tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Default)
I have been in a state of spiritual turmoil for most of the last two years. From 2010 until the middle of 2012, I felt rather satisfied that I was on the path I was meant to walk, and it was called Asatru. Some practices, such as the average Asatru follower's obsession with war and battle and getting into Valhalla, didn't quite fit, but I told myself that I'd learn to like them (more or less).

In the middle of 2012, though, I began walking a path that relied far too heavily upon what someone else told me was truth. The house of cards I'd built for my spirituality crumbled completely when I watched the second episode of the new Doctor Who run, in which the Doctor and Rose went to the literal end of the earch (the sun was about to consume it). I was forced to reconcile the idea of a god that could exist independent of the world on which it was created and found myself in such spiritually dangerous territory, that neither my Asatru mentor nor the new person could satisfy me. Ultimately, I buried my discomfort, because I wanted to return to how I felt before that revelation.

Months went by, where I was back to a nominal Asatru position, but the problem was still there. At Yule, it came to a head, and I walked out of my inter-faith coven/kindred/study group thing, and never went back. I even had people I'd known for years never speak to me again after that.

My carefully constructed facade crumbled again in early 2013, and I declared that I was an atheist instead. My spirit-brother disagreed, though, and said that wasn't for me. I hoped he was right, but I was still looking for some validation and verification for what I felt inside. I quit talking to the new person from 2012 for a few months. I did so mainly because I blamed her for my problems, but she was only evidence of the issue, not its cause.

I patched things up with her later, but I never quite found my pre-2012 spiritual footing again. I'd begun following some atheist Twitter accounts and Facebook groups, and when I saw things they posted, I was taken back to my feelings when watching that episode of Doctor Who.

I tried what I could bring myself to do (and not feel stupid with my new-found skepticism), such as lighting candles to Freyja, giving libations to Her, Her brother, and the other Aesir with whom I connected. (This touches on my obsession with having a "patron" God and Goddess, and how *THAT* negatively affected me even when the rest of my spiritual journey was on sure footing.) I have recently even begun wearing my hammer again, even though I no longer feel any kind of thrill when I put it on.

...and there you have it. I am trapped in a purgatory between full atheism and a wholly spiritual life with the Norse gods. I struggle with how to balance worshipping Them with utilizing my scientific skepticism, while trying to grow spiritually/mentally/emotionally/physically in an increastingly volatile world.

Recently, I've felt little nudges here and there. I don't know what to call them, and I am making a point to say that I am okay with that. These nudges are causing me to evaluate my spiritual choices for the last two years. I am starting over, in order to better examine these nudges. I am a pagan, at least insofar as I am a non-Christian earth worshipper. I place no burden or expectation on myself past that.

First thing on my To-Do List? Reading "Living with a Wild God", because my sister highly recommended it, and because she feels it might help me in my current frame of mind.

I anticipate posting my observations in here as I read through the book. I hope to have something of a solid foundation established by June 21, because I'd been feeling like that's an important date for about a month now. Wish me luck!
tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Art (Hallman) - Runesword)
“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep...that have taken hold.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


I sit here, at almost 11pm on the night of April 5, and though I am writing this post, I find that I am not entirely sure why I felt compelled to start it. I could come up with any number of reasons, but it is ultimately a direct result of one thing in particular. Today, I woke and cleaned my apartment. Now, those who visit will say that my place is never really messy (comparably; I still think it's filthy), but it's been lacking that special touch. I'd clean the kitchen, but leave the living room. I'd dust everything, but not put away my laundry.

My internet has been on the fritz for about a week or so, and hasn't been entirely reliable for at least a month now. I called a few days ago, and a service call was scheduled for this morning. Not wanting to give a bad impression (because I find it important to put my best foot forward, even with strangers I may never see again), I got a lot of things cleaned up and put away. I put away my dishes and ran more, cleaned my dirty laundry and put away the clean clothes, vacuumed, changed my bed sheets, dusted, and even put away all my toiletries in the bathroom.

The technician came by, determined that it was bad wiring from another tech's visit, and repaired it properly. My Internet connection was back in a way I haven't seen in literally weeks. I continued cleaning after he left, and was still doing so when Cynthia came by to introduce me to Julie, a woman she met at FoS last year. Julie is cool as hell, and if her husband, Travis, lives up to the hype, I'll have a new best friend in no time. :) I'm mostly facetious, but fantasy nerd plus metalhead plus alternatively religious all in one? That's a potent mix.

At any rate, they left, and I got back to doing simple things like keeping the laundry going. Meanwhile, I was burning some cedar incense and had my bedroom window open. The gentle coolness of a day in the mid-60s helped me relax, even when I got text messages from work, irritable about my failings from when I was there.* I dozed a bit while playing WoW for the first time in over a week, and finally made dinner. I watched some TV, and capped the night by watching "Man of Steel".

The whole evening, though, I felt a presence growing in the back of my mind. Far from being some malignant and evil presence, it was a feeling of rightness and order. I'd almost call it a sense of homecoming. It was a sense of belonging and relaxation capable of penetrating whatever negative emotions I may be feeling, swaddling me in a blanket of peace and contentment.

For the last month, you see, I've been stressing about my home living situation. I've known I need to move, but I couldn't find all the identification that I needed in order to proceed. Earlier this week, I called them and canceled my move-out. Then, work has been just busy enough to keep me rather emotionally worn out from dealing with it. At points in the last month, my apartment has been downright messy, and even when I could have, I chose to hide from my responsibility instead of facing it head on.

Coming back to today, I was struck by just how.. comfortable.. my apartment felt. It was more than that, though. It felt good in a way I've not felt from it in what seems like ages. It felt like home again. I know that likely sounds silly to anyone reading this, but I found that I could almost sob with relief at the feeling. I even rinsed my dishes and put them in the dishwasher (another first in the last couple of months) and am sipping water right now instead of drinking tea. Even discovering that my TARDIS mug was ruined by getting put in the dishwasher did little more than make me sigh in sadness that it was gone. I immediately recognized my luck that I still have a TARDIS, courtesy of Craig and his amazing way of working wood (TARDIS Prime rules).

Well, whatever the source, I'm not going to worry about it too much. I'm simply going to accept that I feel good in my place, and call it a night. This thread, at least, seems to have been mended, and I was able to find it again.


* - The first issue was that the Guest Care clerk was scheduled 10a-7p instead of 8a-5p. As I told the Accounting clerk, I know I said something about changing that shift to the person in question, but I could also have convinced myself I did say it, when I didn't really. The second issue was a question whether I replaced a shift for someone we knew had probably quit. I simply gave them one option, asked when I 'd have had a chance yesterday to do so, and told them that the option was my best idea, unless they knew something I didn't. I hate feeling guilty for things that are -- logically -- out of my hands.
tek2way: Endless - Death (Bachalo) (Endless - Death (Bachalo))
[Reposting from my WordPress (which is, itself, in a state of disuse, but that's neither here nor there for this post's purpose), as it occurs to me now, that this is a better forum for such a post. Don't skewer me too deeply on the content. I haven't completely reread it, and my bed is calling me back to dally away the early morning.

As of April 2017, moved to coincide with the date I actually wrote the entry.]

In Love with the Darkness
(originally posted March 12, 2014)

I have been in quite a funk for the last couple of days. You see, I don’t adjust well to Daylight Saving Time. It affects my mood in general, and I’ve been affected more than usual this year. However, that’s a post for another day.

Today, I went to see “300: Rise of an Empire” with a couple of friends. I almost didn’t go, and armed with the knowledge I have now, that would have been a tragic decision. You see, the movie was precisely what I needed to calm my nerves, with its sex, violence, and blood, all in glorious 3D. More than that, though, was the main character, Artemisia, played by Eva Green.

Her character was dark. That is, she was arguably Neutral Evil on the D&D scale. She had reasons for her personality, but that did nothing to lessen the cutthroat nature she exhibited. From the punishment she served onto a failing general to how she manipulated those around her, including a God-King, she was cold, calculating, menacing, and dangerous.

…and I was immediately taken with her.

