Pagan Blog Project Week 6- Cernunnos

Unlike many Pagan women, there isn’t a lot of “Goddess” in my worship. I have my altar to the Matrons that I have combined with Hestia, Hera, and Hecate, and I have my statue of our gal Freya, but in general I have always been drawn to the male forces in nature. They are so much more wild, primal, and have this element of lust in all its forms that I feel in my bones. When I have had any kind of spiritual discourse, it has always been with a masculine deity. When I am out in the forest, I don’t feel that gentle, embracing earth energy of growth others speak of, I feel the manic pulsing throb of nature. The wind is a purring predatory whisper, calling me with its bloodsong. My world has always been more about a volatile, passionate engagement. I love the sea, and storms, and thunder and lightning.

Although my practice is not Celtic, Cernunnos is a concept I can relate to. I say concept because there really isn’t an firmly established historical god called Cernunnos, the name is used as a catch all for the pan-Celtic reoccurring figure of the Horned God (if I remember correctly, there is only a single attestation to the name “cernunnos”, but many artistic renderings of various horned god figures across Celtic Europe and parts of Anatolia. I should probably double check this, but I am tired and spent all day trying to wrap my head around German negations, modal music, and how French wine influenced art and music, so for the sake of argument let’s pretend I am 100% certain). While the ADF emphasizes viewing the gods as entities rather than archetypes, in some cases I think the power is in the archetype when a specific entity isn’t described. The very nature of Cernunnos is something mutable and experienced differently by different people, possibly owing to his being a medley of different deities. Some portray him as a gentle steward of the animals, others as the untamed king if the wild, others view him as a Pan like figure, some see him as Oberon. I don’t see how the any of these are mutually exclusive. Nature is both mothering and merciless by turns, any god of the natural world would have to include many aspects. Similar gods demonstrate similar dichotomies. Dionysus is a god of growth, wine, and of ecstasy, but has been show in myth and literature to be able wield his powers in very dark and destructive ways.

I have seen Pagans jump down each others throats about how a god is represented or described. One of the few things that Christianity gets right (on a philosophical level, not so much in practice) is the idea that one can not know the mind of god. That Pagans feel they can saddens me. Cernunnos is a deity as complex as nature itself. If to me he feels like sleeping in a pile of wolves and to others he feels like a gentle spring breeze, what is the difference? We are dealing with knowledge that is both revealed (knowledge learned by divine experience or revelation) and rational (knowledge gained by scholarship and history). When we reconstruct the practices of the past from the fragments we have, we have to retain an open mind and face the fact that we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do.

Pagan Blog Project Week 3: Blood

**NOTE: This was in my queue as a work in progress, but somehow ended up posting. It is unedited, rambling, and off-topic, but I decided to let stand since people have already seen it and commented. I apologize for the premature and “raw” nature of the post.**

Blood. What an odd choice to write about, eh? I’mma gonna warn you right here an now, if you squick easily, especially about chick things, skip this post. I’m not going to go into graphic detail, but I know the very subject disturbs some people. I’m also going to talk about my experiences with childhood bullying and sexual assault, so trigger alert as well. While these topics aren’t specifically Pagan, I am currently contemplating the concept of Fertility for my ADF essays, so it actually helps to write some of this out. Bear with me.

Let’s talk about menstruating, shall we? I don’t anymore, not since that nasty tumor pulled a Jack Ruby on my uterus 8 years ago. On the one hand, this was a blessing: the tumor caused me excruciating pain and made me bleed like a damn flume ride, but on the other hand… you would be surprised to learn that you can actually miss having a period. I forget that women menstruate sometimes. I still ovulate and have a regular cycle (I can tell I am doing so right now, as my breasts feel like sauna rocks and I have an insatiable desire for sex, salt, and chocolate. WMFH had best watch out, his earlobes were looking mighty nibble-able the other day) but since I don’t bleed anymore I have this sense of being on the outside of womanhood. I don’t regret my inability to have children, I never wanted them. However, as I have gotten older my great regret is the fact that I never wanted kids. People seem to like them. I don’t know why I don’t. I look at a baby and I feel about as much emotion as I feel looking at a sack of potatoes. The presence of children fills me with distaste and annoyance. Once they hit puberty, the age when most people start to lose interest in them, THEN I start finding them tolerable. As my husband likes to put it in his Old South Foghorn Leghorn drawl, “I don’ like ’em until they unnerstand the concept a’ death.” (note: don’t let the accent fool you, my husband is actually a very educated man)

I think part of my issue with children is the obscene amount of bullying I was subjected to as a child. This was back in an age before people cared about such things and developed PSAs, support groups, hotlines, and Very Special Episodes dedicated to it, and the level of abuse I experienced was truly horrific. It ranged from verbal taunting to beatings to outright sexual assault. I was overweight, I was smart (but a poor student), I was weird, and I was raised in a home where no one paid attention to whether or not I did my homework, bathed, brushed my teeth, slept, ate, or had clean clothes for school. I developed enormous breasts by the time I was in 4th grade and my mother didn’t see a reason to buy me a bra. I dreaded recess every day, because I knew at best I would be able to hide by myself in the secluded forest behind the field, but at worst… at worst, the girls would tease me, tell me I was fat and ugly, throw rocks at me, and the boys would gather in a circle around me to take turns punching and jabbing my breasts in sadistic curiosity. And it didn’t end there. I can recall specific days in vivid detail where I was convinced I would be murdered or gang raped before recess was through, and the adults turned a blind eye to it all. We were just being kids, kids tease each other, it builds character. And it was constant. Every day, on the way to school, between classes, on the playground, after school, and around the neighborhood. It took me several years of this treatment before I finally had had enough and wailed the tar out of one girl in what could only be described as a berserker rage. After that, I realized I was not just fat, I was BIG, the tallest kid in school at that point. And strong. And over the preceding years of constant physical torment I had developed a very high tolerance for pain. Once word got out I was not only not playing the game anymore I was, in fact, a juggernaut of irrational violence when pushed too far, the kids found someone else to torment. Junior high and high school were far more kind to me socially. So, when I see children, I do not see the innocent little angels others see, I see the leering, hateful tormentors and cruel mob mentality of a soulless legion that did everything it could to deny me my humanity, dignity, and self-respect.

People have often said “you’ll feel different when it’s your own”. To them I say, “and what if I don’t?? Do you really want to gamble with the future of a CHILD that way??” Cuz let me tell you right now, brother, I have come *this close* to punching a child in the face on numerous occasions, and these were kids I could walk away from. Why would I roll the dice that I might not hate my own child? That, to me, illustrates the problem with the way our society looks at women. There is something so “unnatural” about a woman who does want children that we are willing to pressure her into breeding NO MATTER THE CONSEQUENCES TO HER OR THE CHILD. I chose not to have children because I did not want a child growing up in a house without all the love and support possible.

But I do miss having my period sometimes. I feel sometimes like I have given up part of my femininity, forced myself into a sort of early “cronehood”. There is something so incredibly potent and mysterious in that blood we both exalt and revile. Men tend to react strangely when you tell them you aren’t fertile, like you are a eunuch. Guess what, just because the kitchen is closed doesn’t mean there isn’t still a party at the bar. Everything that counts works just fine, even better thanks for asking. As I have approached my 40s, my already prodigious sex drive has kicked on the turbo boost in a major way, only there is still this strange sense of something missing, of being not quite right.

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