"There is a fire song in the depths of your soul that makes your heart sing. It doesn't matter if no one else can hear your melody, this is your song, not theirs. So move to your own beat and dance to your own drum. Follow your light and see where it leads. This is your story; this is your dream."...
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All through October, which was the warmest October on record here on the Front Range of Colorado, there were rumors and reports of scary, threatening clowns walking around scaring people. These clowns would be sighted on deserted roads, skulking suspiciously near woods or schools or unlit parts of neighborhoods. Leading up to Hallowe'en, my own kids could not stop chattering away the “creepy clowns,” repeating and embroidering on rumors that kept getting more threatening, more morbid. The clowns were seen close by, hanging around someone else's school, someone else's playground. It got so bad that the school district called the police, then sent letters to every home in town, trying to allay fears: no scary prowlers had been seen or arrested, there was no cause to continue to believe in them. But that did not stop the rumors, did not stop my kids and their friends taking turns scaring the daylights out of each other, with creepy clown stories.
.A quick scan of urban legends reveals that the creepy clown scare, like many other mass hallucinations, has a tendency to pop back up in times of collective societal stress. Kids, picking up vibes and amplifying them, act as both sensors and transmitters. Whether the cry is “creepy clown!” or “witches!” or “Communist!” or “terrorist!,” the dynamic does not shift very much. The pressure of anxiety, fear, and dread rises, is pressed down, but never released, until it bursts out explosively, sometimes even bizarrely. As we approached Hallowe'en and the election soon after, the creepy clown meme kept reasserting itself, no matter how many reassuring letters were mailed out....
American anthropologist Wynne Maggi had gone to Pakistan to study the bashali, the Moon-House, of the women of the Kalasha, the last remaining pagans of the Hindu Kush.
She kept trying to get the Kalasha women to generalize about Kalasha men.
They wouldn't do it.
“Some men are one way, some another,” the women kept telling her. “Can't you see that for yourself?"
“A fools around, B doesn't. C takes care of the kids, D doesn't. Men are all different, just like everyone else” (Maggi 152).
In this election season, we've heard much about categories of people.
Hope can be a double-edged sword. It can lift our hearts, rally us towards a cause, or it can lead us to the depths of despair when it dies. I've often wondered whether it is better to have hope or not, whether hope is a carrot dangling in front of us, or whether it is that very real need to invest our emotions into the belief that we can change our world. Back in 2012, I wrote about the Zen approach, in a piece entitled "No Hope". The words that I wrote four years ago still resonate strongly within me, even as my relationship to hope has changed.
When we are at our lowest, we might still have some hope that things will get better. This hope may be the only thing that gets us through those long, dark nights of the soul. Then again, that hope may be what is preventing us from achieving things in our own right. Hope may cause complacency. If we work without hope, without expectation, then we may be even more motivated to make a positive change in the world in our own right, for the benefit of all.
With hope comes expectation. When we have expectations, we can be thrown against the rocks of frustration, anxiety, anger and despair when those expectations are not met, when things do not go the way that we would like them to. We want people to behave the way we think they should, for the benefit of all. We want our politicians to think of the people that they represent instead of their own agendas. We want colleagues to pull their own weight, spouses and partners to be there for us, children to love us. When things don't go according to our plans, or according to our expectations, we might crash and burn. We might dive into darkness at seeing a new President-elect, we might look at the environment and realise that perhaps we have simply gone too far, and there is no remedy for what we have done. When this happens, we can lose momentum, we can get stuck. Hope might be the thing that brings us out of this stagnation, or it might leave us altogether, so that we are in an even worse state than before.
