Thursday, October 13, 2022

Table of Contents, of a sort:

Since Disorganized Blog is Disorganized, I thought I'd organize it!

Probably the Most Important Post on this Blog, with an awful title. 

When I die someday, remember me by this one.


 Deconstruction Essay Series

(Long posts, but there's an audio link at the top of each one.)

Pt 1 -

Pt 2 -

Pt 3 -

Pt 4 -

Pt 5 -

Youtube Playlist Version - Deconstruction - YouTube

Updates (also shared on the description of the last video in the playlist):

I should note the "crypto folkist kindred" learned their lesson when someone said the quiet part out loud one day. They have since done some internal revisions and taken out their ideological trash. Good for them.


Rune Meditation Series

Fehu -

Uruz -

Thuriaz -

Ansuz -

Raidho -

Kenaz -

Gebo -

Wunjo -

Hagalaz -

Naudiz -

Isa -

Jera -

My original rune series intro, the first post on this blog, which is so old I had to update it with a Wayback Machine link -


Misc. Stuff that Is Mine - 

Explaining the Screenname for the Blog -

Loki Steals From Ratatoskr -

A "Pagan Community Folktale" ... so to speak -

A "Motivational Poster" -

"Interfaith Meetings" -

Finding Compassion Under The Pagan Umbrella (Made for Cherry Hill Seminary) -

A Handy Comparison List for Heathenry and Wicca (Made for a CUUPs group) -

Other platform's work can be found on my linktree:


Misc. Stuff that Isn't Mine but I Don't Want To Lose - 

Loka Tattur -

A Viking "Christmas Carol" (Mirrored from Odin's Gift because it went down for a bit) -

The World, A Hope (Deconstruction Pt.5)

 (Audio here: )

In trying to be more open, and heal, I did speak to my mom about these essays. I haven’t read them to her, obviously, but she knows they exist, and maybe a few small bits and pieces. It’s worth noting I reached out to the person who inspired the Hvitakrist and Folkish Heathens poem, too, though I never received a response. I’m not sure if I expected to. In many ways, though, it was an apology on my part - she’s grown far, far beyond that now. I know what that’s like. Growing up, I was indoctrinated so heavily with conservative Christian ideals that I brought up the abortion debate as a seven year old in a second grade classroom, refusing to read any article that mentioned President Bill Clinton because “he murders babies.”


I… feel sorry for my teacher in hindsight.  I never got to apologize to her, but I did get to apologize to a more moderate Baptist pastor my parents were very rude to and judged - and I along with them - for his stance on the topic. After my miscarriage, I ran into him for the first time in years at random. The gods work in mysterious ways - and I managed to apologize. He was shocked. He had no idea I had been that bitter towards him, but it was still a burden lifted off my soul. Many are drawn to say the past is the past, burn the past, but the past has two purposes you can't ignore in many ways - cleaning up past mistakes, and good things and lessons you need to take with you.


In many ways, I chose neither my Protestantism or Catholicism fully freely. I was under pressure. The latter proved essential to my physical survival however, as did still having Pagan ties. I stayed with Catholic and Pagan friends alike for a time - and wouldn’t have had food, medicine, or a place to sleep without both. The bad parts of Catholicism majorly contributed to our current hellscape, but good parts helped me with $10k worth of food, shelter,, & medical care & saved my physical life once when homeless. Help others if you can.

At the end of the day though, I wouldn't have met Serilda if not for the Catholics, or Andy. The details of my emotional healing from all that is also part of why I was drawn to Sigyn and Loki. So in some ways, it likely made finding the Norse gods easier. It seems the Aesir even used that. Even as a Catholic, though, I sometimes joked that out of all my Wiccan past, considering I had tried to reach out to Freya even in those days, I’d make an exception for the odds of the Aesir existing, again because Snorri gave me the leeway.


Over the years in and out of various types of Paganism and witchy groups, I have run into groups that restrict what pantheons one can interact with, especially among Heathens. I’m still uncomfortable with that. Brigid, for example, would be a little sad to totally lose. She still saved my life,  or at least saved me from double head injury. It was a pendant dedicated to her that got tangled and twisted in the gears of that student athlete’s bike that day when they struck me. In other interfaith interactions… it also might be funny to occasionally ask Jesus to save me, not so much from sin, but *from his followers* casting stones. Heh.


One thing I do dwell on as a result of my upbringing is how shallow some things can be. A lot of people really do only care about hedonistic and consumeristic concerns, or so it seems sometimes. I can’t deny that sometimes when someone is particularly crass, caught up in addictions or treating sexual partners badly, it makes me pause and wonder if the fundis werent completely wrong. Then it clicks, the same stuff that would make one of them say, “Oh, so and so is living an unfulfilled life full of sin and  hedonism…”  those are often the same pastors and leaders who also often turn to alcoholism or drug addiction or misusing sex. Quite often, they even do this in ways that are far more perverted and depraved and actually harmful, such as the criminals who abuse children. Maybe, just maybe, it's because they're repressing the actually sacred.


What cultural appropriators do to some sorts of spirituality they do with sex…They think they understand it, that they know what it is, but all they’ve seen is a fake, plastic, mass marketed version, and they never let themselves learn or be bothered to ask what authenticity looks like, so of course they’re going to mistreat what can and should be treated with reverence. The same goes for people who abuse substances that might best be used therapeutically or in ritual. There are many powerful things in this world, and disrespecting them can lead to harm. Even simple trees fall into this category. At the end of the day, it’s not about some sinful action or substance, or some ancient rule… It's about treating ourselves, others, and the abundance and dangers of the natural world around us kindly or carelessly. 


