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.
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.
In my last post spoke about ordeals, and the fact that I was going through one. So I thought it only fair to write a post about what has happened and what I learned from the said ordeal.
What’s an Ordeal Again?
In any spiritual or religious tradition, there are times when you are tested. My belief is because we are having a human experience in a physical world, there will always be tests of some sort. I think that each struggle we have in this human existence is here to help us learn and to become stronger both physically in this world, but also emotionally and spiritually.
Many ordeals won’t have a clear-cut beginning, nor ending. My recent ordeal was a mixture of my own doing (going to graduate school, choosing to work with Odin in more of a fashion he likes), the environment (the hubby losing his job) and various other micro decisions that I have made over the course of my life. A lot of times a physical ordeal feels like it just sort of happens. You can’t point to an exact issue or decision, but all of a sudden, you think you are in one, and sure enough, you get a sign that says exactly that.
Spiritual ordeals can also be initiations, as I mentioned in my previous post. And yes, I’ve had several of these over the course of my spiritual progression. But what is interesting and what I tried to explain in my previous post is that most ordeals are actually physical; in 25 years of being an active pagan (‘active’ being defined as in one who was tied to some sort of community and came out as ‘pagan’ to friends and family) I can think of less than 10 instances that were actual all-out initiations that could be considered ordeals. But those are a lot of what we hear about in the pagan community. They are the ones that sound awesome and dramatic. It’s neat to talk about the weekend retreat where you became an initiate of something or was accepted into a specific group or underwent a rite. It’s not as fun to talk about the day-in / day-out grind of doing additional disciplines because you promised you would do them in exchange for certain knowledge (or because you are required to do so as a priest/ess or devotee…).
Darkest Before the Dawn
I also want to note something here about the worst part of an ordeal – just before it is over. There were days in November where I was screaming at Odin. Literally. Here I was, doing all this work in his name, and he couldn’t even make sure I had a stable financial base so that I could focus all my energy on what he wanted me to do in the first place. I felt left behind, alone and scared, and wanted to make sure he knew all of it was his fault.
At that point, I was angry, tired, frustrated and damn near broken. Down in every possible way but not quite out. Incrementally, in very slow, deliberate moves that made baby steps looked like a freaking sprint, I was moving. And that is another thing about ordeals; you think you are going to break, but inevitably, you don’t. You break just enough to release that which you needed to release. In the darkness, you find a faith in yourself that you never had before. It’s a faith that tells you that you CAN make it another day, and somehow you keep going.
It was after the worst of this that I reached out to another of Odin’s claimed to see if his experiences with the old man were anything like I was experiencing. It turns out they were, and he chastised me for not asking for help sooner. And that is a very good point. I didn’t ask for help. I probably should have, even though I knew there were lots of points about my ordeals that I had to get through myself. But even having an ear to bend about the frustrations thrust upon those who work for someone that is at times called “You Bastard…” would have helped. A lot. So I encourage those who think they are going through ordeals to reach out – even if it’s online – to fellow devotees. It will help you understand what exactly you are going through as well as make you feel better about the tasks at hand.
After the Ordeal Is Over
There are many times when I have undergone spiritual ordeals that I was literally exhausted both mentally and physically, but at the same time, I was emotionally pumped. Sometimes when this happens the only thing you want to do is sleep, yet that is the last thing that crosses your mind. It’s a very weird state to be in. (A fun state sometimes but a very weird state nonetheless.)
The physical ordeals are much different, especially because of the autoimmune crap that is fibromyalgia and other maladies I deal with on a daily basis. Most of the ordeals were over in mid-December (at least the largest portion of it). But even now we are almost to mid-January and in many ways, I am still exhausted as I piece together the outputs of my struggles.
My personal ordeal also has me in a bit of a state of ‘weirdness’. Although a large portion of things in this ordeal are done, I still have more classwork to do. The hubby’s new job has meant finances have been a large question mark for three months, only to be (hopefully!) settled in February when he starts getting regular paychecks. And now I need to contend with creating new boundaries for those that have changed their reactions toward me because of the changes I have made in myself.
