#JustMyTake – Why Not Those Gods and Goddesses?

Why the Corvid? Why not [insert God or Goddess here]?

Or alternatively…

Why don’t you serve/work with the Morrigan? You’re ex-military, you have seen combat…you fit all the aspects of why you should be in Her service.

…and there are so many other questions that crop up from it all. Why Crow? I’m truly not completely sure. My sense of humor matches that of most Tricksters. I’m not as malicious as some might perceive Them to be, but I do have that decidedly prickly nature that comes with using humor as a weapon of sorts. But that’s really just a guess on my part. To really understand the “why”, I would think that would need a direct question to Crow to find some aspect of an answer. And that’s a question that I consider to be somewhat rude. Now that’s my own perspective added there. Crow might not see the question as being rude, but I do. Thus, it is doubtful I would ever ask that directly. I might ponder it from time to time, but doubtful that I would ever ask it.

Yes, I believe in manners when dealing with the Gods. I believe in manners in dealing with most people, as well. But people are not the Gods. So, why not the Morrigan, or some other God or Goddess? Well, you would need to ask each of Them that question. I cannot and will not speculate as to why a God or Goddess does or does not call me. Perhaps, I don’t fit exactly what They need. Perhaps, They have never really noticed me. Whatever the case or reasoning, I just don’t feel Their pull on me to fall into service for Them.

At one point, I thought the Morrigan was calling me. That turned out to be a series of Valkyrie poking and prodding me over my lack of keeping myself healthy. Later that year, I caught pneumonia which I am just getting over. So, the message got drilled home harder than before. I got excoriated for not being able to tell the difference between the Morrigan and the Valkyrie. Meh. So be it. I’m hardly worried about the opinion of others when it comes to how I deal with the Gods. Particularly when its a set of Gods from particular cultures I have precious little understanding of.

But that truly is the rub, isn’t it? I blog openly about my experiences, which leaves me open to criticism, ridicule, and belittlement. And the internet is such an open forum for people to just casually criticize. When you do stuff like this, you have to grow a thicker skin, focus back on what you are doing, and not worry about the back-pew shouters. I do not claim to be an expert at any of this Polytheism stuff…not even for me. I muddle my way through it all the best that I can. I read other perspectives, I listen when other polytheists hold their talks at conferences that I attend, and I watch their videos on Youtube. I am always open to other ideas, techniques, and theories. And I am always willing to share both my triumphs and my burn-it-to-the-ground failures, as well as anything in between. In my opinion, that’s how we develop as Polytheists, and as people.

Would I serve the Morrigan or any other God or Goddess? Sure. On the short-term, I’m more than willing to be there to do single, one-off projects when these are presented to me. Would I turn one down? That depends on what is being asked. For instance, I would be extremely reluctant to intentionally harm another person. Though I suppose there could be circumstances where that might be acceptable…but it would certainly be a rare item.

Would I serve another God or Goddess long-term or in the role of Priest? Well, I’ve made it fairly clear that being a Priest is not a role that feels correct or right for me. However, I wouldn’t rule such a thing out. There is always a chance that it happens. Serving in a long-term capacity is something that I wouldn’t take lightly either. I would ask for time to think everything over, ask role-specific questions, and then weigh the “right” and “wrong” of it in terms of my everyday life. Working with the Gods is a relationship…no matter the length of the agreement. And agreements like that should never be taken too lightly, in my opinion.

Lastly, comes the status of me as ex-military. None of that makes an appropriate and clear line of connection between myself and any God or Goddess. I was never career military. I was never spit and polish military. I was never strong on military bearing or paying deliberate attention to positions of authority. I believed in my oath of commitment to the Constitution of the United States and still hold that oath as honorable and current in my life. But none of that feeds into whether I would be a good fit to work with a specific God or Goddess, at least not in my eyes.

Working with Gods does not happen for everyone. Some folks never wanted to attract the attention of the Gods and find themselves in the middle of everything with Them. Others are begging to have that connection and never seem to have it happen. For some, that strong bond between themselves and the Gods is everything that their Spirituality is. For others, its an ancillary aspect of what they do Spiritually. How does it all happen? I would suggest to not try, and let it happen. That’s what happened for me. Others will suggest other strategies. I would suggest listening to everyone, and determining which strategy feels right to you – and then doing it. There’s a lot of book learning and lecture learning in within Polytheism and Paganism. And all of that is great stuff. But without actually doing the stuff that you learn…you’re becoming a theorist in what you believe. Becoming means doing. And failing. And altering the process. And trying again. And potentially failing again. And again. And again. Life is about the experience, not theory… #JustMyTake

Playing Dress Up With the Gods

One of the most interesting sides of working with Gods and Goddesses that I have found comes from how They get depicted by various folks. What makes it even more interesting is how tightly folks will hold to the notion that the way their own mind’s eye depicts the Gods and Goddesses is the ONLY way that They should be portrayed. That single empirical attitude makes me cringe every time I hear it – whether it comes from a Pagan, Polytheist or even a Monotheist.

Let’s consider the monotheistic Christian God and His progeny, Jesus ben Joseph. Now, I am not arguing the divinity or what not here – I am purely looking at the manner in which these two figures get depicted. Both are typically shown as white males. God typically is shown as a greying man with a long, flowing beard. JbJ gets shown as a long-haired hippy type, typically with long blondish-brown hair and typically a goatee or fairly stylized beard. Now, there are folks who will decry this, and point out that JbJ was born in a part of the world where the typical skin-tone is brownish, not the lighter skinned European tones we tend to see in paintings and even in movie scenes. So, given that – who’s right? Who has the correct essence here?

Well, I say that both are right. If JbJ looks like a white, European hippy when you make your connection with him – awesome. Its what works for your Mind’s Eye. Your Mind’s Eye will lay down a depiction that works for you. That doesn’t make it the sole depiction out there, just the one that manifests in your own Mind’s Eye. If JbJ looks a bit more like an Egyptian bricklayer who has seen the sun for far too many days of his life, that works too. For you.