Sure, she was quite beautiful, with her long black hair and piercing brown-eyed gaze, but it was her personality that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I found myself, to be brutally honest, turned on by her actions. Even in the scene in which she punished a failing general, I was trying to soak up everything about who she was. I realized I was brainstorming ideas to win her.

That revelation startled me. “I like nice girls,” I told myself, “not women this clearly bad for me.” I have long told myself that I want the woman who is a nice girl. Eowyn from Lord of the Rings, for example, may be a fighter, but she also firmly walks in the light. While I may be attracted to someone like Black Widow from the Avengers, I never really considered her someone with whom I’d desire a relationship.

Or do I? The women I’ve found myself most attracted to in my life were not “safe”. Of course, I’m referring to those few women in real life that I’ve become close to. My first girlfriend was nice to me, but had a wild streak that eventually caused our breakup. My love from NJ was a bad woman from start to finish. While my longest relationship with a woman wasn’t terribly dark, the circumstances surrounding our relationship (and who we had to keep in mind) were not all rainbows and unicorns. While I freely admit that I may be stretching the examples above just a bit, I also think that there may be a grain of truth within it, too.

No matter how small Artemisia would have made me feel, as long as she was there at the end of the day, I would have been more than happy with her. No, that’s not quite right, either. Honestly, I think that she echoes something within my own soul, that I normally keep on a tight rein, for fear that it would break free and chaos would ensue.

Tonight, though, I embraced that darkness, and I found that I liked it. I attempt to live virtuously, not for any deity figure, but because I believe that’s how I should live. Doing the right thing has ever been my driving force, but for a couple of hours this evening, I walked the other path. Even in the sex scene (it’s 300, does that really surprise you?), I found that I would love that kind of relationship. Harsh at times, violent at times, yet with a mutual desire and love that ties it all together and keeps it from being simply a lust-fueled physical affair. I recently even wrote a letter about a bad relationship I had, and in it, I was appalled at my ex’s suggestion that I was anything but a gentle, loving partner.

What I find particularly interesting about this seemingly-new discovery is that, while it may feel new, it probably isn’t. Death isn’t something that many would consider a good thing, yet I have felt an absolute love of Death – albeit as personified by Neil Gaiman in Sandman – for over 20 years now. In recent years, as I have explored my pagan side, I am smitten with Freya; however, not as her love and fertility aspect, but as the goddess of Death who gets choice of the slain before Odin. I fell in love with a Michael Whelan painting of Diana/Artemis (it’s only recently that I learned they are two distinct goddesses, so that one image continues to serve as representation for both in my mind), and male suitors of her, according to myth, did not fare well.

I’ve always thought about my ideal relationship as one in which I am provider and protector. It’s not out of some antiquated ideal, but it’s what I want to do for the one I give my heart. Tonight, though, I considered the possibility that my ideal may not need a protector; truthfully, she may be my protector. I considered the possibility that the gender-standard roles in a relationship are reversed, or at the very least, interwoven more than in a typical manner.

This is a lot for me to process tonight, and I decided to put it down on “paper” before I forget it, because I know this is just the first inkling of a much larger thought process. I’m sharing it on my WordPress mainly because I wanted to get it published somewhere there’s a chance someone will see it. I don’t know why, but I want to air these words with the universe.

If you are here from the Facebook link, you are in the same group that saw that letter about my ex from New Jersey. I apologize for the random, meandering way I wrote this, but as I like to say, flow-of-consciousness is important for puzzling out things like this.

tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Anime - Chibi Kenshin)
Tonight, I watched "Religulous", a documentary on religion by Bill Maher. Well, I watched it again. I first watched it a few years ago, as a DVD rental when I was still living with Charles. Of course, he watched it as well, and agreed with many of the points.

Now, I identify as a pagan (to facilitate discourse; I'm more accurately a Norse-style Saxon Heathen, with just a touch of interest in herb lore, divination, candle magic, and British Isles witchcraft), and Charles is a devout Christian.

I can appreciate wanting to find something in which to believe. Especially as one ages, the threat and doom of death grows ever larger and more real, and we as a society have conditioned ourselves to fear death as if it's this horrible monster, come to rob you of everything that makes you unique.

In my opinion, that couldn't be further from the truth. Even if you believe that death is truly the end of all things, and that there's nothing after, you're forgetting one particularly important detail: what you are doing on this planet while you are alive. No matter if you are a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew, a Wiccan, an atheist, an agnostic, a Buddhist, a Taoist, or a Jedi (I understand many of these begin to get into philosophies instead of religions, but I'm being very inclusive on purpose), the choices you make while you are living on this rock orbiting our insignificant main sequence star are what remain of you long after you are gone, no matter what you do otherwise. Your choices, even one as simple as speaking politely to everyone you have a chance to talk to when you leave your home, will have ripple effects that will spread far beyond your close group. The person who receives the benefit of your good decisions is just as likely to spread that good mood, as would one receives your discontent and anger.

So, back to the subject of religion. What is it about it that causes rational beings to go off the deep end? If someone heard some aspect of a religion in the context of mythology, would they still be so sure that it's literally true? Why are religious people so quick to violence when their faith is challenged?

...and here is where I dozed off, and lost my train of thought.

*sigh* I guess it's bedtime.
tek2way: Art - Handful of Stars (Art - Handful of Stars)
Last night, I watched "Mirror, Mirror", the 2012 movie about Snow White that starred Julia Roberts. During the ending credits, I was immediately taken by the song "I Believe in Love", sung by Snow White's actress, Lily Collins.

I hopped on iTunes, downloaded it to my iPhone, and began to loop it. For nearly an hour, from around 3-430 or so, I danced willy-nilly around my apartment. I am grateful for the ground floor unit for that reason. I felt almost trance-like when I was singing along with the chorus in my head: "I believe, I believe, I believe..." Twelve times before it said "in love". Listening to that song, fresh from watching the movie with an actress whose costuming and appearance are so closely connected to what I want to find in a soulmate, I almost felt like I was chanting an affirmation to Freyja that I had not given up on finding that love.

This feeling was so strong, that I actually lit my candles and turned off my artificial lights, and continued to dance, flail, spin, lip sync, sway, and step in time to the song. I looped it so many times, I literally lost count. I had poured an offering of Innis & Gunn beer as an offering to Heimdall, to watch over the mother of a friend. Partway through the dancing, I got the mental nudge/urge to share my Angry Orchard Elderflower Cider with Freyja. Grabbing a margarita goblet, I filled it up and placed it on my Freyja altar. I then gave myself up completely to the music and moment for almost an hour.

I finally began to wind down, and snuffed the candles on my Freyja altar (in my living room), and retreated to my bedroom, where my main altar was still lit. After a few more repetitions, I snuffed those candles and went to sleep.

I had no moments of startling clarity or insight. I just felt like I was supposed to be up and dancing/moving, and I felt like I was supposed to share the cider with Her. Does that make my experience less sincere or valid? Was I assuming it was Freyja, when it might have been some other deity? I often get hung up on questions like this. I have a problem with worrying that my path is "proper" or "valid" or even "real".

After talking to Kendra last week, I feel much better about my path not being quite a perfect fit for the name I use for it: Asatru/Heathen. Yet, when I have these moments that don't seem to appear in any kind of documented lore, I worry that I'm "doing it wrong."

If I am not "doing it wrong" (and I honestly am willing to accept that I'm not, even as I have to adjust my mind to that belief), then what did last night mean? It was such a surreal experience. I went to bed physically worn out and content mentally, yet I never really got the sensation that I truly grasped what it was I was supposed to. I felt some kind of close connection, but my own self-doubt and fears and skepticism kept me from identifying it more closely.

Thanks for reading. I am trying something new with this post: I'm posting it to Facebook under my "Pagan Friendly" filter, so those who know me there can view it too, if they wish. I'm not fishing for answers. I just feel that I should be sharing this, and I hate Facebook notes.
tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Default)

Today, Bradley Lea – my friend, my one-time coven brother who never considered that bond broken – passed into the arms of the Goddess. This is cold comfort for me, though, because I am selfish.