But even though that weirdness is there, I recognize I’ve made some huge advances. My trust in myself and my skill levels have expanded. I also know a granthi has been undone. A granthi is a Sanskrit term for a knotted area of energy in the body that blocks the flow of potential. Now that this phase of my ordeal is over, I know where this particular granthi came from, why it was there, and what happened to make it go away. I now also recognize that this area needs special care in word and deed to ensure that the granthi does not come back.
And because of that change in my potential, there are now more requests being made of me. Recently I was asked (repeatedly, because I said no first) to do what I call a ‘deity reading’ for another pagan that scared the hell out of me. A deity reading is when a client is asking specifically about what a deity requests of them. I don’t like doing them because it means I’m speaking FOR that particular God and didn’t trust my gifts enough to be able to clearly relay the message. Yet a couple days ago I found myself in that position. And now I know I was meant to be there; I was meant to give the advice I did because once I started the message flowed very well. There are other advancements as well, but I expect to be writing more about those in time when I finally have words to express them.
So again, I put this all out here again for others to see for the specific reason of letting others know what an ordeal actually looks like, what the intentions are, what can be understood about them and to help people recognize that they are not alone in going through them. It is also for me; to document where I’ve been. Perhaps I’ll come back to this post in a year and recognize so much more that happened during this ordeal. Because that is part of their nature as well; the ripples in the psyche made during one of these experiences also go through every aspect of your life.
If someone reads this and thinks they are going through one, I hope they will reach out if they feel they need to so they recognize that they are not alone. Paganism may be a very personal religious path, but it’s not one in a vacuum, and many times the ordeals are shared. But you won’t know unless you reach out.
This is one of those posts that I don’t want to write, but I need to write (and have been asked to write). And so, I’m going to write it. But note that this is under duress.
You see, I am going through an ordeal right now. I have been for months. And the fact of the matter is, it’s of my own choosing.
Well, kind of.
I am choosing to write this for a couple of reasons. I think the biggest reason is that I need to finally come out and say what the heck is going on in my life, and why I haven’t blogged in two months. But it’s also because I don’t know if many understand what a spiritual ordeal actually is, and what it means to go through one. I’ve seen many people focus on the spiritual aspects of a goal and not recognize the ordeal that needs to be gone through in order to achieve that goal. Or, people only focus on the spiritual aspects of the ordeal only to deny the practical disciplines that need to go along to achieve the spiritual goal. That is one of the reasons why I’m being asked to share this right now. To use the well-worn phrase, be careful what you wish for people.
Let’s get some clarifications out of the way before I go further.
The Background of an Ordeal First, what exactly is an ordeal? The definition of an ordeal, through a very quick Google search, is, “a painful or horrific experience, especially a protracted one.” Now, with that definition, why the hell would anyone want to go through one?
The quickest answer I can come up with is to become stronger. Or, to become wiser. And, well, to live. We actually are going through ordeals almost daily in this world. Sickness, trauma, arguments with others and many other things can be considered ordeals. For a while, there was a meme going around that said: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” Those battles spoken about in that meme are other people’s ordeals.
So my belief about these ordeals is that since we have to go through them anyway, why not learn from them? Why not try to approach the ordeal in a manner that will help you further your understanding about a specific topic or issue? Or even better, how can the ordeal help you work on uncovering and dealing with issues that you carry? For me, that is a very specific point of my spirituality; to use ordeals to better understand the world around me and for my own self-improvement.
So as someone who gravitates toward a self-centered concept of paganism, who only 6ish years ago found deities that she agreed to work with directly after a multi-year hiatus, and is starting to find her voice again in the community, it makes perfect sense that my mundane ordeals would have a spiritual aspect to them. It also makes sense because I am doing intimate work with specific Gods. And those specific Gods expect that you clean up after yourself and work towards a common goal.
