Rabbit Rabbit 8-1: Augury

In Beckett’s post “Run, Rabbit, Run – An Augury for One” he puts forth the following theory: gods do not direct animals to perform certain portentous actions wherever humans happen to be able to witness. Gods direct humans to where portentous events are occurring so that we can witness them. There’s a big difference between the two. The first is human-centric, the second is not. The second regards humans as another “cog in the machine” of nature. Gods can direct animals, but direct us instead because it’s all the same and the outcome is more important.

This wasn’t intended to be a Rabbit Rabbit post. I’ve been sitting on the above paragraph for a couple of weeks, wondering where I was going to go with it.

Last night, I baked some bread. I offered a slice to the gods, and Andraste asked to hang onto it. Then, later today, I was asked to give it to the local river spirit (of a body of water I refuse to accept is a “creek”). I confess that my last interaction with this spirit was essentially asking a stranger for a favor. I knew what I had done and tried to keep radio silent on the matter. I’d succeeded for two years, and then came tonight.

Finding the right secluded spot away from people was a challenge provided by nature and complicated by people, with a live music event in the nearby park. Slight water logging and many bug bites later, I had found the spot. I sat, and I explained myself.

I said Andraste asked this of me. I thought about how best to disperse the bread (worried someone would notice). I apologized for the incident two years ago. I explained that I had become acquainted with the work of someone who taught me better, who was steering me toward right relationship with nature.

I think the river accepted. I know something between us mellowed out after the final bits of bread floated downriver. I talked very briefly about how everything was collapsing (in that, I tried my best in the world we live in and I disagreed, but was a cog in the machine, and the full weight of the year of our Lord 2020 has been brought to bear on capitalism). And I sat there for several minutes staring at the pool I had found in the river, between two bunches of dead trees and fallen branches.

I had wondered, but dared not disturb, what took shelter there.

And, for a little while, I was completely alone with the river, or so it seemed. And that was fine.

I’m recounting this to suggest that I had been guided there for that specific purpose. When I bid my farewells and began to feel more at peace, I remembered this post and what I had been working on. I suspect the thesis of Beckett’s piece is that humans can be guided the way we think animals are guided by the Gods, and it is probably easier for the Gods to guide us than to guide a multitude of players to compose a specific scene They want us to see. I think as a result, humans are guided more often than not (or whacked with the appropriate clue-by-four, as needed), but think too highly of our own agency and centrality in the world.

(Yes, we have agency, but no, the world does not revolve around us.)

And I will say, this is certainly the year of my changing pagan practice. I think the tree in my yard would agree.

I Write Science Fiction

For the past couple of months, I’ve been watching the world spiral out of control. Between the pandemic (and the economic strain it places especially on “essential” (read: poor) workers) and news of a host of other disasters, it was hard to think otherwise. And then a man was killed by cops, sparking protests and any and all efforts to shut those protests down.

I won’t write one of “those” posts (whatever you think “those” posts are). You can find much better elsewhere online. But I will say that I have been thinking about (and writing, and worldbuilding) the fact that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Why do we need cops? What are those shifty bastards good for that we can’t manage by ourselves? (And furthermore, why aren’t we managing those things ourselves? Why aren’t we protecting our children? Why aren’t we helping people out? Why did we decide this was OK?)

The more this goes on, the more I think it’s perfectly OK to collectively shame people into proper behavior. Not outmoded standards about how women should behave, of course. That’s bullshit. But the basics that we can all agree on, like “murder is bad” and “everyone is equal so treat them that way” and “don’t diddle kids” (yes, that last one needs to be stated). I know not everyone agrees on all of those, but plenty of decent people do. Hopefully critical mass.

We express the ideas we think about, and how we regard them, in fiction. This is the principle behind storytelling “karma”, that authors will punish specific actions to show their readers that a thing is not OK. Or do the reverse and reward some actions to provide a role model of sorts. This is where the “evil slutty woman” trope comes from, among a ton of others. And I think that principle can be put to good use. If the things we used to write as good were written as bad, and vice versa, and if we wrote those books and published those books, we could reach a few people. One or two of us might be bestsellers, or hit an equally big potential audience piggybacking off of something else. And there go the dominoes.

Write the book about someone outside “the box” (you know the one, labeled “Blank Slate” in big red Sharpie). Those things you see demonized elsewhere? Show they’re good. I know this has been said a LOT, a ridiculous amount, and it won’t directly counter the tide of every other bad message elsewhere in the world, but it’s a good place to start, and there needs to be a lot more books like it. And, if you have to, stand by your authorial choices. Don’t change your protagonist because the agent doesn’t like it.

On Cycles

History doesn’t repeat, but it often rhymes.

