Hate and Fear, Loss and Gain (Personal)

Speaking out will get a lot of people to hate you.

I’ve been thinking about this all morning, since one of my recent posts got linked to places that had people running back and forth to hate on it.  It’s not the first time this has happened, either.  The question is, should it be the last time?

I’ve been giving  this a lot of thought this morning.  I really don’t want to be the target of peoples’ hatred.  It’s no fun, and it’s painful, and as much as I’d like to toss my thin hair and say that I don’t care, it’s simply not true.  I do.  I want to reach out and make friends with every person who hates me.  I want to sit down with them for coffee or tea or go for a walk with them and try and just be with them.  I want to laugh with them, cry with them, and share life with them.

I know that that’s neither practical nor possible.  I’ve fallen victim to the internet hate machine myself, but I’ve also noticed that people tend to cluster around certain areas and groups for that hate.  Places where it’s more socially acceptable, like online Heathenry, New Atheism, and various other religious and political movements.  I’ve tried to understand because I’m not immune to it either.  I’ve often spoken before about how hate-juice and fear-juice make money – people seem to get addicted to the masochistic thrill of seeing someone say horrible things that apply to them or things that they love.  It can’t be healthy.

I’m a person who is experienced in repression.  I’ve spent a lot of my life hiding parts of myself, and denying myself things that I want to do.  The main reason that I engaged in this behavior is social pressure; I didn’t want to be seen a certain way.  I didn’t want to have people target me for the hatred that I saw them targeting other people with.  I was afraid of it.

Every time you suppress some part of what makes you who you are, a part inside of you twists.  Pretty soon you walk around as a mess of painful knots tied around each other and every movement hurts.  You’re used to it, though, in part because that pain gives you that hate-juice and it’s a powerful drug.  It can keep you going.  Repression can fuel itself even when social fears dim, because part of that repression is a license to lash out at people who haven’t repressed those same parts of themselves.

I used to be that miserable, and then I started being honest about who I was and the things that I experienced.  I surfaced, bit by bit, and depressurized.  It is possible to get out of that hatejuice cycle, but it takes self-acceptance and self love.

It also takes jumping past the fear of what other people will think.

One of my favorite things to talk about recently is how I’ve gotten a lot of mileage in life from doing things that I was afraid to do.  Coming out as the fifty shades of rainbow that I am, being publicly Pagan/Witch/Heathen/whatever else, even liking certain stories and concepts are all things that I hid and thus kept my insides twisted.  While I would lose people each time I stopped hiding those parts of myself, I would gain even more.  People really do appreciate you being honest about yourself, but you have to prepare yourself for the possibility that it won’t be the people that you want to appreciate you for it.  You may lose people that you think that you want to be around you, but they will definitely be replaced by people who like you because of your qualities and your ability to be honest about them.

I still have knotted bits in me and likely always will; social navigation all but ensures it.  One of my life goals, though, is to become as unknotted as possible in this way.To be free to be myself, and to be willing to face losing the people that I will over it.  It’s happened before, when I came out as trans, when I came out as poly, when I started being more publicly Pagan, when I wrestled with my association with Heathenry, when I reminded people that I have Muslim family (even if they won’t talk to me because of who I am)… It’s worth it.  It’s worth losing people who don’t love you for who you are to gain people who do love you for who you are.

I’ve seen people who gather to crow and spit poison who I can’t imagine would be friends or associates for any other reason.  In fact, they often have deep divides between them, but are united by their hobby of hate and that they serve as good cheerleaders for each others’ hatred.

I wish I knew of a way to not be a target of that hatred anymore.  There is a difference between producing material that these hate-groups will descend upon and actively encouraging their hatred, and that’s a line I need to learn clearly because it’s one I have no desire to cross again.  I want to be able to be myself as much as I can be, and in doing so acknowledge that people will always find fault and a reason to hate me.

I think these groups form out of people so used to repressing and suppressing the parts of themselves that make them who they are that they can’t see any other way.  When they see people doing the thing that a buried, hidden (almost certainly hidden to them at this point) part of themselves wants to do, it turns their baleful gaze in that direction and they shame people the way they have been shamed (whether their shaming was direct or simply a reaction to their perceptions of society at large).  There are no more fiercely anti-gay people than folks deeply in the closet; and I know that I was very transphobic until I started to know other trans people and see them just being themselves without qualification or justification, and without fear.

