The Morrigan is Not a Valkyrie

Most of my work with Crow comes through dreams and meditations. Having worked with Crow for some time now, there is not a lot of hard work aimed towards determining that what I am feeling is coming from Him. But when working with other Gods, it is not really as easy to discern just who I might be working with at that moment. Take, for example, the past few months. I was “introduced” to what was noted as a “Warrior Queen”. Knowing only The Morrigan as having such a title, my assumption was that this must be Her. Visions and interactions were shadowy, and She was dressed mostly in black. However, the clothing was quite modern, and each time, Her hair was a different color – usually black or blonde, though there were a few times of brunette and red. None of that matched anything I knew of The Morrigan, but I also admit that my knowledge of Her is sketchy at best. to be completely honest, The Morrigan scares the shit out of me. I was not at all “thrilled” about this set of interactions or what might be asked of me because of it.

cropped-img_28671.jpgSo what to do? Well, it was time to put the thinking cap on for a bit and think things through. I do not classify myself as a “warrior” of any sort. The US Air Force trained me to shoot a variety of rifles and pistols and provided me with hand-to-hand combat training. I was also handed the philosophy I continue to live by in physical confrontations – I don’t fight to win, I fight to survive. That makes any item within reach a weapon. But let’s be really honest. None of that makes me a warrior. I have fired shots at individuals that have fired shots at me – with the purpose of killing one another. Yes, I have been in battle before. That still does not make me a warrior. The Morrigan tends to call Warriors to her Battle-Standard. So I am fairly confused as to how I would be in that grouping. In essence, I am on shaky footing for understanding the “why” – and add to that, what knowledge I do have points elsewhere.

Many Polytheists that I have talked with crave contact with the Gods. Enough so, that some of them have acknowledged that they readily accept the first contact that they get as being who they were wanting to work with originally, only to find out later that they were not completely correct in their assumption. Folks, I work with two Trickster Gods, both of whom enjoy making a fool out of me quite a bit. All of that has taught me to be a bit cautious with any interaction I have with the Gods. Over time, I have developed a little toolkit that I find to be helpful.

First, knowledge is power or in this case, knowledge is the shining light to help get some answers. I journal all of my dreams and meditations, so I have a record of details, conversations and the such. Once I have that, I start hitting books, articles and even having conversations with other polytheists about what I am experiencing. And I journal what I glean from these efforts as well. I compare what I learn with what I have experienced – and note the differences and similarities.

Second, and this sounds fairly odd, but I ask pointed questions in my meditations and dreams. “What do you want with me?” “Why am I the logical choice?” “What are you offering to me in return?” In a weird way of thinking, your initial interactions with a God or Goddess is a bit like a job interview. Working with the Gods is a two-way street, and you have just as much ability and control (personal sovereignty as John Beckett would point out) to say no. Just because a God or Goddess appears and says “I want this!” doesn’t mean you just roll over and give in. And it definitely is not always a one-way street where they get and you give. It can be that way, but that throws so many red-flags to me that it would have to be a very “special” moment for me to consider. But that is me. every individual is different. Just as the relationship between each person and a God or Goddess is unique as well.

Third, is taking your time with the decision. Great, you have been approached by a God or a Goddess to work with Them. You do not have to give your answer right then and there. If They demand an answer immediately, remember – you do have the choice to say no. There are consequences to replying in the negative. They could choose to not work with you again, no matter how much you might plead. There are consequences to saying yes as well. :: looking over my shoulder at Crow and Coyote ::

I decided, in the end, to take my time with working with this “Warrior Queen”. I talked with a few friends who do work with The Morrigan and discussed the interaction with them. A few noted my military background, along with my experience in combat, as perfect indicators as to why She might want to work with me. But each of them also noted that the hair color differences, as well as the more modern clothing (which I can only describe as something out of a hunting sports catalog – mostly muted colors), might be indicators of someone else. A few interactions later, I found out the difference…

She sat in the middle of my Inner Grove, on the large boulder where I spend most of my time listening to Crow. Her blonde hair hung down from underneath a brown baseball cap. Leaning against the boulder was an older, worn bow, and a sheathed short sword. Her outfit was a black t-shirt, faded blue jeans, and black hiking boots.

