The Salish Sea and Me

It’s a beautiful day on the Salish Sea, and I am sitting alone in my Paramour’s empty future home, looking out over the water at the roof of my house and marveling at the strange twists and turns our lives take. The other night we had a house full of people, all of them people I consider my family. We stayed up late, talking about childhood toys and random acts of heroism and villainy we have indulged in over the years. I am so blessed to have these people in my life. I am blessed to have my Paramour returned to me after all these years. I am blessed to have a wonderful husband who is my hero and protector. I am blessed to have friends who make me laugh endlessly and challenge me mentally.

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The view from my Paramour’s living room. You can literally see the roof of my house across the water.

To celebrate Maitag, I had to make room in my nightmare of a schedule for a my first solitary ritual. In the whirlwind of redecorating my Paramour’s house, school, planning for my trip to France in 3 weeks, and multiple health problems, I hadn’t realized that TODAY was May 1st. I picked up some items from the grocery store and headed over to the Paramour’s new house between classes to do some work. While I was there, I sat out in the backyard on a bench overlooking the water, set up my gear, and did a combined Maitag ritual and house blessing. Since I didn’t have any sort of oracle to consult, I had to improvise. I thought to myself, what is an oracle? Divination is the selection of a randomly generated symbol and the interpretation of that symbol in the context of the question your are asking. Regardless of whether you consider an oracle to be a message from the divine or just random chance, you are still taking a meaningful symbol and applying it to a query for guidance. Before I left German class today, I pulled WMFH aside and asked him to write the first German word that came into his head on a piece of paper and give it to me. He obliged, and I used that as my oracle. The word he wrote? Zuverlässig: trustworthy, steadfast, everlasting. Have I mentioned lately how awesome WMFH is? Seriously, the guy is totally magical and doesn’t seem to know it.

My first solitary ritual went ok, it wasn’t completely ADF compliant, but I am ok with that. I managed to do a basic skeleton of the core ritual from memory, and the addition of the Freya’s Gold beer from the Odin Brewing Company as my offering to the god’s was another sweet slice of serendipity. During the ritual, a goldfinch landed on the bough of an blossoming apple tree and sang a few notes before moving on. It seems that during most of our rituals we are visited by a bird or 2 with a purpose.

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Another view.

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The Interruption Continues

This month is shaping up to be a busy one. I have to drive the 102 miles to Seattle every weekend this month, on top of it being the last 3 weeks of school. Tomorrow I head south for a neurologist appointment, then spend the night with my Paramour (*le sigh*… but more on that later), next weekend Co-Priest and I are going to the Cascadia ADF Protogrove to celebrate Ostara. It will be nice to see how others do it for a change, since Co-Priest and I have been working in something of a vacuum here. The weekend after that I am attending a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony with my Paramour for my music appreciation class.

The BIG news is that my Paramour (with no small assistance from my Best Friend) is taking me to France and Barcelona in May! Best Friend runs these amazing wine tours in the south of France, and I have been trying to figure out a way to go. I get to spend 10 days with my Paramour staying in a 12th century chateau in the south of France in Spring. Not only that, but my Best Friend, Co-Priest, and several other close friends will be there as well. Seriously, how completely blessed can I be? I am sad that Husband wasn’t interested in going, he is completely disenchanted with travel and doesn’t understand why he should leave the house when all of his stuff is here anyway.

Chateau d'Aragon
This is where we will be staying, Chateau d’Aragon.

Carcassonne
This is the nearest city, Carcassonne.

So now I am slammed with local travel and planning for global travel. Travel with MS requires HUGE amounts of planning. I need doctor’s notes, equipment, and medications. I need to plan for problems with security, figure out the best strategies for expending my energy… not to mention I will be sharing a bathroom with 3 boys when I get there. AND to top of the insanity, I will be coming back to the last week or so of school. THEN we have our grove’s Shakespearean Midsummer rite. So I apologize, the dry spell here will probably be ongoing for a while.

This is the only clip I could find of this Ab Fab episode, but imagine my trip will be a lot like this.

Bastards and Beads

Dear People Who Made “Hansel and Gretel, Witch Hunters”,

Go fuck yourselves. No really, GO. FUCK. YOUR. SELVES. Thank you for raping the childhood of everyone born since 1812.

Sincerely,
Sigrun Pallene

In other, more interesting news, I was inspired by fellow ADF dedicant vlaughlin over at “The Druid’s Cosmos” to create a set of Pagan prayer beads. I really needed something to help focus my meditation, and this should be just the ticket.
pagan prayer beads
There are 9 beads for the Nine Virtues of Druidry, 9 beads for the Nine Noble Virtues of Heathenism, 3 beads for the Triple Hallows (fire, well, tree), 3 beads for the Three Kindreds, and 2 beads for the Two Powers. Since these are the subjects I feel need the most initial attention I made them my “training beads”. I am working on writing a series of prayers for each bead, plus I would like to use the large beads for special prayers.

