How does being a godatheow affect your relationships with your family? partner? child? employment?
Being a godatheow puts my God at the top of my list. Given how most people feel about children, and how much I love my son, that is not an easy thing to admit. Mercifully, it is an understanding with Him that my partner understands, and much of my family at home understands. As for my employment, well, this is may sound odd, but I did not get regular employment until after I became a godatheow.
I had a temporary job in the drought of four years of unemployment. When I was laid off from that job after about two months, ironically while I was at Etinmoot, where I was told I by Odin that I was His godatheow, it was another year or so before another job so much as reared its head at me. I worked for the Great Golden Arches for a few months under a wonderful, understanding manager, and now work doing respite care and direct support. The pay and hours are better, and I am getting practical experience in my degree. So while there was upheaval in my life from the impact of becoming a godatheow, once I got with the program and started walk with the leash instead of against it, my life, and that of those around me, got easier by several degrees. I have a budget now, and by and large, have stuck to it.
So much is going right in my life since Odin took me under His leash. My relationship with my partner has never been better, to the point where she, along with our son, now live with me. My relationship with my Gods, Ancestors, spirits, and landvaettir has never been stronger, or so deep in my life. If anything, becoming His godatheow has been a stabilizing force in my life.
Where my being a godatheow may have the greatest impact is on potentials, such as where I might work, the next place I might live, relationships, and the like.
Odin owns me. Odin owns me.
If He dictates to me, in a manner I cannot mistake as anything other than a command from Him (and I would do goo-gobs of double-checking, discernment, divination, talking with elders, friends, etc. just to be sure) to leave everything behind and to start wandering I would do that. Not because I want to abandon my family, not because a roadtrip sure sounds swell, but because my God demanded it of me. Would I try to get out of such a command? No, but I might ask Him to delay that until, say, my son is out of school or we are in a better place financially. I would ask He lay that burden on me, but not upon my family. I cannot say whether He would accept such a request, but I know He loves His Sons and knows how deep I love mine. The Gods are not without mercy; He has not asked such a thing of me, yet.
Thinking about this is not easy. Not in the least. Let no one tell you being a godatheow is easy, because these kinds of choices can loom over you. I have to think down this line, and talk with my partner and loved ones about this because there is the possibility that someday I may be called to do something that society would deem ‘crazy’, like taking off for 9 days/weeks/months/years and then coming back. Is that written in stone? No, but then again I would be a fool not to look at that possibility, and at the least make people aware of it.
While being a godatheow has been one of the most stabilizing forces in my life, it also has the potential, at any given moment, to destabilize it. It makes me thankful, even if I am not always as vocal as I ought to be in that thanks, for the stability I do have, for what I may have in the future. It makes me treasure the moments where I have down time and I am not going here and there doing my God’s Work, or my other Gods’ Work for that matter. It pushes me to be thankful and treasure the moments I have to be a father and a lover. It makes me treasure the moments I have to relax. At any moment Odin can say “Time to go this way” and there I will go.
It is not easy to have this kind of relationship. It is far easier to brush it off, to self-sabotage, and say “I am not worthy” or “I cannot do this thing” and let the charge be. That said, it is hard to argue with a leash about your throat and feeling a supreme tugging this way or that. I will eventually get there, wherever He is leading me, but it is entirely incumbent upon me whether or not I make it harder.
Odin owns me, and in so doing, He has direct influence on my life. My life is my service, and my service is my life. In understanding this simple truth I have made my life a good deal easier. Do I still have autonomy? Yes, and choices in my life are plentiful, but this autonomy and these choices are within the larger context of what He gives me to choose from.
With my life being Odin’s, doing well everywhere I can in my life is an offering to Him. Parenting my son well, treating my partner with respect, love, and dignity, and doing well by my clients are all part and parcel of offering to Him. My work with the communities, great and small, are part of my Work with Him. There is no aspect of my life untouched by Him, no aspect of my life that cannot be offered to Him. While being His godatheow may present challenges to me, my loved ones, and my communities, it is also one of the greatest blessings He has given me.
