Ground, Center, Relax – When a Trickster God Behaves Differently

I have said it often enough: Working with Trickster Gods can drive you bonkers. Lately, its been only one though…..Crow. Except that Crow has not really been acting much in the vein of a Trickster and more along the lines of a Mentor. This has really been a bit of a change, but I suspect there is some kind of reason behind it all. Most of our times in Sacred Space have been cordial, almost conversational in tone. And more than once, I have been sitting there, waiting for that “gotcha” moment…which has yet to arrive.

Most folks that have known me for a while, are well aware of my constantly moving mind. I am always rethinking what has happened, replaying it over and over in my mind…until I hit the uber high notes of anxiety. My life is now on the cusp of a major change. My mind easily shifts into high gear without any prompting from me. This Samhain Eve, I did a remembrance ritual to honor those in my life who had passed beyond the veil in this turn of the Wheel, as well as others who had gone before. I also spent time giving thanks for everything that has happened over the past turn of the wheel, as well as thanks for all that is to come in its next turn. Prior to that, I had created Sacred Space to have time with Crow and Abnoba. Her time was the usual formal stuff that I have come to expect from Her. Crow; however, sat and talked. No orders, no demands, just talked. And when He finished, I was reminded about grounding, centering and relaxing – three components that I have not utilized very much in my daily practice until lately.

Through all of it, I have begun to wonder what it means when the Trickster God you work with goes from being a Trickster to being a cordial discussion companion? Since my library is currently packed away, I dropped over to Google’s Book search for a few answers to this concept. In a few scattered excerpts, it seems that the Trickster archetype can be played out in two different meanings. On the one hand, the Trickster is a comical fool, playing tricks and deceiving others to create learning moments and points for others to see and learn from. Crow has played this part for quite some time in my Spiritual Path. On the other hand, the Trickster also utilizes these same tricks to showcase a perspective of sagacity and wisdom, a side I have never seen from Crow before.  Coyote, yes. But definitely not Crow.

Most of my recent “conversations” in Sacred Space have been held in a manner quite similar to sitting around a camp fire and talking. I’m fairly certain that this plays off of a desire of mine to have those days of sitting around a camp fire at night with friends – just enjoying our mutual company and perhaps a swallow or five of some good Irish Whiskey. I have learned more and found more wisdom in these particular times than I have ever found in any lecture or talk from any individual. That particular perspective is probably why that setting came so easily to my mind. In my last time in Sacred Space with Crow, we were both sitting on the same log, facing a small, but warm fire. Up above, the sky was clear and every star was easy to find with the naked eye. Off in the distance, crickets could be heard relaying their song to the night around them. We sat and talked about a wide variety of topics, none of which I will reveal. But Crow eventually told me to “ground, center and relax.”

Grounding and centering would help to chase away some of the anxiety that I had been feeling concerning the upheaval I felt in my life. But relax…that’s a hard one for me to do. Most of my physical tension gets held in two places, my shoulders and my calves.  On any given bad night of sleep, I can awaken three to five times with hard, grabbing cramps in my calves. This is always a sign that I am having a difficult time dealing with things…typically, I’m over-thinking something. When I feel my tension building, I power it down into my legs. Now, with COVID around, I stopped doing my daily walks. I just couldn’t see taking the chance to be out in public. My leg muscles have suffered from this. I have taken to going back to my three mile walks (with mask in hand), not just to build up the muscle strength, but also to release some of the tension in my legs. But that’s the physical release. I still store my tension in my legs. Crow has quietly reminded me that I need to find ways to relax.

All of this is very different for me. Usually, Crow would tease me over something  like this, just enough to make me angry enough to get up and do whatever it was. But this…is not what I have come to expect. It is almost as if I am being mentored towards something. In a manner of speaking, I have a Trickster God that is not really acting like a Trickster most of the time now. I am having a bit of difficulty comprehending this concept. A few folks I have talked to about this have suggested that the point is to relax. And a suggestion was that I take up a bit of illicit activity (smoking) to do so. That sounds fine, except I don’t smoke. So another suggestion was to utilize a CBD massage oil for my legs, to help remove some of the pain aspect and hopefully find a feeling of relaxation. Its a definite option, but I do have to wonder about potential reactions with all the medications I am required to take on a daily basis. So obviously some research will need to be done. Extremely hot baths was another suggestion….which I’ve tried with no useful results.

Besides, I keep getting pulled back to Crow’s refrain:  “ground, center and relax”. Which has me wondering:  what happens when a Trickster God seems to no longer act like a Trickster?? I guess, as I move along my Path, I’m going to find out.

