Just a Quick…ok, semi-Quick Note

First: yes I’m still kickin’ 😉 I have considerably more to say about it, but that will be its own post.

For now, because I don’t want this to be a recurring theme in my life, please let me be as clear as I possibly can: “One Heart, Many Gods” is free to distribute. All I ask is that you leave the contents and author credit intact (no taking out the parts you don’t like or adding things that weren’t in the original file.) I would have happily put a Creative Commons license on it, but at least back when I first published it, my understanding was that Amazon does not allow these in lieu of the copyright notice. I felt in my gut it needed to be on Amazon, though, and sure enough, that is where most of the downloads so far (that I am aware of, anyway) have taken place.

So, for this reason, it has an old stick-up-the-ass copyright notice on it. And in fairness, I would indeed be appalled if somebody tried to pass off my work as theirs, so I guess it does have its uses (not that it’s a foolproof warding or anything, but you know.)

If anyone has questions about acceptable uses or distribution going forward, please feel free to comment here (comments are moderated, so please be patient) or you can email me directly (my email address is listed on the “About” page. I try not to spread it around everywhere because I don’t want to be inundated with hot local singles dying to meet me).

The reason I’m posting this today is that I’m actively trying to share “One Heart” in PDF form on a large Pagan Facebook group, which is not the easiest thing when I have zero social media presence as “Lucy” to verify that I’m the author 😛 I would honestly rather eat toenail clippings than start another Facebook account, so we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I can refer people to this post if this comes up again.

One Heart - High Resolution

Lastly, a big thank-you once again to everyone who has left reviews, shared a copy, or otherwise spread the word since I put this out ❤ You’re the best!

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Defining the Undefinable, and Other Fairytales

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(Content Warning: more liberal use of adult language than usual & references to sexual contact with Deities, which I promise isn’t going be a recurring topic here. Also feeling a little raw right now, so this may not be as tactful as my norm…)

I’ve been thinking this morning, after reading something a friend wrote, that I really wish we could get over this whole expectation in the online Polytheist community that our Deity relationships “need” to be publicly defined in some way that other people can understand and categorize. I’m really tired of seeing sincere people being given shit over this. Or even if shit has not yet been given, you just know it’s in the pipeline.

Because make no mistake, that expectation exists, and it screws with people. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked what’s up with myself and my Patron deity, Odin. This may sound crazy to you, and I really hope it does, but the most common one I get: Are we fucking? Because if we aren’t, something must be wrong with me—Odin fucks everybody, you know—and I must not mean very much to Him, if He’s even “really” involved with me at all.

Of course, if we are fucking, then depending on your particular camp, I’m either 1) delusional, if not psychotic, 2) the next whore in line, already nearing my expiration date if not past; or 3) obviously dropping the ball on the “responsibilities” magically acquired by fucking Odin. (Don’t ask me what these responsibilities are supposed to be.)

So whether I actually think I’m fucking my Patron Deity or not, I can’t win, now can I? But if you just read that whole last paragraph, and not once did it ever occur to you that maybe it is wildly inappropriate to be asking people whether they’re fucking their Deities and, moreover, maybe it is absolutely insane to feel a sense of entitlement to that kind of information about other people, then you just might be a Polytheist on the internet! (I say this tongue-in-cheek, because I know we’re not all like that. I’m sure not.)

I wish that I could say I’m the only one this has ever happened to. I was aghast to come across a blog post once, some time ago now while still a new baby Polytheist, where someone (I can’t remember who right now to link you, unfortunately), was writing about people sending them inappropriate questions and personal anecdotes in a similar vein. I remember being shocked! You don’t get this shit when you’re Catholic, that’s for sure. 😉 (But I will say it was oddly comforting to remember that when it started happening to me, another reason I’m sharing this today…I hope those of you who also blog about your devotional lives are spared, but if you aren’t, you’re in good company.)

In any case, I am always up-front that I do not discuss the nature of my private relationships with my Gods, including Odin. Period, full stop. This has been my position from day one, before Whiskey and Incense even existed. I may share personal experiences sometimes, but I don’t intentionally make any claims regarding them or the Gods involved, and I trust Them to make any necessary claims when it comes to me, should They choose to do so. In fact, my usual answer to the ridiculously inappropriate queries about Him/us, after stating the first sentence, is:“…but feel free to ask Him yourself.” That’s right. Go ahead and ask Odin to render unto you (general “you”) a factual account of whether He is banging me, and why or why not. If it’s ok to interrogate me about it, then why not Him? He would be equally as relevant as I am, right? It takes two and all of that.