“Are you The Morrigan?” I asked.

She leaned back and laughed heartily. “No,” she managed between gasps. “That silly Corvid told you that? You should know better than to trust a Trickster to tell you the whole truth!”

It turned out that she is a Valkyrie. And that the other visions were also Valkyrie, and thus the different looks. I am being nudged back on to my path. I am not a warrior, I am a Protector. My role is not that of battle unless it is necessary. In essence, I was being scolded for not taking better care of myself and not staying in the role I was meant to be. A friend had mentioned that perhaps this may have been Skaldi. When I inquired along that line, I was told that maybe She would take an interest in me in the future, but that was not the purpose of this.

Sometimes, you need to be nudged back into the Path you are supposed to be on. And sometimes you need to be reminded that you are not doing the things that you are needing to do. And here’s the best point of all – sometimes, your dreams and meditations may be an interaction with the Gods, and sometimes its just a reminder to get your ass back into your practice. The Morrigan is not a Valkyrie. And Trickster Gods….well, let’s just say I know better. And a touch of research, reference and conversation with others that know better – goes a long way.


Pulling the Stick Out of My Rear

Another question that comes up quite often in conversation is why Coyote, Crow and now Fliodhas?? My only response for this is….well, I don’t have the first damn clue to the “why” of it all. I tried to explain some of it about a month ago in a post. Perhaps a more interesting question might be why do I have two First Nations’ Trickster Gods interested in me? Which then begs the next question as to why I have an Irish Goddess of the Forest now interested in me? The answer winds up being a big shrug from me. Though, I would point to the Saturday night around the fire with a handful of my fellow Bards at the recent Gulf Coast Gathering as a potential explanation. We spent most of the night cutting up and laughing amongst each other. Our jokes and side commentary certainly brought us much closer together as a group then we were prior to the start of camp. In all honesty, in the dark by the light of the campfire, it was almost as if we each grabbed a hold of a common thread of mirth, frivolity, and inspiration. And we not only shared that moment, but it forged a bond between all of us that is almost indescribable. Given the nature of Coyote and Crow (among other Trickster Gods) and the manner in which laughter at the moment provides a strong feeling of ecstatic experience – I can only come to a single conclusion. That – for me, at least – my two Tricksters were showing me (us) a side of one another that could only be understood through our shared experience of the moment.

Before I started down the road of my Pagan Path, I was raised a Catholic, and even spent a little more than a year in the Southern Baptist world. Both experiences make religious rites and spiritual experiences into a very solemn, serious experience. There is typically no room for joking around, or even irreverence towards the moment. And when such experiences do happen, an authority figure will eventually come along to frown upon those moments. Piety is a very serious business, and one must not crack a smile when experiencing spiritual ecstasy of the moment. In a manner of speaking, its almost as if one must have a stern, stoic face when approaching matters where spirituality, religion, and the heart intersect. Of course, I am stretching this to an extreme to make a point…I am sure that there are moments of frivolity within both the Catholic and Southern Baptists faiths, though I am quite sure that irreverence is most assuredly frowned upon to an even greater extreme than I am projecting here.

When I did my first Wiccan initiation, waaaaaaaay back in the day, the initiation called for me to be completely disrobed – skyclad, if you prefer. I was a serious stick in the mud back then…quite the prude, if you will. After all, my background prior to being at this point (less than two years on my Pagan Path) was strictly from a background where nudity was frowned upon. So, the running joke amongst my coven mates (I found out about this many years after the fact) was how they were going to get me to disrobe, much less approach a circle of others who were also nude. Trust me, it wasn’t all that simple, but I eventually did so. I locked eyes with EVERY individual I approached. I never looked down, I never looked around. Looking back, I can laugh about how nervous I was about being that vulnerable in front of everyone else. And yes, I was very body conscious at that point in my life. I’m still a bit hesitant about disrobing in front of others, but I no longer have the body conscious issues that I had previously. Shit, I’m fat and I know it. LOL

Back in those days, I was always worried about how others may or may not perceive me for who I was. And I seriously laugh about that too. I had to have the RIGHT clothing for ritual. I had to have the RIGHT tools with me for ritual. The moment had to be RIGHT. Everything had to be in the PERFECT place. Otherwise, I felt that the ritual was spoiled and not “pure” enough for the Gods. it took a lot for me to overcome that. Now, ritual is more about honoring the Gods than it is about the exact perfection of this motion or the wording of these phrases. When I stumble on words or state something in the wrong order – I am quite sure that the Gods are laughing along with me. A little levity goes a long way to relaxing other people involved in the ritual. After all, they are probably just as anxious about the way they are handling themselves within the ritual as well. And that levity, the ability to laugh at myself, not taking myself that seriously — I have learned that from Trickster Gods.

