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: 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: 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: 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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tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Default)
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