When Worlds Collide on Kindle

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From the blurb:

Hest just wants a break. With Yule finally over, and his responsibility to his family along with it, he’s looking forward to a well-earned rest – and he wants that rest far, far away from his siblings. Perhaps stopping by the city his mother calls home isn’t the best idea, but meeting her charming neighbor is definitely a high point.

Too bad she has to witness his mother throwing a man from an eighth-story window. . .

Meliah likes her quiet life, her boring job, her daily routine. One drink to celebrate her first vacation away from her mess of a family was all she wants; is that too much to ask? Instead, her entire world is turned upside down when a stranger pulls her from danger only to plunge her deep into family troubles that put her own to shame. She should be running in terror from him and his impossible siblings, so why can’t stop thinking about him?

When Worlds Collide is the first novella in a series that challenges assumptions, explores the way relationships are formed, and celebrates the power of love. If you enjoy gods-as-characters, first contact stories, and Loki, you might just enjoy this story.

Also, it’s only 0.99!

On Offerings

Because this topic came up in the comments and in private discourse so much, I’ve decided it deserves it’s own post.  While I talk a good game about Keeping It Real and about not having my shit together, and about stumbling a lot, often over the basics as I lose sight of them, one thing I don’t have to worry about these days is having zero idea of where to start. Yes, I hemmed and hawed when it came to including Vishnu-Through-Poseidon into my morning devotions, and yes, I tied myself up in knots for a bit, with the studying and the  wanting to stay away from cultural appropriation while at the same time wanting to honor those particular Powers in forms that are familiar and appealing to Them. Yes, I made sure to make myself overly agitated and anxious over this development, until I had to put everything down, step back, touch in, and calm the fuck down.

When I did that — when I returned to Poseidon, when I touched in to what I knew of Him, of me, of u/Us together, and further, when I returned to the experience of having Him say, “Vishnu, too,” and when I returned to the experience of Durga’s embrace — I brought myself back to a place of certainty, and I remembered that I’ll never be a beginner again.

Yes, I might instigate new relationships with new Powers. Yes, I might explore waters that I haven’t even yet discovered. Yes, I will begin new things with new People, or deepen relationships that I already have — I’m going to go anywhere Poseidon decides w/We’re going together.

But for all that I started a devotional practice for Durga and Vishnu, for Lakshmi and Ganesha, and Vishnu-through-Poseidon, and Krishna, Who is automatically included when I think of Vishnu-outside-of-Poseidon, and for all that I created a new shrine space and began something new, the concept of standing before a shrine and offering an offering is not new, and will never be new again.  It will never have the same depth of crushing anxiety, fear, uncertainty, maybe excitement. I have years of experience doing this, and I’ll always have them, so for all that I try to keep it real, and for all that I want to say, I know where you are because I’ve been there  — yeah, I have, so yeah, I do, a little, but also, it was years ago and I have the experiences to counter the fears. The freshness of those fears, of that intimidation, of the not knowing how to talk to Them, any of Them, at all — that’s gone. I don’t have that. I remember what it’s like, but I remember what it’s like with the nice, cushiony reassurance of experience, and so remembering isn’t really enough to put myself in your shoes.

How do you begin to make offerings? What’s acceptable, what’s useful, where do you start? It’s not all that useful for me to say: be sincere, trust in hospitality, and you’ll be fine. If you don’t have a religious background, or if you’re trying to distance yourself from said religious background, such advice isn’t all that helpful.

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I came at this with very little religious background. We were Christian, growing up, but it was very low-church form of Episcopalian, and neither of my parents were ritualists in any sort. They were both happily laity, as Silence points out in Worshiping Loki, we pretty much have to make religion happen for ourselves. It doesn’t have to be a ton of work, necessarily, but especially if we’re going it on our own, we don’t have the benefit of group-support to figure out what will work and what won’t.

Because I hate telling people what to do, I’ll share what I did, starting out. For the first few years of interacting with Him, what He got from me was my time and attention. The shrine wasn’t even set up for a few years after that, and then it was very basic. A candle, a cloth, some shells. That’s it. My first representation of Him was a mask that a friend purchased for me. After that it was a bust modeled after the maybe-Poseidon-maybe-Zeus, and finally this statue. Eventually I would begin burning incense for Him, and I’d give offerings of water. My yoga practice was a devotional act from the beginning. Now, and for years now, my mornings start with incense-and-tea, a wordless prayer before His shrine (which is why I keep not making the devotion-sharing video. My morning prayers are pretty boring on the outside) when I touch in and ask for His continued blessings, affections, and strength.