–T /|\

Photo by Noelle Otto on Pexels.com

Vacations, Writing and Centering -One Method of Refocusing Myself

One of the things I have really enjoyed is going to various locations – some considered sacred – over the course of the past few years. I am fortunate enough to be able to do this, thanks to my job. Over the past few years, I have visited Glacier National Park, Medicine Wheel in the Bighorn mountains, the Rocky mountain range, and Carlsbad caverns to name a few. Each was a special moment, which I treasure deeply. And I have goals for a few more.

Tai Shan is no secret for anyone who knows me. I have yearned to climb the mountains pathway and see the sunrise from its peak for quite some time. Coming in two years, I may get that chance, as it looks like my college’s Honors program may make a trek to Japan. There is no way I will get that close and not take the opportunity to go. On its face, it is somewhat pricey in nature, but it certainly is on my radar.

Then there’s the trip back to England for Stonehenge, the Tor, and various other places. All of these are locales that I want to visit without a group (for the most part) so that I can spend as much time as I want at each one. Not sure how all that will work out (if at all), but its something that I need to look into. Plus there’s several locations in Ireland that I would love to see, but just won’t have the time (or flexibility) to do so.

14224720_10205751176018782_59571031270202389_nLastly, there’s all kinds of places within the United States. Mammoth Caves in Kentucky. The Redwood trees in California. Further trips to Glacier, Yellowstone, and a return to Medicine Wheel that I promised during my first time there. Closer to home, there is dinosaur tracks to see, a trip or five into the woods in Arkansas, and trips to the Gulf regions. My lovely little red caravan gives me the capacity to do these North American trips.

Like I said, I am lucky that I have the capability to take trips such as these. Many others cannot. But, these trips are more than visiting locations that I view as “sacred” or “beautiful”. Its about getting outside of the four walls of the house. Its about what I consider to be a fundamental aspect of Paganism for me: being outdoors with the dirt between my toes and fingers.

Over the past few weeks, I have found myself getting caught up in the media spin-cycle of the US Presidential race. I would spend far too many hours watching TV or reading online news. I even wrote quite a bit of it into my journal. And yes, I do go back and read what I have written. While doing just that, reading my journal, I started to notice a thread of sorts. I was not headed outside nearly as often as I had before. Not even for walks. I was caught up in something that had nothing to do with who I am as a Pagan, who I am as a Priest (as much as I think I *might* be one), or how I honor my Gods, my Goddess, or my Ancestors. In other words, I was off balance.

I never really noticed it, until a few days after the election. And once I recognized it, I started working towards correcting that, and finding my balance again. Instead of putting on National Public Radio when I got home, I put on Grateful Dead, Rush, Phish, Pat Metheny – any music that I identify readily with. I made time for meditations. I consciously put myself in a mindset to visit my Dream Crows before I went to sleep. I got back out to visit my Stone Circle. And I wrote.

Writing has been the really odd part. I have never considered myself much of a writer. I even decided to start in with the National Novel Writing Month, trying to cram three different projects into this idea. That failed miserably. I have since abandoned the idea, as I had become obsessed with word count rather than writing quality. Many of the journal entries that I wrote during that week-plus (about nine days) are really lacking in coherence and quality. Its a great concept for just writing something to be writing something. But its definitely not for me.

But everything has been about balance. About striving to find my center and cling as tightly as I can to it. Because wobbly, off-balance me is no fun to be around. I obsess on issues. I do not communicate beyond those issues. I become a very one-dimensional, one-note person. And that’s just not me.

There is not a whole lot of advice I can dispense concerning all of this. Find your center. See how far you are from it. Strive to get there. Make plans for ways to de-stress and regenerate your feelings towards the world around you. For me, that’s travelling to locations. And that means goals. Set those goals. See how to achieve those. And find a way to achieve those without risking the core of who you are. I have been a Pagan for over thirty years now. I have quite a bit of experience in knowing what works for me, and what does not. There is no way I can predict that for you, or even if this type of process will work for you or not. But trying it and making it work for you, is up to you.

 

That Stone Circle…Its a lot More than Rocks to Me

There is so much going on around the world these days. A terrible United States election cycle that has devolved into the hurling of insults and accusations. Strife and issues ring out anew in the Middle East, bringing back the specter of Cold War relations between the United States and mother Russia. First Nations lands being desecrated in the name of “progress” while long-honored treaties between the US government and those nations are flung aside like refuse thrown into the dust bin. Racial tensions throughout the United States. Religious tensions throughout the world. Terrorist concerns. Individuals being marked as terrorists, who really aren’t. Cries of governmental procedures being formed to revoke a citizen’s right to weaponry. A businessman turned politician being accused of sexual assault by many women, while he continues to utilize language that shows how insensitive he is to appropriate behavior towards these same women. This weekend, a building was fire-bombed and sprayed with graffiti equating Republicans with Nazis. Its all enough to make your head spin twice a day before your first cup of coffee – Linda Blair style.

