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Personal Developments

Words spoken in jest by my husband have made me realize it may be time for me to change professional path. I don’t want to say too much too soon, it is still very uncertain if such would be possible in a practical sense. It would mean going back to uni for five years. It would mean being even more reliant on my husband’s salary to see us through. It would mean starting over, seeking an entirely new profession.

It feels strangely right.

But as said, it might not be practically possible. There is the financial aspect (the husband did NOT get happy about the idea of me going five years or so without an income…) and as always the child aspect. We are still waiting, hoping to get IVF treatment and planning is difficult with that constantly hovering over everything.

And now for something completely different.

I am growing more confident in my faith. Coming to realize that while I am a seeker, a journeymaid, a pathfinder, I am also, in a sense, a leader.

I think I need to start expressing myself more confidently here. No, wrong. I need to express myself with more confidence.

It is something I come across so very often in the online polytheistic “community”. Blog posts describing chit chat with the this or that God, in which the God is portrayed as well, the writer’s best buddy. Where the God is said to chat in a very human way, and one pretty much gets the impression that the writer has a direct casual chat line with the Divine, and the Divine speaks to them just like how a human buddy would.

I try very hard not to judge. It is not my place, and it is not like I can judge what is true, what is false, what is imagination, what is spot on exact and what is creative interpretations anyway. There is no way I can tell anyone that their experiences are wrong. I can only look to myself, to my beliefs and my experiences.

Part of me thinks I shouldn’t even write this, since I know that some might take offense. But it is a recurring thought that I finally decided to be worth a little blog post. So first, let me apologize if this ruffles any feathers. Know that I am speaking in rather general terms, and I know very well that I can not say anything about your experiences specifically, and I do not claim that you are wrong.

But this is what I think.

The Gods are not like us. They are not our incorporeal buddies hanging out with us, ready whenever for casual chit chat. They are powers beyond our comprehension and we should be careful about humanizing them to the degree that we lose touch of reality.

Humans have an amazing ability to interpret input in ways that are familiar to us. We make sense of what we see, hear and feel by subconsciously translating it into words and sights that are compatible with our expectations and comprehension. This is not limited to spiritual life, this is very much present in our mundane and physical existence too. We see with out eyes, but only really see some – while the rest is filled in by our brains in our interpretation of the input. We are bombarded with input, signals from the world around us, which our minds make sense of. We work constantly at interpreting and translating the signals into something understandable, whether or not we are talking about what we see, hear, smell, taste or feel.

It is the same with our spiritual experiences, whether we are talking about divination, communication with spirits, communication with the Divine, and so on. There is input, and there is our interpretation of the signal. Never forget that last bit, our interpretation of the signal.

To make up a completely fictive example of a conversation between a human (let’s call her Anna) and a God (pick a God, any God)….

Anna: Are you there?

God: Hey! Yeah I’m here, just keeping an eye on you. 

Anna: I’m trying to figure out what kind of offering to bring you. Would you like meat or fruit? Or flowers maybe?

God: I’m in the mood for meat. A rare steak, please!

Reading polytheists blogs, these kinds of conversations with the Divine is actually relatively common. Some experience actually hearing the words of the God, some feel them. For some the signal seems clear, for some it is more fuzzy. Either way, we can’t forget that our perception of the experience is filtered through our minds, and while a person may perceive actual words being spoken by the God, it is entirely possible that the word never was spoken by the God in the first place, that the God doesn’t speak in words at all but that the words are our interpretation of the Divine signal.

So look at that example above. What did the God actually say? It’s pretty much impossible for an outsider to judge. But potentially it really went something like this:

Anna: Are you there?

The God doesn’t speak, but is present and Anna is able to pick up on His energy. 

Anna: I’m trying to figure out what kind of offering to bring you. Would you like meat or fruit? Or flowers maybe?

The God again doesn’t speak, but there is a slight signal indicating meat. Anna’s linguistic sense, combined with her perception of the God’s personality, combined with her skill (or lack of skill) in interpreting a non-physical signal, translates this into the dinner order: rare steak.

So what do I see, when someone retells a conversation they have had with a God, is this. At the core there may be an actual signal, but it is filtered and reshaped through the human’s mind. I personally am not too fond of interpretations of the signal that humanizes the God too much, because while it still may be true, it is also very coloured by the human picking up the signal. Anna may be completely right in her interpretation of her conversation with the Divine even though the words are her own. And while I respect Anna, I am more interested in the signal she is picking up on, than her human interpretations/additions of that signal.