I was conversing with someone at one time who was like a dog with a bone on this subject. Finally I said something to the effect of, “I’m Odin’s ‘whatever.’ Whatever He wants, that’s what it is.” I doubt it was any more satisfactory than what I’d been saying (or not saying) up to that point, but I was, and still remain, absolutely flabbergasted that it’s so disturbing to some people that I’m not using recognizable labels, beyond the more generic “devotee” and “Patron.” Or that my refusal to do so somehow implies all kinds of things. I really don’t get it. Whose business is it, anyway, if I’m adamantly refusing to make it anyone else’s business? Doesn’t calling Odin my Patron say everything relevant when it comes to what I am willing to talk about?

To me, this whole thing is a real matter of principle. Sure, I could just say, “this label and that would apply, and that one over there wouldn’t, and we do this, but we don’t do that,” and satisfy the sordid curiosity and put an end to the questions. It’s not that there’s some deep, dark secret I don’t want anyone to know, or that I’m trying to tease people about it. It’s that I have a right to my privacy, and that right does not disappear because I like you, because we are devoted to the same Gods, or because I choose to share certain other things on a blog. I have a right to cherish the sacred in my own life without an audience, no matter what that looks like or who that makes uncomfortable. (And if it does make anyone reading this uncomfortable…think about why. It likely has nothing whatsoever to actually do with me or my life.)

In a digital age where misinformation travels faster than it can be corrected and “fake news” is a thing, it’s understandable that people seek and long for transparency, honesty, and spades being called spades, maybe now more than ever, if you’ll indulge a bit of my naïveté. At the same time, we must not forget that “mysteries” are called such for a reason. The more personal aspects of our relationships with our Deities are holy mysteries perpetually unfolding before us. We must be careful not to let the expectations we attach to the mundane strangle the sacred in our lives; both mundane and sacred can, should, and do coexist, waxing and waning together like the moon in her cycles. Not everything is meant for everyone, or meant for the same people all the time; choosing to keep some things private is not the same as being dishonest about them. Sometimes the moon is dark, and sometimes it’s full, and sometimes it’s something in between. It doesn’t make the moon a liar; he is always himself, light or dark. And we are always ourselves, however much we show or keep to ourselves at any given time.

That being said, of course it’s okay to share what one feels comfortable with sharing, but no one should ever feel pressured, badgered, or otherwise EXPECTED to define, explain, and dissect their own sacred mysteries for the comfort and convenience of third parties. No one should feel like they NEED to come up with a label or a name or anything else, or they don’t have a place at the table, a voice in the community, or whatever. There is room in devotional Polytheism for anyone who loves the Gods, whatever that love looks like, whatever name you want to put on that love—or if you choose not to name or define it at all.

As Polytheists, we can embrace both transparency and mystery. We can be plainly and simply ourselves, stripped of others’ expectations and others’ labels and others’s stories, and still be walking the path of devotion, which is just another word for the path of love. Love takes more forms than we can ever conceive. If there are more kinds of love in existence than we have words for, then in my mind, it just stands to reason that there are also insufficient words to describe or define the relationships rooted in these different loves…and that’s ok, too. In fact, if you ask me, it’s pretty fucking fantastic.

So let’s knock it off with these silly expectations around sticking other people and their Deity relationships into neatly labeled boxes. Devotion is not an easy way of life. Like love itself, it’s messy, hard, sometimes painful, and sometimes ecstastic beyond measure. We don’t really need to make it any harder on ourselves or on others than it already is.

I shouldn’t need to elaborate any more on the TMI questions part, right? Right. I think I’ve already said all I need to say about that, and I’m sure other people have said it better elsewhere before anyway. Just, for the record, I’m totally fine getting questions or emails about devotional Polytheism, or less-personal questions about my practice in particular. If I’m not comfortable answering something for whatever reason, I just won’t. I’m not trying to scare off people who sincerely have questions or want to be friends (I want to make friends, too!) But to me, those overly personal questions I mentioned are just symptomatic of a larger problem of fucked-up expectations when it comes to other people’s spiritual lives, and there’s simply no room in my life for catering to those expectations, now or ever.

