To the Ground.

•August 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment

As a matter of course, I try to keep as emotionally uninvolved with current events as possible. It doesn’t help my mental health to throw roots into whatever mess is manifesting in the world at any given time and, if I am brutally honest, I deal with enough of the horrors of humanity at my day job and I am all full up on human suffering these days.

The murder of Michael Brown last weekend was the first time in a long time where I sucked some serious air through my teeth and felt my heart drop. He was shot down with anywhere from two to eight bullets while his hands were in the air and while he was complying with an order to lower himself to the ground. Since his death, Ferguson has been in a state of complete chaos and breakdown. The militarized police force [for a small city/town of 20,000] has used illegal and discriminatory actions to attempt to quell the civil uprising that has filled the streets. Civilians in positions of peaceful protest—seated with their hands raised in the air—have been shot with rubber bullets, subjected to acoustic weaponry, hit with tear gas, pepper sprayed, and chased down by police in riot gear. Members of the press were assaulted, arrested and held illegally, or physically removed from the town.

Today, five days after Michael was shot and killed, the Missouri governor finally responded to this utter abortion of justice and civil rights by stripping the Ferguson police department of any authority and charging the Missouri State Highway Patrol with restoring lawful order to Ferguson, which means assuring that nonviolent protests are allowed to continue without the illegal and brutal interference of Ferguson’s ‘peace’ officers. It seems that, as of this writing, this has turned the tide a bit as it appears that protestors are no longer being fired upon or arrested for simply being present.

The situation has made me physically ill and I have not allowed myself to spend more than five minutes at a time looking at coverage of this disaster for fear that my anger will slip it’s leash. I’ve purposefully stayed out of discussions about this and have spent less time perusing social media and my usual internet haunts because, until today, there has been no hope in this situation—none at all. It has been a terrible, fatal mistake that ripped open a wound that turned septic immediately and there’s just no swimming in that.

I have watched what other religious and spiritual bloggers have had to say, though, and reading those thoughtful and meaningful words has led me to feel like a bit of a freak. There has been quite a bit of writing about what people’s Gods might have to say on the matter or what Their response might be or what these polytheists or pagans will be doing on their own to try and quell the awful spectacle in Missouri. All of this has made me want to tuck my Gods into my pocket and shuffle towards the door while whistling Yankee Doodle in the hopes that no one will notice me sliding along the wall.

My Gods, by and large, are Destroyers. They rend, tear, crush, shred, pulverize, and otherwise destroy those things that do not serve the larger picture that us meatsacks don’t get but tiny glimpses of. They all have blood on Their hands and They make absolutely no attempt to hide that or clean it up or pretend it’s not there. They are not peace-loving divinities and They value the power and necessity of spilled blood. Each of Them has done terrible things in pursuit of achieving what They or Those to Whom They answer believe to be right and just. If my Gods were in a super hero movie, They would be the definitive Bad Guys.

I was incredibly reticent to approach Them on this at all. At first, I was concerned I would get Their anger in full force, which would break my head and likely destroy me, but when I dug deeper into those feelings, I realized my tiptoeing around the topic was because I knew I wasn’t going to get righteous indignation from Them or a desire for things to settle into what us meatsacks see as an acceptable peace. They are not human and They don’t view things as we do at all, so there would be no human response from Them.

Some parts of me wish I had been wrong on that, but I wasn’t.

When I approached Them individually, I was largely met with an impassive gaze and a general sense that They would not stop this destruction because, in some ways, it was productive and useful to Them. That’s not to say that They were gleeful over Michael Brown’s death or that They are pleased that people are frustrated, grieving, and deeply angry. However, it, like all things, serves a purpose. Blood spilled nourishes a barren wasteland so that something new might grow and They will not stop that. The closest any of Them got to the human expression of outrage was Sekhmet and I believe that’s because of the aspect She comes to me in, as the Protector of those who cannot protect themselves. Michael Brown and the protestors being harmed very much fall under Her jurisdiction there, but She is also a Destroyer Who does not hide the fact that She is covered in blood and, as such, She paces and views the destruction alongside Others.

The Mister chastised me gently in a you-already-know-the-answer sort of way and remained distant with His attention focused elsewhere, and several other of my divinities followed suit.

I approached my Father last and He heard me out in my very human sorrow and anger without a word while we stood on some sort of hill above what might have been Ferguson. I asked Him why things were so terribly unfair and why things were like this, and He chose not to give me any reasons, likely because there are no answers to those questions that would satisfy my human emotional response. Instead, He looked at me, looked at the town below, and simply said Perhaps you don’t understand before heading off to wherever He was bound.

He’s not wrong. In fact, He’s very right. I don’t understand, really, despite how hard I might try. I am limited by the fact that I am largely human with a mostly human outlook on humanity. I can’t for a minute pretend I have the worldview of my Father, Who ordered the slaughter of an entire village and anyone who passed the village gates that day because they offended Him, Who sat and watched this, and Who then ate dinner. I am not that big or wise. I get glimpse of how They see things when They see fit to show me and as I grow to know Them more, but I will never see this world through Their eyes, ever.

While this is a distasteful reality, it is one I accept as being true and it’s part of the price of admission with my Gods. If I dig deep, I’m somewhat okay with this. It makes sense to the parts of me that are not human and the parts that have been machined by my Gods. In the end, I can’t change it so I might as well get comfy with it.