When I first felt I was being contacted by The Morrigan, I had a tough time trying to figure out if it was Her or not. My depiction of the Gods is a bit more modern than most people tend to think. The Valkyrie that were showing up were dressed in jeans, boots and typically t-shirts. Coyote and Crow both tend to manifest in my Mind’s Eye like a pair of dusty hitch-hikers in the midwest. Torn up jeans, worn cowboy boots, disheveled hair, five-o’clock shadows on their cheeks and chin, a t-shirt and a beat up jeans jacket if the weather is cooler. None of those are typical depictions that you will hear or read about from other people. That’s because this is what works for my Mind’s Eye. I think of any of the Gods showed up looking anything close to their depictions in the Deities and DemiGods handbook from the Advanced Dungeon and Dragons collection – I’d likely have a heart attack. I know I would have a tough time relating to Them.

So why the t-shirt and jeans motif?? To be honest, I’m not completely sure, but I do have my own theory. I am most comfortable in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Since this is where my own personal comfort level is, I project that within my Mind’s Eye when working directly with the Gods. Who knows, They may have me depicted in a toga in Their own Mind’s Eye. I don’t ask because its really just not that important to me. Nor is it really important to me how others depict the Gods in their own Mind’s Eye.

Now, there will be folks who are closer to being purists when it comes to the depiction of the Gods. They will saw that most of what I am describing her is a person’s fanciful imagination, and not a proper vision of the Gods. Well, I’ll agree with the first part – what my inner Mind’s Eye depicts is definitely part of my “fanciful imagination.” Without that in place, my mind would have a very difficult time understanding, comprehending, and translating what I see from beyond the veil (my opinion, thankyouverymuch). The second part? Well, I can understand, comprehend and relate to the point that is being made. Visions of the Gods tend to have similarities that help identify what is what. But its a debate stage I refuse to wade into because I am not here to tell anyone that what they experience is real or not. I leave that type of rule-chasing for those that feel the need to go there.

Seriously, if someone wants to play dress-up with the Gods and put Aphrodite in a sheer negligee, go for it. If She has a problem with it, She’s going to make sure you know. But that’s between you and Her. Me? I’ll be hanging out at The Four Winds Bar (hat tip to Blue Oyster Cult) having a drink. Make mine two fingers of Bushmills Black. Neat, please.

Oh Please, Not Her!!

I wanted to circle back around on a post I wrote a while back, The Morrigan is Not a Valkyrie. A lot of private commentary, particularly from folks that follow and actively work with the Morrigan, have been done via Email since the publishing of that post. Some of the commentary and discussion has been great stuff, and some of it….well, not so much. Which is really an “ok” thing because those folks are entitled to their perspective and opinion as much as I am to mine. But that is not the focus of what I am writing….as you shall see/read in a few.

Working With the Gods

As I noted in the original post, some folks absolutely crave connection with the Gods, particularly the ones that they have a particular affinity towards. Some folks seem to have the Gods crawling all over them, while others seemingly have reached the barren desert of contact. Why the big difference in experiential contact? Well, to be perfectly open and honest, I have not the first idea as to the why of things such as this. I am me. I am not any of the Gods. I do not pretend to know what They think, what They believe or even what They experience. I know my own connection to Crow and Coyote. And I do not pretend that my connection is the singular type of connection to either of these two. The connection and rapport I enjoy with both of Them is singular and unique between the us. Some of it has similarities to how others connect and work with their own Gods, and some of it is so different from everyone else’s that I would potentially call it “unique” – except that I know that there could be a similarity in that process out there somewhere. So “unique” might not be the most appropriate descriptive filler.

However, working with the Gods can come as a point of something akin to a contract as well. Crow and I have a such a working agreement. I am tasked, from time to time, with things to be done. Sometimes it is study of concepts and materials. Sometimes it is a physical task. Rarely do I speak of any of this type of work, because I view it as a sacred tasking from Crow to me. Unless others are to be involved, I keep it to myself, out of respect for the agreement we have in place. At one time, I thought this type of tasking was a form of Priesthood, similar in nature to how the Morrigan tends to work with Her followers (or at least what I have managed to glean from public postings from a variety of folks). But Crow is not the Morrigan. I am not a Priest of Crow’s. I work directly with Crow. My role is more of a partnership than a measure of Priesthood. As was put to me by Crow – “If I wanted a Priest, I would have looked for other qualities that you would never possess. You are not made to be a Priest. Your role in your world is more direct.” Now, what all that means….I am slowly finding out. But the point is correct. I am no Priest.

When I thought I was being courted by the Morrigan, I was not overly thrilled. There is very little give and take in a relationship with Her. Agreements seemingly have a feel of a legal contract with an emphasis on precise wording. That is not a world or environment that I can thrive within. I have had a few of Her followers point out my military service as a starting point of working with Her. It is obvious that She has been gearing up for battle within this world and is seeking Warriors. I have heard the whizzing of bullets fired in anger towards me. But none of that makes me a Warrior either.

Oh Please, Not Her!

So what to do when you feel like you are getting called by one of the Gods that you are apprehensive about working with? Well, the first thing to do…is panic. Run through the streets like your hair is on fire! Scream. Wail. Cry. Give in that you are being pulled into a gravity well and have no control.

No, not really. The first thing to do is to not panic at all. Whatever manner you are getting your calling from, write down every observation you can find. If the calling came through a vision or a dream, write down every detail you can remember. If it gets repeated to you, definitely write down every detail you can recall. And then start your research. Read everything you can find on whatever God it is. Find those you know who have the calling of that God or Goddess, and talk with them about your experience. As the old maxim from the Reagan administration went – “trust but verify.” Trust what you have experienced, but verify what you have going on. In my instance, what I thought was the Morrigan turned out to be several Valkyrie taking turns with their overall message. There was no recruitment pitch going, merely a reminder to get my rear in gear. The slight differences in appearance were the easy lay-up on figuring things out. Except that like any human being, I was looking for the most difficult, tiniest difference to focus on.

So what’s next after the research? Well, spend your time interacting with whatever God or Goddess has approached you. Ask very specific, very pointed questions. But be respectful and polite as well. Remember, you are either accepting or rejecting an agreement. Have some tact. And if you are rejecting, be aware, some of the Gods are rather insistent when they want you. Be prepared for some blow-back as well. Consider what terms you might work with this God or Goddess. You might be able to barter a better deal.

