Ancestry

O Andraste, Protector of the People, I call to You

Around Christmastime, my neighbor knocked on my door and told me that he’d gotten two extra DNA kits in the mail from 23andMe, and asked if I wanted one. I said sure, and on a whim I decided to register the kit, set up an account, and send in a spit sample. Made sure to follow the instructions and all of that.

I got my results back, and they are as follows.

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This confirms what I found when I dug through my Ancestry family tree, that some sides of the family have been in the Americas since colonization began, almost, and other sides come much later. “Broadly Southern European” probably refers to my mother’s Czechoslovakian ancestors, of whom she is excessively proud. Finnish was a surprise to me at least, but I can suspect based on my general knowledge of history how that came about.

What is conspicuously absent based on all the crap my mother used to tell me when I was a kid, is Native American. She had this whole story that my father’s mother had an affair with a Native American and my father is the result, ergo I would also be Native American. Except I was white, and I soon figured my father’s persistent redness was sunburn and hard work out in the oilfield, not the mark of an illicit love affair with a non-white person (if she were right, there would be all kinds of benefits attached around this that she really, really wanted).

The weight of evidence is NOT on her side.

And there’s something else, too, that I think may lead me to understand why Andred chose me and adopted me. She is not a universal goddess, the way Isis or the Wiccan Goddess figure might be. She seems to have always been considered a “closer to home” protector of a certain group of people, in antiquity the Iceni tribe that inhabited southern Britain. There is even a forest in that region called Andredes Weald, “the forest of Andred.” Now it’s argued that this refers to “this forest is near a region the Romans called Anderida which is now Pevensey”, but I think there’s something else at play here, too. If you’ve been around a bit, you might guess what that is. There is even a story, I’m not sure how apocryphal, that captured enemies were sacrificed in this forest to Andred Herself.

I have, as far as I understand it, genetic evidence of my British ancestry, and it goes into the column suggesting ties to this region, hence why I was adopted, perhaps long before I was ever aware of it or had the capacity to be so. In American Gods, the gods followed their people into new lands, and a new “version” of them spawned there in that new soil, as opposed to the “original” native version that developed in a people’s original land. I’m not sure how much of that is actually at play, but I don’t think gods are in any way limited by geography. Instead, their only limitation is their personal interests, and this is why not all gods call all people, or can serve all people.

What is a Warrior?

There’s a stereotype in all kinds of science fiction, historical fiction, and other that touches on the subject of warriors. Usually it comes up in battle, if it’s a movie, or a culture, if it’s a series, but there’s a sort of simplification of the idea into the notion that a warrior is someone who picks fights and gains glory in the duel. It’s a very individualistic thing, to contrast with soldiers who are organized and use war as a means to an end, rather than the end itself.

But is it really so simple?

Perhaps let’s start with a question.

Can a warrior back away from a fight?

Yes. A combatant is defined by both fighting style and who they engage with, so it is perfectly acceptable for one to decide that one is not worth the fight, or that the killing of one individual over another would be dishonorable or “bad form”, to coin another phrase. (Consider the point made in the last post about choosing not to kill women and children.)

I stated then, as well, that T’zim-Sha’s judgment of Graham for choosing not to kill him was oversimplistic. The point still stands. While T’zim-Sha’s cheating is responsible for the death of Graham’s wife, and Graham therefore has every right to be mad at the guy and want revenge, the trouble with a revenge quest is that if it consumes you, you have nothing left once you succeed. T’zim-Sha judged Graham for choosing a different way, and looking for a third solution (I won’t discuss the Doctor’s morality here, because that is a hairy conversation that warrants its own post.) I posit that he is still a warrior because of this, despite that judgmental statement. He chose his battles (vs. T’zim-Sha who seems to want to fight everything and anything, and considers every kill a conquest.)

