Adventures in Amazon Reviews

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 Carmilla 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 Carmilla 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.

The new version of Charmed is… racist against white people and culturally appropriating the symbols of Wicca???

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.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RM68QDR1YWIES?ref=pf_vv_at_pdctrvw_srp

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.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RM68QDR1YWIES?ref=pf_vv_at_pdctrvw_srp

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.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R260YFJZ1NA0X?ref=pf_vv_at_pdctrvw_srp

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.

(I suppose now it merits pondering the products they do like: Trials of the Moon, Magic Words and How to Use Them, Odisbook: The Book of Odr, The Compleat Witch or What to Do When Virtue Fails, Garnet Bracelet CHOOSE YOUR OWN CHARM, The Open Giza Fold-Up Cardboard Pyramid. I’m not opposed to the bracelet or the pyramid, Trials of the Moon or Magic Words (the last even sounds kind of interesting, as if I need more books). But Odisbook deserves plenty of second looks for dropping “odinist” and “a stronger relationship with the Gods of your people” in its blurb, that people are supposed to read, to decide if they want to buy the book! I guess all those 5 stars are self-selecting and I should avoid them and their opinions.)

I feel like I didn’t cover half of what I wanted to, even if I would be repeating myself. Perhaps I’m just overwhelmed by what I uncovered.

Yuletide Reflections

My internet connection has finally cooperated enough to allow me to write this on New Year’s Eve, where I still feel like I am in a bit of a nadir period with the seasons. I am growing into the opinion that shortly after the Winter Solstice is kind of a dumb spot to put the start of a calendar year, and this is something I’ve kind of explored in the worldbuilding for my still-in-progress sci-fi novel: the alien culture in question reckons every year by the rising of their two suns, an annual phenomenon with deep religious and cultural significance.

I’ve heard arguments for other dates, too: Samhain, as the start of the “dark” portion of the year, is popular among many Wiccan and Pagan groups. Jason Mankey makes a good case for Yule/Winter Solstice as “witch’s new year”, what with the rebirth of the Sun and suchlike. (This idea is also reflected above, albeit as something of a coincidence or synchronicity.) In Kemetic traditions, Wep Ronpet (the Opening of the Year) coincides with the heliacal rising of Sirius, which is usually in early August where I am but changes based on location. So really, a year can be reckoned just about any which way one feels like.

And the interesting thing about this year is I’m a little less about all that light symbolism when it comes to the solstice. Sure, I was hyped, and I got to have a neat ritual even if keeping it going for any length of time was a little difficult (and I will happily joke with others about shoving a sequoia through my front door over a twelve-day period. If you know you know). But there’s an energy to this time of year that I first noticed a while back: I don’t really feel like doing anything. In the words of a meme going around, why do I have to work instead of curling up in my den with enough food and hibernating until Optimal Foraging Conditions? An opossum wouldn’t put up with this.

My sense of activity and being-outside-ness will not return until around March, I reckon. I enjoy winter, I do, but I dislike being out in the cold and at risk of freezing to death. So I stay indoors as much as possible, with my books and my writing projects (yes, more than one), feeling that vague sense of biting cold deep within my bones.

And the other thing I’ve noticed is that spirits have been fairly active this year. Generally they are more active than they have been in decades past, or the conditioning designed to make us not notice is breaking down (or both), and also generally, they have historically been more active at this time of year than in other parts of the year (although the Good People have been known to move about on Beltane/May Eve, as well). But the past couple years I have been incapable of not noticing what’s going on. Several weeks back I was overpowered with the feeling of it, and have since been haunted by the feeling that something is coming and I must make ready. Shades of this feeling pass over me every time I pull into work, to remind me, I suppose, to have my emergency magical/mundane supplies on hand. (After all, my brain goes, this could be the day.)