Unknown

As we know, this is a peculiar time to be alive. I don’t know about anyone else, but I find myself thinking things like “This must’ve been what it was like to live through the Black Death” or “…the Spanish Flu.” There’s a group of pagans, bloggers and otherwise, who have sensed for years the coming of dark times and Otherworldly beings. One suggests the latter at least is a cycle.

It’s as good a time as any to talk about cycles, I think.

According to the Llewellyn 2020 Sabbats Almanac, under the Cosmic Sway section for Ostara:

A new thirty-two year cycle started on January 12, 2020, with Saturn conjunct Pluto. Jupiter joins the fray on December 21, 2020. The Great Conjunction, as it is named, is associated with huge shakeups, politically and planetarily, literally and metaphorically. Nine US presidents have been killed, died of illness, or experienced an assassination attempt during a Great Conjunction. Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are also more common. The Great conjunction is all about destruction. To add more misery, the weather predictions for the winter this year are heavy snows brought on by a strong La Niña depression off the coast of Central and South Americas. The time for preparation is in the spring and summer. Prepare for a lack of food, water, and electricity during the winter months. Sow heavily in the garden this year, and sow often, taking advantage of the planting days. Can and dry and pickle and ferment; save all of the food if possible in case of a long, difficult winter. Stock up on firewood if that is an option, otherwise prepare for long power outages and lack of heat. Water is always the most important emergency provision, so store water, as well as gasoline for a generator. Don’t forget blankets, candles, and matches.

pg. 132

The Almanac was released in late 2019, before the coronavirus outbreak, during which many are already experiencing some of the things listed above (namely food shortages), and plenty not listed (shortages of things like cleaning supplies and toilet paper). If this winter is as bad as all that, then we should expect plenty of hoarding behavior then, as well.

I don’t understand astrology very well, I’ll be the first to admit, so I had to google “Saturn conjunct Pluto” to work out what that means. The most I’m able to parse out from the vague word salad of astrology-speak is that something big has begun either earlier this year or late last year, and will persist for quite a while. It would be easy to say that astrology predicted the coronavirus, but I won’t, because I’m probably wrong.

But this isn’t about coronavirus, at least, not entirely.

There’s something else at work here, and I think I’m finally beginning to see it (took me a while, eh?).

This brings me to the real reason for all this pondering.

Search “otherworld” on John Beckett’s blog (https://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett) and you will find posts about the glowing green bird and his theory that the Otherworld’s “proximity” (for want of a better word) to our world waxes and wanes throughout truly epic scales of time. I’m sure that’s possible, as everything else in nature works in cycles, from the movements of the planets down to a day, a year on Earth.

And speaking of Earth, I bring you Milankovitch Cycles (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles). These are a collection of long-range cycles the Earth goes through and what that means for the climate. For example, eccentricity (how close or far the Earth’s orbit is from “circular”) is, at last Wikipedia update, .017 and decreasing. This means seasonal changes are getting milder*. Axial tilt also changes, and is currently at 23.44 degrees. (I seriously hope you don’t need me to tell you how this affects Earth’s climate.)

*I will not be taking comments from people who want to use this to day humans didn’t affect the climate at all ever and therefore should let it work itself out.

Eccentricity runs on a roughly 100,000 year cycle that we seem to be roughly in the middle of. Axial tilt was max 8700 years ago and will be at its minimum 9800 years from now. We can speculate that “the time of gods walking among men” and other such things ended at roughly the dawn of human civilization (more or less, and accounting for regional variations), which was maybe sometime between these last two end points.

Now, cycles move independently of one another and sometimes line up with other cycles in interesting combinations. For example, the eccentricity cycle is an order of magnitude longer than the axial tilt cycle. Mercury retrograde happens at least once a year (and boy do I hear about it). The Saturn Return is roughly once every 30 years. Sometimes, statistically, two or more of these happen at the same time.

Now let’s return to our Saturn conjunct Pluto. It happened to occur in the earliest days of the outbreak, and also in the midst of the Otherworldly changes going on. AND ALSO, for an election year. And, for Yule this year we get the Great Conjunction (just what I always wanted!), which may or may not be a portent of doom. So, that will just so happen to occur following the results of the November election, and hopefully once we’ve got this outbreak under control. And we will probably still be in the middle of whatever the Otherworld is doing.

I’m not the greatest at suspecting the Otherworld is doing much of anything. But, people whose work I respect have noticed, so I feel fairly confident taking them at their word.

I’m Still Confused by the Buttwipe

What a lovely month it’s shaped up to be. Coronavirus has swept the globe, going from a faint abstraction a month ago to literally the next county over as of last week. If you aren’t under a shelter-in-place order, all the public spaces are closed, which is basically the same. Gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, Lysol spray. It’s. Everywhere.