I see how this has a very practical function. The Gods can be hard to understand, even if you do manage to pick up the signal. Translating the signal to our human way of communicating is probably a coping mechanism we need to even be able to understand them. But there is also a risk in it. It can easily lead us to humanize the Gods, to forget that they are not in fact like us only more powerful and without physical bodies, which in turn can lead to false expectations and heart break when reality doesn’t match what our perception – since the perception is so very connected to our interpretation.

I am not claiming that anyone’s experiences are false. But I do claim that us humans interpret the signal in ways that make sense to us, and the way we interpret it can cause a true message to be warped. Or misunderstood. Or perhaps picked up picked up spot on. But the more of the human I see in the words of the Gods, the more layers of humanity I expect to have to peel away in order to get to the true core.

I brought an offering to Freya tonight. Black currant pie, made from our first real crop of black currant since we planted the bushes. I sang to Her, called Her, and asked Her to be with us this coming week, let it be a week full of love. I lit a brand new candle, one only for Her.

Freya, watch over us. Grant us days of love and passion.

When I sang to Her, I caught glimpses of Ochún in my mind. Flashes of a beauty in yellow and gold, dancing by the river. I wondered if Freya and Ochún at the core are the same, only wearing different names in different cultures. I struck the thought from my mind quickly, this was not the time for such thoughts.

Freya, watch over us. Grant us days of love and passion.

Somehow it doesn’t feel like Freya and Ochún are the same. I don’t get the same… feeling, from them. If they are in fact the same, I clearly have been feeling different sides of them. Have any of you any thoughts or experiences in that question? Care to share?

For now, I will think. Ponder if I should get Ochún a candle of her own, a beautiful yellow candle of course, or if Freya’s candle is also hers.

No. Again, it doesn’t feel right. The more I think and feel, the more I believe they are not the same soul. Perhaps something closer to sisters, but not entirely the same. They feel different. I will get Ochún a candle too. I should dance for her, it has been too long since I did that. That will be next.

Remember the spot I described in this post here, our little forest “shrine”? Turns out there is a cavity under the altar stone. Hadn’t seen that.

Last night I went out to get the wooden bowl back, that I two weeks ago put out on the altar stone with some oatmeal cookies and raspberries. I expected the bowl to be full of water (it has been raining a lot) and feared the offering in it might be all icky and moldy.

No sight of the bowl, it must have fallen off somehow. I leaned in, looked around the altar stone. No bowl. The BIGGEST wild strawberries I have ever seen, but no bowl. I knelt down and swept the grass away with my hands to get a better look. Oh, there. Hidden behind the grass there was a natural cavity reaching in underneath the great big altar stone. A mini cave. And there it was the wooden bowl. I reached inside and got it out.

The bowl was clean. No sight of the previous offering, no rain, no ick. It was dry and clean, apart from an intense smell of smoked ham.

Smoked ham. Huh. There has been no smoked ham in that bowl for months, a year maybe? And it has been cleaned many times since then. Not to mention it just spent two weeks out in the rain, with oatmeal cakes in it. Huh. I brought it in, silently held it up in front of my husband. He sniffed it. “Smoked… ham?” he guessed. Odd.

That natural cavity under the altar stone is brilliant, by the way. I am just wondering if I should let the archaeologist in me out and investigate if anyone else has put something down there before I start using it for offerings myself, or not…

Blood

I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up. Shouldn’t have dared think that this time maybe I actually was pregnant. I felt hope.

Yesterday I started bleeding. If by any chance we did manage to conceive this weekend I think it’s safe to say it’s gone now. Been bleeding since yesterday. Not a whole lot but still. And I got mild stomach ache too.

So with this my mood dropped like a rock. While yesterday started well my emotions got the best of me in the evening. I cried. As I am crying right now. When everything went dark last night I ate whatever I had at home, so much for the fast. I miss my husband too, he is away for two weeks now so I am alone.

Where did the light go?

Who am I?

I am a woman who just reached the age of thirty. I am married to a wonderful man, and so far childless.

I am Swedish and my roots are Swedish/Scandinavian as far back as I can so far trace them.

I am a highly creative person. I love to learn and explore new things, and wish I could live a hundred lifetimes just to have time to learn all I would want to learn. I am deeply emotional, but also rational. I have the mind of a scientist but also the mind of a philosopher.

My faith is my own and follows no rules. In matters of spirituality and faith I can’t be a follower. It is not in me. I am the pathfinder, the explorer. At times that will surely lead me astray but it is in my nature to search and find the way, not rely on others. I search, I learn.