How in the name of the Gods above and below are we supposed to maintain a sense of calm and balance in a world that seems to spin faster and faster out of control with each passing news story? The details come quicker than an Aroldis Chapman fastball aimed at your ear. Every news outlet spins the story to provide a positive outlook towards the political bend that they favor. The truth seems more elusive than ever.

Well, for one, turn the TV and radio off every once in a while. Get off of Facebook and other social media sites. Stop going to the news web sites every five minutes. As a Pagan and a Druid, the outdoors is where I find my solace. Its where I find my balance. Its where I contemplate my own place in the scheme of everything. And I usually find that a lot of what I am seeing and reading – I don’t need to endlessly wring my hands over. Some of the stuff that I wind up reading, I just need to let it pass down the river. There’s nothing I can do about Donald Trump’s commentary on women, except to say that I find it disgusting. As more and more of it gets heaped out – I can only point back to my original statement of how I feel about it, and move on. I can; however, do more concerning the issue of an oil pipeline being built underneath a fresh water source, and the First Nations burial ground that was desecrated and destroyed to make the pipeline’s construction towards the river viable. I can offer nightly prayers to the Gods and Goddesses asking for assistance in stopping this. I can give monies and supplies to the defenders that are there. I can write to officials for the oil company, the construction company, the local governments, the state government, and the Federal government voicing my concerns. If I had the resources to do so, I would drag my Winnebago trailer up there, and stand on the front line with the defenders. There are plenty of actions that can be taken.

Its all about picking which fights I can help make change in, and which fights will provide no more change than the sound of my voice. In  the case of Trump, its doubtful that anything I saw will change his mind on what he’s done. Best to just make my singular statement and move on. With #NoDAPL, writing these folks can make a difference, particularly if I write effectively and respectfully. Calling these folks a$$hole$ is the surest way to turn them off to what I am trying to say. Standing shoulder to shoulder with those folks is a direct action that can carry change. Singing my concerns and requests for assistance to the Gods is my way of adding in the Spiritual side of what I believe. I believe that such requests hurts no one…except the folks who get subjected to what I call “singing”. Whitney Houston, I definitely ain’t.

But what’s more – for me – getting out by the stone circle at night does more than just provide me a place to compete with the alley cats for the “song of my people” moment in the moonlight. Being out there, gazing up at the bright moon reminds me of who I am, and where I live. My ancestors are European in flavor. Most likely Celts. They sat around their nightly fires and looked up at the skies. They saw the Moon in all of Her glory. They saw the cloudy skies, where She played hide and seek among the Stars. They saw the stormy skies, and cowered slightly to the awesome display of cold, torrential rains coupled with the awesome flash of lightning – followed by the deafening sound of thunder following close behind.

I’m quite sure that they dealt with tribal politics. They got tired of hearing about how the blowhard herder Donaldus Trumpus had a better plan to lead the tribe in battle against the Slavic types just over the next ridge line. Or how the Romans were going to tip the balance in the region by propping up a half-Celt, half-Roman soldier named Barrackus Obamus as the next sacred Chieftain. And I wonder how they found balance with their daily lives? They lived much closer to the Spirits of Place then we currently do today. I would like to believe that they found their solace, their balance in daily life from living so close to what is Natural. Their lives constantly in the same balance that the rest of the natural world was in. As the bear went, so would the tribe. As the wolves managed, so would the tribe. As the deer survived and thrived, so would the tribe.

My stone circle is not much. It consists of fairly good sized stones from places I have visited. Each holds special meaning. Each holds a specific space and role in the circle. Altogether, it forms my sacred space. That space is where I take time to bring myself back to balance. To remember who I am, what I am, and how I will go about accomplishing what I need to do. Sometimes, the mundane world is part of those thoughts. Sometimes its not. It all depends on my frame of mind and the moment.

When I feel overwhelmed, I go this sacred space. Either physically or within my own self. My own circle. My own sacred space. Its here where I bring myself back to center. Its here that I achieve balance. Through meditations. Through prayer. Through centering, as in the OBOD Tree Meditation. There is no FoxNews or CNN located there. There’s no need for things like that, for me. I created my sacred space to be what I need it to be. A place to study, a place to contemplate, a place to remember, a place to rest….

Of course, its far better than sitting cross-legged on the ground, fingers in my ears, eyes shut tightly and screaming “LALALALALALALA” at the top of my lungs. That didn’t work when I was a kid, either.

My Backyard Stone Circle

Good Jazz and Changes (Waiting Out the Politics)

With the Presidential nominating process for the Big Two finally winding down – you would figure that everything would be ramping down as well.  Not really.  Judging by the rhetoric and anger and posturing that takes place in social media, you would think that the entire election process would be far closer to November then where it actually is. Essentially, its down to three candidates:  Trump, Clinton and Sanders. None of which I will likely cast a vote for. Why?  Because I don’t really care for any of the three. But in today’s social media climate…you can’t just make a statement like that and leave it alone. No, instead, you have to defend why you aren’t for this candidate or that. Sheesh.

