TW: This post coversthe violation of women and the bodily autonomy of people who can conceive, up to and including rape. I invite you to skip this one (and realize I have a much higher threshold than others but even this is getting to me, hence this post).
(Side note: this post took quite a long time to complete due to fluctuating numbers of spoons on part of the author.)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, then you know by now that the leaked opinion has indeed held. In a 5-4 vote, Roe v. Wade has been struck down. I’m not surprised, though I’m a little impressed they did it in spite of backlash. But, I’m disappointed, tired, afraid, and a little angry.
I don’t believe I have a dedicated post on here about Andred’s possible aspect as a Protector of Women (broadly), so this may be that post. I’ve spoken at length about witches and the interweb of connections between the goddess, Her animal, and a potential expanded role as time passed. I think this is another such case.
The long and short of it is this: as accounted by Tacitus, upon the death of Boudica’s husband Prasutagus, the Roman empire ignored his will and attempted to annex Iceni territory, in the process flogging Boudica and raping her two daughters (whose names I can’t provide because they’ve been lost to time). This, coupled with the financial strains the Romans placed on the Britons generally, drove Boudica to take up arms in a bid for freedom, and to gather allies along the way.
There are two key quotes I want to call attention to. The first is this:
“It is not as a woman descended from noble ancestry, but as one of the people that I am avenging lost freedom, my scourged body, the outraged chastity of my daughters … This is a woman’s resolve; as for men, they may live and be slaves.”
And the second is the opening line to Boudica’s speech: “I thank thee, Andraste, and I call upon thee as woman speaking to woman.”
These indicate a perception either on part of the Iceni and other Britons, or on part of the Roman authors who recorded events and whose manuscripts survived to us in the present, that there may have been a special perception of Andred’s connection to the women of the tribe (or alternatively, Boudica held a high religious position that made a seemingly more informal dialogue possible, or both). And I’ve stated earlier that it is possible for the roles of the gods to change over time as people change.
And, from my own practice, I have had great success calling on Andred for help in matters of feminine health, wellness, and protection.
However long feminine matters have been a part of Andred’s spheres of influence, I think they’re well-entrenched by now. And sometimes, you’ve just got to pray about it.
Andred, Protectress and Avenger Queen of the Witches I call on You as woman speaking to woman I tell you there is no safety for us, no right of life or liberty The fall of one is the fall of all I am heartsick with fear And weary–so weary So I turn to You
Walk with me Grant me vigor and courage Let me face each day Be at my back and at my side and before me Guide my hand and my step Be my leader as you were Boudica’s And I shall not want for boldness
We’ll start here as the nexus of our “conspiracy board”, so to speak. In East Anglian Witches and Wizards, hares are described as connected in the folklore of the region to witches and witchcraft (i.e. eating a hare was unlucky, as hares were a common shape witches allegedly transformed into and a common shape of their familiar spirits or “imps”, and one could be eating the neighborhood wise woman or her familiar; however, hares’ severed feet were lucky and could ward off birth defects). Boudicca’s use of a hare (here described as a pet) for divination before doing battle with Roman forces was also mentioned, thereby connecting the animal with the witchy practice of predicting the future. (pp. 131-134)
There is also a folk belief (whose provenance I don’t know but which this article attributes to Robert Graves) that striking a hare causes one to become cowardly, and Boudicca may have been hoping to provoke the Romans to attack the creature and thereby be inflicted with cowardice. But it’s hard to say.
The connection between hares, Andred, and witches is summarized in “The Hare”, by Oak, which can be heard here. (Andred and the hare who is the speaker are also connected to the moon; sometimes the various features on the moon’s surface look like a rabbit or hare to certain cultures.)
Speaking of which…
The moon has a long association with witches. There are surviving ancient attestations that Greek witches could “draw down the moon” (where the name of the modern ritual comes from). Hecate may have had lunar associations in ancient Greece (possibly) and then there is Diana. In Aradia, or The Gospel of the Witches, Diana has a daughter, Aradia, who teaches humanity witchcraft.
And the association is very strong in the modern movement. In ancient cultures lunar (and for that matter solar) deities came in all shapes and sizes, but a not insignificant chunk of modern Paganism casts “The Goddess” (either under an oathbound name or generically titled as such) as the deity of the moon and the Earth (except some flora and most fauna, as I understand it).
