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.