But that’s where things really have seem to have gotten to. Everyone seems to be looking for a debate or an argument…even when the statement that is going to be in contention is a non-committal and neutral one. Everything’s about arguing and debating to be “right”…there’s seemingly no room for discussion. The true reality is that most of the social stratosphere in the internet is not about socialization, its seemingly about how correct you can make yourself out to be.

As I watch people move more and more to one side or the other throughout the Presidential nomination process, I have started to notice how few the numbers are here in the middle. Once again, there that feeling of being in no-man’s land during World War I trench warfare. And to be honest, neither side in the trenches seems like a place where I would want to be. Thus, there’s a growing feeling of strapping on my helmet, getting as low to the ground as I can, and weathering the coming battle.

But is it really that much of a battle? My mind goes back to when Bush v. Gore was underway, and there was anger of a similar nature then. It took a few weeks, but eventually it all blew over, and everyone settled back into their daily lives and routines. That’s known as the short-term memory of the American voter. But it starts to bring up other thoughts for me as well.

People get hot and bothered about change. Whether that be in politics, or in their own mundane lives. They stamp their feet, stand around debating the points that they feel are relevant, and raise their voices when they feel that they are not being provided the proper amount of attention or respect for what they have to say. And once the dust settles; everyone starts to head back to their routines. The parts of their lives that they have agreed to handle, are comfortable dealing, and are not as bothered over. And the desire for change begins to recede into the past, melting away as quickly as ice cream on a hot summer day. Perhaps, that’s why change is not really taken seriously by so many. Because its essentially lip service to the moment.

Now, having started this point by dredging up the political backdrop, I am going to ask you to forget all about that stuff. In other words, I am about to change the scenery in the background. All I ask, is that you set the politics aside and keep up with the backdrop’s change (there’s that fscking word again!).

Change is important in our lives. Without change, we don’t grow. We stagnate, become rigid, and eventually we will break rather than bend. I turned 50 last year (those of you over 50, shut up with the smart remarks) – an age I never thought I would be alive to see. Seriously. My twenty-something mind could never comprehend that. But as I have grown older, I have noticed an odd trend in my life….I am far more pliable now then I was in my youth. I am more accepting of change; more willing to allow change to happen before reacting to it; more understanding of the reasoning behind the change; more conscious of all the choices that change can provide. I always thought it would be the complete opposite. That I would get older, become less accepting of change, more settled into routine…and I have no explanation of why things are set up this way.

To be honest, I am not sure I care why things are this way, either. So I handle change a lot better than most people I know. Big deal, right? Well, at least that’s the sentiment that I tie to it. Life is going to happen all around me. There’s not much I can do to alter things…so I should be cognizant of what takes place and figure out how I need to adapt to it. For me, life isn’t about making changes – life is about adapting to changes. And I can’t say for sure where I picked up that concept in my beliefs.

Perhaps it came from my studies within OBOD, perhaps my studies within Zen Buddhism, perhaps a combination of those…perhaps something altogether different. All I know is that life is a lot like improvisational jazz. There’s an underlying rhythm to the music that has to be honored, but across that current – you can bring whatever notes you feel are necessary. Or as a blues musician that I used to hang out with was fond of saying: “You don’t play the music, the music plays through you. You’re just the conduit from which it flows. Don’t fight it. Play it.”

So let’s set the politics backdrop back into place. Its May. The election takes place in November. That’s six months down the road. A lot is going to happen between then and now. And if you think that politics is at a fever pitch now, you’ve honestly not seen anything yet. Down here in no-man’s land – among those that look to the third-parties, or those that have not made up their minds yet – perhaps we need to dig our own trench here in the middle of the battlefield. And then hunker down for the long haul. I’m not much of a guitar player, but I am going to sit down in the trench here and play. Play whatever comes to my fingers, and see what happens.

Oh…and who will I vote for? I honestly have no idea at this point. Currently, I see three candidates for the Big Two…and I won’t vote for any of them. There’s still time for newer candidates to come forward, and I am sure I can find someone among them that I would want to cast my vote for. And with that vote, I will essentially be saying that I want that person to stand in my place as a representative for my values. And I will likely be criticized by some quarter of society over my choice. So be it…I just hope that wherever that criticism comes from, that they won’t feel compelled to get further into my face, when I smile and provide no other response to their statements.

Good jazz, centering and balancing….yeah, man. Good, centered calm. Watching for the changes….on my back porch with my guitar, some birdseed, and my stone circle.

/|\

IMG_5745