I share food, sometimes, and for a while after the marriage I made it a point to give Him a portion of my dinner, every day.

If you’re new to prayer and new to giving offerings, my  one suggestion is to seriously, truly treat this like a conversation and a sharing with a new friend. YOU get to decide what you want to share. Want to sit in quiet while a candle burns a certain amount? Awesome. Want to burn incense and share your hopes and dreams? Great. Want to offer wine or water or coffee or milk and a poem, prayer, or hymn? Perfect. Especially when you’re getting to know a Power, share yourself. Look at suggestions others might have, but do not feel pressured to conform to how anyone else is doing this.

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Figure out, too, with Them in mind, and with your  limits, how you’re going to dispose of the offerings, if they’re perishable. When we were in Philly, our offerings were also taken out for the strays, after, and our offerings  never contained foodstuffs dangerous to cats. These days, my liquid offerings are poured down my sink rather than offered to the ground, because that’s what I feel called to do. (Poseidon is a water deity, even if He may not have began that way, and that’s as much about pipes and plumbing and sewage system as it is about rivers and oceans.) Different traditions have different ways of handling this, and more knowledge is always better, but your relationship, the whole of the relationship, with said Power is up to you and said Power to define and figure out. Yes, look to others for inspiration and guidance, but if this tradition says burn the offerings and you can’t, or you don’t want and the Power you’re interacting with doesn’t seem much fussed  if it’s burned or not, then don’t burn it. Don’t worry about it, beyond that, especially when you’re just starting out. Community can be powerful, can be invaluable, really  — but the back-and-forth that you have with the Power you’re trying to form a relationship with must be rooted in your back-and-forth, not in what others are doing.*

WLcover.pngHonestly, the best thing I’ve read about starting a devotional practice in a long while — it terms of breaking it down, dismantling the intimidation, and empowering you in your role in your practice — is Worshiping Loki. It’s specific to Loki in that Silence is sharing his relationship to Loki, and talking up Loki, and confronting the bullshit ideas that Loki is undeserving of worship, but it’s also not specific to Loki, in that the building of a devotional practice is not just a Loki thing. This book is not spendy, and it’s super important, and it’s a quick read, and more, it helps feed a cat. Check it out if you haven’t, and consider buying it.

 

*and there I go telling you how you must do something. Sorry about that. Obviously, it’s your call, your choice. I cannot conceive of having anyone other than Poseidon having any sort of authority over my relationship with Him, so take that for what you will.

On the topic of finding a patron

If you don’t read my blog regularly, you may not know this, but I don’t generally like the sort of “do this, don’t do that,” advice. At least, I don’t like to give that sort of advice. I prefer the ‘hey, here’s some things I’ve done, here’s been my experience, here’s how I came into that situation, and here’s why it may be similar to what you’re dealing with,’ sort of advice. I’ve seen too many well-intentioned experienced pagans offer advice that worked for them, that sounded, in the delivery, like commandments. Not everything is going to work for everyone, and unless you’re in a specific tradition, attempting to conform to their standards and ways of doing things, that’s totally acceptable. More, it really shouldn’t be forgotten.

An upside to watching the YouTube pagan challenge vids has been getting to see people talk about their experiences (or lack there of) with their matron or patron deities. While that’s not really the language that we use in devotional polytheism, it’s a phrase that I hope most of us understand. Certainly, I do.  It’s been great to watch — but I’m coming away from some of these videos a bit heart-sore, in that people talk about being nervous to approach certain Powers, or that they don’t feel “called” by any One, and so they don’t approach, even when they are interested in Them. This breaks my heart. Why do we hesitate? Why is it not okay for us to make the first move?

I don’t think I’m special. I don’t think I have any secret knowledge (and if I did, you’d know about it already, because I share SO MUCH here, and it wouldn’t be a secret anymore, and so I still wouldn’t have any secret knowledge). I don’t think my experiences are all that rare or grandiose or anything — I’m just a woman, living my life, and worshiping  my gods. But, there are some things that I do know, some “truths” that have guided me well these two decades in my relationships with the gods. I am  dedicated to two gods who could arguably be considered scary, intense, off-putting (Odin gets more of that reputation than Poseidon does; I suspect it’s the whole sacrificing of Self thing, and His ruthlessness; let me tell you, Poseidon is pretty intense, all the same. Water wight to the millionth degree, I’m just saying to you.)