Part of the impetus for this was the realization that I was expending huge amounts of energy on historical and factual study, but virtually ignoring my actual spiritual development. Meditation is not my forte, or rather, I never consider it my forte, but I do spend a great deal of time in a near-meditative state while I am listening to music or resting in bed (I take a nap every day due to the MS). This will hopefully prove to be a good tool to focus my mind where it needs to be.

Yule 2012: Pre-Game Show

Today is the big ritual! We set up the table yesterday, which was an all-day undertaking. Ryan did an AMAZING job, everybody pitched in and created something that is going to be so magical tonight!

Meh and Other Statements

If all goes according to plan, my posts will be somewhat sporadic for the next 2 weeks. I have a lot of Yule prep to do this week, then The Husband will be off work next week, and I’d kind of like to spend some time with him. I am also working on the 35* ADF essays I have to write. You’d think writing 9 essays about the 9 virtues in the context of Dumezil’s trifunctional hypothesis as it pertains to modern Druidry would be a snap. Go figure. I am also still hard at work on “Der Erlkönig” and trying not to forget all the German I have learned.

In other news, we saw “The Hobbit” on Saturday. It was fairly good. Peter Jackson makes a pretty film, Martin Freeman is nerdgasmingly hot, and the movie is very charming. I must be the only Heathen on Earth who isn’t obsessed with Tolkien. I mean, I love what he’s done with the mythos and the language, but I just find his work to be one big sausage fest. I find I have zero interest in stories without any significant female presence. And if you say “what about Arwen, Eowyn, and Galadriel?” I will poke you with a stick. Bit parts, supporting cast, whatever. Meh.

In other (completely unrelated) news my acupuncturist gave me a new topical herbal medication that makes me smell like rhubarb and maple syrup. And not in a good way. This statement serves no purpose other than the fact that the smell is so pervasive it is taking over my brain. Being a perpetual patient is tiresome.

So it goes.**

*That is, indeed, 35 essays. I counted.

**My reliance on this Vonnegut quote becomes more and more constant as I get older. Some people fight middle age, some people embrace it, I seem to face it with a weary eye-roll.

Priorities

Today I helped out at the college Winterfest. When I offered to stay and help clean up, my German instructor said, “You can go if you have other things to do.” I looked at him and said what I always say, “Meh, I have nothing else going on.”

When I say that, what I really mean is “this is my priority right now”. Because in reality, the nothing I have going on at this moment is:

Reading The Annotated Poetic Eddas
Reading Jordanes’ De origine actibusque Getarum (OMG zzzzz)
Reading H.R. Ellis Davidson’s Gods and Myths of Northern Europe and Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe: early Scandinavian and Celtic religions
Learning Anglo-Saxon English
Learning Icelandic
German homework
Re-translating the Anglo-Saxon Rune poem
Meditation
Baking bread
Cleaning house
Laundry
Making my own cleaning products and toiletries
Planning the next ritual
Writing liturgy
Finding time to stimulate my creativity
Trying to have a social life
Taking care of my health
Blogging

I tell people I am just a middle-aged housewife because my time is my own to spend how I see fit. My life is a strange and immersive event right now, where all things around me are potent and pertinent to my pursuits. I can’t tell where one aspect of my life begins and the other ends. And that is ok by me. I think it’s rare we get to live an integrated life, where one’s spiritual, personal, and professional quests are one and the same. Cleaning up after Winterfest might seem on the surface to be a waste of my time when I have so much else on my plate, but the chance to be social, to be able to do something for the instructor who has given me such powerful knowledge, the chance to feel a sense of accomplishment of a job well done… that is just as important to me as anything else on that list.

Reconstructionism Reconsidered

After my last post, I was contemplating more about what it means to be a Reconstructionist in the 21st century when the perfect allegory hit me (stay with me, my husband hates my allegories, YMMV).

Let’s say your house gets wiped out by Hurricane Jesus. Now, you’ve lived in this house for years. You love your house, it’s familiar and suits your needs. Then Hurricane Jesus swoops in like a wrathful pterodactyl and takes a big Jurassic dump all over everything. What’s a girl to do?

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The Internet: Making my job just too damn easy.

Rebuild, of course. The question I ask you is this: are you going to try and replicate your house brick by brick? No, of course not. I don’t know about you, but I don’t happen to have the blueprints to my house laying around. As lovely as your house was, the plumbing was at least 50 years old, not to mention building codes have changed drastically since it was built. I mean, sure, you are building it on the same foundation as before, the same land, and your needs aren’t going to be that drastically different, but the situation is going to call for some changes, some welcome, others just necessary. Even if you could duplicate your house, it is still only going to be a facsimile of the original. Rather than slavishly trying to recreate something that is gone, wouldn’t it be better to fill that void with something that serves the same purpose and has its own spirit? You can still put the living room over there, with its southern exposure and a stone fireplace like you had before, just maybe with double paned windows and Pergo floors. Plus, you have always wanted a pantry in the kitchen, and now might be a good time to think about that jacuzzi tub for the master bath…

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m a Priestess!”

I love BBQ.

