less of a struggle.

Small things that are making more sense in my mind than they are on the page, I fear.

on Compassion and Setting Boundaries

Long-time followers of this blog will know that, in sharing the ups and downs of my path, it is incredibly important to me that I keep shit real. We as people are encouraged to write about the good things, to talk about the good things, to share the positive stuff, to put a positive spin on things, to put on a happy face. I don’t believe that this is always a bad thing – I believe that there is honest sincerity in the “fake it until you make it” adage, and that for some people that works. I also know that for some, airing things publicly is the worst thing they can do in order for them to move beyond whatever “it” happens to be. I’m not going to make that call for anyone else. For myself, in knowing myself, in knowing my quirks, and also in knowing what has helped me, when reading about other peoples’ experiences, I can say: transparency. Keeping shit real. I love my gods, I love the conscious living that I strive for, I love my family, I love this semi-secluded lifestyle Beth and I have going on. But there are ups and downs. It’s not perfect. There are struggles, some the type you would expect, and others the type that you really can’t prepare for. And, more often than not, the struggles fall somewhere in the huge range between the two extremes.

Currently, I’ve got some stuff going on in the non-spiritual part of my life centered and is more potential hassle than actual big bad thing. I’m hesitant to label people as toxic, and I’m always mindful of compassion when dealing with people I’d rather not be dealing with. I’m also wretched at standing up for myself, and unexpected questions (“Can we do X?”) throw me for a loop and wind up with me making ‘maybe’ responses that I later feel badly backing down from. Giving our word matters, and never mind that there is a huge difference between ‘giving my word’ and ‘maybe’; in my default mindset, my wants and needs matter less, so it’s nothing to sacrifice my time/comfort/own goals in order to do this other thing for this other person who isn’t really much in the way of a friend. There is added grey areas when I find myself conceding that said person is likely being as good of a friend as they know how to be. It is simply not where I’m at in my life. Worse, we have nothing that I rate as important in common. They are not spiritually minded; they are more social/more extroverted/they are not interested in metaphysical stuff/writing/history/anything really that we could have common ground in, and I am more a listening ear than anything else.

There is no perceivable-as-kind way to say, ‘We aren’t really friends, you aren’t really friend material for me, I’m not interested in cultivating a friendship’. That said, how much of my own comfort do I give up to try to be kind to someone whose presence is not welcomed in my life? Does it matter, to a point, that that sounds terribly cold? Am I so concerned about compassion for others that I’m ignoring my own compassion, and self-care?

So, currently: I have a full time job outside the home. I have a very full and fulfilling spiritual practice that I’m not willing to give up even a little bit. I have a chronically ill partner, two chronically ill (one of which is also terminally ill) family members, and, thanks to humbling support of some generous fans, a steady part time writing job that I desperately need to find more time to sink into. (Website! Formatting! Editing! Things to learn and do well!) That doesn’t count the friends and family I am struggling to keep in steady contact with. I’m not saying I’m closed to meeting new people and making new friends – but I really don’t want to do that in ‘real’ time, in ‘real’ life. I certainly do not want to get together with people to go shopping or to hang out and chat small talk stuff or bitch about the annoyances of our daily lives. That’s not to say that I don’t do those things, because I do. But, I do them with my family.

That thought brings me to: my idea of family does not meet the cultural standard for ‘family’. Because when I say ‘family’ . . . there are layers, right? It’s a group of concentric circles. There’s a hierarchy. I’m fucking tribalistic when it comes to understand human relationships, and that’s not about to change. Even when we’re talking about global communities, that falls in a tribal landscape for me. So I have immediate family, and the extended family and it goes out from there. I don’t really seem to have casual friends – if you are a trusted member in my heart, you’re part of the family, ranging from immediate to extended – and, you need not be human, is another bit that is maybe different from ‘normal’ society’s understanding of family. The hierarchy, one’s placement within those circle, is largely dependent upon 1)how much you factor in my day to day life and 2) how dependent upon me you are for your well being, shelter, care, etc. Call me cold, but being a blood relative doesn’t get you an automatic ‘in’ – though in my life, those who are blood are pretty high up in those circles. I have more blood relations that I don’t really know one way or the other, and I have one in particular who, despite a shared history, is not my family, will not be my family, is a hair’s breadth away from being part of the “and everybody else in the world” crowd.