  1. If we even know about the Powers, enough to have names for Them, and stories, enough to even grasp a sense of Their presence, it’s because They’re interested in humanity.  They could be interested in your personally, or humanity in general, or any configuration between those two points, but if the Powers do not care about us at all, there is zero reason for Them to make Their  presence  known to us.
  2. Hospitality Matters and goes a long, looooong way. There’s an idea with (Krisna? Vishnu? It blurs, but I think Krishna) that any offering given with intent and devotion — even a cup of water, if that’s all one has — will be accepted, gladly. Hospitality is a two-way street. We have responsibilities as the givers of hospitality, and the recipient also has responsibilities, and it has been my experience — even with Odin, even with Loki, even with Hekate — that They will not ask of you what you cannot give. In material wealth, in wealth of time, in any area of your resources. This may change as you develop a closer relationship, maybe, but during the initial overtures of connection building,  I’d be surprised.
  3. Making the first move is acceptable. To be clear, Poseidon made contact with me before I knew Him, and Odin was in my realm of awareness before we had any direct experiences. When it comes to the final dedication to Poseidon — my marriage — I made that first move. I proposed to Him. I used to lament that — it wasn’t romantic, at all — but now, I’m kinda proud at my audacity. I asked Him to marry me, and I had the pleasure at experiencing Him go utterly still in shock. (Stillness is a thing with Him, and it’s heavy, and weighted, and intense, and full of past-reactions-gone-horribly-wrong) that had me back pedaling for a bit, trying to pull away from whatever overstepping I had done. This is in direct opposition to my experience with Pops, where He was all, ‘Learn the runes, and also, you’re Mine, we should get to working now.’

If you are interested in a Power and you don’t feel They’re interested in you, or even know that you exist– approach Them. I can’t say that it’ll always go the way you want it to go. What I will say, emphatically, is, there is no good reason why you can’t approach  Them first. Also, all the Powers are intense and can be scary. Some simply use fewer masks to make us more comfortable. Opening yourself up to any of Them means opening yourself up, and that is always going to be scary. (And, to many of us, so worth it)

Inclusion, citation, love-affairs with mythic past; more ADF-inspired musing

I’ve made more progress in reading through the DP manual — I should have the finished tonight/tomorrow, and I’ll move on to supplemental material. I want to make it perfectly clear: I am already finding much of value in the material, and I’m not knocking anyone’s approach. I’ve interacted with people in the ADF before now, and I really have nothing to complain about. This, so far, is proving to be a useful exercise in re-evaluating where I am.

I hit the section dealing with hearth cultures last night, and I read some more of their sample rituals. I found the later ones to be better in that they seem a bit less ‘here, I’m giving to you so now gimme!!’, and there was fewer instances of problematic-for-me language when it came to dealing with the Deep and what its treasures are. I still think that, as a primer for new-to-paganism in general, more time could be spent on why we might interact with the Powers, and why relationships being maintained for their own good might be useful and desirable. Maybe it’s my background. Maybe it’s my retail history. Maybe it’s my aversion to the way we are consumers in the world, but I really want more substance on this topic. I can get behind people being in need of help and having nowhere else to turn — Poseidon came into my life when I needed the help, and He gave that to me before anything else was exchanged; I’m not knocking that we gain from Them and that They seem willing to give. I just . . . want more substance about how relationships can be, in a primer that is for new-to-paganism folks.

I also want citations. When I reached the part dealing with the Proto-Indo-European hearth culture, I stumbled. So, I’m all for being inspired by the past, and I’m all for creating anew upon the bones of the past, and so I’m not knocking that. But the manual asserts that ‘Spring was a very busy time for the Proto-Indo-Europeans. It began with the Spring Equinox, which was the New Year (the beginning of the year, not the end). Associated with Xáusōs and Diwós Sunú (“Sons of the God”). The return of Light.’ Citations for the curious, please? Because if they don’t exist, that’s fine, but say so, and stop this need to root *everything* in the past like this. And if they do exist, gimme because I want to see the source material for myself, because context matters to me and I need to see it for myself. (Context matters. It’s why I don’t understand how the bit about Poseidon Asphaleios wound up being about Him holding the earth steady, when the reference in Pausanias is all about commerce and the marketplace. I want to know how Burkhert made that jump; I want to know what he knew that I don’t.)

