Thanks for All the Fish

After several years of posts, this will be my last post on this blog.

After many years of having this space and using it to pull things together, I have found that it’s time to move forward with something new. The ‘something new’ isn’t going to actually look much different, but to me it’s enough of a difference to be a help along my spiritual way.

I’ve started a new blog at silverros.wordpress.com and I’d love for you to come join me there. It will be a lot more of the same things that I post about here, but the plan is to be a bit more open. See, here I posted a lot, but some of my fears got in the way. And if I’m really going to continue my personal, spiritual work, I need to get my thoughts and ideas out there in words enough to see where I’m right and what needs changing. And not do it from a place of trying to write to any specific audience; something that I got in the habit of doing here.

The plan is also to post a bit more often. We will see how that goes, but I’m going to give it a shot.

Anyway, thanks again for following this blog. I appreciate that people even take the time to follow, even if they don’t get a chance to read everything I write.

“Farewell!” they cried, “Wherever you fare, till your eyries receive you at the journey’s end!”

“May the wind under your wings bare you where the sun sails and the moon walks.” answered Gandalf, who knew the correct reply.

The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

Make the Damn Decisions

Some time ago I had a conversation with a newer pagan business owner.  This person was someone who claimed to be an Omnist.  I think that term is pretty loaded in this day and age, so I pressed them for more information.  Upon my further questions, this person continued to be insistent in their belief that ALL religions and faiths are true in every aspect, and all of them deserve recognition and respect.  That seems pretty straightforward, and fair, for the most part, but it was still enough to give me significant pause in dealing with them.

The definition of Omnist, according to Merriam-Webster, is “one that believes in all religions.”  There are some that feel the term needs an updated definition in that there are some truths in all religions, but not all religions are 100% truthful.  And if I would have gotten that specific definition from this person when I continued to press, this would be a non-issue.

But instead, I received their personal definition of Omnist, that they truly believed all religions are fully correct.  This was why the red flags came up.  Because in essence, this person is saying they believe in Scientology, a cult masking themselves as a religion that has hurt many of its members deeply.  They also believe in Odinism and Folkish Asatru, sects of Heathenism that believe only those with a white ancestry can follow the Norse Gods and whose followers are mostly downright despicable racists.  And they are also saying they believe in specific sects of Evangelical Christianity…the same Christian sects that are currently working to curb my rights as a woman as well as bully anyone who doesn’t act and believe exactly as they do.

Ultimately, by using this personal definition, this person is saying it’s OK these groups do horrible things; that these so-called religions all have a right to say and do the things they are doing to other people based on their faith.  And even after I continued to press this person, they made it clear that they weren’t going to take a stand on any injustices based on someone’s religious beliefs (and even became very uncomfortable talking about it).  To me, it was easy to see that they were too wrapped up making sure they don’t break any eggs, step on anyone’s toes, nor make any potential customers mad.

I do give the person credit in that I don’t believe they were taking this stand out of purposeful choice.  Instead, I realize they took this stand out of ignorance.  But even that fact – that they took this stand out of ignorance – is also a grave concern in my mind.  It means that they were not tied into the pagan community enough to understand what exactly has been going on.  They aren’t aware of Declaration 127.  They don’t understand why it had to be written in the first place.  And they aren’t recognizing that the problem of racism and exclusion is getting worse instead of better.

If that wasn’t bad enough, this person is purposefully choosing not to step out of their ignorance.  They would rather be ignorant and choose to not make any decisions regarding what they consider to be right and wrong in an effort to not upset possible customers, even if the opportunity for more information about an issue presents itself.  Because they were so insistent about this stance, it’s not a far jump to conclude that they also refuse to make hard decisions about their own personal truths. Instead, they are ready to accept anything called a religion at face value and label it as truth, and that is very scary to me.

While I fully understand and agree that someone’s personal religious beliefs deserve respect, we are not in a day and age where someone can simply accept another’s belief without questioning their ethics as well.  We have to ask the hard questions, and we have to get the real answers.  Then and only then can we determine whether or not we want to patronize this person’s business or allow this person to be in a private circle or blot with us.  Yes, that means you may hurt this person’s feelings, or even make them angry with you.  All the more reason to do it.  Perhaps they may realize their mistakes and become more inclusive once they are singled out because of their own preference for the exclusivity of people that look, act and believe exactly like they do.

