Gallifreyan Recon: The Companion Path

Sarah Jane Smith walking away from the TARDIS

We each have to walk away from the TARDIS eventually.

The Doctor, and the Time Lords in general, are explicitly more than we can hope to aspire to. The language of the show itself describes the Doctor the way humanity generally speaks of gods, even though we get to see the Doctor at his weakest and most recognizable moments.

The Companions, on the other hand, are the people who walk beside the Doctor. Sometimes they are other Time Lords, but most often they are humans. Companion is the role we aspire to as viewers; we want to be swept up in something wonderful and beyond our control. We want the Doctor to show us the universe.

The companion path begins when the curtain is pulled back. It may well begin before the Doctor gets on the scene, but the Doctor is the doorway to understanding what you’re seeing. Formally accepting the path means passing through the threshold of the TARDIS.

You’re a time traveler now, Amy. Changes the way you see the universe… forever.

Being a companion isn’t easy. It means starting from scratch when it comes to your assumptions about how things work. It’s dangerous. But it changes your point of view on the universe and your place in it.

You learn to trust the Doctor, and then you learn that you can’t trust the Doctor. Because his priorities are not necessarily going to be yours, because he makes decisions for the wrong reasons, or just because it’s time for you to re-enter the flow of time… Whatever the reason, all companions eventually leave, but Doctor willing, they leave breathing and stronger than they were before.

That’s the secret, I suppose. The Doctor teaches you not to need the Doctor.

To All Who Come To This Happy Place

 

Sleeping Beauty's Castle with Walt and Mickey

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle with Walt and Mickey

To all who come to this happy place; welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past…and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America…with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.

On this day in 1955, Disneyland opened to the public in Anaheim, California. While I love carnivals and boardwalks and the liminal spaces they represent, Disneyland is something different – a permanent magical land, always changing but timeless.

This makes today an ideal day to honor Walt Disney as my creative ancestor and someone who helped shape my childhood, as well as the Nine Old Men and all of the Imagineers Who Came Before. So much of my aesthetic comes from Disney, and virtually everything that’s been done in animation since is either inspired by, in reaction to, or both.

I didn’t visit Disneyland til I was an adult, but as a child I visited Disney World with my family and I still remember it very distinctly. I was a little older than is typical but I was a huge animation nerd and so I was able to appreciate it unironically despite being a young teen. Now I’m looking forward to taking my own child to Disneyland once she’s old enough to appreciate it.

And of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t remember that Disneyland is also the home of Mara’s temple. Most temples and churches in the US could only hope to be so well-attended! Or graced by the presence of Indiana Jones, for that matter.

Hail to Mousehome and to the Master Builders!

Sitting Still

On Monday night, I took another step towards establishing both practice and community for myself. I attended the Buddhist discussion group at my local UU church at the suggestion of one of the nice older ladies who’s taken an interest in getting more young people involved. I arrived about five minutes late, intensely mortified, and it only got worse when I found the group and realized they’d already started sitting. Oops.

I found myself a seat nearby, so as to minimally disturb people, and did my best to, well, sit. I wasn’t sure what kind of meditating I was meant to be doing (Vipassanā, as it turned out) so I fell back on just watching my thoughts come and go. We sat for forty minutes, which is quite likely the longest I’ve sat in years.

Afterwards, we read a section from a book (the woman who suggested the group to me had let me know ahead of time what it was) and discussed it and our meditation. I always feel awkward in social situations like that, especially as I didn’t know any of the others and I suspect I was the youngest in the room by at least fifteen or twenty years.

I’m planning to go back, though. If nothing else, as a stay-home dad, it’s hard to find forty minutes of absolute, uninterrupted silence.

Rainbowland: the Lady of the Storms

Stormy

Stormy and Skydancer

Stormy rides through the dark clouds, bringing rain and storms while bearing her Golden lightning. Many people fear her, but that is only because she forces them to face their own deepest fears – not just thunderstorms or spiders, but within themselves.

I worked with Stormy very late in the whole Rainbowland process – she was the second to last color, the last being Rainbow Brite herself, because I see her as sovereign in her own right (unlike the proper Color Kids) just in charge of a different realm or power than Rainbow.

Stormy, for me, was about learning to not just accept but express selfishness. This is a process that’s very much ongoing for me, and I’m still thinking that maybe I should go back to it again, especially as I don’t have proper write-ups for most of the Color Kids.

Stormy races Rainbow because she likes winter, dammit, and fuck spring anyway. Rainbow tries to argue with her, but Stormy won’t hear it. She knows what works for her and she’s going to keep it as long as she can, and not feel guilty about it.