Speaking of, the same exposition that works for getting Biblical fundamentalists to rethink their positions on LGBTQ discrimination can also work in Islam. Their scriptures weirdly have some of the same plot holes for the story of Sodom, where one cans see that it’s actually about hospitality and not about homosexuality. So… there’s direct value to interfaith dialogue in making a more caring, tolerant world for future generations. 


Also there’s a few important  things Heathens can learn from liberal Muslims. For example, unlike the fundamentalist literalist view, to a liberal, “jihad” refers to ones personal inner battles and the fight to grow as a human being. We can also see how people who see that as weak, and that it should be taken literally even outside of self defense, are usually creepy traditionalist nationalist assholes, like Folkish Heathens. 


The inherent negatives of trying to equivocate all Christians as being dominionist nationalists should also be self-evident in this light, because many Muslims do not want to live under Sharia law. When you get upset at Abrahamic or monotheistic religion overall and make that your enemy... a third of the people on the planet are Christians, and another quarter are Muslims. Do you really want to fight nearly 60% of the humans on the planet that badly? Do you really think 60% of the global population are in favor of the worst policies of those who share their general overall faith? Or would you rather find the Allies you can to show the assholes they speak for no one, and rob them of what little power they can try to claim?


It’s like the Heilung song "Kriegsgaldr"…. How can I reason with you if you insist on using violence and not reason? The answer to that is often dark. So even if in the end, as many mystics from many paths say, All Will Be Well, there is a walk through fire to be endured. There is a cycle of death and rebirth, a cycle of trials, learning, wisdom, beauty and, yes, pain, that winds up taking us there. There is no easy way to wholeness. It is neither love and light, nor cold and unforgiving.


There's a song I learned as a fundamentalist Christian that surprised me, because a lot of people in the context I learned it in would likely find it blasphemous. It beautifully also describes how those who have had to deconstruct that upbringing can still meet others from it with compassion, however -


"Break the cross and carve crutches for the crippled. 

Pull the nails, and build houses for the homeless.

Tear his robes into bandages to bind their wounds. 

Carve the stone, and build bridges to a world in need."


I learned that I was not alone in this interest  - the Troth have been doing a lot of interfaith dialogue recently.


This isn’t quite new for them, either. Troth Elder Diana Paxon, in contributing to the book “Jesus through Pagan Eyes,” wrote an essay in which she hypothesized - much like I used to about Mary and the Shekhina as a Christopagan - that Jesus was first and foremost best understood by Pagans as a gifted healer and tranceworker. Much like others from various anamistic faiths, that incorporate altered states of consciousness, can “horse” their deities, embodying them, allowing their bodies and senses and voices to be used by deities as their bodies and senses and voices, she hypothesized that Jesus was simply functionally doing the same for his god, El / Yaw. 

Heilung's "ritual intro" draws from similar themes too -

Remember, that we all are brothers

All people, beasts, trees and stone and wind

We all descend from the one great being

That was always there

Before people lived and named it

Before the first seed sprouted


Why is that underlying unity important to me?

Well, for one thing, it’s something we have more “proof” of than most things in spirituality.


Why, so often, do I insist on being where I may not be wanted? Because it feels like life itself may not want me, and I’m fighting to belong on this planet and be seen as human and not just a useful meatsack to consume content made by others, breathe my way through pain with the smallest bits of beauty that do make it through, and then die and scatter back into the remnants of that beauty.

As destructive as humans can be, I want to have hope that love still exists, and as defeated as nature can seem in the face of our destruction, I want to believe that the gods still have Some power to help life find a way.  

It's important to me, that inherent feeling of connection, of weaving together, of seeing that even if one isn't anthropomorphizing other animals, there is something there in their consciousness that is in All consciousness. There's a Being-ness there, bringing with it a capacity for pleasure, suffering, and subjective experiences, in such a way that seems universal, that seems like a oneness seen through many eyes. It's an interconnection of all matter and energy, with a warning that what affects some affects all in the end.

If evil is simply the lack of continuation of the cycle of life, a void without a new  beginning or big bang, in essence all that is needed to defeat it is a belief in that Beingness and in love. It’s about hope - the gods do have a Ground of Being to them. It’s about faith - faith that what brought all of this into being can bring it into being again. It really does make love a common ground for all spirit and life, and the answer to evil, without having to fight it in any other way per say, except perhaps survival. 

Becker’s Denial of Death theory would make these two conflict, but if one can put aside the ego and focus on the survival of, and  identification with, Life as Life, and not just one’s own petty opinions or even culture, since we are talking about life beyond just human life, then there is hope. Lovingkindness, Metta, whatever one calls it, seems to be the key to a spirituality that really means something in this universe. 

Maybe we can meet our monotheist neighbors through our animism - at the point of loving Being-ness and our neighbors of all sorts, human, animal, and landvaettir. Tyr met the jaws of Fenrir with an outstretched hand, knowing it might delay Ragnarok. No one said it was easy.


Maybe instead of Jormagandr or Ginungagap, it's Nidhogg. You can almost hear it, need hog, the need to consume and destroy until there is nothing left... that would fit with a Howling Void of thermodynamic equilibrium as a spiritual force. At the same time, I tend to interpret the dragon Nidhogg as a source of limited destruction in my own UPG so far, and always of the worst in a person or even the universe - the rot, which gives way to better growth. 


Maybe that’s part of the rot, and it truly is contained. Maybe, as my poem noted, even if absolute thermodynamic equilibrium is the fate of this current universe, the stuff sucked into black holes really does become new universes. There can always be life and creation somewhere - after all, it had a start here, and this universe came from somewhere. It is matter and energy born from somewhere, so surely it goes elsewhere, and something new is born there. Even some of the same scientists, who would say the universe ends with all matter in black holes and all that remains are a few last photons, dancing around like fireworks in the void... would posit that absolute thermodynamic equilibrium is unlikely to occur outside of a lab. We don’t even know what dark matter or energy is, or does, yet, after all. Change... change is constant. And change means a hope that life can evolve.


