One of the reasons why I contemplated leaving paganism last year was due to a strong sense that I had no elders or teachers. I promised myself that, if I were to return, I would have to find a teacher. And in a way, I did.
This year, I’ve really been taking the time to think about who my teachers and elders are.
There is Lama Rod Owens, a black queer Buddhist teacher, who teaches me about love, mindfulness, and community care. There is M, who might not consider himself my elder (as yet unconfirmed/does it need to be?) but is a lovely gay Hellenic pagan who has taught me a lot about weird, queer, and nerdy in the world. There is L, a medium, yoga teacher, and ancestor spirit worker, who guides me in energetic health and safe praxis.
L and I actually just spoke today where I confirmed with her that it was ok to think of her as my elder. She laughed, and made a comment that she kind of just has to accept that now, as a woman in her 40s. I’ve been in community with L since… 2013 where I met her at my very first heathen ritual and blot. Or it may have been the beginning of 2014. I am unsure. Anyhoo.
L and I were talking about a heathen ritual I want to make, loosely styled after Baldur’s death and rebirth. I want to do it to honour my past as a sick pagan who has now been reborn into a healthier practice. I want to emphasize here that I am technically still sick, but not in the dangerous way I was before. Now I am sick in a more physical way, but I have greater mental coherence and cognizance, and would not describe my practice as ailing or ill. So the ritual is going to take some brief time to be sad and remember the past, cocoon myself a bit, then, I think, do some sort of heathen baptismal thing as a rebirth/acceptance of my Norse faith.
I realize that could sound rather Christian to some folk, but I grew up Protestant, so if there are similarities, well, that’s ok with me. It’s my practice, for me.
Anyway, L encouraged me to reach out to heathen elders to ask for more info on Baldur, any UPG or SPG, and other lore that might aid me in this ritual. So now I am thinking, who are my heathen elders and guides? There’s two heathen priests I have done ritual with in my neighbouring province whom I could talk to. I don’t know either of them well but it could be a good moment to ask and have a touchstone for future questions.
There is one heathen priestess in my community here. She’s certainly taught me some things, and definitely knows her stuff, but we’ve never bonded as friends. And maybe that’s ok! L and I aren’t necessarily besties, but we certainly care about each other and inquire about each other’s lives. I guess it couldn’t hurt to ask this priestess. The worst that could happen, I think, is that she would direct me elsewhere. I’m shy to talk to her, but… it can’t be that bad!
Tyriel, over at RuneSecrets.com, now has a Discord group. I’ve been a part of it for a few months now. We all have some great chats! Tyriel has been kind, and is happy to educate. He seems to be plotting a rune course but I am unsure when that will happen. He’s definitely becoming a guide in my practice.
The last comment I want to make about teachers is this: I thought about taking some classes on tarot or psychic health classes or some such thing. I even looked into taking some online classes on those topics, but they’re pricey and, really, who knows if the teachers are good and true, or just hacks looking for money.
But you know what? That doesn’t interest me nearly as much as taking local art classes does. I’ve signed up for a calligraphy class in May, but given this coronavirus, I don’t know if that will happen or not. So, having art teachers is really good for me because much of my spiritual practice anyway, has become art.
I do want to be careful to ensure that I have “spiritual art time” and “fun art time”. L pointed out that if I only do spiritual art time, it will just feel like work. And that’s definitely something that helped in destroying my spirit spouse bond to Queen Guinevere. I had to let go of that whole path entirely to commit myself more deeply to my artistic practice as a whole.
So, ultimately, I do have teachers and elders! I was just too mad and hurt to see it before. But now I know the truth. 🙂