Being a godatheow is not for everyone, nor am I any better than one who has never ‘heard’ their God. This is a wholly different way to live one’s life, to worship and to serve the Gods, a God or Goddess in particular. I do not expect everyone to be a godatheow to have a deep level of commitment to their God/Goddess, nor godspousery, nor even to ‘hear, see, taste’, etc. Each person’s relationship with their Gods is between them and their Gods, and while there may be community standards one needs to meet to be part of a community, this is not one of them in the Northern Tradition. You do not need to be a shaman, a priest, a godatheow, a godspouse, or anything ‘called’ to love your Gods with everything you have. You just need to give the Gods your time, attention, energy, and love wherever, whenever you can.
How do you feel about / reconcile the acceptance of Odin in most major Heathen / pagan circles alongside the revulsion held for Loki?
- What are your thoughts and have you / how do you help others make the transition into acceptance?
This is probably one of the hardest questions I have had to encounter in the Pagan communities, especially the Heathen ones where He is greeted with deep vitriol.
I am going to be blunt about how I feel. I think that the revulsion held for Loki is despicable. It is blasphemous.
Most any thing that has aided the Aesir or Vanir came through Loki’s hands. The weapon that the Jotun were said to fear, Mjolnir, came from Loki’s work. If He comes to you at all it is a blessing even if you cannot see it then.
Wiccan Issues With Loki
I used to hear and say “Hail Loki” tongue-in-cheek when I was a Wiccan, frequently, when something in ritual went screwy. When words garbled or something fell off the altar, a “Hail Loki” often followed. To a certain extent I look at this humorously now; obviously it was not Loki holding my tongue and saying sing-song “What’s-a-matter? Can’t talk?” as I tried to speak. However, it was not reverent. He was spoken of in tones of ‘not welcome’, yet we were calling His Name. All I knew at the time was that He was Trickster, a God of Chaos and Fire. I did not know much back then.
Much of the revulsion, at least from the Wiccan angle, came from a place of wanting everything “NEAT UND TIDY!” Rituals have a certain flow, a certain way they are supposed to go, and accidents, interruptions, and garbled words screw with that. So too, our relationships with the Gods. There is comfort in such rituals, and comfort in The God and The Goddess encountered in Wicca, but Loki is a God Who often pushes past the comfy, the familiar, and the planned. He can bare you to all your flaws in a moment, or give you that push with a giggle that, as you stumble to get back to your feet, you find yourself exactly where you need to be.
Heathen Issues With Loki
Where some Pagans, especially Heathens are in agreement, is that they would rather not worship a God who heads the Jotun armies at Ragnarok. Leaving aside that Ragnarok may entirely be Christian invention or revision, it is said that the Dead who live in Helheim rise up to fight. Which, if you think about, includes a good chunk of our Ancestors, as most died a ‘straw death’, death by disease, old age, etc. Essentially anything but fighting. When you think about it that number will probably include most anyone. I digress.
Many Heathens take issue with the fluidity of Loki. He changes sexes, shape, specie; He is a Father and a Mother. He turned into a female horse and brought back Sleipnir, which He gave to Odin for His steed. He is wed to two Goddesses, and has had children with both. Fenris, the Wolf Who Devours Odin at Ragnarok, Jormungandr the World Serpent Who keeps Midgard’s borders, and Hel the Goddess of Death are His and Angrboda’s children. His two sons with Sigyn are Narvi and Vali, both of Whom come to a tragic end at the hands of the Aesir.
Loki is outside and within the binaries of modern life. He is within and without the innangarð. He is Jotun and counted among the Aesir, He causes trouble and resolves conflict. He is a victim of abuse, and a wrathful avenger.
There are those Heathens who simply see all Jotun as enemies. In this black and white understanding of the Gods, the Aesir and Vanir are the forces of good, and the Jotun the forces of evil. Or order and chaos. Or whatever binary is handy at the time.