These ordeals are a blessing in that when you are done you will be absolutely shocked at the mountains you have climbed, the struggles you have gotten through, and that you did all of the things that you thought you couldn’t do.
Ordeals are also a curse because you are about to go climb those mountains, work through multiple struggles, and do all of the things you think you can’t do right now.
It seems like many pagans today seem to equate ordeals with spirituality only; as in, they only focus on spiritual struggles (initiations, rites, and other journeys) and assume they are the only path for spiritual growth. Some even focus so hard on the spiritual aspects that they literally are hiding from the physical issues of their life (which in fact, are their actual ordeals). Still, others may focus on the physical as not an ordeal, but something else. They may, in fact, give the physical issue a spiritual cause (e.g., someone is out to get me). That is where discernment is absolutely necessary to understand what is really going on. In my case, yes, there are other reasons why things are happening in my life right now, and I recognize the cause and effect of those reasons. But at the same time, I know my issues are part of an ordeal and that this ordeal is physical and spiritual in nature. I say that because I see the results of the struggle that I am in. There are both physical and spiritual benefits to this to this struggle. That in my mind classifies this as an ordeal.
The Path to My Own Ordeal Looking at things as ordeals comes naturally to me. Long story short, I’ve set myself on a path of reinventing myself once before, and although it took some time, I’ve come through those struggles beautifully. I’m proud of what I have accomplished, and because of those accomplishments, I’ve caught the eye of a certain one-eyed deity.
Odin is very much a deity that appreciates people dealing with their own crap. And I’ve done several cycles of dealing with my own crap already – once doing a full reinvention of myself, and multiple times in overcoming significant obstacles and fears. Looking at that resume that I am so proud of, it makes sense that he’d want me to be working for him (to put it bluntly).
Other than following through with the self-improvement, I wonder if Odin also works with me because I have developed skills to handle new ordeals. I’m disciplined (for the most part), and I have the drive to push myself forward, even sometimes at the expense of overdoing it and hurting myself. I’m also stubborn as all hell and if it meant proving a point, I will take on detrimental actions that in the end will cause more trauma than it will likely be worth (but I proved my point, dammit). So there are lots of pluses and minuses here.
Anyway, Odin comes along, and I agree to work with him. And in the span of a year and a half, I start a new spiritual training program, decide to go to graduate school, find a degree program that matches my interests, start it, take on a larger role in my work life, and find my intuitive readings becoming more and more accurate and specific as well as going into deeper spiritual issues. And I often find myself being drawn to do specific readings at specific times, giving the client “exactly what they needed to hear” (their words, not mine).
And if that wasn’t enough, the energy of my household raised to the point where my husband started feeling it and started his own road of improvement. And just as he started his own training, he was laid off of his work (which I think was all part of his spiritual development as well). Overall, being laid off will be a good thing – he was being underutilized and there was no room for growth at his former employer – but the finding of a job has added a level of deep stress for him and I to both be dealing with.
Again, you can see spiritual ordeals are not just spiritual tasks. You face things that you are holding onto that are detrimental to your growth. You go out of your comfort zone, taking risks you wouldn’t normally take, and most importantly, changing your habits and mindset to allow for more understanding and compassion for yourself and others. After all, ordeals are meant to open yourself up for a clearer link to the spirits and to the Gods, and sometimes it’s shadow work that is keeping you from them. Shadow work cannot be cleared up by spirituality alone.
Now Onto My Confession To put it bluntly, this ordeal is kicking my ass.
It’s taking me places in my psyche that I haven’t talked about, haven’t dealt with before, and couldn’t even define with words until a month or so ago.
I now realize that I have a very, very deep animosity for myself, my intelligence, my skills, and my abilities. I believe this animosity to be a learned behavior, but also a congenital one. And that animosity has influenced my life in ways I’m still realizing. It’s one of the reasons why I (still) cope with overeating. It’s the reason why I haven’t followed through in some of my past self-improvement endeavors, and it’s the reason why I sometimes push myself so hard I break my own body. There are other things I’ve realized too; other things that I haven’t really articulated before (and if I tried to explain, I’d take up two or three more blog posts just to describe), but the animosity is the one I’ll confess now as it is front and center in my head.
