Random assortment of topics, perhaps.
Very recently I was the target of a hate crime where I work. Due to the nature of my job I am not at liberty to discuss details (nor would I anyway on an open Internet space), but suffice to say it left me shaken. I am openly trans/queer, and I guess that creates a problem for some people. Where I live, emotions were running really high after the elections and marriage equality passing in several states. Some people didn’t take that news too kindly, and in this instance decided to bring it to work with them and take it out on an easy target (which happened to be me). It’s unfortunate, but this shit happens. It all stems from people judging someone or something before getting all of the facts, and from simply resorting to animosity and hate over things that are feared and can’t immediately be understood. But over all it’s sheer, crippling ignorance and bigotry at play. This person was religiously motivated, and that sucks. I can only imagine what would have happened if it was found out I was a polytheist.
This weekend I plan on recovering a bit, inasmuch as I am able, and I will be going hiking, and hacking/sorting wood outside for the winter firepit to open up. Especially after hurricane Sandy, the backyard has gotten a little trashed, and needs some maintenance so the fire pit can get rolling again. I also need to reposition the boundaries around my chthonic shrine area. That’s the particular area of the yard where I do a lot of fleshing, macerating and boiling of my various animal heads and other related work. The original boundaries I had set up (fallen logs and things) and the semi-grotto area are all scattered about, so it looks as if I’ll be rebuilding from scratch. I also want to track the movements of the deer around here, as they seem to have rerouted their travels a bit, bringing them very close no neighboring developments and such. I’ve also been hearing foxes and owls much closer to the house, I’m going to go searching for owl pellets, and maybe a fox den. Fox dens are great resources for animal bones, especially dens that aren’t presently in use.
When I was a kid, disappearing into the woods was one of the best ways for me to handle stress. Not much has changed. I may get involved in some rescue groups again, something more local. That was always good therapy for me, if nothing else. The events of…well, the past couple months have left me very shaken, so I feel like I’m in need of a restart, of something refreshing. Right now all I feel is angry, burnt out and depressed, and that needs to change.
You know, I’m not big on the Internet. I much prefer doing what I normally do, aside from work: hike through the woods, clean animal heads, go fossil-hunting, hang out with a couple close friends of mine. Above all else–communicate with my spirits and my gods. They take up a huge amount of time. My presence on the Internet takes last place. My Divine Employers keep me very, very busy. This weekend, I have wood to clear in the back, altar-spaces to set up. I have to go on my yearly cleanup-walk along the powerline-trail behind my house. I have a long and very close relationship with the land-spirits in my area. They’ve protected me when I was a child. I’ve grown with them, even suffered with them.
Cultivating an active relationship with land-spirits, be it nymphs, daemons, landvaettir, yokai, or whatever you wish to call them as pertinent to your tradition, are a very important part of my spiritual practice. They should be of anyone’s. Personally, I don’t think you can be a proper spirit-worker without that sort of thing (hoisting the “strong opinion flag” here!). You can even do it in the dead middle of the city. They exist there, too. Anyone who claims they don’t aren’t looking hard enough, or just not paying attention. I’ve cultivated some very strong bonds with land-spirits smack in the middle of cities, both here and abroad in Germany (I’m partial to Hamburg and Frankfurt myself).
However, when I do long online and bother to go onto some of these websites with pagan writings, I see some writings on this and similar topics and scratch my head. It makes me wonder if the pagans writing these things actually get outside and do anything in nature, other than step out their front doors and leave the prerequisite human offerings (food and a libation). Now, leaving offerings is all well and good–I do that as well. But here now we get into the “orthopraxy” versus “orthodoxy” thing. I hear a lot of talk about what people believe, but really, what the fuck do you do? How do you put those beliefs into action?
I notice too a lot of those pagans who talk much about what they believe and not what they do are notorious at anthropomorphizing spirits of nature and the land. Why? Because they don’t take the effort to get up close and dirty with it. Really learn lessons from it. They’ll pray, and they’ll leave offerings, and they’ll donate money, but they won’t do much beyond that. Leaving the comfort of civilization is a bit too much for them, but it’s the only way to really get up close and personal, the only way to really understand the truly wild spirits that are out there in nature.