Of course, being who I am, it’s not just Their worldview that I get to content with. I also work under Their Will and, in this case, it means have a torn logical viewpoint over my part in this. On the one hand, there is the spiritual worker who knows that he can throw some of his brand of spooky at this mess in the hopes that it will stop the proverbial bleeding for at least a second. On the other hand, I am a child of the Crossroads and the Mister’s boy and I fucking well know better than to do anything more than watching it unfold. In fact, since They were well damn aware of how strongly I feel, I was Told on no uncertain terms that I was absolutely not to lift one magical finger to sway this situation in any direction. I know better than to believe that I am Alex The Great and Powerful and that my noodlings would stop things in their tracks, but I am not to contribute even one drop to any of the buckets involved here. It must burn and burn out on it’s own, as, in the worlds that I walk in, trying to put a hand in the water to change the flow of the river would be unethical and directly against whatever has been decided upon for this spot in time.

It makes sense. It follows what I have been taught. It doesn’t, however, make me happy. The part of me that is the Mister’s boy and my Father’s child absolutely knows that sticking my hands in this situation would be an undertaking that I cannot see all paths out of. There’s been a lot of talk of spiritual contamination and boy HOWDY would stepping into that arena provide a huge amount of that. Still, it doesn’t make me happy because I dislike feeling powerless.

When I brought that up in protest of the memo that says I would keep my magical stuff inside the ride at all times in regards to Ferguson, I got The Look from my Father and a terse statement of I am not being active right now. Am I powerless?

No, Papa. No, you are not.

So, I watch. I stand as the Sacred Observer who witnesses what unfolds so that it is remembered and not written off as a misunderstanding or an occurrence that was blown out of proportion. My Gods have not turned away from Their people and, as I love Them, neither will I turn my gaze from their suffering and sorrow. It may be the least that I can do right now, but it is about the only thing I can do.

I won’t pray for peace because peace is a scab over a wound that is full of pus and rotting flesh. Instead, I will pray that we learn from this and that this resolves to the best possible outcome, whatever that may be. I pray that the man who lit the match that started this fire via firing bullets into Michael Brown’s body is judged justly by his Gods. May the Gods show those suffering mercy in their grief and grant them strength in their hearts.

A farewell, but not a good-bye.

•July 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

No, this blog is not going away. No, I am not going away.

I sat for some ‘scorched earth’ divination last weekend, which was the first time in a long time—something like four years—that I have had extensive divination done on just about every aspect of my life, both mundane and spiritual. Over two days, my two fantastic and beloved diviners sat down for eight hours of divination for me and it was, by and large, pretty damn lovely. There was some hard stuff, as there always is, but it was surprisingly positive and cheery. This is notable, as these diviners have been reading for me for the last eight years and have had to deliver some really awful, horrid, and life-shattering news to me. It’s very nice when I don’t end up crying halfway through or walk away feeling like the Wyrd and the Gods have flushed me down a toilet to swim with the sewage.

Notably, this was the first time I had extensive divination on my relationship to and with Sekhmet. There are many reasons why I haven’t had anything more than a cursory look at how She and I relate, with the chiefest among them being that I have always, ALWAYS had something more intrusive to deal with and, frankly, She and I have not always seen eye to eye and, though I was certainly the one to maintain the hostility there, it certainly kept things terse for many, many years.

She tapped me maybe two years ago to give her a shrine, and I flat out told Her to go away because I was quite focused on the Mister and He was my priority in the moment. She did go away for maybe four months and then returned to demand that I build Her a shrine and I get started on it NOW.

So, I did. She has a small, very simple shrine in my home that has marginally satisfied Her. She would like bigger and would like some specific additions that I am considering, but it serves Her purposes, it seems, and mine, as it both honors Her and allows me to utilize Her shrine space as needed for Work…and, almost as soon as the shrine was built to Her satisfaction, the Work came. She downloaded a massive puja-style public ritual that She would like performed and noted that I should be doing a monthly shrine service for Her as Her priest since, you know, I was Her priest and all.

It was easier to just do the Work than to dig my heels in and spend valuable time and energy arguing with Her and detailing just how much I didn’t want to do shrine work. I began shrine services quietly and, while I advertised them a bit in the beginning, they became a private function for Her in a way that supported what I believe priestwork to be—focusing on bring a divinity more fully into this world and serving the communities near and dear to Them. As Her priest, Sekhmet came to me as the Protector of those who could not protect themselves. Specifically, She came as the Protector of women who had been abused, maligned, trafficked, and otherwise mistreated.

In this, She asked me for time given to Her people and this involved me going out and volunteering at a women’s shelter in my city and engaging homeless women who weren’t aware of the resources available to them. I’m grateful that She saw fit to send me to people with whom I already had experience professionally, as I would have fumbled around a lot more if I had not. This sounds like a fairly easy mission, but it was a significant act of sacrifice for me, as the only volunteer shifts open when I started doing Her work were the same shifts I work at my paycheck job. This meant that at least once a month I was either giving up a paying shift or turning down delectable overtime. Either way, it was money I could have really used, but sometimes the Work takes precedence.

As I went forward in these tasks for Her, She stepped back quite a bit and became very hands off. This bothered me a bit, as it was quite unusual for how we related to each other, but my plate has been very, very full and something occasionally slides off. My natural worry was that I had screwed something up, but I pointedly didn’t feed into that, as I didn’t have the time or energy to go on a truth-seeking mission.