Paganism is not a happy-go-lucky religion.  It’s not a religion where you are so fearful of your Gods that you don’t try to reach out to them.  It isn’t about letting others tell you what you should do and what you believe and why.  This religion is about making choices to better your life and the lives around you.  It’s about owning up to your shortcomings, and figuring out what to do about them to make yourself stronger.  It’s about building relationships and standing strong in the face of adversity.

Pagans have an active religion; we are the ones that truly know what we can and cannot do, and we understand the circumstances and (mostly) the outcomes of the actions we take.  To call yourself a pagan (or in the case of the person above, open up a business that caters to pagans) is to step into the world of your own responsibility.  There are no apologies to God to forgive you and simply take your shortcomings away.  Sure, you can still absolutely apologize for your wrong action, but that doesn’t mean you skip the responsibility of making it right.  And just as much as it is someone else’s responsibility to take action and make the decisions for inclusivity, it is my responsibility to ensure that my patronage is for established businesses that ensure that inclusivity.  Because if I don’t do that, I am just as guilty as the person who refused to make the decision in the first place.

Decision making in paganism doesn’t just end with whether or not you are inclusive.  Because we have a living, active religion, we also have to make decisions daily about our own personal actions.  This goes way beyond what place of business you patronize.  As a Pagan, I live by my religion and ethics.  I am honest and truthful in my personal dealings with people.  I stick by my promises and oaths.  I strive to take care of myself and the people around me.  Even more importantly, as someone who does work within my pagan community for others, I strive to be honest and truthful in what it is I can and cannot do.  I recognize and understand that sometimes I have to be the one that has to give the hard truths to someone who needs to hear them (and in many cases, they have asked me for these truths).  That is something I cannot trust someone else to do, especially when they are unwilling to speak for fear of hurting someone else’s feelings or losing a customer.

In Paganism we don’t have a black-and-white guidebook.  We ultimately cannot tell someone else they are absolutely wrong.  But we do have our own morals and ethics that we have to strive to keep.  We have our oaths and the Gods that guide us, and we strive to keep right relationships with those around us.  It is my responsibility to take my ethics, my oaths, and my understanding and make decisions based on these things in order to continue to pursue my religion the best way I know how.  And because of these beliefs, I actively choose to ensure inclusivity in all of my dealings; whether they be part of my local pagan community, part of my workplace actions or simply dealings in public.  My hope is that others would also be willing to make decisions based on their own morals and ideals and live by those decisions, as it is greatly disappointing when someone chooses otherwise.

 

 

Winds of Change

How much is your work contribution truly valued in some companies?  I can answer that with a quick visualization exercise.  Imagine a bucket almost full of water.  Then put your hand in that water.  Finally, pull your hand out.  The space left by your hand is the amount of value you are as a worker in many establishments.

It’s painful to think of your job or career like this.  But in this day and age, I’ve found it to be the truth about 90% of the time (with the 10% being extremely small companies or startups that have so few employees that they may go under if they lose another).  Sure, there are many corporations that will still treat you better than others. Perhaps they will have a better compensation or benefit package.  Perhaps they have a proper hierarchical structure set up that allows your complaints and concerns to be heard and things to be actually done about them.  Perhaps they have zero tolerance policies in place that make you feel very comfortable working there without worry about being bullied for being in a minority in some way.    But even with the benefits and ethical treatment of employees, this is still the norm.

I saw this visualization posted in a coworker’s cube one day, many years ago.  And it was painful to think about, at first.  But then, I changed my perception around this visualization, and even though it’s still uncomfortable to think about, I think it has made me better able to handle the constantly occurring change in every aspect of my life.

And yes, I did say EVERY aspect of life.

This visualization is especially true in pagan communities that exist solely on social media platforms.  Groups form, people join them, people leave them, groups change, and groups die.   There is absolutely nothing anyone can do to change this cycle, and there is nothing that will make one person less expendable than another, no matter who you are, what you have studied or what you have claimed to have done.  Some have a tendency to get tied up into the identity of a group so much that it becomes a piece of ‘who you are,’ much like a title of Priest or Priestess.  The very nature of the change in these groups, however, makes this dangerous.

It’s even worse if you take the opinions of those in the group as downright fact.  There are too many people in these types of situations who have extremely low self-worth, or no one to physically talk to about the subjects tossed around in the group.  Those types hang on every word, hoping that they will get the reassurance that they need to feed their severely malnourished spirit that they indeed are making the decisions they are supposed to be.  And they also beg for those reassurances that they are hearing and seeing the things they think they have.  Sometimes things get so bad the group becomes an echo chamber for a specific set of criteria; you need to think like this, walk like this and do this, and then you will be doing things ‘right’.  It doesn’t matter that the criteria are based on one opinion; if the group thinks it’s right, that is all it will be.

