So What Gives With the Irish Goddess?

Quite a while back, I mentioned that I had finally been clued in on my long-time flirtation with some Goddess aspect in dreams and meditations. Since 2008, I have had my dreams and meditations interrupted with a woman who stands just outside of the edge of my vision. She beckons to me to come closer, and eventually I find myself at the edge of the thicker part of a forest. She continues to walk deeper into the forest, constantly crooking Her finger at me, and giggling softly. All the time, I constantly ask for Her name and only receive giggles in return. About seven months ago, shortly before I went overseas to Ireland, she provided a name. “Flee-das.”

I had never heard the name before. So it took some searching to find the name. Turns out She is a part of Irish mythology, and Her name is spelled Fliodhas (modern spelling, or Flidais. She is the Irish Goddess of the forest, and as far as I have been able to understand, She is similar in nature to the archetype of the Huntress.

So, I am primarily Germanic in my ancestry, and was a bit perplexed over what an Irish Goddess might want with a German kid (not that I am a kid anymore). And to be honest, I am still in the process of figuring that out. I have started to walk deeper into the forest in my dreams and meditations. I feel the same anxiety as I walk deeper along my Path with OBOD, as I finish my Bardic grade studies and now move into my Ovate grade studies. She still does not answer my questions, but continues to lead me deeper into the forest.

A little over a year ago, I took the DNA test with Ancestry.com, and got back results I was quite sure I would get. I’m Germanic. Approximately 40% according to the test. But at first, I never saw anything about an Irish background. Until recently, when my DNA results expanded a bit more. My DNA is 100% European, again not much of a surprise. But as I started going deeper into the breakdown, there it was:

Capture

So now I have my answer. There is a trace of Irish there. Now comes the harder part – getting an answer to my question of what is wanted of me. And for that, I am willing to be as patient as I need to be.

 

Resisting Against the #Storm

This is the time of year where my travels typically stack up like overseas flights coming in for a landing at the airport. I have a retreat in south-central Texas for ADF Imbolc, then Pantheacon the weekend after that, and a professional trip after the following weekend to Houston. And a couple of weeks later, on to Louisiana for the OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering. Last night, I firmed up the details to attend CalderaFest in October. And there’s my first trip to Washington State….ever…to attend Many Gods West. That’s a lot of time away from home. And a lot of time away from my Stone Circle.

I am thankful that I have a job that can provide enough monetary resources for me to make travel like this, as well as the vacation time to do so. And while I am frightened to near death to fly, I am still thankful that I have the ability to do this as well. But every so often, I wonder what in the Nine Hells I am doing? By nature, I am a full-fledged introvert. I can be social with the best of them, but I prefer doing so in a group of people that I know. Why am I travelling to music festivals and conferences where I will encounter far more strangers than I have ever seen in a place before? And with my distaste of large crowds, I am placing myself into the middle of a maelstrom of people. Have I lost my fucking mind??

Actually, I have not. And while I have a distaste of crowds, and tend to pull myself into my shell – there is a need that needs to be met. No. Not glory. Not to become some Big Name Pagan (a semi-humorous and semi-scornful descriptive that I find not only distasteful but disgusting). No. Its because of the #Storm. Its because we, people who find themselves staring down the spear-point of a potentially dictatorial government, held by a spiteful, hate-filled element of society that would keep those that are different from them out or under the soles of their jackboots pressed against our necks – we need to know we are not alone. And not just through words on a computer screen. We need to be able to touch one another. Hold hands. Speak directly to one another over a cup of coffee or tea. Because we make it through the #Storm together.

Its also for the old Gods. I have the interest of three. There are far many more. At the conferences, the gatherings, and even the music festivals – we gather together in fellowship with one another. We honor the old Gods. We give thanks to Them for being a part of our daily lives, even the Ones that we do not interact directly with. We gather to be the Pagans and Polytheists and what else have you – that we are. Together. We fellowship with one another. We talk, we discuss, we respectfully debate and disagree, and we learn. We get all of that from one another, and from our respectful honoring of the old Gods.

So why do I travel? Why do go to these crowded events? To be there for others. To listen. To sympathize. To lend a shoulder where it may be needed. To find others who can be there for me. For those that can listen to me and sympathize. To find shoulders that are being offered as support for me. Because we are in this together. Because in being who I am, and not letting the Pagan that I am, the Priest that I am, the Polytheist I am be buried under the onslaught of issues coming from the actions of my United State government under the control of Donnie.

I resist. In the words of Malcolm Reynolds, I aim to misbehave. Not just through protests, not just through petitions, but by being who I am. By living the way that I should, as a Pagan, as a Priest, as a Polytheist…without apology. Without flinching. I do what I know how to do, being the Pagan that I am, the Priest that I am, the Polytheist I am. I resist by not conforming to some cookie-cutter vision of what an American is. I resist by being who I am. I travel to fellowship with others who also resist – who also live as they are without apology. Without flinching.

