I Prefer Individualism Over Gate Keeping

I am a Pagan. I am a Druid. I am a Polytheist. I believe the Gods are real. I believe They are all separate, unique entities that can be experienced in a variety of ways. I know there are other Pagans that believe similar to me. Just as I know there are other Pagans that do not believe as I do. There are those that find all of that discomforting. I don’t. I take great comfort in understanding that the Gods are experienced differently by everyone. Why would I take comfort in that thought? Because it means we are all individual, unique human beings. It means we have the Free Will to expand our understanding of Those Beyond our understanding in a manner that speaks to each of us. It means we are not cut from the same mold, that we are as unique as I believe that the Gods are. And the best part of all of that? Not a single soul has to agree with me at all.

I follow the Paths of Paganism, Druidry and Polytheism to create my own experiences and understandings of what is beyond. To experience, relate with, and create from my own perspective – without judgment. I am not here creating dogma that is to be applied to the whole world. I am here trying to understand what I feel, what I experience, what I know to be a part of my reality. I’m not here to tell a single soul what is their own reality, what is their perception or how to define their experiences.

Every so often, a manner of discourse crops up with various folks in the Pagan Internet-Sphere (or Cloud or whatever you want to call the boundless and ever changing internet community we are all part of here). The argument tends to fall around the concept of gate keeping or perceived gate keeping. “You can’t be a follower of this God or Goddess because you don’t experience [x] or have studied [y] or done [z] research.” “You can’t be a Witch because of [a].” I grok the exclusive nature of such statements. Everyone wants to have a defined view of what [q] belief is really about. if you can’t reach those check boxes, than you can’t be [i]. The reality is that there are no check boxes to your personal Spirituality. To quote my favorite classic rock band: “That Path is for your steps alone.” You walk where you can, how you can. (That’s the Grateful Dead and the quoted lyric comes from their song “Ripple”)

If you are learning from someone else or from some tradition, the lessons that you are taught or typically is what is considered to the basics. You do the best to walk in the manner that they wish to – until you finish the way they want to you or you just can’t finish. Learning their framework means you are learning their way. It still doesn’t nullify how you walk the Path of your own Spirituality…unless you want it to. That is the truest measure of what you are doing…walk your way, you set the final steps in what you do. Walk the Path defined by others, you choose to follow that direction. There is nothing wrong with either…until you start demanding that others do the exact same thing.

Those of the Christian faith do this. They demand that everyone do the same things that they do. If you don’t, you are considered to be outside of who they are. You are treated differently because you choose to be different. Reality shows that you are just as much a human being as anyone else. Some Polytheists do this too. They see their way of viewing the world and connecting with the Gods as the only way possible. If you aren’t doing it their way, you are treated as “knowing less”.

Like I said, I am a Polytheist. I don’t want everyone to be just like me in their Spiritual practice. To me, that removes some of the beauty of diversity and individualism. Plus, who am I to say what is right and wrong for you? I believe that Paganism and Polytheism is stronger for the diverse array of Spiritual Paths. We are made stronger with the approach of individualism for each Practitioner. They know where their footsteps are best placed. They understand how the Gods look and react to their own belief of worship (or not). They know which manner of connectivity works for them. And if they are still searching for a potential perspective that works, their questioning approach should be understood from the perspective of the Seeker, not the Accuser or the Heretic. We all seek betterment, knowledge, solace, divinity, and ourselves on our Spiritual Paths. Questioning those for not taking the same footfalls as you is not a useful aspect of our own individual Path. Helping others to find their own Paths is not about steering them towards our own. We should be helping to find the part of the Path that aligns better to what they are seeking. I am not an evangelist for Druidry, Paganism, Polytheism or even the order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD, which is the Druid order I am currently studying within). But I am here to listen, without prejudice or bias (as much as I can attain that, knowing that I am biased in some degree to all things); desiring to help someone find their way.

Is Polytheism good? Is it bad? Is it some form of neutral perspective? I believe the answer to all those questions is that all are valid – depending on the individual. The same holds true for Druidry and Paganism. The only way of understanding how that answer formulates for you is to explore each on your own. Or if you prefer, as the Oracle tells Neo in The Matrix Reloaded movie: “Bad news is there’s no way you can really know if I’m here to help you or not, so it’s really up to you. Just have to make up your own damn mind to either accept what I’m going to tell you, or reject it.” The same holds true with your own Spiritual path. You know your steps. You know where you need to walk. You’ll make up your own damn mind about it. And if others don’t agree with you? That’s all right. They have their own Path to walk, secure in the knowledge that what they believe is where they need to be.

Maybe, one day, we can get beyond the concepts of gate-keeping or trying to tell others how they should be on their Spiritual Paths. Maybe. I still hold out hope that we, as human beings, can take a step beyond. When we get there we can marvel at the similarities we missed while arguing about our differences. Plus, we can be astounded at the beauty of Paths that went where we couldn’t find appropriateness for our own steps. Viva individualism! We are resilient in our ability to find our ways to goals we wish to achieve. Our ability to experience and formulate solutions is astounding. Even when those Paths and solutions are as divergent in greater and greater ways.

–T /|\

Gizmo hiding…sort of

Hearing Their Call

Just saw this quote on Twitter….

A vision could put you on a path you don’t want to follow.

— Thomas Yellowtail

…and it started me thinking about how the Gods can sometimes call to someone that does not want Them in their life.

That sounds strange, doesn’t it? Someone not wanting a God or Goddess to be in their life. But it can be true. For instance, there was a time period where I thought The Morrigan was calling me into Her service. I have a healthy respect – at a great distance – of The Morrigan, but I have no desire to be in Her service. Even as a loaner from Crow or Coyote. My feeling is that I would not be a good fit to serving Her requests and needs. Thankfully, I misinterpreted what I was experiencing, and it turned out not to be Her. But what if it had been?

Since that misinterpreted period of time, I have wondered what I would have done if my interpretation had been correct. Would I have tried to ignore Her summons? Perhaps, I would have denied Her outright. or maybe, I would have agreed to serve Her. Would I have tried to negotiate better terms? There are downfalls to every single one of these scenarios.

