Dealing with Deities – tainted love?

A few days ago on 29 October I ordered a book called “Dealing with Deities: Practical Polytheistic Theologies“.  On Saturday 4th November the package arrived and I opened it up with a certain amount of excitement only to see something that appeared to be very different…

DSC_0300 A book called tainted love apparently.  So as you might expect I start to prepare the complaint.  I was tired so I didn’t do much that evening and tried to sort it the following morning.  The first time I tried to complete the complaint form I was using my kindle and the photos I had taken wouldn’t upload to the complaint form.  So a bit later I got out my laptop and completed the form on that.  At that stage though I thought I’d better just check the inside of the book in case that looked damaged in some way.  Imagine my surprise when the first page I saw inside the cover said “Dealing with Deities”.  As I looked further the contents of the book seemed to be exactly what I had ordered!

“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover!”

How many times have I heard that saying?  How many times have I used it? Although that thought has only just occurred to me as I write this. what came to my mind yesterday as I saw the inside of the book was that someone had played a trick on me.  My first thoughts went to Loki because in my experiences he has a talent for playing with electronic equipment.  And the book arrived on a Saturday which is the day I devote to him.

Next thoughts were the juxtaposition of the words “Tainted Love” with “Dealing with Deities”.  I’m not sure what to make of that.  Initially I laughed.

Today though I’m thinking about the word “tainted” and how that means something that has been corrupted or fouled in some way. It occurs to me that the love we have when dealing with deities is often corrupted by our own wants and desires.  And then there’s the fact that those of us that are polytheists are also reconnecting links that long past ancestors shattered for various reasons.  Our efforts to make those connections again are tainted by what has happened in the past of our societies.  Some of these things we can do something about, we can do our best to love our deities without clouding maters with wants and desires.  I don’t mean we never ask for help but if we do so we do with respect and never taking such help for granted.  There’s not a great deal we can do about taints left from the actions of previous generations long gone into the mists of time.  We can acknowledge them.  We can do our best as we re-forge broken connections but the scars will be there for a long time. And if we do our best then hopefully over time as we and those to come build on what we do now those connections will become stronger and clearer.

And sometimes after we first see a “taint” we find that it actually helps us develop something new and wonderful.

 

 

Advertisements

If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

These are words that first began ringing loudly in my mind a few days ago when Neil and I were travelling to Glen Etive for a day out.  It was the day after a storm and the skies were still grey and heavy with rain when we set out.  The water poured off this hills in streams and waterfalls, rivers were swollen.  As we turned into Glen Etive I felt as if we were travelling in a land surrounded above and below with water. And that’s when these words started to sound in my head.

If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

And I knew what this was referring to.  I had a decision to make, to try and write a book about devotional practice I experience it or to leave it.

I remember Nimue Brown once writing that she wrote books she wanted to read.

I want to read about someone who juggles devotional life with family life, someone who isn’t very good at hearing messages from deities. I want to read about someone who says something about how long it has taken them to develop a devotional life, how they have tried things and then dropped them, how life has sometimes overwhemed them.  And I want to read about their journey with deities who have traces of ancient worship in the land I live in.

I haven’t come across a book like that yet.

If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

As our day in Glen Etive progressed we did see the odd patch of blue as the sky lightened.  We heard the bellowing of stags on the mountainside.  As we began the journey back along the Glen we had to stop.  Deer on the road. A small herd, a doe with what must have been this year’s young, a couple of slightly older but still immature stags, a few mature does and him.  He posed beautifully for our admiration.

One doe gently ate pieces of apple from the hand of another woman who like us had stopped.  This small herd were clearly used to people. That was the highlight of the trip for me and still those words echoed in my head.  A decision was made. I will write.

We came home days passed with other things; catching up with chores, spending time with the kids, doing some knitting and still these words come back to me.

If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

I’m working through things I said I’d do for others.  I’m beginning to plan, to think about what I want to say, how I might say it. I’m intending to start writing my first ever attempt at a book at Samhain.  It may take me a long time.  The first steps of a journey are not when you set out but when you make a decision and pack your things.