IMG_0209Ritual is a moment where we honor the Gods, honor our ancestors, honor the Spirits of Place, and celebrate the turning of the Wheel of the Year. Its also a time where – if you are doing this in group practice – that we get together to celebrate our bond with one another. If we do that in an uptight manner, where we are not relaxed…it comes off as stilted and stiff. As if we are uncomfortable around those we are with. A little mirth goes a long way towards relaxing yourself, and everyone around you. Stop worrying about if – or when – you screw up in a ritual. Relax. be yourself. You screw up, acknowledge it, and step back up to the plate. if the candle won’t light, improvise. Just don’t light yourself on fire (or anyone else for that matter).

Getting upset because something didn’t work right or you stumbled over your lines…that just changes the energy within the ritual, and removes some of the relaxed aspect of what is happening. Honoring the Gods, Ancestors, Spirits of Place – that all starts with honoring yourself. Don’t be so hard on yourself. And trust me…you’ll make the “O” face when you pull that stick from your rear-end. I know I did. But after removing that unbending aspect of myself…I can certainly walk a lot easier now.


Life With Trickster Gods

My beliefs are a very integral part of who I am. I have learned all the rote answers to the typical questions I get from folks of other Paths. What is a Pagan? What is a Polytheist? What is Animist? What is a Druid? What kind of religious ceremonies do you have? Are you a Priest (a particularly tricksy question to handle from my personal perspective)? How long have you been a clergy member (I try really hard not to laugh through this one)? But eventually comes the one question that will have me blinking – how do you communicate with the Gods and Goddesses?

Its easy to formulate a quick response. I communicate with them through trance, meditation, and dreams. But that’s not a complete answer. In fact, I would almost call it skirting the question. There’s a lot more to it than trancing out, or meditating, or stumbling into a dream-state. And as I sit here and type this, I know that what I am describing is not correct for anyone else. So perhaps, I should start at the beginning for myself. With Coyote.

Coyotes are animals that I am drawn towards naturally. They work in groups, but can be very solitary creatures at the same time. I self-identify with that quite a bit. I work far better on my own, one of the many reasons that I approach my Spirituality from the perspective of a solo practitioner. Though I am not sure what I am practicing, most everything I do in my Spirituality is the real deal. Practice doesn’t come into it. But that’s a tangent for another time. I do work fairly well in groups, so long as I am not in a position of leadership. I am certainly – in my opinion – one of the worst leaders of magickal and ritual group work around. I know my hard limits, and that’s definitely one of the big ones. But my aspect of solo and group work identifies well with the common legend of the coyote as an animal.

Once that identification was held tight, I decided to spend time trying to approach Coyote through meditations and trances. It took a few months of continual and constant work, petition, and searching, but eventually I made contact through the meditative Path. At first I embraced Coyote outright, and was eventually set into a few situations where I was made to look very foolish – particular for my fervor in trying to accomplish the completely silly tasks set before me. Trickster God. Go figure. But this was one way that I realized I was being shown that I was in the right place. The third situation that was handed to me, I looked it over before denying that I would do what was asked. My first lesson. Learning to say no, no matter who was asking.

[Poem] If I Could Only Speak Crow...Crow was a little different. I didn’t ask for, or petition for Crow. In a manner of speaking I was introduced to Crow by Coyote during one trance session. I didn’t understand what was being asked of me, so I ignored Crow, treated him as a bystander. And then Crows started showing up everywhere. In the mornings, the Crows would be in the tree in the backyard, waiting for me to come outside for the greeting of the Sun. They would be at work, hopping through the manicured lawn of the college. They would line the rooftops of the local Wal-Mart, alongside the smaller Grackles that are a nearly constant sight. I knew Crow was vying for my attention when I saw Crows everywhere on a summer vacation in the Rockies. A trance session with my focus directly on Crow provided me with the second of the Trickster Gods that are a part of my daily Life.

