Anthesteria n’ Stuff

Tomorrow we kick off Anthesteria. My Paramour also arrives with a case of sake and is staying the weekend in a cabin here on the island, so between his presence and the Festival of Flowers at the wine shop this Saturday, this should be quite the debauched bender. I plan on being drunk and in congress for as much of the weekend as I am physically capable of squeezing out of my middle aged body.

But first off, I have much more G related obligations to WMFH today. It’s International Night at the college and we have to sing songs about drinking and cuckoos. Of course, these are cuckoos that are killed and come back to life each Spring… clever boy, WMFH, well played.

Long story short, I won’t be around much the next few days… at least not if I can help it.

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Frankie Says….

My great Pagan spiritual awakening happened at a Frankie Goes to Hollywood concert at the age of 14.

Yes, I really just said that.

It was 1985, and Frankie was ALL THE RAGE, the Justin Bieber of the 80s, only even more gay and with better hair. I was a Teenage Fag Hag, so Frankie was huge part of my world. I was in Catholic school, and for reasons I can’t recall, I ended up with plans to go to the concert with a group of girls I was not particularly friends with (many of the kids came from well-to-do families up in the hills of the town where I grew up. I lived down by the docks and was almost feral. Draw your own conclusions). We made plans to spend the day before at a local waterpark, spend the night at one girl’s house watching horror movies, then get up early the next day and get in line for festival seating so we would be close to the stage. The concert was in early June, and as happens to so many Northwesterners delirious with sun intoxication at the first fading of Winter’s gloom, we all ended up severely sunburned at the waterpark. We sat out in the heat the entire day, no food or water, sleep deprived and burnt. By the time the doors opened at 8pm our physical exhaustion had robbed us of our senses.

We stood just feet from the stage, packed tightly with thousands of tense, hormonal teenage girls, waiting for the show to begin. As the stage fog started to roll out and the band of androgynes launched into the first of many homo-sado-erotic tinged songs, the crowd of girls began to shriek with a unified banshee wail of the naive, pubescent sexual frustration of the human female. The audience began to rock and surge, unstoppable and terrifying. Our bodies collided and and jostled, rubbing my sunburned skin raw. One misstep could send you to the floor to be trampled to pulp. The entire event became a strange ecstatic dance of primal sexual energy and survival. At one point, one of the band members tossed a towel into the audience. I was one of the girls who caught it, and a ferocious tug-of-war began. Every girl within arms reach seized hold of the towel, and we began to tear at it like dogs. The towel disintegrated into shreds in seconds. I remember letting loose with a guttural howl as I yanked and clawed trying to retain my corner of the towel, only to lose my grip when I almost dislocated a finger. I became very aware of presence in the concert hall, something huge and driving, something that our energies had created and in turn had created us. I was overflowing with wants and drives, things I couldn’t define, things I couldn’t understand, things that terrified and enthralled me. I wanted to sexually devour something, incorporate it into the core of my being. It was as if I was filled with an undeniable urge to have someone or something inside me, and I didn’t care which route it took to get there, and the absolute frustration of not being able to ever fully satisfy that urge with any physical means was literally driving me mad.

I don’t remember much else about that night, but it haunted me for years. I was in my late teens when I first learned of Dionysus and the maenadic rites. The full emotional memory of this event came flooding back to me like water breaking over a dam. Like many peak experiences, the full spectrum of the occurrence is impossible to depict in any meaningful way. When I try to describe this moment to people, it comes out sounding absurd. Much like when I try to describe my near-death experience (which we will get to later). To tell people I saw a golden light and a choir of heavenly voices sounds so trite and simplistic, but the moment itself was beyond words, beyond description, and beyond anything I could possibly communicate using any human apparatus. The fact that Frankie Goes to Hollywood lead me to my spiritual path is the best explanation I have to offer you. Suffice it to say, I still can’t hear the song “Relax” without getting a creepy Kubrick-esque smile on my face.

Amusing side note: At Yule, I proceeded to get quite drunk, something I actually do rarely and haven’t done in a very long time (my husband had never seen me drunk before, that’s how long it has been). My co-priest informed me that he likes Maenad Sigrun, “she’s like opera: you, only bigger and more dangerous” (I’m paraphrasing, since all I can remember from that moment is leaning against the kitchen counter and luridly leering at my ex in a rather predatory fashion).

Sigrun Pallene- An Introduction

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:

Invictus
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.

When We Were Trees

The Transpersonal Experience in Indo-European Mythology, Folklore, and Music

Northern Heim, Southern Clime

On Maenads and Valkyries

Introspective Maenad

Thoughts of an Unlikely Dionysian

Pixiecraft: Adventures of Magick and Devotion

The Life of a Practicing Pagan and Traditional Witch

leaf and twig

where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry

The House of Vines

where words grow like leaves

The Flaming Thyrsos

Memoirs of a Hekatean Wino

Syncretic Mystic

Exactly correct. You inhabit two worlds. So far, I see nothing strange.

Root Craft

Making magic in the dirt.

Eternal Bacchus

Dionysos from the end of antiquity to the present

eklogai

polytheist extractions

Black Witch

Life from a Black Pagan's Perspective

Aspis of Ares

A Devotional Exploration of Ares, the God of War

4 of Wands

A celebration of me and my interests. Unapologetically.

Down the Withywindle

All paths lead that way, down to Withywindle.

Ozark Pagan Mamma

Folk Magic, Druidism, Heathenry, & Pagan Parenting

beingaleaf

learning, growing, reaching, being :-)

The Druid in the Swamp

Druidic Musings from the Texas Gulf Coast

The Druid's Cosmos

An ADF Druid's trials, tribulations, musings, and victories

A Forest Door

Spirit-Work & Devotional Polytheism

The Wild Hunt

On Maenads and Valkyries

Pagan Reveries

"Everything is full of gods." - Thales

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