Before I even knew Her name, Andred had very strong lunar associations with me. It was almost like She was watching me from above. (Specifically this association was most prevalent with the waning crescent. I’m still not 100% sure why, and I probably never will be and that’s just fine.)
Witchcraft is the recourse of the dispossessed,
the powerless, the hungry and the abused.
It gives heart and tongue to stones and trees.
It wears the rough skin of beasts.
It turns on a civilization that knows the
price of everything and the value of nothing.
Peter Grey, Apocalyptic Witchcraft
This was originally going to be the “Andred -> Hares -> Witches” portion of the post. However, lately I have been reading a lot about horned deities and the liminal qualities they embody (both in a dedicated book about the subject, and in another book mostly about the interaction of religions in Britain at the time of Roman annexation). In my very first post I mentioned that I first encountered Andred’s name in Paul Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft, where She appears alongside Cernunnos, and they are the primary deities of Huson’s vision of witchcraft. (And on page 217, Huson states “Andred. Witch goddess name coming from the Forest of Weald in England.” I think Huson is referring to a different forest entirely, as Andred’s sacred grove is thought to be in Epping Forest, and in this case specifically the name “Andredes Weald” is a coincidence. But, as they say, coincidence is seldom “mere”.)
In Jason Mankey’s The Horned God of the Witches, he devotes a chapter to the horned god in traditional witchcraft, and points out in its own dedicated chapter that the horned god has always been the primary male deity of Wicca, and surfaces in the earliest writings. This particular horned god has a sacrifice arc wherein he is routinely killed in order to provide the fruits of the earth (in the form of grain, typically).
In one of my earliest experiences, I remember helping a wounded individual (henceforth the Wounded Man, as his identity is a mystery which has bothered me for years) off the battlefield, to be cared for by Andred. When I read about horned deities, for reasons as yet unknown, I think of him.
And there’s another possible thread, beyond “Andred -> Hares -> Witches” and whatever is happening with the horned deities as was revealed to various founders of Wicca and older names in traditional witchcraft (and any possible connection that has to the Wounded Man). There’s the idea of the fringes, the “outer rim” of acceptable society, where the familiar mingles with the weird. Britain was once the outer rim of the Roman Empire (and before that, beyond the edge of the world as they conceived of it). Witchcraft is perpetually on the fringes of accepted social practice as pertains to religion and magic. (In modern times all things magical are lumped as “woo woo” and summarily dismissed in favor of “rationality”, but during the witch trials things were not so simple. The Catholic Church had rituals which were held as socially distinct from alchemy (still accepted, as the domain of wealthy dudes with tons of free time) and herbalism (done usually by villagers, and not as socially accepted). There seemed to be some disagreement about astrology; court astrologers existed, but outside of that it appears to have come under question.) The quote and photo above are related to this idea specifically.
In a way, witchcraft is like Jughead from Riverdale. It doesn’t “fit in”, and it doesn’t want to “fit in.”
As fascinating as it would be to time travel back a couple thousand years and ask the Iceni themselves about their myths and theological positions, such information is actually kind of useless in the modern world with modern problems. Times change, folklore changes, and gods change. For one example, I think Andred has adopted rabbits as well as hares as symbols. And for another example, there’s a pretty solid possibility that as hares picked up associations with witchcraft (for good or ill) and the Moon, so too did She.
Something I found noteworthy about the material for this post was that it felt less like a discovery or “reveal” (so to speak) and more like a bunch of disparate pieces finally fitting together in my mind (see the photo above). Following the threads and seeing how they interconnected, and then working out what that might mean. Now, the second step is to figure out what I do with this.
Goth rock has been my music of choice for the past few months for dealing with suffering and bullshit. I like its vibe.
And if you’re anything like me, I recommend putting on some Siouxsie or Bauhaus and strapping in.
I’ve been looking into playing card divination (a specific form of cartomancy related to tarot). I’ve got a specific deck, that has its own vibe for sure, and learning to read it has been a struggle. That’s kind of what you get when you have decks based on intellectual properties; the vibes get transferred over, and you have added associations based on your knowledge of the intellectual property. Much of this is besides the point.
