The Red

to pass through the eye of the needle
you must lower yourself, touch the dirt,
step forward with no understanding
of what waits on the other side.

you can beat it down, but the ash
remains and smoulders out of your reach.
you can pour gasoline, but you cannot
rush the process; you will only burn longer.

beneath your feet, a sharp crunch,
not dirt but charred bone that blackens
your hands, the air, and burns deep
inside your lungs until you breathe fire.

Rainbowland: Red Butler

Red Butler is the first Color Kid in good ol’ Roy G. Biv order. In my original Rainbowland write-up, I wrote that Red is the color of strength and passion, both well-directed and, um, overconfident. Red’s lesson is that sometimes you have to forge blindly ahead, and sometimes you need to learn when to wait for backup to arrive.

 

Red is a firebird color, and last time I did this exercise, Red’s month ended up being composed of firebird work. I’m still deep in battle with Murky and Lurky, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this month also ends up being firebird work.

If nothing else, I promised someone I would let her know what results from some firebird work I’ve been tentatively doing. And I need to do something different, because the insomnia and the nightmares are just not tenable in the long term.

Someone’s trying to get my attention. Maybe it’s myself, maybe it’s a higher power. I need to figure it out. I need to take the problem down to raw components. I need to set it on fire and see what I can dig out of the ashes.

Rainbowland: Thoughts on Wisp

August is closing up and it’s just about time for me to move on to Red Butler tomorrow. I’m still not precisely sure how to describe what Rainbowland is. Is Wisp a goddess in her own right? A light elemental? A thoughtform? Color itself? Fuck if I know. Maybe I’ll figure it out before I get to the end of the rainbow this time. Maybe not; we’ll see.

This month has been really hard, a lot harder than I expected it to be. (This seems to be the nature of colorwork – I’ve heard it from almost everyone I know who did the Temple of the Twelve system.) Things came up that I’ve been doing a great job of ignoring. Suddenly ignoring them isn’t an option. Health issues that have been lurking were addressed; some are resolved and some are ongoing, but none are being ignored.

Wisp is not heartless. If anything, she is too supportive, too kind. I have been overloaded with empathic feels this month. There is so much going on, especially things we can do precious little about. I write letters and sign petitions and reblog and hope and pray and donate what little I can and… for what? I don’t know. But she sits and she listens.

If her goal was to get me good and raw and open for next month, well, the gods only know what’s planned for me then.

I’ll have my initial thoughts on red up soon.

Secondhand Pagan: Thrifting as Divination

As you might imagine, preferring to buy things secondhand can be a crapshoot. Even with a half-dozen thrifts at my disposal and an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of each, I can’t waltz into a thrift and buy a thing the way I can at Target, can I?

Well, actually, a lot of the time I can. I invoke Mara and I look with a keen eye for repurposing, and if I’m just looking for “I need an X” odds are good Mara will provide. (Last week we decided we needed a fairly specific thing for the baby; I had never even seen this at Goodwill before, but we decided to try it and go to the baby store the next day. Except I asked Mara before I went in, and then there was a lovely one sitting right in the middle of the baby blankets.)

When I am embarking on a new project and I am seeking out materials at the thrift store, I often view the exercise as a sort of divination exorcise in itself. If I find what I am looking for immediately, then I’m on the right track. On the other hand, I may come across something that’s not at all what I was planning to look for, but which inspires me in the moment; in that case, I had the right idea but was approaching from the wrong angle.

And if I look and look and find nothing at all? Unless I’m looking for something precise, like a queen size sheet set in jersey with stripes or something, if I don’t find anything after three or four thrift stops, I consider that a time to stop and reconsider. Sure, there are some things that are just hard to thrift for and require me to visit one of the local metaphysical shops, but my rule of thumb is: if I’m finding nothing at all and I don’t have a highly specific item in mind, I’m probably looking for the wrong thing after all and I need to regroup.

Sometimes I have a related problem: I feel like I should be working on something, but I have no idea what. In that case, a trip to the thrift store or some aimless yard sale wandering with an inspiration-open mind allows the gods and spirits to inspire me as they see fit.

It’s basically a very specialized form of pathwalking, in that I am leaving myself fully or nearly fully open to influence without actually having a destination or goal in mind. It’s not for everyone or every situation, but I do find that it gives me surprisingly good results more often than not.

Wreck-It Rokkr

“I’m bad and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be, than me.”
Bad Guy Affirmation, Wreck-It Ralph

I'm Bad And That's GoodWhen I talk about working with Loki, or really with any jotnar, the questions seem inevitable. How do I stand that energy? That intensity? That destructiveness? How do I live with so much chaos around me?