Pagans always come at the attitude of Nature as the ultimate victim, and we humans as the primary aggressors. They fail to realize that Nature and nature-spirits can be cruel, random, selfish (both towards us as well as within itself–within other nature spirits), and even stupid at times. Just as I complain that so many spirit-workers and pagans will only believe in spirits and the gods until it comes to a point where it is no longer convenient or comfortable for them to do so, so does this also work in the reverse–that Pagans and spirit-workers will resort to religious fun-duh-mentalism when rationalism and/or science becomes too uncomfortable for them (like the idea that Nature/nature-spirits aren’t omipotent, omniscient, or equally destructive to and within itself. I mean think about it, humans are a part of nature, too).
It’s also best to actually…get out. And get to know the land-spirits, before making lofty claims about what they want, need, or even think. The sheer number of pagans who will harp on this, but hardly leave their computers and comfortable homes to actually experience this for themselves, astounds me.
Thankfully, there are a small number of folk out there who do get out. They pour their sweat and blood into the land. They live with the spirits in the land every day in mutual cooperation. Their stories inspire me. There are those who go out into the wilds to learn and love and worship. I encourage this. This needs to happen more often. This is where true fellowship, true cooperation and, above all else, true understanding, can occur.
On my ride up to the beach on Friday evening, I had the very great pleasure to see a bald eagle up close. I know eagles are plentiful on the Chesapeake, but to see one this close, and with such drama was a rare occurrence for me. It flew up from a swampy area with a snake clutched in its talons to chase away an osprey flying overhead, presumably to protect food and turf. The spectacle of it, so close, was breathtaking, even if the whole thing only lasted mere seconds. The event made me wish my dad was with us to see it. He loves bald eagles, next to dogs one of his favorite animals. When I see them in any form, I think of him. They symbolize the American patriot, his coveted ’67 Thunderbird, which he has stored within various effigies of bald eagles.
Later, on Saturday evening, I went to the movies with my younger brother to watch “Clash of the Titans”. Inaccuracy and poetic license aside, it was entertaining. One of the most amusing parts about it was Zeus’s many transformations into…a bald eagle. Seemed a bit queer to me, seeing as a bald eagle is a North American native subspecies. Wouldn’t a golden be more appropriate, more historically accurate? Then I thought back to the eagle I saw on the ride up, and many connections began to forge themselves in my head.
When I think of bald eagles, I think of my father. I’m sure Perseus in the movie must think of bald eagles then when thinking of his father? I imagine the actual Perseus must have thought of eagles when thinking of his father. I think of my father, and I think of how he always would say, “I have to keep those big birds flyin’!” Those “big birds” are the C-130 military cargo planes, also known as the Hercules–a half-brother to Perseus. And when I think of Perseus I think of Pegasus, and when Pegasus comes to mind I think of the patch representing my dad’s wing, featuring a winged horse, rearing with wings outspread.
Seeing the eagle was a numinous experience. A good omen–the grace of the gods, the safety, and inner strength, of my father. I feel a profound sense of peace, and look forward to seeing him walking off that plane in May, under the broad wings of the Pegasus.
A storm is raging outside as I type this, thunder and lightning crashing closer and closer to my house. It somehow makes me feel more at peace.
Ever since I was little I’ve always been fascinated with the natural world, among other worlds. This guy was chilling outside my place of employment early one morning, so I whipped my phone out and grabbed a few pictures. Given the nature of my job (which I intend not to disclose here), I was forced to move it to the safety of a nearby tree. In the picture its wings were spread out–I had touched it lightly on the back, and the wings opened with an audible snap, probably as a way to try and scare me off by looking all big and intimidating. I very gingerly scooped him into my hands and laid him up into the tree. This is actually the first time I had ever seen a luna moth up close–or rather, one that wasn’t dead and pinned to a display board behind glass, so to me this was a very exciting experience.
Speaking of the natural world, just now a big storm passed overhead. I must have spent roughly two hours watching the amazing light show, and the feeling of the thunder rumbling through my chest was an amazing and energizing experience. Now everything is quiet outside, except for the occasional crackling outside which at first sounds like firecrackers going off, but in retrospect it could also be one of the old neighborhood loblollies dying a violent death. We’ve had a rash of serious storms in the area lately, including tornadoes (a bit unusual for this region), which have taken out quite a few trees in the area. I keep expecting one day to find one of those old trees laying through the roof of the house.
Well, to bed I go. My head is feeling strange, and the weather could be playing a large part in that. Maybe I’ll have more to write tomorrow.