But now that I know it is there, the ‘mental tape’ that was buried for so long just reinforcing self-defeating behavior is now something I hear loudly being played over and over again as I continue to step out of my comfort zone. While I’m doing homework in my class (that I have to pass with a B or better just to stay in the program – no pressure) I am constantly fighting it beat me up and telling me I will fail. I get tapes at work telling me I’m not good at my job and will be laid off soon, making me lose my house and my security because we have no other cash flow. At home, I’m not doing enough, I’m ugly, I’m fat, and I’ll never be any healthier.
Why are there multiple tapes going on? Because this animosity was buried so deep it has become a habit, so just acknowledging that it is there isn’t going to stop it. I need to figure out and establish new tapes to replace the ones that keep flooding my brain, and ultimately, create new habits that will replace the bad ones.
So while I’m dealing with all of the uncomfortable feelings of this animosity, and with the insecurity of my current financial status, I have other questions about the success of this endeavor in my head. What if I do succeed in getting rid of this animosity? What then? Who will I be? What will replace it? What will my comfort zone look like? Will it be a place I want to be, or am I asking for something I really don’t want and don’t know it?
And from a spiritual perspective, the question about why Odin is pushing me to do this is also at the forefront of my mind. Don’t forget, Odin is a God of manipulation as well. He does things for reasons we won’t always understand. And that manipulation may not have any right or wrong to it; in his mind, it is all for the greater goal.
To say all of this has brought up insecurities, anxiety and other uncomfortable feelings is an understatement. I’ve had panic attacks, bouts of anger, bouts of depression, frustration, tears, and so many other emotions I’ve lost track. But while all of these emotions are being sorted out, I’m still working 45ish hours a week (in a job I like, so that is good), putting in about 35 hours a week on my graduate studies, trying to get in some sort of healthy exercise, keeping up spiritual disciplines and trying to be support to my job seeking husband as well as helping to keep up the house and try not to let my emotions get the best of me so that a fibromyalgia pain flare-up doesn’t sideline me.
This shit is hard. But it’s meant to be. And I keep getting reassured that each and every piece of this ordeal has meaning. Every struggle day in and day out is part of the ordeal. And I do know this won’t last. My husband has had 11 interviews in two months. The only reason he isn’t working is that the firms he’s interviewed with are taking their time due to the holiday working schedules (it happens at this time of year). He’s putting in the time so the financial security will come…sooner or later. I’ll be finished with my class in mid-December (after I finish a final examination, which has its own negative mental tapes playing in the background).
I keep reassuring myself (and getting reassured) that I’m doing everything I can, and I’m doing it all right. I’m making the mindful choices, I’m sticking with things and putting in the time I’m supposed to be doing. I just need to keep moving on.
I’ve been focused on self-improvement work for the past 16 years. I’ve done a lot, and I’m still always surprised at the requirements that are laid out before me to achieve another personal goal. I know I do more than many others do when it comes to spiritual discipline, but I also recognize that there is give and take here. If I want to do more, or am asked to do more, I have to be ready to accept the burden of the ordeal to prepare me for that endeavor. I also have to accept the responsibility that comes along with the tasks I’m asking to take on.
Not everyone is fit to be a teacher, a mentor or a spiritual leader. Not everyone is meant to be a Priest or Priestess. But yet we all have something to contribute to the pagan community as a whole. Our task, if we want to be a part of a pagan community, is to find that thing we are meant to do and serve our community as we can. This means that we will have to go through at least one spiritual ordeal in our lifetimes. And while my personal ordeal is tough, I am recognizing that it is also very much about finding that place in the pagan community as a whole. So I will continue with it to the best of my ability. There is still a chance I may fail, and I accept that. Either way, I will be continuing to learn, and that is the most valuable thing I can do.