Perusing the Hellenic hearth culture and their High Days, I had to walk away. The two suggestions for the Winter Solstice were Dionysos festivals, and while I get it, Dionysos is the shit, it grated. I understand that we build our own tradition within the ADF format, and so obviously mine will be heavily slanted toward Poseidon — but come on. THE MONTH WAS NAMED FOR POSEIDON in Athens. There is historical evidence of His festival falling on or near the Solstice in various parts of the Hellenic world. /rant. That’s my own peeve, and I admit that.

I’m still sitting with the IE focus. Groups can decide how they want to be, and I won’t be a poor guest by demanding otherwise. I’m finding it interesting how much my time within the heathen community and having Poseidon worship excluded solidified within me a reluctance toward similar exclusion, in general. It was formative, for sure. “Come worship with us, honor the gods, stand with us in community and frith — but we don’t want this very central part of who you are, it has no place with us.” It gives me the smallest insight into how people who fall outside our expected norms of various issues — religious, race, gender, sexuality, ways of being in and experiencing the world, might maybe feel when they are excluded, and it makes me extremely reluctant to be a person who endorses that exclusion. Yes, both Poseidon and Odin fall under the umbrella . . . but I also feel a bit disingenuous, being someone living in a land that is not European, and seeking to find my gods is this place. I do seek out Others — the landspirits here have run the gamut between being flexible with whatever form I use to approach them to being outright demanding in dictating how it will be, based on Their established preferences, and I will not do anything other than stay open to Their input. I honor Poseidon when the rains return, but I honor Poseidon and the Rainmakers; I’m inclusive to those Who are here, and I think we need to be, and I think, with those of us on occupied land, that’s going to be tricky, and important.

I realize, as I study, and ponder, what I want is modern polytheism to be inclusive. I want space at the table for all sorts of polytheists with all sorts of cultural influences. I want the uniting factor to be respect, to be hospitality given and received. I want us to be good hosts and good guests. I want that to be the common ground, and maybe not what our rituals and worship look like.

A need to have our praxis look the same, or even similar, is a hold-over from monotheism, and it’s a need that has to go.

These are my thoughts this morning.

Now for chores!

Litany of Obligation

Something you may not know about me: I can be a bit of a doormat. One downside to being able to put myself in other people’s shoes is, if I can understand where they are coming from, I wind up forgiving all sorts of things. No respect for what’s important me, or what my boundaries are? That’s okay! Refuse to acknowledge that our relationship is one where I give and give and give, and you can’t even bother to ask after something important going on in my life? No big deal! Have a habit of only contacting me or showing interest in me when you need something? You can’t help it. Only interested a friendship as you define it, and have no problem giving me the silent treatment as it suits you? Awesome!

Except, you know, not. But I still have a hard time drawing those boundaries. I have a hard time sticking up for myself when it is something that only effects me — and people walking all over me only effects me, and since I can understand it, it’s no big deal, right?

Odin says, wrong. A number of months ago my lack of boundaries reached a critical stage, where I ended up completely stressed out and unable to cope with said stress. Poseidon placed a strong emphasis on self-compassion. Pops? Pops put His foot down.

There are people in our lives who we owe our time, energy, and attention. Who that is for each of us will vary for all of us. For myself? I’m a home-body. I’m focused on family. I like a number of my coworkers, but I don’t actually want to go and hang out with any of them. We are friendly, a bump up from acquaintances. It doesn’t mean our interactions are fake . . . but they are superficial to a degree, and that’s normal.

I have a limited amount of “can deal with people” energy, and if those closest to me get shorted because I can’t maintain enough distance with acquaintances, that’s something I need to deal with. And Odin helped.

My litany of obligation (which yes, He makes me chant it when I need to remember) looks something like:

Poseidon–> Odin–> Beth–> Corbie–> Zerk–> Luna–> Neech–> our various spirits –> K –> R –> M –> S –> assorted other incarnate family members –> friends –> acquaintances and strangers.