And people did as people do: panic, and behave strangely (the hoarding of toilet paper, of all things), or pretend it’s all a government hoax caused by the Democrats because “they couldn’t impeach Trump” (even though last I checked that was held up due to the fact that Republicans refused to cooperate with Democrats under any circumstances but the ones that would allow them to throw out the evidence).

We’re still out of toilet paper, by the way. Distilleries are making hand sanitizer. People I work with are still trying to downplay the very serious pandemic going on all around us. One day I was deeply overcome with anxiety over the whole situation. Ever since, I’ve put more feeling into appealing to the Gods for health.

Thankfully, I haven’t had a crisis of faith yet. Those all seemed to happen before I knew who the Gods were, the ones I’m specifically talking to and praying to right now, and who are also making sure I eat something resembling health food every morning. I’m not sure if They saw all this coming, or if this is part of everything else which is going on, between the election (#hidinbiden) and the environment and who knows what else. Perhaps They did, and They know that small routines are good for times like these. Where would I be otherwise?

But, I don’t think about it tremendously much. I try not to panic. I avoid the news. I wait it out. I read other things, on other topics. I’ve been keeping myself sane for the most part. And, I’ve noticed very little change in my actual habits. I’m an introvert, after all. It just feels weird that the rest of the world is with me on that. (And, in the mean time, my Christmas decorations are still up, and a little off-season Holly Jolly never killed anyone, far as we know.)

Seeking

A week into a new year, a new decade. The energy had shifted after New Year’s Day, generally speaking, as if now that “the holidays” are over I can focus on something real, dig up a few things that I had otherwise been neglecting in the stress and sense of obligation. I’ve been reading, re-reading, listening. There are new things and old things revisited.

I returned to a particular author’s posts about priesthood, service for the Gods, what it means to be called, and so on. This National Geographic with an article on Boudica that’s been sitting on my floor for ages has finally gotten the front page news read. I listened to a new audiobook on devotional polytheism. And I’m seeking something in the history of the Iceni, in the possible connections between “Andraste” and “Andarta”. I’m not sure what that something is.

“Andraste”/”Andrasta” means “Invincible”, or “Indestructible”. “Andarta” originates in southern Gaul and means “well-fixed, staying firm”. All, of course, traits a good warrior would aspire to in battle. They could be the same Goddess, no one is sure. Nobody wrote anything down and what the Romans wrote is completely biased and almost unreliable because of it (but for the basics and what is backed up by the archaeological record, take everything you read by a Roman “historian” with a grain of salt).

So far this is where my seeking has led me. I’m not sure where it will lead me after this, and I know I’ll never quite be done seeking. That’s how seeking works. But a check in once in a while never hurt anyone.

Additional Reading:

Celtic Festival of Andraste, Andate, Andarta & Brigantia (Brythonic)

Rabbit Rabbit (Nov. 4, Good Luck Still?)

I’ve forgotten this for a few days, sadly, but I have a couple of thoughts, namely on the past month. I haven’t been into Halloween as much this year as I have been in years past, and I have since been unable to determine why. Perhaps I want to just get to Christmas already and feel like my world is happy and warm and content as winter sets in (remarkably early this year. I hear it will be colder than last year, and I’m not looking forward to that). I’ve never been into Thanksgiving, and don’t give it more thought than “I will probably make something nice that day I’m not sure”. It isn’t that I am ungrateful, I am quite grateful, but my mother has always loved Thanksgiving and it has this undertone of “be thankful that I am your mother or you’ll be sorry!” to it. I had Thanksgiving one year with a friend’s family and I was shocked and overcome with how warm and inviting the atmosphere was. It felt as though this whole huge family was there just to be there, and I loved it so much. My own family never felt like that, and I don’t remember it from holiday dinners with my mother’s family. That is, however, the feeling I receive from my gods. So, I will cook something nice this year, and share it with Them, because I love Them.

The second thought is, I saw a post (https://riley-poole27.tumblr.com/post/188823229297/hypervigil-theyve-always-said-when-you-feel-a) which suggested that not a person, but a rabbit, crossing your future grave caused a shiver down the spine. I had always heard otherwise, but this gives me some life and hope. I hope Andred’s creatures have found a nice spot for me. I wonder if I will find it before I die. I wonder if such a thing can be divined. Probably.

I think, in aggregate, I am moving away from celebrating any warped concept of “family” I developed growing up, and into celebrating my gods (and with my gods). Feeling Their energy and reveling in it and believing that the world is right. It’s certainly better than allowing my parents to live in my head without paying the rent or utilities.