I am beginning to answer the questions that keep ringing in my head.

I will write and very soon now.

Musings on divination

Like many others I’ve dabbled with divination on and off over my years as a Pagan but although I learnt a few things, nothing ever seemed to quite connect.  Recently I’ve been working on my divination skills again and I believe I know why earlier efforts never really felt quite right.  It wasn’t the tools, I use the same rune stones now that I made about twenty years ago now I think, it was my approach.

When I first started to learn about divination it was as a tool to tap into my unconscious mind or into some form of a collective consciousness of the world.  I could get some benefit from this but it wasn’t an approach that really felt right and I never really knew why until recently.  Now I have come to understand divination as a method of communication between myself and my gods and I have found that to be a profound change.

No longer am I doing the equivalent of shouting into the wilderness and hoping someone will hear me, respond and provide useful advice.  Now I am doing the spiritual equivalent of making a phone call to a particular being.  I might not get a reply but if I do I have a much better chance of someone listening and replying.  Given the deities I am devoted to that may not always mean a sensible reply, they too have a sense of humour, but the chances are much improved.

At the moment there are two tools I am working on improving my skills with and both are ones I have had for quite a while.  One is the set of runes I mentioned above that I made many years ago and the other is a set of the Druid Animal Oracle Cards that I’ve also had for several years but not quite as long as the runes I made.  I’ve always loved the artwork on the Druid Animal Oracle cards but used to get more distracted by the details.

I have a number of small yew wood slices now and I intend to use pyrography to create a set of Ogham disks.  I have Ogham staves and cards which I do occasionally use but I like the idea of a handmade set of disks to work with and maybe making them will help me learn the various symbols that I don’t know yet.  If I manage all that, then I may start to use Ogham as a divination tool as well but that’s a bit in the future yet.

When I work with my runes I ask Loki for guidance with them.  I’m aware that He might not be considered the usual deity to approach for runic divination but this works for me.  I think some people often forget, or perhaps don’t even know, that Loki is skilled in the use of words. That is something that shines through in the various tales that we have about Him.  To me, and I’m probably not alone in this, that skill with words implies a skill with runes too.

When I work with the Druid Animal Oracle I have begun to ask Maponos for guidance.  If that seems like an odd choice to you then I will simply point out that the Romans linked Maponos with Apollo and Apollo is well known for His Oracles among other attributes so it is a strong possibility that Maponos too had his oracular side.

At the moment I feel my skills are improving and I have begun to offer readings to others as further practice.  I feel more confident about using divination now that I am approaching my gods when I do this and I trust in their guidance.

 

Changes to my altar

In the last couple of weeks there have been changes to my altar.

Meet the Smith, for Gofannon.

The Smith
The Smith

Today arrived a wonderful, amazing gift.  A traditionally made Zuni Coyote fetish crafted by Aaron and Thelma Sheche. I am deeply honoured to have been entrusted with this fetish. It’s actually two coyotes carved from the same stone bundles with an arrow head and pieces of turquoise.

Coyotes fetish
Zuni Coyote Fetish

Both the Smith and the Zuni fetish are now on my altar, shown below.

Altar 6 September 2017

Messages from Gods

Like forgotten yet eternal dreams.
Broke in bits before her, the lady lacks her necklace.
Like the sweet-apple reddening high on the branch.
Better far that my body should suffer outrage than my soul.
Oh, each of us discovered life’s burden, and we call that time a fable, remembering ourselves as we would a stranger.

These are words for me from a divination two weeks ago where I basically asked if I was doing ok with my devotions.  The overall interpretation I was given was I’m doing ok but there’s room for improvement.  Isn’t there always?

In April I had a three card tarot reading done for me with the following overall message:

These may seem vague, as Minor Arcana cards, but I love the combination of elements here. It seems to tell of an emotional time, perhaps with ups and downs on several levels, but also with a sense of determination, goals achieved and a clear path opening up through it all. Keep hold of that determination, hun, you’re going the right way and have good friends at your side!