I had a debate about all of this recently that troubled me. So much of it on the other side boiled down to "Boltzmann brains can't be a thing, consciousness requires meat and anything else is bullshit." Why would the macrocosm not also follow cyclical patterns if the rest of nature also does? It's elegant. It makes sense.


(They're also literally putting their fingers in their ears about disembodied consciousness... and the things that make them call it "likely wrong" also don't account for dark matter/energy at all, so... that honestly is just a matter of favoring nihilism over panpsychism, which in the end is a matter of opinion. )




I also used to be okay with the concept of the end of time though, and didn't view that as destruction either. So maybe even that is okay, if it all dies, even the stars themselves, as long as time dies with it, and the clocks stop - so to speak since there won't be clocks anymore. But still, I was okay with this as a Christian. As a Heathen, I’ve sometimes hypothesized that there are places where the Gods might go when they die during Ragnarok, before they might be reborn like Baldr. These include the mentioned but never described Andlang and Vidblain, and I wonder if it’s possible that the spiritual dimensions there could be such that they bend the idea of human understandings of Space-Time, and may be outside of it with a different concept altogether that makes three dimensional movement in our space-time look like a drawing in a book. This is all just my own UPG, of course, using elements from the lore to speculate. Still, it's wyrd enough that just as Ragnarok seems to be the end but isn't, so too may be the story of our universe.


While in the past, my philosophy for thinking through this wound up pretty similar to that found in Hinduism before I realized it, I'm not a soft Polytheist and the more I explore animism the more it turns towards panpsychism.  At the same time, it's still not too different from the Tao, of the Tao te Ching, or even Dust from His Dark Materials.. If I do personify it, I do so as Odr, Freya's husband. Considering his name implies ecstasy itself, beyond form, there’s something of a state of mystical rapture about the entire concept, and considering Freyja is a Seidr practitioner… it just fits, at least to me.


I also learned the term “omnist” around this time, and rather like it - it reminds me of the Unitarian Universalists, but more polytheist friendly, since it completely ignores even needing to have a Trinitarian vs Unitarian “debate” since it’s not grounded in Christian perceptual framework. I was also given cause to think through language of the idea of spirits being “emanations” in some sort of Neo-Platonic sense. The Hindu idea of this intrigues me, but the Neo-Platonic one not so much. The artists who shape the clay are not the clay. The clay is not the artists. Gods are the artists. Clay is the spirit or consciousness that permeates all things. In the framework of this analogy, I suppose I see Odr as god of the clay.


Many mystics, across religions, tend to have very similar experiences. It makes me wonder, how would a never interrupted Heathenry have dealt with Buddhists? Considering we have found Buddha statues even as events played out, among other artifacts at Viking era sites, and knowing that Buddhists didn’t exactly have the imperialistic or missionary interests Christians did, it's not unreasonable to see they could find common philosophical ground in places.

In many ways, my own encounters with Buddhism made me more comfortable with notions of Fate - and thus with Heathen cosmology - where Christianity had pushed me away from the concept. Beyond grounding, there’s a sort of “amnesia of the moment.” If you suddenly found yourself without the baggage of the past - in an amnesia state - would this moment be so bad? What possibilities would open up that you don’t see otherwise? Redirecting that with your will, which I’ve sometimes heard as “cutting through at a right angle to fate,” “layers” the concept of Free Will over Determinism. In the Heathen sense, this is why our actions are relevant in our Luck, and our Luck is relevant in our actions. Thinking that we shouldn’t make so little of this concept leads right back to what Heathenry can lend the interfaith conversation. 

It’s also related to what I like to call the “pinball machine explanation of magic.” Essentially, a lot of stuff has determinism and fate at play - the sum total of what time period, family, country, culture, religious beliefs, spoken language, genetics, etc you were born into, determines a lot about your life. Everything from health and disabilities to abusive cycles to what concepts, art, ethical notions, and more are available to have early exposure to and have bouncing around in the brain are set up by these things. Who lives near you, what communication capabilities you have, who it is possible for you to encounter to influence your thinking… all these things are both a little bit of chance, and a large portion the result of past factors you have no control over. We have some choices, the launcher spring, the paddles we use to smack the pinball, so to speak. Those are obviously ours, but a lot of the obstacles are just… There. Magic? Magic can’t change the board, but it CAN smack the sides of the machine and give you just a little nudge in the direction you’re hoping to go. This also explains why magic alone can't dismantle oppression overnight and why people in poverty  can have “real” magic and still be poor. (I have such imposter syndrome over that…)


Speaking of the magical and the rational, I’ve noticed that even the sorts of bodily “energy” that are scientifically provable can feel very subjective. When my wearable health monitor vibrates, or I feel the currents during nerve conduction studies done on my arms, or I undergo electric muscle stimulation to help some of my disabilities, it feels almost as subtle as supposed “energy work.” Tai Chi was important in some ways on my original journey from fundamentalism.  What I felt and experienced while learning such things certainly felt about as real as the sleep paralysis  I learned to catch myself in while experimenting with lucid dreams. It was also tied with a working tactic I managed to develop to get myself out of said sleep paralysis. I did this by imagining myself, my energy, spirit, dream self, what have you, slipping back into my body like a hand into a glove. 


