Gene splitting. Or something.


So.  Have been in a sort of an argument with the writer of a Folkish Asatru blog.  I think I quite upset him by saying that I don’t think you have to be white to worship the N. European Gods.  And that I would rather raise a horn with an honorable Black Man ™ than with a white guy without honor and full of hypocrisy.  Which was not aimed at him, but at the Fearless Leader of HUAR.

I also said that in America, given our history, it’s quite likely that said Black Man ™ has more than a dollop of N. European ancestry in him.  So if he wants to worship Odin, or Freyja, or whoever, I’m not going to question him on it.  Because I am an actual polytheist.  I believe the Gods have agency.  And agendas.  And they choose who they choose.  They call who they call.  I’m sure many have been called, but few answer. ETA  I do think the call is a LOT easier to hear if you share the same ancestry with the Gods, and a LOT easier to answer.  Those who do, though, have been bestowed a GREAT gift, in my opinion, by those Gods.

Said writer said I am right, that he and other folkish heathens have no desire to limit people from worshipping the N. European Gods, that said folkish heathens simply have no desire to worship with said Black Man(tm) – mind, he did not say those exact words.  But that was the gist of it.  He also said he would not worship with me (gist again).  Because of what I said. But I find it interesting that he never said he wouldn’t worship with a white guy without honor, which was the point of my response in the first place.

Which leads me to ask:  is the color of one’s skin more important than their deeds?  How white do you have to be to be in his tribe?  Is looking white enough, or do you have to produce a pedigree?  How about a cheek swab?  What if you have a wop in the wood pile, as my father in law likes to say?  Does that exclude you?

ETA after reading Stormwise’s comment.  I think I should clarify: I DO think many of those who *appear* to be without Scandinavian/Germanic heritage do in fact have it. I DO think those of those who “look” of another race are hearing the call inherent in their genes, especially here in America. And I DO think an understanding of the history, lore, culture, and values are an important part of the religion. You can’t have orthopraxy without some understanding and “buy-in.”  You certainly can’t have orthodoxy without it! Dogma….another thing entirely.

And what if you’re 100% lily white, Swedish and German in heritage, with grandparents who emigrated and homesteaded here, but you are also a narrow minded jackass who can’t be trusted not to beat his woman and his children, and cheats on his wife?  (I know this person personally)  What if this guy is a straight up racist jackass who calls Mexicans ‘beaners’ and African Americans ‘niggers’  and tries to teach his kids to do the same?  Is this guy OK because of his heritage, even though he behaves without honor?  And if I say that I care more about the deeds of someone, about how they treat themselves and their families and their neighbors and their bodies, and how well they keep their word, than I do about the color of their skin, that makes me not OK to worship with?

Puttin’ it out right here:  I am NOT universalist.  I do NOT believe Asatru is for everyone, any more than Druidism is for everyone.  Or Zoroastrianism is for everyone.  Or Yoruba.  I think we all can agree what universalist religions have gotten us….a couple thousand years of massacres of native peoples because their God is so greedy for ALL the worshippers he orders his followers to kill those who don’t want to worship Him.

Do I think there are cultural differences that sometimes simply cannot be surmounted?  Oh, of course, without a doubt!  And that’s an important factor in a religion like Asatru, where ancestry – and culture, and values, and mores – play such a huge role.  For instance:  Voudun.  I respect the hell out of it.  Believe in the reality of the Gods they worship as much as I believe in my own.  But that religion is not mine, I don’t understand much of the culture, those Gods don’t speak to me, because it’s not for me, I’m not from those people and I know it.

I DO believe in the science that supports genetic expression and epigenetics, and I believe in spiritual inheritance from our ancestors.   Hel, I even believe in genetic memory, I’ve experienced enough times of knowing something I just really shouldn’t know to prevent me from dismissing that out of hand.  I DO believe in the importance of honor.  And honoring one’s ancestors.  And doing what you say you will do.  And being a responsible member of one’s community.  But apparently just saying that I place so much value on the values of our ancestors, means I am not welcome in some Asatru circles, because I would not exclude someone who met the standards of those values, based on the color of his skin.  And I certainly don’t want to go back to the times, not that long ago, when someone had to “pass” as white in order to gain acceptance in society at large.