The real question, if you know me, is how could I not live with that energy in my life. There’s a reason I talk about monsterwork and destruction and deconstruction. That’s who I am, and that’s how I work. Jotunheim is a much better fit for me than Asgard. I ain’t no country club boy. When I see Loki, he’s free. When I work with the other jotnar, there’s no pretense of it being safe, or of them being tame. Ran is the ravenous ocean, Hraesvelgr is the churning storm, Logi is the wildfire and Surt is the fire at the heart of creation.

Why do I work with them? Because that’s the energy that I need in my life. Stagnation drives me up a wall, and more than that, it can actually make my OCD worse. There is a fear that, if things are calm, I must be simply waiting for the next chaotic thing. I’m happier when things are happening and changing, whether internally or externally. I may not have complete control over them, but choosing to give up control is still a choice.

People seem to worry that Loki is going to wander uninvited into lives that are happy and settled and completely fulfilled and tear them down for no good reason, or maybe because it’s funny. Loki is not actually the God of Fishmalk. He brings necessary change when things are stagnant. He changes that which needs to be changed. If you’re actually, honestly, in your bones happy with your life… well, he’s probably got better things to do.

Civilization is wonderful in many ways (medical technology and the internet are great), but wildness is also necessary, both within and without. To ask the jotnar to be safe, to be peaceful, to stand down from battling the Aesir… that is to ask them to be something they’re not. Asking “why do you work with chaos” is a meaningless question. We all work with chaos, every day of our lives. We are at the mercy of traffic, weather, cell mutation and the stock market.

The jotnar are what they are. Nature is what it is. To curse the wilderness for being wild, to curse the monsters for being monstrous, is a waste of energy. If you can’t embrace that, at least understand it. Chaos always waits, panting and hungry, at the edge of the firelight. There’s no point in chastising the darkness. Use luck and random chance just as you use technology and law. Learn what you can from both sides and find your balance in between rather than screaming at the ocean and the fire.

Moving Right Along

Mara’s altar

Huh. Been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve been sick, the baby’s been sick, but mostly I’ve been writing. Fiction, in fact. Silly stuff, with giant robots. I’m trying to have fun and remember why I love writing – why it’s the center of all of my work. Like everything else, it cycles. Sometimes it comes easy and sometimes hard.

I spent the weekend moving furniture around. The house feels more like a work in progress than it has in a while, but most of it is stuff I’ve been planning to do. The one surprise is that I found a lovely bookshelf at a yard sale literally down the block, and Mara got a new altar. It’s always a good energy boost to move things around, especially altar pieces.

Mara’s altar gets place of pride in the house. It’s definitely the nicest piece of furniture in the living room, and it’s located in the center of the wall – it’s basically the first thing your eye settles on when you come in. She gets all of the shiniest things because, well, she’s Mara. I’m not gonna tell her no.

Month one of colorwork is almost over. I am not out of the darkness yet, but Wisp stands nearby as I make my way through. I’m still waiting on a few things. And you never really know what’s going to carry forward and what is going to be shed. I do have a sense of how close I am to the end of the month, though. I think Red is next – that’s how it worked last time, anyway – and right around the end of the month I plan to write a wrap-up for Wisp and an introduction for Red Butler.

St Susan’s Day

The 11th of August is St. Susan’s Day. As a Gnostic Narnian, I honor St. Susan the Grieving today, the One Who Was Left Behind.

Due to public events, I find that I am surrounded by others expressing honest, heartfelt, and overwhelming grief today. Some mourn with anger that racism continues to cut lives short, and others mourn with the bewildered hearts of those left after a suicide. I am posting this late in the day, and much has been said about both of the highly-publicized deaths already. I’m not going to try and do better.

Grief is such a strange emotion. It is what you feel when you are the one left standing, but there is no victory in it. The ones we grieve for are not in a place to appreciate our grief; they stand before Aslan, or they drink to forget, or another fate befalls them. Grief is selfish, but only in the way all internal work is selfish. We do it for ourselves, so that we are able to keep walking. We mourn publicly in the hope someone who needs it will see that suicide counselling number (800-273-8255) or that the system will be changed or justice will be served.

May we all be right about that.

May our grief wash over us, burn us to the nerves and make us stronger, sent us forward with renewed purpose.

St Susan, I bid you sit with me tonight
as I sort through overfull containers,
grief and ideation in equal measure.
In your patience keep me company, and I
will cry my tears for you and yours
just as you share my pain with me.
When the night is dark as glass and quiet
as the distant humming fan, never silent,
join me in my vigil whether I sit
for others or for myself.

