Fallow Times.

*gestures awkwardly at spot where shrines used to be*

I preordered a book on Loki months ago and it’s published today. Do I buy it? Do I tell my local indie bookstore that I don’t want it anymore??

ugh.

Anyway, I’m mostly focusing on daily, mundane stuff these days. I’m trying to read more fiction and scifi, rather than fantasy. I’m trying to take a break from spiritual readings, although Martin Shaw’s Wolf Milk just came in the mail, so I’m arguing with that text a lot (and its blatant cultural appropriation).

I have a few books to pick up this week from the local bookstore, besides that Loki book. There’s a handbook on haiku, and a book on hallucations (so I can learn more about my illness!).

Lama Rod Owens’s book Love and Rage is coming out this month. It’s important to me to listen to a black man I consider a teacher, especially at a time like this where racism and white supremacy are raging it out in my neighbouring country, the US. He’s got a bunch of Instagram videos, if anyone is interested.

I sent down some cash to the Minnesota Freedom Fund to support bail for protestors.

Updates, Writing, Spirits, etc.

I got laid off today, thanks to coronavirus. I haven’t really told my friends yet, since I finish next Tuesday. I expect it will come up in DnD tomorrow though. Really, I am sure lots of people in the field of ESL are getting laid off. 

A part of me is thinking, yeah, use this time to write rune poems and make runic paintings but Jolene Dawe’s latest post has me wondering if I ought to do lighter tasks. I’ll see how things feel the first few days.

Although really, I’ll still work on drawing that Norse/Celtic knotwork style regardless because learning this style is teaching me about acquiring my own.

I’ve been working on a submission to the Troth’s Loki anthology. It’s being edited this weekend by an old university colleague (she’s getting paid–never fear!) and I’ll receive the edits on Monday. I’m pretty excited to do something for Loki.

I need to pick a pagan name though. My online kindred encouraged me not to rush, even though I’d already thought of a temporary name. They told me to take it slow, think on it, wait for the name to come. That seems sensible. I didn’t rush choosing my name as a trans guy, after all.

Better to really give it a think. Still, I might need a temporary name just to go with this anthology, if the name doesn’t arrive on time. ^^

Last weekend I asked one of my elders about books on ecstatic practice. She nudged me, you know, why do I want to know this stuff,  what was my goal, especially since I already seem to have a handle on the mild ecstatic practices that I do have already? 

I told her I didn’t know and that I would need to think of a goal.

So instead, I bought Felicia Day’s book on inspiration (“Embrace Your Weird”) which I think could be a lot more useful to me as an artist.

If anything though, I was debating buying a book on druidic awen to see what Celtic practices there are around inspiration. The druids work with that pretty regularly so I thought I might get some good ideas. 

When I talked more with L, my elder, I realized my concern was more about boundaries with spirits at bedtime. I often hallucinate at bedtime (and indeed, the MRI to examine this problem this coming Sunday got cancelled today) and find my boundaries with spirits to be thinner. L really frowned at me in concern because, as she said, she is REALLY STRICT with spirits about stuff like that, because sleep is important.

This week, as I was more attentive to these boundaries, I have a funny feeling that I might be getting

  1. residual deity energy in my aura bringing up unnecessary stuff
  2. my desires or impressions of Deity being reflected at me

Somewhere on the Magick from Scratch blog, the author writes about all this stuff. I’ll have to review it.

Anyway, I did like a check-in with myself at bedtime and realized that my boundaries were pretty loud and clear. I really just think I am floating a bit in residue, illusions, and desires. And I wanna be clear here: my hallucinations are obviously hallucinations and are manifestly different from spiritual visions. I know what’s what.

BUT, just to avoid tangled communications as I go to bed, it’d be useful to clear stuff up. I hope to have a bath later on this evening to clear myself up–although it’s late enough now that I might not and just do it tomorrow. Additionally, I am thinking I need to regularly sit down with Deity, at least once a week, and open up to Deity to be like ‘yo I am here, what’s up?” so that way there is a container for trance. 

That way, I don’t feel an impulse to trance at bedtime. Lying down definitely makes me receptive but I don’t want to do it at bedtime! I’m not sure where I can lie down to do this. Maybe I’ll get a meditation chair?