The reason I list all of this, well known to most of Loki’s worshipers, is for some of these people there is reconciliation with their understanding of Loki. I used to really not be a fan of Him, until He came into my life through Odin. Slowly I started to work with Him, and then, worship Him.
For those who say “None of the Jotun are due worship”, how can that be reconciled by me? All I can do is provide an example of what a life touched by Loki looks like, and if the person wishes to change their mind, they will. Odin Himself came from Jotun stock, as did Thor, Heimdall…many, if not most of the Aesir are, in some way, shape, or form related to Jotun or are Jotun Themselves, i.e. Loki and Skaði. The Vanir are actually the odds one out in this. They are, so far as I can tell from lore and personal experience, unrelated blood-wise to the Aesir and Jotun. Even so, Freyr, a Vanir hostage to the Aesir, takes Gerda, a Jotnar Goddess (Gýgr, giantess) for His bride.
The Transition to Acceptance
So how do I help others make the transition into acceptance? I am a responsible worshiper, to start with. I do not blame my mistakes on Him, and do not allow abuse to be heaped upon Him. I speak out when I need to, especially when His, or His brethren’s Names are being thrown in the mud. I show people that a follower of Loki need not be an irresponsible person, or a person who uses the Gods as an excuse to get their kicks.
When people come to me, worried they may be getting the tap on the shoulder by Loki, I give the same advice I do to anyone worried about a God or Goddess coming their way: set up an altar, give Them offerings and time, and see where They lead you. Ultimately any reconciliation is going to happen between the Gods and them. I’m just a person who might help them in the journey. Sometimes it is small words of encouragement, storytelling of my experiences with Him, or exegesis of the lore we have available to us.
The number one thing I have found that has served me best as a Pagan, whether it was as a layperson, a priest or a shaman, is shutting my mouth and listening. Listening to peoples’ fears, concerns, worries, and listening to them, not just hearing their words. It is no different here with reconciling worries and conflicts with the Gods.
I have no illusions that those who love Odin but hate Loki or His Kin will somehow ‘come to see the Light’ (or Fire, as the case may be) and give up that hate in a moment no matter how much I listen to them. If they are to do something as radical as give up hate that has to come after a time of letting go of that. If I help to be a catalyst for that change, I consider that holy Work. My focus is more on those who are being bothered by Him or are just scared of Him. He can evoke fear in people; He certainly did for me, and sometimes still does.
Where to Start
I start by listening, and seeing where the person is at. If they are open to a deeper understanding of Loki beyond “He’s not just some monster” or “He’s not out to make your life hell” then we can go on. If not, I do my best to correct misconceptions, and provide my own understanding of Loki. I usually will talk about the sources of lore for Loki, if we have time/ability to do so. If not, I recommend the person read the sources of lore for Loki, and keep up dialogue while they are doing so, especially where they find issues or questions popping up. I’m no loremaster, and I cannot read the old tongues the works are originally recorded in, but I talk to people and can recommend sources I have read or have been recommended to me. From there, as I mentioned before, I usually will recommend they set up an altar if they do not have one, and if they can, find a symbol of Loki. From there, I recommend they give offerings, prayers, and time to Loki in whatever ways they feel called to so long as it is reverent. After that it is really just being there for the person as I can be and as they need.
Almost all of the work is on the person in the end. At best all I can do is help to facilitate a better relationship between themselves and Loki. I can bring two or more people together in a space and say “Let’s try to be friends!” and after that point I really have little control over whether or not that ends up being the case. So, to a good extent, letting go of the situation after I have done my part is one of the best things, aside from keeping my ears open, that I can do. Their relationship with Loki is, in the end, theirs. Loki never laid claim to Mjolnir once He gave it to Thor; indeed, He never laid claim to the Hammer in the first place.
How can I lay claim to something so powerful as another’s relationship with a God?