In addition, my first out of body experiences, so to speak, were as a child. I had several thoughts and dreams reminiscent of later Samhain meditations, especially when trying to connect with my deceased father. I also had a bit of an OBE where I thought I had encountered Jehovah, but perhaps it wasn’t. It could just as easily have been the All Father, based on the little I remember. It was enough to make the entire process of Lucid Dreaming and altered consciousness work familiar and easier when I did it over a decade later, on purpose, as a witch. It’s also enough to make me ask myself if these interactions with this pantheon have been there all along. 


Twice in the past year, I finally felt like I belonged somewhere. I felt like I had the family and community I’d always wanted, even if not at the same time. Yet for most of this time, the medication dose was still stabilizing. That little OCD imp of the mind was planting worries, telling me I’d be the worst step-mom… but I still remember a lecture where a psychologist was discussing that usually, that means someone like me will take extra caution to be the opposite of what their fears are telling them. So I can take solace knowing I would probably have done really well in that role. It still stings, you don’t dangle that in front of someone who can't have kids and even gave up on having kids, when that was something they wanted even more than some good career out of life, and then rip that away. I know Freyja and Frigga and even Loki also hurt for me on my behalf with that one. They know what it is to have family and hope ripped away. There’s a parallel with spiritual community too… to go from feeling like I finally found people who deeply understood me, to finding a place where I belonged, to feeling like all along I was just some sort of annoying reject.


So often I feel like a monster and genuinely don’t know what I did. I know a lot of people may not be sincere when they say this, but I welcome more info to grow. At this point, I’m worried I can't even go into other communities to try again. If I go to an event my seminary helps sponsor, like Mystic South, someday, am I violating some sort of unspoken restraining order to be there? What if I join some server that to my knowledge is run by some unknown tumblr person and more than the ones I think are in there are in there, and I somehow make the same mistakes again? But even trying to ask these questions is apparently how I got in trouble in the first place. 


It’s little wonder I feel damaged in my relationship with the entire Heathen community from this in some way. It might also clarify past interactions to realize that outside of being aware of the stuff I listed above, I wasn’t much of a fan before I talked to any of them as people. I was someone who just wanted to feel less alone, and found a link where I thought there might be a few Heathens who weren’t crypto folkists like that kindred I visited back in the day - which I only stuck around with because Valky, who is a member of one of the very groups open folkists tend to discriminate against, was in the kindred with them. She was also the one who had made the comments about Odin sometimes showing up as Black in her UPG, they just didn’t know it was hers and she wasn't there that day. I don’t know the answer for neuroatypical people and situations like mine. Some situations really are toxic, and I can't blame people for using best judgment, but not everyone is able to express things eloquently and some really did crawl out from under a rock, so to speak, like I did. 


In many ways though, I do feel more belonging than I did a year ago. Even if I can’t meet with them, I also still have the possibility of zoom rituals with my old Pagan group I’ve known for a decade. I still have Serilda and Valky, as well as other loose, unlabeled community. If it wasn’t for the first few people from The Keyboard Hall who responded to me elsewhere on social media, I admit, I would have been tempted to think I should just go back to the Agnostic-Buddhists. My relationship with social media is complex, though. Honestly, I hated twitter with a passion when it first came out. I refused to join it until a college class made me do so. I also see and share a lot of concerns about TikTok now… but I also feel like these two forms of social media speak to where I’m at, so I’ll probably wind up joining TikTok soon, just as I did twitter years ago. I get others not wanting to see my 3AM “shower thoughts” on other social media that shall not be named. Twitter and TikTok force me to condense my thoughts instead of rambling on in an “infodump.” Learning to communicate in small doses is, as far as I can tell, something that promises to be good for my growth in the long run. It’s also been recently reinforced to me that maybe part of why people don’t like me is that I talk too much, and I’m bad at small talk. Dropping my argument with the world includes these forms of “popular” social media too.


Other pop culture things have also helped me feel a sense of belonging, and positive nostalgia. Getting more into Viking metal this year (carefully avoiding Folkish bands, as with all things Viking) lets me remember some of my Catholic friends who happen to be metalheads. I have  good memories of sitting with Serlida and both of us telling them the actual mythology surrounding Ymir, and the looks on their faces, and their comments about how metal that myth is. Getting into it myself lets me embrace the memories from a more Heathen angle. I’m also pretty sure, speaking of Heilung earlier, and their genre’s connection to metal, that the friend who introduced me to them may have found them through their music being on a video game soundtrack. Certain video games are a bit of a safe space for me, and always will be. 

If there’s one bit of baggage that’s as much from my goth days as my Christian days, though, it’s bashing on pop culture. While there are consumerist and problematic elements to that, at least it strikes up a conversation. I’ve even spent time in all this wondering why I’m harsher on Gaiman than on Marvel? Yes, I suppose I should own up that, at least in the past, I liked “MarvelGard,” as friends and I called it. That said, my inner goth snob would like to point out I watched the 2011 Thor movie out of curiosity because I had already gone Heathen, and not the other way round. I was there for it when Vikings Season 1 came out as well. The crypto-folkish group assumed right from the pilot that Ragnar would convert to Christianity and watched no more of it. Admittedly, I’m trying to not do the same with Vikings: Valhalla, and I’m resistant to watching the last episodes of the first season. Being willing to take that sort of media with good humor is a positive thing, to me. Some of my favorite Christians like Life of Brian, for example. Are they stronger than Heathens are? Though it would be nice if more Christians knew how to take a joke as well, so to speak. At least even this sort of Hollywood examination gives some awareness of figures like Odin and Thor, even if the misinformation they spread is a pain. 

Years back, a “classic hippie” metaphysical shopkeeper I knew, who ran the tarot meetup I was in for awhile, told a group I was sitting in that “the only rule should be there are no rules.” I kinda frowned. “You’re… a shopkeeper. Surely the rule of not stealing is important to you?” She gave me the dirtiest look. But I’m still that person who lives in the gray areas. It's easy to think the only rule should be “no rules” until you're confronted with what “no rules” actually means.... but that also doesn't mean go “lawful stupid.” It’s not an excuse for tyranny, but an argument for ethics.