However, when I went for divination, my relationship with Her was on the list of things that I needed my diviners to read on for me. I was incredibly nervous for them to do so because I was quite sure that I was going to get a face full of ‘priest, you done fucked up and it’s time to get with the program’. Fittingly, She was the last divinity that was read on, which is amusing given what I heard back.

Happily, She does not appear to be displeased with me nor did it come through that I have failed Her in some ways. In fact, I have done passably well by Her to the point where our arrangement in largely over with and She is now a part of my past as a spirit-worker and God-owned individual.

I had a jaw-drop moment when the diviner pronounced this, but it was like puzzle pieces fitting into place in that it made perfect goddamn sense. She is the divinity with Whom I have had the longest relationship with—She showed up first, put Her hand on my head, and said ‘time to learn to swim’ before throwing me in the pool eight years ago or so. She was the One Who tore my life apart to rebuild me into something and someone useful, Who opened my head, Who put me back together when I broke, Who taught me how to obey and be obedient even when I was absolutely furious with Her, Who gave me tools and structure in moving among the divinities, Who taught me grace under fire, and Who demanded that I stand up to Her and show my spine. She taught me how to be owned by a God and how to be a servant who, at the very least, did not offend or embarrass their betters by their very presence. Basically, She, as an implacable Task Mistress/Drill Sergeant/Overseer, took a formless lump of metal, hammered into into a vague shape, beat in some discipline, and handed it off to be made into whatever tool it’s Owner saw fit to shape it into.

And here I am.

The divination concerning Her ended at about 2AM and we all went to bed in some variance of exhausted. I spent quite a bit of time that night staring at the ceiling while the ‘holy shit’ carousel spun in my head. I’m glad I didn’t know any of this earlier or before She deemed us some sort of complete [my training and refinement will never, ever be finished] because it likely would have unfolded everything. I might have understood more of what was going on, but I don’t think Her lessons, guidance, and ass-kicking would have been internalized so well.

It seems that the last year of active priestwork has been part of working towards discharging my debt to Her. It will never be totally cleared, but doing something for Her certainly chips away at the interest incurred towards Her investment in me. She’s not disappearing at all—She very much wants Her shrine maintained as a way for me to remember Her and honor Her efforts in shaping me into something that could be molded further. I am happy to do this and will be futzing with the shrine when I can to make it a true reflection of the years we have spent together. I will remain Her priest, though the shrine services will be shelved for now and I won’t be actively seeking out opportunities to do Her work unless She asks for them or someone who is marked as one of Her people crosses my path. She isn’t going away and has, to the contrary, said that She will always be available to me when and if I need help of instruction but with the caveat that there is always a price and that I must be willing to pay it if I would have Her assistance. I’m okay with that—Her instruction and training has proven to be worth it’s weight in gold in the past eight years.

This is such a joyful thing for me in ways that are hard to describe. It puts a [permeable] cap on the last eight years and gives me a foundation to build on that is pretty earthquake-proof. It’s also nice to be regarded as somewhat useful, rather than a child with dirty hands who can’t be left alone for a moment, lest they break the good dishes and leave fingerprints on the wall. It also takes a lot of the nebulousness away, which is good for my head and my general sanity. If I have at least an idea of what Someone wants from me, I am much more likely to actually get it done, versus having Them just stare at me while I shrug my shoulders in Their general direction.

It also marks a cycle that has basically spread it’s tendrils among all my divine relationships, and it’s pretty exciting. Given that She was the first to throw me in the pool, it’s fitting that She is also the first to say ‘well, since you’ve learned to kick your feet in an acceptable manner, you don’t need this particular lifejacket anymore’.

Every time They see fit to talk to me or touch my life in any manner, I come away totally floored with how blessed I am, how lucky I have been, and how I don’t know how I can ever repay any of Them for Their care, oversight, and instruction. I truly live a life beyond what I ever had dreamed possible and, via Their poking, nudging, and outright shoves off the diving board, my feet have carried me here. Of course, I never would have known my feet could do that if She hadn’t demanded that I walk and carry my own weight.

Dua Sekhmet, Implacable Teacher!

Dua Sekhmet, Holy Devourer!

Dua Sekhmet, Protector of Those Who Cannot Protect Themselves!

Dua Sekhmet, Lady of Productive Plague!

Dua Sekhmet, She of Blind Justice!

Dua Sekhmet, Lady of Potential!

Dua Sekhmet, From Whose Muzzle Drips Blood of the Righteously Slaughtered!

May Your name reach the ears of every mortal. May You live forever in the shine of the brightest sun on the longest day during the hottest month. May You be always remembered and always praised.

An Unfortunate Polytheist Leadership Conference Update

•July 10, 2014 • 1 Comment

I’m really unhappy to have to post this, as I was really looking forward to this weekend.

I am in a position where I need to cancel my plans to attend and present at the Polytheist Leadership Conference this weekend in upstate New York. I have been ill and very under the weather for the last few weeks and I was holding out that I would feel better, but it’s just not happening. So, instead of doing a poor job representing the material that I wanted to offer attendees and not being able to participate to the level I would like, I am unfortunately going to withdraw and support the conference from home.