I am selfish because I want one more coven meeting where the women yell, "Bradley!"
I am selfish because I want one more opportunity to think, "damn, he DOES smell pretty."
I am selfish because I want to share one more beer with him.
I am selfish because I want just one more game of pool at Mug's.
I am selfish because I want to hear him call me "brother" one more time.
I am selfish because I want to see him riding up on his bike and know he's alright.

My grief is a very selfish thing. I didn't want him to die. I didn't want him to leave. I didn't want anything to change. Unfortunately, we do not get to pilot anyone else's ship.

--

We are the pilots of our own ships, and we are all plying the waters of the sea of life. Sometimes, the waters are calm and we cluster together for companionship with other ships. Other times, the waters are rough, and we cluster together even more.

The unavoidable and inescapable fact is that no two ships can ply the same course. Though both of our bows may point to the North Star, we follow slightly different courses. But that's okay. We are together, even if only side by side, even if only for a time, so we make the most of it.

We all eventually point our ship away from the fleet of our loved ones, and strike off to the unknown. Those still in the fleet shout in fear for us, thinking we are lost, but it is not us for whom they fear. They fear for themselves, that they will look up and find that they are all alone, without a fleet. However, they are not alone, for they are part of a limitless fleet of ships.

We, too, are not alone, even then. Eventually, the time will come for our Navigator to direct us to steer toward our destination. We have no reason to fear because our Navigator is with us, has always been with us, and will always be with us. Our Navigator has charted this course, and is there to help ease the final leg of our voyage.

--

I am selfish.

I wish that I didn't have to write this about a man I was proud to call friend. I wish that I didn't have to feel my own fear as I see his ship sailing over the horizon. I wish that I didn't have to accept that my fleet has shrunk by one.

However…

I am proud of the memories I have of Bradley. I am proud of the time I spent with him. I am proud to say that I knew a great man. For all of my grief at his passing, my memories are good memories, and they shine as a reflection of who he was. Bradley Lea was a great person, a living example of what we should strive to be in our own lives, and I will never forget him.

May his ship forever find fair skies and calm waters.

…and I will remember.

tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Default)

Today, Bradley Lea – my friend, my one-time coven brother who never considered that bond broken – passed into the arms of the Goddess. This is cold comfort for me, though, because I am selfish.

I am selfish because I want one more coven meeting where the women yell, "Bradley!"
I am selfish because I want one more opportunity to think, "damn, he DOES smell pretty."
I am selfish because I want to share one more beer with him.
I am selfish because I want just one more game of pool at Mug's.
I am selfish because I want to hear him call me "brother" one more time.
I am selfish because I want to see him riding up on his bike and know he's alright.

My grief is a very selfish thing. I didn't want him to die. I didn't want him to leave. I didn't want anything to change. Unfortunately, we do not get to pilot anyone else's ship.

--

We are the pilots of our own ships, and we are all plying the waters of the sea of life. Sometimes, the waters are calm and we cluster together for companionship with other ships. Other times, the waters are rough, and we cluster together even more.

The unavoidable and inescapable fact is that no two ships can ply the same course. Though both of our bows may point to the North Star, we follow slightly different courses. But that's okay. We are together, even if only side by side, even if only for a time, so we make the most of it.

We all eventually point our ship away from the fleet of our loved ones, and strike off to the unknown. Those still in the fleet shout in fear for us, thinking we are lost, but it is not us for whom they fear. They fear for themselves, that they will look up and find that they are all alone, without a fleet. However, they are not alone, for they are part of a limitless fleet of ships.

We, too, are not alone, even then. Eventually, the time will come for our Navigator to direct us to steer toward our destination. We have no reason to fear because our Navigator is with us, has always been with us, and will always be with us. Our Navigator has charted this course, and is there to help ease the final leg of our voyage.

--

I am selfish.

I wish that I didn't have to write this about a man I was proud to call friend. I wish that I didn't have to feel my own fear as I see his ship sailing over the horizon. I wish that I didn't have to accept that my fleet has shrunk by one.

However…

I am proud of the memories I have of Bradley. I am proud of the time I spent with him. I am proud to say that I knew a great man. For all of my grief at his passing, my memories are good memories, and they shine as a reflection of who he was. Bradley Lea was a great person, a living example of what we should strive to be in our own lives, and I will never forget him.

May his ship forever find fair skies and calm waters.

…and I will remember.

tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Default)
Today, I attended Summerland Grove's July church meeting, which was the third anniversary of the first time I attended the pagan church. Sadly, I was tired enough that I didn't think about that detail while I was there, but it's noteworthy nonetheless.

The topic for today's discussion was "patron deities". We didn't discuss much, but there was enough discussion that I heard the idea repeated that a patron deity is like a parent figure.

...parent figure?

I was a little too self-conscious to ask the question in the group, but "is that it?" Can that be the only possibility? A great deal of why I feel so much more solidly on my path this time was that I accepted that Freyja was my patron, but I also know that I don't look at her as a parental figure.

For twenty years now, I've dreamed of a beautiful girl. Months, and sometimes years, would go by without an appearance by her, but when she appeared, I always knew it was her. The first time, I went to a lodge that felt like it was someplace very important. Another time, I stepped into a room similar to a newpaper editor's office, and the dream went on without me while I spent time talking to my dream girl. Sporadically, I have been in a love affair with a woman unlike any I've ever met waking.

Well, the hypothesis that my dream girl is Freyja rings true in my head, and I embrace the idea wholeheartedly. Yet, how can she be a parent figure *and* my dream girl?

This conflict is seriously bugging me, and scares me a little bit. Am I investing too much into Freyja, because she isn't for me as a patron, or have I drastically misunderstood the nature of our relationship? The idea that my dream girl is just a fantasy upsets me every time I consider it. If Freyja isn't my dream girl, then who is?
tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Art (Unk.) - Sorrowful Knight)
Eight and a half years.

That's how long it has been since all of the crap that went down with "M" from New Jersey. For the record, her name is Michelle, and the last time I heard anything about her, she had moved to Tennessee. Hmph. Talk about rubbing salt in the wound.

Most of the entries from that time period are filtered to one group or another. The simple story is that Michelle began talking to me in October 2004, and made me feel like she was interested in me in no uncertain terms. Friends I talked to about her seemed sure she did. Over the next two months, she took advantage of my growing love for her to amuse herself. She would "punish" me by not talking to me on the phone, or by letting me see that she was sitting at her webcam, and chatting with others on MSN Messenger (but not me).

I almost drove to North Carolina to see her at Thanksgiving, because she was going to be there, visiting family. I was so sure that she felt the same that I was willing to do that, in a vehicle that was in need of repairs and tires. She sent a topless photo of her, and had me swear that I would tell no one about it, nor share it with anyone. Until this moment, I kept that promise, with the exception of only one other person. That other person is one of my best friends, and we discovered what happened when we finally met under a flag of truce to discuss things and compare notes.

I got my hands on a loan (that I couldn't afford), and used it to go see her, purchasing a plane ticket last minute and burning vacation time. The first night was fun, even though she brought her friend. Her friend left, and we were intimate. This was my first experience with a woman. Even then, right after it had occurred, the memory of what happened was a foggy haze.

The next day, she sent her friend over, because she claimed that she wanted me to hook up with her. When I delayed slightly in calling Michelle, she "punished" me again, by refusing to come see me. My memory that night was of laying in one of the two beds in the room, watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", and wishing that I would die in my sleep.

The next day, she arrived, and the night was magical. Despite all that bullshit she put me through the night before, I took her back without a second thought. We went to a nice Italian restaurant, and I was so in love that that memory -- to this day -- makes me feel a little soft-hearted. The way I felt, the way she looked, the ambience of the restaurant, the intimacy of our table; when I recall that night, I feel a little bit of what I felt then, and it cuts me so deeply to realize that I haven't had that since.

You see, that was my love story. That was the story of me, falling in love, completely innocent of what people can do in relationships to harm the other without using physical violence. I was prepared to move to New Jersey to be with her. I was prepared to sever a friendship I'd had for almost a decade, because I heard he was bothering her (she apparently was telling him the same about me). I wrote her poetry. I sent her flowers at random. I craved the moments when we could talk on the phone. I was blind to her manipulation, to her lies, to her way of treating me like shit and treating many of my friends the exact same as she treated me when she wasn't treating me like shit.