I’ve always been a talker.  My mom and stepfather and his family used to complain about how much I spoke as a child.  I like talking, I like expressing, and that’s a part of me.  That’s a part of me that causes me to curl up and grow bitter when that is suppressed, too, which is how I know that it’s an essential part of who I am.

I won’t be reacting to hate by withdrawing, despite the voices clamoring in me to do so in reaction to the voices spewing hate at or about me.  I’ll keep talking and keep singing my song of many parts, and in doing so I will keep losing folks that didn’t really love me for me in the first place, and I’ll keep gaining folks that want to be around someone who is like me.  I’ll keep feeding peoples’ hate, but I’ll also keep reminding other people that there are people out there who are like them, and it’s okay for them to express those parts of themselves, and that there are other people who will stand by them when they do.

Nothing will make everyone like me, as much as part of me would like that to be the case.  Genuine honesty and living as myself has drawn to me the sort of people that want to be around people like me, and there’s no one I’d rather spend my life around.  Don’t let fear of losing people prevent you from being yourself, because your health is more important than their company.

Advertisements

Help a Norse/Celtic Pagan Woman Avoid Homelessness!

EmberVoices: Listening for the Vanir

My dear friend and teacher Nan is up against a wall this month. She doesn’t need a huge amount of help compared to some funds I’ve promoted, but she needs it fast! If you can help out, even just a little, we’ll keep a good Norse/Celtic Pagan woman in her home.

https://www.gofundme.com/ku7mc7pw

Any jewelry or readings I sell in time will help her fund as well!

–Ember–

View original post

#ThisIsWhyWeNeedPolytheism 2

(Again, riffing on Anomalous Thracian‘s #ThisIsWhyWeNeedPolytheism )

Because at least once a month, but more like once a week, someone contacts me losing their mind over how to handle attentions from Gods or a spirit.  Because of my own experiences and years of helping others through theirs, I can often help them figure out what they need to turn a nightmare into a dream and pain into growth.  Because of knowing other good polytheists who act as guides and clergy, if I don’t know what to do I can send them to someone else.

My Pantheacon Submission Got Accepted!

I’ll be running an event at Pantheacon called, “Many Tribes, Many Practices“.  This will be my first time at Pantheacon, and my first time running an event for a gathering of Heathens that I don’t (mostly) already know!  I’m terrified and excited!

The descripton:

Different tribes have different practices and beliefs. While the Heathen community may be tied together by our fascination with Northern European history, culture and mythology, there are deep rifts within our community that only seem to grow with time. In this moderated open discussion we will explore how we may establish peaceful dialogue between the different tribes that make up the Heathen community. People of Color and LGBT persons are encouraged to attend.

I hope to see you there! (If this is applicable to you or you’re interested, of course!)

Other things I’m excited about:

Patricia Lafayllve’s A Practical Heathen’s Guide to Ritual and Seidhr: A History

Ember Cooke’s Four Thrones in Vanaheim

Max Dashu’s Seidstaffs of the Volvur: Excavating Norse Womens’ Ways

Diana Paxson’s: God of the Rainbow Bridge: Encountering Heimdall

Gender Diverse Pagans: Inclusivity or Hospitality (So excited about this one)

Cara Freyasdaughter’s Facets of Freya Ritual (Of course!)

Golden Gate Kindred’s: Lokasenna

Silence Maestas’s: Advancing Devotional Practice

… am I going to have time to breathe?  Am I going to be able to stand up afterwards?  This is only about half of the events I’m excited about, folks.  It should be affordable, too!  I’m really looking forward to it!

Love Notes From Freyja 10/22/15

Love yourself today.  Love yourself as you would love your partner, your beloved, your spouse, your child.  Love yourself despite (or indeed, because of) your flaws.  Love yourself in ways both gentle and stern, both soft and hard.  Give yourself that love and don’t worry about me, my love comes whether you ask for it or not.

Announcement and Request for Submissions!

I am working on a compilation of queer and trans people regarding experiences with Freyja in regards to their sexuality and/or gender identities (Current working title: Freyja Over the Rainbow – I’m taking suggestions for that too).  There is a lot of emphasis on the Lady with regards to heterosexuality and cisgender perspectives, and I know from both personal experience and many, many discussions that I’ve had that I’m not the only one that the Lady has encouraged in exploration and sovereignty over their own sexuality and gender.

