Sunday, December 30, 2012

Still walking this path in spite of it all

I'm amazed that I'm still walking the same direction in light of all the angst I had the past year over finding it.  In spite of others who walk the same path, in fact.  I tend to be much more liberal than some on the Anglo Saxon path but I've found many with whom I find a lot of agreement.  Particularly on the subject of gay rights.

I had been reading a heathen blog intermittently for a while.  I say intermittently because I've seen some things I thought might be subtle racism but again it was possible it was just me reading too much into it.  Then there was the post about boys not being raised to be manly men and how boys are being feminized because they're not being taught to be athletic and jocks.  The post made it to a heathen forum where there were more taking this guy to task than agreeing with him.  When he started calling a lesbian a homophobe because she was defending her brother's non-athletic interests (he said she was implying that all gays are effeminate) then my temper went through the roof.  I had to walk away from it for a day.

It seems to have died off but I noticed in another thread about Heathens against Hate (and I can't tell you exactly what the debate was all about) that this guy was using the same tactics there, calling them racists.  Needless to say this guy's blog is off my list to read from now on.

Bottom line is, we don't know everything about the society that worshiped the Norse/Anglo-Saxon gods in the past at all.  And in my mind, how they did it isn't the barometer that measures how I do it.  We're not living in isolated villages with no sense of global interaction.  I live in the 21st century with 21st century sensibilities.  We have equality now or at least we're attempting it, working toward it.  Our sense of family has grown.  Our culture is nothing like the cultures of the past.  I prefer to live in the present and worship the gods in that setting.

I love learning as much as I can about the practices of the ancestors but I don't believe in limiting myself to that.  Certainly we have traditions and customs in our rituals that are new.  That doesn't mean they are any less reverent or irrelevant.  And as long as we don't try to pretend what we're doing is exactly how the ancestors did it, I don't see the problem.

I'll be honest, the attitude of the blogger was no different, in fact identical, to the attitudes we left behind in the fundie church.  Exactly the same.  Their fear of homosexuality is so pervasive that they have to man-up the boys so they don't end up gay.  Seriously.  Obviously it didn't work for my son but it sure put him through hell trying to be straight.  He kept it all to himself because of his fear of recrimination, even from me, and at one time convinced himself he could live the life, hiding his homosexuality and live the life of a straight man with a wife and child.  His other option, which I'm thanking the gods he didn't seriously consider, was suicide because he was afraid he wouldn't be able to be with a woman.  Which he knew deep down inside he could never do.

So I was surprised that I didn't run away again, and try to find another path that didn't have those kinds of people on it.  I wasn't even tempted to leave.  And it didn't matter that there were so many people who chastised the man for his attitudes, although it certainly made me feel better.  I hope this means I'm growing more, spiritually.  When I won't let anyone else deter me from the path I'm on.  But I do know that it could happen again; someone could catch me in a moment and make me feel like their attitudes are representative of everyone.  But I hope I've grown enough that doesn't happen.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Working through the guilt

I'm having a hard time getting in the mood for Christmas.  I have the bitty tree up with the lights but no ornaments or other decorations.  Yet.  Maybe I won't even bother.  The gifts are bought but not all wrapped and we have 20+ inches of snow on the ground but I'm just not enthused at all.

I'm sure part of it has to do with the killing of kids in Connecticut.  My daughter lives a couple of miles away from the school, but apparently her son doesn't go there.  I think he might be in private school.  I don't know since I'm not a part of their lives.  Which is her choice and I support it.  I'm no longer upset about it in light of the shaky relationship I've had with my family all these years.

And speaking of parents are both in the hospital for different situations.  My mother is on dialysis these days and my dad has COPD.  She also suffers from some dementia and can't be left alone.  My younger sister has to shoulder all the responsibilities, which doesn't seem fair but I can't just pick up and drive down there.  It costs a great deal of money to drive 10 hours away and it's money we just don't have.  My family doesn't understand not spending money you don't have.  At least my sisters don't.  They pick up and go wherever they need or want to go even if they don't have the money.  Or maybe they do have it.  I just know that we don't have a spare $20 a month, let alone money to go on a trip.

There have been times I couldn't go down because I had to drive Zach to school or a job.  They don't understand his disability either.  Invisible disabilities are often treated as character flaws:  you're lazy or you just don't try hard enough.  Sometimes we only had one car and there is no way I could take the only car down there and leave Tom without a way to get to work.

Plus, talking to my parents long-distance is fine.  In person they tend to be hyper-critical of me and my choices, my kids, my husband...everything about me.  The last time I was down there I had to leave a day early because I was so miserable.  And they were doing it to Zach as well.  I just can't allow that.