For me, it was a thankful moment that the Morrigan was not making some claim to me for service. I am very aware that I would be a poor choice to work with Her. However, I am also aware that even difficult fits work into whatever Her plans might be, so there is always the possibility that such a calling could be made on me as well. At this point, I have done my research, and am more aware of what might be expected. I know a few more folks from “Team Morrigan” that I can go to for assistance, advice and potential verification. Would I wind up on the “team” or request to be excluded? Regardless of how poor a fit I feel I might be, I would at least listen. So, at this point, I would keep my options open. With an eye on the door, in case I need to go running through the streets, screaming, with my hair on fire.

Devotional Practice With Trickster Gods

What is it like to work with a Trickster God?

I hear this a lot when people find out that I work with Coyote AND Crow, a pair of well-known Tricksters. Having worked with both for quite some time – let me say, it has been an ‘adventure’ at times. However, like anything that you spend time and work on, there has been a measure of reward to it as well. Some of the work can (and has been) trying, somewhat difficult, and not easily understood at the time. Other times, working with these two has seemed akin to trying to get seriousness out of a slapstick comedy routine.

Starting Off

I never really thought that someone with my genetic background – primarily Germanic with some traces of other European ethnic areas – would ever find a kinship with a pair of Gods native to this continent. I had a strong affinity towards hunter Gods and Goddesses, and even thought that the Nordic realm would be more appropriate for me. Try as I might, I soon found that there was no answer to my calls.

cropped-img_28671.jpgNow, my problem here was that I was equating the Gods to a racial or genetic disposition. It made sense in my mind. Genetics were Germanic; so the Gods would naturally be attached to that match up, right? Well, not really. The Gods call, whom They call. Genetics, DNA, heritage, has very little to do with it. At Pantheacon this year, Silence Maestas noted in her concurrent session “Beginning Devotional Practice” that devotional practice with a deity is the formation of a relationship between you (the devotee) and Them. In a manner of speaking, in the beginning, it is a lot like dating. You learn about one another, your likes, your dislikes, everything is new and shiny. The engagement is simple and easy.

The same held true with Coyote, who was first. Coyote would ask for this, that, these other things – and I was eager to please. I wanted to work with Him. Every task and request had me looking like a complete fool in the end. Moreover, with each result making me feel more and more foolish, my frustration level grew and grew, until I could not take it anymore and refused to move another step forward. I asked why Coyote would want me as a devotee if I were made to look like an idiot at every turn. The response was simple and to the point: “I wanted you to have a spine and to be able to establish your own level of self-respect.”

Silence pointed out in that same concurrent session that once that beginning connection is established, there is no place for complacency. Much like relationships with a sexual partner, relationships with the Gods requires constant work. This is a relationship of choice. You choose the level of commitment you are going to provide in your work, just as the God or Goddess will provide the level of commitment that They want to have with you. Try not to be disappointed when Their level of commitment is not the same as yours. You have Free Will to choose how deep your connection with Them will be. They have that same choice in the reverse direction as well.

Going Deeper

Nearly everyone seems to be under the impression that working with Trickster Gods is like being a part of PT Barnum and Bailey’s circus 24x7x365. Nothing could be further from the truth. Certainly, Trickster Gods have their moments of subterfuge, as well as comedic moments, but there are times of seriousness as well. As I pointed out, part of working with Coyote – as well as Crow – has required me to learn to draw lines and create boundaries. I have also been taught to pay attention to fine detail as well. A single phrase or word can mean the difference between one level of understanding and another. Take for instance, the following story. I have seen this as a meme on Facebook as well, but it illustrates the point quite a bit.

A man is sent to the store by his partner. “Pick up a dozen eggs,” she says, “And if they have half-gallons of milk, get six.” When the man returns from the store, he has six dozen eggs. “Where is the milk?” exclaims his wife, “Why did you bring back six dozen eggs?” “Because they had half-gallons of milk!” he retorted.

Most folks have heard the statement that words matter. The exact usage of a particular phrasing within magick and spell work can be critical to the success of what you are trying to do. Just as the correctness of a phrase can mean the difference between six dozen cartons of eggs or a single dozen carton of eggs and six half-gallon containers of milk. Working with a pair of Trickster Gods has really brought this point home for me. However, there is also the aspect of learning when to question a request from the Gods and when to just shut up and do what is being asked. This is where the creation of personal, ethical boundaries becomes important. For me, this is where going deeper in my relationship with my two Tricksters has started.

Within most aspects of the Christian faith, I have listened to pastors, preachers, and priests state that unquestioning faith and obedience to God’s Will is mandatory. Who mandates that Will? God or these go-betweens? Individuals pray directly to God, and seem likely to get answers directly from God. What makes these intercessors a better conduit to God than yourself? If you are building a relationship with God, what is the use of these intercessors, except to water-down the direct relationship that you have? By the way, is a relationship a one-way avenue or a two-way street? All of these are questions I had to ask myself when working with Coyote and Crow. I had to evaluate every aspect of the relationships I hold with both of Them, to determine the “true” aspect of what was taking place. For me, going deeper has been about looking at the inter-connected aspect between myself and each of Them – and determining the value of what that was in relation for me.

But There Is No One There

Sure, working with Gods can be ‘fun’ and ‘exciting’ – and I can see how someone can be keening for just such a thing in their life. After all, when you are single, and not dating – you can look at a couple and have so much desire to have a similar relationship in your life. All that holding hands, those simple little kisses that are so damn cute to watch, the implication of the hot, sweaty connection behind closed doors – yeah, there’s always the desire for that. However, there are other aspects that need to be taken into account. The constant time together, the bickering, the arguing, the constant balance of compromise versus personal need…there is a lot of hard work in all of that. All of which starts with that moment where things “click” – that attraction to one another. Sometimes, there is just not the interest that you want. What do you do next?

If I could relay the image of me shrugging in response, I would. Like any aspect of attraction in a relationship, sometimes the other party just is not that into you. Perhaps, the God or Goddess you are trying to attract just has not noticed. Keep trying. Remember, time can mean something different to the Gods than it does to us. What seems like an eternity of trying for us may just be scant moments to Them. I would propose that we cannot truly comprehend what time may mean for Them – our comprehension of the Gods can only go so far, in my opinion. Nevertheless, try more. Do devotional prayers to Them. Pour libations. Offer prayers. Offer your services, but only to a point that you are comfortable. Remember, draw your boundaries – even in the beginning – and hold fast to those. Moreover, do not be surprised if some other God or Goddess takes an interest in you instead.