At the same time, she sets the bar which requires Rainbow to assert her own power and sovereignty each spring. She makes Rainbow earn it. Spring is not easily won, and Stormy will not peacefully bow and make way. You have to want the sun and the color, and you have to work for it, and you have to race as hard as you damn well can. As someone who deals with depression, that resonates with me.

She also makes a lot more sense to me as a winter Lady with rain associations now that I live in Portland, where the winter is mostly overcast and rainy. If you’re in the Northern hemisphere, much of the winter is her time of year.

Christmas Lights on the World Tree

It would be rude to stomp around the top of the Tree without talking to the tree herself, I’m pretty sure, so I’ve spent a fair amount of time with Yggdrasil herself along with Vidopnir. She’s not precisely chatty being, you know, a tree. But she’s more than just a symbol, too.

So the whole point of dragon/phoenix work is ascension. Not strictly in the sense of going up, because obviously serpents like to hang out underground and all, but becoming more than you started out as. But in terms of unfolding the origami, in terms of getting where we want to go, she can walk us through the path.

It’s not just a pretty metaphor to say that the eagle sits at the top of the tree and the serpent sits below. She is an essential part of the work, and an active one, if you let her be. She’s the tree of lives, connecting the worlds, passing out fruit (apples, peaches, pomegranates). And the overlapping energywork… the sephiroth (there’s one pair), interpretation of the chakra (there’s another pair) are expressions of related things. (That takes me back to rainbowland and to some of the shit I was doing in college…)

The phoenix burns itself. The work is internal destruction, rebuilding the self. Nidhogg chews on her roots. The dragon’s work is external – tear down the established order, lay the groundwork for the new.

Of course they’re in opposition – and there’s no shortage of stories about the opposition of thunder and scale, really – and she, the Tree, she is the liminal space between inner and outer self as much as she’s the liminal space between worlds. She is the one who connects the dragon and the phoenix, the serpent and the eagle, the inner and the outer worlds.

Peace between within and without isn’t easy. But it’s necessary if you’re going to get beyond the Tree. She is patience, and she is stability. She’ll outlast her inhabitants, I don’t doubt, even if things look pretty bad right now.

She asks for sacrifice. She wants to know that those she teaches are serious, are willing to put the work in. I think that’s fair. She demands honesty with myself, with my partner, with my life. That’s intimidating, too.

She sees everything. Her roots rest in Mimir’s well. She shelters the Norns. Gaining her wisdom means accepting that some things cannot be changed. I look at Odin, who knew exactly what was going to happen to his son. Did he think it was worth it? Did it matter?

I guess it depends on whether I believe wyrd is malleable or not. If it’s not, then the choice is simply between the illusion of freedom or knowledge. If it is, then choosing not to accept it is a valid choice.

She teaches me that it’s okay to be tamed. This is a lesson I fought for a long time, but it’s very relevant to my life now.

Pop Culture Paganism: The Crow

The Crow #1, by James O’Barr

People once believed, that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes, something so bad happens, that a terrible sadness is carried with it and the soul can’t rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the crow could bring that soul back to put the wrong things right.

If you had any kind of goth tendencies in the mid-to-late 90s, I’m sure you remember the Crow. I know for a fact I’m not the only one who felt drawn to the mythology in the book and the comic. It was one of the first rabbit holes I remember going down, research-wise, where there was no real answer. Of course there was no answer. It wasn’t that kind of mythology.

I nonetheless cobbled together an altar the way I did all my high school religion, with a couple of candles and a vague idea of how to cast a circle and call the corners. I didn’t need anything, not really. I didn’t ask for anything that first time, just wanted to see if it would work.

I did ask, later, when I was struggling with suicidal thoughts. He was one of several psychopomps I reached out to when I was trying to find my own path into death. He reminds me a little of the Morrigan, in the way he does what is bloody and necessary. He is cruel in his kindness; bringing someone back from the dead for revenge saves no one, and leaves his avatars shaking and screaming as they put the pieces together.

He is a god of empathy. He can use memories to comfort, or to hurt. I’ve never done it myself, but it might be possible to call on him to create justice by forcing another person to understand your point of view.

If you’re looking for associations, he makes it easy. Any crow figure can stand for him if you don’t want to buy a statue, his color is black, and if you want music, he has a playlist. All of the films are on Netflix, but you really only need to watch the first one. He seems to prefer if you also make an ancestor offering to Brandon Lee.