At some point, John Beckett reviewed Camelia Elias’s Read Like the Devil: The Essential Course in Reading the Marseilles Tarot, the first in a trilogy which includes a book on playing cards and a book on Lenormand. As is my wont, I poked into the reviews for the book on playing cards, and found a zinger of a review. One star, by a fellow calling himself ABCDEFG. This lovely individual has a problem with Cameliaa Elias’s books, chiefly that those books are Wrong. With a capital W.
I’ve read several of ABCDEFG’s reviews on these and other tarot books, and the one on the recent Charmed reboot. That one, though, is blessedly short, and if you’ve got it in you, you may take a gander below.
It’s hard to parse their problems with tarot books but it appears to be that there is no appreciation for “number”, sometimes capitalized for no discernible reason. For example, in their review of the Essential Course in reading Playing Cards, they say this:
For traditional card readers, Number rules the world into which we were born. Number is not alterable. It cannot be made to bend to the wishes of mankind. I can tell you, precisely–even mathematically!–why 3 is “a little” or why 7 can represent either an obstacle or something magical/mystical. The same is true for the rest of the numbers. Elias does not give such instruction.
I also have a snazzy math/science background but I’ve always struggled with numerology, so I’m not one hundred percent sure I can fully grasp this and I feel like if I asked politely I would receive a dissertation in my email within a week explaining in the most condescending fashion possible how everything works and why I am wrong for not automatically knowing this.
Speaking of which, ABCDEFG appears to believe that not just anyone can read cards:
she is not herself in the lineage of the cunning folk or the Old Religion, no one has trained her in the art of foretelling, and no one has passed her the power.
This is in a passage describing how the system presented in Elias’s book is ripped from a website the reviewer used to run, where they hosted the system they learned “as a child” from their family.
I can’t find any indication for how long the reviewer’s family has allegedly been doing fortune telling, but they rely on their family history and long years of personal experience to tell everyone that Elias is Wrong. ABCDEFG is kind enough to provide example readings they have done for people in their lives, which they claim were completely accurate.
All of this is used to inform the reader of the review, in this case me, that Elias is Wrong. I don’t see much attempt at correcting misinformation, besides the occasional, condescending addition of things like this from their review on Elias’s Marseilles tarot book:
In cosmological reality, Swords are Air. The principle applies everywhere in manifested reality. Of the four building blocks of life, Air is Oxygen. The word comes from Greek “oxus” – “sharp” because Oxygen cuts away things and eliminates them. Wands aren’t sharp. Swords are. This is manifest even in your own body, where oxygen is used to get rid of waste. Oxygen combines with hydrogen, and you sweat it out. It combines with carbon, and you breathe it out. It combines with sulphur, and you poop it out. Oxygen = Air = Swords. Similar things can be said of the other Suits and Elements.
This emphasis on “reality” is also really grating, and crops up 11 times in the playing card book review and 4 in the tarot book review. The implication, I gather from all this harping on “reality” (let alone how triggering it is coming from the home life I have), is that Elias is not in line with reality, i.e. “delusional”. (In the hyperrational world us Pagans come into contact with, “delusional” = “disagrees with me”, despite having a proper psychiatric use and its misuse being actively damaging.)
Since ABCDEFG dipped into the well of their personal experience (twice), I suppose I have a right to do the same. I am in possession of the Night Vale Tarot, and really should catch up on the podcast but that’s besides the point. I haven’t been reading with it lately, but I have had experiences, years ago, where I did read with it and twice, something happened. Andred hijacked whatever a given card was “supposed” to mean and said, symbolically, “I am here, hang onto this”. So those two cards are on Her altar. It was unmistakable at the time it happened. Was I supposed to turn to Her and say, “Sorry, but the principles of Number say XYZ”? I have a feeling that wouldn’t have flown.
I have had milder versions of this experience with other decks. Sacred Circle Tarot is my go-to deck for big readings about the nature of the numinous in my life. There are differences between the Reno Day and Reno Night cards I own, in ways I can’t put into words. And the Doctor Who deck, mentioned above, has been giving me absolute fits trying to decipher. Knowing what numbers mean is only half the battle.