Together, we will make it through the #Storm. At times it will not be easy. It will seem hopeless at others. But we work together. We band together. We resist together. We will survive the #Storm together. And we will honor our Gods as we do so, by continuing to be who we are. In the manner that we can. By living our lives without apologies and without flinching. By being what we are. By being who we are.

 

Finding Safe Places….Thoughts on #MyPolytheism

IMG_5745Over on Facebook,  a really intense conversation took place concerning Polytheism. A lot of the conversation focused on a blog site which gives polytheists who feel somewhat steamrolled by a lot of the folks with bigger blogging audiences and what are essentially louder voices. It is called #MyPolytheism and has become a place where many of the diverse and lesser heard voices of Polytheism can be found.  Heard without judgment. Heard without argument over what is right and wrong. Heard, where their voice is given equal weight, and equal respect.

In the course of the discussion on Facebook, much of what was said focused on the importance of #MyPolytheism. One of the more intriguing set of questions, came from Alley Valkyrie, which I am going to attempt to answer from my own perspective. To be fair, these questions were not asked of me, and I messaged Alley privately asking if it was alright if I not only quoted her for the questions, but could I also try to do this with a blog post.

Can you understand the need for something like #mypolytheism as a “safe space”? Can you at least see how and why that has become necessary? Can you acknowledge that there is a significant population within the polytheist community that feels the need for a space free from abusive judgement?

Now, at first glance, this looks an easy straight-forward answer that would requiring no more than four to five sentences to answer. But. That would only be scratching the surface. Essentially answering only the cosmetic part of this. There’s a lot more deeper down, which requires a lot more processing, not just on my part. I will get to that a little further down in the post.

As I noted before #MyPolytheism is a place where Polytheists with smaller voices can be heard. I write this blog. I constantly discuss my relationship with the Gods. People read it. Through that, I wind up having a bit of a louder voice. There are those that don’t have blogs – they don’t have time to write, they have other priorities in their life, whatever the reasoning. Through the #MyPolytheism blog site they can express their point of view.

Within many of the social media spaces where folks have “gathered” to discuss the concepts of polytheism, these #MyPolytheism contributors can feel intimidated by some of the discussion that takes place. Especially when some folks start proclaiming that there is only one correct way to be a polytheist.

“You must do [this] to work with the Gods.” “If the Gods are not speaking to you in [this manner], then you are not speaking with the Gods.” “I am a [Priest/Priestess/long-time follower] of this [God/Goddess/Spirit] and if [They] are not speaking to you in [this manner] then you are not connecting with them.” And so on.

In my opinion, this is what “Gatekeeping” looks like. People who guard the gates to the concept of Polytheism and have made themselves into the self-appointed bouncers. Again, my opinion here, but that does nothing but kill the notion that the wider arching concepts of inclusive have built over the last few decades within both the Pagan and Polytheist movements. Granted, the modern Polytheist movement – to my knowledge – isn’t nearly as old as that of modern Paganism , but neither needs an enforcer providing litmus tests to who does or doesn’t qualify. After all, you really don’t need an application and a resume to approach the Gods. You need faith. In them. In yourself. And the unique relationship you develop with a God, Goddess, Spirit of Place, Spirit of Ancestor is between you and Them. But there is plenty of judging that goes on within the social media platforms, which intimidates those that do not meet the qualifications as presented by some fictitious Gatekeeper.

#MyPolytheism provides a space where these folks’ voices can be heard. It also provides a place where contemplative conversation can take place. In essence, a place where the folks that feel somewhat marginalized or forgotten in the overall conversations that take place, can participate.

But why do attitudes such as the Gatekeeper Complex rise up? This, is a tougher question to answer. Remember, just a few paragraphs ago, where I said that this goes deeper? Let’s grab a shovel and dig a bit more.

People feel the need to be “wanted” and “included” in things. The reason that so many folks got riled up on the conversation was that they felt the smaller voices within Polytheism were being discounted or dismissed. Now, whether that’s the case or not – I cannot say for sure. However, Solo Polytheists – those that work alone, as I do, are seemingly left out of the conversation, simply because they practice alone. In practicing alone, the stigma is that these folks do not want to participate in building community. Which is not a true statement, in my mind, as everyone is part of the Community at large. They participate at a level that is comfortable for them. Now, when people hear “Community building” they think in terms of the physical, and that’s not always the case. There’s also “Community building” online, which is what I believe the My Polytheism project is promoting.

There were times, within the Facebook conversation that things got a little heated. I know I was in that boat. I said things a little stronger than I had intended to. That was the moment. Now, looking back on yesterday’s conversation, I can see that the lines from Gloria Estefan’s “But the Words Get in the Way” is somewhat suitable.