The submissions may be of any length, need to be professionally written (I can do minor editing to clean up any spelling or grammatical errors, but I will confirm with you before publishing), and have no requirements of knowledge of Lore or particular background.  The only requirements are that they be genuine and come from the heart.

So please, reblog or signal boost if you can.  Also, please contribute to what may be an empowering and affirming project for many queer and trans folks!  Email me at laine delaney 919 at gmail if you want to discuss privately or have a submission that you’d like to send in!  I’m currently looking at a six month deadline of May 19th, 2016!

Love Notes From Freyja 10/16/15

You are worthy.  You flail, you wander, you worry.  You look to me for approval, and I say: you are worthy.  You weep and tear and sob, and I say: you are worthy.  You wonder if you will ever be enough, and you can never not be.  You are worthy.  Worthy of love, worthy of jewels, worthy of warmth, of sex, of comfort, and sumptuous sensuality and sacred seidh.  Worthy of all I give.  Don’t forget it daughter.  You are worthy. Open your heart to receive me, and never doubt that you are worthy of my gifts, worthy of me.  -Freyja/Gefn

The Three Kindreds and My Theology

triskele1

” I, King, have dealt with the Gods for three generations of men, and I know that they dazzle our eyes and flow in and out of one another like eddies on a river, and nothing that is said clearly can be said truly about them.” C. S. Lewis, Til We Have Faces

In ADF we refer to the “Kindreds”, the three classifications of spiritual beings that we honor and work with in our rituals.  The three categories of Kindred are the Ancestors, the Nature Spirits, and the Shining Ones.  By and large all three have some representation in most Indo-European Pagan cultures and their practice and worship.  I’ll explain how they tie in to my personal theology later; for the moment let me describe them and my understanding of them in general as well as with an eye to Norse Hearth Culture (in ADF we often associate with a particular Indo-European culture for the purposes of study, worldview, and practice).

The Ancestors

The Ancestors are venerated in most cultures across the globe.  The term Ancestor literally refers to those of your physical lineage; those whose blood runs through your veins.  It is widely believed that of all categories of spiritual beings, they are the ones most likely to take interest in your day-to-day activities and the ones who care the most directly about you.

In Heathenry the Ancestors are given a special place of veneration.  They are often those called upon first in any sort of rite as they are kin and Germanic Paganisms hold the value of familial bonds in high regard.  In the Eddas and Sagas we see great importance placed on your direct ancestors as well as those married in to your blood line; all seem to be honored together.

There is a tendency in modern Heathenry to compartmentalize them into Alfar (male ancestors) and Disir (female ancestors).  This is not part of my practice or belief for a multitude of reasons.  First and foremost, as a transgender person I am aware that there are and have always been people who do not identify as either male or female (what we often refer to nowadays as “nonbinary” people).  The sharp gender divide excludes them as Ancestors just as sharp gender divides exclude them from participation in many activities and organizations nowadays.  In addition, I have found far more reference to the Alfar as nonhuman supernatural beings in the Eddas and Sagas (such as Delling, the Red Elf of Dawn) and there have been recent discussions that have suggested that either “Alf” was a synonym for “Van” (one of the primary tribes of Norse Gods) or an entirely different classification of divine beings.  As for the Disir, while they do seem to encompass some of the female dead, human ancestors are not the only figures given that title.  I believe that the confusion arises from the fact that the feminine protective spirits that are the Disir are often inherited or carried along family lines.

In addition, this system leaves little room for veneration of the dead that are not direct ancestors or ancestors by marriage.  There are many dead heroes who are honored throughout the Sagas as well as in our modern daily life and I feel that having no legitimate category for them excludes an important part of human veneration for the dead.

As my understanding of the dead does not fit well within the Hearth culture that I have chosen to practice, I have had to adopt compromises in my practice.  I honor the Ancestors of Blood; those of my family line and those who were married or otherwise bonded to them.  I also honor the Ancestors of Heart; the Beloved Dead, those who I have loved in life who may not have been direct ancestors of mine but who have passed on from this world.  The dead who I have not known personally but whose words and actions have inspired me I refer to as Ancestors of Spirit, or Heroes, and they receive my veneration and offerings as well.