Ignoring one of the Gods tends to not have fairly good results. If They were super insistent on working with you, their summons would probably be increasingly more obvious. Sort of like being whacked upside the head with an ax handle. The Gods can definitely do subtle, but when They really want your attention, it can get downright mean and nasty. Sometimes, ignoring Them can be taken as a means of disrespect towards Them, and then the party starts. In my personal experience, when asked to respond – respond. Even if its just with an “I don’t know” statement. In most cases, anything is better than silence.

Many folks might think that saying “no” to the Gods is a bad thing. That is not necessarily the case. Much of that has to do with the manner in which you do it. Saying “no thank you” will tend to be taken a bit more favorable than “fuck off, I’m not interested.” The Gods, much like most humans, will respond far more favorably to manners than outright flippant behavior. There is always the chance that you still get told that “no” is not an appropriate answer. You might have to be more insistent on your desire not to accept…but sometimes the Gods will just want and take what They want without regard.

Then there’s the concept of negotiation. Much like human beings, the Gods can be bargained with. Do so very carefully. Bargains, agreements, contracts – all of these are iron-clad concepts that you are placing yourself in. if you were President Donald Trump, you might call these quid pro quo moments. I give You my service, in return, You provide me with this Knowledge. Be completely certain of the terms you are asking, and certainly be aware of the terms that are returned. These types of situations should never be taken lightly.

And what if you don’t hear the Gods? What if you want an arrangement with a specific God or Goddess? Do what you can to attract Them. Do personal rituals dedicated to Them, show Them that you want to work with Them or on Their behalf. And be patient. The Gods work in Their own concept of time. But also, be aware that when you signal such willingness, you may attract the attention of another God or Goddess that you never thought about working with before. After all, you’re setting out a beacon of attraction – sometimes you can attract something other than what you set out for. In that case, be open-minded. But if it is still not what you are seeking…you can still say no. Just remember, that can sometimes have unintended consequences. Be mindful of what you are saying.

Now, with all that said, I realize that a lot of this sounds like the Gods are akin to lawyers. With a heavy eye towards contractual agreements, wording, and the such – you would swear that the Gods spend all Their time looking for “gotcha!” scenarios to exploit. Well, the large majority of the Gods don’t. But like any environment, there are predators (your definition of what is or is not a predator will vary widely from those of others). So be aware.

Relationships with the Gods take many forms, and each are unique from everyone else’s – just like each relationship you have with other human beings. Those relationships can be fulfilling, rewarding, and even intimately passionate (not meant to be taken in a sexual connotation). Some can be difficult, confusing, and even heart-rending. These relationships can run the entire gauntlet of emotions. Or not even have any emotional capacity attached to them. But each will be unique to the individual and the God or Goddess they are working with. As it should be.

And for those who cannot seem to reach far enough to grab the attention of the Gods. Keep trying. Keep being yourself. And be patient. It will happen when it happens. Be ready for anything.

Talking to the Gods

Yesterday, I wrote about the most common question that I tend to get from non-Pagans – ritual clothing or how a Pagan dresses. Its a fairly easy question to answer, since most Pagans dress like anyone else, though there’s some aspects that are different in relation to what is or isn’t “appropriate” for ritual dress. The second most common question I get usually takes some time to percolate in the minds of folks. Its not a question I get within the first five minutes of meeting someone. Nor is it something that I feel that would be useful or appropriate in the dreaded “elevator speech” that so many folks believe to be of great use.

The usual pattern for this question is that it will come from someone who has bothered to talk with me at great length over what I believe. And that they are trying to equate some understanding of my connection with the Gods, in whatever form they understand that to be. “How does one talk to the Gods?”

I am prone to flippant answers to some questions, this one included. “Simply open your mouth and mind,” is where I commonly start. But that’s not really much of an answer, though it is a correct perspective to take. Many people come from a background where speaking to those on a higher level than yourself is meant to take an air of flowery, nearly ritualistic language. Covered in Thee and Thou, and spoken downwards to the floor, so as not to make eye contact. Because eye contact equates you to being on the same level – an equation of equality.

Think about it. At work, if you are down on the daily operations level, you talk with your peers far differently than you would to a Vice President of the company or to a member of the company’s Board. You might speak on a language level close to mine, very open, somewhat coarse, and on a degree of familiarity with those you work with daily. After all, your peers are on your level. People outside your department would equate to a measure of respect and civility that you wouldn’t afford to your everyday peer. How we communicate with others provides levels of respect, equality, and dare I say it, rank. Would we not treat our Gods like They were greater than Kings, Queens, Nobility, corporate seniority, and the such? They are, after all, Beings that are beyond our comprehension. Or would we communicate with Them on a level of familiarity after a prolonged period of exposure to Them?

To be frank, I am much more open, and forthright with Crow and Coyote than I would be with say, The Morrigan. The difference in how I communicate with Them comes from a degree of familiarity more than a measure of equality. They are equally Gods. Respect is what I would afford Them in any case. But my communication style with Crow and Coyote would be far different than it would be with Her. I have no ties with Her, I have done no workings with Her, and I do not hear Her call. As such, we are unknown quantities to one another, I would certainly provide a much more courteous version of me than I do in conversations with Crow. But when I note that the best way to communicate with the Gods is to open your mouth and open your mind, I might be flippant, but I am being serious as well.

Moments like this, standing in front of the fire and thanking the Gods for the safe travels of all, used to frighten me. (Picture by John Beckett)

To be able to reach a connection with the Gods, in order to communicate, I need to open my mind to the existence of the Gods. Keeping a closed mind does not mean that the Gods won’t find a way to communicate with me, but it does mean that I would likely not understand or comprehend what was being stated to me. I grok the naysayers that point out that all of this would be within my mind. Well, of course it is. But just because its there doesn’t make it any less true or valid. The difference comes in opening one’s mind to the possibilities.

As for conversations, things can get rather contentious, particularly if you are bargaining with your chosen God or Goddess. And a conversation that is viewed from the outside, might seem to be madness. An example of this would be the seemingly one-sided conversation between Jesus and God, as depicted in Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” in the scene entitled “Gethsemane”. Below is the video of Ted Neeley’s final performance as Jesus in New York City in 2006. I consider it to be one of the most moving versions of this scene, and an excellent depiction of communicating with one’s God at a very contentious moment.