To explain that a bit:

Poseidon–> Odin–> Beth–> Corbie–> Zerk–> Luna–> Neech

This is my immediate family. These are those p/People who are the center of my day and my immediate attention. Poseidon is my hearth, Odin follows closely behind. Neither of Them *need* me in the way that Beth may need me in order to get through the day, so it’s not all about those who are dependent upon you. It is about those who get the bulk of your time, attention, and energy. The order isn’t fixed. As it’s presented, I have the chronically ill listed before those in decent health, but it can be re-arranged as things crop up. During Corbie’s illness, for example, the entire list disappeared and it was all him. (It ought not have: Zerk and Lu both have chronic issues, just not ‘on death’s door’ chronic issues).

our various spirits –>

Top of the list here is Grim, who straddles the space between this list and the former list. Also here is Angel, Sassy, and Orion. Some who peek in from time to time, some who are here more frequently. Sometimes my father; more often grandparents, especially Beth’s grandmother. What amount of energy they get from me depends on how those in the first grouping are doing, and what the spirits are actually requesting. My father often presses for me to be involved with the sibling I’m not interested in being in contact with, and that’s strained our relationship a tad. Beth’s grandmother often presses for involvement on Beth’s part with her ancestral Powers, and Beth’s not interested in much of that, and that stresses things a tad, too.

K –> R –> M –> S –> assorted other incarnate family members –>

My brother, Beth’s daughter, me mum, and then other living family (whereby I mean people who I count as family, regardless of actual blood relationship).

This is where the “I will sacrifice any of my wants, needs, or time to help you even if it’s something I really don’t want to do, because I love you, and because you’re well-being or happiness matters more to me than my own.” ends.

friends –> acquaintances and strangers.

‘friends’ is a weird category for me. I suspect that what I think of as friends most would think of as acquaintances. If I was the type to want to hang out, maybe it would be easier to know the one from the other. In any event, this is the group of people where, if it’s not something I want to do, or if it’s something that is going to cost too much for me to give, or if it’s something that may make it harder for me to be there for my inner circle, it’s not something I’m going to do or give.

This is the category that I struggle with. This is the one where Odin asks, “What do you owe those people?” and the answer is, I don’t owe them anything beyond compassion and general kindness. Everything else is extra, and is to be given only if I have it to give, and only if it does not take away from what I might need to give to Corbie or Beth or Luna, should something with them come up.

It reads a bit calculating, and maybe a bit cold, maybe a bit sociopathic. But it’s part of my self-care. And, you know, maybe something like this might be useful to others, and so, I’ve written about it.

Random babblings

[This is mostly thinking out loud; you’ve been warned.]

In a couple of hours Beth and I are heading down to Black Sheep Gathering, and we’re looking forward to that. Historically, this has been a day during which we honor both Frigga and Poseidon, as well as others, because: sheep and fiber and fiber arts! This year the day has arrived and we’re both sort of meh? about it, and it’s quickly pointed out to me that we’re staring down at the one month mark from having Grim put to sleep.

It’s only been one month. Four weeks. Those words, taken together, do not make any logical sense.

We both have a tendency to pull back when we’re grieving. Not from our immediate Family, but from the others? Yes. So, while we are sharing our grief with Odin and Poseidon, and we’re sharing our mourning with our immediate mortal kin, we are neither of us all that interested/motivate or even expected to reach out to those who are not Odin or Poseidon. We’re only even really going in the first place on the off chance that there’ll be a fleece or some such that Beth might really, really want, and to pick up some roving and just get out of the house for a bit.

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Wrote yesterday, six handwritten pages on Marriage of Land and Sea. My seekrit at the moment is: I’m bored with this story. I’m bored writing fiction. Chances are this is really further extension of the grief, but I a little bit am chaffing at the Story Subscription thing I’ve got going. I’m not going to stop until this book is finished, and really, I say I’m bored with it, but I got a good handle on the current chapter (I’ve re-written chapter 9 more times than I’d like to admit), and I worked in solutions to a Major Thing I completely mentioned once and then neglected to touch at all, and I have the set up for the beginning of the next book, and a decent grasp on the final book. I’ve been fighting how the building of the story wants to be (Two POVS for book 1, four for 2, six for 3) but I’m done fighting how the story wants to be. So, I guess I’m not bored. I’m frustrated that there isn’t more time. I’m back up to working 40 hours a week, and it’s silly the difference those 5 hours make, and there’s more writing I want to do. There’s a nonfiction paper that I’m pulling research in to tackle, and there’s another compiling/editing/gathering/sort of writing project that is in its gestation period. Why do I have to go to a job? There’s too much writing to do!!