I received a new deck of playing cards as part of the Doctor Who advent calendar I purchased, and I have been pulling at least one card each day (or rather, each day I remember to do so) in an effort to get to know the deck as a divinatory aid. Many of my notes on systems for reading them have fallen flat, and I’ve been largely forced to rely on analogies to Doctor Who episodes and situations, as well as “vibes” or impressions. Today was the 8 of Clubs and the Missy Joker (the latter asking if there were, indeed, spirits in this Chili’s tonight, and based on Missy’s primary or earliest scheme, I gathered the answer would be yes). Based chiefly on context and the way the suits were assigned by the deck makers (such that Clubs = monsters/aliens), I got an impression tonight would be quite busy. Not that this matters to anyone but myself, but I think it’s relevant to the point at hand: spirits are moving, often in groups this time of year. Usually the answer is to lock up properly and not venture outside unless absolutely necessary (i.e. I have to go to work at stupid-o’-clock in the morning). And if you hear unusual noises, don’t get too curious. It’s probably an animal anyway. Animals make plenty of weird noises.

(Side bar on that last point, a customer at my job at place discussed his second home, where he went for the most recent snowstorm we had, and among other things, he said “Be careful what you wish for” and that there were mountain lions up the wazoo in the area. “Kitty City” he called it. Tracks, a neighbor got a good photo, and a pit full of various bits of meat from various animals. He was wise enough to not linger to long at this pit, and I wouldn’t either. The wildlife is becoming more active and this is worrisome.)

Interestingly, spoons have been hard to come by when it comes to traditional Christmasy activities like watching festive movies, decking the halls, and baking more cookies than I could feasibly eat as a single individual. I’m not sure if it’s me being exhausted by “traditional” Christmas overall, or if it’s connected to the increased activity and my overall pull toward a “darker” holiday (and, I gather, the increasing popularity of Yule Goats), or both, or something else entirely, or a combination. But the image of Christmas being pushed (as it always has been) is increasingly not lining up with what I feel to be happening around this time of year. It does seem, though, that Christmas imagery is slowly changing to reflect the overall seasonal vibe (the aforementioned Yule Goat, straw goats both large and small that are ubiquitous in Sweden, as well as an increased popularity of figures like Krampus over the past several years).

And who knows, it could also be part of the overall anti-consumerism push among us young people out to kill all the industries because we don’t have the resources to keep up with the Joneses and are sick of hearing that we have to on principle.

Andred and Mental Health

The video that started it all. “A Case For Community SPG: Ares and Mental Health”, Aliakai, Jun 17, 2021

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.

Mischief Night Update

As I mentioned, October 30 is Mischief Night, a non-calendrical holiday where assorted bored teenagers get up to pranks. It isn’t very popular where I live, but can be found in urban centers in the East Coast region and the Great Lakes.

October 30 was also when the town held its Trick-or-Treat, on account of the 31st being a school night. I wasn’t present for the affair but according to the transfer sheets where I work, we alone went through six bags of candy. Others tell me it was wall to wall people, confirmed by photographs in the Nov. 5 edition of the local paper.

I suspected everyone and their brother would be out, after around a year and a half of dealing with, or trying to deny, the plague (not technically the plague but you get the point). We’ll see if the Gavle Goat survives this year, or if the ropes will finally snap. In my understanding, things haven’t peaked, but are just getting underway this year.

But, other than a ridiculous number of trick-or-treaters of all ages, very little happened on October 30, according to the Sheriff’s Report printed in the paper (I think by law, along with other public notices). There was a major accident, and a caller reported a youth in a bloody mask attempting to trick-or-treat, but who was told to come back the 31st. That’s it, really. (Of course, around here roughly 40-50% of calls are about wild animals and livestock being places they shouldn’t be. So there’s that.)

As mentioned, I’ve been cultivating a theory that many of the spirits and forces we associate with Halloween don’t associate themselves with Halloween, and we may be seeing more Yuletide activity than anything else.

Samhain 2021

I discovered on 10-27 that the Gavle Goat, a perennial favorite target of Yuletide vandals, has survived 2020, as I had predicted. (I have been researching and preparing mentally for Yule 2021, for which I have big plans I may discuss at a later point.) Now I wonder if the Goat will survive Yule 2021, after four consecutive years of survival, or if the impulse will overtake someone and they will set fire to the straw figure once more (or at least, make an attempt).