So how do we work with hope? I've found it useful in the last couple of years to work with Hope as a god. I've worked with Time in the same context, and it has been illuminating for me in so many ways. Working with the gods, we learn to create a relationship with them, one that is nurturing for all involved. There is a give and take, a sustainable and reciprocal feeling to it that means that we cannot rely on them to do everything for us, and vice versa. It is in mutual respect where we meet, where we realise that we are part of an ecosystem, and where we need to strengthen the bonds of relationship so that it functions for mutual benefit. We learn from permaculture that diversity is key, that edges are where things happen. We learn to work with both, and in doing so can make this planet a better place. If we give up Hope in this context, if we give up Hope as deity, then there will be a very real feeling of bereavement in our lives; we will be bereft. That relationship will be gone, and when it is gone then to whom do we relate?
Others would say that this might be preferable, and in giving up Hope as deity we then become more self-reliant. But self-reliance is a myth. We are all co-dependent upon everything else on this planet. We do not exist in a vacuum. We need others in order to exist, let alone thrive. We are not separate. Without the innumerable other factors in our lives, beings seen and unseen, we simply could not be. I think that this is why I believe in the gods. The gods are all about relationship, about relating to our world through a means which is personal to each and every being. This is why I'm starting to work with Hope on a new level, when it seems perhaps that all hope is lost. Otherwise, I fear I might spiral into apathy, or depression. If I work with Hope, if I talk to Her and connect those threads of sustainable relationship, then I might be inspired to solve a problem, mend something that is broken, reweave the threads of connection in the best way that I can.
Hope can be the spark of inspiration, the awen that sings to us in the dead of night when all seems lost. Hope can also be a force that keeps us from changing our lives for the better, hoping someone else, someone more powerful or intelligent will do it for us. But when we work with Hope as deity, then things begin to change. Hope will not save us from ourselves. But Hope may inspire us to do better, to be better, to be the change that we wish to see in the world.
Or so one can only Hope.
© Joanna van der Hoeven 2016
Joanna van der Hoeven is a Druid and author of several books, including the best-seller The Awen Alone: Walking the Path of the Solitary Druidand her most recent release, Zen for Druids: A Further Guide to Integration, Compassion and Harmony with the Natural World. Find out more at www.joannavanderhoeven.com
There is a local Asatru kindred in my area which has a custom about steel weapons that has a parallel among the Theodish. Theodish magical theory holds that it is bad luck to give a gift of living steel. Living steel is a steel weapon that has energy and perhaps personality. Among the Theodish, living steel can only be bought, even if it's bought for a token amount.
On Yule 2014, Tom and I attended sumbel with a local heathen kindred that is associated with a Renaissance Faire guild. Its leader has made some historical re-enactment weapons intended for combat sports....
The Germans call it Rapunzel.
Rampion. Campanula rapunculus: an old European cultigen with a beautiful, star-shaped purple flower, whose leaves can be cooked or eaten raw like spinach; its parsnip-like white roots are likewise cooked or served in salads.
You know the story. The couple long for a child; finally she gets pregnant, but craves a salad made from the beautiful rampion that grows in the garden of the witch next door. (What is it about witches and gardens?)
Twice the husband manages to steal rampion undetected, but the third time the witch catches him. In the end, she lets him off with all the rampion he wants, but on one condition: she gets the child.
In due course, the longed-for daughter is born. They name her—of course—Rampion.
And once she's weaned, she goes to the witch.
No one seems to wonder why the witch wants the child. (A weanling is too big and tough to eat.) But the reason seems clear enough. The witch has no daughter of her own. What she's looking for is an apprentice, a successor.
If you happened across my public posts on Facebook, you'd know that I was very anti-Trump during this election cycle (no need to rehash why). However, I think it's hypocritical of Hillary supporters/Dems to take to the streets in protest, hang effigies of Trump (WTF?) and vandalize businesses.
This is the same kind of destructive and whiny energy that many demonized Trump for. And, after demonizing anti-Obama folks for saying #NotMyPresident for 8 years, it seems pretty hypocritical to now do the same to Trump. The fact is, Trump IS our President-elect. And, Hillary has called on us to have an open mind and to give him a chance to lead. As President Obama said, Trump's success is OUR success....