An Offering for Sigyn

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Sigyn, Loki’s Wife By Harry George Theaker, 1920

 

I put together a shrine for Sigyn and Her Family on New Year’s Eve and thought that now that winter break is over and I can hear myself think, I would share this poem I wrote for Her. I don’t think it’s possible to not love Her.

For Sigyn

The serpent’s coil,
Her mourning veil.
Her crown royal,
Her tumbled hair.
The mead in Her cup,
The draught of despair.
The cavern Her court-
Her Heart is bound there.

The walls may shake,
The ground may rend,
The earth may quake:
She does not bend.
Her love is Her key,
Her grief is Her spine
In bright constancy
Til the end of time.

 

 

Life at the Crossroads

I woke up this morning thinking about failure. Not failure-in-general, but a personal failure of my own in particular. Some time ago, I managed to fail both a friend and a Deity in one fell swoop, and I don’t think it’s melodramatic to say it gutted me. Because it did. It hurt terribly that I let the other person down and inadvertently made an already difficult situation worse for them, and it hurt that I failed a Deity I care about, too.

Because I didn’t listen to Them. I was warned against involving myself in a situation that didn’t concern me, but I did it anyway, figuring They didn’t have to cooperate with me if They didn’t want to. I knew better, and I can’t say otherwise. But it was more important to me, in that moment, to try to help my friend than to heed the warning. I needed to at least try, if there was any chance at all that I could do something to relieve their plight.

In that moment, I closed my eyes to what I knew about the Deity I was appealing to. That’s really the only explanation I can come up with for why I went ahead anyway. I have had many stupid moments, but this was one of truly cosmic stupidity on a whole different level of dumb.

Ultimately, the situation turned out about as well as you would expect. It was a catastrophe I still blush to recall. And to this day, I’m convinced this failure of mine was the death knell of the human friendship involved. We didn’t part ways immediately, but there was an open wound there that never closed. I don’t know if I actually caused it, but I know I didn’t help it.

The wisdom of humans isn’t the wisdom of the Gods, to paraphrase the saying, and at least in this instance, that was definitely proved true.

I should have listened. I regret not listening. I only have myself to blame.

***

I’m sitting by a window that reveals a world going softly to sleep in the cold. The trees are bare and free, the earth wearing their shed leaves like a fading blanket. I feel like I’m here and not here, caught between the leaves, trapped in the space between the branches. This is my life now, an in-between thing.

I lost my friend because I failed, I think. And yet I also think I would have lost them sooner rather than later anyway. I feel myself shrinking away from everything and everyone else, whether I mean to or not. It grows harder, hour by hour and day by day. I’ve turned into some ghoulish thing who can only be fully present when everything around me is going to hell. When people are happy, I don’t know how to act, how to be there, even though I’m not unhappy myself. I don’t even know how to explain that. I don’t know how to tell people, I’m shit at being a friend in fair weather. I only know how to friend during storms…and only then if you invite me in. 

I feel like I need to be something more, do something more, but I couldn’t tell you what that “something more” is. Every effort I make seems to cost me much more than it gains, whether for myself or anyone else. I’ve realized I’m fighting against an unknown current and losing. If I finally surrender and just let it carry me away, will I be failing e/Everyone this time?

***

I could blame this confusion on my illness. I was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia on top of the chronic migraines. There’s a thing called “fibro fog,” apparently. It reminds me of what I used to understand as “migraine brain.” It’s a sort of fuzzy-headedness, forgetfulness, not thinking clearly, not articulating well, thinking through mud. I can’t really distinguish between them, given the frequency we’re talking about, but sure, I could point to that, say this is surely what is happening. I may not feel “down,” but maybe chemically, I’m in some sort of depression. Maybe it’s just the disease.

It is a bad habit of people of faith that we have a tendency to try to twist even the most mundane daily occurrences into Events of Great Spiritual Significance. I am very aware of this tendency in myself and generally ruthless in its eradication…unfortunately, my Patron is not One to allow willful blindness. When I refused to even consider the idea  that my physical health might bear some relationship to the most recent evolution of my spiritual path, I was pretty much pulled to the side and taken to school on the subject.

