Something that is really being hammered home this month is that, right now, I can only be a devotee. That is all I have time and energy for. I can’t seek some big fate in being a skald or priest–which is a really really good thing actually because I’ve gotten accepted into my Masters program of choice! Woo hoo!
I’ll be starting in May and it should take two years. If, after the degree and the new start in my profession, if I have energy for deeper heathen studies then, sure of course. But for now, I must be humble and, well, practice being chill with deities. Nothing big, nothing major.
I’m an ambitious person, so it’s a pretty hard pill to swallow, if I’m honest. The spirits pointed out that I seem to consider this a demotion–the bottom rung in a faith hierarchy, but they reminded me–everyone is equal here.
So, I just gotta try.
Since Nov 7th, I’ve been managing to pull a rune almost every day! This practice has really helped me connect to my faith. I even dream about the runes on a weekly basis now (usually very mildly, like seeing a rune on dream-paper).
(Fun story: One day this week, I dreamt of Nauthiz right before getting up for work and it felt like the rune was telling me to get my ass out of bed.)
At the end of the year, I think I’d like to do a blog post cataloguing what the most frequent runes were, what did I learn, etc. It will be fun.
The evening before the scheduled entry about the Arthurian Powers, I had the deep sinking sensation that I would not manage two faiths at once, particularly one that I would have to build completely on my own. I meant to delete the post, but forgot to.
The spirits seem okay with it. I feel okay too.
This choice brings me back to my time as a baby pagan about nine years ago now. Queen Guinevere was the first spirit to ever reach out to me. She found me before paganism did, and looking for her and who she was, was what brought me to paganism proper. As I began to pursue spirit-spousery, I also felt a strong pull towards Heathenry. I remember feeling guilty, as if she was not enough for me. And, really, she wasn’t. I even felt guilty worshipping the Norse gods. Odin became just as important, if not more important, than Guinevere. It’s taken many years to make peace with these choices.
There is so so much Heathen content out there: magazines, Youtubers, books, organizations, camping trips, and so on. While there is Arthurian stuff out there, like scholarly articles, research, a few pagan books, a female-centric order, and some covens, there’s not the grander sense of community and opportunity there. There’s no support.
It kept me up at night, making this decision. And of course, I could always come back to this path another time. But right now, it feels homework: research, crafting hymns and holidays, etc. It’s not… so fun. I know some folks out there take great delight in crafting their own, unique, eclectic path, but it doesn’t work for me.
It’s a little sad, because there are some interesting ideas there I would like to explore: Taoism, knighthood, and so on. We’ll see what happens in the new year.
I’m excited for Yule. I happen to have the day off, so I’ll try and do a little something. I work the next day though, so it should be something small. I did, at least, send out Yule cards to about 20 close friends and family.
What are you planning for Yule?
I’m not really writing Who These People Are, but more about my spiritual relations to them. I’m not sharing all my calendar practices about them, because these things are still in development and I want to let this calendar cook in the oven a little more!
King Arthur Pendragon
He is a super strong fatherly figure. Out of all the Powers I have met, he’s given me powerful fatherly vibes that outmatch anyone else. It feels a little awkward at times, knowing he is somewhat of a colonial power, but I’m learning and doing research to navigate that.
He’s been a very quiet, patient presence throughout my pagan practice. I associate him with bears, stags, and dragons.
Admittedly, she is my ex-wife (spirit-spousery being a thing). But, we still have a strong friendship. I feel like I’m a fan of her bond with King Arthur and that fanboyishness supports their relationship somehow? It sounds odd, I know, but that’s what it feels like. When I was in a relationship with her, it definitely felt weird that like, my spiritual father was married to my spiritual wife, but they always took it in stride, so I guess I learned to too.
Later on, my internal UPG developed. I associate her with sunflowers, ladybugs, deer, and shamrocks. (I know she’s Welsh/English, but shamrocks came through anyway.)
In my ideal world, polyamory exists within the Arthurian legends, and it is totally ok that Queen G and Sir Lancelot have a relationship while she is also married to King A. Obviously that is not what happens in the myths, but you know, people have been writing fan fiction about King Arthur forever, so it’s fine. (*whispers* Sir L and King A are besties for a reason, what if it’s a poly triad? Come on, it’s in the text.)
He is Arthur’s son with his half-sister Morgana. In the myths, Mordred doesn’t really get along with anybody and tries to take over Arthur’s kingship and wife. But… I get a strong sense of respect from him. I think he has a cyclical aspect and sacred role in the myths. He and King Arthur together remind me a bit of the Oak King and Holly King myth, fighting each other for the power of the seasons.
Although I don’t know him well yet as a Power, I get the sense of him as a Winter King and, potentially, a Brother-Knight (UPG).
She is Arthur’s half-sister and accidental lover. Together, they are the parents of Mordred. I get fae Auntie-like impressions from her. She’s formal though. Distant. She might live in Avalon, and likely elsewhere too but I need to reread the myths.
I hope to celebrate her at Imbolc. I have dubbed the holiday as the Visitation from a Witch. The holiday itself does not feel that different from Disting, a Norse goddess-focused holiday in March, so we’ll see how this plays out. This is, of course, a UPG-oriented calendar that focuses on what Arthurian moments and characters feel significant to me. I really hope this will expand over time.