One day, several years ago, I walked out of a Cracker Barrel that was near where I worked at the time, and the way the sky looked, coupled with the unfamiliarity of the landscape (it was a place I didn't often go), made me remember New Jersey. The rest of my day was spent in a morbid depression. I think I even posted about it.

I said simple, not short.

Twice in the last two weeks, I spent nearly an hour each time, spilling my heart about random subjects. I always feel better when I'm done, and I feel like talking it out helped me immensely. Of course, I believe that I got nudges at times about the line of my talking.

Tonight, I began to talk to Freyja about it. I often talk to Her. I never ask anything of Her, except to listen to my words. I was struck by the appearance of the room. I had some Sarah Brightman/Josh Groban/Hayley Westenra playing, I was snuggled into my blankets, and I was turned to face my bedside table, on which I've placed a statue of Freyja (along with a piece of amber, a preserved rose from last year, and my Freyja oil, that I used to annoint the statue). The lava lamp was on, and casting its soft blue light on the walls, and I could see the outline of the statue without my glasses. All of those elements combined put me in a melancholy mood, and I thought, "I should imagine a place where I am away from it all, and in absolute love with someone."

...I immediately found myself thinking two words: New Jersey.

Over the next thirty minutes, I talked to Her about how the whole situation made me feel, what I thought of Michelle now, and how her actions have affected me ever since. I realized that I am scared. Before Michelle, I was afraid of rejection. After Michelle, I was more afraid that I would get into a relationship and get hurt the same way again. I mean, there was one night, when I thought I'd lost her, that I literally couldn't breathe when I tried to lay down to sleep. I was up for nearly two days.

Again, I had my nudges. I realized that I was blaming myself for how everything went down, when she willfully played with my emotions. Even if she thought it was a fun game, surely she realized that a person willing to fly nearly 2000 miles at a moment's notice was in it far deeper than a game. I was so happy when I stepped off the plane and saw her, and realized she was in front of me in the flesh.

I realized that blaming myself was the wrong direction to go. I hesitate to call it silly, because that's just more self-deprecation. I honestly feel a kind of pity for her, that she felt the need to manipulate no less than 3-4 people that fall. She deserved to be loved, too, and it's a shame that she didn't think so.

I also realized that I cannot fully excuse her actions. I can have pity for her, but I can certainly blame her. She willfully hurt me, and knew it would hurt me. She was the catalyst for the rift between my brother Aron and me, as he was apparently another of the 3-4. Unlike Scott, though, he wasn't interested in talking it out to compare notes. She accused me of horrible things, after the fact, to make herself look like the victim.

I have been scared of relationships for a long, long time. Since that fateful 2004 encounter, I have been the one to break things off, even if my passivity caused me to just avoid the person I was seeing. Once, when I was finally screwing up the courage to officially break it off, the woman chose to end it, and -- coward that I was (am?) -- I just let it go at that.

I want to get involved with a woman again. I want to have that soul-deep connection to another human being. I want to see someone, and know immediately that she is the woman I will grow old with. I crave that certainty. Yet, I know that no matter what I may feel about some woman I run into, the specter of being treated like shit -- I'll call it what it is: emotional abuse -- hangs around me, souring my feelings. When I was younger, when I saw a girl I liked, I'd eventually daydream about what it'd be like to live with her forever. I'd almost see the house/apartment. I'd imagine the children. Call it creepy if you want, but for me that daydream represented a blazing hope that I could have a lifelong love, that my parents didn't have.

I no longer daydream.

Almost. I have had two occurrences in which I daydreamed in the last couple of years. One was someone that I was so sure I'd have a meaningful relationship with, that I exited my comfort zone to pursue it. No, it isn't who you might think, and I will never identify who it is, nor will I give clues. The other person was a woman who cut my hair at Supercuts a few months back. She was a black woman with one of those wild-looking afros. She had light skin, and the feeling I got from her was California and modern living far away from the Bible Belt and Tennessee. I didn't daydream long, but I did. She felt... like someone I could live with forever.

This is a night of immense clarity, yet I know I have a long way yet to go before I can be comfortable dating. My own self-image stands in my way, but that is a fight for another night.



Freyja, Goddess of Love and Life. Lady of the Vanir. Bearer of Brisingamen. Mother of Hnoss and Gersemi. Odr's wife, who wept tears of gold.

Grant me the confidence I need in order that I may find the one whom I still seek, and let the time be right, that my story can have a happy ending.

Help me find myself, and I will walk proudly in the light. No longer will I hide my faith behind false assumptions. I will declare myself openly and publically to you. I will also burn the tangible memories of that time in a fire consecrated to you, and sacrifice a bottle of mead and a pork tenderloin in your name.

Before all the gods and by my hope of living and dying well, so do I swear it.




.
tek2way: Spirituality - Thor's Hammer (Spirituality - Thor's Hammer)
As I said last night, I am reading Travels Through Middle-Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan, by Alaric Albertsson. Tonight, I tackled the Weofod chapter. A weofod is basically a Saxon pagan's altar.

The author wisely indicated when he was going off personal gnosis, which I appreciated. That said, the description of a Saxon altar was a little "this is how it should be done, or you're doing it wrong." Oh, that's not to say that I threw the chapter out as worthless, but I question when he suggests that setting up the altar just so is necessary to show proper respect to the deities.

Even still, I did pick up some things that I could improve in my own practice.* First, I like his way of explaining a gift. Oh, I'm not saying that I had no clue or misunderstood how they worked, but I appreciated having the definition reinforced in my mind. I was mildly leery of his assertion that you shouldn't ask for something if you haven't been giving gifts, because that -- in my mind -- ties right into bribery or gifting with expectations of getting something in return, which he says is not the point. I agree it's not the point, and I do agree that it's bad form to go asking for more, more, more, without trying to maintain some kind of balance, but to say that your gods will not listen simply because you haven't given them a libation of mead or ale is harsh and misleading.

It made me think about what I do for my own practice, both now and before. Another point of his was that a weofod should be located in a central part of the home, unless it was strictly necessary for it to not be. He likened keeping a primary altar in a bedroom as sneaking a friend in and out of one's house. Speaking as someone who has his altar in his bedroom for the purpose of keeping his spirituality his own business, I take issue at the suggestion that I honor my gods less because they are in my room. Indeed, the knowledge that my altar is in the room in which I sleep actually makes me feel closer to my gods. I'm also far more honest in my bedroom, even when I live alone, than I am in a central location like a living room. All that said, I still may eventually move my altar back into the living room, but it will be because I feel that it's better out there, than because it's "the way it's supposed to be done if you respect your gods".

I questioned his suggestion that I should pick one -- and only one -- god to work with at first. He compared it to getting to know someone at a neighborhood barbecue versus visiting one neighbor at a time. I actually *do* like this comparison, and he made a point with me. However, as a polytheist (though "softer" than some of my friends), I find the idea of choosing one god to be odd. Of course, I have been very actively on this path, more or less, for three solid years now, so I'm hardly a wet-behind-the-ears baby pagan**.

Regardless, perhaps there is something with focusing on one god for a bit, to get to know them. This ties into his beliefs regarding how often to worship, and how to worship. He suggests that the altar should be somewhere that we are reminded frequently throughout the day about it. That is actually one thing I do like about having it in my living room. As for altar tools and items to have on the weofod, I understand that this is something of a "101" book, and some guiding is necessary. Also, I appreciated having an "outline" of things to consider. Oddly, my altar fits his criteria already, with the exception of my hammer (which is ABSOLUTELY appropriate, even if he failed to mention it). My candle images are my "weoh", or god images. Things like the Thor's Hammer bookmark, the raven and wolf miniatures, and the piece of amber are all associated with the gods on my altar/weofod, and are appropriate as a result. I have an offering bowl, though I rarely use it as such. I am far more likely to set a glass specifically on my altar to hold a god's libation, than use the generic bowl. I have it "just in case", but I have no compulsion to find a use for it often. (I'd likely use it -- and have used it -- for a food offering, but I rarely choose to offer food because of its nature to draw pests, and because if I throw too much food on the ground outside when I gift it, I might just get in trouble with my apartments.)