This rando on Amazon is way too much: witchsplaining, implication of an unbroken tradition untainted by [fill in the blank, really], on some moral crusade to “correct” “misinformation”, and a belief that a Charmed reboot with Latina actresses is racist white people because… reasons. Generally, they seem perpetually angry about things I can’t discern, and are taking it out on witchcraft and pagan content they disagree with.
My first impression of this video was to the effect of “Hey, this kind of reminds me of Andred and my relationship with Her.”
I have prayed to Her for protection (chiefly from creepy, controlling, or otherwise dangerous men), and She has answered every time. (The times have been few, because I have baggage about asking for things, but when I have asked, She has answered.) When I first met Her, before I even knew Her name, She kept an eye on me. I remember in college in December when the path between the dorm and the location of a test was icy, but the Moon shone in the sky, making sure I got home safely (this is mentioned briefly here).
She is not a Mother Goddess or a goddess of healing and health. That’s the thing. I’m something of a practical-minded person. I feel like if I have a direct means of solving a problem, then I can relax about it. Kind words are great and all but I don’t feel they are all that useful to me. In my experience Andred has not been about simply saying it’s gonna be OK and leaving it at that. She and Ra have helped me organize my life, giving it a structure it might not have outside of school and work. I pray daily. It’s a good reckoning, a cue that the day can begin (which is rough when I have to actually start the day before that point due to reasons, but that circumstance is very rare, and a topic for another time).
Instead, I’ve gotten pointed down different directions. I’ve been told, “I’m your mother now.” And most recently, I’ve been given practical, mundane instructions. “Pick up these things, leave them here. Finish this project.” Or sometimes I get pulled to read up on a given subject (for example, the Fae or English folklore).
Practical directions and reading material get me out of my own head, and while I haven’t needed that much lately, I can’t say it hasn’t helped. Because it has. I feel accomplished when I get something like this done, and that goes a long way toward my self-esteem. Going and doing and reading keep me from doing something self-destructive like dwell on the past with my family.
So, on a deeply personal level, She has been good to me in that way. It’s like resting the body. Resting the mind can help it heal.
The past 24-36 hours, I have felt the urge to make sure my emergency travel/magic kit is mostly stocked and there are certain supplies in my car (blankets, shovel, spare charger, that kind of thing). I’m not sure why. I feel like something is coming. I may have prepared in completely the wrong way for what may be coming.
But now I’m succumbing to the slightly subtler urge to blog about it. And I know this is where Andred makes me put things She wants me to write about. So I think She might have something to do with this. So I may have been guided correctly after all.
In an upcoming post I discuss an incident early in our relationship, before I knew Her name, when She protected me on a walk home. I remember still how that felt. Undeniable.
I think She may be acting again in Her capacity as protector. Of women, of the people. She has acted this way before, and I have prayed to Her specifically for protection on several occasions. Perhaps I am finally being nudged down a path that will lead to my ultimate safety, through the winter or more long-term. It’s hard to tell, and shockingly my precognitive powers are close to nonexistent (although tarot is a useful tool to me for preparing for the most likely scenario).
Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe something will happen. But I suppose it’s better to be somewhat ready than not ready at all.
This is something I noticed and reflected on last night.
The only surviving story of Andraste is in the account of Boudica. The quote above comes from Dio Cassius’s version (although I think there is one other floating about). The Romans had stolen Boudica’s portion of her husband’s inheritance to her and beat her and r*ped her daughters when she protested, and this is what motivated her to rebel against Rome.
After divining with a wild hare, Boudica is reported to have said:
I thank thee, Andraste, and call upon thee as woman speaking to woman; for I rule over no burden-bearing Egyptians as did Nitocris, nor over trafficking Assyrians as did Semiramis (for we have by now gained thus much learning from the Romans!), much less over the Romans themselves as did Messalina once and afterwards Agrippina and now Nero (who, though in name a man, is in fact a woman, as is proved by his singing, lyre-playing and beautification of his person); nay, those over whom I rule are Britons, men that know not how to till the soil or ply a trade, but are thoroughly versed in the art of war and hold all things in common, even children and wives, so that the latter possess the same valour as the men. As the queen, then, of such men and of such women, I supplicate and pray thee for victory, preservation of life, and liberty against men insolent, unjust, insatiable, impious, — if, indeed, we ought to term those people men who bathe in warm water, eat artificial dainties, drink unmixed wine, anoint themselves with myrrh, sleep on soft couches with boys for bedfellows, — boys past their prime at that, — and are slaves to a lyre-player and a poor one too. Wherefore may this Mistress Domitia-Nero reign no longer over me or over you men; let the wench sing and lord it over Romans, for they surely deserve to be the slaves of such a woman after having submitted to her so long. But for us, Mistress, be thou alone ever our leader.