I mentioned in the past that war isn’t everything. There is not always a conflict. Sometimes you need to rest in the middle. Maybe that’s the winter season for you. (As Odin/Wednesday said in American Gods, a victory in winter is a dead victory because winter is the dead season.) Maybe you’re just exhausted and need to patch up your wounds and get back up the next morning after some rest and some food and go back to it. You don’t always defeat an enemy the first or the tenth or the one hundredth or even the thousandth attempt, but as you fight it, you learn its weaknesses, and its tactics, and how it thinks and operates. I know enough about my parents to know that they have yet to consider what they’ve done, and are waiting, perhaps impatiently, for me to come back begging for forgiveness. And in this knowledge I know the way to victory (especially as my win condition is isolation from them, so I can join the rest of the world).

That’s the thing. That’s the true condition of life. There is not always a battle. There is a leave, a time in between where you process the experience. Sometimes this doesn’t go well and you are shell-shocked. Maybe you don’t know how to fix it. That’s OK. A guy who read books and has a degree probably has an idea and can help you. No one lives in isolation, so it’s more than acceptable to ask for help. (There’s a minor attendant stereotype that warriors do everything themselves to the exclusion of their friends, but this would never work, especially in real life. Everyone who’s seen shit has blood brothers, that one set of guys who knows the experience, even if the details are different.)

I have also mentioned how there is more than one specific type of conflict. There are, most times, so many conflicts going on at once that the saying “choose your battles” exists as sage advice. It is impossible to be worried about all things at all times, but this does not make you less of a warrior if your focus is on, perhaps, child abuse or gang violence or sexual crimes. There are more than enough of us in this world for us to tackle all manner of issues, just by doing our own work. My work currently is getting right with myself. That, I believe, will realign me with the universe, and give me a proper foundation for the rest of my life. I’m a late bloomer in this respect, but I have come a long way in the last six years. I’m not the same person I was at the start of my time in college. That person is not the same as I was in high school, middle school, elementary school, daycare, or that little girl that got pitched into her room by a drunken mad man for reasons lost to time. I may think it’s unfair sometimes, but it falls on me to clean up the mess and create a home for myself. That’s a fight too, I think. I’m fighting myself and my past, and so far, I’m winning.

(Note: As I was writing bits of this, I was reading this article about love from the gods, written by a Morrighan devotee. I don’t know enough about Morrighan to compare Her to Andred, but my understanding of the latter is fairly similar. I am called to fight. It’s a matter of self-protection, -preservation, and the recovery of my sense of dignity and self-esteem. I can see the case being made that that is an aspect of sovereignty, of a very personal sort, and I also submit there are tribal elements to it, as well. She (Andred) views me as one of Her people, and so I am treated as such and called to act as such. And, it falls to me to work out what this means. The more I do, the closer we become.)

Rabbit Rabbit (A slightly organized stream of consciousness)

I heard from someone online that they post “rabbit rabbit” or a variant thereof on the first of every month for good luck. It may well be good luck, rabbits and hares are associated with such, but I also find myself reminded of Andred each time this comes up. Like a little regular reminder about how She watches over me, keeps tabs on me, and wants the best for me.

Due to recent events, I’m quite pleased to receive this reminder. I got into an altercation with my physical mother, who then decided to treat the incident as if I were being a rebellious teenager and not trying to defend myself. Both parents are in on the stupid game and have, among other things, two cars in their driveway and on their property that they do not have need for, but for whatever reason cannot or will not get rid of. Lately it gets me thinking about the saying, “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.” Text messages about how I need to do XYZ and ABC will happen by such and such date and I cannot do yada yada yada that read like bluster about how they are still in charge, and I’m being insolent, play into this theme as well, for now I’ve switched phone numbers and post office boxes, the access to which they will be denied.

I’ve also come to understand a couple of deep principles about interpersonal relations, which I suspect, but have yet to find evidence for, are bits and pieces from ancient codes for warriors, chivalric and otherwise. First is:

You are less of a man if you do not take up for your flesh and blood

The biggest problem I’ve had with my father the past several years is his inability to stick up for me, his actual daughter, and his constant siding with his second wife, my mother, despite her long string of abuses and crimes. So long she even has a record for some of them, despite denying fault to this day and perhaps to Judgment Day, as well. Yet, he quit drinking exclusively so she would not leave him, and either buries himself in work or simply decides that her word is law, in spite of his “man of the house” act.