My political views don’t quite fit the norm. I am neither right nor left, and I am both. There is no political party I can vote for with confidence because I see too many faults in all. I vote for those I believe will do the least amount of harm.

My sexuality is as much a part of me as the colour of my hair or skin. I am a brunette and my skin is pale, by the way. I think red hair is absolutely beautiful and in my eyes the most beautiful skin is the darkest of dark. But that matters not at all. Where was I? Sexuality, yes. I am straight. I sometimes have wished I was bisexual, because in my eyes that seems the most practical, but in truth it matters not at all. It’s just part of who we are.

I have suffered from depressions, several of them, and they will probably keep coming back. Right now I am climbing up from one that has lasted several years. They keep coming back and I just need to learn how to handle them.

I am an introvert. Shy and nervous. But also confident and strong. I am both. Those who know me as the quiet nervous mouse would probably not even recognize the other me, the strong me. The nervous and shy me, the one without confidence, is one riddled by anxiety and doubt. The me that lies beyond that is another.

I have many faults, too many to count. I have trouble finishing what I start, I break promises, I fail people I love, I fail myself. I am egoistic and lazy. I am ashamed of myself, I can’t bear the weight of my faults and so I run away. I hold grudges even though I know I shouldn’t. I envy those more skilled than me or more successful than me, but I would like to believe that the envy doesn’t control me. I just observe that it is there and work to not let it bother me.

I am genuinely interested in what people think. I care too much. I want to please everyone but I know I can’t, and that makes me give up early. I have few friends, and many friends, at the same time. I try to understand people. I try to help.

I love my husband. I wish I was a better wife, I wish I was more supportive. I wish I was less of a burden to him, as I know I am. I wish I could carry him as he carries me.

I love my mother. She frustrates me, makes me angry and we can barely meet without having a shouting match. But I love her nonetheless and it frustrates me most that I can not help her.

I love my friends. Even those I fail. Even those I run away from out of shame for my faults.

I am no follower. But I am no leader either. I am a pathfinder lost in the woods, leaving a track both for myself and for others. I am doomed to fail, often and sometimes seriously. But I must keep moving. Keep searching.

After what I mentioned in the previous post I have decided to go for a partial fast where my diet will be limited but not reduced to nothing. Fruit, raw vegetables, berries, nuts, that I will still allow myself. In not too great amounts. To drink it’ll be water or tea. 7 days. Weirdly enough I am more worried about managing this for 7 days than if it had been a whole water fast, just because it is easier for me to not eat at all than it is to eat and then stop myself.

I expect tomorrow, the first day, to probably be the hardest. Just because it’s so, so easy to say to myself that I can always just cheat a little bit on the first day, who would know the difference? And I do have major issues with self discipline when it comes to food. Eating even just a little triggers such an immense response inside my brain (food addiction, for real, yes) but that is also part of why I do this. To challenge myself to take control. The positive health effects I have seen before when fasting are of course an important factor but the mental effect of taking control is incredibly important too.

Food addiction. It’s an eating disorder, I have been diagnosed with it but the help I could get was limited because my problem is neither bulimia nor anorexia, but just a food addiction. When I eat there is an immediate response inside me, it’s like a little explosion of pleasure inside my head that is just divine, and for a moment everything feels good. It’s more than just eating as a result of stress or the more typical mood related eating, it is an actual addiction. But where an alcoholic can stop drinking entirely, I can’t stop eating entirely. Not for more than a few days. Imagine the poor alcoholic who is forced to drink just a little each day? See why I fast? I don’t do it often, maybe once or twice a year, so don’t worry about me trying to starve myself. It’s just… taking control.

That and the actual physical effects as I have already mentioned. But still, I believe for me the psychological impact is probably most important.

Along with fasting I will strive to meditate each day, and to go for a walk each day (regardless of weather). I’ll update the blog once per day too and let you know how it is going (and to keep myself motivated).

And how am I feeling right now? I’m hungry. I have been unusually hungry all day. Isn’t that typical? Hungry, and a little nervous that the first thing I’ll do tomorrow when I get off work is give in and buy something tasty. *sigh* It is hard already. But I will do it.

Will write more tomorrow, now good night!

Oh, and one more thing. I know a lot of people think that fasting isn’t healthy or safe. If you are one of those, please refrain from critiquing the fast until I am done, please? During these seven days I will need to keep motivation up and not get tempted into quitting early. So, if you have any objections, save it for when my seven days are over, please!