Now, I absolutely liked his point that there's no reason I couldn't have a deity-specific weofod. Obviously, my mind drifted directly to Freyja as the one for whom I'd like to do this. I would prefer to maintain some representation on my main altar for her, but this could perhaps be a nice use for my Idunna/Freyja statue (centerpiece to a goddess-specific altar).

Before spending time at the altar meditating or otherwise attempting to contact your deity, he suggested that you lay claim to the immediate area. His way of doing so is tied into the Norse method of house-claiming, in that you carry fire around the perimeter (though only the area instead of the property), and ask Thor (Thunor) to "ward this sacred space." I do like my hammer rite, frankly. :) Swing a big hammer, call on Thor at each cardinal point, and knowing that I'm protected by the Thunder God while I do what needs doing.

I appreciated his suggested turns of phrase for something like offering a libation to a deity. While he did emphasize that from the heart trumps pretty turn of phrase, I like the examples, because -- dammit -- I can turn a phrase if I put my mind to it.

He closes the chapter with what to expect when at your weofod, as well as how frequently to worship there. (He gets a little snarky here with the "or is this just a hobby?" comments, but I understand he means well.)

Out of everything that I picked up from this chapter, this is the part that made me think the most. You see, often all I do is light my candles and bask in the glow of my gods. I occasionally will leave libations for them. Rarely do I sit and meditate or spend time directly at the altar. While there isn't anything inherently wrong with what I've done, I had the distinct impression that my worship style was undisciplined, almost sloppy. I'm not saying that I should start spending an hour a day in front of it, offering libations and full ceremony, but I could definitely tighten up how I worship. I will think on specifics later, but what stands out immediately is spending time at my altar. Since Friday is associated with Frigga/Freyja, I could start spending time when I wake on Friday at my altar (since I'm usually off).

Interestingly, I was baptised Catholic back when I was about 5 years old. Scott Sumers suggested, half in jest and half seriously, that my affectation for candles as a means of worship stems from then. I think he may just have something of a point. It certainly may explain my desire for a set of prayer beads. :)

Well, it's ridiculously late, and I have work in the morning, so I better bring this to a close. As always, thoughts/comments are welcome, with the caveat that I prefer discourse to being told something. :)


* - Let's face it. I'm a Heathen (again). The doubts and fears that I mistook for atheism were just that: doubts and fears. I had to work past them, and either incorporate them or expunge them, in order to continue to grow spiritually. Now, whether I am a Saxon Heathen, a Germanic Heathen, or a Norse Heathen is still technically up for debate, though my British Isles heritage (from both sides of my family) indicates a distinct blood connection to Saxon Heathenry. Regardless, my choices are my choices.

** - That fact notwithstanding, I still absolutely have more to learn, and I am encouraged by this fact.




P.S. I was jotting down some thoughts elsewhere, when this part came to me. I am including it here, because it's relevant, but I am not asking for any interpretation. Thoughts on it are fine, as always, but I think this was one of those "shutting up and letting the gods speak" moments:

"I have made peace within myself regarding my spiritual path. My gods have welcomed me back, though I think it ranges from "relieved, with open arms" to "willing to listen, though not quite as close as before...yet". Freyja has accepted me back, and likely never went anywhere. Thor had my back no matter what, though I'm sure he's happier that I wear his hammer again. Odin will require some sweet-talking. He is not pleased, but neither is he angry, I feel. Freyr, as always, is aligned with his sister. Frigga feels like a mother, angry at what I did, understanding that I needed to do it, and grateful I have returned. Heimdall stands silently, watching as he always does, though I sense a hint of a smile turning up the corners of his mouth. Long has he watched me, and long will he yet continue to do so."
tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Default)
I really should already be in bed, but the gods (and my own sense of order) demanded that I clean my place first. Since I'm still up, I thought I'd share a couple of interesting thoughts regarding my (lack of) path.

As I mentioned before, I had a moment where I made a completely new altar while I was on vacation, and it felt right. I still have it up, and am pleased with it. However, something has changed in the month since I put it back up. I have moved the Celtic deity candles off of it. You see, having them there didn't feel "wrong", per se, but I felt like I was missing a point somewhere. One day, I was looking at my altar, and I was struck by the realization that the Celtic deities are tied to me by blood. That is, they are in my mother's heritage, and so they are in mine.

However, the Norse deities speak more loudly to me (metaphorically speaking, of course -- something about them feels more "right"). While I think both can lay a claim to me by heritage (maternal side is Scottish, Irish, German; paternal side is English, at the very least), I think my active decision to worship the Norse brought them to prominence.

Yes, I said "worship". While I am hedging my bets and refusing to classify what I am doing, I can at least say that I am not an atheist. In fact, my hypothesis about being one because of a fear of worshipping the wrong gods or doing it wrong, is probably pretty accurate, but I have more soul-searching to do before I say that is the case for sure. I do know that the idea of paying homage to the Norse deities brings me a feeling of happiness, even without any tangible results. Regardless of why I worship, or what deity I choose to worship, I gather a distinct sense of calm and peace from my choices, so I have chosen to not question it, at least until science can prove otherwise. (I remain a proud scientific skeptic. No, they aren't contradictory. If science disproves something my path believes, then I will alter my path accordingly. Questioning why is vital to our existence on this planet, and I don't intend to give that up for even a second.)

At any rate, I decided to move my Celtic deity candles to a new location, and make them part of my ancestor's altar. For the time being, that is back on the fireplace mantle as it was before, but I want to find a better permanent place. This feels very good, though, almost like I have figured at least one thing out.

Also, I have had a golden statue of what appears to be Idunna since May Day last year. I felt such an urge to get it last year that it was almost a moral imperative. Ricky even talked to Champagne about getting it after her tent was closed for the night. Last year, I said, "oh, that's not Idunna. It's Freyja," and I made it the centerpiece of my altar. Earlier this year, even when I was looking to put my altar back together, I said, "Oh, I was being silly. That couldn't be anyone but Idunna."

However, while doing some random research online, I discovered that Wagner blended the two goddesses together in his Ring Cycle. That is, while it's clearly Idunna, there is precedent for identifying it as Freyja instead of, or in addition to, Idunna. That settled in my mind in such a way that I would almost swear I "heard" a voice saying, "see? you weren't being silly."

Finally, I've begun reading Travels Through Middle-Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan, on Brian's suggestion, when he heard my description of my mental idyllic pagan experience (which is thus far, only in my head). While I still prefer the Scandinavian names to the Saxon names for the deities, this almost feels like a better fit. I'm Heathen, but I still acknowledge from where my heritage comes. Another interesting thing, at least to my mind? I flipped through to the list of deities it gave: Sunne, Mona, Eostre, Tiw, Woden, Frigge, Thunor, Hama, Freo, Ing Freo. Put another way: Sun, Moon, Ostara, Tyr, Odin, Frigga, Thor, Heimdall, Freyja, Freyr. From Odin onward, every one of those gods were ones I named specificially for my New Year's Eve ritual back in 2011-12, when I made a list of oaths. Meanwhile, Tyr was the first god I was drawn to. Fascinating coincidence, if coincidence it is. Sometimes, a duck is a duck, but this has me wondering, at least a little.

At any rate, I was working on this far longer than I expected to be doing so. I hope it clears up some questions, if you had them. I have far more I need to address in this and my other blogs, but this begged attention first. :)

Good night, all, and may you wake wiser, happier, and more alive than today...
tek2way: Nature - Lightning Storm (Nature - Lightning Storm)
As I've said in recent posts, I've been pretty much atheist for a while now, driven partially because of a very bad situation regarding one of my supposed patron gods and a girl who couldn't draw the proper line between teacher and student. Despite that, I have continued to subscribe to a British Druid's WordPress blog, because she isn't a complete nutcase. In fact, her posts frequently are insightful and helpful, even to one such as me.

