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The story begins like this: someone is lost, someone finds a thing, not what they were looking for, but a thing they need.

You are wandering. Perhaps you are wandering in fact, on a hike, on vacation, a break from your everyday life. Perhaps you are wandering in spirit only, in the idle moments of your day, or when you ought to be focused on something else, something important. Perhaps the face you wear every day makes you feel trapped. So you wander outside of yourself for a bit, and this is when you meet him.

You meet him in the mountains. Or, you meet him at the crossroads, metaphorical or otherwise. You meet him in the flood of words and images at 2 am in the glow from your laptop when you drown yourself in media to quiet your brain in the hopes that you can sleep. You meet him in a song. You did not expect to meet him here, wherever here is.

“Who’s there?” you ask, and you hear only laughter, faintly, and perhaps the ringing of bells. You try to see his face, and immediately you feel that this task is insurmountable. He does not have a face, or he has a multitude. His face is hidden, it is visible only in profile or a sliver beneath a hood. You think he is wearing a hood. That might just be his head. You’re not sure where the horns come from. You don’t know if that’s fur or feathers and if it is growing or worn. You ask about these things, and there is more laughter. Perhaps that is the point. You ask if you may walk with him a while.

“What do you think you can give me?” he seems to ask, and you fumble through memories of texts, for approximations, correspondences, fragments gleaned from other faces, other cultural lenses that seem more familiar. More laughter. More songs, silly and resilient and lingering in your head long after, until you cannot remember why you are humming it at all. You struggle to see, to understand, to hold this image in your hand though it shifts and slips through your fingers like water. “Can’t you be still?” you wonder, and his image shivers, a brief rainstorm, a disrupted connection.

“No,” he says, “and neither can you.”

You frown, because you feel safe, and secure in your home. Or perhaps you don’t. Perhaps you are filled with fear, and the fear is what keeps you still. While you still seek to know him, you still ask questions, and you learn to expect an answer in the form of a riddle, or simply a series of more questions. You cast your net wider, you learn to ask different questions, you start to question yourself.

At some point in this process, you change. You move. You lose someone, you gain someone. You take stock of yourself and rebuild a home around what you see yourself to be, what you think you might be becoming. He shows you a smile, shows you a different face. You find photographs of foreign landscapes that feel like home. You learn a new skill, you think more seriously about wool than you ever thought anyone would need to. You find pictures of sheep in the mountains, curls dragging like cloaks, bells jingling in distant wet air. You see him. You learn the word ‘transhumance.’ Your world widens, and there, again, there is the rush of information, the many faces, this time of rock formations and high pastures and seasonal processions and masks and wild men.

“This is not all,” he says. “Not all and not always.”

You look at yourself. You look at mythology, languages, remembered bits from the ends of semesters long ago, after the exams when you learned little snippets of culture as an addendum, for fun. You read about names, familiar to the ear but just different enough to be confusing, to make you understand that these faces are different. You think about figures with multiple heads. You read about gender, and fluidity. You look at yourself. You start to combine the pieces of yourself into something else, something whole. You are not still. You are changing.

You are not the same person at work and at home. You wear multiple faces, you make youself invisible in some spaces, so that you may flourish elsewhere. You put on armor as you ride the bus across the river, made of water and clay and moss and hide and metal. You change your face with the seasons. You think about fiber, and seasonality, and use. You transcribe bawdy puns from spindle whorls. You wonder what he wants with you, why you ever met. You ask him this, in a quiet moment. “Why me?”

“Why not?” he answers. “You were looking, you were changing.”

“I’m no one,” you say, as you have said to yourself a thousand times before, only now you hear the echoing roar of the thing that you carry with you, that you will always carry, and you can see perhaps more clearly that this is not entirely true.

“You are enough,” he says. When the winter comes, he lets you borrow his cloak. You dream of a city buried under ice, traveleing a continent, pushed by the weight of glaciers. You are still struggling to understand. It is a monumental effort to make space and time for yourself in this world, let alone make space for a god. You learn to work with what you have.

You invite him to sit with you in quiet moments, while you spin, while you pour your tea. You offer your burgeoning skills, you watch the color change from delicate pink to a deep and earthy brown from infusion to infusion. The room smells of rich wet dirt and warm sweet corn. There is the clink of porcelain, and the dripping of water on wood. He sips the tea you share, and smiles.