When I was a child we moved 18 times in 11 years.  I always felt different, uncomfortable, like I didn’t quite belong.  Every time I would finally feel like I understood what my place was, or could be, we moved again.  I was a quiet kid who felt more comfortable in the woods, making a camp, or being in a tree with a book, than with other kids my own age.  I spent my childhood soaked in the fairy tales of Europe in every iteration I could find.  Between the moves and the family, I spent a lot of time watching tribalistic behavior, watching cliques develop and break down, figuring out who would stand by their word and who would not.  I learned to see the true value of people based on their deeds, not their status. And I sure as hell learned to read their bodies and their eyes!  So perhaps I place a lot more value on quietly DOING the right thing than being the LOOK of the right thing as a result.  I don’t make friends easily.  I have a lot of friendly acquaintances, very few friends.  I don’t give friendship lightly.  The ideas of Inner and Outer yard are innate to me.  I grew up with them.

It’s funny but the older I get, the more value those same sorts of people who would have never considered me as friend when I was young, now find that appearances can be deceiving and that deeds actually do matter.  I find myself part of a tribe of people who all happen to value those same virtues.

Ironically, it is my understanding that some of the most vociferous opponents of Americans worshipping the Old Gods come from …. Norway.  And Denmark.  Because American peoples’ ancestors left the Old Country and left their rights to worship the Old Gods there when they left.  And BTW we’re not Norse enough 🙂

 

 

 

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Not such a lost art


Spinning in Donegal, 1978

My grandparents on my father’s side come from Mayo and Cork.  I see the ruddy complexion in my boys (and me) is a ‘thing’ for those of us with Irish ancestry 🙂

When I first sat down at an antique wheel it was as though something ‘clicked’ in my hands.  My hands knew what to do before my brain caught up.  I suspect something like spinning, a skill with such a long history, is carried in genetic memory.

While I can’t speak for my ancestors, who may very well have hated the task, I can say that spinning gives me comfort, a time to meditate, a peaceful space in which to contemplate everything and nothing.

Working for Hel


abbiThis is Abbi.  Or was.  We got her for my youngest son many years ago after his pet rabbit died.  He said he didn’t want another rabbit because they die too easily.  So we went to a rescue place and she won our hearts.  Her full name was Abigarrada, which in Spanish means ‘varigated’ and as a calico she certainly was that!

Her other name was usually “Pissy Girl” which should give a clue as to her personality…we often joked that she was Liz Taylor reincarnated (though Liz lives still).  Attitude was present in elephant size for this little body!

She was very very smart, too.  We used to have our extra dining room chairs next to the front door and the master bedroom door.  Well we had to move them because she figured out how to stand on the chairs and use both paws to open them.  Since this was before we had a screen door, she would get out – and if we didn’t know it, we would (of course) close the door and she would be stuck out there til we let her back in.  She, of course, would be quite miffed that the door didn’t magically open for her at her desire to come back in and would cop QUITE the attitude when she did get back in.

She learned English, which probably isn’t so surprising; I suspect most pets do if they’re at all bonded with their owners.  What was surprising was that she ALSO learned to spell.  For nearly 17 years we would give her a little half and half every morning when we got it out to put it in our coffee.  Naturally she came to expect it, and to ask for it by name:  milk.  (she actually said mawk, or maak)  She became such a pest about milk that we had to start spelling it when we were talking about it for any reason.  THEN she put two and two together and realized that M-I-L-K was the same thing!  So we had to start spelling it backwards.  For some reason she never did figure that one out, though it’s most likely because once we realized she knew when we were spelling it we got a lot more circumspect about discussing her “drug of choice” when she was around.  She knew other words too and could say them with varying degrees of clarity:  out, mom or mama (she literally called me this), up, treat (every treat was maak), and night-night (some weird ngy ngy sort of word).

She was heartbroken when youngest son moved away and would stand in front of his door yowling for him for hours.  It was very sad and we learned not to say his name so as not to provoke another outburst.  She eventually seemed to get over it and I became her number one human.