I definitely do worry. To quote myself in a past tweet, “why don't you see me talk about Declaration of Deeds? To be to the letter I'd have to disown my mom, economically and socially, because she's homophobic, but I plan to do good with some stuff from her after she passes someday. So, the whole "if you talk to a problematic person you are one" stance is…” difficult for me, to say the least. It’s also a great example of why I was easily misinterpreted in my confusions and need for clarification in other contexts and places like The Keyboard Hall. I do try my best, but, as my mother herself ironically put it, I tend to “argue like a Jesuit” - even with myself, in my own brain.


This is what I came up with chatting with my spiritual director - 


It's basically the don't be a dick rule. 

There's no wrong way to Pagan -                

unless you're a dick.

Being a dick is the wrong way to Pagan.

(Unless you're Freyr. Then just be Freyr.)

Looking back, I’ve come a long way. This time last year, before the meds, before reconnecting with Eric, The Keyboard Hall, and through them the gods, I wrote things that look like they came from a completely different person. “I find myself questioning if my own pain is real, if everyone is in this much pain all the time, if pain itself actually exists or matters or if everyone who claims to feel it is a wimp. I hurt myself and wonder if there is even a self to hurt. What is suffering? What is a self?” So… clearly Buddhist thinking wasn’t quite a healthy way to handle where I was at, but it certainly serves as a benchmark for how much my life has changed. I’m only sorry that the very people who helped me through it might forever think of me that way. 

Coming through all that I have in 2022 thus far, which I’m only slightly jokingly calling my “Odinic Ordeal,” in some ways it feels like my whole life prepared me for this. I’ve handled so many things badly due to my mental health issues over the years, but I’m really proud of how I’ve dealt with these things, even if others can’t see that growth. My purpose in writing these “Deconstruction Essays” was, first and foremost, to finally find my voice, and to communicate better with those who misunderstood me in the Pagan community in the past. Secondly, it also stands as an apology to those who felt judged, even if I wasn’t judging them, as well as those whom I actually did judge, whether or not they knew it. Thirdly, it’s a thank you to those who helped me grow along the way.

I’m only about halfway to 72 as I write this, and I’m realizing life is too short to care about cringe. Yes, you can currently starve in the US if people find you too weird to hire, but that’s honestly a horrible thing, and not a reason to be hard on myself, or anyone else. If anything, sometimes I do have kicked puppy syndrome. Are dogs monsters? No! Sometimes I find myself going back to my original position in my healing process - I'm a monster and should accept that. I’m trying to turn that around and own it, and be proud that I am essentially a cryptid if that is the case, and just scare the villagers on purpose.  

If anyone else feels the same… Be badass okay?


Live laugh lurk.

Choose yourself and move forward.

Freedom can also mean the freedom to walk the path alone.

Freyja needs no one to complete her on the battlefield.

If you wind up standing before the gods on your own, do so with your head held high.


I’ll close with this, from my journal on 7/8/22 -

So thinking about how Thor can bring thunder and lightning, yet also be the protector, maybe they thought he was the one who had it strike trees instead of homes, and protected the people from being hit and hitting stronger things that could take the punch while bringing fire and rain for hearths and food. I ended up just saying maybe that's the Protector I needed when I was scared I would be killed with thunder for what that Pastor's kid did and was praying the rosary long ago as a young child. And That is when I kinda really connected to Thor in a new way...  And as the grin spread across my face, I shit you not, the lightning between the clouds that night? ... it flashed in a way that Looked like Pertho. 


The Hermit, A Path (Deconstruction Pt.4)

 (Audio Here: )

It feels like, within the last year, the gods have given me everything I ever wanted, only to take it away. I’ve used the time since then to try to embrace that I needed to sort out my spirituality without pressure. I felt the gods were leading me through an ordeal path, and I became The Hermit to contemplate. I got off most of social media, anything not directly related to creative projects, only really checking in for notifications - and even then, not on everything. 


In all of this, I don’t forget how mental health issues, especially my OCD, can mess with relationships in general, both human and divine.  Extreme ritualization, unwanted unwarranted obsessive worries, intrusive thoughts, and fears that you may be worse than you are, or some monster… fearing doing things you don’t want to… all this is part of it. To give an example, with my OCD, I used to be scared my hand would slip while shaving and that I would slice my eye. I would never do that on purpose, obviously, I’m not Odin over here, but that’s life with OCD. To be honest, instead of “eat, pray, love,” my journey was more like “eat less, make offerings to the old gods, and then grab a sword and stick your problems with the pointy end.” Fast, Sacrifice, Fight? One way to put it. Ha!


I don’t feel that this is just a do-over of when I became Catholic. While I still have some guilt over how I handled things, the Aesir certainly aren’t trying to punish me for any shortcomings. That’s also not the only reason I’m choosing my solitude these days. When I said that I was content with how I am, I meant it. There’s small things to enjoy about where I am - living with a good friend and two fluffballs. I may not have a family, but I don’t have the irritations that come with one either. I don’t have to worry about anyone else's sleeping patterns interrupting my own, and don’t have any new household routines to get used to.


Possibly being with someone I had known as well and as long as Eric, and having a family with him, won over that hands down. If that isn’t in the cards for this life, what I’ve established about my life for now isn’t worth giving up at the moment. I carved out a niche for myself as best as my broken mind and body were able. It took effort - literal blood, sweat, and tears. I’m not giving up the little I have unless it’s for something better. The afterlife I’m choosing though? I can count at least eight or nine friends who will also turn up there, and each and every one of them means something to me. It will give me a chance to spend time with all of my found family, eventually.  