I’m quite upset about this, as I was looking forward to meeting a lot of people I have conversed with online and seeing a few really interesting presentations. I’m hoping this will not be a stand-alone conference and that I will be able to attend in the future.

3-Way Stop

•July 1, 2014 • 1 Comment

It has been an odd bit of time since I last wrote. In fact, it has been an odd few months. Maybe even an odd year-thus-far. Whatever the time period, it has been weird and that’s just fine. My life has turned into something like a hilarious acid trip and, while it’s terrifying when the purple crocodiles step out from behind the wardrobe and dance with Aslan, it’s largely okay otherwise. It really is a long, strange trip.

There’s a lot that I haven’t written about here that I have really wanted to, but the expiration date seems to have passed on long in-depth writing. There are pages and pages of things in my paper journal that either have not made it here, like the fete that turned out to be the most compelling and touching ritual that I have ever been to, and things that I am not quite sure are ready for the light of day, such as some deep emotional work and decision-making that has serious spiritual ramifications. There are things that I have had enormous trouble putting into words, like the awe I find within myself when considering the relationship that has developed between myself and the Mister, how His love for me manifests without word or language, how He answers each query, call, and request in it’s due time, and how I honestly never believed any of this depth of feeling was possible.

Then there are the Crossroads.

While all of those other things have been simmering in the background [background being every other waking moment], it has been Eleggua Time, all the time. He has been present and accounted for so much more than I have been used to or prepared for, and it’s been both really awesome and absolutely terrifying and soul-ripping, all mixed up in one bowl. That’s really not that strange, nor is it out of character for Him—He is the very embodiment of duality, liminality, and oil and water mixing like they are best buddies. It’s more that He hasn’t stepped forward so definitively before.

It ramped up for the past few months and Father’s Day was the moment when He blew the doors down and decided that it was time for He and I to really get to work. He has been steadily teaching the hard lessons and putting me in a position to look at the ugly things right along, but shit really got real in a hurry.

I had high hopes for Father’s Day, honestly. This was the first Father’s Day that I have had a father figure in my life that didn’t create incredibly negative feelings and dis-ease in me. I had a few things in line for Him—nothing huge, just a tiny gift and a food offering—and I was little-kid excited to give them to Him. It was great, really, because I could be happy that my paternity wasn’t a waste of time in all arenas.

And then I couldn’t look at Him.

I woke up on Father’s Day and immediately wanted to disappear. The lead-up had been hard from a biological family standpoint, as they kept wanting my attention and time on a day when I want nothing to do with any of them. Somehow, though, I thought I would just bounce out of bed and have a great day with my Papa. We all know that saying about best laid plans.

I couldn’t approach Him. I couldn’t even look at His shrine, and that takes some work, as He is located at the door to my office and bedroom. I hurried past Him like I was some sort of guilty party and that the ‘I can’t see you so You can’t see me’ game actually meant something. I felt horrible in general and then felt even more horrible because I was being a bad kid who couldn’t even manage to pour their Papa some rum and light His candle. It really, really sucked a LOT because it was not what I wanted.

Part of this was my unrealistic expectations, and Papa doesn’t play with that kind of stuff. The belief that His presence in my life would automatically lift away all the baggage, pain, and dysfunction attached to my relationship with my mortal father was flawed, to say the very least, and He was not interested in doing one damn thing that would alleviate those feelings. Why? Unexamined and untreated baggage is like cancer—the more you ignore it, the worse it gets until you wake up and realize that it has eaten your life and everything in it.

Part of it is just The Way Things Are. I have a really awful relationship with my mortal father and there is no divinity that can vaporize those thirty-three years of shit. All those years of shit create deep-rooted feelings and there is no magic Eleggua finger-snapping that can make that better. Even if He could, He wouldn’t, at least not totally. He’s not interested in seeing me suffer, but sometimes pain and suffering comes with the territory and with the lesson. It is not my preferred teacher or best way of learning, but pain is an excellent instructor.

He didn’t get all in my face about my lack of Father’s Day-ing, but He didn’t walk away, either. He just hung out and watched. There was not one bit of disappointment from Him, nor have I felt any since. I will admit that His disappointment was something very frightening to me, as it is a serious part of the dynamic between my mortal father and I. Maybe He knew that, maybe He didn’t, maybe He was not nearly as attached to having a Father’s Day experience as I was. But, He just stayed and watched while I pointedly ignored everything father-related, drew fervently, and tried to drown out His presence with Netflix [it didn't work, in case you were wondering].

As a consolation to myself so I don’t hold on to feeling like a bad kid, there is going to be some sort of special Eleggua something later this summer when it is further from Father’s Day. Maybe we’ll go bowling? Who knows. Could be fun to take Eshu to the lanes..

After the dreadful day had passed, it was time to get ready to head to Dark Odyssey: Fusion [link NSFW] where I was to be the chief catherder for the Ordeal Track. One of my sacred jobs has evolved into being the sacred stage manager, essentially—I can handle all the logistics and on-the-ground stuff while my colleagues run the active spooky. It’s something I take very seriously, am damn good at, and really enjoy, so I relish the chance to plan and make lists and do all the things that go into planning sacred experiences.