“Why sheep, though?” you ask. It could have been any number of things, you think you know this now. Sometimes it is a hawk, or a lion, or rabbits. Often it is rabbits.

He sets the cup down with a gentle chime, the small clear ringing. “They got your attention,” he says. “It was a start.”
You offer him tea, or beer when you can, and when you can’t you feel a little guilty but you reserve space for yourself, first, because your first job is survival. There are always the stories, the places in your mind, the myths that were never written. When you can, you give him words and pictures. There is not a rush of information, not like it was at the start. It takes years, and you are still getting to know him. You are still changing. And it is enough.

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Seven Years Later…

or more like three. Either way, I have not had the capacity to write any reasonable amount of religious thoughts for a very long time, and I’m sort of able to do that now, so we’ll see. I am trying to not just keep my thoughts inside forever without sharing them. I have to believe that someone might actually want to read what I think about things.

Also, I might be getting better at, hm, more devotional writing, and I need a place to put it that isn’t the tumblr. so yes, I’m dusting this old blog off again. yaaaay okay that’s it for now.

Community and Devotion

Okay here’s a thing: These are words that are getting thrown around in the current debate and character assassination and mudslinging about Pop-Culture Paganism and its relationship to Traditional Paganism.

I have very purposely not gotten into this debate because for the most part it does not impact me at all. I don’t include any of these “new” gods derived from fiction in my religion, and my practice also does not involve a clear organizational structure. I’m like three houses down, peeking through my curtains to see what the neighbors are fighting about. Take this as your grain of salt right now.

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E is for Entropy

 

<Putting a Woo Alert up here because this has no historical basis whatsoever and yeah.>

 

So there have been a few instances in my life, few and far between, where I have felt the Presence of something other. I’ll get back to that in a minute.

 

Once upon a time, a few years ago when I was still active-ish on Gaia, I was trying to write a real outline of my path. I’ve tried this a few times and always failed. Maybe because I’m crap at making lists, or maybe because I’m not really all that orthodoxic so trying to codify what I believe is a pointless exercise since my experience in life leads me to believe new things all the time. Anyway. When trying to think of cosmology, how I feel about…the world, the universe, the nature of deities or the divine and the big why of it all…it gets too much for my head.

 

But there’s something, some Presence, that I can almost never feel directly but I occasionally get little glimpses of, and it’s shaped how I view the universe.

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D is for Depression (written Sunday, April 14, 2013)

 

This is the reason I have fallen so far behind on this project. In some ways it’s the reason I’ve always had trouble sticking with projects like these, even (especially) when there is no consequence for giving up, when the stress is all self-imposed.

 

Because no one can be harder on me than I already am on myself.

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C is for Continental, or the Hard Easy

One of my constant worries is whether I’m unconsciously drawn to areas of study that make me appear to be a special snowflake. I really, really do not want to be perceived in such a way. Maybe it’s an ongoing rebellion against all the teachers and family who told me I was “special” and “gifted” growing up. That enrivonment inflated my ego in some ways and also made me miserably insecure in others, and after getting smacked in the face with depression and anxiety and trying to come out of that, I’ve started to accept that actually I am fairly “normal” and that “special” is not necessarily anything I need to be striving towards.

And yet I always seem to make choices with my spirituality, with my hobbies, that make things difficult for myself. Which brings me to the title of this post!

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B is for Belenos

This post has literally gone through about eight incarnations, and it is one of the reasons I fell off the PBP wagon. I just could not write this one. The other main reason is depression but that is another letter and that post will come later!

Winter is hard. I have some seasonal depression problems, and one of the hardest things about having a solar deity as a central part of my path is that it’s really damn hard to feel a connection when everything is overcast all the time and the snow never melts and there is only a paltry fraction of light in a day!

But hey, now that it’s spring, it’s easier to think about getting back on track with life, with my mental health, and with devotions to Big B, as I call him.

I find it kind of interesting that for a deity who was pretty widely-attested in the Celtic world, there are basically two pagans I know of on the whole internet who worship him.

OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: If you work with Belenos (or one of the myriad of different spellings) in any capacity, let me know! I like talking and sharing ideas and experiences and also wow, it’s lonely!

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