The friendships that I cultivate, the people that are part of my “spiritual family”, are inside the family circles. They are trusted and they get to see bits of me that other people may not. I don’t have casual friendships – I have family, and I have acquaintances. This is my preference.

This is the important part for me. I like it this way. I’ve cultivated my life to have it be this way. I live a semi-secluded life. I don’t make spur of the moment plans. I want weeks advance warning. Hell, the people I adore and miss terribly, I still need to make phone dates with as much to factor in our schedules as to give myself time to psych myself up for the phone call. Interacting with people is exhausting for me, and it’s part of my full time day job. It’s not not exhausting because sometimes it’s the people I love dearly. (I’m more willing to talk to people I love dearly when I’m feeling like I’d rather scream than have a conversation, than I am willing to talk to people I’m ambivalent about) I have my home life the way I want it to be. My time home, away from errands and away from the day job, is my retreat from the world at large that I need and, more to the point, want. This is what I keep getting drawn back to. Want. This is what I want. And is it my responsibility to help other people who aren’t part of my family to gain what they want, simply because I am good at putting my own wants aside for other people?

I am naturally a care-giver type person. This is not a bad thing. I am able to provide for my family with this particular skill set and ability and willingness to set my own issues aside when they need me. I’m easy going – for the most part I don’t have day to day plans when it comes to projects and goals, and I don’t care enough about a lot of things to get overly worked up. I’m way more of a beta type than an alpha type personality. But in this, in establishing boundaries and feeling like I have a right to said boundaries, this is to my detriment. I’m 36 this year; this is beginning to feel pathetic.

I’m trying to institute stock answers. “I’ll have to check my schedule.” “You know, that sounds like it could be fun, but I really don’t have the time.” They feel forced when I practice them, but they’re not exactly untrue. The truth is: I have two days off a week. One day is for running errands and spending with Beth, our only day off together. The other day is my writing day. So I’m not lying when I say I don’t have time. It may be “I don’t want to give you that time,” because essentially that’s what I’m saying – but shouldn’t that be a given when said person is not my partner? But my stupid brain. I say things like, “I’m working that day,” and it runs with “but you’re not working at your real job/you can write any time/insert all excuses they could think of here.” Given enough breathing room I arrive at knowledge that, if what is important to me isn’t a factor to them at all, they have no place in my life. But out of the blue questions don’t give me that breathing room, so “I’ll have to check my schedule,” is better. Really, what I want is to be comfortable saying, “No.”

And I’ve tried – because bitching aside, said person is not someone I dislike, although in my course of not standing up for my actual wants, there’s an association of dislike, and that’s on me really, my fault for not honoring those boundaries in the first place – I’ve tried to give said person some of my time, now and again, and then they get graspy about it. Clingy. Let’s do more things, let’s go places, let’s hang out. The kindest answer at this point, simply, no. If that makes me an asshole in their eyes, then I’m an asshole.

Situations like these, I wish so badly I had an easy way to say, “My house is my cloister and I leave it only when I must.”

(Our Pagan Cloister. Beth, maybe we should rename our house? Hrmm . . . )

I know that this is something I need to get under control. I know that this means, most immediately, there is going to be some “breaking of my word”, and disappointment on their part. The question is: am I okay with that enough to put my family and writing and wants first? The answer is: yes. But it’s still going to be annoying and bad-feeling-making to deal with. Why is it on me to care about other peoples feelings and what they do with them?

Frustrated. Keeping it real, and right now, real is frustrated.