Now I am not saying that every conversation with a God or Goddess can be as dramatic as this, but this is quite an excellent example of coming to grips with a task that has been given to you that you don’t want to do. I can definitely say, I have been here before and it is no picnic.

There are those that will note that they have been trying and trying and trying to get the Gods to communicate with them. That they have done everything short of shooting flares into the air and still have not managed to communicate with any of the Gods. Well, first off, be patient. Set yourself up with a daily devotional to the God or Goddess you are trying to attract. Make offerings that you believe will appease Them. Pay attention to the mythologies that They are a part of to find the actions, items, songs, poems, or what not that They like. Make those as offerings. And again, be patient. Keep trying. For how long? I don’t know. Until you think its futile to continue. If that means you stop after three tries or three-thousand, that’s up to you. You know your limits, I know mine.

Is it worthwhile to communicate with The Gods? Is it worthwhile to bond yourself to a God or Goddess? Well, that’s a personal thing. I would say “yes” and “yes” to the questions, but again that’s my own perspective. There are times that working with Crow and Coyote has been difficult, and other times it has been a true treasure in my life. But that’s me. Only you can answer for you.

#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

Devotional Practice – My Approach

As I have mentioned before (quite a few times), I am a Polytheist, a Priest of Crow, and maintain my own devotional practice to Him. I have a few friends that are also Polytheists and have their own devotional practices with their own Gods and Goddesses. And our individual practices all look different, which is as it should be. I’m not interested in making my own practice look like theirs. I’m interested in making my practice work for the relationship I have with Crow.

My Backyard Stone Circle
My Backyard Stone Circle

At Pantheacon this year, I attended several concurrent sessions throughout the time I was there. When I was choosing what sessions, I was going to attend, I did so with a mindful purpose. I wanted to attend sessions that would help me strengthen my relationship with Crow and Coyote. At the time, I was also going through what I had perceived to be a potential start of a relationship with The Morrigan. That turned out to not be the case and was also colored by a certain perception bias I had instilled on things as well. It turned out to be a set of Valkyries that came to deliver a point. When I looked through the sessions, three stood out to me instantly, and I knew I had to attend each of these.

The three sessions, “Beginning Devotional Practice“, “Advanced Devotional Practice” (both by Silence Maestas), and “Brigid: History, Mystery & Magick of the Celtic Goddess” (by Courtney Weber) each had an immediate attraction for me. While I have a daily devotional practice working with Crow, and from time-to-time with Coyote, I am always open to the prospect of new ideas or techniques. The Brigid session, on the other hand, was an odd choice, given my so recent flirtation with Fliodhais. Still, I knew I needed to be at all three of these sessions. I’ll discuss the Brigid session in another blog post though.

I had attended Silence’s session at Many Gods West last year. So, I had a decent idea what I was expecting in these sessions. I knew there would be an open discussion, allowing members of the audience to share their own thoughts and perspectives. Last year, this was an invaluable tool for me in gathering my thoughts concerning Fliodhais, and where I thought things would be going. As it turned out, the flirtation was just that. And eventually, my devotional practice has set back to Crow and Coyote, with some extra work with the various Spirits of Place up here by the Red River that forms the border between Texas and Oklahoma.

In the initial stages of the beginning session, Silence talked about the basic aspects of starting a devotional practice. Choose a single thing to start with, and do it until you are extremely comfortable. Then begin to add other elements as you are called to do so, and continue working with your daily practice. My start came from greeting the Sun. But what the start is, does not matter. Silence added in some characteristics of Devotion into the conversation: Choice, Constancy, Perseverance. The choice allows you to become an emotional experiencer.

Why Have a Devotional Practice?

For this question, I cannot really answer for anyone else. Everyone will have their own set of reasons. For me, the start was with Coyote. I was seeking a Guide that could show me pathways I had never considered in my own Spiritual approach. In return, I was offering to be Their hands and feet within this realm. I spent three years thinking I could make a connection with Germanic Gods and Goddesses. I wound up with Coyote answering my desire for guidance. It made sense. I live in the middle of Native American lands – the southern edge of the central plains. I knew Coyote to be a Trickster. And I spent a lot of time being humiliated by Him before I finally stood up for myself. ‘Why would anyone want to work with me after making me into such a mockery?’ ‘At least you understood the point of the lessons. You need to stand up for yourself’ was the answer I received. And thus, started what has been nearly a decade of solid work with the first of my Trickster Gods.

Choice

You choose to do this practice. No God or Goddess will compel you to do any of this. They may ask, but it is still your choice. You have the Free Will to say no. Granted, there are consequences to saying ‘no’. Just as there are consequences to saying ‘yes’. Be sure you are prepared for either perspective. Just as well, be prepared to receive no answer at all. Too often, I have heard Polytheists say that they feel like they are doing something wrong when no God or Goddess answers them, directly or indirectly. That they feel they are doing their worship and devotion wrong when no Gods approach them. Worship and devotion are your choices; not a compulsion, not a directive. Sometimes, the Gods don’t answer. Just because there is not an answer or a manifestation, should that be the definitive answer as to if you believe? Remember, the Gods are not Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) that just spit out the answers and Their attention whenever you ask for it or manage to punch in the right combination on the keypad for Their attention. The Gods do as They see fit as well. They also have choices. They also have Their own Free Will. Remember, devotional work with the Gods is a relationship, and relationships are cultivated – not created with the snap of a finger. Trust needs to be developed. Relationships are grown.

Constancy

Perhaps the easiest aspect of Silence’s Characteristics of Devotion is that of Constancy. If part of your devotional work takes place at the butt-crack of dawn (as mine does), then be there. That consistent behavior provides the religious context of what you are doing. And honestly, your devotional practice needs to be something that you can do easily. You do not have to wind up looking and acting like a Catholic Priest or Nun in your devotion. My devotional work requires me to be there. If I happen to be wearing a Rush concert t-shirt and a torn-up pair of jeans – then that works. Constancy is not about dressing the part – it is about being you. No matter how you look. If “robing up” is something that helps get you into the frame of mind, then do so. Just remember, you may not always be somewhere that you can just do a quick change into a set of ritual robes. As I noted, part of my devotional practice is greeting the sun as it rises into the morning sky. Even when the clouds obscure it. Even when it is raining outside. Or in the case of my trip to Ireland two years back, standing in a waiting area in the Dublin international airport. And while I stood there and looked out the window, with a cardboard coffee cup in hand and my carry-on backpack hung over one shoulder, it was a magickal moment indeed.