Over time, I realized that it made sense. These are First Nations Gods, and I live right in the middle of old Comanche territory. The old Gods of this area of the world are here with me. Certainly, there are plenty of other Gods, including Celtic and Irish from the multitudes that practice those faiths here. But the First Nations Gods claimed me.

So, how does one attract the attentions of the Gods and Goddesses? Focus. Trance sessions, Meditations, Lucid dreaming. Petitioning them. And patience. It doesn’t happen in the first five minutes. Nor the first five days, and may not the first five weeks or the first five months. Show your dedication. Make offerings. And continue to be patient. And don’t get mad if the ones you petition don’t show up. Before Coyote, I had flirtations with Pan, and Tsuki no Kami – neither of which worked out after nearly two years of effort (Pan), and another year and a half of meditations and offerings. Perhaps, I may have had better luck by not offering to any particular God or Goddess, but that’s all into the Past now.

My third Spiritual companion has started to make her presence known, Floidhas – the Irish Goddess of the forests. Sort of strange for a guy with mostly German ancestry to have the flirtations of an Irish Goddess. Perhaps an DNA kit may shed some better light in that direction. Hers came about with the horn of the Wild Hunt invading my dreams and mediations. I would focus on something, and eventually, the horn of the Wild Hunt would be sounded – and I would either break concentration or come fully awake. It took me a short time to catch the name of the young lady who stood by as the Wild Hunt passed along, and would then wink at me, and run off giggling and laughing. Flow-us. Took me even longer to figure out how it was spelled, much less that it was Irish.

Now, I am not going to sit here, hands typing at the keyboard and relate that this is the ONLY way to approach, communicate, and commune with the Gods and Goddesses. It is one way, and the way that works particularly well for me. All I can really pass along is that its a lot harder work than you may think. And that when the Gods that approach you have your ear – they will ask favors, provide tasks, and require devotional work from you. And it most definitely is WORK. Like with anything that happens between mortals and Gods, its not something that comes intuitively, nor is it something that comes easily. There will be some measure of sacrifice that comes. There will be a degree of hard work that is necessary to accomplish what is asked of you. And that is a measure of your commitment to their cause. It is a measure of dedication you have to who they are and what they stand for. You have the will to say “no.” You have the will to say “yes.” Think carefully before committing to one or the other.


Blog Title Change and Embracing Change

Blog Title Change and Embracing Change

Up somewhat early this morning. The first part of the day begins a new transformation for me – the changing of a place to live. But its not the only change going on. No, I’m not stepping away from Paganism or Druidry. In fact, I will be stepping closer to both. No, the title of the blog has changed from “Footsteps on My Path” to “Life With Trickster Gods“.

Why the change? Well, the point is to be more reflective of how my life runs. Being on a Path is appropriate, but the better descriptive is that Crow and Coyote have such a large degree of influence in my life. Being adopted by two Trickster Gods means that I get to put into practice all the ideas and concepts I learned working in Disaster Recovery within Information Technology. I learn to be a bit more nimble in my thinking, and be capable of evaluating different choices at a moment’s notice. But there’s so much more to both than just being Tricksters…and that’s what I am looking forward to exploring into far greater depth.

Pathway in Mesa VerdeOne thing is definitely for sure…I am not being coaxed out of the shadows and the edges…I am being shoved from behind. This is not about leadership – its about living life to the fullest. And with Trickster Gods whispering in your ear, setting obstacles on your Path for you to overcome…it will definitely be something to not only enjoy, but be frustrated at. And while I believe that frustration can and will cause tears – overcoming that will bring joy, happiness, and a feeling of accomplishment each time — as well as sharpen my mind into being more nimble with solutions.