It may seem strange that I would resist such an idea, but what I’m really resisting is the whole idea of “illness as punishment or evidence of sin or Divine disfavor.” The idea that one’s physical condition can be linked to spiritual events for reasons that have nothing to do with any of those things was utterly foreign to me before this latest fork in the road.

So, now I know better. Consequence is not the same as punishment, as Himself tells me over and over again.

I believe that. I accept it. I just don’t know what else to do with it.

***

Everything ends, whispers the chill in the air, the rustling of the dead leaves, the body that is failing me more and more, the friendships I’ve lost. Everything ends, so what will I do with what I have, while I have it? Is it ok to let go? Is it ok to stop white knuckling it? Will anyone still want to be around me when I can’t pretend I’m fine anymore, when I can’t be there like I used to be?

It’s not strength I pray for. Strength has kept me alive this long, after all, through things I will never talk about. Rather, I pray for the wisdom to know how to honor my Gods, my ancestors, and my loved ones through these things that have me so muddled and torn.

I pray for the wisdom to still know who I am when the current carries me away.

Samhain

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There are no words, this year, for me. It’s like there’s just too much, and it’s unbearable, but it’s the good kind of unbearable. I felt much like this back at Beltane, too, but somehow, I still managed to write something about it.

Eventually, I want to write some more about my own devotional calendar, and what days like this mean to me personally. Today, I don’t have the spoons–I’m hoarding them for after dusk tonight–but I will say briefly that Samhain is primarily about two things for me: honoring the Wild Hunt (my Patron’s specifically), and honoring the dead. As such, it is joyful, solemn, wild, peaceful, dark, and light all at the same time, and easily my favorite day(s) of my favorite time of the year. (For it’s more than a single day in my practice, and in fact, it has been going on for a little while now, and will go on for a while more).

Of course, in my household, we also observe Halloween. My private observances have to wait until the candy is sorted, the costumes put away, and overtired children are put to bed 😉  Another reason to hoard spoons during the daylight hours!

Whatever today means to you, may your Gods watch over you, your ancestors bless you, and your observances bear an abundance of fruit to sustain you in the weeks to come ❤

Confessions from the Coat Room

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I recently received a notification from WordPress wishing me a happy anniversary. Believe it or not, it’s been a couple of years now since I started this blog, though the first year of my posts are no longer online.

When I first began, I had no idea where the next couple of years were going to take me. If you took the Lucy of 2 years ago and sat her down with me today, I’m pretty sure Past Lucy would probably pee herself.

I still have no idea what the next couple of years will bring, but I’m at the point where I don’t really want to know. Precisely because I can look back and say with a fair amount of confidence, knowing myself as I do, that wherever I will be 2 years from now, I am no more ready to be there right now than I was ready 2 years ago to be where I am today.

And that “where I am” is a strange place indeed.

Jo has written before about asking her Beloved to take her deeper into His mysteries (her writing is beautiful and I cry every time I read that post, so have kleenex ready before you click it!) I’ve been thinking about that a lot. And until recently, I didn’t understand what it meant when she would write “take me deeper.” I mean, I did but I didn’t. I understand that the Gods are vast and great and complex, I understand that there is more to Them than what we see in the surviving scraps and old stories of another age, and sure, there are situational differences, but at the same time, what does it functionally mean for a devotional Polytheist to “go deeper” with the God(s) of their devotion?

I can’t speak for Jo or her understanding of it, of course, but the way I’ve very recently come to understand this in my own path is by basically waking up one day in the cooking pot, wondering when it got so darn hot in there. By which I mean, the deepening in my own Relationship with my Patron has happened gradually and by degrees, one seemingly minor revelation building on another until suddenly it’s not so minor anymore, and my understanding as a whole has irrevocably changed.

This change isn’t the kind of change where there’s some old beliefs about my Patron to chuck to the curb because they no longer apply, though anyone following this blog knows I’ve had to do quite a bit of that regarding other subjects. It has been, as I said, more of a gradual unfolding. The Odin I know today is the same Odin I wrote about 2 years ago, but I understand Him differently now, and the difference is not an insignificant one. Not even close.