The thing is, the person you marry is surprisingly little to do with you. It’s someone you fell in love with, and while that can be a wonderful thing, and a healthy couple will find a place for each other should need arise, unhealthy couples are different. When one person is abusive or neglectful or has their head in a bottle of booze, the other has to think about their children. And no, “staying together for the children” does not work in a case like this. The kids will grow up and wish you left. When it comes down to it, if you don’t choose your children over this crazy that you married, then you deserve the crazy.

It also ties into themes I’ve read about of protecting the innocent, and leaving alone those who cannot defend themselves. Hunters, alien and otherwise, do not kill offspring and females if they can help it, and warriors are often those who protect defenseless individuals from harm (or further harm, depending on the situation). If you knowingly stay in an unhealthy, abusive marriage with your children, rather than leave and take them with you, then, to coin a phrase, you are no warrior.

Image result for tim shaw doctor who

(Shameless Doctor Who plug because I can. Though let’s face it, he was oversimplistic to a fault when he dropped that line; Graham is a warrior of a different sort.)

The second aforementioned principle is:

The use of passive aggressive tactics makes you look like a wet blanket who is unable to handle any problems him/herself.

This in part developed as I processed a rather lengthy chunk of dialogue in a comic I’m reading, part of a larger debate on mankind and its relationship with nature, on Earth and otherwise. But I was able to relate this particular section to my own life and my own changing understanding. See, the point to this section was less that the “old ways” were a kind of idyllic pastoral Arcadia that we for whatever reason abandoned, but rather that we were as violent as ever, but more direct about it. The world was also violent and dangerous, and the measure of a person was how well they handled it.

People also, according to this, fought each other directly for standing, or to sort out disagreements. To quote: “But if I bust a guy’s chops he clearly understands that I don’t like what he’s doing.” These days, elaborated slightly earlier in the exchange, people are sneaky and underhanded, going around direct confrontation to get what they want because it’s seen as, perhaps, more “moral.” But human nature is human. I think there’s a good bit of truth to this. Civilization exists to minimize confrontation between individuals, and that actually might be a bad thing.

Without the avenue of confrontation, what’s left are passive aggressive tactics, or being honest and keeping your head down. The latter approach is fine, except for those with ambition. The former approach is where I, personally, have run into problems. Both of my parents are fond of passive aggression as a means to get what they want, instead of outright asking, demanding, or so on. It comes off confusing, and after a while of it, annoying and exceptionally stupid. What’s the point of expending effort being passive aggressive when first, it usually fails to get you what you want; second, it gets people mad at you; and third, it makes you look like someone uncomfortable with direct confrontation. Hitting someone you have power over is one thing, but when the playing field is level, the game has changed.

The differences between myself and my mother, and the way we both engage with the world, has left a few things up for debate between us. She likes it that way, but I don’t. I never have (not in grade school with a dumbass boy playing tag, and not now). Perhaps I live by older rules, taught by my True Mother as a way to properly live. I have no idea how I would fare in an older society run by them, but I would at least feel like I understand it.

On Jackalopes

A jackalope is a local legend where I’m from, and is said to be a jackrabbit with the horns of a pronghorn or antelope. The name is a portmanteau of “jackrabbit” and “antelope”, though a jackrabbit is another name for a hare, and a pronghorn is actually a type of deer. They are said to be the product of male hares and female antelope, and only mate with each other during lightning strikes (and also that their horns get in the way during the process, which implies that the female of the species also possesses them). Also called “the warrior rabbit” (though once again, a jackrabbit is not actually a rabbit), they are known to charge at people and take their legs out from under them, and gore them with the horns.

Can be lured with whiskey, and are exceptional mimics of human voices, a skill they use to elude capture.

I bring all this up because jackalopes came up in therapy today as a means for me to help process some of my baggage. I associate them with Andred in a roundabout way through Her association with hares and the relatedness of hares and jackalopes, and so during session they became Her symbol and Her weapon against my abusers. In my head, they swarmed and attacked through overwhelming, primarily. I’m sure they left a bloody mess behind, but I wasn’t around long enough to see it. That wasn’t the point of the exercise. But it did help me see the relatedness of the two, and bring Andred and I closer.