Yesterday I presented a circle casting for a ritual I’m planning next week. I very much wanted the rite to be somewhat general in its layout so that the participants could take away things from it that they needed, but not feel like they were pushed into something that felt like a specific rite from a specific spectrum of paganism (e.g., a ‘Heathen’ or ‘Wiccan’ rite). I also didn’t want it to feel like things were simply ‘pulled’ from those specific spectrums.
So a lot of the rite are things that I have written specifically for this ceremony. But when it came time to write an invocation to divinity, I found I was blocked from writing anything down, but couldn’t figure out why. So after some prayers and mental soul-searching, the prayers below came out. After that, I was able to write the rest of my ceremony.
I’m still not sure if what I’ve written are more invocations or dictations of what these two Gods mean to me, but they both had to come out before I could write anything to any other deity. I’m ecstatic at how they turned out. I truly do enjoy both and their personal feel to me. They feel very powerful and profound. But after looking them over and preparing to transfer them from the scrap paper to my poem collection, I realized that my requirements to these Gods was not yet finished.
I needed to share both of these prayers here, on this blog.
Even as I type this post, I am still fighting doing this. And the excuses are continuing to flying around in my head for why I shouldn’t do it. Today is the autumnal equinox. I should be posting about that instead of doing this. I just posted yesterday, I should wait and post this next week or later because I don’t like doing a lot of posts and then nothing at all for weeks on end. And the one that is really stopping me; these prayers are too personal to publish.
But I’m not getting out of this, and I already know that.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that perhaps I’ve not been ‘putting myself out there’ as much as I should be, or how they want me to. I’ve talked months before on this blog about building a religious path for myself; one that has specific prayers, specific traditions and offerings that speak to who I am, what I believe and whom I serve. I’ve also put myself out there as serving the pagan community as a whole. But I’ve stayed away from labeling myself as anything other than a pagan. These prayers, with their kennings and truths very much do that. They are an open book to how I view myself and my relationship with these Gods.
So without further excuses, I offer the prayers here. Feel free to comment and discuss. I know I’ll be thinking about this exercise for some time as I figure out my adversity to doing it.
Invocation to Loki
Hail to Thee!
Laugaz, my light
Lover, my longing
Fire Jotun, my power
Mind tester, my teacher
Sight minder, my vision
Bound God, my burden
Flame hair, my delight
Cinder maker, my wrath
Hail to you, my Loki
Invocation to Odin
Hail, All Father
Song singer, my voice for you
Wisdom seeker, may I learn your cunning
Teacher, may I learn your teachings
Warrior, may I grow in prowess
One Eyed, may I seek to know and understand
Yule Figure, may I learn joy and unknowing
Rune God, may I learn the Runes
Shapeshifter, may I learn the Seidh
Slain God – may I learn to give of myself
May I ever be your daughter
I finished writing this poem today and present it here for thoughts. I am quite fond of it, although some people have read it and been uncomfortable with its expressions.
The poem speaks to my life. I am coming to the end of a significant amount of Shadow work, and this is a celebration of that. I have reclaimed and am healing shards of my soul, embraced many of my issues and wrestled with personal demons. I feel like now I come from a place of power that was meant for me, if only I dared to come this far.
Perhaps that is why this poem makes people so uncomfortable.
I am the uncomfortable silence, I am the calm before the storm. A friend may partake in my peace While the foe shall hear no alarm.
I am sister-wife of The Mad, I am the daughter of Gangleri. A friend shall enjoy my aid, While the foe fearful of my company.
