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Quiet, and Hopping Back On

September 24, 2014 Leave a comment

The Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir have been pretty quite the last few weeks. I make offerings now and again, and things, overall are quiet. I know from experience that some of these long-ish pauses between activity are here for me to get myself together, and/or to let me enjoy myself after a hard time. Sometimes the Holy Powers just don’t have anything for me to do. Sometimes I ask for down-time and They are kind enough to give it to me.

What does this down-time look like for me? I keep up mealtime prayers and evening prayers with my family. Even tonight, with our son dog-tired from his day, we prayed Sigdrifa’s Prayer in bed, whereas we usually go to the altars and shrines for Whom the prayers are being said. We keep the water offerings fresh as we can, and occasionally, if I feel the call and feel I can do it in a sacred manner, I do smoke offerings and prayers with my personal sacred pipe. When I am able to come home from work soon enough, or wake up in time on my days off, I do morning prayers with my family. Otherwise, I generally tend to stay away from divination, magical workings, even making written poems and/or prayers. I don’t tend to find myself in a good headspace to do sacred work of any kind heavier than offerings and prayers.

Getting back on the ‘heavy work’ bike is like coming back to exercise after a hiatus. If it has been a long time, it is easier to get winded if I haven’t done anything like walking or running around. If I’ve kept up at least with the bare minimum it is easier to come back to where I need to be, even if things need a bit of shuffling around. I find that cleaning the upstairs where we live can help put me into that ‘work’ mindset. When I do housework, if I am being mindful about it, it is an offering to Frigga and Frau Holle at the least, and may also be an offering to the Gods, Disir, Väter, Ancestors, housevaettir, and other vaettir who share our home.

Cleaning helps me reset. It puts me in the mind of “okay, we’re starting fresh”, especially because when we do big cleanings we often completely dismantle, was the altar cloths, and then clean all the altars and shrines. Cleaning is spiritual for me in part because it is mostly physical. I have to concentrate on it for a while, put myself into it to do it well, and gain a deep sense of satisfaction when it is done. Grandmother Una, Mugwort, cleanses the insides. The vacuum sucks up the debris, the cloths and water clean the surfaces.

We will usually start off with a cleansing of ourselves so we do the work in a clean head and spiritual space. When we are coming out of a hard period, or I have done a hard working, like the last time we did an Ancestor elevation, we cleanse ourselves and the space with either Thunderwater or Florida Water. The Thunderwater is only brought out for big cleansings, since the Florida Water will usually do the trick. Thunderwater, (which we sometimes call Lightningwater), is rainwater we collect during thunderstorms that we ask Thor to bless. If I/we feel Odin in the storm, we ask Him to bless it as well. We’ve only had to refill it once, given how often we use it. When we do not use it, it sits in the Water section of our Ancestor shrine. Using this or Florida Water, along with fresh, white towels, together with the very act of cleaning brings me into a solid headspace. Not only am I doing something good and holy, but I am doing it from a clean space myself.

The next part of getting used to riding again might be something like making special prayers for our Gods, or it may be doing several days of special offerings. It may be going outside and tending the outdoor shrine, which, during the fallow periods, tends to get neglected. So while I am out there I will clean that up, and the sacred fire pit (thankfully mobile and easy to clean), and make sure the area is relatively clear of debris. Given it is in a little grove in a wood, clean is relative to the season. This first winter with the sacred fire pit should be interesting.

I have found a pretty important part of this ‘getting used to riding’ is learning and/or remembering how to pace myself. I get back on and go too quick without Odin demanding it, or otherwise needing to, and I can burn out quick. I have found long-term devotional relationships have ebbs and flows to them. What is important to remember is that while we can help it be an ebb or a flow, sometimes our Gods or an Ancestor, or vaettir will push us into one of these to slow us down and take our time, or speed us up and get ourselves further along. I don’t think that people have to be ‘on’, godphone or otherwise, ever, to be a good Pagan or polytheist. It is entirely possible to not hear the Gods, Ancestors, and/or vaettir at all and be an incredible, devoted, pious worshiper. Likewise, I don’t think that those of us who do have gifts of any sort should feel like these have to be ‘on’ all the time to be a good servant, friend, child, helpmeet, godatheow, etc., of the Gods. Sometimes our Gods, Ancestors, and/or vaettir might require a furious pace out of us, which tests our biking ability to its limits, and then at another time, to walk with the bike rather than ride it.