For me, I have wanted to have a Goddess directly in my Life. Thus far, it has not happened. Fliodhais was a temporary flirtation. A few visits from Valkyrie had me thinking that the Morrighan had taken an interest in me. Moreover, there is a definite draw towards Brigid for me. Thus far, it has just been the Boys and me. To this point, that is enough. Though there is always the opportunity for more room. I am just not the kind of Pagan to rule that out. Because I always try to keep an open mind, which I find is a critical element to working with Trickster Gods.

The Morrigan is Not a Valkyrie

Most of my work with Crow comes through dreams and meditations. Having worked with Crow for some time now, there is not a lot of hard work aimed towards determining that what I am feeling is coming from Him. But when working with other Gods, it is not really as easy to discern just who I might be working with at that moment. Take, for example, the past few months. I was “introduced” to what was noted as a “Warrior Queen”. Knowing only The Morrigan as having such a title, my assumption was that this must be Her. Visions and interactions were shadowy, and She was dressed mostly in black. However, the clothing was quite modern, and each time, Her hair was a different color – usually black or blonde, though there were a few times of brunette and red. None of that matched anything I knew of The Morrigan, but I also admit that my knowledge of Her is sketchy at best. to be completely honest, The Morrigan scares the shit out of me. I was not at all “thrilled” about this set of interactions or what might be asked of me because of it.

cropped-img_28671.jpgSo what to do? Well, it was time to put the thinking cap on for a bit and think things through. I do not classify myself as a “warrior” of any sort. The US Air Force trained me to shoot a variety of rifles and pistols and provided me with hand-to-hand combat training. I was also handed the philosophy I continue to live by in physical confrontations – I don’t fight to win, I fight to survive. That makes any item within reach a weapon. But let’s be really honest. None of that makes me a warrior. I have fired shots at individuals that have fired shots at me – with the purpose of killing one another. Yes, I have been in battle before. That still does not make me a warrior. The Morrigan tends to call Warriors to her Battle-Standard. So I am fairly confused as to how I would be in that grouping. In essence, I am on shaky footing for understanding the “why” – and add to that, what knowledge I do have points elsewhere.

Many Polytheists that I have talked with crave contact with the Gods. Enough so, that some of them have acknowledged that they readily accept the first contact that they get as being who they were wanting to work with originally, only to find out later that they were not completely correct in their assumption. Folks, I work with two Trickster Gods, both of whom enjoy making a fool out of me quite a bit. All of that has taught me to be a bit cautious with any interaction I have with the Gods. Over time, I have developed a little toolkit that I find to be helpful.

First, knowledge is power or in this case, knowledge is the shining light to help get some answers. I journal all of my dreams and meditations, so I have a record of details, conversations and the such. Once I have that, I start hitting books, articles and even having conversations with other polytheists about what I am experiencing. And I journal what I glean from these efforts as well. I compare what I learn with what I have experienced – and note the differences and similarities.

Second, and this sounds fairly odd, but I ask pointed questions in my meditations and dreams. “What do you want with me?” “Why am I the logical choice?” “What are you offering to me in return?” In a weird way of thinking, your initial interactions with a God or Goddess is a bit like a job interview. Working with the Gods is a two-way street, and you have just as much ability and control (personal sovereignty as John Beckett would point out) to say no. Just because a God or Goddess appears and says “I want this!” doesn’t mean you just roll over and give in. And it definitely is not always a one-way street where they get and you give. It can be that way, but that throws so many red-flags to me that it would have to be a very “special” moment for me to consider. But that is me. every individual is different. Just as the relationship between each person and a God or Goddess is unique as well.

Third, is taking your time with the decision. Great, you have been approached by a God or a Goddess to work with Them. You do not have to give your answer right then and there. If They demand an answer immediately, remember – you do have the choice to say no. There are consequences to replying in the negative. They could choose to not work with you again, no matter how much you might plead. There are consequences to saying yes as well. :: looking over my shoulder at Crow and Coyote ::

I decided, in the end, to take my time with working with this “Warrior Queen”. I talked with a few friends who do work with The Morrigan and discussed the interaction with them. A few noted my military background, along with my experience in combat, as perfect indicators as to why She might want to work with me. But each of them also noted that the hair color differences, as well as the more modern clothing (which I can only describe as something out of a hunting sports catalog – mostly muted colors), might be indicators of someone else. A few interactions later, I found out the difference…

She sat in the middle of my Inner Grove, on the large boulder where I spend most of my time listening to Crow. Her blonde hair hung down from underneath a brown baseball cap. Leaning against the boulder was an older, worn bow, and a sheathed short sword. Her outfit was a black t-shirt, faded blue jeans, and black hiking boots.

“Are you The Morrigan?” I asked.

She leaned back and laughed heartily. “No,” she managed between gasps. “That silly Corvid told you that? You should know better than to trust a Trickster to tell you the whole truth!”

It turned out that she is a Valkyrie. And that the other visions were also Valkyrie, and thus the different looks. I am being nudged back on to my path. I am not a warrior, I am a Protector. My role is not that of battle unless it is necessary. In essence, I was being scolded for not taking better care of myself and not staying in the role I was meant to be. A friend had mentioned that perhaps this may have been Skaldi. When I inquired along that line, I was told that maybe She would take an interest in me in the future, but that was not the purpose of this.

Sometimes, you need to be nudged back into the Path you are supposed to be on. And sometimes you need to be reminded that you are not doing the things that you are needing to do. And here’s the best point of all – sometimes, your dreams and meditations may be an interaction with the Gods, and sometimes its just a reminder to get your ass back into your practice. The Morrigan is not a Valkyrie. And Trickster Gods….well, let’s just say I know better. And a touch of research, reference and conversation with others that know better – goes a long way.