More on Jackalopes:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackalope

https://www.legendsofamerica.com/wy-jackalope/

Phases of the Moon

It struck me this past full moon that I could also feel Andred in this phase, but She was different. Usually I associate her with the energy and new beginnings of the waxing moon, and feel that as a protective force. Several days ago I also felt her, when the moon hangs in the sky with the sunset and it’s like both my gods are in the sky with me. I’m not sure what this force was, but as I think on it I would class it as “supportive”, perhaps, or “reassuring.”

It also reminds me that once I pondered what different phases of the moon actually meant if Andred was their Lady. Did they represent different aspects of Her? Or perhaps she is only Goddess of one phase of the moon (which is totally alright). Now I think it might be a little more complex than that, but I have yet to work out exactly how.

Connection

A ritual is supposed to be about connection.

Every month, when I notice the first hints of the crescent moon in the sky lagging behind the sun, I feel it. I feel Her. She is there, watching me and smiling. I like to think that the crescent itself is her smile.

She protected me once, in the cold winter as I tried to make it home from a test. I thanked Her. She has probably always protected me. She has guided me toward Her, at least, and has probably done a bunch of other things to look out for me.

She is the Goddess of Victory, after all.

Happy Easter

It is Easter, a holiday often compared to Ostara, and I’m aware of about a dozen and a half different pagans at any one time claiming that the Christians stole it. I’m not here for that debate. I’m here to offer a reflection (one of many I had today).

I celebrated Ostara weeks ago, when the first rain fell where I live (and, I should add, unusually early, see Some Thoughts…). So I have no worries about Easter vs Ostara. The energy of spring had bloomed weeks ago and been growing ever since, as far as I’ve been able to tell.

But that isn’t the reflection. The reflection is this: I have felt Andred’s influence most strongly in new and growing things: the first early days of spring, the newest of new crescent moons, and so forth. And then it wanes and yields to other influences. Spring will soon give way to summer, a reflection of the power of other gods. And this is completely OK. Each god has his or her time. No god can be powerful all the time (unless you believe in such a being, but that’s for another day). Energies change on all kinds of scales. And so it is here. Andred’s influence has waned, but that’s OK. Spring is blooming and Summer is coming.

More On War

The thing about Andred is, She is a goddess of war, but not all wars happen on battlefields foreign and domestic. Some wars are waged at home, between parents with children in the middle. Others are waged directly on the children themselves. Some are protests. Those can turn into actual wars, the way we traditionally picture them. Or they can not. Our government prefers the former, obviously.

And She supports all that. Like…I am fighting to keep myself in an abusive household, and She supports me. I, of course, am responsible for all my victories, because very few things can be placed directly at the feet of the gods, but She’s got my back and She gives me strength, and lets me know shit is gonna be OK and to keep going. She gives me the fire I need to keep moving forward to getting myself out (and I am pleased to report that that is going to happen sometime this year).

And this doesn’t just go for Andred. Consider all gods and goddesses of war, every single one that you can think of. Do you think they just consider war an act of the battlefield, between opposing armies? I don’t think so. When you live a do what you’ve gotta do life, it’s a fight, even if it doesn’t feel that way sometimes. It’s a fucking fight that you are fighting and losing is not an option.

On War

Andred isn’t just war. She isn’t just armed conflict or any kind of battle. She can be found in the rest that comes in the middle of the war, or after it, whether her “side” is victorious or not (I suspect she doesn’t just change sides willy-nilly, but instead protects and supports her people). And she hasn’t gone away when we stopped using spears and shields. Guns. Spies. Drones. She changes slightly based on the means of war, but war itself has not changed.

She is steadfast, principled. War has it’s place, but out of place it is a wild destructive force, like an out of control wildfire. This is not her domain. She seems to prefer war in its place, and all other times let there be peace. Rest. Heal your wounds. Think on what just happened. Negotiate the fallout. Establish treaties if necessary. Rearrange as needed. That, too, is necessary. There is no purpose to endless conflict. There is no need to continue when all arms should be laid down.

Look, I know I sound like some anti-war protester here, but this shit just came through me this morning and I think she wants it known. Alright?