I am she who rests in nightmares, I dance where others dare creep. Do not think that I am defenseless Attack me, and pain you shall reap
Is there still a question of my loyalty? Do I still belong in the house I dwell? Oh I assure you, the wolf within is quite content, Yet ever willing to come out of my shell
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
~ Howard Thurman
Over the year that I have been working with Loki, Sigyn and Odin, I have found a happiness that I never thought was possible within religion. In all of my years as a practicing Christian, I never felt the Christian God the way I feel the ones that I am working with now. Yes, the Christian God felt alive to me, but I didn’t “feel” like one of “his” children. Even when I was doing other pagan and Wiccan practices, I never felt so close to the Gods as I do now. The more devotional things I do for Odin, Sigyn and Loki, the more I feel and hear them.
I wonder if in today’s constant strife regarding the role of religion if this is something that we are lacking. We see a lot of posts about how and what people think about their Gods, their practice and what other people should or shouldn’t do, but we aren’t seeing many posts about how we FEEL about our Gods. Perhaps if we looked at how we feel about our Gods, and in turn how they feel about us, we wouldn’t have as much argument. It doesn’t matter how we find our own ways to get there, but in the end, if you are content with your practice and feel the connections to the Gods, then that connection can be a starting point to reach out to other religions.
My connections to my Gods make me feel alive. They soothe my soul and make me feel whole. Odin helps me to understand that I do not know everything, and that I have a long road to get to the level of understanding that I want to be at. He recognizes that I have value in who I am and in what I do, and that I’m not afraid of going outside that which I know in order to get something done, especially in his honor.
My connection to Loki is one that is very hard to describe. I feel his passion and fire within me, and that has gotten me through rough times, especially when I am having a hard time with my chronic pain. Loki also helps me learn to accept all of myself. This includes those pieces of me that I feel are less than desirable. I’m allowed to be angry, I’m allowed to dislike things. But I am also allowed to recognize those feelings but that I don’t have to DO anything about them. I can let things go as they may; I don’t have to make everything right for everyone, or even for myself. And while I am not constantly on the lookout for the rug to be pulled out from under me in some aspect of my life, I recognize that it may happen. And when it does, I am enough to do whatever it is that is needed to make the best out of the situation.
Sigyn is a much deeper lady than anyone gives her credit for. To know her is to know that there are other aspects of her that she does not show to many. She is the consoler, but she also does not let people shirk their duties because of their pain. She asks of you to do what it is you can, to find the limit and work to it, then to recognize that that is enough. Some days those limits are higher than others. Sometimes they are much lower. Either way, that is OK. She also teaches that once you have met the limit, Rest for your body and for your soul is always necessary. She is the champion of us who have chronic illness, a lady of quiet wisdom and strength, and a child of wonder and awe. She is someone you must sit with for a time as she must know you before she opens herself to you.
Some readers may also remember that I am the holder of a medicine pipe of Native American traditions. This relationship too has been solidified over the year. I am not as afraid as I once was of the power that likes within the sumac and pipestone. Instead, I recognize that its purpose is to help heal and teach those who are within its influence. Ceremonies with the pipe are not things that happen often, but when they do, they will need to be done very carefully and purposefully. And even when the pipe is in its bags, proper respect is still expected. I find myself still giving offerings to it whenever I feel it is necessary. Finally, the pipe doesn’t have to be out to speak. It will speak to whomever it needs to, whenever the time is right.
A year ago I made pacts with these Gods that I would renew within a year and a day so long as they still wanted me, and I still felt comfortable with them. Now I recognize that the connections that I have made with them will last much, much longer. And I am absolutely OK with this. It feels so nice to finally find a home. It just took me throwing out some of the things that others taught and feeling my way through my own truth.
Perhaps speaking about these connections will help others speak about their own feelings regarding their relationships with the Gods. Perhaps they will think on how they feel, and recognize that we all have a common starting point; the joy and comfort the Gods bring as well as the continuous lessons that we receive on a day to day basis. I don’t expect this post to change all that. But it might get some people thinking at least about expressing their own connections to divinity. And even if it doesn’t, I’m still happy at the fact that I can express the relationships that I have had a hand in making for myself.