Where Could This World Be

I remember when I was much, much younger – growing up as a military dependent in Germany was an amazing time for me. I would go Volksmarching with my parents and my sister, and in the 10km we walked, I would get to see a lot of the country-side each weekend. Sometimes, the trails wound through town, sometimes through the local farmer’s fields along the paths used for the tractors and other farm equipment. However, whenever the paths wound through the forests, I would be especially happy. The forests provided me with the best opportunities to leave the trail, and walk within the woods – parallel to the walking trail, of course. Those forests spurred my thoughts and allowed me to see other worlds. Worlds full of Elves, full of imaginary battle scenes, and even dinosaurs hiding behind every large trunked tree. Yes, I was particularly fond of dinosaurs growing up. What kid wasn’t?  🙂

It was so easy to believe in magick, and the Fey, and even the Gods. But as I grew older, I was told that such things were not appropriate for a young man. Seeing Fey folks peering back from deep in the woods was just a fanciful imagination running wild. It was “ok” to believe that such things existed, but not as I got older. Things like that were “child’s stuff” and I needed to set that aside, in order to “grow up.” I was to push all that out of my mind and dismiss any such thinking as unhealthy and unproductive towards becoming a “normal” member of “grown-up” society.

As a young adult, I spent a lot of time pushing thoughts about the Gods out of my mind. Dismissing all of it as a product of my over-active imagination. But it was certainly acceptable to believe in God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit…though I had no feeling towards the existence of that. And when I asked for proof, I was given a book and told the answers could be found on those pages. Because it was “socially acceptable” to believe such.

Do not get me wrong here – there is nothing wrong with the belief in the Christian God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit. That is something that works and calls to those that feel that within themselves. Just as the calling of the Gods and Goddesses and Spirits of Place and Spirits of Ancestor work for me – and many other Pagans. And just as there are those who claim to have the calling of the Christian Trinity in their lives, but have no real connection – in other words, paying lip service….there are certainly those within the Pagan communities as well. But this is not about either of those sets of folks.

We believe readily in magick, the Other World, and so many other things when we are young. Not only do we embrace them, we tend to feel them as well. And then, we are told to set those aside – to embrace something that might not call to us, to dismiss our feelings as being unreal, inappropriate. And suddenly, we find that we are suppressing who we are, what we feel…. And going into the future, we might utilize this as a coping mechanism for the world around us. We bottle in who we are, what we feel, what we know to be right….and all of that starts to eat away at who we are.

Back in 1995, I felt the United States military and came back into the civilian world. In the military, it was easy to be a Pagan, easy to embrace my knowledge and feeling of the existence of the Gods. In the military, my beliefs were protected by regulations and rules dictating that to others. Sure, I had some discriminatory moments from others. There was the one time I was physically accosted at the Sembach Post Office at 3am when I was checking mail after shift. But the civilian world is a little different. Physical altercations can be more frequent and far more violent. People around you are a lot more anonymous than when they are on a military base.

It would have been far easier for me to just not be a Pagan. Or to stay in the “closet” – so to speak. it would have been easier, but it would also have been going back to denying who I was and what I felt within me. I carry enough scars from trying to hide things to appease others. I am not about to compromise on who I am or what I believe. Granted, as I have gotten older, I have learned to not wear my Paganism completely on my sleeve. But when directly confronted, I do not hide who or what I am. Not anymore.

I do wonder; however, just how many people out there lost touch with their feeling and understanding of magick – just because they were told to not have an over-active imagination at their age? That believing in the Fey was not something real – that it could be misconstrued as a sign of mental illness? How many others went through similar actions of internal repression because they were told they should not like the same gender as themselves? How many were told that they could not succeed at various desired jobs because of their gender or skin color or their parents’ income status?

I wonder how different this world could be if we would just make an honest attempt towards being who we want to be, to believe in what we know to be real….where could this world be today? I do indeed wonder….

Trying to Grasp Air in My Hands

I make no apologies for who I am, what I believe or what I choose to do in my daily life. I am a Pagan, Polytheist, Druid. I enjoy a good two fingers of whiskey, a good pitching duel in baseball, and gush at a 0-0 tie between two excellent defenses in football (soccer to the Americans). I believe in following the rules, except where the rules are exclusionary for ridiculous reasons. I believe in inclusion. I refuse to see color or gender as any standard of identification of what makes an individual capable of accomplishing anything. For me, a lot of that is non-negotiable. Especially the part about football. 🙂

One of the things I love to do is sit and have conversations with people. About nearly anything. Except that it has to be a conversation. Not a debate. A real, honest discussion. And one of my favorite places to do this is out by a fire. I have had some of the best conversations I have ever attended at night-time fires in various Pagan gatherings. However, a fire cannot always be had, and discussions take place by more than the light of the moon and stars. So, sometimes it is a good coffee shop or living room or even in front of my computer that discussions take place.

Most discussions with my non-Pagan friends will eventually turn towards my religious beliefs. Some discussions with my Pagan friends will eventually turn towards my Polytheism. A few discussions with my Polytheist friends have turned towards my relationship with my strange triad of Gods. And the leading question usually goes something like this….

So, what is it like to have Gods and Goddesses in your life?

Well, I cannot (and will not) try to answer for other Polytheists. Some of them have blogs and podcasts and are more than capable of answering on their own. Speaking for anyone other than myself, in my opinion, would be completely wrong. Everyone has a unique relationship with the Gods and Goddesses. And those who are Called to Them or have agreed to serve in whatever capacity – will have experiences that can vary widely from one another. To speak on behalf of any of these folks…well, I would be making an assumption about the relationships that are there. And I am just not going to slide down that rabbit-hole.

For me, I have a strange Triad. Crow, Coyote, and Flidais. Coyote is more of a peripheral figure in my daily practice these days. Flidais has been an ongoing two-plus year flirtation that I am unsure of where that will head. Crow, by far, has been the prominent one in my daily life, and the focus of my daily practice.

When I mean daily practice, I don’t mean that Crow and I head over to the local Starbucks to share a coffee and bullshit with one another at a table on the patio. Every morning, I greet the Sun and leave a small offering of birdseed out by my stone circle on days where there is no rain. I ask Crow to watch over me throughout the day and to show me where I can take a better direction in my daily life that would allow me to whatever service He may require of me. In the night, I thank Him for the guidance that was provided, even if I never realized that I was being guided in that direction. if no guidance was provided, I still give thanks for Crow’s presence.