Perseverance

So, you have made the motions. You have set up your devotional practice. You have decided which God or Goddess you want to work with. And They do not answer or acknowledge you. What now? Well, keep at it. A relationship with a God or Goddess is like any relationship you have with anyone else. it can take time to build the trust necessary for a relationship to be established. You do not have to pitch a piece of expensive jewelry into a lake to show that you have devotion. Well, maybe you do. That is truly up to you, and the nature of your relationship with the God or Goddess that you are flirting with or Who is flirting with you. That is a choice for you to make. The point is that whatever relationship you are cultivating takes time. And once the connection is there, like any relationship, obtaining depth requires constant work (remember Constancy?).

This is a relationship of choice that you are building. A choice that was made between you and a God or Goddess. Certainly, They are beings that we do not ultimately comprehend completely, but this is still a relationship. Just as it took some work and time to develop trust between yourself and your significant other, the same holds true here. You want that intimate relationship? That takes work buddy. And that work requires you to be constant, work through difficulties and misunderstandings, and to choose to have this. If you are wanting it just to have a God or Goddess notch on your altar…you’re not approaching this as you should. Remember, relationship = trust, trust brings intimate relationship, intimate relationship = commitment, commitment comes from hard work.

A Caveat – I Am Not an Expert

Now, I have stated this before. I have also stated this in the professional conferences that I have led sessions on SQL coding. I am no expert. I can only relay what I have learned, what works for me, and what does not work for me. I am not the final arbiter of what is or is not devotional practice for anyone. Well, except for myself. In that realm, I certainly am the expert and final arbiter. All I can really say is that anyone who wants a devotional practice can develop one. You must commit to study, practice, and ritual to achieve what you are wanting. Read, do, repeat. Or as the bottle of shampoo notes – Lather, rinse, repeat. And above all else, look carefully at what it means to cultivate a devotional relationship with a God or Goddess. Like any relationship, the prime commitment is time. Be sure what you are getting into before you do it.

–T /|\

Relationships with the Gods are Unique…and Complicated

I attended Many Gods West 2017 a very short while back. Most of that came from pushing by Crow, as well as my own desire to try a Pagan-oriented conference that was geared around a specific area of topical interest, rather than the massive general interest that a much larger conference such as Pantheacon generates. I came away from MGW with nearly two dozen writing prompts, much of which came as questions that came to mind during various presentations.

For me, each one of the prompts that I gathered are direct confrontations to how I am practicing my own polytheism with my triad of Deities:  Coyote, Crow and Flidais. Each of these Three present differing approaches to daily Life for me, and at the same time – together They are a part of my connection to all that is around me. My relationship with each of Them is unique, and singular. I say prayers to Them, as well as other Gods and Goddesses that I have no specific ties to, seeking guidance in what is becoming a more troubled and difficult world.

In what turned out to be a more physical presentation than I thought, “Embodied Practice and Devotion” had all of us in guided focus over feeling aspects of our own physical bodies. Controlled breathing, singular awareness of parts of the body, general awareness concerning various specified inputs and perspectives – none of which was terribly new to me. However, toward the end of the presentation, discussion was opened to the participants and part of that turned towards the idea of devotional surrender, a concept I have never really entertained prior to that moment.

From my notebook:

  • Devotional surrender versus Personal Sovereignty

    • Should we surrender completely to our Gods?

    • Should we bargain limitations with our Gods?

      • Does this limit who They are in our lives?

      • By not pushing our boundaries, are we limiting who we are as individuals?

A lot of this was difficult to work directly with at that particular moment. However, now back at home – in territory that is far more familiar to me, where I can let down my emotional shields that I carry publicly as an introvert – I am now starting with this particular writing point to start looking at my direct relationship with my little Triad.

So, probably the best place to start is to try and define these concepts, starting with devotional surrender and personal sovereignty. To be particular honest, I am not at all interested in the common definitions of the two terms, but rather in how these definitions work out for me. This means that you – the person who has decided to click on this blog post and read it – may define these terms radically different than I do. Frankly, that’s great. What it means is that you will probably come to far different conclusions than I do. And that’s great too. I am not looking for a fight or argument over the difference in our definitions or in our approaches. I don’t mind a discussion over all of that, because it helps me to see some of the cloudier areas in all of this. But I am not interested in a “my way or the highway” approach to discussing differences either. And with that out of the way, let’s dive into how I approach these two points.

The easier of the two, for me, is personal sovereignty. What this boils down to is that I am in control of things where I am concerned. My approaches to the Gods are mine. What Crow, Coyote or Flidais may ask of me, I have the ability to say “no” or “that’s a line too far for me.” The same goes for anything that is asked of me or told to me by any individual. I am in control of me – to the best of my ability. Yeah, its a simplistic definition, but it works for me in terms of this blog post.

Devotional surrender, on the other hand, is a bit more problematic for me. Mostly because I have never entertained this concept before. As I understood the concept from the panel, this can go from terms of following the commands and wishes of one’s Gods without question and follow all the way through something akin to being possessed physically by one’s Gods. For me, that’s an exceptionally wide area, but all of that does seem to fit into the entire concept. Plus, as I ponder over this, I feel that I may already work within some aspects of this already.

During a different panel, I related my bond to Crow. I am a Priest of Crow. Crow has already provided various tasks for me. But as I noted during the panel, I am free to question, and I am free to say “no”. If I am drawing the limitations on what is asked of me by Crow, am I limiting my relationship with Him? I do believe John Beckett once noted in a blog post of his own, that while we can say “no” to the Gods – that may be a moment where They choose to take far less interest in us as individuals. Certainly a risk that comes with that.

Prior to Crow, I worked exclusively with Coyote. Coyote was fond of giving my tasks to complete where I wound up looking like a fool when I finished each one. I knew I was working with a Trickster, so I tried to be patient through it all. After about nineteen or twenty of these tasks designed to make me look foolish, I went into a meditation looking for a confrontation. Frankly, I was pissed off at being made a fool. During my interaction, I asked why I was being made a fool. “You make yourself the fool,” was the response. If I am being made the fool, then why in the Nine Hells would you want to work with me? After the laughter subsided, Coyote noted that I was the fool for not asking questions. “I actually wanted to see if you possessed a spine” was the final response.