What is even more painful is the realization that even in local organizations the bucket visualization is also true.  The organization doesn’t have to be religious, either.  While face-to-face community organizations don’t have as many dangers as the social media groups, they still have the same aspects when it comes to group participation.  It doesn’t matter how much you contribute, volunteer or are simply present, there will always be someone else ready to pick up the slack and fill in that hole left by your hand in the water.  The sooner peace is made with that and you grieve what is lost, the sooner you can move on.

The bucket visualization is also very true when it comes to personal religious practices. Now, realize I work with two very distinct deities.  One has aspects of a change-bringing-trickster, the other has aspects of a wanderer seeking knowledge, and was willing to give up his own eye to get it.  Not everyone is going to be in the same boat of personal change that I am.  But many that work with the blood brothers will have upheaval to deal with sooner or later.  And right now, it’s my turn to do just that.

The thing about change is that it is inevitable.  Nothing stays the same; not your relationships, not the titles you are given or give yourself, not your place of employment, not your practice, not your home…nothing.  But recognizing that truth and keeping it as a mindset to be prepared for, especially in spiritual work, allows us the freedom of being able to see more clearly the real things that we need to carry with us, and see those that are weighing us down.  You learn to only take what you need with you and are more able to release the rest back to that where it came from.  Because ultimately, the excess baggage that you are carrying isn’t going to be of any service at your next destination.

 

 

 

 

Connection To The Wolf

Perhaps it’s still made up in my mind
Perhaps it is still a game
The heart and soul of a wolf inside
My piece of burning hell flame

Playing with clothes, weapons, and titles
Superficial station claim
Meaningless oaths, spoken to the flames
Played for adoration aim

My own gameplay was not convincing
Pomp and circumstance aren’t me
I cannot be disingenuine
Taken oaths were true to me

My oaths meant kindling for that fire
So I let the flame transform
Because I paid the entrance prices
The seed cracked, open to the storm

As it happens in the turns of life
My transformation was real
The heart of the wolf beats with my own
Oath and code, spirit keeps sealed

Courage, enough to stand in battle
Strength, seeing the fighting through
Loyalty to Gods, family, oathbound
Integrity, my spirit, be true

Honor to give, live by and receive
Kindness for all, no exclusion
Discipline, may the right path pursue
Perseverance for completion

I know these truths I found in the pack
I follow this code daily
The scars of the wolf still stain my skin
The code my authenticity

Proud am I, to have crossed my swords
With those whom I call brother
My battle now is more serious
Fighting pain my endeavor

I will not forget what I have done
Even with the pain of loss
I won’t continue the way it was
The lone wolf, forever lost

But even without the pack support
By sword and blood, sister am I
Burned in hell, badges worn with honor
I am transformed from the fire

No one can tell me what I am not
I begin to understand
Ironwolf am I, forever will be
Sworn by will and strength to stand

Pain

I awaken in the morning
Try not to move
Or else the pain will start

Finally move, stumble forward
Grimace faced
Pain awakens again

I drive to work and greet the sun
Spasms start now
The pain continues on

I stand up from my desk again
Stop a moment
The spike of pain settles

I continue the work facade
Typing hurts
The pain keeps me company

Day done, I walk out to my Jeep
Pretend I’m fine
Pain in my arms and body

I share my plight with others
Oh, like I have!
NOT. THE. SAME. New pain starts now

I try to claim my old strength
I do too much
The pain makes me bedridden

Another activity missed
I watch them leave
The pain wins again with tears

I think about what I have lost
Black belts, friends, strength
The damned pain continues on

Never understanding, why me
No one asks now
A new pain hurts my heart

Damned if I do, damned if I don’t
I just cannot win
The pain continues its waves

No one understands why I fight
Battles won, battles lost
Pain, my constant companion

I am in my own special war
Must fight, or die
The pain never gives up

Still, I scheme and plot for more
Wanting life back
But the pain never lets go

A Response to the Hate Seen Today

Warning – language & descriptions of violence

This is not how I wanted to spend my Friday at work.  I didn’t want to sit here forcing myself to stay calm while inside I was walking a fine line between being so fucking angry I want to punch holes in my office walls and wanting to hug every non-Christian that I work with.