On April 13, she pitched a book of someone that she knew: Judith O'Grady's Pagan Portals - God-Speaking. In the post, she said:
God Speaking tackles head on that problem about mental health versus religious experience. We live in a society where to hear voices, is to be crazy. Most Pagans sidle carefully around the subject, wanting to claim personal experience but at the same time not wanting to sound deranged. This book explores the issues in a witty and compelling way. Judith O’Grady is a person with a lot of valuable insight to share, and a really accessible writing style. She deserves and audience.
This intrigued me greatly. This might be the sort of thing to give me insight to be of help to Rick. At the very least, it might help explain what happened (maybe). So, I added it to my Amazon shopping cart, but didn't commit to buy it. After all, I'm atheist, so what use is there in buying yet another pagan book?

Well, my vacation began the first week of May, I wanted to order some Celestial Seasonings herbal tea, and it was only $7, so I decided to get it. When it came in, I was slightly disappointed to see that it was only 52 pages. Nevertheless, I decided to read it anyway. After all, if it wasn't very good, I'd be done with it by the time I realized it. :)

While the editing could have been better, and I'd like to have seen the concepts expanded a bit, it presented a very interesting take on the subject. I actually enjoyed it, and am grateful that it's so short, as I think it needs to be read multiple times to fully digest everything within.

When I finished it, I felt like something that had been missing was back. Oh, it wasn't back fully. It was more like, "hi, I'm here, but I'm knocking at the door and waiting for you to say come in." Still, I felt an oddly light sense of being, despite my "atheist/scientific skeptic" tendencies. Of course, the author is a scientist (biologist)/trance seer/Druid, and I even discovered that she is an animist, which I realize is very likely what I am for sure, regardless of other labels.

That night, while working on Robert Jordan's Towers of Midnight, I suddenly had an urge to rearrange the implements I had on my "not-altar" in my room. It took all of five minutes for me to decide that I needed to relocate the "not-altar" to my chest of drawers, and move the books to the bookshelf. I dug out the two boxes of pagan paraphenalia, and TWO HOURS LATER, I had a fully functional altar again.

By fully functional, I mean that I had my six deity candles (Odin, Thor, Freyja, Aine, Brigid, and the Morrigan), my green man oil burner, my wood chalice, my offering bowl, a wand, my rune-inscribed hammer, a steel athame, my pocket knife, a large key, a blank book with the seven-pointed star of the fey on the cover, and some various miscellaneous figurines and trinkets that I associate with my spirituality. This is more altar-like than I've had my altar in a long time.

I can't explain why I included the athame, but every time I tried to leave it off (telling myself that I just wanted it to balance the hammer), I kept thinking that I should put it on there anyway. I mean, I actually argued with myself over this. I think that it was because I received it as a gift from the aforementioned girl. During my argument, when I thought of this reason, I felt compelled to say, "She is no longer my teacher. She is no longer welcome to guide me spiritually. She can discuss things spiritual with me at some later time, but she does not get to guide me." I don't know what it was about that, but I felt better after saying it.

When it was complete, I lit my deity candles, got back in bed, and continued reading my book. Around 5am, I finally put out the candles and went to sleep.

The next day, I learned that this person said she needed to replace something that I know I was responsible for, and she tagged it "#endings #sacredspace". Could this be coincidence? Possibly. I don't know.

So where does this leave me? Not quite an atheist (being guided inexplicably to set up my altar again isn't necessarily divine guidance, but it also isn't necessarily NOT, either), not quite a pagan believer, still a scientific skeptic. The Norse pantheon still "feels" right to me, but I have to reexamine who I followed, and why. The Celtic deities on my altar also need to be researched more fully. I guess I should also see what I can dig up on "Diana", given my feelings about the Moon (and that image in particular).

Tonight, I actually wore my Yggdrasil pendant again. It felt like it was time to do so. I didn't question it, and I didn't parade it around, but I liked putting it on.

I don't anticipate being immediately back in the swing of things, but I think that my admission last time about being an atheist because I was feeling burned by my spirituality may not be too far off the mark, after all.
tek2way: Nature - Daylit Clouds (Nature - Daylit Clouds)
What am I? I ask this not because I feel hopeless. I ask it because I genuinely do not know with anything approaching certainty.

At times like this, I can almost envy Christians and Muslims. For them, the world is very black and white, and there is little debate about it. Of course, I cannot be okay with ignoring and even opposing scientific fact.

Science. Fact. Logic. Reason.

These are the things that have led me to this point. I feel a need for a spirituality, a path, a religion (if you will), but I cannot turn a blind eye to what science has learned. I cannot pretend that they aren't facts. I cannot ignore the logic they present. I cannot abandon reason for the nebulous quality of "faith".

I was a Christian for most of my early life. Then, I spent many years as a Christian in name, but I didn't go to church or do much to celebrate the holidays. Then, I seesawed back and forth about whether I was Christian, atheist, or something altogether. I finally settled on something altogether, and called myself Pagan. More specifically, I called myself Asatru/Heathen. I reconciled my faith with science, because I knew better than to believe that the creation myth of the Norse was literal. Truth be told, I simply didn't mix the two too much.

Then, I had a crisis of faith last year. Watching the second episode of the new Doctor Who series, I saw the end of the Earth. It jarred me in such a profound way, I had to talk to Brian and Cynthia about it. It wasn't that I saw the end of the world, but that my notions regarding the divinity in the universe were stood on their heads. How can the Aesir/Vanir be gods, when the universe outlives the world that gave them form?

If "Aesir" is a form worn by the universal deity, then does S/He (Deity) also wear "Olympian" and "Celtic"? Why use a specific form at all? Obviously, the best answer is that this universal deity wears whatever form would be best received and understood by those that Deity seeks to guide. Why wouldn't Deity give us this knowledge before we are born? Why are we born at all?

That episode left me with more questions than I could get answered. For a time, I accepted it. Then, I was led to believe that one of those forms with whom I was most comfortable had betrayed me. I won't get into the details here, but earlier this year, I found myself valuing science and fact, logic and reason again. I valued them far more than I had before.

Yet, I still sought some kind of answer for "Why?" I am not content not knowing any answer, much less this one. I cannot accept that some big old dude in the sky decided one day to make this place as a testing ground for all of us, but had to get his son/avatar to forgive our sins, which were rules he said we shouldn't break.

I have no illusions that I will ever get an answer. However, my ponderings tonight have led me to a strange hypothesis: My attachment to atheism stems from a fear of the path I was walking on before, brought about by the aforementioned betrayal. Part of me desperately wants to find that spiritual connection with Deity, but fears that doing so will just leave me deluded again. Yet, reconciling the two for a harmonius "compromise", for lack of a better word, seems to be beyond me currently.

I find myself drawn to various Deity images from various sources: Norse (Freyja, Thor, Odin), Celtic (Aine, The Morrigan, Brigid), Greco-Roman (Diana *IS* the Moon to me). Blending multiple pantheons is discouraged and looked at as insincere at best, except by those who also do so. This causes me a great deal of confusion, as I am Norse by choice/Germanic heritage, Celtic by blood, Greco-Roman through scholarship (first mythology I read, and I voraciously read everything I could get my hands on). Scholarship does matter, but it's more of one single image of Diana I saw that took my breath away. It, ironically, is in an astronomy book.

I also realized yesterday that I am absolutely an animist. Indeed, even the definition makes my realization obvious: "the belief that natural objects, natural phenomena, and the universe itself possess souls." That explains a lot, in a way. I mean, when I destroyed my skillet last year, I wasn't just wantonly destroying it. I was destroying it specifically to cause it pain, because of the pain it was causing me. Some would just call that crazy, but it just makes sense to me.

I can feel the souls at times. Oh, not as anything seriously meaningful, but I occasionally get a sense of something near. I can't define it, but it's there nonetheless.

Well, it's late, and I've put a lot of words down. I should sleep so I can be ready to work tomorrow. I have a full day ahead.