With Crow, I utilized some of this in my interactions with Him. Like Coyote, questioning was implied, but on a far shorter leash. I have had a few interactions where I have made the statement that I will have to think about whether I would do as asked. “Let me think about that” usually receives a terse reply of “do not take too long.” So, I do bargain with Crow. And sometimes I do try to bargain a limitation. But I have never entertained the idea that I might be limiting my relationship with Crow by doing so. Perhaps, by setting my own boundaries of what I can or am willing to do, I am changing the relationship that I have with Crow. But perhaps not too much.

I do see the Gods as beings that are far beyond my own personal comprehension. But I also see my relationship with the Gods to be somewhat similar to relationships that I have with other human beings. There are people that I would literally do anything for. Some of them know this, some of them don’t. There are others where I am willing to things for, but only up to a certain point. My relationship with them is not nearly as strong. My relationship with Crow is stronger than the one I have with Coyote. There are far more things I would do in service to Crow than I would in service to Coyote. That’s because the relationships are different. And my relationship with Flidais is far weaker than with the other Two. Our relationship is just barely over two years in age. In many ways, we are start in the flirtation stage.

I do not think that I have really changed too much of my opinion on whether boundaries, limitations or bargaining lessen a relationship with my Gods. Perhaps, if I had a more demanding God or Goddess, it would be a bit of a hinderance or even a point where my relationship with one of Them may cease. As for devotional surrender, I believe it really depends on which end of that spectrum may be in play, as to whether I would agree that it was a good idea or not. Allowing personal possession has an uncomfortable feeling to it, and crosses a lot of line with me in my own concept of personal sovereignty. Regardless, I still believe that my relationship with the Gods and Goddesses, particularly my Three, is a unique to me – and there may come a time when I will have to explore this aspect of devotional surrender to an ultimate extreme at some other time. Because relationships are unique…and complicated.

Some Thoughts on Many Gods West 2017

So, this has been the second day of Many Gods West 2017 – the third day I have been here. The Red Lion hotel here in Olympia is rather nice and comfortable. Anyone thinking of coming to a future one – its quite a beautiful location. And if you are worried about available food outside of the hotel – everything is close by with a short 5-8 minute drive away. But all of that is just the incidentals, eh??

I am not sure what I expected when I got here. I had heard things could be a little politically charged. From all of that, I had gleaned that perhaps there could be confrontational moments. But I also know that real experience is a far better judge of what happens than just hearsay. Were there politics?  Sure. Some. Nothing significant though. Sort of the same political discussions that happen at work. But no one seemed to get their feelings hurt when a different opinion was expressed. Many of the folks listened carefully to what was said, and then added on to the point being made with a logical perspective. There was no disrespecting of anyone’s perspective. I would say that everyone was respectful of differences, and for me – the conversations were absolutely delightful! I wish I could have informative, respectful conversations like this all day, every day.

Each of the panels I made were very well done. Lots of good points made, and a lot of give and take with the audience as well. These are the kinds of panels I adore. I have several pages of notes – and lots of blog topics to write on going into the future. And yes, most of those will be on personal, devotional, polytheistic practice. Some of the topics opened my eyes to some of the work I have been doing with Crow, and one panel opened my eyes to how the relationship I have developed with Crow will change over time. As our mutual trust of one another develops and matures, so will the nature of our relationship with one another and our understand of one another. That particular panel provided me with well over a dozen perspectives and concepts to blog on, including that one. So I am super excited to start exploring how to advance my relationship with Crow – both from an intellectual perspective, as well as a physical devotional one.

So, if you have been looking to this small Pagan conference in the Pacific North West and have not decided on it yet – my personal opinion is that you should come here. You should go to the panels. You should sit in the hallways and talk to others about….well, anything. Now let’s remember – I’m an introvert trying to come out of my shell. I ran back to my room several times over the last two days…just to restock who I am. I did this numerous times at Pantheacon this year and last year.

Tomorrow morning, I will make one panel in the morning and begin my trek back to SeaTac International airport – a 90-minute drive (depending on the traffic). But as I drive north, I will be remembering this convention fondly. Crow pushed me towards this with the notion that I needed to go. And from what I have heard from the panel presenters and from the conversations I have had with others….I understand why I needed to be here. But regardless of that, I’m sincerely glad I was able to go, because I see a way forward that I never realized was there before.

I can’t say that you will find a revelation within any of the panels at Many Gods West, but if you are a polytheist – you will certainly find a lot of people to talk with who have shared similar experiences to your own. And for me, that was just half the fun!!

 

Your Own Mileage Will Most Likely Vary

Right now, the rain is subsiding. Five minutes ago, it was a torrential downpour. As I look out my office, I see my dismantled stone circle which has been completely soaked with the rain. Two days ago, I pulled the circle apart so that I could mow the inner part, and just haven’t had a chance to set the stones, Kokopelli,  and the Cast-Iron Crow squadron back into their proper places. While I am watching this, a commercial for one of National Public Radio’s stories is playing. Its for something to with the Galapagos island’s environment. At one point, an individual states: “We are God, we should work at being better at it” and my mind begins to wander, sending its thoughts to my fingers, which results in this blog post. Yeah, this is how the Awen strikes occasionally.

We are God” – that thought strikes some occasional chording in my mind. I have heard that statement in several religious discussions over the last three decades. And one song by Jane Child comes to mind as well, where she utters the phrasing “thou art God”. We anthropomorphise the Gods and Goddesses to be very much like ourselves, without truly knowing if that concept is right or wrong. We, humans in general, will spend countless hours of our lives debating whether the Gods are real, or if They are just one, or if They are just merely psychological constructs created to provide us with focus in our lives. We, humans in general, have fought wars and killed thousands upon thousands over interpretations of some codified understanding of what the God or Gods want. What if those arguments, those wars, all that emotion, all that study, all that soul-searching were for nothing?? Or even more simple, and far less empirical – what is it really didn’t matter beyond you?