But the words get in the way
There’s so much I want to say

As I have noted, I’m not the best writer in the world. Sometimes, I write the wrong statement, or I don’t write enough to thoroughly explain myself. Sometimes I write a statement, thinking that others already understand where I am coming from. When I haven’t even realized that people who read me are not me. They might be starting in the conversation from a different place.

Or, maybe its not so much that there’s so much that we all want to say, but that there’s so much that we add to what we read and hear. In thinking back through all of this, sometimes its a matter of trying to hard to read between the lines and guess at some hidden meaning. Or if my perspective is not part of those represented, I feel slighted because I wasn’t represented in what was said, and assume that my perspective is being tossed on the ground and trampled into the dirt as being unworthy of the conversation. I will admit, right up front, that communication i not the easiest thing – particularly just the written word. I’m no wordsmith. To be honest, I’m not even a very good writer. In face-to-face discussion, I can see the person’s face, watch their body language, and get cues as to whether what I am saying is being received correctly. Or if the metaphor or analogy I am using as an example is coming across correctly. I don’t have that when I am writing. An excellent writer can write well enough to remove most doubt as to what is being said. And sometimes, we as readers, inject our own bias into what we read. All of which can garble the overall concept of what is being said.

I do realize that #MyPolytheism has its detractors. For whatever reason. You won’t find me among those. To me, it is a place where people can voice their perspective. Without judgment. Without being told that they are wrong. And hopefully, those that do come to read what is being said, do so with an open mind. Receptive to what is being said. And ready to ask questions relating to how and why – without injecting aspects of “that’s wrong because…” Or to be encouraging of what these individuals are doing. After all, it can be a scary thing to add your voice to the wider shouts. I applaud those folks who do so.

The fun thing, is that I learn more about my own relationship Crow, Coyote, and Fliodhas by seeing how others have their relationships with the Gods. With something like My Polytheism, I get the chance to experience – second-hand – the relationships that others have with the Gods. And in my opinion, that makes all of our experiences stronger, when we talk, communicate, and exchange ideas. No Gatekeepers are necessary.

Meditation and the Gods — Keeping Myself Sane in an Insane World

There has been a lot going on this week. Work-related stuff. Home-related stuff. Friends going through job issues. Other friends and family members in the middle of the Louisiana floods in Baton Rouge. All of it is enough to push one off kilter, and create a wobbly orbit. I know there have been times where I have walked out to the stone circle, looked up at the clouds in the sky, and wanted to shout “Why?”.

Two things have kept me on track, despite the shaky and bumpy ground all around me. First, has been my grounding exercises. Without these momentary points in time, where I stop, calm myself, find my center of balance, and reflect…I would likely have run down my street screaming to the skies above. Naked. Smeared in green jello. Reading a Playboy magazine. Ok. I took that cue from Edgar Friendly.  But you understand what I mean. Doing grounding meditations helped keep me in a mindset where I was able to find solutions, and work the problem. Rather than letting my emotions work me.

The second thing that kept me on track is the Goddess and Gods that I have cultivated a strong relationship. Yes, one of the calming influences for my daily Path are Fliodhas, Crow, and Coyote. Now, none of these three literally place a hand, claw or foot on me and whisper in my ear to “take it easy”. But for me, They are always there. Times may get rough (and they certainly will), times may get lean (and they certainly might), but this trio are always right there. An assuring presence that everything will eventually work out, provided I do the hard work to get it there.

See, the Gods and Goddesses can intervene, and They more than likely do in some other folks’ lives. In mine, this Trio provides me with the calm I need to find a solution, and do the work. This is how these three manifest Themselves in my life. And its a reciprocal relationship. When They have need of me to do something on Their behalf, They ask. I can always refuse. I haven’t, but I can if I wish to. And its not like They ask for something every five minutes. They don’t. They ask when They have need. Not when I feel like They have need. My relationship with Them is unique and individual. How Fliodhas, Crow, and Coyote work me is not necessarily the same as They would work with someone else. Nor should it be. When They ask me for something, its because it is something that I can do, not because its something They are asking everyone else to do as well.

For me, grounding, centering, meditation, and my individual connections with Fliodhas, Crow, and Coyote are the cornerstones to keeping my sanity in a world that gets turned upside down. There is no way that I am going to tell you that utilizing any of this will get the same results that I have. It took me a long time of experimenting with various techniques and concepts to get the meditation, grounding, and centering into something that works for me. But, I will say, its that kind of “hard work” — trying things, finding what works, removing what doesn’t — that’s what made it all eventually “click” for me. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Don’t be afraid to step outside the “normal” – particularly when the “normal” is no longer working for you.

Two pence.  Ya’ll have a good afternoon….  –T /|\