About 8 months ago Mr. TF said to me that she is getting to be quite geriatric.  I hadn’t noticed, to be honest.  She was just my little pest, my little minion, always nearby or behind my shoulders if I’m on the couch, behind my head if I’m in the easy chair, next to my head or on my chest if I’m in bed.  So I watched.  And he was right.  Some time after that she quit jumping to the top of the refrigerator, and a few months after that she started having trouble jumping on the kitchen island directly – she could jump to the chair then to the table then to the island, but straight there seemed to be out of her capability.

Last month she started vomiting every time she ate, and she was losing a lot of weight – and she was never a heavy cat to begin with.  Mr. TF did some research and began treating her for a hairball.  She puked up two huge ones and then she really seemed to rebound to her old self.  She even became as sociable as she had been when she was young and came out to greet visitors.

We went camping over Halloween weekend and when we came home she was alert, happy to see us, and gave her usual coo of affection when I scratched her ears.  She really seemed happy and healthy, like we had underestimated her.

Then, Monday at 1130pm, she woke me out of a sound sleep.  “MAMAMAMAMAMAAAAA!”  Over and over again.  I knew there was something wrong, I could hear it in her voice.  I finally found her, on the floor practically under my dresser.  She quit crying out as soon as I touched her but I could tell there was something wrong.  I picked her up and I knew she was dying as soon as I did.  She was struggling for air, she had dried poop on her bottom, and she was wheezing and limp.  I turned on the light and called for Mr. TF to wake up.  We had a tense discussion over what to do and he stayed with her while I spent FAR too much time trying to find a vet office we could take her to at this late hour in our rural area.

It was the longest ride to the vet’s office I think I’ve ever had.  Mr. TF drove, I had Abbi in the cat carrier in my lap with it open so I could stroke her head and try to reassure her.  A sheriff’s deputy made a U turn and followed us for a couple of miles – I prayed to who ever might be listening for him not to pull us over.  We weren’t speeding but a car out that late on a weeknight is definitely grounds for investigation, I can see his point, but not now, please not now.  Thankfully he didn’t.

She began seizing right after we got to the vet’s office, I had already called them to alert them and told them we just want to euthanize her, she’s old and we know it’s beyond hope, we just can’t bear to see her suffering.  They scooped and ran with her, and gave her oxygen to stop the seizures while they started an IV.  I know she was beyond hurting at that point but I am so glad they did that.  When they gave her the medicine I was there, stroking her head and scratching her ears the whole time.  It was a true relief to see her take her last breath and relax at last.  And so very sad.  I honestly had not realized how very much I cared for her.  I’ve never been much on pets as family members.  Now I wish I had paid more attention to her in her final months.

They were also kind enough to keep her in their cooler until we could dig her grave.  Mr. TF and I may disagree on many things but this was definitely not one of them.  She was coming home, she was not being cremated, and we were going to make a place for her.

I dug her grave Tuesday night after I got off work, in the front yard in view of the window she used to sit in and watch for birds, under our mulberry tree.  It seemed fitting that it was raining; I was grateful for it since the ground was softer and easier to dig – we have clay and calechi (look it up) so it wasn’t as hard as it might have been though I did have to use the pick and mattock.

Wednesday we buried her; the next door neighbor was kind enough to take her out of the plastic they had her wrapped in and wrapped her in a towel.  We buried her with a toy and a bowl of milk.  We didn’t say anything.  It’s too new, too raw.

abbigraveWe plan to paint her name on the center stone later this year or after it warms up again next.  I’m glad she’s home.  And I’m glad she’s not suffering any more.  The vet said her kidneys were probably failing and that’s why the loss of weight, the vomiting, and, in the end, the fluid filling her lungs.

So what does the title of this post have to do with working for Hel?  Well, I have spent most of the last quarter century dealing with people’s last days in some fashion or another; my husband is a hospice nurse and also spent most of the last quarter century dealing with the same.  We have spent a lot of time in the company of death.  So this blog post by Darksarkasm really hit home for me. I hadn’t thought of my intense desire to end Abbi’s suffering as work for Hel, but I suppose in its way it was. As was digging her grave.

Goodbye Abbi. Welcome home. You will nourish the tree and live in our hearts.

Questions


I truly believe in the rites of hospitality.  It’s not something that is new or as a result of my spiritual leanings.  It’s something I grew up with.

I need some help here though.