I have watched endless debates within the Pagan community over what makes a real Pagan into a real Pagan. When I was trying to find my own personal Path back in the mid-1980s, I saw the same thing within the Southern Baptist aspects of the Christian protestant world. Arguments that could boil down to something as simple as whether you got a “good vibe” from the Pastor. Did he preach the depth of the hell fires in a more inspiring manner than the guy six blocks over? Perhaps, it boiled down to something even far more simple, such as this church had a better softball team in the church leagues. In a manner of speaking, we do the same thing within our Pagan communities. Nine Hells, I’ve done it myself. I decided on the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD) because there was far less emphasis on structured ritual than that of Ar N Draiocht Fein (ADF). But honestly, that doesn’t make OBOD more right, and ADF less right. Merely that OBOD fits closer to my own personal perspective of what Paganism and Druidry is for me. I have “broken bread” with ADF folks. They are no different than the OBOD members I have met and stepped into ritual with. And neither are any different than any of the Druidry orders and their members that I have come across.

Perhaps, I am different (or maybe not) then a lot of the Pagans, polytheists, and others that I watch assemble for doctrinal scrimmages over what constitutes this or that. I am a Pagan. I am a Polytheist. I am a Druid. The meaning of each is sacred to me within my own heart and beliefs. Trying to varnish that into the hearts and beliefs of others, in my opinion, is inappropriate. They know who they are, they can define who they are. They might even utilize the exact verbiage that I do. But in the end, they define all of that for themselves. I’m not here to detail what their experiences are and should be. I can show them how I approached a concept, but they are free to use it, adapt it, or discard it as it pertains to their own steps on their own Paths.

It is raining and thundering here on the Texas/Oklahoma border. More than fifty miles to my south, and south-east are Pagan friends of mine. For all I know, their weather is just slightly overcast. They *might* hear the thunder from up here. Then again, maybe not. My current reality is rain with thunder from time to time. Their reality may be different. More than one-hundred miles to my north and north-east are other Pagan friends that I know. They may have high winds, and much more torrential rains. Its doubtful that the weather that they are experiencing is the same as either mine or the folks to the south of me. But for each of us these realities are there for the moment. Different from one another, but all occurring at the same time.

The same could be said for the Gods and Goddesses. My experience of Crow, Coyote and Flidais will be different from others. We will each develop unique relationships with the Gods that call to us. No single relationship will be the same. There will be some similarities, but those relationships will be the same. I know there will be those that disagree with my perspective. I am certainly fine with the disagreement. Why? Because I have no desire to debate the rightness or wrongness of my experiences compared to that of someone else. Remember, it might be raining here, and the sun shining where you are.

Are we Gods? Or just arrogant enough to believe that we are? That is a point that could be up for some debate. Gods have the ability to control and change things. If you look at how we, mankind, change the environments around us, it could be construed that we are Gods of our environments. We pave the environment over, eradicate forests, change our climate more drastically than a typical cycle change would manage without us. And we are arrogant enough to deny that we are the cause of the change in the cycle’s speed. We split words, manipulate meanings, twist concepts to suit our ends – we change our own environments in so many different ways. We threaten one another with annihilation on a massive scale with weapons that will pass one another in the thinnest parts of our atmosphere. These weapons will fall to earth, causing untold destruction, and change to our world. If we define the Gods and Goddesses as entities that have the ability to create, change, and destroy the environment upon which we live….maybe we are Gods and Goddesses.

From my own perspective, we aren’t Gods and Goddesses. We are human beings. We are not the Gods, and the Gods are not us. We, humans, have the ability to change our environment. We have the ability to shape where we exist. But it won’t last forever. Eventually, human beings may find themselves on the decline. Our temples of mall shopping, and skyscraper cathedrals will fade and decay when we no longer are capable of maintaining these monuments. Our Earth will continue to thrive and survive with life long after we humans disappear from its face. And if we disappeared from the face of the Earth and slipped into the annals of unrecorded human History, the Gods and Goddesses will continue on. Of that I am confidant. I have no proof, aside from my own belief that it will be so – and thus the reality of my statement is that it might be right or wrong. And a stronger reality, for me, is that the veracity of that statement is correct for me. And while it might be arrogant, in a manner of speaking, that’s all that matters for me. After all, belief is what works for the individual. And while it may hold true for a group of individuals, how it matters to myself and how I live my own daily life is of the utmost importance. At least for me… Your own mileage, will most likely vary.

 

So What Gives With the Irish Goddess?

Quite a while back, I mentioned that I had finally been clued in on my long-time flirtation with some Goddess aspect in dreams and meditations. Since 2008, I have had my dreams and meditations interrupted with a woman who stands just outside of the edge of my vision. She beckons to me to come closer, and eventually I find myself at the edge of the thicker part of a forest. She continues to walk deeper into the forest, constantly crooking Her finger at me, and giggling softly. All the time, I constantly ask for Her name and only receive giggles in return. About seven months ago, shortly before I went overseas to Ireland, she provided a name. “Flee-das.”

I had never heard the name before. So it took some searching to find the name. Turns out She is a part of Irish mythology, and Her name is spelled Fliodhas (modern spelling, or Flidais. She is the Irish Goddess of the forest, and as far as I have been able to understand, She is similar in nature to the archetype of the Huntress.

So, I am primarily Germanic in my ancestry, and was a bit perplexed over what an Irish Goddess might want with a German kid (not that I am a kid anymore). And to be honest, I am still in the process of figuring that out. I have started to walk deeper into the forest in my dreams and meditations. I feel the same anxiety as I walk deeper along my Path with OBOD, as I finish my Bardic grade studies and now move into my Ovate grade studies. She still does not answer my questions, but continues to lead me deeper into the forest.

A little over a year ago, I took the DNA test with Ancestry.com, and got back results I was quite sure I would get. I’m Germanic. Approximately 40% according to the test. But at first, I never saw anything about an Irish background. Until recently, when my DNA results expanded a bit more. My DNA is 100% European, again not much of a surprise. But as I started going deeper into the breakdown, there it was:

Capture

So now I have my answer. There is a trace of Irish there. Now comes the harder part – getting an answer to my question of what is wanted of me. And for that, I am willing to be as patient as I need to be.