Oh yes, that too. Gently guided by Lama Rod’s teachings, I hope I can slooooowly learn to meditate again. His 7 Homecomings meditation taught me that I could try again. He’s doing a lot of online classes right now, so we’ll see how that goes.

(also shout-out to Jolene. I’ve been reading her stuff… probably since I was a newbie pagan 8 years ago. Her friendly supportive vibe has always encouraged me! Her wife, Beth, and her writing have also long encouraged me in my practice.)

 

Where I’m at now

Prompted by my good friend’s blog post “On discernment, discipline, mental illness, and witchcraft”, I thought I would update my blog.

First off, I want to say I was “B” in the above post. Osfairy, I hope you don’t feel guilty for accidentally prompting me to take a break! It was a healthy decision for me and I feel I have a lot more clarity. (And bitterness, but so it goes.)

They spoke of discipline:

Discipline takes on a weird taste when you have mental health issues, because laziness and discipline become weapons that partners, friends, family, society and establishments use to further punish and marginalize you.

Putting meditation discipline and the discipline of daily offerings into my life did me no good in the end. There were no fruits beyond stress and exhaustion. I was awfully hard on myself for not succeeding in these activities.

So… what’s the point of religion if not to bring joy, sanctuary, justice, and wisdom?

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–onwards to updates, then.

Well, having permanently broken things off with Queen Guinevere, she is no longer in my life.

I’ve put away my reduced heathen shrine. Everything is in boxes and bags in my closet.

I still get occasional nudges from spirits, but they are rare and infrequent compared to before.

I met with a local spirit worker to talk things out. She at first tried to convince me to relearn grounding, centering, and shielding since I am still having problems with basic basic stuff but then I told her that I don’t even want visions right now. I don’t really want to interact with that stuff. It’s too easy to see pretty lights, colours, and to hear what I want. Visions are too insular and, with the way I feel now, they’re sorta useless? Like, do visions really bring any good to my life?

That conversation with that spirit worker friend helped me see that if I had had a pagan teacher or elder to speak with from the very beginnings of my practice, much of my delusions and illness could have been avoided. I told her, well, were I to continue practicing now, I would ask her, but now it’s too late.

She invited me to a Solstice party regardless so we’ll see how I feel. I don’t have any goals or hopes to paganism right now.

Last Friday, after watching a beautiful choir performance, I stood in front of a fake tree of silver lights in a park grove surrounded by real trees. I promised myself that I would not go back to religion without a teacher.

This morning, as I tossed and turned from an upset stomach, I had a dream that I was given a gift of a Valknut ring that shone like a diamond.

 

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Source: https://silverviking.is/product/925-sterling-silver-valknut-icelandic-scandinavian-odin-viking-norse-ring/

I was either Told or my unconscious-mind told myself that I ought not give it away until I find a husband.

I’m not sure why I should dream of such a thing when I am questioning all my religious pursuits.

The one hope I do have is to go to a Buddhist temple to ask anew how to meditate, and what to do with visions whilst meditating. Buddhists are experts, after all, and have been meditating for thousands of years. Who better to ask? (Plus, despite my heathenry, I still find Buddhism super interesting.)

I did look at my agenda today though, and noticed a libation to Dionysos coming up. I felt pretty friendly about it, looking at my scribble. I think a group ritual can’t hurt, particularly because it doesn’t require me to meditate or seek visions in any way. Plus libating Dionysos would be appropriate.

*shrugs*

I’m not really sure what I want right now, beyond time and room to make art. That, at least, I can learn to give myself.

Taking a well-deserved break

For a good portion of this year, I thought I had half-elven fae astral children with Queen Guinevere. I told a few friends about it, who were willing to listen, if not believe.

Then, fortunately, I brought it up with a friend who is a witch. They pointed out to me that given that I did not consent to the births of these beings, nor did they seem to have a lot of consistency, these might be false spirits. Shaken but coherent, I agreed with them.

This friend also spoke of being cautious when it comes to making promises to spirits. They pointed out that, given that children are a huge responsibility, and making a (future) marriage oath to Lady Guinevere, would mean that my practice has no ABORT button.

While I was pretty calm during this conversation, when I got home, I pretty much immediately sat down with Lady Guinevere and told her I need to break up with her.