I bring this up primarily as an update to a previous post, and a prediction for the future (in a sense). But I’m also doing it because in my mind, it is only the beginning of the most haunted, spiritually active time of the year. Last year I felt it to some degree or another until around May 1, but it peaked in December and January. The spirits will be out and about for a while, and I think many of the oldest ones are a bit slow to change with the human calendar. (In The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas, Ridenour postulates that some customs were shifted around in accordance with various factors, from the Catholic liturgical calendar to the state visits of important people. Generally, he suspects, some things moved “up” or earlier in time from older observances. This dovetails neatly with the theory that older wassailing traditions (and drunken carousing) have influenced Halloween trick-or-treating (and drunken carousing), and Christmas spirits and ghost stories being mostly abandoned in America in favor of Halloween spirits and ghost stories. Though that one is in part due to the Puritans banning Christmas altogether because it was too Pagan and too fun.)

That coupled with the general ramping up of spiritual and Otherworldly activity that everyone and their dog has noticed by this point, means I think we’re going to be seeing quite a haunted yuletide (see also When Divination Hands It To You).

I recognize there are a lot of mundane reasons that drive someone to vandalism of Christmas or other property: boredom, drunkenness, doing it because they can, seeing if they can get away with it, any combination thereof. But, I have been nurturing a theory that something else is also stirring this on, encouraging it. A potential candidate? Of course, I can’t be 100% certain of these things, especially these things, and I won’t say there’s one single answer to everything all the time, but I think there’s something here worth looking into.

Black Dogs of Norfolk

The Iceni were a tribe who lived in the area of England now called Norfolk.

According to Black Dog Folklore, there are eighty-two accounts of black dog sightings of various kinds (or of some kind, as there are no details in many cases) in the region. Also according to Black Dog Folklore, East Anglia broadly is home to the Shuck type of black dog ghost, an ominous creature sometimes said to kill those who witness it.

Going off the data provided in the book:

  • at least seven sightings position the dog as an omen of death
  • there are two headless dogs
  • there are five dogs with chains
  • there are three one-eyed dogs (possibly Shucks), one is a local legend
  • there are two reports of hell hounds, including one local legend
  • one dog is called Skutch
  • there are four overt references to Shucks
  • there are four dogs with physical effects, sometimes violent

There are several for which no data has been recorded, so it’s hard to say how things really look without living over there yourself.

There is also the concept of the cu sì, or fairy dog, which I learned about from Morgan Daimler’s works Fairies: A Guide to the Celtic Fair Folk and Fairy Witchcraft. Fairy hounds are recognized as unusual in some way and are sometimes conflated with (or possibly otherwise connected to) other forms of black dogs (many fairy hounds are black, but they can come in white and green, as well as other colors, missing limbs, eyes, etc.), such as the aforementioned Shuck.

I had a sighting of my own, which could fall into either category. All I know is I got a vibe off the encounter and I remember it well.

On page 173 of East Anglian Witches and Wizards, an individual is described as having had a sighting of a Black Dog or Shuck while he was a child, an encounter which inspired him to become a “traditional magical practitioner”. The chapter goes on to describe further encounters with the Shuck, some of which I recognize from Black Dog Folklore but others of which are new to me.

In both sources the Shuck or Barguest (depending, I suppose, on where you are) seems to be connected to the dead. Ancient burial mounds and old tracks used to take the dead to the graveyard. Crossroads. (Barguest may be a corruption of the phrase “Barrow Ghost”, but who knows?) The lines in the Isles between the Gods, the dead, land spirits and the Fae are notoriously blurred, hence the aforementioned conflation, and Christianity has changed a great many things in order to comport with its worldview. (The earliest written account of a Shuck, involving two nearly simultaneous attacks on churches during a thunderstorm, attributed the apparition to the work of the Devil, but if the motif existed then (and there’s a whole discussion to be had about using handy metaphors to describe inexplicable things, it happens to this day in the UFO world) then it is surely based on something.)

It’s possible the Iceni and their tribal neighbors knew of entities similar to the Shuck and other Black Dogs found throughout England. But it’s too difficult to tell and no one’s bothered to write anything down about it. The spirit (which I believe is there) has surely been around for quite some time and is still around, causing the odd spook here and there. Perhaps more sightings will come in given the increasing awareness of the magical world. Who can say?