My daily practice is simple. Tennis shoes, jeans, and a t-shirt will suffice for any ritual. If I have need of it, I have my staff to bring with me. Greeting the Sun serves as a reminder that each morning brings a new day with new challenges, mysteries, and exchanges with other people. My celebrations of the changing seasons follow the Wheel of the Year. As a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, I utilize their framework for my rituals – and alter each slightly, so that I include my strange Triad.

A daily practice does not have to be elaborate. Nor does it have to be complicated. It just needs to work – for you. A relationship with a God or Goddess does not need to be complicated either. Nor does it make you “important” or better than anyone else. Should you choose to accept a mantle of Priesthood or some form of servitude to any of the Gods – that role will change who you are, as it should. But it will never make you into some “better” Pagan or Polytheist than anyone else. You are accepting a role and the duties associated with it…not a scepter or crown that places you above anyone else. You are, in my opinion, formalizing your relationship with that God or Goddess.

To be blunt, just perceiving the Gods is an amazing experience – in my opinion. Knowing and feeling that They are real, distinct Beings was a watershed moment in my life. Not having a vocabulary to communicate this to my (then) eleven-year-old mind was uniquely frustrating. Having to wait until I was nearly twenty-three to find the words to express what I had felt was its own discouraging form of the Nine Hells. Now, at nearly fifty-two (just days away now), with a proper lexicon of definitions to explain things to my much more experienced mind – I am much more at peace with what I feel, what I experience and what I perceive in the world around me. Certainly, there will be those that may find me mad, confused, and odd. All I can reply to that is that the fire in the head can always be confusing to those that do not understand. What is it like to have a God or Goddess in your life? Honestly, it is amazing. But trying to describe the feeling is like trying to grasp air in your hands.

Bargaining (or not) with The Gods

There were a lot of good statements that came out of the conversations at Many Gods West. This blog post is a continuation of writing prompts I developed while there, earlier this year. But this particular one came from a random thought that hit my mind during a large discussion panel and was prompted because of a statement made on the other side of the room.

Working with the Gods can sometimes place us in the position of being problem solvers. How can this come into conflict with our own personal limits, and does this limit our relationship with the Gods?

I wind up in this sometimes awkward position quite a bit. My personality is really that of a troubleshooter. I am always ready to solve a problem, and more than willing to make things happen without any of the typical tools. When I was in the military, I was prized for my ways of solving issues with unconventional (and sometimes illegal) means. My philosophy was that if it worked long enough for a real and correct solution to be implemented along side it – and then switched from the makeshift solution – then everything would be fine. I worked in Command and Control Communications, and my job was to keep the communications systems working so that information could flow…I just took it upon myself to add the statement of “by any means possible” to the end of it.

My concept of work responsibility has not changed much. I am still available to make solutions happen, utilizing whatever tools I have at hand. And to be completely frank, I tend to do the same within my own Spiritual work as well. No candles for a ritual? I’ll make due with flashlights instead (yes, I have done this). The wording for a particular part of the ritual is tricky and I stumble over it too easily. I’ll improvise or change some of the tricky wording. If the wording cannot be changed – I’ll spell it phonetically on an index card. To me, there’s always a solution available. It might not be ideal, but it works for that moment.

I also like to believe that my ability to problem solve is attractive to Crow, and is one of the reasons that our relationship works the way it does. And sometimes, I have been put in a position to problem solve, and found that the solution was not really palatable to a limit that I had. This has (three different times now) placed me in a somewhat difficult spot of choosing between a methodology that I was comfortable with, and one that would be appropriate. Essentially, I wound up in a spot where I could either say “no” to Crow or grit my teeth and step into a solution that might not be ideal for my own personal comfort level.

For me, it’s a tug of war between my own personal sovereignty, and my devotion to Crow. I want control over who I am, to be able to decide how far I am willing to go with this, that or the other. On the other hand, I am a Priest of Crow. Much like when I worked in a command post, my desire is to do the best that I can….even at all possible means. Which brings me to a clashing point of defining where my limits are, and performing my tasks as a Priest to Crow, where the two may collide.

Now, one can always say “no” to the Gods at any time. You run the risk of the God or Goddess taking no further interest in you. Or, the exact opposite. Where They become MORE interested in you and continually make Their request(s) to you despite your refusals. And one can always just say “yes” to a God or Goddess without perusing the details of what is being asked of you. But, without reading through the “fine” details of what is being asked, you may find yourself placed into a position where you just cannot do what is being asked.

For me, I have learned (the hard way) that is easier to stop (let me think about that), and look at what is being asked, as well as how it is to be done or any other relevant details. Check all that against your own personal limits – your sovereignty, if you prefer. And if you cannot do what is asked, state so. Give reasons why. Ask if there can be alterations to what is being asked. Try to bargain your way through to terms or methodologies that are better suited for you. But be prepared to also be told that there is no “deal” to be had. It’s either what is being asked, or not at all. And then you will need to really check your desire to do Their will against what you feel you are able to do (comfortably or not).

Will bargaining or saying no limit your relationship with your God or Goddess? That is definitely possible. So I would caution you to bargain or deny carefully. Weigh your options. Weigh the potential consequences. And choose your next steps gently…..


Building Relationships With Our Gods in a Ten-Second Society

Ok…the title is a bit misleading. But it is derived from a conversation point in a panel from Many Gods West 2017 this year. And it does bend back to something I have heard quite a bit from people trying to work their way into a relationship with a God, Goddess, Spirit of Place, Spirit of Ancestor, etc etc. The typical question boils down to a similar cry from many of them…

How do I get a [insert God or Spirit of choice here] to work with me or talk to me? How do I connect with Them??

That’s not an easy question to answer, and at times, I have felt a bit awkward trying to provide an answer that might make sense or at least be bit coherent. Creating a relationship with one or more of the Gods (I am going to use this as a generic catch-all from this point on out – so please don’t get hung on terminology) is not a simple thing. In my opinion, it takes time; it takes effort; it takes personal sacrifice; it takes patience; it takes determination; it takes research; and it takes love. And to some degree, I would urge a little touch of caution in trying to create a relationship or connection. You never know precisely what you are going to wind up with – even after all the research and effort.