The dead cling to us; we have a unique connection to them in that what we are now, they once were.  The Ancestors surround us, as they have interest in what goes on in the halls of the living.  The Ancestors care about us and respond to us, as we are their current physical connections to this world.  We are their eyes and ears and hands and mouths in both a literal and metaphysical fashion.

The Nature Spirits

It is not unusual to come to a natural place and feel a powerful presence there.  Even when alone, it seems that the very air around you is listening and paying attention to you.  This is a sign of the attention of the Nature Spirits, those spirits tied to locations and aspects of the natural world.

Most Indo-European cultures acknowledge spirits of individual locales.  The Germanic cultures held them in high regard as well, with the Norse referring to them as landvaettir (or land-wights) and making offering to them and attempting to heed their wisdom.

I find this category frustrating because often it seems to be used as a catch-all for those who are neither fish nor fowl, so to speak.  There are many spirits of different types that are spoken of in our mythologies that do not fit aptly into any of the categories provided, and in ADF practice I often see them relegated to the status of Nature spirits.  Among the Germanic and Scandanavian cultures there are many hosts of these beings from the huldafok (or hidden people) to the Alfar (again, the name is used in many different contexts), the mosswives (who lead men to their doom through their comely but ultimately hollow bodies) and the dveger (the dwarves who dwell beneath the earth, misshapen crafters of great skill).

While I understand how many of these beings do not fit well into the other categories, I do not associate them with “Nature Spirits” simply because they (often, but not always) dwell outside the bounds of human civilization.  When I think of land spirits I think of beings tied to particular locations, or those who watch over particular breeds of animal or varieties of vegetation.  I share the world with them, as I walk through their terrain every day; most houses have their own spirits, as well as the land that they are on and the region that they are in.  In addition, there is suggestion among modern spirit-workers who spend time building ties with them that there is some kind of local hierarchy, something that I have experienced in my own practice when working with the nature spirits of the Genesee Valley.

The Shining Ones

“Shining Ones” is a term that we use for the mighty Gods, beings of great power and (often) wisdom, whose wills and powers shake the world around them and change the world.  Nearly every culture has analagous beings, often described in very human terms of tribe and lineage, of personality and connection.

Among the Norse there were two primary tribes of Gods: the Aesir and the Vanir.  The Aesir have been described by some as Gods of civilization; many of their qualities and stories relate to aspects of human life such as sovereignty, poetry, and war.  The Vanir have been described as Gods of Nature, as those whom we know of are venerated in prayers for fertility, prosperity, love, and weather.

I am personally distrustful of the “God of X” construct.  I prefer to try and know a God through lore and direct experience rather than reducing them to what feels like a mail-order catalogue list of attributes that they are called upon for.  Thus the distinction of “Gods of Nature” and “Gods of Civilization” falls flat for me.  The Vanir are Gods who work with more than just the cycles of the world; Freyja is a lady whose powers of magic are well known and whose ties to war are indisputable, Freyja, Freyr, and Njord are all associated with gold and material wealth, and in the one line that refers to him as such Heimdall is said to be skilled in foresight “like the other Vanir”.  The Aesir are likewise more than mere “Gods of Civilization”; Thor’s power is tied to the thunders that shake our heavens, and Odhinn provides breath and is considered by some to be a master of the wind itself, Gefion brings about the good from the Earth and Hodur is often called a God of winter and darkness.  When personal stories and attributes of the Gods are investigated, these simplified tags that we use to describe them tend to lose their significance.  They are all powerful, complex beings in their own rights.

Personal Theology and Understanding

My personal communion with the land spirits has provided me with an understanding and perspective that has helped to tie things together for me.  At one point while sitting with them I asked why it felt like I was two things; why I was sure that my body was of this earth but that there was a part of me that no matter what felt separated from the physical aspects of this world.

Many parts of their explanation go beyond the scope of this essay. However, parts of it helped me to understand the world in ways that I hadn’t before.  It gave me perspective on spiritual matters that revealed an underlying theme in my polytheism.  The spirits claimed explained that the divisions we make are based wholly on our perspective.  Where we see different varieties of spirits, they understand as the same sort of being at different stages of their development and existence.