Starting the Decade – Initial Thoughts

I’ve been spending the last hours of 2019 and the first hours of 2020 reading, and thinking. I’ve once again returned my attention to the resurgence of the Otherworld, which I started reading about earlier last year and possibly once more before that, but I can’t remember. I’ve been reading about the Fair Folk and the call of the Gods, and thinking about how obligated I’ve felt over the past holiday season to be festive. I want to try to parse this all out.

Obligation

I sensed it for Halloween, feeling obligated to get those lights up and choose a costume and do the other Halloween things. By then I wanted to get to Christmas already, and then I did, eventually. And by then I had worn myself out of Christmas hype. Fighting Command hooks did me no favors there. People kept asking me if I was going to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with my family and I would have to explain that no, I was cooking for myself. I made too much food, and I had to throw out most of Thanksgiving dinner. Christmas dinner has lasted longer only because part of it is currently being frozen for later. I burned out.

And now I’m sitting at the start of 2020, reading and thinking, and wondering if perhaps I had sensed something else brewing in the coming winter that required, well, a different response than cooking my feelings. I don’t know what that was supposed to be, but as the harshest bits are yet to come, I think I can still figure it out. The Christmas lights, however, are staying on for as long as possible.

The Otherworld Bleeding Through?

I don’t class myself as the most observant person, but across religious lines people I know have sensed a kind of shift in the world. There was a point when climate change was no longer reversible. There was a moment I knew who my gods were (for them both, I want to say around 2012 or 2013). People believed the world would end in 2012 and while there was no apocalypse as we had come to expect thanks to Hollywood, those who can sense have detected, sometimes as early as 2013 but sometimes well into the middle of the decade, a change in the Otherworld. There are theories: some say Gwyn ap Nudd has decided to restore balance by protecting the Forests and the Fae from humanity, the current standing threat to the planet. Some say the gods, in particular the warlike ones, are recruiting. While I would argue Ra is not “warlike” the way bloodthirstier gods are “warlike”, I can tell He would never shy away from conflict, and is much more likely to keep a level head during. Andred is soaked in blood and the Mistress of the Field, which certainly settles that. If they are on their own side or the side of humanity or the side of only some humans or completely against humans entirely, I cannot tell.

Interestingly, however, these gods being fully present in my life has led to some dramatic changes, especially in the past two years. Changes that require me to be on my own and figure myself out. Changes which separate me from poison so I can recover–only a fresh fighter can effectively go into the field. I’ve begun to see myself, and in the process question everything I’ve done up to this point. Maybe I will get to where I want to be, but at this point, looking back, I think I will get to where I need to be, and where I am needed.

The Fair Folk

Periodically I find myself reading articles on these creatures, and how one should always be cautious with them. One writer thinks we will see more of them in the coming decade and beyond, and maybe this is true. Many say spiritualism and interest in magic (even if it is superficial) are on the rise in the general public. The Binding of Trump was for quite a while its own attractor of media attention, and the attention of “spiritual warriors” on the other side of the aisle. Recently, I’ve internally speculated whether some of these workings have sown the seeds for Trump’s impeachment hearings.

I’ve felt for years that but for a few exceptions, most spirits should be approached with caution and honored from a safe distance. That may become impossible, and it may be necessary to renew my extant relationships with some of the spirits I’ve come to know. I am still careful, and I think I will always be so, because I doubt I can be protected from them, even by the Gods. I would never think to ask for such a thing, as it is; my safety with regard to the Fair Folk is my responsibility.

People acting recklessly with the Fae have been compared to people trying to take selfies with elk. Where I’m from, elk, moose, and deer are everywhere, as are wolves, bears, and coyotes. You can find bison in a few hours, as well. Personally I’ve heard of people get gored by bison for their recklessness. One group tried to take in a bison calf in the back of their van because “it looked cold”, and the calf was shunned by its herd. As I know better than to get reckless with wildlife, I know better to get reckless with spirits I’m unfamiliar with. This, of course, is not to compare the Fae and wild animals, as the Fae are sapient through and through, but they have unknown powers and being reckless about that is the same as being reckless with bison or elk, or moose.