It’s a question of belonging, to an extent, and no one is an island… but…

I didn’t choose this just for an ex - which I did when I became Catholic. I didn’t choose this out of overcorrecting after religious abuse - though a religion of self directed control made sense after a religion of only self sacrifice. That’s what I did when I went Wiccan. Heathenry is both for me, encouraging self control and self sacrifice from a healthier place, and I didn’t choose it from pressure from the scars of my past. 

I chose it, initially, even when Loki first turned up, to heal.


The beliefs themselves accommodate both sides of myself, the uncertain one who needs to just follow, and the confident witch priestess. There are ways to pluck good advice from the lore, even when one feels they stand alone, and ways to increase one’s ability to stand strong. There are also solid, good communities out there, even if some of the ways to make them are very poorly defined. A strong connection with the gods also provides guidance when other friends are few and far between.


Heathenry lets me indulge the mystic trance worker who “felt her soul and Knew.” It’s also enough for the inner skeptic who is grateful to Snorri, because an unwitting Christian gave future doubting agnostics an out. Some of the very things he did to try to make it acceptable for Christians to read the myths ironically make a good fallback for agnostics too, such as connecting the gods to the families of legendary humans. Plus, rune magic is ultimately the magic of the written word, and libraries are certainly the agnostic’s temple. If I’m basically just toasting the beloved dead, and the main “magic” of the runes is that the gift of books lets our ancestors leave their voices and knowledge to us in very literal ways, then... So what?


Admittedly, with my OCD, I’m the person who always had less anxiety reading the end of the book first. It never bothered me knowing how it was going to turn out. I honestly felt comforted by spoilers, and felt like it increased my enjoyment, instead of ruining things for me. Maybe my newfound hopes regarding an Afterlife are me trying to do the same thing for life, but who is that way of getting closure hurting? 


And yes, along the way in this life I found out my ex-husband “Andy” is Heathen and now wears a bindrune that means roughly the same thing as his Saint Christopher Amulet did, which I think is hilarious. I discovered he’s not the only loved one Odin has “collected.” I can think of at least three or four, if you count close friends.


If there’s one thing I’ve learned the last year though, it’s that I need to love the things I love because I love them. Eric sang my song back to me, for the first time in a long time. Around 2018 through 2020, I was surrounded by so much noise - people playing tv’s and music loudly, yelling, and more. I took most of 2021 to just… embrace silence, now that I had it. I realized eventually that I almost never listened to music at all anymore, let alone music I loved, and I hadn’t since at least 2017. 


When I was growing up, I missed out on a lot of normal life experiences for people in modern society. I wasn't exposed to modern music, or most modern shows or games. I was forbidden to listen to rock music - it was of the devil. Mom only realized her mistake when she joked about turning 64 only to realize I didn't know the Beatles reference she was making. It wasn't the only one. I was the kid who had her mouth washed out with soap for calling something - not even someone - stupid. I wasn’t allowed to watch The Simpsons ever, or even movies like Home Alone until I was ten, because of the swearing in them. Most of my media exposure came through friends or relationships, and got heavily associated with the people involved. Some things stuck as people moved on, other things didn’t. 


Being a homeschooler and raised outside of pop culture didn’t help with having an autistic brain. When I sort of found the goth community as a teenager, it was nice because I found people who in many cases shared both the Catholic-ish and Pagan-ish parts of my aesthetic, both the modern and Victorian, and often struggled with similar mental health issues to my own. They saw beauty in similar things to myself - the bittersweet that is almost more beautiful for its fragility. Because the music was so niche, as well, there was a lower barrier to entry into getting the subculture and its references than dealing with the thousands and thousands of back catalogs of popular music, much of which I couldn’t relate to intellectually or emotionally because it felt too shallow, at least to me.


Even the ones that didn’t quite have that issue… based on my upbringing, I had difficulty singing along to songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I kept skipping the line about the devil, because I took those things that seriously. I would get things stuck in my head easily back then, so I would look up lyrics and select songs based on them before adding them to playlists, rarely listening to entire albums unless I really liked the musician in question. Fitting in wasn’t hurt by the fact that in singing along, I could pretty much voice-match Siouxsie Sioux when I really threw my full lung capacity into it. I also started out already having a ton of black velvet, and synthetic fabric that was similar to it, in my wardrobe back then, which didn’t hurt either. If anything, I’m more comfortable with the goth community as a Heathen than I was as a Christain though. At least I’m not heavily judging every song with “evil” themes and folklore references anymore. 


It’s worth mentioning, though, that in being raised with Classical and Celtic music, one of the earliest musicians I truly loved from the age of eight was Shelley Philips. When studying German in 2012, I discovered the band Faun, which played some of the exact same tunes, as well as a few pieces in Old Norse. I fell in love with their music, too. When I watched Vikings, and Faun eventually did crossovers with Wardruna, it never occurred to me that some would see this as problematic. Apparently, some think the main influence that brought about bands like Wardruna or Heilung is some sort of culturally appropriative Primitivism. As near as I can tell the origin of this criticism is no less a figure than Beofeld, better known as the author of the Declaration of Deeds. Trying to figure out why this is even a hypothesis, the most I find is “there are drums and skulls and general dark themes. Ancient Norway didn’t have drums.”