This year’s Ordeal Track theme was the Sacred Fool/the Journey of the Fool and I went in with eyes as open as they can be when one is holding space for the Fool. I knew going in that we were essentially opening the door to walking the Fool’s path as the facilitators, because we are not immune. Eleggua had showed a tiny bit of interest in this, as had His buddy Loki, but I waved Eleggua off because this is an event that is heavy on the sex and BDSM and I am not interested in engaging my Father in that sort of environment.

He took that, kind of, and in retrospect I can totally see that ‘yeah? We can play that way’ that He embodied. Basically, He pulled a fast one on me that I very much opened the door for. You can’t play a Player, really.

I began preparing for the event focused mostly on making sure I met the expectations of the Mister, as He had been very involved last year at this same event and because it is an environment where our relationship flourishes in a very natural way. When I reached out to Him and asked if there was anything that He would have me bring that I was not already aware of, I was met with ringing silence which was odd—He often has quite a bit of interest in what I carry into sacred sexuality and sacred kink environments. I packed the things that I knew I must have if I didn’t want to face His displeasure and winged it by packing the things that I thought might be useful.

As I packed and prepared, I kept getting little tickles of things to bring for Eleggua. He wanted the necklace I had put together for Him, and the baggie of coffee-caramel hard candies that He liked. I didn’t think too much of that, as those are things I would bring on the road with me anyways—I always bring all my sacred jewelry when I travel and, if I am on the road on days where I would make offerings, I bring offerings with me. I got a little more perplexed when it was clear that bringing all His keys would be a good idea—as the Master of the crossroads and Owner of all locks and doorways, I give Him whatever keys I come across that I don’t have a direct use for. So, into a baggie went His hefty handful of keys.

I really should have known better.

I fought with the idea that the Mister was remaining silent and withdrawn all the way down to the event site. It was really uncomfortable because I was so used to Him being present in that sort of environment. I wasn’t worried that there was trouble with Him or that I was being abandoned—He is quite clear when He is displeased—but it just didn’t sit well because it was so out of character for our relationship.

Once I got in, got settled, and spent some time with my co-facilitators talking about the upcoming weekend, I got the slap in the head that answered all the questions and made me feel like a complete idiot. I mean, I sometimes need the flashing neon billboard to get the point, but I sure missed it this time and Eleggua took great glee in my hand-to-forehead moment.

I don’t get Eleggua as what other people call a trickster, nor do I really get Him as Master of the crossroads. I mean, He absolutely is those things [in a way—I don't like the word trickster because I think it's inaccurate], but I get Him as a father figure being that He is, you know, my Father. However, He is the Master of the crossroads and, in some of His caminos, walks as the Fool. How convenient that we were setting up the Ordeal Track around the path of the Fool and the choices the Fool has to make and that His child is stage directing that. How absolutely convenient, right?

WRONG. Of course He was interested and of course the Mister stepped back. I was not there as the Mister’s boy, but as a child of the Master of the crossroads. My primary function for the Ordeal Track was to bring that energy into the ritual passage of all the participants.

I had a moment of ‘surely there is someone else who would be more suited that could do this, Papa’ and got back a solid steely-eyed don’t-push-it ‘nope, it’s you’, and there I was. All those little tickles about packing this thing or that added up to a great big ‘this is what you’re doing this weekend’ suitcase. Funny, huh? Funny like a car accident.

Everything pulled together, though, and I did what I was to do as best as I could. I finagled a piece of magical work that I was not prepared to do at ALL, but did a job that passed His muster in a ‘well, it’s better than a pile of broken glass’ way. I now know that I need to figure out how to open and close a crossroads so that it’s more than me tearing things open in the dark with a bottle of rum in one hand and my all-purpose work knife in the other. Lesson learned!

Just like last year, though, no one escapes the culmination ordeal without an ordeal of their own. Before, it was a surprise all-night vigil and we were bound and determined that, on the shortest night of the year, the final ritual would be over before the sun rose. We were successful by a long shot with that—the ritual was put to bed and we were all sitting around in the temple space drinking champagne and/or rum as the sun started to tickle through the trees.

I was really unsettled when the final participant had come through their ordeal because I knew it wasn’t over. Some of the other facilitators did what they needed to do for their part while I sipped champagne and wondered what the hell was wrong with me, because other folks felt done and I didn’t. I don’t like feeling that way because I don’t like finding out later that things got screwed up, and particularly so when I am stage managing the affair.

It was in that moment—sitting with some of the facilitators and drinking champagne while two of the other facilitators fucked nearby—that Eleggua put His damn finger on my forehead and drove my ordeal home and I have really never held such ill will for a divinity before as I did in that moment.

I worked the whole weekend doing a bunch of stuff for other people. I ran a few classes, coordinated a few rituals, did a bunch of counseling, and was the person who answered the majority of the questions for the Ordeal Track participants. I was, and am, really happy to do it and have done it—it was really good work that I stand behind. However, the catch was that I didn’t ask for anything for myself and Eleggua took that moment in the temple with champagne in hand to drive that home with a sledgehammer. Specifically, I didn’t ask for something I wanted very much for the weekend and He illuminated that in a way that I could not ignore.

He and I had a bit of a fight over that. It was hard enough to be forced to look at your failures in addressing your own wants and needs, but to shine a spotlight on that one damn thing that I had been rolling around in my head all weekend and had no means of achieving, even if I had asked for it? I had an adolescent moment of ‘fuck you, Dad. I HATE YOU’.