The night started like any other normal night. As night fell, I retired to my bedroom in order to prepare for sleep. However, upon lying down I felt the gentle ‘pull’ on my spirit. The Gods had other plans in mind for me than simply roaming around within the dream world. Tonight would be instead a journey to the realms of spirit in order to learn another lesson. I quickly made the necessary preparations and prepared to go where I was lead.
Upon closing my eyes I found myself staring at a funeral pyre that was yet to be lit. There were no tears from the others watching with me. Instead, the sense in the air was that something powerful was about to happen. No one was here to mourn. Instead, they were here to witness rebirth.
Once I recognized that important difference, I felt the wood on my back as I found myself lying down on top of the pyre, chained there so that I could not move. I frantically searched through my mind, and looked over at the other version of myself still staring at the pyre.
‘This can’t be right’ I thought, panic starting to set in. Frantically I tried to pull my spirit away, but it was no use. I was tied to the pile of wood very well. Nonetheless, I continued to struggle
‘This is meant to be’ I heard a male voice say. The voice calmed my fears some, so I stopped struggling.
It was then that I saw a spectator light the wood at my feet.
In the physical world fire burns quickly. I’ve heard fire doubles in size every four seconds. But here, it felt like it took forever to catch. Finally, I could feel it close in on my feet and legs. The sensation was nothing like I had never felt before. Thankfully, there was no pain, but that didn’t mean the destruction of the fire was lessened any. I looked down and watched as the skin of my arms started to blister and be burned away exposing the muscle and bone underneath. The flames lapped at my torso, and again I watched the blistering and burning of my skin. In moments I was looking down at my ribs and could see my organs aflame through the bone. I tried to breathe but flames instead entered my nose and mouth. I could feel them as they burned away the nasal tissue and found their way into my lungs.
The flames got hotter then, and my bones started to burn away. By now I could no longer see as my eyes were turned to dust. But I could still feel the flame and it’s power burning my body away. And as the dust started to accumulate I realized that no longer was I the body that had burned, but instead I was the flame. I opened my new eyes and realized I was born again a giantess. All around me was the world of fire as I walked. I felt the destruction of the flame and knew that I would in time I would destroy everything. I would be the one to set everything on fire. I was drunk with the power of destruction and death, loving every moment that I controlled that power.
Then I knew it was time to transform again, and I started to feel a slight chill. It started to become harder to move forward and I realized the power of the fire was retreating into me as the outside of my body started to chill and turn blue from cold. Quickly my environment changed from fire to one of ice and snow. Finally I could no longer moved and I feared I would be stuck within the block of Ice I had become forever.
It was then I saw Loki walking toward me. The fire god was not in human form, but rather a walking ball of flame. Lovingly he embraced the block of ice I had become and I felt myself melting back into my human form. Yet, even though I looked the same as I did before the journey started, I felt very much transformed.
I heard the male voice speak again. ‘You will go through this transformation again and again until you give up all that you do not need and allow it to be burned away. How many times you must endure the flame is up to you.
And then, just as abruptly as it came, the journey ended, and I awoke in my own bed, my husband sleeping next to me.
The next day I did feel different. I cannot put my finger on the specifics, but I know that the journey changed me to my core. I no longer fear that which I once did. And if that fear does come back I immediately see and feel the flames on my body. I know them now as a reminder of what it was I endured, and a signal to know that I am attempting to carry something once again I do not need any longer.
This is a transformation that I have been deeply grateful for. Although it scared me, it was one that was needed, and had I known it was coming, I probably wouldn’t have had the guts to lay on that funeral pyre myself. I know it happened the way that it needed to. However next time I may have to make the choice to burn in flame myself.
I had thought that 2016 was going to be all about Odin, Loki and the other Northern teachings that I had to learn. I knew some of those teachings were going to take me out of my comfort zones, strip me bare and remold me into the shape of a person that was more true to my ancestry and more of a reflection of my spirit.
Little did I know that the focus was to include my ancestry as a native to Turtle Island as well.