We have a neighbor who has a mouth like a sailor.  I don’t think I exaggerate when I say that she cannot speak a single sentence without using the F bomb at least once.  Usually more than once.  Now, I used to be a firefighter and I can assure you my potty mouth occasionally asserts itself, so it’s not as though I’m too sensitive for foul language.  But this is far and away more than I’ve ever heard out of one person’s mouth in a sitting.

And it isn’t even just that she uses so much foul language.  It’s that she TALKS. NON. STOP.  Like if there’s a natural break in the conversation she has to fill the perceived void.  With anything.  It’s exhausting.  I’m a quiet person by nature and while I can talk up a storm and be as irrelevant as the next person, this is more than I’m used to dealing with.

She keeps hinting that she wants to move in.  She is room mates with the person next door and doesn’t get along with her room mate.  Yes, we have a guest room but I’m not willing to let her move in.  Not for any price.  No, I don’t want you to do my laundry.  No, I don’t want you to weed my yard.  No, I don’t want you to do *fillintheblank* you can’t move in.  It’s a guest room.  For guests.  And family.  Not a spare room we’re dying to rent out.

She comes over when we’re eating and asks if she can have some.  Not just sometimes, but pretty regularly.  Now, I’m happy to share but having people show up unannounced and ask to share our food just seems kind of pushing the bounds to me, especially since we’re financially strapped right now.

She doesn’t seem to understand the concept of boundaries.  She just marches into the bathroom when I’m in there doing my makeup.  She came into our house once when we were in the shower (we have a big master bathroom and we usually shower together on days we have the same schedule) and CAME INTO THE BATHROOM TO ASK WHAT WE WERE DOING.  Seriously.

We are having company this weekend and I really don’t want her over.  I want to be able to enjoy our time with our other friends without having to deal with this.

I like her, I do, really.  But I”m kind of at my wits end and I’m starting to get a little rude because I feel so stressed.  Any ideas on how to handle this?????

Apparently my cat’s been living a double life


We have a cat named Bari (pronounced Barry) which means ‘innocent.”  How we got him is a slightly complicated story.  We have a lot of strays in our neighborhood.  Some have been abandoned, and some are feral, but they are relatively friendly so we feed them.  We don’t generally adopt the strays, we just give them food and water, and love when they’re willing, and nature does what it will.  It’s made for sad moments, but also many happy ones too.  We have indoor cats, rescues, so we are generally careful about the mix we bring into the home.  Some cats will just never get along.  And we can’t adopt every homeless cat.  We just offer kindness and food for those who are willing.

So we had been feeding this feral cat, a tiny tiny black and white female we named “Miss Kitty” because she was so tiny, and so prim, and everything had to be ‘just so’ before she felt comfortable enough to let us pet her.  On Christmas Eve 2008 we found out she was a mama, because she brought her kitten with her to introduce him to us.   He was weaned already, but he was so tiny, and so young, and it was so cold outside that we kidnapped him.  There’s no other way to put it.  We stole him from her, because we knew he wouldn’t survive the winter if we didn’t.  In fact, Miss Kitty didn’t survive, we didn’t see her after the end of January and we assume she got eaten by a coyote or something.

https://thetinfoilhatsociety.com/2009/01/09/my-new-spinning-assistant/ if you scroll down you will see photos of him when he had grown quite a bit – mom’s love and milk might be good, but if there’s not enough babies just can’t grow.  We got him neutered when he was old enough, because the last thing we want are more kittens in the neighborhood.

So anyway, he peed all over everything for months and months.  I was ready to take him to the local cat rescue because it was so out of control.  In desperation, my husband started letting him out.  Well, that’s what he wanted because he quit.  So every since, he’s been an indoor outdoor cat (our only one), and when he’s ready to come back in he’s learned to knock on the window (really!) and meow until we let him in.  We call it ‘going on patrol’ and sometimes, in summer, he’s gone for a day and a half before he comes back.  We just assume it’s because it’s nice out and he’s got things to do; he comes when I whistle, usually, he’s never far.

Last week, though, he was gone for 3 days.  We were a little worried, but he always comes back, he’s a big strong cat and he can take care of himself.  Well, when he came back it looked like his belly had been shaved.  He wouldn’t let me pick him up to look and Mr. TF told me I was crazy.  The night before last though, he came to bed with us and I pointed it out again.  Sure enough, his belly had been shaved!