I pray that more people open their minds, hearts, and souls to the beautiful touch of this incredible God, and experience Him for Who and What He is. May His Name come with the same love so many give to His fellows Gods and Goddesses. May those who worship Him never take Him for granted. May He always be hailed.
How did you reconcile your transition with Odin from priest to godatheow?
- How has this changed your outlook on spirituality?
For me there was no transition from being Odin’s priest to godatheow; I am still His priest, and I am His godatheow. I am His priest. I am here to do His Work for others, as an intercessor, one who blesses, and helps those who seek Him as best as I can, among whatever else He gives me in that role, i.e. officiating rituals for Him/His people/followers. There are sometimes great lulls in this Work, as there have been with Anubis, and sometimes there’s a great flurry of activity where people wanting to connect to Him, or to the Norse/Germanic Gods in general all come at once. It is kind of haphazard, and I’m not quite sure one moment to the next where the Work will come from or where it will take me. I just try to be ready as best I can, and to be honest when I hit my limit on being able to help someone, and point them in a direction to go before they go their own way.
Becoming a godatheow meant a lot of things that I had taken for granted were locked down. I do not do magic, I do not do divination, I do not horse. This is why my entire ‘Shamanic Services section is shut down. While being godatheow to Odin took away these things, at least for the time being, doing this has instilled in me, through my work with my teacher and following Him closer, discipline, clarity, and a better sense of who I am, what I am doing, and especially important for me, boundaries. So, while I am leashed it has given me a deep amount of freedom. The collar may never come off, but as it was put to me, the best dog you can have is one that does not need the leash, but will do as is needed and come back to your side.
For the years before I became a godatheow it was this thing that other people did, something that would not happen to me. I saw how demanding it was, and I really did not want that. I felt I had enough on my plate. When things in my life came to a crashing halt, and there He was holding the leash, I felt betrayed. Why would He not have told me? Why?
I was full of anger and despair, because when it happened to me I felt as though I had handed over my whole life to Him, and none of my dreams, hopes, or anything would matter. It was true. My dreams, hopes, and aspirations do not matter compared to what He has for me to do. Handing over my life to Him is the best thing I have done. I have clarity, I am happy, I have purpose, and I am a better father, priest, shaman, lover, spouse, and person than I have ever been. While I say my dreams, hopes, etc. do not matter, it is not that they are unimportant per se, but that they are subsumed beneath what He prioritizes in my life. Some of my priorities dovetail with His quite nicely, and those that do not but are not a hindrance to my Work He has, thus far, let alone. My life, and everything I am is His. Even now those words do give a fear to me, a kind of holy terror, knowing that He could call on me to leave everything I have behind and I would do it because He told me to. It is not normal, but that kind of devotion to a God is not normal in this country. Here, devotion to a God is going to church on the weekends and mouthing prayers while still doing throughout the week what is abhorrent to that God. It is not, whatever they may mouth, taking up their cross and following Him. The whole of this country would change quite a bit if they did. Our Pagan communities might be very different if we followed our Gods to where They would lead us.
My outlook on spirituality, from what is ‘normal’ to what is ‘right’ has changed drastically. Normal is a term that is often used to cage or assuage, rather than do the Work before us. It is not ‘normal’ for a person to do prayers before meals, bedtime, a storm, an interview, or just because we want to connect and/or honor the Holy Powers. It is not ‘normal’ for a person to dedicate themselves to a God or Goddess so fully that they would follow Them wherever They led. Yet this is normal for me. It is not disruptive to my life, but adds to its fullness. Sure, it was disruptive at first and I had a lot of anxiety over it. It was not so disruptive that I stopped going to school or seeing my son; if anything, it brought me closer to him, and in doing so, him deeper into my religion, and is a source of hope, comfort, and joy in his life.
What is ‘right’, as I mentioned above, has also changed for me. ’Right’ is really what gets the job done, and for my qualifier, with as little pain to myself and others as possible. Yet it always comes back to the good old standby of “What does it do? How well does it do it?” If something is a roadblock to my journey, rather than hitting that roadblock over and over again in some stubborn attempt to just muscle through it, wasting my and Odin’s time, I find alternate routes.