Things were quiet for a few days.

I sat with her today and realized that I can’t hear her very well because there is trust broken between us. I keep seeing visuals of a broken marriage ring. She seemed patient and encouraging however. She asked me to look at the situation through her eyes (so I mentally put on green-lensed glasses, as her eyes are green) and I saw a knight dragging a heavy weight. So, she seems very aware that I am struggling.

I don’t know if this break will be long term or short term. I do see now that I won’t be married to her for my whole life, and that one day, I’ll move onto something new.

I have a deep and abiding need to create art without devotional purpose. I want to make art for silliness and fun, rather than to uplift a deity or spirit.

I want to give myself several months off. Perhaps longer, if I need it. I want to commit myself to some kind of artistic practice. I just don’t know how to foster it yet. My friend M recommended the book The Artist’s Way to cultivate regular art, so we’ll see.

I am deeply reluctant to commit myself to daily meditation again. It’s a lot of visions, spirit presence, and bright colours. I am doubting that it is healthy. I talked to my online kindred, who agreed that meditation can actually be unhealthy for those who have experienced dissociation, delusions, intrusive thoughts, or visions (I don’t have all of these symptoms, just some).

I’ve actually thought about returning to a Buddhist space where I know they meditate for one hour. But I know that exposing myself to an hour’s worth of visions and messages would be so so harmful for me! Maybe meditation isn’t for everybody, y’all.

I have had the following vision a few times: a blue shirtless man is surrounded by a rainbow of colours. Sometimes, he has black light pouring into his ear. I wonder if I ought to paint this fellow, who is clearly a metaphor for my own experiences… and my insomnia actually…

I might continue to update here, but less about spirits, and more about me.

I plan to continue using tarot, my journal, and candles to create a sacred space for myself and my care routine. Beyond that… well, I hope to break through artist’s block so I can MAKE ART.

Wish me luck!

Life Planning

My life is at a peculiar standstill. I have half-finished projects, ideas, and plans everywhere. I am meeting up with a friend shortly to talk it out and decide what is best to pursue next.

When I think about everything at once, I freeze. I get overwhelmed. (As I was napping today, Lady Guinevere even recommended that I take a spa day. I got so excited about it that she began teasing me ^^ )

The gods and goddesses have been encouraging me to think about sustainability, seeds, and seasons. To think like a gardener! What to plant, where, when, etc.

It’s tough. I’m not sure how to do that yet. Lists can overwhelm me easily if I am not careful. I get stuck thinking “I have so much to do!” and then I just freeze.

So instead, let’s ponder an ideal spa day.

  • morning yoga
  • a nice breakfast
  • a massage
  • homemade lunch
  • a walk in the public gardens
  • time to cook in the evening
  • movie night!

Wow, I generated that list in, like, two minutes!

Perhaps I should give myself a day to do this. ^^

Ansuz

The spirits have been daring me and pushing me to think about and DO magic.

On Monday, after leaving an offering of thanks to Lord Odin, I impulsively pulled a rune for the week: Ansuz.

This rune is all about communication: with God, with self, with others. I have so many thoughts about Ansuz.

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Communication is my job. I am a teacher. I have to communicate grammar and vocabulary in the best way possible. I just started teaching a new class this week on cooking vocabulary. It is tough! There is so much kitchen jargon to learn. I want my students to succeed.

I got them to make food blogs this week. I am really hoping that it proves to be a successful activity that interests them. Anyway, back to Ansuz…

Miscommunications are another thing to think about: the pronunciation errors I correct at work, the religious delusions I used to experience, a recent technical error I made with Queen Guinevere… many miscommunications are made in ignorance.

Yesterday, a homophobic dude snarked at me. And. Well, that was just harrassment, but that too is a kind of Ansuz, albeit the dark underbelly of the rune. Humans can and often do spit words in anger, jealousy, fear, or hatred. It is a shame, really, that the guy could not appreciate a man in a skirt…

A day or two after I pulled the rune, Lady Freya dropped by with a vision of a rune bag and a note inside. It said, ‘Keep it up!’

