There is always that moment when you start a blog where the cursor flashes ominously from the little white rectangle… ENTER USER NAME… ENTER USER NAME… and you stare vacantly, waiting for a spark of inspiration that will summarize your identity, in 4-20 characters to give a clear picture of who you are and why you have decided to share your thoughts with anyone who wanders by.
Choosing mine was daunting, but eventually the names came to me:
Sigrun: Valkyrie who cursed her brother to wander the woods and live off carrion for the rest of his days after he killed her lover.
Pallene: “A Princess of Pallene (in Thrake, North of Greece) whose father had her wrestle those who sought her hand in marriage. All were defeated and slain until Dionysos came along and won the contest.” - theoi.com
These two mythical women seemed to encompass many aspects of who I am and why I am here. As a Pagan woman, I often find people expect me to be oriented to the Earth Mother. Many a conversation has turned sour for me when I inform other Pagan women that not only am I child-free by choice, I actually rather intensely dislike children and find childbearing rather… unseemly. I have actually be told before that my distaste for reproduction means I can’t possibly be a “real” Pagan, because, of course, all “real” Pagan women are enthralled with the idea of squeezing a fleshy bowling ball out of their blood-smeared nether regions.
Apparently, the tyranny of obligatory fecundity is not just the province of the Abrahamic religions.
I was not born to breed. It simply isn’t in my personal make up. Those of you who are parents and enjoy raising children, more power to you, you have more fortitude and grit than I can muster. I would think the world would commend a woman for choosing to remain childless when she knows her maternal instinct is AWOL, but sadly most people react as if you have told them you kick puppies for a hobby.
I was raised to be a warrior by a mother who probably would have been happier if she had been able to be one herself. She taught me to fight, to swing a bat, how to intimidate a man who threatens you, how to take stock of your surroundings and find the weapons and tools you might need in case of trouble. She taught me to voice my opinion, to fight my own battles, and to suck it up when things went wrong. When most people’s mothers read them “The Pokey Little Puppy” and “Goodnight, Moon” before bed, this is what my mother read me:
by William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
I shit you not, gentle reader.
Needless to say, moving into adulthood created some serious “alpha female” moments in our single-parent household, and I left home as early and often as possible. Nowadays, my relationship with my mother is relatively healthy, but we have both changed and matured, and it was a long road to get here.
My dad is a very gentle and funny guy. He taught me to love nature, to respect it but not fear it, that a little science is every girl’s best friend.
Both my parents insisted I be able to read before kindergarten. I still can’t thank them enough for that.
As I grew, I had several spiritual revelations that have lead me down the path I am currently on. I will go into those in depth later, but for now it is enough to say that my whole life I have been one of “those” women. The woman who is too loud, too vulgar, too rough, and too pushy. The woman who doesn’t know that men hate it when you beat them at games, that you shouldn’t prattle on about Xhosa healing ceremonies or televised eye surgery when on a date, that guys hate it when you use big words they don’t know. The woman who is too blatant in her sexuality, too immodest in her dress, too casual in her relationships with men. The woman to whom people constantly say things like “Geez, tell us how you REALLY feel!” or “Stop yelling ‘vagina’! You’ll upset the neighbors!”. I have tried to fit in, to make myself more demure and “classy”. I often think that somewhere inside me is an inner Audrey Hepburn, but the big mean fat girl ate her… so here I am.
I am currently a dedicant for the ADF and a practicing priestess for a small grove here on the tiny island in the Northwest I call home. I am married to a Bad Ass Motherfucker, who was the only man I deemed could survive being married to me. He is my rock and my hero, even if he wishes I would stop yelling ‘vagina’ and scaring the neighbors. This blog is called ‘Ravens and Ivy’ because I identify with the ferocity of the Germanic Valkyries and the ecstatic abandon of the Greek Maenads. I consider myself a sort of Pan-Germanic semi-reconstructionist, which if it seems like a ridiculously over the top description, it is. I started this blog because I needed a place to talk about my spiritual journey with a certain level of anonymity and candor. If you read this, great, if not, oh well.