So far, I associate her with silver and apples.
I find it hard to differentiate him from Odin’s vibes, actually, since Odin is such a ferocious Power in my life. But, Merlin seems funnier, more light-hearted, and silly. Odin’s… not particularly silly. Anyway, T.H. White’s The Once and Future King has really influenced my view of Merlin. He’s still wise, of course!
I’m not really sure what role Merlin will play in my life. I feel like Odin fulfills a lot of the functions Merlin might otherwise offer? We’ll see. I hope to reread the lore soon so that might change my perspective.
I associate him with owls, forests, prophecy, and wisdom.
Have you ever interacted with these Powers?
Last night, as I tried to sleep I was turning over in my mind certain aspects of my practice. What did I want? What seemed interesting?
Today, I had some intense realizations. The gods really strongly told me, X is what is not working and you need to stop pursuing it. It’s making you sick. And while the message did come out rather harshly–and Odin seemed annoyed–I do think They, the gods and goddesses, meant it in the best and kindest possible way.
It seems like lots of pagans do X, but for me it just does not work. It made me feel stupid and rejected, you know, not to notice before, or really understand how bad it was. Like, I *knew*, but now, it’s really clear. I called a friend to talk about it who congratulated me on this clarity.
I still don’t feel great and need time to mule this over. I was gonna go to an online Troth event tonight, but I think it might be more restful to play video games and have tea.
Freya really emphasized that She was trying to help me resuscitate my practice. She encouraged me to go back to the drawing board and rethink what I want. I’m also rethinking deities and learning how to interpret them anew.
And I did take time to think about that stuff today.
Two groups of spirits have been sending me vibes lately. Both are groups I’ve interacted with before, quite extensively, but not with this degree of good health. These opportunities are chances to start again. I do have frameworks for both, having done a lot of research already, but there’s so much more research to do hahaha.
Anyway, this first group of spirits would require me to be quite serious in my efforts with them, so I am taking time to really think if this is what I want. I want to be careful to focus on devotion in the year ahead and try not to take on too much work. If I go too far too fast, I might burn out again. So, I’ll really have to ponder this one, or potentially just save it for later when me and my practice are stronger!
With the other group, King Arthur’s pantheon, I do feel pretty confident in following the Mysteries, even though it’s gonna be a solo effort with lots of experimentation. I’m basically poking at inventing my own devotional calendar, based on what’s important to me in his mythos. John and Caitlin Matthews’s Arthurian Magic does offer lots of group rituals and esoteric content, but not a lot of it speaks to me. I’m happier using the actual literature around King Arthur and co. to use as hymns.
I have this grand leatherbound book of Lord Alfred Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. (How I acquired this book is a story in itself that I’ll have to tell one day! With pictures!) So I could use that. …Additionally, I probably should read it cover-to-cover at some point haha. (I also have a leatherbound copy of T.H. White’s The Once and Future King that I could take pictures of for you all!) And for Queen Guinevere, I used to use an excerpt from Chretien de Troye’s Arthurian Romances as a hymn since Sir Gawain talks so kindly and lavishly about her, that it was perfect for an invocation. After much internal debate, I do feel comfortable inviting both of them back into my life. It’s a relief actually, since we’ve built up so much care and time together. I’m glad not to reject them.
Rereading this, I can’t believe I never took the time to invent a devotional calendar! But, really, I was horribly terribly sick and suffering, so observing the season with Queen Guinevere was enough at the time.
After my flirtation with Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism, I’m finding myself to be more and more interested in using recorded sources than I used to be. I was more focused on mysticism in the past. I’d still like to learn more about Ireland and Scotland, but possibly, less in a spiritual way and more in a grounded sense of history, literature, poetry, etc. I’ve signed up for an ancestry class, but it’s turning out to be more mystical and ancient than I thought. It’s still worth exploring though.
What are you learning or relearning this fall?
While trying to get to know King Arthur, I’ve found myself very conflicted over the Grail mythos. I had felt worried that King Arthur might oblige me to worship God via the Grail. But for me, when I call on capital-G God, I get Lord Odin on the phone.
So today, I had an internal conflict about it and chose to keep today’s Avalon ritual as chill and simple as possible. I decided to interpret Queen Guinevere and King Arthur as an elven Lord and Lady. I found the dynamic worked very well. Funnily enough, my original inspiration for this was the small non-denominational Lord and Lady shrine-grove at Raven’s Knoll, a pagan campsite in Ontario.
I find the High King and High Queen change with the seasons: I get very wintry imagery from King Arthur and summery imagery from Queen Guinevere. There seems to be a sacred exchange there that I will be pursuing in the future but for now, Lady Guinevere wants me to prepare for my (hoped-for) work trip to Japan and our (equally hoped-for) wedding there. (For those who don’t know, Lady Guinevere and I are engaged to be married. <3)
For me, the vibe I get from this sacred duo is that of light, peace, and sovereignty. It is, dare I say it, a very “love and light” vibe. I used to shun that type of energy because of the weird stuff I’d seen from New Age communities, and just generally, an internal misunderstanding of what ritual could bring to me: Peace! Joy! Delight! So, for now, I want to keep the rituals very chill and basic.