I do not worry, for instance, about if chakras are based in the lore. They are not, and I know that. Yet they are a good shorthand for the concept, a kind of lingua franca of the occultist, Pagan, and associated communities. It is far easier to say “I see a block in your solar plexus chakra originating in your crown chakra” than to go through an exhaustive explanation of “Your vili is in conflict with your godhi” and what that means, how it is manifesting, etc. That is not to say at times that I should not give the full explanation, but if the idea is to clearly and concisely communicate an idea without the amount of explanation it would take for the meaning to ‘stick’ with the person, well, chakra-talk works. Sure, nuance might be lost, but that’s the way of having a common language. Sometimes it works, and sometimes you need to walk a person through precisely what you mean.
What is ‘right’ has also change in terms of morality. When I first became a Pagan I was a non-denominational Wiccan following Brighid because that is Who my girlfriend, who originally introduced me to this working group, followed. It has been a powerful relationship, one that I am very grateful for. Yet ‘right’ at this point was the Threefold Law and rules familiar to most people, so I won’t go into it here.
‘Right’ for me, morally speaking, is more in line with Gebo: gift-for-a-gift. I’ve heard the old saw ‘eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind’. This is true, to an extent. There are legends of families whose blood feuds raged on for centuries because one party or another had murdered and not paid the weregild. Yet, ‘eye for an eye’ need not always be a negative; sometimes that eye is a necessary sacrifice for wisdom, for knowing, for peace. Gebo is more than just reaction for reaction. Gebo is also weighing the circumstances that an action takes, what the potential blowback is on a decision. Sometime the correct action to take is reactive. Sometimes it is to sit and ponder until the solution or the right idea comes to you that will resolve a situation for all parties. Sometimes the decision is simply unfair for one party, and that party will need to deal with the disappointment, anger, etc. In the end my baseline is reciprocity, and the reciprocity extends to all relationships, including ones with people I do not care for. Do no harm is not part of that morality, but do the least amount of harm necessary to achieve an end would probably be the closest, philosophically speaking.
‘Right’ has also meant looking at all of my relationships and really going about categorizing and prioritizing. There are some Gods I pray to for the blessings They have given, Who are no longer at the forefront of my life. There are some Gods I have active Work with that are more toward the front. At the front of it all is Odin. In right relationship with my Gods, I had to put myself and my practice in order to better align with my God’s needs and demands of me, and it has rippled down my relationships with my Gods, Ancestors, and spirits. I am better aligned and in tune with my Ancestors than I have ever been, and accordingly, with others’, because Odin has pushed me to do that. The same with working with the Military Dead, which would not have happened with Odin’s, and along with that, my teacher’s influence. Right relationship, whether giving the correct offerings, doing the daily prayers, and/or doing for others in the community, among a great deal of other things, is the core of what ‘right’ is now. There is much more insistence on right relationship now, especially because Odin has my ear more attuned than when I was just His priest. If I am not aligned with the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits that I serve, what good am I as a priest, a shaman, or godatheow? Especially to Odin, as a godatheow?
As for my outlook on spirituality, I feel the word has become deeply diluted. Nowadays people use it in the context of “I’m spiritual, not religious” which is one of the goofiest fucking phrases I have ever heard. Some of the definitions for spiritual, according Merriam-Webster, are: “of or relating to sacred matters” “concerned with religious values”. If your spirituality, that is, your experience of a religion or a religious figure is not anchored to its religious foundation, what, precisely, are you experiencing?