To the vaettir I spoke with, an Ancestor was merely a spirit who had done time as a human being.  A God was a powerful spirit (or perhaps many spirits who answered to the same name and had similar goals).  A land spirit was a spirit who inhabited a part of the land.  Some Nature spirits were spirits that had incarnated as animals or who watched over plants.  Some spirits fit into parts of the Universe that we as living humans have no connection to or cannot even comprehend.  Different spirits did different things over the course of their existence, and the vaettir alluded to some Great Dance of the spirits, as they changed roles or performed different tasks over time.

Living humans fit in too, part of us is a spirit bound into flesh.  This explains why sometimes dead humans may become Gods, how Gods can become incarnate as humans, how humans may become associated with the spirits of the land, how a living human may feel that they were once a wolf, and many more things.  We spirits change positions in the dance, and while those positions influence our history and other qualities we are not limited to single roles.  We flow endlessly around and through one another, incarnating and discarnating and choosing or being assigned roles by some authority or authorities beyond my ken.

We are all part of the same dance and process, and the inner part of us is shared with the mightiest of Shining Ones as well as the baby born this very moment.  That does not mean that our roles are irrelevant; far from it – they are valuable and powerful and important for us to carry out.  We are separate and discrete entities, except that we may take the same role as others at points in our existence.  We are all different, except that those differences are defined by the functions that we take on.  We are all the same, in that we come from the same place and dance the same dance as the rest of the spirits, though when we clothe ourselves in flesh or other substances the whole of the dance becomes more difficult for us to see.

It is right that we call them Kindred as well as the Kindreds, because we are all of a kind, just holding different positions at this time.  They are our kin, our family, and ourselves.

Strong Roots and Wide Branches – Inner Work

Tomorrow is the Strong Roots and Wide Branches class, a group class/discussion for polytheist folk trying to develop and grow within a polytheist identity, lead by River Devora.  All sorts of people of many different traditions attend; it’s quite a diverse crowd.  I’ve come to look forward to it every month and was quite disappointed that we had to cancel last month.

It’s a for-pay class but River works on a sliding scale and well worth the $10-$25 dollars for it.

This month’s subject is Inner Work.  From the class description (shared here in case you don’t have Facebook):

In this next class, we will look at “inner work”, sometimes called personal healing work, recovery, personal elevation work, spiritual or emotional self care, and by many other names. Inner work is the work we do to know ourselves, heal ourselves, get centered, embody our beliefs, and how we work on getting better at all that. There are endless numbers of ways to do this work, frame this work, and to maintain this work. We will be looking at the place of inner work in polytheist traditions: how this work may be important and useful, how this work differs from devotional work, how it supports religious and devotional practices to engage in this kind of personal work, and how personal work may be appropriately supported within a larger religious framework. Everyone wraps this stuff up differently, and each individual person will have different needs and interests around inner work. But frequently I have seen folks doing inner work and claiming it to be religious, or doing religious or spiritual work instead of working on their own personal issues, and there can be problems arising in either direction. We’ll be looking at how to find a healthy and harmonious balance between doing inner work and doing devotional or religious practices.

As always, no specific background is required for participating in this class discussion. All of our classes are drop-in, and all who are interested in engaging in polytheist discussion with other polytheist minded folks are welcome!

If you are attending in person and you have a laptop, please consider bringing it (it’s fine if you do not).

TO SIGN UP:
Classes are $10-25 sliding scale. When you pay for the class, you will receive my address if you are coming in person. If you are attending online, PLEASE be sure to tell me what is the best way to send you a URL (either give me your email address or tell me to PM you on Facebook). The way Zoom works is that as soon as I start the class (which I will at 1:30 to give folks a chance to log in), I will need to send you a link for you to use to log into the class. I cannot send a link before 1:30 on Sunday, as the meeting will not have started before that.

To pay for the class, you can send a single payment to bearfairie@gmail.com. If you would rather pay in cash, this option is only available if you are attending in person. Please contact me privately. Some limited worktrade is available on a first-come, first-serve basis, but only for in-person classes. Please contact me privately if you have questions or concerns. And please feel free to let others know about this class!

I cannot emphasize enough what a positive experience this has been.  Please consider joining – not only will you learn a lot, but your input will be very helpful!