Priesthood

This is another thing I periodically find myself reading about. As I am cautious with the Fae, I am also cautious with oaths and vows. I was held to obscene standards as a child, that I either sensed or outright knew never applied to my parents. I was told to be good and behave myself and my own father failed at that so spectacularly he had to serve thirty days in the county jail. I failed to understand how I had to never do anything “bad” but I could be continually picked on by everyone I knew in my age group. Mommie Dearest moved the goalposts of my behavior so often that I could begin to see where she contradicted herself.

It has taken me a long time to accept that the Gods who adopted me are not the same as my physical parents. For one thing, They are patient, and that’s a pretty rare commodity in a modern American society. The one constant is that They are older than all of this and value different things as a result.

But the other matter is, there is a difference between my relationship with Ra and my relationship with Andred. She has specifically asked me to chronicle my experiences with Her and what I learn, and to write down in this blog what I think that means as it pertains to Her pretty much exclusively. I’ve stated elsewhere that Ra periodically gets mentions, however, as I’m His just as much as I’m Hers, but this is about what it means to be Andred’s, to follow Her. I have work to do, in that regard.

I don’t know if this makes me Andred’s priest(ess), but if so I’m the first I know about in roughly 1500 years. Probably 2000. The thought of it is as intimidating as the thought of further interactions with the Fae. It gives a sense of “you need to prepare right away”. I have no idea if these are things I need to prepare for or not, I can’t pick apart exactly what it all means yet. Maybe, by instinct, I have figured out the key to my own survival, but then I would have to reverse engineer it to fully understand.

Conclusion

I’m approaching 2020 once again thinking about the future. An ill advised tactic if you do too much of it, sure, but a part of me knows that I cannot remain in a tenuous present forever. Though I’ve given up on the news and would argue my mental health has benefitted, not even I could ultimately escape the word that Trump’s impeachment was being decided by the House a couple months ago. That still won’t stop climate change, the relentless push of extremism and reactionary extremism, the politicization of everything I could encounter, and once again the growing sense that nothing I could do would be good enough.

So, I surrendered on politics, and I’m not even sure if I will vote this time around. I know it’s my civic duty, but I also feel that my voice doesn’t matter to the wider human-created systems that led to this mess and show no signs of getting us out. I happen to know for a fact that when it comes to certain political sects, my voice doesn’t matter at all regardless of whether I say the right things or not. So I don’t think they deserve my support regardless of if I were involved or not.

I’m not looking forward to this election year, and I’m certainly not looking forward to any of the chicanery surrounding it. Of all the otherworldly events allegedly happening around this, as well, I do not even dread them compared to how much I dread the shrill cries of how racist I am based on my skin tone and refusal to tow a party line. I’ll take a glowing green bird over any of that any day of the week, honestly. Maybe in that case I would begin to sense a glimmer of meaning in my life.

Rabbit Rabbit Revisited

It is five months later, and a lot has changed since then: I own the car, my mother is off the apartment lease, and we still don’t speak. I can’t believe that it was snowy in May, and I further can’t believe that I’m back in the Christmas spirit before Summer is officially out. My father has my phone number, but I was forced to block my mother after she got a hold of it. He continues to insist that I “talk to her” about “whatever it is”, because surely it must be “in the past”. Historically she’s been terrible at listening to me, so talking will probably not work and I have little interest in it, regardless. I learned from him some of the facts of the three years or so in which the lawsuit, Mom’s cancer, and Dad’s arrest were so tangled up that I could not pick them apart.

However: I also learned that he sees himself as a hopeless victim and still has a “woe is me” mindset, but there is no chance in hell that his wife is any sort of crazy wicked beast, at all. None.

I still consider those principles true (even though I have yet to find any proper evidence still, but perhaps that will be a later “Rabbit Rabbit” post). Perhaps I will add to the list, things like: “The only purpose in fighting a war is to end it” (which is more “soldier” than “warrior”, but I have never held any delusions about glory in battle and bloodshed). It is a slowly growing list that I might make a page on, distilling each down to a fairly simple explanation, hopefully.

And, as “Rabbit Rabbit” is curse breaking, I may endeavor to make more of these posts, on the first of every month, discussing aspects of the journey, contemplating life, maybe expounding on these principles. Time will tell.

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.

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.)