What we know of Norse Paganism, however, is mostly by way of Iceland - and Iceland Did have Drums that were not like Sami or Swedish drums. As Arith Harger pointed out, it’s also likely that Volva’s used their buckets or staves in a similar fashion. Drums were not used precisely because the Swedish used them, and those two cultures have always had a rivalry and tried to differentiate themselves from one another. Also, Ireland had the bodhran - which likely evolved from a tool used for gathering peat, much like the "bucket" might have. Bluegrass, which some claim is a “more true” descendant of what music the Vikings may have had, is actually more Irish in origin than Germanic. Tunes like “The Devil Among the Tailors” are found in both Old Time and Irish folk tune collections, showing migratory footprints right to the Appalachians. 


One of the few advantages of being raised almost exclusively with fiddle and violin music is that trying to tell me that Norway and Germany invented Bluegrass would be like telling the average person that John Lennon was a member of Journey. No. Just no. Bands like Wardruna evolved out of the metal scene, and their “darkness” and animal skulls and whatever other theatrics evolved from that. Metal has been a Thing in Scandinavia, and has been embraced there in a way they definitely made their own. Drums, too, are more focal in metal than in classic rock. Viking Metal is seen as fine, somehow, but Wardruna, Heilung, and Skald (which is practically at home side by side with Shelly Philips but with Old Norse lyrics) are seen as appropriative.


How is this possible when their supposedly appropriative elements are metal based, and metal has completely different origins than drumming from other continents? It’s like saying anything based on rock music is ultimately appropriation because of syncopated rhythm. At least Heilung tries to go out of their way to engage with local indigenous communities, recognizing that local land spirits may not be the land spirits they’re used to and may be used to different forms of respect. That, in its own way, is at least an acknowledgement. They try, even if their way of trying may be over the top. Still, it reminds me of when I tried to tell off a Wiccan for using actual white sage once, only for someone from the reservation ten miles up the road to tell me off for telling off the person using it. Real life isn’t the internet, and we don’t always know the steps someone has taken, or what their actual influences and sources are. 


There’s a reason two of my favorite ways of looking at things in communications across groups are often two sides of the same coin:

1) Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. 

2) Even a broken clock is right twice a day.


True healing doesn’t mean avoiding the best of the past. If I avoided everything that reminded me of Eric, I would lose most of what I enjoy doing in this life. I don’t have those likes and interests because he introduced me to them - we met in many ways through those things. And most of the rest of it? A lot of my other favorites are things that remind me of the best parts of my mom, when she wasn't as afraid of life or people and had more intellectual curiosity. I remember the woman who taught me Dickens and Conan Doyle and Mozart. She loved the acting of Patrick Stewart, and named a cat after Earl Grey tea (before we had to switch it to Lady Grey), and had a crush on Data after my dad died. I choose to remember her cooking, and the best of her values, and her music, and how she made home feel like home. I try to dwell on this, and not on the worst of her. Honoring ancestors includes her, and means taking the good, without the bad, and being better. 


It's entirely possible it's all coincidence - from the first Pagan I met in real life being a Lokean, through Odin and Thor collecting my friends. It could be a coincidence that when that didn't work, they got my attention through those I loved most over the years. It could be a coincidence that when I forgot who I was, someone sang my song back to me. It could be a coincidence that the family he offered and goals he encouraged me in, were everything I had already wanted, and needed to do for myself, and that we were the same little niche religion now. The spellwork matching, the time off as a cook who never gets time off, and the support for a relationship without a legal marriage from the woman who thought losing my virginity was like robbing a bank could be a coincidence.


It could also be a further coincidence that during that time I lived the meanings of the runes that I wrote about as I picked them back up. I had birds following me everywhere when I never did before, and started finding random four leaf clovers in the dead of winter, for the first time since Loki crashed into my life years ago. It could even be a coincidence that during this time, I found exactly the group of Heathens I needed to make me a better Heathen, and that it was partially from a conversation with Eric months before that I thought to seek them out. 


It could all be coincidence. I mean, at least I made huge progress on my goals. Once they’re done I can safely retire to a less emotionally taxing outside of work side project, like goth karaoke or beating every SNES game ever made, finding every dragon shout and mask in Skyrim, learning German fluently, or possibly shooting Eric in his favorite PC game since I have that now too. I was worried for a bit there that I would fall apart, take shrooms to try to force the gods to prove their existence, come up with nothing, and become a rabid anti-theist. Utisetta seems like a better plan than shrooms though. 


I later found out, yet again, that some don’t like That concept as many modern practitioners have interpreted it. Utisetta, literally, “Out-sitting,” is sometimes somehow seen as appropriating vision quests, even though it is attested to by Icelanders who had never heard of Native North American tribes. If anything, based on description, it sounds less like a vision quest and more like the concept of a vigil. Awake, fasting, praying, just outdoors, not in a Church. Maybe it’s as much inspiration for the Christian practice as the Garden of Gethsemane was, if one backtracks to the concept of converts like Snorri Christianizing cultural practices to keep them. Meditation of this sort is also common on some Buddhist retreats as well. The brain does weird things without sleep. To paraphrase a Babylon 5 quote:

Marcus Cole: … anyone who wanted to get a straight answer out of [Odin, in this case] was to look at every reply in a mirror while hanging upside down from the ceiling.

Captain John Sheridan: Did it work?

Marcus Cole: Oddly enough, yes! Or after a while you passed out and had a vision. Either way the result was pretty much the same.


At the end of the day, though, it boils down to this… I thought all the pain of my life had finally been worth something, and maybe that's more latent Christianity. Maybe suffering is just ... suffering sometimes.


At the end of the day, maybe it is madness.