::raising coffee cup:: I have no idea what’s going to be coming…it may feel like abuse, but there will always be a lesson behind it and a reason for the way the lesson gets presented. Again, these two may be Trickster Gods – but they really are so much more than that. I’m willing to walk down that road, and find out more…

Life With a Trickster God – So I Wait…

My Backyard Stone Circle
My Backyard Stone Circle

Every day is different, interesting and somewhat entertaining when you have a Trickster God looking over your shoulder on a regular basis. Over the last two days:  a podcast episode that I uploaded (Episode 009:  A Chat With Joanna Van Der Hoeven) somehow got corrupted on the upload and crossed up with the previous episode that had been released in January, an MS-SQL trigger sequence that I had spent nearly three weeks configuring and crafting does absolutely nothing despite all the intricate testing I had done on each update, alter, and create parts, and when I arrive home – my television in my office won’t power on, even though it worked this morning before I left for work.

A quick check of the podcast file that I had on my desktop found that there was no corruption on the file here – re-uploading and re-publishing the episode proved to fix the problem. Deleting the MS-SQL trigger, copying the written code back to the server and attaching it to the database again got the trigger to run correctly, despite being the same steps I took on Friday morning when I uploaded it the first time. Unplugging my television from the power strip, going downstairs muttering under my breath about where the hammer was at, and returning to plug the television in again proved to fix the problem. Coincidence?  Possibly…

Being claimed by a Trickster God can try your patience, literally. Its one of the first lessons you learn…to endure the jokes, the quips, the trickery that takes place – and patiently wait for the lesson to unfold. Sometimes it takes a while – even weeks (in one case I have had). In the meantime, the strangest things happen, the weirdest moments take place, and the dumbest things in the world happen to you. Like the afternoon I spent with my t-shirt inside out — while shopping at the mall. Yeah. That.

But when the lessons come – and they do come – you find some of the most clandestine wisdom you can have set in front of you. And it might take you a short while before you even realize that the lesson is taking place, but when it occurs – you marvel at how simple, complete, and DEEP it all is. The simplistic look hides complex pattern after pattern and can make your mind race at speeds you never dreamed of.

Why do I have a Trickster God hanging over my shoulder? Its a good question. I have part of that answer — for me to provide the platform for others to speak. Crows are messengers…that’s my job.  And I know there’s more to all of this…but I have not been shown that just yet. But I can be patient…I’ve got the experience to show for that. So I wait…

ADF Hearthstone Imbolc Retreat – and Just Doing It….

There’s been an over-arching theme in my daily life for the past four months.  Yes, there’s the crows that are EVERYWHERE.  My dreams, my meditations (even where they do not belong), real life…just everywhere. At first I thought it was cute – all these crows constantly cawing at me, dropping buttons and yarn in my lap in my meditations – just cute adorable stuff. After a while, I realized there was a message behind all of this – that Crow was trying to make me understand something. I just couldn’t puzzle it out.

Now, I’m not one to be out in public very often – at least not the Pagan Community aspect of being public. I’m always afraid that someone will recognize me (beyond the people who know me face-to-face already), and just squee all over the fact that I am a podcaster. Yes, I fear the notion of “fame” – and its taken quite some time to get over that notion, much less realize it.  More on that in a bit.  So, when I saw the invite in my Facebook messages section from Chris Godwin about an Imbolc Retreat in the hill country here in Texas….I balked and attempted to put it out of my mind. The idea of getting out into the public is an issue of being gun-shy for me.  So I just let the invite sit in my inbox.  I didn’t decline it (like I normally do when get things like that) – and I couldn’t really relate to why I did that. But then the dream came up…where the Crow shouted “Do It!  Register and go!”…and I sat up in the bed, went to my computer, made sure I had the funds to sign up, and left myself a sticky note to ask for time off with work. And after getting the a-ok for that, I registered and paid my reservation in full. And right after I hit the button, I knew there was no going back.

And Still the Crows Came

Every dream, every meditation, everywhere I turned – there were crows.  Still.  I thought I had satisfied the necessary requirement that Crow had been bugging me about. I still didn’t understand.  And when the day came to head down, I got to talk with a friend through half of the trip about the dreams, the meditations, the crows…

“Messengers,” she said quietly after listening to me for close to fifty miles. “Crows are messengers. They bring information to Odin. Odin understood, but the Crows had to bring him the information to work with.” I shared a nervous laugh with her, as I wondered what the messages might be. On the third day of the conference, I was talking with one of the attendees, and she mentioned much the same thing. ::holding finger in the air:: First point to Crow.