P.S. I was struck by the urge to post this, because a good Heathen friend is coming into town on Friday. A Lokean, Justin is someone from the "other" side of my pagan/atheist schism. Something tells me that I need to find time to talk to him. Crazy is as crazy does, eh? :)
tek2way: Endless - Destiny (Endless - Destiny)
I have been using my tendency to type things out as a means of addressing things that bother me. Furthermore, I don't share these insights with anyone that I know. The result has been quite interesting.

Shadow work, even as a Skeptic*, is intense and dark and scary. I had no fucking idea how dark it could truly get. Being able to talk to myself with no filters, I've seen a side of myself that I'd have denied existed a year ago.

All the same, I always feel better after I've gotten one of those "letters to myself" out. I can genuinely tell that I've unloaded something that I must unload, even if I don't fully unload it. Just the act of attempting to speak about it without reservation is healing.

I had another such episode today. In the aftermath, I feel so much better. I wouldn't say I was "happy" now; however, I feel like I understand myself a little better. To say that helps is almost an understatement.

Now, to see what else I have bouncing around in my mind...


* -- I like this word for what I am, moreso than "Atheist" or "Humanist". It implies I question everything, which is true, but doesn't lock me into a particular "camp".
tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Sky - Storm)
I worked 10a-7p today. I felt that today was very fulfilling. I busted ass, and I felt like I made progress in making sure people realized that it's my front end, not theirs. Without even being a jerk about it, I made sure my accounting clerk took care of business, and kept everyone on-task. It was almost fun.

Of course, I also posted a clearly-leaning-paranoid post on my Facebook, about the Boston lockdown. I was troubled by what I saw in the post. My friends have been very vocal in their condemnation of the post. I am on the fence with it. I see the points it's trying to make, but I also know that it was going overboard with how it interpreted the actions of those involved. It isn't going to make me lose sleep, either. But I digress..

I got off work, and came home while listening to my Pandora "Cyberpunk Radio" station. Getting home, I was struck by the urge to sweep my porch and patio. I am currently sitting outside, typing this post up on my laptop as it's sitting on my patio table. While it's a little chilly, I am really enjoying the feeling of being outside. Another piece of my world, reorganized and rearranged.

The smell of cooking food on the air is absolutely distracting. It smells vaguely of barbecue, and my stomach rumbles to contemplate such a delightful meal. However, I am forced to wait on chicken to thaw, in order to make some chicken rotini alfredo. I may throw some fish sticks in the oven, and make the rotini tomorrow morning. I am hungry now.

All in all, though, today has been a very good day, and I'm ending it in high spirits. The only thing unusual for me is that I have no desire to watch my DVR'd Doctor Who, Orphan Black, Game of Thrones, or Vikings. I also have no motivation to hop on WoW tonight. I may watch a movie, perhaps, I may work on another blog post, or I may settle down to read more of The Gathering Storm.
tek2way: Space - Cheshire Moon (Space - Cheshire Moon)
I wish I understood just what the hell I have done to my spirituality.

I woke yesterday morning with a distinct feeling of being part of something bigger. I rose, lit my candles and oil burner, and pulled the sheets off my bed to wash. I didn't quite feel that connection, but I felt close to it, and I definitely was invigorated while I got things done.

Then Matt showed up, and Brian soon after. The three of us had a good time, talking and laughing about miscellaneous stuff. We got the idea to roll Grimm characters* so I could run them in a simple mini-game while our regular game was on hiatus for the week, due to a player being out of town and the GM visiting his nieces.

We went out for dinner with Leigh Ann and her friend. We came back and settled in to play, which we did until around 11pm. We were getting distracted more and more, and I gave them too many options, and they dug an epic hole for me. I finally confessed that I had no idea how to get them out of this in one game, and suggested that we save it for another day.

We sat around and talked for a while then, and the conversation turned to religion. Deism was brought up, and how it worked. A comment about "what atheists believe" was mentioned, and Brian looked uncomfortable. He suggested that belief and faith were synonymous. However, I quickly countered that atheists believe "in what they can see, in science, in logic." Further, I said that belief and faith WERE distinct, even if they were closely related.

That kinda shut down the conversation, and it bugged me. Brian started dozing off on the couch, and eventually left. Matt followed suit immediately thereafter. I noticed that Brian simply offered me his hand, despite the fact that we have been hugging hello and goodbye for quite some time now. I figured that I must have upset him with my rebuttal, and texted an apology. He said that it was because he wasn't sure how I felt about a hug.

...what?

I understand that I have issues with touch with one person in particular, and that I tend to be somewhat standoffish in general, but THAT issue is borne out of an assumption/desire for more from the other party, while folks like Brian, Rick, and Charles are people that I trust, and who have earned my trust. His reply struck me as a sign that SOMETHING had now come between us. I indicated that he was one of my best friends, regardless of what I did or did not believe. How did he reply?

"Cool."

I understand that he was tired, and I reminded myself of this. However, I was tired, too, and it felt somewhat like a brushoff, especially after my comment. The only thing that was going through my head at this point was that I'd overshared, and I am NOT as close of a friend to him as he is to me.

This led me to a very unhappy self-examination, brought on in part because of my weariness. Despite my day starting spiritually, though in a shaky and purposefully undefined way, it ended with me all but vehemently defending atheism against one of the people I most respect. I don't want to be an atheist. I want to believe that something started all of this. To imagine that all of this spontaneously spun out of nothing, with NO outside intervention, bothers me so innately that it gives me a headache to dissect it too far**.

On the other hand, there are things I'm seemingly expected to accept when I am following a spiritual/religious path, like magic (I believe it's there, but good gods, I don't believe that humans can manipulate it the way some claim to), Travelling (No... Just no), that the gods made the world (take your pick of pantheon or solo), that those gods/God can touch and affect the physical world and for some reason want to, that what I am doing is clearly far more important than another follower on the other side of the planet, that the gods/God somehow knows all things at once and willingly carries it out for all, that there's a divine plan. So many conflicts of logic, and I'm expected to buy into many, if not all, of them?

I have got to find some kind of balance between my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual sides, before I come unravelled.


* - Think D&D meets fairy tales, with the heroes being KIDS. It's massively entertaining. I'd imagine it'd be even MORE fun if I remembered all the rules (9 years is a long time).
** - Though, Newton's Laws of Motion actually tend to justify a higher power to me, as the idea of the Big Bang happening spontaneously seems to go against these Laws. You could delve deeper, and suggest that we are in some unknown iteration of the universe, and that the old universe collapsing was the external force for this universe. However, Hawking has refuted that as a possibility. I might have to do some reading.
tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Art (Whelan) - Verge)
I have found, in the past couple of days, that I am regaining interest in writing in my blogs. Coincidentally, this corresponds with a decreased presence on Facebook and even Twitter. I have even been spending less time on World of Warcraft. The interactions with other people I've had have -- in general -- focused on interpersonal relationships that I have, both personal and professional.

This focus on writing something daily used to help me get through the day. Back when I first joined LJ (Aug 2002), I posted multiple times a day. Sure, some of them were memes of some flavor or another (back then, quizzes were huge), but many of them detailed my day-to-day life. Friends of friends found me, and we shared our thoughts on each others' pages.

Then came "social media". I resisted it for a long time, pointedly refusing to sign up for MySpace until early 2008. I finally signed up for Facebook back in early 2009, I think, and Twitter in mid-2009. Both services made posting to your account exceptionally easy. LJ, by contrast, still seemed to lend itself to posts of substance (grammatically speaking, even if the topics weren't). Slowly, surely, it became "easier" to post on Facebook or Twitter. Nevermind that saying it was easier was a cop-out. There were apps for phones and the home page asked "how are you doing?".

I've tried different spins on rekindling my excitement for posting in my blog. I branched out from LJ to other services, most notably a WordPress journal that highlights my creative ventures (it, too, has sat unused for months). Through it all, though, I was trying to share back to my Facebook and Twitter accounts. This entry will still post to Twitter, only because I've not disconnected it yet. By doing so, though, I believe that I was trying too hard to adapt my writing tendency to the soundbites and snippits of modern social media.