I married a Southern Gentleman from coastal North Carolina, and I am not entirely sure if it was him or the BBQ that won me over. I happen to be a fan of Stubb’s BBQ sauce. I am telling you, that moppin’ sauce of his is A-MAZ-ING. One of the more charming aspects of Stubb’s is the catch phrase written right on the bottle, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m a cook!” I’ve always found the self-determination of that statement almost elegant in its simplicity. Stubb’s wanted to be a cook, so he was a cook. The exuberance of the exclamation point is almost poignant. You can almost feel the joy of a realized dream, of a life lived to its fullest, of a person so certain of their identity that one sentence was all it took to become that thing.

The first thing you learn when you learn a second language are the “be” verbs. “I am” is quite possibly the most magickal phrase in the human tongue. It is defining, it is definitive, it is self-fulfilling. So frequently we focus on the things we are not, the things we wish to be, the things we could be if the circumstances were different. Personally, I try as often as I can to take a page from Mr. Stubbs. I am exactly what I tell the world I am. (More on language and magickal thinking in future posts…)

When my “co-priest” first brought up the idea of joining the ADF and pursuing the clergy path, I think he was shocked at my enthusiasm in joining him, which may have seemed to outsiders completely out of the blue. While friends knew I was some kind of Germanic-y, Heathen-y Pagan, it was not a topic I discussed freely. When we first started to perform rituals, I was terrified. I felt like a phony playing at being a priestess, undeserving of the title. My co-priest was so much more knowledgeable and comfortable with the liturgy, where as I just wanted to say as few words possible and get off the stage. On top of everything else, I have this fear of being taken seriously. I have this sarcastic, “Mae West one-liner” persona that has been my defense since childhood, and the thought of shedding that armor, having to stand before others and be not only sincere but devout was like staring into the abyss. The first ritual we performed was a Hellenist Orphic Autumnal Equinox rite (my co-priest is a Hellenist, and our congregation is mixed so we try to trade off different traditions). The ritual was beautiful, and I think I did rather well, even if I was shaking throughout. (Some people may quibble with the fact that neither my co-priest and I are officially ADF clergy yet, however our group actually formed long before we decided to go the ADF route, and he actually performed my wedding ceremony a few years ago.)

The second ritual, a Proto-Indo-European inspired Samhain and the first to completely conform the ADF core order of ritual, was a steaming hot mess.

We started with very lofty ambitions, created animal masks to represent our totem animals to protect us, bonfires, torches, and a goat sacrifice (calm down, the goat was made out of straw). At the last minute, everything started to slide sideways, my co-priest had foot surgery, I had a German midterm the following week, one of our congregants broke her wrist and couldn’t come, 2 others had a month of hellacious traveling and were too worn out to make it, and so on. Half our group would be missing and those that would be there were sick or crippled. We persevered, I made a fantastic bear mask, my co-priest was an owl. We did a couple walk-throughs, rehearsed our liturgy, checked out props and timing, we thought we had considered all possibilities… ah the best laid plans…


The Lemur, the Crow, the Bear (me), the Peacock, and the Owl (my co-priest). My husband, the Bull is taking the photo.

As the ritual began, we turned off the lights, as it was to be conducted by firelight. I tried to read my script… only to discover that in the dark my bear mask made it impossible to see anything with my 42 year old eyes. I stammered and stumbled, whacked one of the attendants in the face with my corn husk censer during the purification, was unable to light the bonfire, and generally fell apart like Mary Tyler Moore throwing a dinner party (if you are under the age of 35, you will not get that reference.) I was frustrated, embarrassed and generally not feeling the ritual vibe.

Then came the reading of the names of the dead. Every member of our grove had written the names of the loved ones they had lost over the years, and I read them out loud as each member placed a clove into an apple for each person they wished to honor. I could actually read these, as the print was larger, and as I did so, the feeling came over me; a reminder of why I was there, of who I was serving, and the reason for the ritual. A ritual is a party you throw for the gods, ancestors, and spirits you want to honor. Sometimes, even the most disastrous party can be memorable and endearing. In the end, I think everyone felt a sense of catharsis, and the ritual ended much better than when it started. This made me realize, performing a perfect ritual doesn’t make you a priestess, having an official clergy license doesn’t make you a priestess.

I am a priestess because I am willing to take that chance of making a fool of myself so that the gods and ancestors can reach out to us.
I am a priestess because I am willing to spend my time educating myself about the gods and the ways of our ancestors.
I am a priestess because I am willing to pass on that knowledge to those who want to learn it.
I am a priestess because I am willing to spend 2 months of my life preparing for a ritual regardless of how many people show up. We don’t do these things for the “audience”, we do them for the gods, spirits, and ancestors.
I am a Priestess because I am willing to change the things about myself that I see as an impediment to my relationship with the gods. I am prepared to mold myself into a more appropriate vessel, a more loving and forgiving person, a more disciplined and dedicated scholar, and a manifestation of both their will and my own.
I am a priestess because I have chosen to be a priestess. Because I was called to be a priestess.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I AM a Priestess!

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