I think that experiencing the Gods is entirely possible removed from its religious foundations. I have watched a Deist experience not the undifferentiated Whole he had thought was, but a singular God come down and speak to him. They can rock our foundations no matter denomination, outlook, etc. Yet he had no bedrock on which to place the experience. There was no way for him to get his bearings because his religious upbringing did not even have a lexicon for what was taking place. So spiritual experience removed from religious foundations are often confusing, taking longer time to process, to understand, to apply. It is far easier to work off a foundation of some kind than to build it up from nothing. It is also far easier to avoid taboos, missteps, and so on if you work from a more solid foundation.
Spirituality as a word and concept in the modern world is of limited use. Much the same as the word Pagan, it requires that a person delve into the word to explain its meaning to them, which has its uses too. It pushes for dialogue, in many cases. Yet, when used as a shorthand, such as “I am a spiritual person” I say as an animist/polytheist “No shit, so’s the rock.” It communicates a narrow band of information that becomes less useful the more it become removed from its place with religion. I once looked at the word as very useful, but over time I have found it to be less so. Better to speak with concrete words than undifferentiated sand; the former serves better as a foundation than the other.
Some of the main differences between my life as just a priest of Odin and now, as both His priest and godatheow, is that I have more responsibilities, more opportunities to help those He points out to me, and to do more with Him. I am restricted but I am more free, denied more of my free will, perhaps, but pointed in more directions which will be in line with His Work, and, I have found, helps others. I have had to do a lot of self-work as part of this Work, because if I am not clear, clean, and understanding of where I am and how I am, my usefulness as a priest, shaman, and godatheow to Him diminishes. In this I am clearer in mind, spirit, and understanding of Him, and accordingly, the other Gods I serve, because He has pushed me to be this way. Heck, I am even better in terms of my body, working out, eating better, and so on than I have ever been before in no small part due to His insistence that I care for myself so I can better do His Work!
I am closer to Him than I have ever been, and it has brought a kind of peace to my life I have not otherwise found, a purpose that is far clearer and more defined than I had known, and right relationship with Him, who has given me many, many blessings. I am better for it as both His priest and godatheow, doing His Work, than I was meandering about without His guidance. The Work has brought me closer to Him, and the closer I come, the more I find that Him holding the leash on my life, on me, is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.
I am a Seeker
a month of writing to You
and I still do not know You
Your Presence is calm
Your Voice is gentle most times
Yet, I still do not know You
I do not know You as a Mother
not truly, though I can feel Your sadness
for Sons torn by rage and pain
I do not know You as a Wife
not truly, though I have seen Your cave
and toiling, emptying the great bowl
I do not know You as a Goddess
not truly, though I hail Your Name
and praise Your gifts
How could I know You?
I praise Your Name as true as any of the Gods I worship
How could I know You?
I pour out offerings and gift to You, sure as any of the Gods I hail
How could I know You?
I have held Your bowl in offering, and had but a taste of Your Work and pain
How could I know You?
There is so much more than story or word or song or dance or life could tell
How could I know You?
I pray, I offer, I sing, I dance, I play, I do
I do know You
If any mortal can know a Goddess
Who has blessed their life
Who has sat, waiting, for the mortal to comprehend
Who has held the ones I love as they weep
Who has stood by me when I thought I had few friends
Who spoke for me
Who touches my hands
Who speaks in my ear
Who despite all, remains
It is Your Name
Restricting my words
to teach me Plain
Flowers are nice
so too Perfume
Both smells can yet
So know the small
and gentle things
Know the little
adds all up
from something brittle
to something tough
Thank You Sigyn
for all these lessons
You taught to me
Ask Rúnatýr’s aid | if Runes are sought,
giving gift in turn for gift;
For great was the price | Yggr had paid
in winning the Runes from the Gap
Ask Rúnatýr’s aid | if Runes are sought,
keeping keen in mind and Work,
For great is the price | the Runes will demand
From fools who know Them not
Ask Rúnatýr’s aid | if Runes are sought,
knowing each in Their own turn,
Wisdom and power | and rede one can find
If well one knows Their kin
The fool ignores | the lessons of Urð,
spiting wisdom for pride;
No words can reach | whose ears are shut,
nor whose eyes refuse to see
The fool ignores | the lessons of Verðandi,
spiting action for complacence;
No way can be made | by those who stall,
nor whose hands refuse to work
The fool ignores | the lessons of Skuld,
spiting planning for folly;
No path can be lain | by those who are vacant,
nor whose minds refuse to inquire
Better to share | in journey and Work
than to hoard knowledge and wisdom;
Seldom a miser | is found well,
Loved and in frith with his people
There are times where I write poetry to grasp the Gods, the spirits, the Ancestors. When I reach for words to grasp at the ineffable, that which is, to quote a favorite song of mine, “Beyond the Invisible“. Sometimes there is a feeling in prayer or meditation where I can feel my Gods in a feeling beyond feeling. Sometimes when I smoke a cigarette to the Ancestors (the only time I smoke), or especially a cigar, I can hear Them, in a way that words do not have words for. It is more than just ‘They are here’; there is communication on some level, more often levels, that occurs when They make Themselves this known to me and I am paying attention.