Typically in summaries of the events, quotations stop at “I supplicate and pray thee for victory, preservation of life, and liberty” as though the second half of Boudica’s speech did not exist. In fact, most of the derision of Rome as a nation of women is omitted. I have checked, and there is one book, Women and the Colonial Gaze, which seems to comment on the fact that Boudica is masculinized by Cassius, portions of which certainly show in her speech.
But, that isn’t the important part to me today.
The important part is, “I call upon thee as woman speaking to woman”, which in the context of her story, suggests something to me. It suggests that Andraste may have specifically been a goddess who protected and got vengeance for women, or was connected in another way to women’s affairs, such that Boudica felt safe calling on Her in this capacity. Of course, as with 99% of what I know about Andraste, this is UPG (unverified personal gnosis), and not even properly contemplated UPG at that.
But it is significant or at least interesting that this is the only surviving account of Andraste’s existence and worship.
Like all of the rest of the internet, I thought the first season of the show American Gods, based on Neil Gaiman’s novel, was fantastic! It even ended when Easter took the spring and that shit was fire! It was awesome!
Only recently did I go back and watch seasons 2 and (half of) 3 as of this writing. And… I’m less than impressed. I was star struck by the first season, and listening to the audiobook along the way, I was eager to meet characters in the show whose chapters I just listened to. I was having a good time.
I was not having a great time for season 2, but it was passable. Season 3 is falling apart before my very eyes and no amount of fisheye effects and oversaturated or undersaturated color palettes (depending on if we’re “Backstage” or not, basically in the otherworld or in the real world) can save a mess of a plot.
I’m not qualified to talk about the representation issues caused by white guys deciding Anansi “sends the wrong message” (or, for that matter, whether Anansi’s portrayal was accurate) and then moving on to a storyline about the Orishas that, as far as I’ve gotten as of this writing, is primarily about holding out hope that tomorrow will be better. Which is fine for Annie, but like the man himself said, “Angry gets shit done.”
But there’s something else here, too, and it’s baked into the premise, into the source material. OK there’s a couple somethings.
There’s something strange I noticed about the goddesses Gaiman chose to write about (and then subsequently made it into the show). The two most prominent (in the show at least) are fertility/sex goddesses Easter and Bilquis, who are respectively the Girl Next Door and the Vamp. I give credit to the TV series for fleshing out Bilquis’s character where Gaiman originally did not, but a first impression like that is hard to shake.
There’s the scene where Bast has dream sex with Shadow and heals his wounds. There’s New Goddess Media offering Lucy Ricardo’s breasts for Shadow’s viewing pleasure.
And unless I’m missing anyone, that’s… it.
I mean if you’ve been following along and doing your own research you’ve probably worked out that goddesses in myth are many and varied, multifaceted beings. Aphrodite, stereotypical love goddess, has a warlike aspect and is thought to be connected to Ishtar and Inanna. (And her Roman counterpart Venus began as a harvest goddess and evolved into the Mother of Rome itself.)
(Noted mortal female character Laura Moon is fridged and then unfridged primarily to propel and assist with Shadow’s plot, although she gets development in the series, because adaptations can actually be great like that.)
The basic premise, if you’ve been living under a rock, is that gods come into being because humans believe they exist, and are fed by prayers and sacrifices of time, energy, and even blood. Human sacrifice gives gods the most power, which is probably an excuse to have crazy death scenes of all sorts of varieties.
Now, I have no idea how the gods came into being, but I don’t necessarily believe my belief in them has caused them to be or sustained them in quite such cut and dried terms.
I’m not trying to say we shouldn’t strive for reciprocity with the gods, because I believe that we should. Prayers and offerings may be primarily for the benefit of the human practicing them; I know that my routine of prayer gives structure to my days and I can’t do without it.