Apparently our cat has been leading a double life, because *someone* took him in to have him spayed….we are now wondering what his other name is and who the family is that has also adopted him 🙂

Still waiting.


Our camping trip was amazing.  We met some people, including someone (who shall remain nameless) that I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined meeting at a little tiny camp out in Northern Arizona!  We also met several Arizona heathen families, some wonderful New Mexico heathens, along with a fellow mead maker/brewer, and lots of other people, all of whom were talented and giving of their time and skill.  It was, all in all, a lovely weekend.

We got an incredible amount of rain!  Mr. TF and I were married in Grand Caymen during Hurricane Michelle in 2001.  I don’t think I’ve experienced sustained rain with winds like what we had on Friday since we were in the hurricane!  People’s tents got filled with 2 feet of water!  A few tents collapsed!  We were luckier – we were camped out farther from the common ramada, but on not such a steep slope and thus avoided some of the problems others had (and that was purely by chance, I assure you).  We did get water in the tent, but it was because the wind was blowing the rain horizontally and it lifted the rain shield, allowing rain into the tent.  Not so bad, though.  Only one half was actually wet (with about an inch of standing water in places) but most of our stuff was still in the plastic totes and thus dry.  Most importantly, our bedding remained mostly dry (yay wool!) and we were cozy every night.

I took not a single picture.  In fact, our phones remained either in the truck’s glove box or charging with the solar charger on the hood.  We were pretty much technology free during our 3 days there.  I didn’t miss it much either.  I did notice I had missed a phone call from someone very important when I finally picked up my phone around 10pm on Friday night – luckily said person also sent an email and I spent an agonizing 15 minutes trying to sign into my email and waiting for his letter to load…but it was good news and well worth waiting for.  Mr. TF and I drank two drams of scotch each (LaPhroaig) to celebrate, and sat outside in the beautifully clear night, watching the meteor shower and the stars.  Other than sharing the good news with family and close friends the next day though, no phones for either of us.

I did NOT win the antler handled, hand forged skean dhu I had hoped to bid on….I was too busy running my mouth visiting and missed the auction for it entirely!  Ah well, not meant to be I guess.  There will be others.

All the crap that has gone on since January…if it all hadn’t gone down the way it did I never would have met any of these people, at a time and a place in my life when I really NEEDED to meet them.  I humbly apologize to the Universe.  Things do in fact happen for a reason.  And sometimes wyrd/karma takes really some really strange twists to get us where we are supposed to be and in contact with those we are supposed to know.

But now, home for nearly a week, I am like a caged panther.  I’m not particularly good at waiting.  But wait I must.  I guess the Powers are making sure I get some actual rest time in before I start my new job with its associated stress and all consuming lifestyle (if my fellow workers are any judge, that is).

images

Maybe some time to knit while I pet the cat….

ohkd

Or knit while I chat with friends….

 

A'Knittin' while you work

A’Knittin’ while you work

Or knit while I get this amazing craphole of a dirty house back into shape 🙂  Are you sensing a pattern here?  Of course, I also have wool tweed on the loom I need to weave off to make a vest with, and POUNDS of alpaca and wool to spin up – including a commission for lace weight suri yarn.

I’m behind on holiday gifts too…

Yep, waiting is hard, but I think I might be able to fill my time.

 

Hidden Beauty in the Desert


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ETA All of these pictures will open in Flickr and embiggen if you click on them.

This is on public land near my house.  Once, you could literally drive down into the creek bottom and to the other side; the state put up steel fencing and a sort of gate system that one can only walk through and the site has recovered in the years since.  The water runs year round, an unusual thing in the desert – this is not as low as it gets, but it’s lower than it was when we were getting storms daily.

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The roots of one of the Arizona Walnut trees near the water line.  You can see the erosion from when the water gets high in the spring.  All of the trees have fruit this year; I plan to come back and do some harvesting for our own stores soon.

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Branches:  you lose some, you grow some more.  Lightning is a thing here in the desert, as I’ll show you.

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If you look closely at the top half of this limb you can see the black from the fire the lightning started.

