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Posts Tagged ‘Polytheism’

Who was this?

Never before have  I woke up screaming. But wait, I am getting ahead of myself, let me start from the beginning.

An hour ago or so I was half asleep, cuddled up with an absent husband’s pillow, enjoying those precious last minutes in bed. I was aware of drifting in and out of sleep, and when I felt someone crawling up on the bed next to me I was fully aware of it just being a dream. Still, it was so fragile, I knew that if I moved or turned to look I’d wake up and see no one. But I could feel her, and I wanted to savour the moment, so I stopped myself from waking up.

I could feel her, I wrote. Because it was a female presence. I didn’t dare turn my head to look, being so close to waking up, so I just kept entirely still, and listened. I could feel her weight against the bed, her hands on my legs. Her voice was gentle.

“It took me a while to find you. I had to look through a couple of generations.”

She was a heavy, comforting presence on the bed next to me. I don’t know why, the talk turned to the issue of children.

“… you did right. Waiting, you needed to mature first.”

But it wasn’t a choice, I protested, feeling tears well up in my eyes. I’ve tried. Her comforting presence started to withdraw, she said she wouldn’t come back for a good while.

She left, the warmth gone from the bed.

And then I heard someone entering the room. It surprised me, she said she wouldn’t be back for a long while after all, this had to be someone else.

Someone was watching me, and I heard a man’s voice.

“I like your–“

Hearing the strange voice, I flinched badly, looked towards the door and screamed. It tore me from the dream and plunged me back into reality, with a scream still leaving my throat. I saw no one, I was awake. But he had been there, I was sure.

Now, I still feel a bit… shaken up. I was dreaming, I know I was. But it felt so real, it felt like I was at the same time asleep and awake, resting inbetween.

Who was the male presence? He scared me, quite badly. What woman wouldn’t get terrified when a strange man suddenly walks into her bedroom when she is supposed to be alone? First time I’ve woken up with a scream.

I wonder who it was. Of course I wonder who She was too, who had searched through a couple of generations to find me. I hope it won’t take years and years before she returns, I would very much like to talk to her again.

Him, though. Who the heck was that?

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It was long overdue, the candle and offering I promised to Ochún. Finally I got to it, last night at the woodland shrine. I brought fresh water, sweet  dried apricots, a gorgeous golden peacock feather ornament, and a bright yellow candle. I was looking all over town for honey caramels, but found none. Next time.

All afternoon I had the rhythms of Ochún playing in my mind. I remembered the dance steps, my hips moved, my feet moved, my arms and hands moved.

Once I was there, at the shrine, and brought my offering to Her, it was beautiful but strangely silent. I felt humbled. I felt almost ashamed. Realization struck, why I have never entirely connected to Her. Why She always felt distant. I never felt myself good enough, beautiful enough, sexy enough.

Ochún, stand with me. I desperately need Your guidance. 

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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.

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We went out for a private summer solstice blot, me and my husband. I had been thinking about a good location, a spot we can return to again and again, here on our little plot of land. There were possibilities but I hadn’t decided. My husband, who isn’t of my faith but respects it, came with me out to look. And he said, “What about those rocks up there?” He pointed out towards the wild ground just outside our land, towards the woods. “There is a spot up there that I think would be just right.”

He showed me to a large rock. It wasn’t flat, didn’t have the qualities of an altar, but it just felt right. We both stood there and looked, and both said that yes, this is right, this location.

Just as we had decided, I realized we should look at it from the other side. The ground is wild and overgrown, we could from where we stood only see a little bit. So we walked around it, and it felt as though it just clicked. There. The first rock was only one of several, there were four large rocks close to each other, reaching up to my chest at least. They stood in a slight arch, and in front of them stood a sightly lower, fifth rock. This was it.

We lit Mother’s and Father’s candles. We offered potent raspberry mead. To Father, to Mother, to any other God watching over us, and to the ancestors. For a good summer. For our family. For a child. For us to stand strong together even if no child comes.

It was beautiful. There are many words words to say and write but I believe I should leave it at that, for tonight. I wish you all a happy summer solstice, and a brilliant summer.

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Hera.

Her name popped up in my mind last night. I blinked, shook my head, and wondered why. I have never ever felt myself drawn to Hellenistic deities.

Hera.

I got confused. I hadn’t been reading about her, or hearing about her, or anything. In fact my mind mainly associates her with that silly old Hercules tv-show, in which Hera is portrayed as all evil and nasty, murdering innocents.

Then why the heck did I suddenly feel a pull towards her? A need to acknowledge her and bring offerings.

I jumped up from the couch and immediately prepared a small offering of pineapple and a bit of home baked bread. I looked for a candle but couldn’t find any that hadn’t already been lit, and it didn’t feel right to let Hera share a candle with others, at least not at first contact. So no candle, ok that would have to do.

I sat down on my usual spot on the living room floor, centered myself, and called out to Hera. I gave my offering. I told her about the surprise and confusion I experienced, not knowing why I suddenly had felt compelled to acknowledge her. I asked her to bless me and my family, bless my marriage and help us get pregnant.

That’s all. Afterwards I felt calm but still a bit surprised at the whole thing. =)

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