If you have read the blog, you know that I am a Priest of Crow. I am dedicated to Crow, and it took a long time for me to get to this point. Prior to Crow, there was Coyote. Coyote spent about two years putting me through a few tasks, all designed to force me to not take myself so seriously. Eventually, Coyote led me to Crow. From the beginning, my relationship with Crow has been a very slow, deliberate build between the two of us. First, we learned how to communicate between the two of us. Then, we worked on building trust for us both – a process that continues to this day. That was back in 2005-2006….I am unsure of the exact date. It took even longer before I decided to become a Priest for Crow. And there’s a long conversation about my aversion to the title of “Priest” that figures into all of that as well. But the point here is that it’s a long, complicated process. Coyote and Crow didn’t just appear in my Life and an immediate bond between us was formed. I am sure that others may have a different experience with their own Gods and the relationships that they have. But that is just not my case.

Currently, our modern-day society is fast-paced. News, information, and other things are available at near instant speeds to any individual. Through the magic of the internet, combined with the delivery platform of a digital phone, tablet, and/or computer – everything happens quickly. We can pay for our coffee and other food items from our phones, while en-route to the location we are purchasing those items from. The expectation is that our items will be ready for pickup when we get there, and we can skip the long lines to just waltz in and waltz right back out. Need information on something? Just type a descriptive word or phrase into our devices, and the information arrives at our fingertips at break-neck speed.

If all that can happen, why can I not create a relationship with one of the Gods through a simple five-minute meditation? I have already spent five minutes doing this, that should be enough, right? Well, my experience has been that it is just not that simple. In fact, in a manner of speaking, it is a lot like dating. Sure, the flirtation feels great – there is a promise of something more, but you need to come back, again and again, to continue to build on that interest. But building a relationship is about more than just making out and the hope of an eventual tryst for the night. There’s trust, bonding, building on so many other aspects of mutual interest, exploring differences and the avenues that this may open up. The same holds true for a relationship with the Gods. Spending time getting to know about your potential relationship partner will require some research. Reading Their myths, reading what other bloggers and writers may have to say, and even visiting sites that may be sacred to

The same holds true for a relationship with the Gods. Spending time getting to know about your potential relationship partner will require some research. Reading Their myths; reading what other bloggers and writers may have to say; even visiting sites that may be sacred to Them; invoking Them in your daily rituals and offerings; and even performing rituals that are sacred to Them. All of this requires research, study, gathering required materials, and practice, practice, practice. And even when it is all said and done – you might not even get a second glance. Much like trying to court favor with that attractive individual that you would like to have a relationship with; you can find all your effort was for naught. Because the Gods, just as we human beings do, have the choice of saying “no way.”

Fret not, you can still go through the same processes of devotion, adoration, and just essentially praising the Gods as you see fit. The only difference is that you may not receive reciprocation in your efforts. Sort of the same way that I adore Lzzy Hale, but she likely has no clue that I am alive.  😉

Probably the most key thing, in my opinion, is not whether you manage to create the relationship between you and your specific choice among the Gods. If you’re a hard polytheist – believing that all the Gods, Goddesses, and Spirits are distinct, unique beings – the fact that you believe is what makes your relationship with the Gods a beautiful thing. And this even goes for the monotheists that are out there. You may not have the direct-line that you were so wanting, but you do have belief. Whatever that is anchored upon is important, and a wonderful thing. No one should be able to wrestle that away from you. And who knows?? It just might be the start of something beautiful and special between you and the Gods. And it might even be a God, Goddess or Spirit you never considered.

Many Gods No Masters – How a T-Shirt Can Lead to Assumption Becoming Communication

Anyone who has ever discussed issues of personal belief, theology, or UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis) knows that I will not step up to the edge and peer into the abyss of fundamental belief. I am just not the kind of individual that sees a need to make what I believe and what I experience to be the law of the land. Recently I was challenged over that with a t-shirt that I wear that has the line “Many Gods, No Masters” stenciled on it.

How can you claim to be a polytheist, be claimed by two Gods, and not see Them as your Masters? After all, that’s what the shirt proclaims – that you disrespect what the Gods are.

Ok. I can understand that particular postulation. And there may be a chance that folks associated with where I purchased the t-shirt may believe that as well. I truly cannot speak to that. But for me, that’s not what this t-shirt means. The “Many Gods” part is self explanatory. I am a polytheist, I believe in many Gods. I believe that each of Them are individual entities. I work with Coyote and Crow. I am starting my relationship with Flidais. Ech of Them have Their own demands and expectations of me. Particularly Crow, where I am bonded as a Priest. But none of Them are my Masters (or Mistress if one would apply that in a gender specific aspect for Flidais, but that’s a post for another time). I can walk away from any of Them whenever I choose to do so, just as They can walk away from me anytime They choose to do so. I am compelled by agreeable oath to a stricter relationship with Crow, where stepping away would have to be a far more formal process, but again, none of Them have me slavishly doing Their bidding.

“No Masters” – for me (I must stress this) – means that I have no one compelling me to be a polytheist. I have no middle-man Priest or Preacher that has to stand between me and my Gods and interpret material on Their behalf. I need no intercessor to bring me before the Gods or to tell me what the Gods need from me. And honestly, if anyone ever approached me and told me that Crow commanded me to provide 10% of my income to that individual to show my loyalty or devotion; I may burst a seam from laughing so damn hard. I have no Masters that need to interpret what my Gods require of me. I have no Masters that will compel me to do this action or that task in the name of my Gods. My Gods communicate that directly to me. I have no need of a Master to hold the strings of communication between me and my Gods. Nor am I that intercessor for anyone else. Many Gods, No Masters means that I am capable of handling my relationship between myself and the Gods on my own.

Now, all of that said, this is not me sticking my fingers in the eyes of Christianity or any other belief system that has these Priests and Preachers that do act as intercessors for the masses within those systems. If others have a need for an intermediator within their own beliefs, I see no issue there whatsoever; provided they do not apply their framework to me. Everyone utilizes the framework that works best for them.

Certainly, there is an implication that is set forth by wearing a t-shirt with the statement of “Many Gods No Masters” emblazoned upon it. Just as there is an implication that can be made by the Rainbow-flag sticker I had on my truck (before someone took it upon themselves to peel it off without my permission). But the rainbow flag sticker makes me no less a straight male than a t-shirt stating “No Gods No Masters” implies anything about my relationship with my Gods.