Feelings can rush up; images, smells, tastes, sounds, snippets of songs, or a phrase, a word, a sensation of being touched or hugged or the feeling of embarrassment or joy that fills me head to toe. Sometimes it is an urge, or a deep-down compulsion to dance. So many words that fail to capture a moment of being in the Presence of a God or Goddess, the Ancestors, the spirits.
Sometimes there is a great emptiness. Sometimes the Gods are not here, and I wish They were, more than anything. Sometimes there is a deep aching for that connection that I am denied. I recognize that this is so, at times, because what I am craving is not so much the connection itself, but that feeling of reassurance or that feeling of alleviation of insecurity. Other times the Gods are doing something; They are Gods, and have Their respective things to do, whether one believes that the Gods control or are related to certain aspects of our lives (i.e. Frigga weaving Wyrd, Freyr helping the wild plants to grow, Gerda helping the plants in gardens to grow, etc.) or do things besides (i.e. Odin wandering the Worlds gaining wisdom).
I find that the Ancestors tend to be with me all the time, in some fashion or another. There’s a lot of Them, after all! Once I began engagement with Them, especially through regular engagement at my Ancestor altar and my necklace, I could feel Their Presence in some fashion or another. A big part of everyday engagement with Them is through a necklace I wear made out of bone fashioned into a human skulls. I use it in prayer, and as a focus throughout the day, a physical reminder. This necklace is also a physical manifestation of my Ancestors. What does Their Presence feel like? Sometimes a warmth that has nothing to do with the environment, others, a feeling of familial love, a touch on the shoulder, a harmonica (particularly if Great-Grandpa is around), and others times just a knowing that They are there. Sometimes They are the statue on my altar, the necklace around my neck, a guiding voice. Sometimes words simply fail to convey.
This is why, at times, when someone asks me “How do I know if a Goddess is near?” or “How will I know if the Ancestors are with me at prayer?” I can only suggest and say so much. Language reaches its limit, as do my experiences. I’m not the do-all, end-all of anything. I am a being, a being with a human’s world, limitations, and experiences, and I am just one person. I am bound by physical laws in this world, same as any other. Sometimes I get things right on the nose, and sometimes I get things horribly wrong. I am beholden to Wyrd; I work, I pay taxes, and one day I will die. My hope is that somehow my words, my actions, my life, helps someone else to be more than they were, to leave this world better than it has been in my time within it.
Despite the limitations of words I still try to capture what I feel, how I envision the Gods, Ancestors, etc. with words. The Ancestor Anthology is coming together, and there are so many words not my own, words that may be someone’s key to unlocking a deeper relationship with the Ancestors. Words that I may never have thought to string together, experiences I have never had, rituals I have never been part of, and so much I have not done. This is the beauty and power of coming together, of crafting books together, of making music and art and ritual. We may never fully capture our Gods, Ancestors, or spirits in songs, paintings, or words in a ritual or text, but we can provide touchstones and open doors with them.