UU and I

Apparently when we were not looking, we became the kind of couple who end up at the church three days in a row with the baby in tow.

Friday night, the young adults group had a potluck and we made jam. I made jam! This was a first for me! It’s freezer jam, fairly straightforward stuff. I feel more confident for having done it. And then Saturday was the first, exploratory meeting of a possible church D&D group. (Considering I got asked not to return to Sunday School over a presentation on the evils of D&D once, I’m quite pleased to be going to a church that has a D&D group forming.)

Today we went to the Sunday service. This was actually the first time we saw the minister of the church – the first time we were attending, he was on a year-long sabbatical, and when we started back again this summer he was on a study break/vacation. Instead of a sermon, the reverend had an open question format – basically it was an AMA. My question was something I’d been wondering based on the experience of the UU church I’ve had so far – whether there’s a place for ecstatic religion in the UU experience.

When he read the question, there was awkward, nervous laughter from the congregation. I was not particularly surprised by that. I was impressed by his answer, which had a large component of explaining ecstatic religion to the congregation as a whole. I don’t expect the average Sunday service to be… you know, transformative. I have my spirituality at home and that’s fine.

What I’m looking for is the community, the structure, the religion instead of the spirituality. I just don’t know how I’ll feel long-term about a church where my religious experience is looked at askance. I did like his answer, though, and I’m willing to see where and how this goes.

I can almost see the continuity between this and the household work I’m doing for Mara. This is a kind of hearthwork too – building friendships, relationships, support structures. Making sure we have the function in place now in case we need it later. Building is important no matter how we do it.

The Little Things

I’m chewing on a lot of post ideas but not quite producing anything, especially Pop Culture topics. Does anybody reading along have questions about pop culture paganism you’d like to see me take a stab at? I like stabbing things.

Murky and Lurky are still about, but I can’t sit with Wisp forever. I’m trying to focus on the kinds of mundane, practical things that Mara wants me focused on. I’ve made dinner four nights in a row this week, including using the slowcooker for the first time. I started reorganizing the kitchen today, because cleaning and reorganizing is the very best thing for me when I get like this. It’s a thing I can do that requires attention but not thought. It lets me exert some control over my surroundings. And when I’m done I have a… well, a marginally more clear apartment, anyway.

Any local pagans in need of altar equipment, by the way? I’ve got some stuff that I’d love to rehome…

Perhaps ironically, the next thing on my declutter list in the kitchen is my bookshelf in there. I have a bunch of books on decluttering and organizing, homemaking and homesteading, canning and preserving. Really, though, one only needs so many pickle recipes, and I’m sure some of these books are superfluous. I just need to sit down and go through them to figure out which are which.

One book at a time, one project at a time, one day at a time, right?

Rainbowland: You Always Forget…

Murky and Lurky

Murky and Lurky

I hate confronting my fears.

I mean, that’s probably not any kind of revelation. Who does? But I’m hanging out here with Wisp, confronting Murky and Lurky. It’s a CBT kind of night. I’m sitting with my exposure.

I’ll be honest, this is probably the worst I’ve had in months. Since Coriander was born and I didn’t immediately drop her on the floor. It’s hot and I’m stressed and my skin’s broken out.

I’m only barely into month two of being a primary caregiver. I cooked a meal in the slowcooker for the first time last night. I don’t keep as much house as I’d like, and finding time to freelance is still hard.

I am sitting here with Wisp and my fear of failure, and my fear of letting my spouse and my child down. The Firebird instinct is there to burn it to the ground, to pick it to pieces and see how it works, to destroy it by self-destructing.

Instead I am sitting with it. It will pass. Right now I have a family. I will get up in the morning because the lil spice cries for her bottle. I still burn, but I am learning to burn as a hearthfire burns, steadily, warmly, comfortingly.

It’s slow learning, that kind of moderation. Anxiety makes me burn hot. Depression takes me down to ash and embers. Everything I do is a kind of Firebird work; everything connects back to something else.

I’ve been reaching out to a Firebird I’ve not worked with before. He’s not the comforting hearthfire, not by a long shot, but it’s the first intentional Firebird work I’ve done in months, and while the timing was triggered by something unrelated to Rainbowland, I wonder if it’s not accidental after all.

I suppose I’ll talk about that more when I have something to say.

In the meantime, I’ve sat with Wisp all night, and I think I’m ready to sleep now. After all, I’ve got to get up in a couple of hours to get someone her bottle.