I had another reading in January of this year but that one was face to face and I can’t remember a great deal from it.

I’m also working on improving my own divination skills.  At the moment that involves working with runes and practicing readings mainly on myself.

And then there is what happened to me on Saturday as I sat before my altar praying and listening.  I slipped into a trance and began to journey, something I haven’t done in quite a while.  Loki appeared beside me and we walked and talked in the Otherworld I know.  I’ve been asking, thinking and wondering why Loki is still interested in me, half expecting Him to move on and not return.  One part of my journey and conversation had a very powerful effect on me.

Loki asked me if I wanted Him in my life. At first I sidestepped replying clearly by saying “If you want to be”.  That wasn’t good enough though. He asked me again:

“Do you want me?”

And this time I simply said yes.  His reply was that He would remain with me then.  I asked if it was that simple. “Yes.”  We talked further, other things that I’ll not mention here but that helped clarify aspects of our growing relationship. I also gained insights into aspects of other deity relationships.

——————————

This year I have already asked for reassurance that I’m doing the right things, going in the right direction more times than almost any other year in my life. I’ve been unsure why I feel the presence of certain deities, why still other deities have come into my life.

Each time though I have been given reassurance that I’m doing the right things, going in the right directions.  Most of those reassurances have been open to some aspect of interpretation. This time, with Loki, I’ve had something amazingly direct, amazingly simple.

And that simple question echos on in other voices – Do you want me in your life?

Sometimes devotion is as simple as answering that question.

To be or not to be an author…

I am already an author here on this blog, I’ve also written articles that have been published in the Pagan Dawn magazine in the past.  I am currently musing on the idea of writing a book.  I had tentative ideas of writing a book once before on urban druidry.  That never came to pass and others have written books on forms of urban paganism since that time.  If I go forward this time though it would be something on being a (mostly) Brythonic polytheist.  Brython have plans to write and produce a primer that would cover various aspects of Brythonic polytheism.  I don’t want to write something like that though and frankly I don’t think my scholarship is up to that type of book although I’d probably make a good draft reader for the project if they get that far.  If I do write something, and I’m really not sure if I will, it is likely to be more personal and experiential.

I’ve been on my path as a pagan for a little over twenty years now.  I started learning about druidry with the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids  (OBOD) in March 1998. I have grown and developed in that time as you would expect and so has my path.  In the last decade I have developed much more of a Brythonic polytheist practice.  In that time I’ve gone through a number of personal changes as well that have affected all aspects of my life.

We are at a time when books about various polytheist paths are gradually increasing.  Is it time for one on what it is to walk a mostly Brythonic polytheist path?

But why would I write this? For the gods or for my own sense of ego? Probably a bit of both but is the balance right?  Would I do this more for the gods and to give others signposts for their journeys?

And would it be something others would want to read?

I think I could do this but should I?  And if I did would it even get published, be read by others, be enjoyed?

More questions than answers.  I’d welcome thoughts from readers of this blog about this.

Traveling Shrines

A home shrine is a wonderful thing but what do you do when you are away from your home for whatever reason?  Recently my family and I were away from home for holidays so I decided to put together a few things and take a form of traveling shrine with me.  Rather than try and describe what I did in words I took a couple of pictures while I was away so I could share what I had done.

photo of traveling shrine
Traveling Shrine while on holiday on the Island of Skye

 

photo of traveling shrine
Traveling Shrine on the Isle of Lewis

 

The cloth I used for my traveling shrine is actually a cloth for reading oracle decks made for me by Gemini Aspect.  The prayer cards are from Galina Krasskova‘s etsy store where there are prayer cards to many deities in several different pantheons.

The shrine while we were on the Isle of Lewis includes a card from both the Druid Animal Oracle and the Druid Plant Oracle both by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm with artwork by Will Worthington.