#

We’re not special. I’m holding that close these days, closer than I have been. It’s my lifeline. It keeps me sane.

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There’s a lot of snuggling going on still. Zerk keens, at least once a day, and then collapses against me as I hold him and we mourn together. It’s a distinctive cry that he only developed in the last month. He doesn’t purr loudly like he used to. He breaks my heart.

Neech seeks out “bathing” more often than he has since he was a kitten. We snuggle and he washes my hands, my face, and I pet him vigorously and I lip at his fur and tug lightly, and he settle down for a nap and we hold hands.

I caught Lu bathing Zerk yesterday, which I’d never seen her do before. We’re all okay, but barely just.

And there’s a spirit cat walking around and making things happen and it’s so hard, so weird, to have him be so present and yet to feel this ache.

Okay. Not so random, but still a babble. . .

Death Sits Here

Death sits here
At our table, served tea and wine and water in our mugs.
He hangs his wide-brimmed hat by the door, places his cloak with our coats in the closet
kicks the mud from his well-worn boots and leans his staff by the door, next to Beth’s.
Our home is as much his as it is our own
We mark our calendar by this mask of the Masked One
When death howls, and when it rages,
when it whispers, and when it embraces
We are not a life at any cost family
We do not recognize death as The End.
Our family is filled with spirits of those once-incarnate
I’ve been haunted by the cries of cats who no longer have throats to voice those trills and chirps
We’ve stepped in well-placed puddles of phantom pee, given to us by a puckish once-Pomeranian
I have warm, happy conversations with my grandmother, dead these last three years
And I’ve met Beth’s gram, who I never knew in life.
We see the boundary, we know it is there, but it a threshold as substantial as our front door
It opens and closes, and traffic passes both ways.
And Death sits here,
At our table, served tea and wine and water in our mugs.

Despite this, impending death reduces me to a child
Tears and pleading and desperation.
Not him. Not yet. Not now. Not like this. Please, please, please.
Do you not love us? Will you not stay your hand?
We’ve given ourselves to this dread god, the Hanged One, the Terrible One,
and our household, too.
But, not him. Not yet. Not now. Not like this. Please, please, please.
I whisper this and catch the words, shoving them down, down into the bottom of my heart, into my stomach, where they churn and burn and writhe.
I stop them, stoppering myself up, as though He does not know, cannot see, will not hear.
Foolish daughter, He is the Far-Seer, and there’s no secret in my heart that He does not own.
I am left with ‘please, please, please‘, and I don’t even know what I’m begging for.

~*~*~*~

edited to clarify: Grim is still with us and as well today as he was yesterday. This is me just dealing with the knowledge that we’re counting down and that he is terminally ill.

Gratitude: sometimes I have it, sometimes I jump right into the blame game.

I’ve been needing new shoes for months, ever since we realized that my new boots were the root (hah!) of my leg pain and I went back to my old shoes (complete with cracks across the bottoms) in the interim. Nothing says ‘put shoe shopping off, hell put everything off another day’ like intense sciatica flare-up. Still, I made a token effort before yesterday by visiting closer stores that sold shoes, in hopes to get some. Because of various needs (gout; unsteady ankles that prefer wide-bottomed shoes; spending all day on my feet; gout) despite the fact that I don’t like the sneaker look, I need to wear sneakers. For some ungodly reason this year they’re all brightly colored. Nary a nice, subtle, soft brown to be found. There’s one particular brand I stick with because they are historically safe bets with good wear and little break-in time. Yesterday, in my flurry of Getting Shit Done (because my errand day, today, has been usurped by GemFaire and Beth and I are re-upping Fiberwytch’s stash) I decided, hell, I’m doing everything else, why not go and get this taken care of? So,off I went to the actual big box shoe store.

This store is on one corner of a busy intersection. Two four lane roads, and I was there the beginning of rush hour. Now, to be fair, the road I was crossing was the least busy of the two, and where the bus dropped me off, it was just as easy to walk to a crosswalk that spanned the one street as it was to go and cross at the intersection. I figured, further from the four way crossing would be better, and the crosswalk was a big one. No light, but huge signs and a median and big stripe-y crosswalk. When I reached I looked both ways, because I’m a conscientious pedestrian, because cars are big and fast and heavy and I’m soft and squishy, and because I’m injured. I have a sprained knee and the quirky sciatica, and I’d rather wait to cross than rush across. So I looked. The three cars that I saw — and I had a clear view down to the lights — stopped for me. One in the lane right by me, and two coming from the other side around the bend, all breaking because hey look at me. I was already through the first lane when I heard squealing tires like mad, and focused on the opposite side of the road, because two seconds ago, when I started crossing, the only car on *my* side of the road was the one I was crossing in front of.