It was a pretty crappy realization and I felt really, really horrible. Not horrible because I have a pretty solid habit of pushing away my own wants and needs, but horrible because I couldn’t have what I wanted in any way, shape, or form. It just wasn’t in the cards for the weekend—there was no way I could have pulled it off, even with a lot of prep time. It felt like He was rubbing my face in that misery, and maybe He was. The point needed to be driven home, so He used the most painful example to make it stick.

I remarked to one of my friends and co-facilitators that, in that moment, it felt like the Gods were conspiring for me to be miserable and that I had set myself up for misery this weekend by holding any sort of desire in my heart. That’s not a true statement at all—my logical brain knows better—but right then, I was not having any sort of logic at all. I drank a little more champagne and rolled myself off to bed.

This misery sort of colored what was going to be the highlight of my weekend and I felt depressed going forward. The following day was Sunday, which is the Mister’s day, and, being that my active duties as Eleggua’s child were largely done for the weekend, I could have some time to be the Mister’s boy and essentially have a date night at the event. Being that the One True Desire for the weekend was Mister-related, it was pretty bittersweet to be having a date night after having that One True Desire thrown in my face.

Long story short, the date night went sideways in a lovely way and I got handed something that I’ve asked for repeatedly for the last year and a half or so. I’m still sorting out how that feels and what’s going to happen going forward, but it was a very sobering moment when I realized how my Father facilitated a large part of that and that the Mister has really never refused me anything that I have asked for in good faith.

It has been a very emotional few weeks with my Father and, in a sideways manner, the Mister as well. I can’t ever remember feeling as loved and cared for as I have lately and it’s really been interesting to open up my expectations to allow this to be possible and to not push it away. Opening the expectations I have held for my relationship with Eleggua has also changed how I see and know Him. I got to see a more jovial and playful side of Him during the event than I usually do, helped in no small part by having Him and Loki tag along when I went to see a fire troupe perform. Apparently watching folks juggle fire staves and spin poi and the presence of a sousaphone that has flames shooting out of it’s bell is a fine reason for Eleggua and Loki to kick back, have a drink, and crack truly awful jokes. Who knew?

I am home now, though, with some new realizations and new things to work on. Eleggua kept me safe and carried me through the weekend with a lot of His luck, and the Mister showed me once again that He wants me to be happy and that He loves me beyond my own comprehension. There are very few things that I could ask for on top of this, and knowing that leaves me feeling so incredibly blessed and reinforces that internal sense of knowing that I am headed in the right direction.

Even if my compass ends up being skewed, though, all roads lead back to the crossroads. Papa waits for me there and I know that He will guide me in the direction that is the right, or at least right-for-now, way for me. He’ll probably roll His eyes heavenward while I trip over my own feet getting there, but He’ll be there because, for better or for worse, I’m His child to raise and no child of His gets left behind. For that, I am beyond grateful.

Maferefun Eleggua, all day and every day, with every breath.

Get up.

•June 3, 2014 • Leave a Comment

It has been quiet on Rock of Eye for quite awhile now. There’s been posts about stuff I’m doing or a few re-blogs, but not too much of substance. That’s not been because there hasn’t been anything going on—quite the contrary—but more because I have largely chosen to be really self-contained lately. It’s been almost a bit of a vacation in some ways, as I have limited a lot of my online activities in pursuit of making more art, engaging more closely with my divinities, and just plain focusing inward. I’ve sat down to write blog posts at least a dozen times and have typed out at least half a dozen entries only to hit backspace on all of them because they didn’t seem quite right in the moment, or felt like things that weren’t important enough to put out into the world.

That’s somewhat been the measure of the last six months for me. Words and how they are used have always been important in my spiritual life and Work, but a heavier emphasis on really saying what it is that I mean and using the correct words to express whatever it is that I want to say or write has been handed down. This is quite unsurprising, as my gods are gods of precise action in the face of what looks like destruction. Everything is measured and weighed before the first ball is put into action on Their divine Newton’s Cradle and words are no different—they carry potential, weight, spoken and unspoken messages, and are the lynchpin that keeps a finely tuned agreement or negotiation in place. Part of really internalizing that concept and using language as rock hammer, versus a jack hammer, is remaining quiet.

This has had really unexpected results, or at least unexpected for me. I have found myself in a place of really profound openness. It almost feels like vulnerability, but not quite—I’m not in a place where being hurt in any fashion is something that is a concern. Instead, it feels like this highly specific sort of connection to things bigger than myself. It would be easy to write that off and say that I am just listening to my divinities more clearly, but that’s the easy way out. Instead, I think I am listening more intently to myself and listening for what I don’t hear coming from me. I’m also listening to what I do and don’t hear coming from others. Sometimes the most important things are unsaid and are not described in words, but take form from silence.

An equally surprising side effect is that I feel really, deeply satisfied with how things are unfolding for me. I have no idea what’s going to happen next, but I know it will fit into my life somehow [or I'll make it fit because I am stubborn] and I know that no matter what it looks like, it will not be able to crumble what I’ve been working to put together lately. Eleggua put me to the task of learning who and what I am in with the end result being an unshakeable core. I’m quite sure I’m not there yet, but I am already reaping the benefits of throwing myself into that particular swimming pool filled with sharks [maferefun Eleggua every single day].

Keeping in mind that remaining quiet has brought me some really wonderful things lately, what am I doing writing this blog entry?