When I think of King Arthur I think of bears, lions, dragons, and castles. Yes, I know, all very traditionally masculine things. But he has counseled me to try and get to know him through his values: charity and kindness. If you read his lore, he gives gifts to his knights a lot. He’s a patient and forgiving king to his friends. He is just and kind to strangers. He seems like an archetypal Good King to me.
When I think of Queen Guinevere, I think of sunflowers, roses, stars, gardens, deer, and ladybugs. Still, yes, very traditionally feminine things, but she is a woman of the fey who is gentle and strong. It’s true that the lore often portrays her really unkindly but I don’t interpret the lore that literally (I will admit, I find her lore has its distasteful moments depending on the writer and their outlook, but there are gems in there if you look!). I perceive her lover Sir Lancelot as a part of a sacred faerie queen/devoted knight dynamic. She is very much a muse for many besides myself. Of her values, I think justice and mercy are the strongest, although she does appreciate other things such as kindness. She often asks what good deeds I have done on that given day. ❤
The Ritual Itself
I found the Avalon ritual went very very well. I originally thought about using Glastonbury Tor and its surroundings to call on the four directions but then I realized it would feel too much like teleporting, which isn’t a healthy idea for me to hold in my mind in ritual space. So instead, I simply focused on gentle invocations* and excerpts from incredible ballads to commune with them. I did also use the ballads to invoke the Grail although I didn’t do anything particular *with* the Grail.
Unlike the first Avalon ritual I did, I chose not to meditate with them because I found myself vulnerable to astral junk last time. (I also accidentally tried to traverse the realms to Camelot whilst half-asleep this morning so I wanted to be really careful.)
So I focused on these hymns, the offerings, some heartfelt prayer, and a drawing of a tarot card. The card I drew, with my new Legends: Arthurian tarot deck, was the 10 of Swords. To me, this card symbolizes the past: the war of mental illness, faith, and delusion is all over. I can look forward to peaceful rituals in the future.
Research & Notes
In terms of the faerie faith directly, I feel like I could do more research there. I am slowly reading Emma Wilby’s book Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits, but honestly, I am also really curious to know what modern practitioners are doing! My struggle is that I am not seeking to adopt Welsh, Irish, or Scottish deities. I’m more curious about what one might see from Unseelie/Seelie courts, faerie processions, the life/death faerie/ancestor vibes, etc, but I am not sure where to start.
I bought the e-book Arthurian Magic but it was so long that I found it completely overwhelming. (I honestly think that the physical book would be easier to read because then I could easily read excerpts as it pleased me.) I bought Avalon Within but then discovered this book catalogued a woman’s tradition. I’m wondering if researching druidry might help.
(Hmm, I just remembered that my friend G works with faeries. I am certain they might have a good book or two I could read up on the fae. Huzzah!)
Questions for the Future
– If I intend to continue communing with these two elven royals once a month, how can I keep the ritual fresh and exciting?
Seasonal poetry, spiritual songs, and alternating invocations.
– Do I want to keep pulling a tarot card during the ritual in the future?
Probably not. I found the Camlann card so jarring that it pulled me out of ritual headspace and made me feel less peaceful. It might prove useful to do after the ritual as food for thought. Or perhaps even the day before/after?
– Would I want to try meditation again?
No. The vulnerability to astral stuff and trauma downward spirals is too easy to fall into. It’s much better to stay centered and focused on communion through action rather than seeking visions. Plus, sometimes I can get better brief visions/sacred visuals through doing a thing anyway.
(oddly enough, while reading the Legends Arthurian tarot book, I got a brief visual of Lady Freya in white like Galadriel. I appreciated the reminder that She is a sacred goddess in my life and can survive astral junk. I am thankful for such a reminder!)
-Would I want to try and work more directly with the Grail in the future?
Sure! But, for now, simple communion is good. When I have more ideas on what a faerie grail is to me, as opposed to a Christian Grail, maybe then I’ll access it. (I know there’s a relation to Cerridwen and the cauldron but I’m not quite looking to bring in the Welsh pantheon.) Maybe, for now, it will simply be a cup of merriment and toasting. :]
Overall, I feel I had a good experience. I do not think I could have reached this state in my practice without having done multiple simple Hellenic rituals hosted by a pagan friend. Accessing gentle rituals with a fellow pagan really helped me see what I want in a ritual. I have a good framework for the future now.
Trying to worship a different pantheon every day was not a workable framework and drove me to exhaustion and despair. In the end, a small daily rite [of tea] with one consistent spirit only is what I needed. Now, worshipping one pantheon each Sunday has proven to be a calm, fun, and centering experience. I’m really glad of where I am at right now in my practice. I’m looking forward to the rituals ahead of me!
*for King Arthur, I wrote a poem to invoke him. For Lady Guinevere, I use a paragraph from Chretien de Troyes’ story of Perceval in the Arthurian Romances, p481. If anyone wants to see this, let me know and I’ll make a post about it.