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Contemplation and Creativity (Pagan Blog Project)
I’m going to take a short break from my series of posts on Odin’s heiti to ramble on about a few topics that are a little more personal, both because I haven’t done so for a while and because I haven’t been able to find any heiti for Him that begin with C. (Chieftain and Creator, maybe, but the actual names that incorporate those concepts don’t begin with C in Old Norse, because Old Norse does not contain the letter C. Maybe that post will come to me next week.)
As regular readers may have noticed, I haven’t been doing as much posting as usual, and that’s been for a few reasons. One is that this is turning out to be a year heavy on study, training and contemplation for me, and a lot of the latter is difficult to get into words at times. January was not a good month for me, energy-wise, and I haven’t posted a new oracular seidhr schedule yet because I spent much of the first month of the year recovering from Yule. (Schedule is coming soon, I promise!) The month began well enough, with the usual hopes and plans for the new year, and ended with the revelation that our dog, Corbie J., is indeed in the beginning stages of congestive heart failure. So. He is on maintenance meds for that, and it looks like we may have caught it early enough to be able to extend his life, hopefully for a few years.
But still, there is a weight there before that had not been there previously, a shadow on my heart. The promise of future loss. We have to pretend that shadow isn’t there to avoid upsetting the dog, since that would obviously not be good under the circumstances, but you have probably noticed—and will continue to—me scrambling to get yarn spun and ritual cords made, and to work on other long-delayed projects for my store such as art batts for spinning, bags of loose hand dyed locks and add-ins for carding, cords for knot spells, witches’ ladders, jarred beeswax candles, oils and incenses, prayer beads, perhaps video tutorials, anything and everything I can do towards continuing my process of pursuing disability and leaving my office job while at the same time being able to help pay for our household needs and afford the dog’s expensive medicines and my own. (Not to mention our one cat, Berzerker, who is on expensive meds of his own, for severe allergies that cause him to break out with pustules if his steroids are stopped.) My first thought, when new unavoidable expenses such as this come up (besides the meds, Corbie will need more frequent doctor visits, and the one from last week was over $300 with all the tests) is always “I’ll go back to working full time.” But Jo actually gets angry when I propose this, because we both know I can’t; I am on 25 hours per week now, and sometimes too sick to get to work even with those reduced hours, so we both know that it’s only with extreme effort and will that I keep on working the hours I’ve got now.
So, creation driven by need is a big factor in my life right now, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing; Nauthiz is a powerful motivator, and there’s nothing to get me away from dithering around on the internet and applying myself to my creative prospects like the fear of not being able to provide for my family. It helps that I truly love creating in all its forms and in many mediums; carding and spinning are my favorites but I also enjoy mixing herbs, designing and stringing beads, knitting, dyeing, formulating fragrances, pouring candles. I even enjoy photographing my creations and showing them off online—though perhaps less so than actually making them.
Which brings us to writing. Yes, I am going to finish the book I was working on during NaNoWriMo in the fall, and I have plans for at least one other book that will probably emerge next year. A lot of my writing spoons have been taken up, this past month, by a course Jo and I have been taking, but I will find a way to get writing time for other projects back into my schedule on a regular basis, at least after the inventory in my store has been pumped up a bit more. There may be a class or two (designed and taught by me, I mean) in my future as well!
As for the courses I myself am taking right now, I’ve already mentioned one of them: Journey to the Golden Fleece, a course on fiber creativity approached through the lens of the classic hero’s journey. It’s an intriguing class, and I’ve already learned quite a bit in the way of new techniques, design skills, and spinning inspirations. (Right now my shop is paying for this, but I might need to give it up if that changes. Corbie’s meds trump all.) The other class came as a surprise to me; we probably wouldn’t be taking it if Jo hadn’t been out of work for a week with a back injury last year, because if she hadn’t been confined to bed we wouldn’t have discovered the remarkable Ahneke Greystone through her You-Tube videos. Check out Jo’s very thorough description of what attracted her both to Anni and to the course itself here, but let me add that for me, the discovery of Anni was like an antidote to a lot of the poison that I feel is seeping through the community these days. I have stayed out of the polytheist/pagan debates for the most part because while I am a hard polytheist, I am also sort of a hybrid: I am Odin’s priestess and seidhrkona, and my devotion is woven into every part of my life, but I am also a witch, an artist and crafter, so my practice manifests itself in ways that may not seem as valid to many people as kneeling before my altar for hours each day would be, perhaps. I don’t know how we can expect to resolve in a single generation the sorts of issues that have plagued the Big Three religions for centuries or millenia. Also, I am not interested in spending precious time bickering with other pagans and/or polytheists on the internet when there are things to make, books to write, time to spend with my family and my gods and spirits (who are also family, to me) and animals to snuggle.
Anni comes from a background in Traditional Wicca and that is very evident in her teachings, but she is secure in her own tradition and her own power, and not threatened by people who do things differently. I became addicted to her You-Tube videos, and got very excited about her Season of the Seeker course—but then nearly decided to quit after the first few weeks because it seemed to be dealing with such very basic basics, with self-work and shadow-work I’ve already been through and done. But as Jo put it, you can’t say you want to go back to basics and then refuse to really do that, and as I actually began to apply myself to the sessions I began to see patterns emerge in my own history and my responses to it that I had not recognized before. And in order to truly claim your own sovereignty, to truly step into it and operate from it, you have to know yourself backwards and forwards. This is very much part of Odin’s path as well: how can you succeed in expanding your consciousness and fully exploring other realms if you don’t truly know yourself first, if you haven’t thoroughly explored the realms within yourself? This is yet another example of how I continually do things backwards: I jump right into the deep end of the pool and somehow stay afloat without ever learning the basic swimming strokes. Well, I’ve decided to go back and learn some of them now, and I’ve already seen a deepening of my trance work practices as a result. So, for this reason, I would highly recommend Anni’s course even to fairly advanced practitioners who know a thing or two, like myself. Odin Himself never assumes He knows it all; He is always searching, seeking, and discovering new things, and He encourages me to do the same. After helping us to distill the essence of what we each are and what our individual practices consist of, the course is now moving on into elemental balancing, which I’m very excited about.
Anni has, tantalizingly, mentioned a follow up course to this one, the Season of the Dedicant, which I’m also hoping to take. As I may have shared here before, I began my spiritual journey in Wicca, and—as I haven’t mentioned yet—have been feeling a pull back in its direction for the past year or so, as Odin continues to urge me to expand the boundaries of my practice. This is exciting to me; for years, I had turned my back on Wicca largely due to the prejudice against it in Heathenry (I get it, people tend to lump Heathens in with Wiccans and it can be frustrating, but that doesn’t mean things such as working with the chakras and the elements are “fluffy”), and now it feels as if whole new vistas are opening up for me to explore. Wicca seems like a container that could potentially hold, without confining, all of the disparate parts of who I am and what I do. I am also very much enjoying swimming in a bigger pond than the one I’ve called home for a while now, meeting and interacting with people who are not necessarily all hard polytheists or godspouses or “god-bothered.” Getting to know that there were people like me was a good thing. But getting stuck in someone else’s paradigm or confined by someone else’s definitions is decidedly not. I belong to a god of storms and wind, and the wind wears no chains. Besides Odin, the only person I am going to allow to define me is—you guessed it—me.
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