tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Default)
(I noticed the fact about 21 as I was looking for a title of the post, and well, 42 answers everything, so... :) )

Today is Litha. Some call it Midsummer (which it is), while some simply say it's the first day of Summer. All are correct, in their own fashion.

Around a fortnight back, I wrote a post where I explained where I was, and how I'd gotten there. It was a kind of "the state of me" post. For those who read it, it allowed them to see how I'd gotten where I am (conflicted almost-athiest with norse and celtic leanings, and a skeptic wanting desperately to believe in magic). For me, it gave me a chance to analyze my choices that brought me to this point, without the emotions roiling around when an event is fresh in my mind.

I ended that post by saying that I hoped to have something in mind by June 21, because that date has been feeling important to me for over a month now.

Well, it's just past 9pm local time on June 21, and I can sum up my day in less than five seconds: slept, read, slept, played WoW, ate, slept, read, baked, read, slept. I was going to list specifics, but after working on it for 10 minutes, I decided it doesn't really matter. I spent the day alone, slept when I needed to, and spent more time reading than I have in one day in several months.

I don't know much about what Litha means historically. One of my Norse friends just calls it "the barbecue of the gods", and many consider it an excuse to have a pool involved. While I seem to recall that my Norse friend said it was more like Beltaine, because of the shorter growing season, that doesn't work for someone living at the 35th parallel. I could have done some research on it, like I'd suggested in the previous post, but I didn't, because I am still uncertain about what my next step is.

This time of year has a lot of meaning for some reason that wasn't immediately clear when I started writing this post. Apparently, I tend to get things or do things around this time of year.

Four years ago, right around this date (I beleive it was June 23), I got my first hammer in the mail. It was from Alchemy Gothic. I thought it was nice, and a pretty cool hammer, though my Norse friend had a note of contempt in his voice for Alchemy Gothic. I should have ignored that, because it was MY hammer, for ME. I didn't, though, and the fact that I recall that detail four years later is really telling.

Three years ago, on this date, I ordered The Druidcraft Tarot. I like the deck, but I don't "feel" Tarot. I won't say I "feel" the Runes, either, but I get a much better feeling from them, perhaps because of my association with words over images. When I work with the Runes, I'm assembling words and sentences. (Whoa, cool. Didn't see that before I wrote that.)

Last year, I got my Freyja statue for my altar. I love that statue. At the time, I believed that I was fully in love with Freyja. Even now, I feel a sadness at the thought that those feelings were transient. It's simple to suggest that they aren't, if I'm questioning it, but I just don't know. There are varying degrees to which I could have misinterpreted things. It may not have been as a lover. It may have been another deity, and I just assumed it was Freyja (after all, what do I know about all this?). It may have just been my imagination, and I was just finding something to give me comfort in a world without gods.
One thing I did today, was actually something I did NOT do. I have not opened my door or any window since the last gamer left at 100am last night. Normally, I open it for a moment, just to literally stick my head outside and look around. I almost did, but felt an urge to stay sealed away.

As I was reading Dragons of Autumn Twilight, I felt something of a version of myself from years ago trying to return. Oh, with the old book and music, one could argue it was bound to happen, but I was struck by the realization that I could see and touch my more creative side that used to be much more open and exposed. I didn't immediately have a million ideas running through my head. Rather, I felt that I could do that, if I wanted it. I wanted to write a D&D campaign or standalone story. I saw how the novel broke down into a gaming session (and even noticed some glaring typos/misused words), even as I reveled in the walk down memory lane.

This feeling culminated in this post, as a way of chronicling (no pun intended) my day on this special day, opposite Yule (one of my favorite holidays). I don't quite feel different, nor would I really say I feel better. I just am, as I exist right now. I have joy at times. Other times, I have boundless sorrow.

I can say, though, that I am slowly discovering that I am not comfortable sharing anything that looks like love with anyone. My jokes, my wit, my nonchalance about emotions, my burying of emotions that aren't scary, all work together to protect me from being hurt again.

It has occurred to me that this probably goes back to my childhood. My mom left us for California. My father never was there emotionally (except, interestingly, in the ways I listed above). My aunt cut ties because of her husband. My first girlfriend (over the phone -- ha!) broke it off the second she thought I wasn't pretty. My first real girlfriend fucked around on me, for literally no reason but she liked an ex-boyfriend and felt like it. The girl I had a better connection with than any other in my life, was gone from my life after the one night we hung out and cilcked like peanut butter and jelly (and I never learned her name). The list goes on. Whenever I've stuck my neck out, I get it chopped off. After a time, I think that I shifted gears, and became the aggressor, so that at least *I* was the one doing the hurting. Yeah, that helped.
There is more I have yet to discover, but that's probably a post for another time.

Happy Midsummer Solstice, all.
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: 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: 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: 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. :)

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