To be completely honest, I’m not sure. I’m typing this out just before 6AM at my dayjob, which is usually reserved for me reading or, since I’ve been quite sick lately, laying on a couch waiting for the end of my shift so I can shuffle home and go to bed. However, I got that quiet voice at the back of my head that said ‘get up and write’. When I questioned what I could possibly be writing at the moment, I got ‘get up and write’ a second time. I have made it a habit to never have to be told to do anything more than twice by a divinity, so I got up and pulled out the journal and the laptop.

There’s been pages and pages of writing in the journal lately, as scribbling things down in a notebook has proven to be far more organic for me than poking away at a word processor. There are hastily written quotes from documentaries I’ve watched and books I’ve been reading. I read an interview with one of the FBI’s most wanted, who is a self-proclaimed anarcho-environmentalist who has burned down a lot of places and people in pursuit of his ideals, and wrote a note about a large tattoo he has that says ‘it only takes a spark’. There are results from several divination sessions I’ve had lately and the emotional spillage that followed, and underlined and exclamation-pointed questions that came after reading a really terrible scholarly paper. Sometimes my handwriting scrawls at an angle when I have recorded dreams before I am fully awake. Of course, there’s also long entries where I chew on an idea or situation or thought and try to tease out the threads of a solution or plan of action. There are lots of those and I often find myself just having to put the pen down so I don’t write for hours when I should be doing other things.

There’s also a lot of writing to be done, too. There is a running list in Google Docs of blog posts I would like to write, and that list is about seven pages of single sentence topics [I had to look at it to double check and I'm fairly floored that it has gotten so long]. The notebook-journal contains a list of book projects to be working on and each of them has something written for it somewhere. There’s a class I need to write for an event I’m teaching at in a few weeks and a pile of reading to plow through for all of my writing projects.

So, ‘get up and write’.

I obviously can’t cover everything that is on my writing plate in one blog post, and certainly not before it’s time for me to pack it in and head home, but I guess I need to get up and write more often, as there are a lot of words that I’ve been holding on to for the last few months. Here’s to more writing productivity!

Polytheist Leadership Conference!

•June 1, 2014 • 3 Comments

I don’t think I’ve posted about this here yet, but I’ll be attending the Polytheist Leadership Conference this summer. I’m pretty happy to be teaching about addiction and how that affects polytheists and polytheist community, and I’m extra happy about the fact that my class is going to turn into a book project.

I’m also hosting a casual salon/get-together/unwind-with-your-fellow-attendees time Saturday evening with drinks (both alcoholic and non) and light snacks. 

Sadly, however, my salon co-host and weekend roommate will be unable to attend as we had previously planned. That means I’m on the hunt for a few things:

  • A roommate. I am a poor, underpaid spirit-worker who can’t afford to foot the bill for a hotel room all by myself, but could easily afford to split a room. I arrive Thursday evening-ish and leave Sunday night or Monday morning (my plans are flexible at the moment), and I am happy to share with someone for all of those nights, or just Friday/Saturday. 
  • A co-host for Saturday evening’s get-together. Your job would entail making sure the snacks are out and arranged well, making sure there’s ice etc, and generally helping assure that people have a good time. I’m happy to barter for your assistance with making sure the other attendees enjoy their Saturday evening.

If you’re into sharing a room or helping out on Saturday evening, you can leave a note here or email me at alex dot bettencourt at gmaio dot com.

Cleaning the windows and blowing off the dust.

•April 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

It always astonishes me and frightens me when I see and hear people talk about their spiritual practice remaining the same always and forever and ever. Perhaps it’s because of who I am or Who I work for and relate to, but stasis in spirituality and religious practice doesn’t seem that desirable to me. If it’s not growing and changing, I am not growing and changing. I know if I have been doing the same thing for too long, I am on my way to getting stuck, if I am not already there, and that my stasis is quickly going to turn to stagnation and complacency. I have found that stagnation and particularly complacency is the road to ruin for me and I get tossed on my ass the hardest when I am content with the idea that I know exactly how things are, should be, and should remain. Bad stuff when you work with divinities Who roll with creative destruction and liminal spaces.

With all that being said, I knew before I moved that it was time to re-evaluate my spiritual and religious practices. I held off doing anything new in the old place, since my unhappiness in being there was practically dripping off the walls. As I have pretty much finished settling in to my new place, it’s been time to sit down and figure out what has been working and what hasn’t been working.

2013 was an awful year in many arenas and my personal practice definitely reflected that. Since I was dancing on the brink of a complete stress-induced breakdown more often than not, my practices pretty much boiled down to ‘here’s Your stuff, please for the love of all that is holy don’t throw anything else at me’. I did the minimum to meet my obligations plus whatever new stuff They were leaving on my desk and hid out in the rest of my life in the ridiculous hope that They wouldn’t see me.

In case it isn’t clear, that doesn’t really work. There were times where They let me be, but that doesn’t mean that They didn’t know exactly what I was doing or that I was getting left off the hook(s) that were mine to hang from.

However, 2013 is blessedly over and done with and it’s closing in on the halfway mark of 2014. I’ve been noting what I’ve been changing both slowly and rapidly in my daily and weekly practice and looking at how that is affecting me in the larger scale. The changes involve both new things and old things that I used to do that have made a comeback.