It amused me because this is something I say to my students a lot, and, since Lady Freya is my teacher, She in turn said it to me. One is ever the student in life, eh…

Clearly, Lady Freya wants me to continue pulling weekly runes. 🙂

In terms of writing via communication, well, I have not been doing so well at keeping up specific poetry times with Lord Odin (When I do manage it, He gets coffee with whisky.) This is mostly because I am busy with work, transit, and dragonboating practice much of the time. I spend a lot of time preparing for my classes, especially with this new cooking class that I have never taught before. (Once I finish the class, I will have taught all possible advanced classes at this school. I am very much looking forward to going abroad to get new experiences and pushing my career further.)

On the other hand, I have been doing pretty well at writing poetry on the fly: on the bus, during my students exams, in spare moments, etc. So that is alright!

This week, I happily made the discovery of Japanese tankas: a 5-line poem form with the following syllable rule: 5-7-5-7-7. For some reason, I enjoy tankas better than haiku. I guess I need that 7-7 of extra space. So this discovery has been super fun. I spent some time at my favourite library’s national collection, reading poetry. Today, my local friend/bookstore owner tempted me to buy a collection of Japanese verse but I am going to sit on that desire for a bit til I catch up on my heathen reading.

I will admit that with me hoping to go traveling abroad, I am wondering if I ought to pause my Heathen Essentials course with the Troth. I have barely started but… honestly, I really need to focus on all the paperwork, doctor stuff, and prep for the trip. I need to make my shrines portable. I have a few loose ends on the legal aspects of my gender transition to tie up. It is stressful, and I want to focus on my career.

Thoughts for thinking… if anyone reading this has ever balanced taking witchy or pagan classes with life stuff, how did you do it?

In a similar vein, Lady Freya wants me to try teaching a class, on whatever magical subject I choose, but I work, I train, I try to keep up my art and my social life… I am sort of baffled as to when I will find the time. Perhaps I can do it after I make this second job application to Japan. That might be less stressful…

Oh! Additionally, the Numinous Tarot finally came in the mail. It might be nice to do a review of the deck sometime. It is a gorgeous deck that includes queers, disabled folk, and POC. It feels like a self-care deck to me. I relate to the imagery profoundly well which is a nice feeling. I have used it three times or so before. I am looking forward to using it again soon!

 

Being Sick at Mimir’s Well

Today, I did a tarot reading with Lord Odin, using the Odin’s Journey deck by Lars Im and Stephen Aitken. (This deck was a lucky $30 find several years ago.)

Themes:

  • Odin’s connections to others: Lady Frigga (a sacred bond I need to explore more), the Vanir, and Lord Thor
  • writing as orlog or fate
  • change: ignorance rising and falling, shifts in practice, ever-improving discernment
  • Svipall as a potentially new face of Lord Odin that I haven’t examined much yet

Something I specifically want to look at is Svipall and Mimir.

Svipall is Lord Odin’s face as a changing, illusory god who dons masks or glamours to trick individuals or to debate with them. I very much got a sense of “the God hidden behind the world”. This card appeared in conjunction with Mimir (and Gulveig). What does it mean to follow in His footsteps? These questions are things I want to bring with me in the future.

So I was pondering Mimir. What if Lord Odin’s sacrifice of His eye is a metaphor? What could this mean? And what does it mean in my life? Maybe Svipall learns to lose sight of some goals or dreams to access the greater vision that Mimir offers.

People often make remarks on how, when one is marked by Odin, threats to one’s eyes become more prominent in some way. I’m thinking about how I once heard of an Odinsman who wanted to deny Odin’s call. Apparently, he nearly lost an eye in some kind of accident. Now, I firmly believe that the gods do not injure us to get our attention. I think that’s some fucked up kind of thinking. However our disabilities and illnesses can bring us in greater sympathy to certain aspects or likenesses of God or Goddess.

For me, I am trying to get some kind of diagnosis or help around this optic nerve migraine thing that I seem to be having. My eye doctor think that this is the problem but is going to have me get a second opinion with a specialist. These migraines often cause me to see flashing lights, weird patterns, and tunnels of light when I close my eyes to sleep. I also get dizzy lying down. These symptoms make it very hard to sleep.

While I am not sacrificing my sleep nor my eyesight for any noble cause for greater knowledge or ultimate wisdom, there are things to be learned from sickness: abiding patience, an acceptance of illness (rather than fighting it), coping methods, and accepting help from others.