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The remains of a honeycomb that fell out after being burned.  The entire creekbed had a low hum from the thousands of bees busily gathering pollen and nectar from the riot of flowers everywhere.  The sunchokes were taller than we are, and the peppery smell of the nitrogen fixing plants’ blooms permeated the air.  ETA One was vetch, a desert variety that seeds everywhere it can get a little moisture.

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A lovely flash of color among the greens

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Mr. TF for comparison of some of the trees’ size.  I love our desert home.  Unlike the Midwest, our greens are mainly subtle, and oases like this are hidden unless you know they are there.  It’s a truly magical place filled with life of all sorts.

Just hanging there…


ATU12That would be me, currently.  Just hanging there.  Waiting for a decision.

Time is running out, I have been in this limbo for six months now.  I need a decision soon.  Events have conspired to force a decision.  Hopefully it’s a positive one, or at least a neutral one.  Anyone who feels motivated, please light a candle/say a prayer/send energy to the Universe.  Closure is hopefully coming soon.

Community, Personal Responsibility, The World Isn’t Fair, Gods.


Atheist alert: this has a lot to do with spirituality and yes, religion. Deal. In my mind science and ‘woo’ co-exist in a dynamic relationship that causes occasional cognitive dissonance, but forces me to continually re-evaluate my worldview. In my view this is healthy and necessary.

Pagan alert: Not Politically Correct Commentary on our community. Deal. If it angers you, perhaps you need to take a good hard look in the mirror.

I’ve been through the wringer for the past six months. In that time I have been places that boggle the imagination. I’ve been a specimen under a microscope. I’ve been betrayed on a fundamental level by those closest to me, and by some of the very systems our society is predicated on as well. And. The truck was stolen, trashed, totaled, rebuilt. I lost a job. I spent money I didn’t have (thanks FIL for the help, more grateful than you’ll ever know) and am in debt to the tune of thousands of dollars with nothing to show for it. I have a degree for a career I can’t work in. And I’m becoming more and more convinced I don’t want to work in it anyway, the way things are moving (see going places one doesn’t want to go, or my previous post). I have discovered, the hard way, that standing up for right doesn’t always mean you will be protected, or that things will work out. Sometimes you will be punished in the worst ways imaginable, and evil WILL prevail in spite of an individual’s or a community’s best efforts.

I’ve maintained a minimal level of spiritual practice through this, even if it has been nothing more than a simple acknowledgement of Deity and thanks for getting through another day. It has been nothing approaching the level of an actual devotional practice though, and I’ve felt that lack ever more keenly as I approached the end of my degree program. Once I finished, and had nothing else to occupy my mind but the drama and tragedies of life, it became a yawning chasm that contributed to my ennui and depression.  I literally couldn’t summon the energy to pray, let alone believe it would work.  I felt as though I just wasn’t worth it, that the Gods had better things to do than deal with me.

I believe in synchronicity. I believe in the fractal nature of the universe – As Above, So Below. I do believe that there are other entities, other dimensions, other realities than our own see/taste/touch/hear/smell reality, and that sometimes we reach out to those other entities/realities – and other times they reach out to us. I believe that things often happen for a reason, and that reason sometimes isn’t readily apparent for a very long time, if ever.  This faith was seriously shaken as a result of the happenings since January.

My children are fundamentalist Christians. Two, at least, were Pagan/anarchists earlier in teenaged life. I believe that they became Christians not because of the actual religion, but because of the structure and community it offers. This is something that very little of modern NeoPaganism offers, and I have seen that over and over and over again in the nearly 20 years I’ve been a Pagan.

In nearly 20 years as a Pagan, I’ve met more people who are trying to get on disability than I ever thought possible. I’ve met people ON disability who constantly cried about how poor they were, and who were no more disabled than I am, who ran side businesses based on cash to augment their disability payments and who actually had nicer things than Mr. TF and I do. I’ve met people who can’t keep a job, who can’t keep a relationship, who can’t keep an apartment, who can’t keep a car, who are using/abusing illegal drugs – and I’m not talking about marijuana here people – or who are abusing prescription drugs. When I worked in the ER I saw more than one person – significantly more than one – I knew from the local Pagan community come into the ER for problems directly related to prescription or illegal drug abuse or as “seekers.” It made for uncomfortable questions from fellow staff members, at the very least.

