I confirmed the fasting with my whole medical team was safe. My doctor called me today to tell me not to take the metformin (aka Glucophage) until the day before I come off the fast. I’ll still be checking my blood every day and taking my vitamins and lisinopril, but my blood sugars have been stable around the 79-85 range so far. If my blood sugar drops much lower I may need to drink something sugary or a small bit of protein to boost me up. If it continues for greater than a day I may have to break the fast. I don’t believe I will need to, but there is the chance.
This is something that I talked with Odin over, and He said “The fasting is not here to kill you, but get you into a purified mindset, to get you out of the ordinary. Won’t do us a bit of good if you keel over or go into a coma on me.” Which shouldn’t have come as a shock. It does mean that until something like that happens I won’t slip up, and will be sure if I have to break the fast that I actually have to break the fast. It’s actually a comfort to have my medical team behind me, making sure I can do this fast safely.
A lot of the work I did with Odin was going over relationships, this time, how I give myself over to women. He noted that I almost disappeared in some of these relationships, how I subsumed myself under other people. He said it was part of the reason why I was not His God-slave; He wanted to challenge me to be my own person, drive me to be myself for myself, and not for anyone else. I think that was a lesson I missed from the myth of Him Hanging on Yggdrasil: He did it as an offering “from Myself to Myself” first and foremost. Only after that did He give the wisdom of the Runes to others. It was not until He was able to do that, that He was able to even give the wisdom of the Runes to other people, let alone use Them Himself.
I used to think that this whole “doing this for myself” thing was selfish. But in a lot of ways it protects other people, and keeps any fallout to you. It also makes sure that you understand what you’re doing before you pass on the knowledge, and that you have a firm grasp of what you’ve experienced. Doing it for yourself also makes sure you actually take care of yourself, kind of like how the emergency videos always tell you to take care of yourself before someone else. Doesn’t do anyone any good for two people to be down when one could be up. I admittedly have had a lot of baggage from this ‘doing for myself’ idea, first from my parents and my Catholic upbringing, and the general attitude I’ve held towards people for years, a lot of it learned from being bullied. The main baggage I learned from Catholicism and my folks is that this ‘doing for myself’ is selfish, and takes from others when I could give to them, and the stuff I learned from bullying is that I really don’t deserve all the good things in the first place. In the situation I’m in, out of my personal community and without a significant other, I’m having to do for myself first. It’s been pretty…good, actually. I’m happier, I’m more ready to face the day, and willing to do more to make things happen. I don’t feel anxious or run down, and my self-perception has improved since Nicole and I broke up. I’m wanting to do things for myself; sure, my son does factor in, but I want to do Psychology and Counseling for myself as much as those I could help…the former now, even more so. I want the fulfillment that comes from doing that work rather than doing it for other people. Sure, the people matter, and are a large part of that fulfillment, but if I look to them to fulfill me, I will come out disappointed. I know from pastoral counseling that doing that sets you up for disappointment and heartbreak, and that being there as a vessel for change rather than an agent is what is often needed and distancing enough that if things fall apart you won’t be destroyed.
The work with Loki tonight was brutal. He started off the night by having me purify everything in the garage with a handy stick of sage, from the doors to the altar to myself several times. Then I set up the protective wards making a Valknut of smoke in the air, and using a modified version of the Hammer Rite. He had me strike a match, light the three candles I had representing Odin, Vili, and Ve, (purple, yellow, and blue respectively) and light the charcoal disk for my censer. When everything felt safe, and the smoke was rolling out of the censer from the lit charcoal, He had me add Mugwort, (the purifying plant in the Northern Tradition), after I thanked the spirit of the plant. When it started going He had me root around in my boxes of Pagan stuff for something, and I wasn’t sure what it was at first. Then it caught my eye: a bit of tissue Nicole had written a cute message and a drawing, something I kept on my computer all semester and looked at when I felt lonely. Looking at it now, I felt my heart come apart.
I heard Him say “That is what I want you to offer Me. Offer it to Me, let Her go, and I will help you heal.” I stopped cold. I hadn’t expected to do any magic to separate myself from her, just doing healing work and talking with the Gods to help me separate. I hesitated and He said louder “You say you want to work with Me. This is what I’m demanding of you. Give it to Me, or go back inside and curl up in bed and cry!” then He demanded of me ” You want to get through this? Then let her go. What the hell are you hanging on for?” He let the question hang while my mind raced a million different places. Old, fond memories, making love, the funny times where I or she would trip and make fun of each other. Hell, “chicken”. So many things my mind flashed to…the future we’d once wanted to build together- then He interrupted my thoughts “They aren’t going to happen now.” That acid ate away at the fantasies that played in my head. It isn’t going to happen. The words echoed in my head for a while, and I said to Him, “Alright. Alright.” I had had enough, and I was on the verge of crying. I wanted to let go, not just say the words, not just mime the feelings. I really wanted to let go.