More meditation. Meditation, in some form or another, has been a central part of my spiritual practice for years. Before I became a polytheist, I was flirting with Buddhism on a pretty serious level and did daily or weekly sits at local sanghas or in my home. When the divinities showed up and crashed the party of my life, establishing a regular meditation practice was the first lesson from my first teacher and it is the one that has stuck with me through thick and thin. I’m doing a daily sit of about 30 minutes right now, preceded by formal and informal prayer. My hope is to work up to an hour daily split between morning and evening [which, for me, means a half hour when I get home from work in the morning and a half hour before I go to work in the evening]. It is a powerful part of my practice that I’ll write more about another time.

More prayer. I have started to really intentionally pray. I informally talk with/talk at my divinities fairly regularly, but the discipline of prayer has stuck out as something I have been missing. While it feed my divinities, the practice of prayer is largely for my benefit as I am speaking my heart aloud and forming my gratitude into words. I’m working on writing formal prayers down and have at least two sets of prayer beads planned out. Most of my formal praying is done prior to meditation, but it also happens on the fly. Eleggua often gets most of His prayers while I’m driving or walking in the city.

More writing. I have done an incredible amount of private writing in the last few months and that’s been surprising. I used to primarily journal into a word processing document and save it in a folder on my hard drive, but on a calculated whim, I picked up a spiral bound notebook and started writing there. I wasn’t prepared for the explosion of words that would follow, but it’s there and it feels very, very different from typing. The way my writing comes out via my hand feels way more organic and way more accessible. It is much easier to move a pen across a blank sheet of paper than it is to stare at a cursor. I write more freely and more often, it’s more productive, and much easier to access [flipping pages versus opening individual files]. I’ve even started staging some of the outlines for some of my book projects on paper.

More opening. The result of increasing my meditation, conscious prayer, and changing how I journal has led to me opening more both to my life in general and to my divinities. The result of that is that I find it much easier to let go of preconceived notions, cede control in areas where it is best that I acquiesce, and just generally be the water in the stream instead of the rocks. This has led to profoundly meaningful interactions with my divinities and, in one arena, has completely undone the discomfort, tension, and awkwardness that has hung in the middle of our relationship. In the Buddhist parlance of my unhappy early adulthood, it’s been a sort of softening of my heart.

More dreaming. I used to be an occasional dreamer and would maybe have a dream or two a week, but now I am a person who is dreaming each and every night and usually twice a night at that. This has been both intentional and unintentional—I do work to remember my dreams, but I do not control how many dreams I have. My dreams have turned incredibly vivid and vibrant and I’m starting to cross the line from dreaming to lucid dreaming, which has also been both intentional and unintentional. Sometimes I go to bed with a dreaming agenda, as I do client work via dreams at times, and sometimes I go to bed knowing that at some point I’m going to roll over and scribble something down that I will try and decipher when I am fully awake.

More art. Since I have moved, I have been painting and drawing almost every day. Art is a hugely spiritual practice for me, as it both belongs to my divinities and provides a sort of moving meditation for me. Meditation, prayer, and art are the few times when I truly feel still. I’ve realized that I have a ginormous issue with actually FINISHING pieces [a quick glance around my space finds at least eight unfinished pieces that I am simultaneously working on], but that’s a blog entry in itself.

More talking. I realized the other day that I am having deep discussions with more people on a regular basis than I have ever before. They hear me, I hear them, and I am discovering that we have a lot in common in ways that I had not considered previously. This is a hugely awesome blessing for me, as working a skeleton graveyard shift leaves me with little outside-of-work contact with others on a regular basis.

More evaluating of words and how I use them. All of my divinities value language and how it is employed. They use specific words and concepts for specific reasons and are precise in what They say, so it stands to reason that I should be as precise with my words, as much as I am able. My favorite example of this was a conversation I had recently with a friend about ‘working with’ divinities. For me, that’s an inaccurate description of what it is that I do and implies a type of egalitarianism that I don’t believe exists within relationships [of any sort] with the divinities. I love, work for, serve, offer worship, libate, celebrate, learn from, and am inspired by divinities. I don’t work with Them, really—I work with my brushes and paints and pencils and other tools, and They are not in my toolbox or on my palette. The closest I might get to ‘work with’ is my relationship with my Father, Eleggua, and that’s really us working together or working in conjunction on something that one or both of us thinks is a good idea. My friend thinks that the idea of ‘working with’ divinities is drawn from the sometimes-idea in the pagan community that the divinities are archetypes or thoughtforms. You work with archetypes and thoughtforms because they are of human creation and can serve the needs of humanity. Regardless, that’s been kind of my process with words and language—really breaking down what it is that is meant by a phrase or word, making sure I am being as precise as I can be, and being mindful of what comes out of my mouth.

All of this has resulted in pure awesomeness, honestly. I can see distinct changes in the past few months that I’m really excited about and they just keep building. The maxim of ‘do the right thing and the next right thing will happen’ seems to be at play here.

I’m also finding myself to be more and more busy out in the world. I am booked to go somewhere, do something, and see people every weekend this month and at least two weekends a month through the summer…and I’m thrilled, honestly. I like being at home, but I have also missed doing things and seeing people while being extra sick in the last few months. I don’t think I’m going to stop being sick, but having a whole mess of plans to look forward to makes the sick and the pain much more tolerable.

And there you have it—that’s what my practice has been shaping up as lately!

 
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