Many people who are drawn to the Pagan path often tend, in my experience, to be less than reliable on a personal level and tend to make very bad choices. These bad choices are ones for which they tend to not take responsibility. They misuse magick, in my opinion, as a tool to overcome lack of personal responsibility for bad choices rather than as a tool for self-development. Or they use it as a substitute for an actual spiritual relationship with Deity. Magick does NOT substitute for spirituality. And one does NOT need to do magick to enter into a relationship with Deity. Magick is a tool, it can sometimes be a vehicle, but it’s not the object (unless you are a Ceremonial Magician which is another conversation entirely). It’s as though they are drawn to Paganism because they perceive it as the one religion/practice for which they have to take no responsibility, and they can espouse beliefs that NO ONE can tell them are wrong. Cuz personal gnosis, you know.

Because of my experience (and that of my husband as well, I am writing this as an individual but we have shared this conversation many times between ourselves) we have mostly withdrawn from participation in and organization of Pagan events, particularly events like Pagan Pride, public Pagan holidays, Pagan meetups….you get the idea. The embarrassment of being associated with the crazies just simply began to outweigh the benefits of the participation.

And yes, I know there are those in the Christian community as well. However, they tend to be reined in by those who are around them, and either drawn into the fold or shunned. They are self-selecting in their long term participation.

As a side effect of withdrawing from public gatherings, my own spiritual practice has suffered – it’s not just the business of life/school/work/stressors, it’s been that I no longer go to events where I can get my spiritual batteries somewhat recharged because I’m participating in a community of believers. The very thing my children currently have. The thing I envy, even though I do not think a patriarchal herding religion from a desert region from 2000 years ago has any relevance for them – or for me, for that matter. I do ‘get’ why they turned away from a religious practice that *did* and *does* have relevance for them (and me). Because community. It’s important.

I have suspected for quite some time that the Pagans who were serious about their practice, at least in our area, were very secretive, or at the least insular, mainly because of the above. They are responsible adults and take their religion and spirituality very seriously, and they don’t want to associate with people who don’t. So, while believing firmly they’re out there, it also makes it very hard to find or connect with them. Friends of course excepted, but because of school/work commitments it’s made it hard for us to connect with them as well. When we’re all on different schedules and none of them coincide for all of us….you get the idea.

So why am I going on and on about this? Because I am going to a Pagan event for the first time in nearly a decade next month. I’m terrified. And excited. I don’t know if Mr. TF will come or not. He’s much more laid back about his spirituality, and doesn’t feel the need to actually connect the way I do – at least to hear him tell it.  And the way I found out about this event is nothing less than synchronicity.  It’s a Rube Goldberg nest of interconnected coincidences that defy logical explanation.

It’s not just any event though. It’s a Heathen event. I’ve shied away from heathenry for my entire time as a Pagan due to bad press about skin heads and racists who identify as heathen. I didn’t, and don’t, want to be associated with those who think the color of one’s skin denotes one’s worthiness to worship the Old Gods. When I first became a Pagan (or more realistically, realized that my spiritual beliefs were Pagan and I just didn’t know it) I was strongly advised against my interest in Norse spirituality by a Pagan friend who had recently spent 10 years in prison. His experiences there didn’t encourage me to try to follow up.

But recently I’ve been forced to rethink my blanket painting of this community thanks to blogs and websites devoted to heathens, as well as books I’ve had (and read previously) in my library. A recent re-reading of them revealed nothing that actually allows for this view, regardless of the views of a certain vocal percentage of heathens. And as far as I’ve read (which isn’t a lot, but also not nothing), there’s nothing in the lore that allows for this view either. As I stated earlier, I believe in synchronicity. And I believe the Gods call who They call. Regardless of skin color.

What I do know, is that the values Heathens espouse:

Nine Noble Virtues

are the same values I live my life by, and I want to associate with people who share my spiritual outlook as well as my ethics.  ETA:  because it doesn’t embiggen:  Courage, Truth, Honor, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Self Reliance, Industriousness, Perserverance.

Illustration courtesy of   My Journey into Midgardr

I am hopeful that I can find a group of people with which to share community and spirituality. Gods know I’m ready after the half year I’ve had.