But that is what I am right now.  And I don’t think those feelings are going to go away anytime soon, so I have to find a place to put them.

So I’m writing.

Despite my background in sword and martial arts training, I actually am a fairly passive person.  I do regular mindfulness work and have come to realize many of the things that I used to get mad about were not really worth it.  There were many times I would be mad at something that I had no control over, and all I was doing was losing energy to a worthless cause.  (And losing personal energy while also dealing with an autoimmune disease is a huge issue)

But I still have a solid anger streak, and I can blame my ancestry for that.   When my father gets pissed, he scares people, and it’s the same with me.  If you have hurt my family or done something this despicable, I don’t care who the hell you are…I’ll go toe to toe with you and curse you with my last breath if you have purposefully hurt that which I love.

And today that anger is front and center.  Some piss-ant-piece-of-sludge-that-calls-himself-human decided to hurt people in the name of a God I hold dear.  And if that wasn’t enough, this cockroach went after a group of people already reeling from the way they have been treated across the world – all because they choose to worship and act differently than a so-called Christian/white norm.  And I’m outraged and pissed.

This thing-that-walks does not speak for me.  This rotten piece of flesh doesn’t speak for my Heathen friends, and it damn well doesn’t speak for a majority of the population of Heathens around the world.  I don’t give a flying fuck what this piece of shit thinks is ‘right’ or how many ‘truths’ it thinks it has found in a historical text about my God being exclusive to one supposed ‘race’.  This trash is dead wrong.  And so are all of the other bottom feeders that believe the same thing.  The only thing I see when I look at people who try to persuade others that there is an ‘exclusive’ race is a bunch of people who are upset that their dicks are too short and need to compensate for it.

My Gods are not about being exclusive anything.  My Gods deem you worthy in what you do, how much you learn, how much you grow, and how well you stand on your own two feet.  They aren’t Gods that ‘forgive’ you for doing something wrong.  They ask instead what you are going to do to make things right in the eyes of those you hurt and in the eyes of your tribe and community.  To walk a Heathen path is to consume the real truth of the world…not to exclude but to let others live their lives the way they choose.  To be Heathen is to protect those who cannot speak for themselves and to learn to be whole in spirit.  To be Heathen is to care for those too weak from their own trials until they can stand strong once again to live their own truths.

I do not kneel to my Gods, but I do bow as I would to a sabumnim in honor and respect of what they teach, and I do my damnedest to honor my own truth and principles.

And it is these principles and this anger that speaks now.

This miscreant will never speak for me.  This malefactor will never know the understanding and truth of the Gods.  The wrongdoer has done a deed so hideous that soon it will be time to make up for the pain caused to 49 people, to 49 families, to the local community and country.  There is also the dealings caused against those of us who truly understand what it means to walk a Heathen path in this day and age; those of us who fight day in and day out to show that we are not that which hates others.

May his body rot in Hel, infested in maggots.  May he feel the pain of each and every bite in his rotten flesh to start to atone for the pain that was caused.  May he truly understand his wrongdoing so that his punishment is even more severe in his mind.  And when the Goddess feels he has had enough of the rotting punishment may he be made whole again only to be cut by a dull knife into as many pieces as people he has hurt or has caused to grieve today.

Then let his spirit be given to those who scream for vengeance.

Spring Beckons

The world is in contradiction.
Snow flies, yet the birds sing.
Water cackles, drunk with power.
Now is a time of change.
The melody of your voice reaches my ears.

The sound attracts my attention.
Time for more change, time to move,
Time to breathe free, venture out.
I must leave my entombment.
Crawl into the unknown landscape of devotion.

I have grown too strong here.
Too strong for that which I am housed.
Shall I stay anyway, and scream from the pain?
Pain from keeping my old self together,
For the rest of my days?

Yet, if I go, shall I be quenched of thirst?
Will the well be properly filled?
Or is it my lot in life to shrivel?
To ache in pain and despair of another ordeal?
Are my cries satisfying the needs of those unknown?

My choice is not mine as I reach you.
Again pain is mine as I force myself open.
Feeling the ecstasy and joy of life,
Allowing the tryst to begin.

You see my torment and relish,
Smiling, you reach deep within.
Rare is it that one opens before you.
Coming so far, daring to go further,
As far as one can go in a lifetime.

You aren’t surprised by my action.
As the dance finally begins,
The answer of the heart rings true,
As do the oaths of old.
The only surprise left is where
The exquisite rapture takes us next.