So, in closing, I thoroughly enjoy posting in my blogs again, and also enjoy avoiding the vitriol that passes for political, religious, and social commentary on Facebook these days. I won't abandon any of my "presences" yet, but I am rather pleased at my renewed creative spark for writing, even if it's just to write about writing. :)
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tek2way: Endless - Destiny (Endless - Destiny)
Two days ago, I updated this journal for the first time in 18 months. Since then, I spent all afternoon yesterday, drinking with my buddy, Chuck, talking about all manner of things, from my life to his life to religion and spirituality to science and logic.

I didn't exactly wake with a hangover, but I somehow overworked my arms to the point that laying in bed made them hurt. As a result, I've been up and down today, resting as much as I could, trying to let them heal naturally, since I didn't want to take acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

I finally settled in for the night (or so I thought) and began reading more of The Gathering Storm (Wheel of Time). The chapters I covered were nothing particularly noteworthy. However, they shifted my consciousness to pondering some of the subject matter that I covered last night.

The first thing I realized was that maybe, just maybe, I could relax and not hold so much against others, especially when I recognize that I did similar myself when I was younger. That doesn't mean that things will just be automatically okay, but it does mean that there's no reason to nurture anger and hate over something stupid.

I also realized that I will *never* be completely comfortable acknowledging any kind of friendship on a deep, emotional level. PARTICIPATING in the friendship is one thing, but I have too many trust issues and let downs in my life to be comfortable with naming anything that touches that emotional level. I get along best with those who recognize the bond for what it is, and just share a nod with me in reference to it. We recognize it; we don't have to give it names and shit to make it count.

Some I've known have been very particular about wanting names for it all, and when they push, I shut it down. Sometimes, it's even negatively affected my relationship with them. I choose when to let someone through. It's not a test, or a matter of perseverance, or an obstacle to overcome. Telling me that opening up is important does *NO* good, because every person is different, and allowing someone to get that close should only be done with someone that I can truly trust. Look above. There aren't that many.

Of course, there are facets to the level of trust. I trust some with my complaints about work. I trust some with my relationship woes. I talk to some about my life and fears. Some, like Rick, are those with whom I know I can share pretty much anything. I've known Rick over two decades. That level of trust didn't occur overnight. To those who think they should be closer to me than they are, I say, "quit rushing it, or you risk making me doubt the trust I've already put in you."

Next, I got up and picked up around my place. It was far from a pig sty, but it also needed some TLC. While doing that, I was struck by the sensation that I needed to reclaim who I am from the mists of time. That, for whatever reason, how I define myself has been scattered over the preceding years. Some of those things probably needed to be cast aside, so that I may grow as the person I am now. Some of those things, though, are things I should never have allowed to slip away. I let things go because it seemed like a good idea at the time. I did because someone who probably meant well thought it was a good idea (and to which I agreed at the time). I gave up some things because of pressures from my job caused me to have to compartmentalize some things, so that I could be better at my job.

So, I lit the candles I have in my room, burned some incense, and just soaked in the vibe of my home which feels just slightly more like it should always have. I have no name for what this is, nor do I ascribe this feeling to some mystical being. I am quite deliberately choosing to NOT think about specifics.

...like people, the gods who want a relationship with me must earn my trust. I am sovereign unto myself, and answerable only to myself. The universe itself already Knows me and understands.
tek2way: Nature - Lightning Storm (Nature - Lightning Storm)
It has been a long, long time since I last posted in this journal. Yet, tonight, I am compelled to record an entry.

In the.. *checks* 18 months since I last posted, my spirituality has undergone a surprising amount of maturation and metamorphosis.

When I last posted in here, I was convinced that I was on the way to becoming a minister for Summerland Grove Pagan Church. I had settled myself upon a path that was definitely Heathen. I was living alone and was finally beginning to feel like I had things figured out.

...I also was starting a new job as a Customer Service Manager for a major grocery retailer. That affected me in ways I could not expect, and won't get into tonight.

In the last 18 months, I also found another person that I could ask for insights and help regarding my path. However, I also found that this same person was not the teacher I had assumed, and I had no choice but to move on (and that's all I'm going to say about that).

At the beginning of this year, I found myself in an absolutely alien, yet strangely familiar, position: I could best describe my path as "humanist" or "atheist". I wasn't depressed or angry, and I found that I valued the words of those such as Carl Sagan, Bill Nye, or Neil Tyson far more than any words of spirituality from one of my many books on paganism. I took down all of the pagan trappings in my home, and boxed them up in my closet.

To confuse matters further, though, I also went to our local spiritual supply house, and bought six candles. Three were for my existing Norse deities (Freyja, Odin, and Thor). The other three, however, were for Celtic deities I'd acknowledged, and paid tribute to, but never considered seriously (Aine, Brigid, and the Morrigan). I put these candles in my closet, and forgot about them for almost a month.

Then, I got them out, unpacked some of my altar trappings, and set up a small, mini-altar in my room. I did this very quietly, because it felt like the proper thing to do. I wouldn't even put a name on what I was doing. I just decided that doing so felt good. I left my horn and my hammer put away.

So, I'm in a curious crossroads. On the one hand, I am happily a humanist who values logic, reason, science, and fact. On the other, I feel that there is some kind of spirituality there for me, but it could be that it doesn't conform to anything I've come to expect. My first-sister, Jun, suggested that my spirituality might very well be for the universe itself, and that logic, reason, and fact are ways I show my devotion. Actually, she didn't say that last part, but it sure feels like how it'd work.

So, to sum it up:
  • I no longer identify as pagan currently.

  • I don't yet identify as atheist/humanist.

  • I no longer feel that the Norse deities, particularly Odin, Frigga, Freyja, Freyr, Thor, and Heimdall, are the best fit for me now. (Interesting choice for word instead of "anymore".)

  • I have felt a pull from the Celtic deities, particularly Aine, Brigid, and the Morrigan (as Macha, Anu, Badb), but still am unsure if they are the best fit for me, either.

  • Space/the Cosmos/the Universe, Logic/Reason/Fact, Science, and Music (of all things) are the things that motivate me in ways that are closest to the way I felt when I was a practicing pagan. Yet, they do not have deity associations, which confuses the issue for me.

  • I have a small mini-altar up with both Norse and Celtic deities.
When I know more, I'll share it here.

Addendum to those things which spiritually motivate me: Storms. Regardless of strength, I find storms to be so absolutely breathtakingly spiritual that I would go out more often, if my neighbors wouldn't think I was insane. :)
tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (D&D - DL - Tanis)
So, [livejournal.com profile] strieson has started his "Skulls & Shackles" campaign, and I believe that I'm taking to a N Half-Elf Storm Druid with the Mark of Storm (from Eberron) a lot easier than I originally thought possible. Of course, my character (Morogh Tiofin, loosely translated from Scottish Gaelic as "man of the stormy seas") refers to himself as a storm shaman, but that's beside the point.

The game was a fascinating one, in which we'd been shanghaied. My character, who grew up on the coast, realized that compliance until the time was right was the best way to survive the situation. As a result, he is poised to take control of the situation, should it become necessary. My only regret was that my attention was hard to hold, for some reason or another. Still, we made it to 10pm, which is a win in my book.

This brings me back around to what I want to do for my next game, or if I want to do a next game at all. Indeed, the "Reign of Winter" adventure path currently running in Paizo's Pathfinder looks enjoyable as hell, what with traveling all over, visiting far distant places, seeing places much closer to home, and interacting with lots of cold weather and monsters. The one thing that I cannot get over is the question that continually nudges me:

"Why not read the whole adventure path, and write a story based on it, instead of running it? You will have more control over the direction you wish to take the story, then."

This is a fascinating idea, but there is something fundamentally enjoyable about sitting down at a table with others and hammering out the story as we go. Perhaps, instead of wanting to make it a story, I want to find a different group of people with whom to play the adventure path?

I cannot be sure, but I only have two volumes of the adventure path so far. I have two sourcebooks to aid making the whole story more cohesive as well. I could very well surprise myself, but some part of me wants a new "cast" to share this story with.

...and to be perfectly honest, part of me wants to create a new story, as a story, with a cast of my own creation, for whoever chooses to go along with them.

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