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Relating to Odin

October 4, 2013 1 comment

*Another draft brought to life.

I am reflecting on a few posts I’ve read, started by Beth at Wytch of the North, in how I relate to Odin.

Some of the blogs I follow feature Odin prominently from the perspective of Godspouse, a way of being with a God or Goddess that I feel is at once both powerful and incredibly intimate.  I feel privileged to see into the lives of those who call Odin, or any God, Goddess, or spirit Beloved.  However, this is not my path.  Odin is my Father, and as such, our relationship is in many ways very different.

To borrow her terms, the Odin I encounter can vary wildly between the ‘more human’ and ‘less human’, but tends toward ‘more human’ in more of my interactions with Him.  Yet, even in this, there is some of that ‘less human’, as it seems there is an overall push in our relationship to move me towards something.  Perhaps a better way to put it is that there is purpose in everything He does, including being patient and fatherly with me.

One of the greatest strengths of polytheism is that none of us need have the exact same relationship as another.  I do not need to do the things a Godspouse does, nor they what I do, to be part of the same community, sharing respect and experiences.  Learning, and being willing to express my experiences, especially if they are different from others’ has, at times been hard because of a fear of judgment, reasonable fear or no.

So what does being an Odinsson entail?  For me, it is a good chunk of extra work when He calls me to it, a good deal of it spontaneously and without a lot of direct explanation.  Sometimes it is being in the right place at the right time, and He gives me an inward or outward sign to do something.  I have walked around the city close to where I live, and He has reached out and had me strike up a conversation.  After half an hour’s worth of conversation my Work will be down and I can get back to what I was going to do, or go home.  At other times He is silent, letting me work out what needs to be done between subtle clues or vague feelings.  At others, He lets me be, doing what needs to be done.

I find there are times where He is very deeply warm, generous, and kind, helping to mind where I ‘step’ and correcting me with patience.  There are others where He is very distant, callous, and allows me to blunder until I find my way.  It is not unlike times with my own son: there are times to be warm, and gentle, and there are times to be hard-edged and distant.  Yet there are other times where He is some mix of the two, logical, warm, and intimate as a caring Father is to a son, and yet with that steel edge that lets you know where the hard limits are.  These words fail to convey the fullness of our relationship, but I find myself trying nonetheless.  Given how reading others’ accounts of being Godspouse to Odin have helped me see my Father in different lights, maybe talking about things from this perspective can help another.

There are times where He will set me up to fail, not in some cruel sense, but in the sense of placing me in situations where the only or best decision I have is to not act, to finally get it through my thick skull that I cannot be all things to all people, or that yes, failure is expected; giving up is not.  He is not my self-help guru.  Everything I do in this way is in service to Him.  If it helps me along the way, so be it, but I am not the end-goal.  My life itself is a service to Him, from my work as a shaman and a priest, to my work in school towards my Master’s of Social Work.  My life was not always this way, but especially since following Him full-time, and now especially as His godatheow, I recognize how much my life is turned towards the Work, from raising my son to the relationships I hold to the services I give in my communities.  Truth be told I do not always know what reasons He has me do some things, but I am getting better bit by bit to recognize in the moment and my duty to do them.

Sometimes those dry spells between hearing from Him can be hardest for me, especially after long periods of continuous contact.  It is times like these that falling back to the daily prayers and the cleansing work is best, because it gives me a base to start from.  While I do this, sometimes He is simply busy doing other things and leaving me to my own devices.  Yet, I find in this there is purpose.  The silence is often there for me to wrap my head around something, or to leave room so I am forced to cut down on my workload by finishing projects in my life so I have room for more.  For instance, I am somewhat in such a period right now while I finish up the Ancestor Anthology book, and write two essays on top of other work/Work.  Come November I will be doing poetry and writing each day for Him as I did for Loki in July.

Odin, I find, is nothing if not patient, even if He does not seem it in the moment.  In my view He takes to crafting people not unlike bonsai trees or well-tended oaks: slowly, snipping off bits here and there until the essential tree is fashioned or revealed.  He does this by what means He has handy, what means I give Him readily, and what means He demands of me.  I don’t always like how He prunes me, but then again, what being likes to lose limbs?  I do trust Him, wholly, even if I am scared and uncertain while waiting to see where the shears will snip.

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