And then there’s this pick up, accelerating right before the tires start making that weaving sound they make when you’re trying to avoid hitting something but can’t veer too far from your lane, and I look up in time to see them barreling down on me. Crazy close. Like, oh, let me just suck in my gut and feel the caress of your side view as you rush past me, you asshole. Close enough that the option was to step back, because if I had tried to dive for the median they would have clipped me.

I’ve had more close calls in this city with cars than I have *anywhere else* and I’ve been a pedestrian in places like New York, and Philly, and Boston. Masshole drives, you guys, but it’s these drivers out here that don’t pay attention and are conditioned to having big open spaces, that are the scariest I’ve ever had to deal with. EVERYONE around you is stopped. Maybe, I dunno. Pay attention to flow of traffic? Maybe?

I had that lovely split second to decide, “jump forward or backward?” and then, “Shit, Beth is gonna be mad.” and then, “Aw, my brother,” and then they were passed me. I could barely stand I was shaking so hard, and then? My immediate reaction, and this is why I’m sharing it here, was anger and blame directed at Poseidon.

Poseidon encourages me from time to time to push beyond points of social overstimulation. Not always. But yesterday I was up early to go grocery shopping, and generally grocery shopping is my one task for the day I do it on because it takes so much out of me. It was worse because I had to go earlier than I normally do, on a different day, and so I had to deal with crowds. Coming home the bus was crowded, and I take my cart because, hey, sciatica, and when I can’t tuck into a bay on the new buses with my cart, I stand in the wheelchair bays because sitting with the cart in painful for me right now. So I tucked myself into the bay, and then this guy got on, pointed out that the seat near me was empty and that I could sit down. I insisted I was fine, and he said it two more times. So I was annoyed already that some random dude on the bus wanted to tell me how I should be on bus. (Chivalry isn’t, by the way, when you try to force the woman to sit when she doesn’t want to sit. don’t get your fee-fees hurt, just accept her first thank you, I’m good here, and let it go. But I digress.) Normally I would come home and just stay home, but He was all, “hey you need those shoes, you’re not going to have time before next weekend to go, I’m really kinda tired of you not getting new shoes to see how much wearing year old shoes with falling about bottoms is making your leg keep hurting so much, why don’t we just go get shoes?” He’s smart, because sometimes if I have “must do these things” hanging over my head (new shoes. Taxes. mow the lawn if it ever stops raining and my back says I can/hire someone to mow the lawn) they begin to get too heavy and overwhelming in their own way. So, mental health and physical health, He’s helpful that way. And I went.

And then I almost died.

And I thought, “I’m so fucking I went shopping for shoes. Great idea, don’t You feel like an asshole now, way to set me up.” Which, is knee-jerk reaction, and panic, and fear, and blinding relief, and did I mention panic. (Yes, I basically called Poseidon an asshole. Not the first time. Do I recommend doing so? Not really. Can He take it? Yeah, you know, my experience tells me Their pretty good about sussing out motivations for things like this. Sophisticated beings, these Powers). After I staggered to the sidewalk and sat for a while (where’d the knees go?) I realized where my thoughts had been, and realized, I didn’t need to have noticed the truck. They’d only started applying the breaks less than three car-lengths from where I was, when I looked their way they were closer still. It was less squealing and more tires-on-pavement-swerving that I heard. My brain could have frozen rather than jumping into the quick calculations of which way to move (I love my brain. I LOVE my brain. I do not freeze up in these situations, I love my brain). I could have been roadkill, splat.

“Er, I suppose what I meant by asshole was thank You.” I managed to amend.

Because sometimes, jumping into the blame is knee-jerk. Sometimes it’s borne out of immediacy and instinct and fear. Cultivating gratitude is just that — cultivation. I don’t think it’s something most of us are born with, and fear of our mortality is powerful.

I did not almost die yesterday because my gods are neglectful. I survived yesterday because my gods have my back.

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?