So He had me take the tissue and toss it right on the charcoal disk. At first, it wouldn’t light. I picked up a candle and was going to light the tissue on fire, when I heard Him give me a resounding “No.” I looked at the candle and then at the censer with the disk in it. “Well…what then?” I asked Him in my mind. He told me to light the disk with the candle, and I was to watch the tissue burn down to ash. I was angry at first. It seemed cruel to me, to make me sit that long looking at something that had once given me a lot of comfort, silly as it might have been. I did what He told me to anyway.
The tissue took several minutes before it even browned a little. As I waited, He said to me “You have to want it to burn. You have to want to let it go. Help it burn; don’t use the candle.” So I looked at the tissue, and flopped it around a little, trying to get it to light, but the disk wasn’t having it. It had a little red glow on its outside edge, but all it was doing was browning the tissue very, very slowly. Then I sighed, and the glow picked up. I breathed again, this time right on the disk, and the glow grew, and the edge of the tissue that was lying on it started to glow. I kept breathing, blowing long, concentrated streams of air, not consciously starting to say the mantra that grew in my mind: “I want to let go. I want to grieve.”
The glow picked up around the edges, and it grew more intense as it ate up the tissue, and the smoke stung my eyes. I felt in that moment, as tears came streaming from the smoke, like I could cry. Like it wasn’t shameful or stupid, like it wasn’t me being melodramatic or anything other than simply grieving a loss. That mantra kept going “I want to let go. I want to grieve.” even as I cried, holding the censer between my hands, blowing long streams of what I realized wasn’t just my breath, but my spiritual energy, my önd. The creeping orange slowly ate more, gaining speed as I cried harder, the air flowing harder. At some point I started kneeling, and knelt, trembling with the censer rocking in my hands as tears rolled freely down my face. I probably looked like a damn mess…but I didn’t care. I was grieving, I was in that moment ignoring everything else but that. I was letting myself feel, truly feel, all the release I could. At some point I picked up a pair of crow feathers and fanned them over the smoking tissue, asking Hunin and Munin to help me think well, but to commit this work to Thought and Memory. When I finally put the censer down and let go, the ashes smoldered and then, turned black each in turn. I heard Loki’s voice tell me to put Stinging Nettle on the censer to protect myself from going back to those old feelings, thoughts, and had me throw more Mugwort on for purification. As the smoke rolled up in front of me, I threw it over my body, praying to Loki in thanks, and thinking in prayer “Thank you Nicole, for all we’ve shared. Thank you for loving me.” Then Loki told me, in no uncertain terms, to say it. I did…and I felt a peace roll over me. A deep-seated peace.
I took up the chalice of water I had on the altar, and drizzled some onto my head, dabbed it on my forehead, and every other chakra point. Purified and still feeling that deep-seated peace, I dabbed water onto the heads of my Ancestors’ representation, a circle of four figures interlocking arms, and dabbed water onto the mouths of my Lupa and Lycrous representations. Finally, I dabbed water onto the mouths of the statue of Odin, first to Geri and Freki, then Hunin and Munin, and finally, to His own mouth and His horn. I felt good, like I had finally let go of a huge block in my heart. I thanked Loki, and He said to me to give offerings to Himself and Odin, and to Hel, to honor my grieving for dead things. I asked Him what, and He told me in turn what I could give of myself. It had been nearly a year since any of my statues had received my blood, and the skull I used as a representation of Hel on my altar had never received blood from me. So I took a needle I use for testing my blood sugar, and sterilized it in the fire of all three candles. Odin asked me to prick my right forefinger, and shared it first with my Ancestors, dabbing each of Their heads with a drop of blood in recognition of my bloodlines, and then with each part of His statue as I had before, except His mouth as He asked me. To Hel’s skull representation, I first asked Her if this would blood-bond me to Her, and She assured me not, and that She would view it as an offering of thanks. She asked me, rather than having blood from the right forefinger, to take it from the left pinky, which I seldom use. The pain was vivid when I pricked myself, which She said was part of the offering, and I smeared the blood across the foam skull’s teeth. The teeth went from white to red, and the gold teeth in the skeleton were tinged darker.
I gave a low bow to the altar, let the burning herbs finish up, and thanked the Gods who had been there for the rite. I blew out the candles, thanked my Ancestors, and the spirits who had been there, and put away whatever I wasn’t leaving on the altar overnight. Even as I write this, I still feel that sense of peace. My heart isn’t aching right now, and I feel like I’ve gotten somewhere with being able to finally grieve. Thank the Gods for Gods that push me beyond my self-perceived boundaries. Thank the Gods for Odin and Loki both, and all the Gods who know me. Thank the Gods for Gods who will push, pull, and fight with you to get you where you need to go, but will also equally let go when you are being a stubborn ass. Thank the Gods for healing and love, even at the price of pain. Thank the Gods.