Generally, I like the idea of praying for the greater good of humanity–may my experiences here prevent others from suffering the same experiences. So, greater sympathy and empathy can come from suffering. This compassion isn’t a guarantee, but if you train yourself in it, you can do it.

I don’t want to say that I literally am at Mimir’s Well in any kind of astral sense, but as a hopeful abstract metaphor, I’d rather drink from the horn of knowledge available to me in this experience rather than spit it out in frustration or annoyance at being sick.

Winter Reflections 2018-2019

Winter was quite the ride.

The Spiritual

In January, I celebrated my seventh year as a pagan. I also did a small rite for Lord Thor that was very nice. That got the ball rolling for doing weekly rites. So far, I’ve done rites for: Thor (Jan), Ullr (Feb), and Skadi (March). (I was too low spoons//time to do one for Loki, so I wrote him an invocation instead which was just as important really.)

I’ve managed to do Hellenic at-home rites the day after group rites with my Hellenic friend. If I remember correctly… it was Hera (Jan), Aphrodite (Feb), and… I can’t remember March. Ares?

I’m still learning what the faerie faith will be with Queen Guinevere and King Arthur. I feel like my understanding of knighthood and kindness has deepened simultaneously.

I’m trying to establish Hindu worship in my home too but it’s slow going. I did manage a puja for Lakshmi. I’m not following the devotional calendar yet. I’m just trying to get a feel for the deities.

Work/Life

I ended up taking on a lot of work in the fall and it didn’t really let up until March. While money in the pocket was nice, I ended up feeling grumpy and drained a lot. Now that I think about it, Feb-March 2018 was excessively busy to the point of temper tantrums. So, this year was calmer.

I’ve learned a lot about what I call “red spoons” or offering someone a negative spoon/energy in order to get something done. It’s not worth the price because I feel like shit after. So, I am learning when to let up in classes, when to leave events earlier, or gently boot guests out the door.

I didn’t end up taking an art class this past winter. I wanted to be able to focus on work without my agenda being uber booked. Nor have I booked myself for an art class this spring. I feel rather regretful about it even though it is saving me a ton of money.

Oh wait–I did take a one day class in watercolours with my best friend in February. That was alright. I didn’t do as well as I thought I would, and I got frustrated. I am, perhaps, more suited to comics. But it was still fun! (My best friend decided she prefers acrylic after all.)

In February, I celebrated the winter holidays by partying at a museum and listening to indigenous people read short stories while folks got to draw on a table. It was great. My Dungeons and Dragons group started a Star Wars campaign too. I’m an alien! Yeah!

As of March, I’ve refused taking evening classes. I just can’t handle staying downtown all day in order to teach at night. It’s too stressful. While I am in a privileged position to refuse such work, I am picking up afternoon private classes.

At the end of March, I took up dragonboating. So I am choosing to prep for racing this summer. It’s an uneasy sacrifice for sure. I’m even scheduling my private classes around my dragonboating practices. I’ve never really done this before.

It feels like the 2 of Pentacles–you know? I’m trying to balance work/paddling/social life/sleep.

Additionally, this March, I bought myself an accordion! It’s a beautiful instrument that I got from a coworker who thought it needed a home with someone who would play it more. I haven’t been playing as often as I’d like but I am hoping with some more changes to my schedule, I can take time to play more. I am teaching myself via Youtube videos.

This spring, I hope to focus on picking up journalism again as a side gig. It would be nice to focus on writing again. After talking with Canadian poet Cat Kidd last year, I realized that teaching academic writing so regularly is actually taking away from my actual writing practice. She told me that she had to stop teaching in order to write more. I doubt it will come to that for me. Either way, I hope to set aside one day a week for writing. (And maybe learn to schedule in accordion practice too, eh?)

My Dungeons and Dragons group has now also started up a historical-Vikings DnD campaign so that’s really exciting. My character is based off of Egil Skallagrimsson, so I get to compose poems on the spot and read them at my gang. It’s super nerdy.

This April, I have already taken one trip to Boston and Salem. I had a wonderful time. In May and June, I already have plans to go camping at Raven’s Knoll. It feels great to travel after winter.

I’m excited for the flowers to bloom. I want to build a new balcony garden!