I’ve worried religion and a lot of other things I wanted may just be bad for me. After all, if so many members of my family have been so blind to reality, maybe that’s what I’m doing by believing in anything religious at all. But it didn't take much for me to be guided to heathenry this time around. I knew I was ducking religion in general, and avoiding dealing with my spiritual baggage. In a lot of ways, ignoring the gods felt like getting calls from collection agencies and pretending they didn't exist or had the wrong person. I even did still celebrate some holidays that aren’t even religious to most, like one for Loki in July. Unlike Yule or other holidays that loosely line up with the more Neo-Wiccan inclined, there wasn't really much social pressure there, even from other Pagans. I treated that time as Sacred, year after year for over 

 nine years, even in the midst of doubt and avoidance,  because deep down I wanted to.




I managed to, for a time, find a community on the same road I was on, even among a diversity of paths. They were solid about avoiding some of the same pitfalls in the Pagan community I had learned to look for. Like me, they were politically left of center, but not tankies or ecoterrorists or anything like that. Many were hurt by Christians but didn’t have “Varg Syndrome.” (I learned, just before finding the community that helped me, that a local kindred near me makes people wait a year before joining to weed out precisely that sort of reactionism. Getting preachy about Paganism is apparently often a sign of heavy latent Christian baggage.) Nerding out with these folks, so to speak, about so many things… I finally felt like I fully belonged somewhere as all of who I am. It seems I was too enthusiastic, while taking too long to learn the social rules. I think a couple people took me as too weird or parasocial, like some get with content creators, but I wasn't approaching it that way. I was approaching it as a spiritual home, a place I felt like I belonged when I haven't felt a sense of home in decades. Even the CUUPs group I loved that was my spiritual home after leaving Christianity the first time around… they were Pagan yes, but leaned more pantheist than polytheist on the spectrum, on average. It also didn’t help that in 2022 I’ve found myself having to work during their meeting times - one more way I was isolated when this year began. 


And you know, after getting kicked out of The Keyboard Hall, as I'll call it, I still kept friends. I still got likes and conversation on other social media from some of its members, even if there were others who blocked me. Even there, I’m choosing to look at it as… as long as I stand with them on some issues, hopefully they stand with me, part of the same shield wall within Heathenry, even if we have to be on different ends of that formation because of their boundaries. I guess some of them didn't understand where my heart was, or why I felt so deeply, and that’s okay. The gods do, and others did. 


While I was there I got so many questions answered that could only be answered by other Heathens. I know, now, that I'm not "doing Heathen wrong" just because one stupid kindred that was basically cryptofolkish kicked me out - or even because the Keyboard Hall did. No one can take that away from me. It also helped me to re-ground in my faith away from Eric’s influence. While I had been Heathen long before him, my newfound attempts to focus on experience over academia had made me feel bad about my theological pursuits. The Keyboard Hall taught me that I wasn’t wrong to seek the gods with my mind, too - I just needed to rebalance it, not cut it out. I also had been made to feel “not Heathen enough” because of some of the Christian books on my shelves… but seeing someone unquestionably Heathen who had my admiration as a thinker discuss Thomas Aquinas during a chat one day, when no one in the conversation was anything like Catholic, made me feel so validated in trying to have interfaith philosophical discussions. The Tao Te Ching got mentioned too, and finding out other Heathens and animists had also benefited from it, without considering themselves “eclectic” as a result, was amazing somehow. Even after nine years and so much study I still had so much imposter syndrome from so many interactions in real life, but no longer. Something healed in me. 



At the end of the day, if I hadn’t been through all that, I might not be as content with the little I have. There’s so much I’ve gotten out of this journey that has improved my life. I have friends who get me, a sense of belonging (even if it’s not with an easily defined group), and a rediscovery of things I love. I’m not just copying bits of those around me onto my personality like an autistic chameleon where only a few things actually stick. I even have an idea of how to contribute to the next generation - if only down the line, and only financially - ironically the one thing I usually don't have. As someone from the Keyboard Hall put it, in addition to a few folks on twitter - the story of the Widow’s Mite still counts as a philosopher talking about the economy of offering, and fits with what we Heathens know of Gebo and the gifting cycle.

It’s worth examining where I did screw up basically every gift I was given in this time. Twice over the past year, I was so worried about being rejected yet again upon finding somewhere I belonged, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.  With both the Keyboard Hall and Eric I put my worst foot forward to test if the ground was safe. Heck, I didn't just put it forward, I practically put that worst foot right up their butts. They never got to see the best of me and only assumed the worst. All because I'm so used to rejection.


It didn’t help that, in the fall of 2021 I was still pretty unstable. While I had gotten on new meds last summer that have helped my mental health, in the fall, dosages were still being worked out and didn’t stabilize until around January. A lot of that was about affordability of the right dosage - it took changing my car insurance policy and cell phone provider to make getting the correct dosages less of a struggle. 


The stronger some of my mental health issues are the more Pantheist/naturalist my spirituality is, as well, so the meds affected that too. These meds also lessened the intensity of my chronic physical pain issues, because of how tied in pain circuits are in the brain. So even if someone thinks this is the only life we have, better to live that with less pain, no?


To be fair the next time I find that kind of acceptance, I can just embrace it now instead of questioning it, hopefully. At least now I know it’s possible. Either way, I’m tired of being defensive around every new person. Dissecting where this came from, I found myself wondering if, other than that one roommate who put her fist in my face, I really had a reason to get that defensive until I moved to the Midwest? My own family, I guess, is a plausible source. My mother views the “outside world” as completely irredeemably evil for psychological reasons as much as religious ones, so it’s possible my subconscious inherited that, even though I’m markedly more trusting than she ever was. But then, where did it come from for mom? Then, I realized…

Her dad.

Suspicion of outsiders makes sense when even your own family can’t be trusted to not be cruel when you are weak or vulnerable or in need, I guess. At the same time, I’m far too easily influenced by others. I think part of why I keep to myself in my down time is to avoid running off down bunny trails because life can already be overwhelming enough with things to focus on as it is.  I want to keep my path my own.