Rabbit Rabbit – Oct. 1

I have dreams about her now. It didn’t happen before I stopped talking to her, but it’s happened since. Three times, in fact. The first, I dreamed that she was trying to take credit for my achievements and claim that I almost cost her money by switching majors in college. I yelled at her to go fuck herself. The second, I barely remember, but I think it may have involved an assault. The third time, last night, I dreamed that she repeatedly broke into my apartment, spread lies of me to my neighbors, and then assaulted me, forcing me to kill her in self defense.

They say dreams can be interpreted as divine messages from the gods, or more modernly, as something in your brain trickling through the process. Peanuts being percolated, if you will. I’m worried about what these dreams mean, and I have no good guesses. I know of stories online told by people who dreamed of their abusive parents, a trend which decreased when they severed ties. I’ve followed the opposite trend.

I try to think that I’ve moved on, the way my dad claims she has, even though she’s been harassing my therapist and my employer in an effort to resume contact with me. I probably wouldn’t give that day a second thought if they did not keep reminding me of it. So, who is really “over it”?

Intentions

This morning I told Andred of my intention to cut off all my hair into something that I’m much more comfortable with. It’s starting to knot every morning, and it’s generally a hassle to deal with anyway, and it’s time for a change. Plus, as I no longer speak with my mother I don’t feel obliged to take her opinions of my hair into account. (And I want to look like, and be perceived as, a lesbian. In part it’s a self-defense measure against weird old men.)

I received another idea for a blog post, on the two tarot cards I use to represent Her. I’ll work on that one today, too. But this is about having a goal in mind and making it happen. Sometimes it takes just a few steps, but sometimes goals span a lifetime of work toward them. Happiness is one of the latter, and I’m getting there, too.

On Telling Her Stories: Identity

I once asked Andred for a story of Hers that I might tell the world through this blog or by some other means. The message I received was to the effect that I was already telling such a tale–about a warrior and a sense of lost human identity while trying to adopt an identity within another culture. It’s not a new story, though the people and the settings have changed, but these days a lot of people talk a LOT about identity. Are you gay, straight, transgender, cisgender….and sometimes, are you those things enough? Who are you? Who are your people? Your ancestors? These talks come up a lot in pagan circles, in left wing circles, in right wing circles, all kinds of places.

Identity

I talked a while back about my biological ancestry, as shown by 23andMe results, and what it might mean for my identity and relationships with my gods. I talked there about my mother’s lies about my identity, specifically that I was part-Native American. But there’s more to the sense of identity than biological ancestry or tales of such.

For example, I see myself as Kemetic, as perhaps Celtic, but not in the traditional sense. I understand myself as bisexual (so far), leaning toward liking girls. I have been styled as depressed, but I never identified with or adopted the label. I have only ever used it to describe to others what such and such therapist thinks of me. I do, however, consider myself a survivor and a fighter.

And, my identity has changed. In college I stopped identifying as straight, and that was enlightening. I never tried to bind myself with any labels that referred to illnesses, and almost fell into labels foisted on me by my mother about my weight. That didn’t last very long as soon as I got a full body mirror and shed much of my modesty. I stopped identifying with my parents; I changed my phone number and blocked most of the necessary Facebook profiles (depending on when a new one will crop up). This was one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done (besides the physical altercation that led to this falling out, during which I felt I left too much up for debate).

My character is human, biologically. She used to identify as such, but ceased that once she passed through an alien culture’s initiation/coming-of-age rites. She came out less than unscathed, and wears the resulting scars as a mark that she earned her place in their culture. However, her disconnect from her human identity is still apparent, in the back of her mind. She has been affected by this change of identity, in a way that will probably never be fully understood. She has been affected surely by the experiences that shaped it. All people are.

One cannot adopt and accept a new identity without some form of change and whatever impact that might come with.

The fight is secondary, really. The war, the conflict, all that is in the background.

But there’s more to it than that, even.

You can’t escape getting assigned an identity by the people who surround you. I could not escape labels of “gifted”, or “depressed”, “anger issues”, “autism spectrum” (this came up only once and my revulsion to it was enough to silence discussion on the matter), and so on. I can’t get away from the baggage that comes with “bisexual” (or the umbrella term “gay” or “queer”), “abuse victim”, or, what I’m sure is coming: “Estranged Daughter.”

I can define myself and identify how I choose, but I am also identified by others, I couldn’t escape being identified, against my will, as depressed, spoiled, entitled, a brat, and a host of other things. I am not those things, but I cannot avoid people seeing me that way, no matter what I do. My mother, for example, will tell the whole world how evil I’m being by not speaking to her. First she will desperately try to contact me, and if I cave we’ve “made up”, but for now we are “fighting”, and if it keeps up she will eventually tell more people than my therapist that I am “insane” and “irrational”. After all, isn’t she such a good mother? (No. She is not. I have receipts.)

And, that has to be accounted for.

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.

Screen Shot 2019-03-12 at 10.56.24 AM

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.