 

Resisting Against the #Storm

This is the time of year where my travels typically stack up like overseas flights coming in for a landing at the airport. I have a retreat in south-central Texas for ADF Imbolc, then Pantheacon the weekend after that, and a professional trip after the following weekend to Houston. And a couple of weeks later, on to Louisiana for the OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering. Last night, I firmed up the details to attend CalderaFest in October. And there’s my first trip to Washington State….ever…to attend Many Gods West. That’s a lot of time away from home. And a lot of time away from my Stone Circle.

I am thankful that I have a job that can provide enough monetary resources for me to make travel like this, as well as the vacation time to do so. And while I am frightened to near death to fly, I am still thankful that I have the ability to do this as well. But every so often, I wonder what in the Nine Hells I am doing? By nature, I am a full-fledged introvert. I can be social with the best of them, but I prefer doing so in a group of people that I know. Why am I travelling to music festivals and conferences where I will encounter far more strangers than I have ever seen in a place before? And with my distaste of large crowds, I am placing myself into the middle of a maelstrom of people. Have I lost my fucking mind??

Actually, I have not. And while I have a distaste of crowds, and tend to pull myself into my shell – there is a need that needs to be met. No. Not glory. Not to become some Big Name Pagan (a semi-humorous and semi-scornful descriptive that I find not only distasteful but disgusting). No. Its because of the #Storm. Its because we, people who find themselves staring down the spear-point of a potentially dictatorial government, held by a spiteful, hate-filled element of society that would keep those that are different from them out or under the soles of their jackboots pressed against our necks – we need to know we are not alone. And not just through words on a computer screen. We need to be able to touch one another. Hold hands. Speak directly to one another over a cup of coffee or tea. Because we make it through the #Storm together.

Its also for the old Gods. I have the interest of three. There are far many more. At the conferences, the gatherings, and even the music festivals – we gather together in fellowship with one another. We honor the old Gods. We give thanks to Them for being a part of our daily lives, even the Ones that we do not interact directly with. We gather to be the Pagans and Polytheists and what else have you – that we are. Together. We fellowship with one another. We talk, we discuss, we respectfully debate and disagree, and we learn. We get all of that from one another, and from our respectful honoring of the old Gods.

So why do I travel? Why do go to these crowded events? To be there for others. To listen. To sympathize. To lend a shoulder where it may be needed. To find others who can be there for me. For those that can listen to me and sympathize. To find shoulders that are being offered as support for me. Because we are in this together. Because in being who I am, and not letting the Pagan that I am, the Priest that I am, the Polytheist I am be buried under the onslaught of issues coming from the actions of my United State government under the control of Donnie.

I resist. In the words of Malcolm Reynolds, I aim to misbehave. Not just through protests, not just through petitions, but by being who I am. By living the way that I should, as a Pagan, as a Priest, as a Polytheist…without apology. Without flinching. I do what I know how to do, being the Pagan that I am, the Priest that I am, the Polytheist I am. I resist by not conforming to some cookie-cutter vision of what an American is. I resist by being who I am. I travel to fellowship with others who also resist – who also live as they are without apology. Without flinching.

Together, we will make it through the #Storm. At times it will not be easy. It will seem hopeless at others. But we work together. We band together. We resist together. We will survive the #Storm together. And we will honor our Gods as we do so, by continuing to be who we are. In the manner that we can. By living our lives without apologies and without flinching. By being what we are. By being who we are.

 

Finding Safe Places….Thoughts on #MyPolytheism

IMG_5745Over on Facebook,  a really intense conversation took place concerning Polytheism. A lot of the conversation focused on a blog site which gives polytheists who feel somewhat steamrolled by a lot of the folks with bigger blogging audiences and what are essentially louder voices. It is called #MyPolytheism and has become a place where many of the diverse and lesser heard voices of Polytheism can be found.  Heard without judgment. Heard without argument over what is right and wrong. Heard, where their voice is given equal weight, and equal respect.

In the course of the discussion on Facebook, much of what was said focused on the importance of #MyPolytheism. One of the more intriguing set of questions, came from Alley Valkyrie, which I am going to attempt to answer from my own perspective. To be fair, these questions were not asked of me, and I messaged Alley privately asking if it was alright if I not only quoted her for the questions, but could I also try to do this with a blog post.

Can you understand the need for something like #mypolytheism as a “safe space”? Can you at least see how and why that has become necessary? Can you acknowledge that there is a significant population within the polytheist community that feels the need for a space free from abusive judgement?

Now, at first glance, this looks an easy straight-forward answer that would requiring no more than four to five sentences to answer. But. That would only be scratching the surface. Essentially answering only the cosmetic part of this. There’s a lot more deeper down, which requires a lot more processing, not just on my part. I will get to that a little further down in the post.

As I noted before #MyPolytheism is a place where Polytheists with smaller voices can be heard. I write this blog. I constantly discuss my relationship with the Gods. People read it. Through that, I wind up having a bit of a louder voice. There are those that don’t have blogs – they don’t have time to write, they have other priorities in their life, whatever the reasoning. Through the #MyPolytheism blog site they can express their point of view.

Within many of the social media spaces where folks have “gathered” to discuss the concepts of polytheism, these #MyPolytheism contributors can feel intimidated by some of the discussion that takes place. Especially when some folks start proclaiming that there is only one correct way to be a polytheist.

“You must do [this] to work with the Gods.” “If the Gods are not speaking to you in [this manner], then you are not speaking with the Gods.” “I am a [Priest/Priestess/long-time follower] of this [God/Goddess/Spirit] and if [They] are not speaking to you in [this manner] then you are not connecting with them.” And so on.

In my opinion, this is what “Gatekeeping” looks like. People who guard the gates to the concept of Polytheism and have made themselves into the self-appointed bouncers. Again, my opinion here, but that does nothing but kill the notion that the wider arching concepts of inclusive have built over the last few decades within both the Pagan and Polytheist movements. Granted, the modern Polytheist movement – to my knowledge – isn’t nearly as old as that of modern Paganism , but neither needs an enforcer providing litmus tests to who does or doesn’t qualify. After all, you really don’t need an application and a resume to approach the Gods. You need faith. In them. In yourself. And the unique relationship you develop with a God, Goddess, Spirit of Place, Spirit of Ancestor is between you and Them. But there is plenty of judging that goes on within the social media platforms, which intimidates those that do not meet the qualifications as presented by some fictitious Gatekeeper.

