Winter Winnowing

This year has been increasingly strange.

After a crisis caused by an entity that I had a close relationship with (you’ll  note that the material describing him has been removed; I’d be willing to share it with someone who has a Good Reason but otherwise it’s for the best) I’m in a place where things are falling away.

Over the years, my path has gotten more focused.  The coincidences leading to this increase in focus have been deliberate, and eventually obvious.  Trying to attend rites or engage in practices that weren’t associated with the Northern path has had lukewarm results.  There are curious exceptions, but not many.  I used to be a very eclectic person in both religious and magical practice.  That’s not where I am right now.

Rites get cancelled, or I get sick, or the charm busts that way it does when you know it was missing something vital, and the other practices just kind of crumble in my hands.  Old associations pull away, leaving quietly, new ones become more prominent and take their places.

Somewhere in the back of my head, while all of this spirit theatre is occurring, a voice says, Hey, how is all this stuff going to affect your chance of getting employed?  ‘Cause it’s weird and… and I stuff a sock back in that voice because it’s rarely helpful.  I’m a practical person in some ways, and as such I recognize that I won’t always be able to be myself and be happy with life and have an easy ride.  I recognized that when I came out as trans; my other eccentricities are probably less damaging to my ability to enter agreement to receive money in exchange for pushing pieces of paper around.  I’ll find work; somewhere will be cool enough to hire me eventually.  It’s not like I come into interviews shaking magick sticks at people and chanting, I’m just not going to lie if asked, either.

So, Heathenry, after objecting this past spring that after decades of flirting with it, I couldn’t actually embrace it?  After being admittedly pretty callow publicly in my estimation of some things and people?  After all of this time of moving around it and honoring Freyja and Odhinn and the others in different ways, I find that the religious construct that troubled me the most in relation to them is the place that I feel the most at home.  It’s a massive comfort but an odd spot to be in.  Despite what I see online, the people that I meet in person are warm and welcoming.  I’ve met jerky (and bigoted) Heathens in real life but they’ve been the exception.  Usually we don’t pick on each other in public get-togethers.

This afternoon I sat stripping bark from a tree branch I saved from being tossed into the fire at the local ADF Yule rite.  I left my staves for seidh back east and they would be bastards to transport; I’m thinking of leaving them to people.  So I was doing something I’ve never done before (really any sort of woodwork) and stripping the bark from this dried, unidentified piece of wood, and lovely patterns began to emerge.  Orange, white, and dark spots in patches emerged like calico markings on one part.  An area surrounging two knots is very head-like.  It has intense eye sockets that could either be those of a cat skull or a cephalopod; the first is more appropriate; the second more suggested by the shape.  Runes have showed up, like they will, part of everything once you know their shapes.  I’ve already done some spiritual work with this stick so it’s more than just a stick but its still revealing itself to me as I strip away the rotting layers and finding something beautiful and more complex than I realized underneath.

I think that that’s an apt metaphor for my winter winnowing.

Queer Belly Dance

This is a good article; I’m glad to see these recommendations going being laid out and hope that some studio owners and instructors see fit to follow suit.

Kamrah

Or…how to be more welcoming and inclusive to dancers of all body types.

A lot of attention has been on the trans community recently. There was my own coming out to the belly dance community, the reveal of Caitlyn Jenner, the death of Holly Woodlawn, etc. For some, this sudden-seeming change can be confusing. I have gotten some questions about inclusiveness, and I have seen others starting to come out of the woodwork asking about inclusion for queer people in the belly dance world.

First, what, exactly, do I mean by queer and trans? It is out of the scope of this blog and this post to give you an entire run down on these terms, but I will sum up.  These words are umbrella terms, and so have many meanings to many people. Queer is a term that is often used to describe the entire LGBTQ+ movement, but…

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Strong Roots and Wide Branches Today

So, short notice, but the Strong Roots and Wide Branches class is today!  Here is the info, straight from River Devora who runs the class.  I highly recommend joining this group, it’s a fantastic experience.  If you can’t make it this month, touch base with her about joining next, but this looks like an awesome class this week, so jump in if you can!

 

“There are many ways to be in communication with Gods, Ancestors, the dead, the land, the various fae beings, and others. Some of that communication may be casual, some forms very formal. Included in these different types of communication is prayer, oracle/divination, inspiration, dreams, devotional acts, different types of mediumship, and other types. We may meditate to receive messages, sing, dance, speak formal or informal heart-felt words, toss coins, journey to other places to meet up with beings there, and many other techniques. In this first class, we will discuss the different forms of communication with different types of beings, with an eye towards what types of communication styles and methods are best for what circumstances. This class will lead us into future classes where we’ll get into more detail about all of these things individually, but we’ll start with some general conversation about communication.

“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! Feel free to pass this class announcement to others!

“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 (unless you’re paying in cash, in which case ping me privately and I’ll send you my address). 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 at1:30 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 via PayPal to bearfairie@gmail.com. Paying for the class in cash is only available if you are attending in person. Some limited worktrade is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Please contact me privately if you have questions or concerns.”

Vanaheim in Pacheco Pass

Recently I took a trip up to San Francisco with my roommates.  They were attending a History of Science conference for school, and I was looking to meet up and hang out with people I’d only ever met online, and see a city I’d never seen.  I had a good time, met folks, went out for coffee, was given the foot tour of downtown, got to attend a bardic circle of venerable Berkeley hippies reciting poetry (I want to be that when I grow old, really), and have a general good time.  There are a few vibes in SF that I’m not so cool with, but I was mainly there for the people I know.

On the way back we took the scenic route.  I was driving and we started to move into the mountains of Central California, and the beauty of the scene around me started to unfold and expand.  Because I have serious problems with vertigo, I had to pull over and let someone else drive, so I found an observation point with a little ranger station type place and got out.

And wept.  Not just dropped a few tears, actively lost it sobbing.  I called my girlfriend and could barely speak (all she cared about was that it was happy tears).

I’ve been a lot of places, and I’ve seen a lot of things, but I’ve never seen anything as beautiful in this world as Pacheco Pass.  It reminds me of my own visions of Vanaheim when I’ve seen it on falcon’s wing journeys – rolling hills of gold and green, deep calm water, misty distance, bright flowers… I’ve taken some picture and they do it no justice.

Pacheco Pass by the San Luis dam is where I want my ashes scattered.  I’d live there if there was somewhere near there to live, but I wouldn’t want to mar the landscape with a house.  Fortunately there’s a KOA campground not too far away and it’s only a 3 hour or so drive from me…

 

And there I am in the backseat glowing in the aftermath.  I would do anything to live or work near there.  I’d leave behind a lot to look around every day and see that soul-wrenching beauty, listen to that deep quiet, get lost in that misty distance…

This is the closest it comes to heaven on earth for me.  My earthly Vanaheim.