I don’t know any famous people in the conventional sense, but I imagine it is something like having some kind of involvement with a celebrity. Most people have at least heard of Odin, if only because of the Marvel movie treatment. A fair number of people could even cough up a story or two from the Eddas, whether they are treated as fictional or otherwise. And there are certainly many different opinions about Him and His stories, entire books’ and blogs’ worth of opinions and theories and pieced-together research and UPG on Him and how people used to honor Him in a different time and how people honor Him today. So there is a lot out there about Him. Odin is by no means an obscure entity.

Yet at the end of the day, I have somehow found myself in a place where the same things that would have delighted and satisfied and inspired me in my devotional practice for Him 2 years ago, the same artwork and statues and beads and prayers and writings, have, with a couple special exceptions, become hollow. I see the resemblance still to my Patron, but it’s only a passing resemblance now, a reminder of all the other things not represented. The pictures and figurines and books I once treasured look small and pale and pitiful now compared to this new-to-me reality. The reminders that once gave me comfort now seem lacking. There is no “closer” that is close enough, nothing that evokes Him nearly enough, nothing that looks or feels exactly right.

And it should probably be more upsetting than it is, but weirdly, the “things” and reminders just don’t seem so important any more. I’m having trouble even remembering why they were so important to me in the first place, but I know they were. The shrine remains, of course, but my relationship even with that has changed.

It’s not that He’s a different Person now than He was 2 years ago. It’s not even that I’m a different person, though I’m sure I am. I just…didn’t know. That’s all. I didn’t know a lot. There’s so much I still don’t know.

It has been a deeply unsettling realization when it comes to my other Gods as well. I am suddenly and keenly aware that, just as 2 years ago I wasn’t even scratching the surface when it came to truly knowing my Patron, I am sure that, in reality, I barely know the rest of the Family either (as I think of the Norse pantheon). Their public faces, Their stories, what others say about Them, sure. Even some things They say about Themselves.

And these things are still important. They’re not inferior to other knowledge about these Deities. It’s just been a little bit of a mindfuck, now that I  grasp how much I didn’t know about Odin. (I don’t know if this is coming out right, but please don’t think I’m belittling “gateway knowledge” of Deities! Definitely not. This is entirely about the kind of stuff you think about when you find out your mom has always been the world’s biggest Beastie Boys fan and ran a fan club for them once and you somehow never knew even though you’ve known her your whole life AND WHAT ELSE DON’T YOU KNOW? Are there life size cardboard cutouts of the band in the attic or something?? You know??)

For I am keenly aware of the fact that I don’t even know all I don’t know, which makes it a little uncomfortable as I visit Their shrines and find myself wondering Who I’m “really” talking to, and what might be in THEIR attics, for all I know. In these moments, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed. In these moments, I suddenly understand all the implications of a prayer like “bring me deeper,” and realize how fucking brave people like Jo are. I may never know my other Gods the way I have come to know my Patron, at least not in this life–I certainly don’t expect to–but truly understanding just how little I know, and understanding that with my heart rather than just with my head, has been…I don’t have the word for it, really. It’s one thing to “know” something, and quite another to know it. I would say I “knew” these things before, but they never hit home for me the way they do now.

It renews my awe of my Gods, and somehow, paradoxically, makes me love Them more. I can’t explain it. This paragraph could be written, rewritten, and deleted a hundred times, but I still can’t find the words to explain what I mean. It shouldn’t make sense, but when has the heart ever given a damn about logic? (And yeah, I do kinda want to know what’s in Everyone’s attics, but I know it’s not really my business. Not all mysteries are meant for everyone, and I thank the Gods for that, because who knows what Loki’s got in there 😛 )

I’ve been on the devotional path for as long as I’ve been cognizant of Deity, which is far longer than the length of my association with Odin, and I freely admit I am still a baby. No joke. I should perhaps be embarrassed for putting myself forward on the subject at all, for writing so much about something that I am still only learning about, but in reality, I don’t think anyone ever gets to the point on this path where they’ve mastered it. It’s not the kind of thing that can be mastered. It’s how one lives and interacts with their world and what lies beyond it, rather than an achievement to be had, and if watching me fumble and flail helps somebody make a little more sense of their own path, then I’m all for it.

In any event, although it’s been a challenging time in some respects, I have no regrets, and this post certainly isn’t intended to be a complaint. After all, I knew well in advance not to mistake the doorway for the destination. Now I know not to mistake the coat room for it, either. 😉 Who knows what else I’ll figure out in another 2 years, eh?