During the retreat, there were two evening rituals – both of which featured the opportunity to step forward and offer a blessing or a sacrifice in whatever fashion you wanted to. I passed on both opportunities. Each morning after, I found myself wide awake at 6am – even earlier than I normally am. The first time was because of someone else having left their phone alarm on. The second time, I awoke suddenly. When I checked my own phone this morning, it was 0600 on the dot. The first morning (yesterday), I found myself watching a cloudy sky – waiting for the sun to rise.  But the second morning, I didn’t wait for the sun, I walked out into the foggy mist and off into the wooded area behind the retreat bunk houses.

About a mile away, I sat down at the side of the dirt road – butt on the ground, my arms around my knees – and I listened. I could hear the cars on the nearby interstate, their tires noisily gripping the road’s surface as they were compelled onward by their occupants. I could hear the caw of a crow, somewhere nearby. Damnit.  Even here I can’t be alone. So I centered and grounded…and asked what I wasn’t getting. I got four words in response:  “Not you. Do it.” All I could think was:  thanks a lot. Cryptanalysis was never my strong. I could fix the machines and operate them, but I couldn’t break cypher codes by hand. I slowly got up (I’m not as spry as I used to be), and my movement apparently startled a nearby deer having her breakfast. As she dashed into the underbrush, I murmured an apology after her white-brown rump. And headed back to the retreat center for breakfast.

Just prior to breakfast, I’m talking with John Beckett about the prospect of an interview I had been wanting to line up for the podcast.  After a few moments, he stops and quietly notes that he has an editorial comment:  “Stop talking about things and just do them.”  I’m not sure John noticed the look of shock on my face, but here was the Rosetta Stone I was needing for my meditation moment just a scant half hour before.  Trickster Gods…  I spent most of my drive home contemplating that entire few moments of synchronicity…  Damn Trickster Gods…

And Then There Was That One Moment….

Remember I was noting how much I fear the entire concept of “fame”?  During dinner on the second night (last night), John and I are eating and one of the attendees sits down noting that she is about to have a “fan-girl” moment. Now, John is fairly well known – so I was prepared to sit and listen to someone talk with John about his excellent writings on his blog. However, after she notes how long she’s been reading John, she continued with “…and I have been listening to you for quite some time too.” And I have my first moments with a fan of my shows that isn’t someone I already know in real life. It didn’t turn out like I had always feared it would…she had wonderful conversation, along with her non-podcast-listening friend who turned out to have a lot in common with me (databases), with both John and myself (John and me, John and I — whatever the correct vernacular is).  And her demeanor really put me at ease. Once again, I had blown up the idea of what it would be like to run into one of the twenty-some odd people that listen to my two podcasts would be like.  When all was said and done…I could hear Crow and Coyote snickering about how foolish I felt after that (and still do).

There Was a Lot More Too…

U BAR U Retreat Center - in the fogBeing out by the fire with a group of dedicated Pagans looking to raise some energy for a cheerful purpose was absolutely amazing stuff!  To put it into perspective for me, DFW Pagan Pride Day in 2013 was simply amazing stuff. It paled in comparison to what happened during this Imbolc Retreat. There were several good roundtable discussions (one of which was an excellent presentation on looking forward into the near future of Paganism given by John), and lots of good feedback from folks in the audience. An overwhelming thematic throughout proved to be that of hospitality, and of community. And I do have to say that our hosts were most hospitable people throughout, and are really amazing people. Chris and Amanda Godwin, I have known only online for the past two years, but it was super incredible to meet them and get some really nice warm hugs from them!!

Looking Backwards and Forwards…

Yeah, it took more than little coaxing to get me to go. And after all the apprehension on my part – I found that I had no reason to be apprehensive whatsoever. I have met so many people at this Retreat that I likely would never have connected with otherwise. And I feel completely enriched from having spent the time with them – and I hope the same can be said for them spending time with me.  LOL  If they hold this again next year…I am already making plans to be there…  I hope that doesn’t drive attendance down…  ;)~  But I did come away with one big takeaway that was specifically there for me…we’ve talked about making this podcast go.  Its past due the time to make it go.  And starting yesterday, this little boat of a podcast is moving forward, and I will not be the focus.  That will be the people who come aboard for an interview….  Its time to just do it.