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.)

Rabbit Rabbit (A slightly organized stream of consciousness)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for tim shaw doctor who

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

The second aforementioned principle is:

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

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

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

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

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

Labor Day

I’m beginning to feel Andred again. The summer heat broke a couple of weeks ago and now it’s starting to be properly chilly. Fall is coming. It’s September, today is Labor Day, and it’s the second or third week of pre-season football (my parents are protesting this year, due to the whole hullabaloo about kneeling/”taking a knee” started by Capaernick last season). And, it has a particular order in this town: summer is tourist season (and also the heat of Ra, who gets brief mentions here where relevant), then we come into hunting season, and then, snow gods permitting, skiing, snowboarding, snow machining, and the annual sled dog race (top notch puppers right there).

In ancient times, this is about the time everyone goes back to their villages from the hills or from wherever they were fighting and raiding, to harvest things, cull the herd, and prepare for winter. It’s time to start cleaning up, regrouping, and preparing for the coming year.

And, as you might be aware, I’ve recently moved (I call it being kicked out with plausible deniability because I don’t like to sugar coat things). I’m almost completely set up, and She has her own shrine space. My mother keeps closing the door on it, but that’s a post for another time. So personally, I have to regroup, because a wrench has been thrown into my plans (to be brutally honest, it’s the latest of many wrenches, but at least the most brutally honest of the lot of them). I have to reassess and gather myself up. I don’t know what awaits in the days ahead, but this is not a season for very much action. This is a season for figuring out what I’m going to do next.

I learned within the past few years that if I move with the seasons, instead of trying to move in spite of them, then I’m a lot happier. Now I’m at least in an environment that ensures me peace and quiet, free from certain toxic persons, and I can still myself and worship the gods. Perhaps this time I’ll make choices I’ll be satisfied with, not ones I feel half-pressured into.