#MyPolytheism provides a space where these folks’ voices can be heard. It also provides a place where contemplative conversation can take place. In essence, a place where the folks that feel somewhat marginalized or forgotten in the overall conversations that take place, can participate.

But why do attitudes such as the Gatekeeper Complex rise up? This, is a tougher question to answer. Remember, just a few paragraphs ago, where I said that this goes deeper? Let’s grab a shovel and dig a bit more.

People feel the need to be “wanted” and “included” in things. The reason that so many folks got riled up on the conversation was that they felt the smaller voices within Polytheism were being discounted or dismissed. Now, whether that’s the case or not – I cannot say for sure. However, Solo Polytheists – those that work alone, as I do, are seemingly left out of the conversation, simply because they practice alone. In practicing alone, the stigma is that these folks do not want to participate in building community. Which is not a true statement, in my mind, as everyone is part of the Community at large. They participate at a level that is comfortable for them. Now, when people hear “Community building” they think in terms of the physical, and that’s not always the case. There’s also “Community building” online, which is what I believe the My Polytheism project is promoting.

There were times, within the Facebook conversation that things got a little heated. I know I was in that boat. I said things a little stronger than I had intended to. That was the moment. Now, looking back on yesterday’s conversation, I can see that the lines from Gloria Estefan’s “But the Words Get in the Way” is somewhat suitable.

But the words get in the way
There’s so much I want to say

As I have noted, I’m not the best writer in the world. Sometimes, I write the wrong statement, or I don’t write enough to thoroughly explain myself. Sometimes I write a statement, thinking that others already understand where I am coming from. When I haven’t even realized that people who read me are not me. They might be starting in the conversation from a different place.

Or, maybe its not so much that there’s so much that we all want to say, but that there’s so much that we add to what we read and hear. In thinking back through all of this, sometimes its a matter of trying to hard to read between the lines and guess at some hidden meaning. Or if my perspective is not part of those represented, I feel slighted because I wasn’t represented in what was said, and assume that my perspective is being tossed on the ground and trampled into the dirt as being unworthy of the conversation. I will admit, right up front, that communication i not the easiest thing – particularly just the written word. I’m no wordsmith. To be honest, I’m not even a very good writer. In face-to-face discussion, I can see the person’s face, watch their body language, and get cues as to whether what I am saying is being received correctly. Or if the metaphor or analogy I am using as an example is coming across correctly. I don’t have that when I am writing. An excellent writer can write well enough to remove most doubt as to what is being said. And sometimes, we as readers, inject our own bias into what we read. All of which can garble the overall concept of what is being said.

I do realize that #MyPolytheism has its detractors. For whatever reason. You won’t find me among those. To me, it is a place where people can voice their perspective. Without judgment. Without being told that they are wrong. And hopefully, those that do come to read what is being said, do so with an open mind. Receptive to what is being said. And ready to ask questions relating to how and why – without injecting aspects of “that’s wrong because…” Or to be encouraging of what these individuals are doing. After all, it can be a scary thing to add your voice to the wider shouts. I applaud those folks who do so.

The fun thing, is that I learn more about my own relationship Crow, Coyote, and Fliodhas by seeing how others have their relationships with the Gods. With something like My Polytheism, I get the chance to experience – second-hand – the relationships that others have with the Gods. And in my opinion, that makes all of our experiences stronger, when we talk, communicate, and exchange ideas. No Gatekeepers are necessary.

Meditation and the Gods — Keeping Myself Sane in an Insane World

There has been a lot going on this week. Work-related stuff. Home-related stuff. Friends going through job issues. Other friends and family members in the middle of the Louisiana floods in Baton Rouge. All of it is enough to push one off kilter, and create a wobbly orbit. I know there have been times where I have walked out to the stone circle, looked up at the clouds in the sky, and wanted to shout “Why?”.

Two things have kept me on track, despite the shaky and bumpy ground all around me. First, has been my grounding exercises. Without these momentary points in time, where I stop, calm myself, find my center of balance, and reflect…I would likely have run down my street screaming to the skies above. Naked. Smeared in green jello. Reading a Playboy magazine. Ok. I took that cue from Edgar Friendly.  But you understand what I mean. Doing grounding meditations helped keep me in a mindset where I was able to find solutions, and work the problem. Rather than letting my emotions work me.

The second thing that kept me on track is the Goddess and Gods that I have cultivated a strong relationship. Yes, one of the calming influences for my daily Path are Fliodhas, Crow, and Coyote. Now, none of these three literally place a hand, claw or foot on me and whisper in my ear to “take it easy”. But for me, They are always there. Times may get rough (and they certainly will), times may get lean (and they certainly might), but this trio are always right there. An assuring presence that everything will eventually work out, provided I do the hard work to get it there.

See, the Gods and Goddesses can intervene, and They more than likely do in some other folks’ lives. In mine, this Trio provides me with the calm I need to find a solution, and do the work. This is how these three manifest Themselves in my life. And its a reciprocal relationship. When They have need of me to do something on Their behalf, They ask. I can always refuse. I haven’t, but I can if I wish to. And its not like They ask for something every five minutes. They don’t. They ask when They have need. Not when I feel like They have need. My relationship with Them is unique and individual. How Fliodhas, Crow, and Coyote work me is not necessarily the same as They would work with someone else. Nor should it be. When They ask me for something, its because it is something that I can do, not because its something They are asking everyone else to do as well.

For me, grounding, centering, meditation, and my individual connections with Fliodhas, Crow, and Coyote are the cornerstones to keeping my sanity in a world that gets turned upside down. There is no way that I am going to tell you that utilizing any of this will get the same results that I have. It took me a long time of experimenting with various techniques and concepts to get the meditation, grounding, and centering into something that works for me. But, I will say, its that kind of “hard work” — trying things, finding what works, removing what doesn’t — that’s what made it all eventually “click” for me. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Don’t be afraid to step outside the “normal” – particularly when the “normal” is no longer working for you.

Two pence.  Ya’ll have a good afternoon….  –T /|\