But I also wonder how easily this whole thing could fall apart if humans just never happened to think up the concept of divinity. Sure, trees may have been the first to fill “the god-shaped hole in man’s head”, but what if they weren’t? What if that hole never existed? That’s really the load-bearing idea here, and while humans as we know them are religious creatures, I think based on the way I think about the gods, I would’ve executed this premise differently.
Additionally, I want to take a minute to bring up the antropocentrism of the premise. Gods exist because humans specifically believe that they do. Easter takes the spring to spite the New Gods and the humans, without thought for her other charges. I follow Beckett’s thinking in that gods are gods of other things besides humans. There are more forest and river deities than I can name, as well as gods with sacred animals (whom they probably also have to look after). I happen to hold that Andred is the goddess of hares and rabbits as well as victory in battle, and they are among Her other charges that She is worried about.
So yeah, that’s where I’m at with American Gods right now. I don’t know if I’ll finish season three or just go back to season one and wash the bitter taste from my mouth. Maybe finish the audiobook finally and call it a day with this franchise.
So I stumbled into a huge collection of articles about “The Santa Lie” (i.e. parents telling their children that Santa Claus literally exists and is capable of a host of magical feats, and the realization or learning of the truth of the matter having a host of consequences such as eroding trust in their parents and possibly threatening their religious beliefs). Listen, there are a host of controversies about Christmas, especially this year (every jackass on Twitter is commenting about how “communist regulations” are “canceling family” or whatever). This is “tame” by comparison.
But I really think it’s a matter of worldview. I hold a view of the world that accommodates magical, spiritual beings. I wouldn’t be running this blog if I didn’t. In my brain, Santa can be literally real, but not a physical entity. (As to the point on how some kids who learn Santa isn’t real begin doubting God or gods, well, it’s the same sort of thing. I don’t take the gods to be physically real in the same sense as this laptop, for example.)
John Beckett talks a lot about materialism as a worldview and why he disagrees with it, and I think this is an instance of that. People tend to believe that because Santa Claus is not a physical reality with a literal workshop at the North Pole and elves (helpful or otherwise), then he simply flat out doesn’t exist. They believe this about God, as if there must be physical and indisputable proof of a divine entity for that entity to be taken as “real”. (I’m using the words “physical” and “real” a lot in this post, so apologies if they stop seeming like proper words by the end.) However, as anyone who has had a mystical experience and touched the numinous can tell you, this isn’t necessarily the case. Andred is real because I have experienced Her, many times. She has yet to make a physical appearance in the mortal plane, but is that really a necessary thing?
We know there’s no workshop at the North Pole these days. We’ve taken satellite photos, explored up there, there are probably scientific expeditions going on considering the looming threat of global warming and glacial melt.
To pull another example, we have yet to find any evidence of alien life, despite all the UFO sightings and allegations of cover up and secret bases and so on and so forth. A diligent researcher can probably explain almost all sightings, given enough time and resources. But that is different from spiritual beings (including gods), who have been defined for ages as belonging to an otherworld or otherwise separate place distinct from the human world (but anchored in it somehow). They are distinct and separate from humanity, even if they can or could once “walk amongst us”.
Aliens are not gods, despite what Ancient Aliens may have its viewers believe. (I could go on a huge tear about how that show tries to shove spirituality into a materialistic framework if I could be assed to watch it again.) Physically separate, yes, but in a different way. Aliens are always assumed to be physical entities, that we can touch and interact with.
And some people think Santa Claus or Jesus or Ra or Andred must be physical entities that people can touch and talk to face-to-face, or the people who claim to believe in them (at least the gods on this list) must be hallucinating, delusional, or lying. I would not (intentionally) lie about my experiences of Andred, when it was She who taught me Her name in the first place. So I’m of the opinion that there is a third option.
Perhaps, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He lives in the Otherworld, where time moves differently than it does here, and in general none of the usual rules apply. Do not forget your offerings on Christmas Eve.
(Although in my reading a point was brought up to nix the Naughty/Nice list dichotomy and instead teach kids that Santa loves us all regardless of behavior, and leave the coal at the door.)
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.