Pop Culture Pagan: Hailing the (Time) Lord

Hail to the Lord, dying and regenerating!
Hail to the defeater of the Daleks!
Hail to he who battles the Cybermen!
Hail to the one who doesn’t blink!
He is the protector of humanity, defending
us, teaching us, telling us when to run!
By his work, Silence is held at bay!
By his words, the Master is undone!
He wields the sonic screwdriver,
may it ever be charged and functional!
His chariot is called TARDIS,
and it is bigger on the inside!
His scarf stretches on, endless,
and his celery never wilts!
Hail to the Lord With two hearts
as he once again takes on a new face,
a new companion, and an old battle!

Housekeeping and Daddyblogging

Today was my first day working from home as a freelancer and full-time parent. Admittedly, right now, the priority is the full-time parent part; I didn’t actually get any writing done during the day.

It’s quite a convenient solution, as my spouse wanted to return to work but didn’t want to leave our little Coriander with a sitter. I, on the other hand, was pretty dissatisfied with my job (though, as always, it got better at the end) and wanted to be able to freelance more.

I accidentally caught myself thinking about the idea of being a full-time spiritworker, like a consulting theologist. At first I pushed that away; I’m busy with the baby, surely I can’t do anything else full-time. That earned me a stern poking sensation.

Mara is a home and hearth goddess, among other things. Months ago, she asked me to learn to cook as an act of devotion to her. (Still working on that one, but I’m better in the kitchen than I was.) Chores are done mindfully. (Chop wood, carry water.) And Coriander… well, it’s a long and complicated story, but the short version is that we asked Mara for her and we received her. Surely raising the child dedicated to her is an act of service as well?

Usually my instinct is not to talk about what I do for Mara or the others, but I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to discuss it just a bit more. It’s probably more interesting to my readers than daddyblogger housekeeping tips I’ve learned like: sunlight really is that good at removing baby poop stains!

Be grateful, guys. A lot of my brain power is currently going to baby bodily functions, but I’m sparing you all. It’s because I love you.

UU Revisited

Literally: we’ve now gone to service two Sundays in a row now at the local UU church. Getting into Portland was a hassle, and I think I want to make the investment into the actual, local community.

Local, I’m finding, is important. I don’t quite feel like I fit in at the UU, but going into Portland didn’t fix that. Also, our primary issue with the local UU was that we felt out of place as a couple in our 30s, but there’s a “young adult” group forming that should help with that.

Sunday’s service was on the theme of happiness. The speaker talked about ways in which we can choose to be happier, including things like giving up worry and perfectionism. It would be easy for me to sit there and say “sure, maybe you can, but I have OCD and that’s part of my illness.” And that would be entirely true, and there have been days when recognizing that I have an illness is all I can do.

But there are days when I, personally, can do more. There are days when I let complaints about other things take up time when I could be doing productive stuff. There are times I am more interested in snarking than in educating. And for me, personally, I don’t think that’s the best solution. I feel better when I’m writing; I should be writing instead of doing things that feed the brain raccoons.

What, exactly, I should be working on is still something of a mystery. It’s one I’m happily pursing, however. I have ideas. I’m making… well, I think it’s progress. I guess time will tell.

Transition Period

(I’m thinking of using that for a zine title…)

I finally had my first psych appointment last week for my T letter. Second is the 9th. Then the letter has to get written, and I have to go back to the doctor. Then, of course, I have to be on T for a year before surgery goes on the table, as it were. It looks like a really long road right now, and I’m stuck milling around here in Munchkinland. The Emerald City is a long way off and it ain’t getting any closer.

My last day at work is the 3rd, and then my only income is from writing and whatever other freelance hustles I can dig up. I get a long weekend with my spouse because of the holiday, and then it’ll just be me at home with Coriander all day long starting on the 7th. As much as I worry that I’m not going to be very good at stay-at-home parenting, I also wish I was there already. It would solve the uncertainty that I’m feeling, anyway. There is too much of this feeling that everything is on hold.

Ironically, I’m finding it hard to write here now. I’m working on a few upcoming projects, but everything I do feels like… either I don’t know how to talk about it or it’s not very impressive-sounding. My list of things I’m not buying new has broadened, with the most recent addition being notebooks and paper. Lupa posted a little while back about used art supplies and that made me more aware of exactly how much paper turns up at the Goodwill.

Today the family wandered around a “recycled art” show. The local artists from Attic Journals were there, selling journals made out of old books. I ended up buying two that were made from old Family Creative Workshop books. This kind of journal is really perfect for my shopping choices because it’s not just made from reused books, but it’s also an opportunity to support a local artist.

Once I’m staying home, I plan to dive into some of the skills Mara wants me to learn aside from buying everything secondhand. I’ve been working on cooking, but only slowly. I have a lot of things I’d like to try once I’m staying home, but I don’t really have the time or energy to work on those yet either.

I’m going to give myself a pass for this week, focus on the project I want to debut on the 1st, and worry about everything else later.