Last year I was gifted an (unawakened) Native American Sacred Pipe. It is meant to be a personal one, made with an elbow bowl. I have been repeatedly told by a Native friend that the pipe needs to be awakened. Today I received another message that the pipe requires awakening, but this time it was in the form of a rune reading done by a Northern Tradition Shaman. A rune reading….seriously?
Ok, I’ll take the hint before it becomes a clue-by-four to the forehead.
I was planning on waiting until I knew everything about that pipe I could know. I wanted the ceremony for it to go like clockwork; everything spelled out and memorized, rehearsed and the moon to be in the right position. And instead, I am putting things together on the fly to be ready the next new moon, when the pipe will be ready.
I just don’t know if I will be.
A personal pipe is a sacred and its care should not be taken lightly. It is a responsibility you take on for life. I know this, and I do not want to disrespect this in any shape or fashion. But like the last post about Odin, I recognize now that I have let these responsibilities being offered to me scare me to the point of inaction. It is time for me to trust the spirit within myself, the knowledge that I have gained over the years and my instinct. My intention is good, and because of this I need to move on even though I might cause some disrespect from my ignorance. If I do, I apologize and learn from it.
I believe now that Odin has a piece of this to play. Maybe not in the ceremony for the pipe, but I believe him to be expecting me to pick up my responsibilities and move forward with them. Perhaps this means that this year will be full of situations where I get to practice that which I had forgotten and learn new skills based upon those foundations. I cannot say that I am not scared by this. But if that is what I am to expect I will do my best to not run, nor to freeze with fear. I am more than what I have become and it is time to take up that mantle, no matter how scary. If this is truly the will of the Gods, So Shall it be.
About 17 years ago I had dealings with the first pagan outside the teachings of Wicca. That particular gentleman was Heathen. We started discussing our practices, and was very startled at his reaction when I told him about the drawing down of the Gods done in some rituals.
It seems he had a beyond healthy (at least in my mind) fear of his Gods, particularly Odin. In his belief, if we were in a Wiccan circle to call down the Norse Gods like that, he pretty much figured there would be hell to pay. I did dismiss his fears, because at that point as a first degree, I felt comfortable enough to respect what it was that happened in circle and that I knew what my own boundaries were.
However, I did make a note of his fear. There had to be some reason for it.
Through the years I have heard similar tales of fear, and again, mostly about Odin. More recently I have come to know about the term ‘Godslave’ and met a couple of them who felt they were enslaved by (you guessed it) Odin. Moreover, I heard stories from these Godslaves about how they were chosen, and forced to do Odin’s will. I also have been doing a lot of reading about him and the other Norse Gods, and can now understand some of where that fear comes from.
Now that I am foraging a new path forward for myself, I even have some of that same fear as well, especially because I am not as familiar with the magical framework of that pantheon as I am with others.
So with all of this in mind, I bet you can imagine my surprise (and fear) when doing a monthly journey to honor and talk to Loki that I end up crossing paths with Odin.
From what I could understand, it seems his interest in me was peaked when I started doing regular work and giving offerings under Loki, Eir and Sigyn’s guidance.
I don’t feel like I can go into a lot of specifics at this point about what he had said. To be honest, with as much as I have heard about his manipulative ways I don’t truly know if I want to even deal with him. But I will say that I am still pretty shocked that he came to see me. I tried giving offerings to him when I started my Norse work awhile ago and never felt a thing from him. So I think him visiting me is a pretty big thing.
So right now I am just trying to take it in. I left an offering for him to thank him for his visit, and have left my hand made runes next to the offering. Perhaps I will ask him for aid in understanding them, perhaps I will just leave a second offering and let it go. I am not certain about the concept of a Godslave, but it is absolutely NOT a path I wish to even consider.
For now, I also have an oath to fulfill with Loki. However something tells me that when that oath is fulfilled, I will be seeing some more significant change in my life.
A personal journal to share my artistic works, to write about Norse shamanism and traditional paganism, European History, Archaeology, Runes, Working with the Gods and my personal experiences in Norse shamanic practices.