Maybe a t-shirt with a slogan on it or a decal with a rainbow flag helps the receiver of the silent message to find a manner to label or define someone. However, in my mind, prior to applying the final thread to sew those labels into people; perhaps some communication can be made prior to doing so. In our modern society, we draw conclusions on just who people are or aren’t based on their Facebook memes, their Twitter posts, or what decal is on the bumper of their vehicle. A little conversation can go a long way to clarifying things prior to making conclusions on such inane things. And that would be conversation – not debate, not argument, not forcing people to have to defend why they wear these t-shirts or put those decals on their vehicles or why they found the need to post this on their Twitter feed.

Maybe all of this is just my over-reaction to something simple. Or maybe, a lot of this is symptomatic of how out of touch society has become, as we divide ourselves based on politics, religion, skin-color, who we love, what we eat, what we read, and what we listen to. We currently live in the age of information, where communications abilities are more prevalent and quicker than ever before. And despite all of that, we certainly seem to communicate far less than ever before. Perhaps the age of information is not about communications, but rather about freeing folks up to make conclusions and assumptions about people without having to really communicate with them at all.

I certainly hope not…but in the meantime, its time to crank up some Edgar Winter (Free Ride) and enjoy the sweltering Texas heat. Yes indeed, I live in an Easy-Bake Oven.

Working with the Gods Does Not Always Have to be Epic in Scale and Scope

The past few days it has been really cold up here on the Oklahoma/Texas border. Cold enough that the pipes to my pool and hot tub froze up and burst. Its nothing major, and provides the opportunity to replace the old heating system that is currently in place. But it was an unexpected moment. And a little reminder of why two Trickster Gods have been such an influence on who I am today.

When I heard people say that they were “working with the Gods”, I always fell into a pattern of thinking that they were doing something similar to Hercules – achieving stuff for the Gods that was just some massive undertaking. But in working with the trio of Gods that work within my life, I have found that this is not always the case. Sometimes, the tasks are a bit more internal – and in reflection, typically even more epic in size and scope within an individual’s life – rather than epic in the measure of our entire Pagan community or scopes even larger than that. And sometimes, the individual scope is enough to effect change elsewhere.

Ten years ago, I would be cursing and angry about what happened with the burst pipes for the pool. I would be proclaiming my bad luck, and how Life is being unfair to me. In short, I would be pitching a Titanic hissy fit. My disposition throughout my earlier life has always been one of being knocked off balance by events that happened along the way. When shit happened, I hit major meltdowns of epic proportions.

But two Trickster Gods intervened in all of this six years ago. My life was turned upside down in every imaginable way. I quit my job after working the worst employer I have ever had. I found myself caught up in one of the biggest downturns in economic history within the United States. I was unemployed for ninety-eight weeks. One week shy of the maximum amount that could be pulled during unemployment. I was hired in as an adjunct professor at the college I am currently working for. A position that I felt uniquely unqualified for at that time. And through all of that, every step of the way, there was a voice in the back of my mind.

Keep calm. It is only a stretch of rocks in the road. You will get past all of this, and find yourself among the trees again. I promise.

That was Coyote, whom I had just started finding in my meditations. I was learning the lesson of seeing the bigger picture. Opening up to the perspective of seeing wider and further than just me, I soon realized that while I was unemployed, and that full-time work, along with the medical benefits that I needed for working with my diabetes, was a difficult stretch of road – it could be far worse. I saw that on the news constantly. People losing their homes because they had lost their jobs. Unable to provide for their families. People leaving the keys on the kitchen counters as they abandoned their homes. Their pets left behind in those same homes because they could no longer afford to feed the furry members of their family. Yes, my road was difficult. But it could definitely have been worse.

I was learning another lesson as well – that of transformation. My time working as a desktop support technician were over. My skillset was similar to that of a high school student entering the workforce. There was no way a forty-something man was going to be able to compete in that industry with workers who would do the same thing at a cheaper price. I had two Masters degrees and a Bachelor degree. My time working in hardware was over, and I needed to realize that. It took a while. Hardware was what I knew. Hardware was how I made a living. But slowly I was nudged into the classroom, where I taught basic hardware concepts. I was able to show students how data on them was utilized by their own government. How data flowed between government entities – and how it did not in other cases.

And through those two lessons – amid the howls and laughter that Coyote had throughout all of it, I learned to control my emotions a lot more, and figure out how humility would work for me. Not only was I transforming my skillsets and moving into other areas of Information Technology, I was growing as an individual in ways that I desperately needed.And I was growing towards being what I needed to be: a Priest.

I have resisted that title for so long, that I still feel odd in accepting that aspect of my Path. Its only been fairly recent that I have turned towards that and decided that I would define what the term “Priest” meant to me – rather than accepting some definition that mainstream society attached to it. I am not going to hear confession. I am not going to transform anything into the body of anything else – no matter what the ritual. And honestly, I am not likely to lead any ritual anywhere except in my own backyard. And even then, only when I am the only one there. For me, Priest is something a little different, which I have talked about before.

For me, one of the tasks given to me by my trio of Gods was to grow. Coyote required me to grow up, and learn to be more in control of myself. Crow showed me how to find the silver lining in situations. Yes, the pipes froze and burst. That’s a bad thing. But it certainly provides the opportunity to replace the aging heater as well as repair the pipes. Fliodhas is showing me to find beauty in all aspects of Life. To look at the beauty of things beyond the external appearances. To look deeper at the relationships, how things interconnect, and where the intersection of all of that has a deeper meaning than can initially be realized.

Certainly, there is a lot going in the world all around us. A contentious Presidential election. Seemingly endless terror attacks on our over-arching society. Many, many people using political tides as excuses for behavior that is completely unacceptable. I am reminded that each time these moments occur, we – as a collective society – need to stand up against that. But in doing so, we need to make sure that we don’t let our emotions go overboard and boil over – that we don’t become something we never meant to be in the first place. Certainly, such issues need to be responded to, but we also need to remember having restraint in those moments as well. That’s what makes us different than those people. For me, Coyote, Crow, and Fliodhas have provided enough insight for me to recognize this need within myself.