So now my sister is shouldering all the work and the guilt-mongering is beginning.  I think my older sister is getting some of it, too, because she's remarried and is living further away and can't drop everything and come home anymore.  They have plans to travel to his family's place after the holidays and she was worried she should cancel and go to visit my parents.  She was just down there last month so it's not like she doesn't visit.  She just can't go down there and stay.  Neither could I.  And a visit won't give my younger sister any respite at all.

My younger sister said something last night about having to do it all as if we wouldn't come down, not that we can't.  I let it slide because I know she's tired, but I also know that in my family, the martyr complex is learned early and used often.

So the guilt is weighing me down right now.  I can't go down there.  I do talk to my parents often on the phone but I can't go down and be their caretakers.  And truthfully, as much as my parents have done for the people in their church, it's time the church started helping them.  Someone there could take my parents to appointments or help with other transportation or other needs.  But then, I've noticed that it doesn't seem to work that way.  Another reason I'm no longer in a church.  The elderly get ignored and abandoned.  The poor aren't a priority unless there is something in it for the congregation.  And there is a clique-system that occurs in churches, meaning the favored few get all the help and attention.  The rest get ignored.

But this also creates a problem for me as a Pagan/Heathen.  Family is a huge part of the concept of Anglo Saxon religious practices. I feel a bit pressured because of that to sacrifice what little money we have and any opportunity for my son to get a job to go down there and take care of my parents.  And I resent the pressure even though it's coming from within and not from the outside. I resent feeling like I have to do this in order to be a good heathen.   It reminds me too much of the pressure within Christianity to strive toward perfection and keep falling short of the goal all the time.  But in all honesty I suspect that any heathen would tell me that my responsibilities are to my immediate family, to taking care of my husband and son.  That taking away from their resources wouldn't be the best way to honor my family.

And they would be right, but there is nothing like Baptist guilt and since I was raised on it and lived it for more than 50 years, it doesn't go away easily.

Still, it's putting a damper on my celebration gene.  I hope it's better by tomorrow night when we exchange our gifts.


ETA:  It occurs to me that it looks like I am bashing my younger sister.  I don't mean to say that.  She's fucking tired.  I'm upset with the community that doesn't seem to offer her any respite because they think it should be only family that does things.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I'm a coward

I ran into someone from my former fundie church today at the store and hid my pendants.  Thing is I don't really care what they think about it but I hid it anyway.  Out of fear.  And I can't figure out what I'm afraid of.  I'm pretty sure they know we're pagan because their daughter is a fucking bitch and loves to make people look bad because she's such a wonderful Christian and so much better than everyone else but I wish I hadn't hidden them.  It was a reaction.  I need to learn not to react.

Their middle son was with them and he looked terrified to be there talking with us.  I'm not sure if it's the pagan thing or the gay thing.  Another thing Miss Perfect notified them about, I'm sure.  One thing fundies worry about is the gay thing catching and because we know that all male homosexuals are pedophiles.  NOT!!!!!  Zach used to be a big brother kind of guy to them while we were at that church and they just adored him.  Once he let himself be who he really is, he stopped being around them because he was afraid of the possible hyperbolic consequences of them finding out he was gay.  Sad but if you've never been around fundies you don't really understand their gay panic.  It's very real and very frightening.

So I'm kicking myself for not standing up for the gods and for myself.  Not that the gods need or want me to stand up for them.  Still...I wish I had done differently.

I've been fine tuning my altar, making changes that reflect who I am and how I worship.  And who I worship.  I took most of the pictures down, leaving my Northern Lights picture and the picture of the Yule Tree.  For now.  Those will be moved tomorrow and replaced with more pictures of my ancestors.  And my husband's ancestors.  The pictures of the triple goddess and the women dancing around the fire just don't describe me anymore.  I still love them and will find another place for them, but this path is more about family and the ancestors and my altar needs to reflect that.  I also took the shelf off since I didn't need the extra space.  The moon picture and my sun incense burner are on the altar now along with a picture of my paternal grandparents that is more of a standing frame rather than a hanging one.

The kitchen altar is a bit different, too.  I put my triple goddess picture there because I love the colors and the goddesses seem to fit in better there, although I'm not sure who they are just yet.  I believe Hertha is one of them.  Maybe Frigge is another one.  But I also have a garden gnome on the altar.  Mostly because it's a safe place for it before I put it out in the garden next spring, but also because my hearth focus is more on the house elves rather than a hearth goddess.  I have a much better connection with them.  Although they aren't terribly happy with the state of the house right now.  They like clean rooms and order which my house isn't right now.  Lots of clutter and floors that desperately need to see a mop.  And a carpet that needs cleaning.  Still, they know I'm doing what I can.

I'll try to get some pictures later this week.

I haven't got me Yule decorations out yet.  I really want them up before the 21st but not too soon because I get so tired of them and have been known to take them down on Christmas afternoon.  But I do need to get moving on cleaning so I can put them up.

For now, though, it's off to bed and some knitting.  I've been doing some more reading and learning.  And still feel very much on track.  I hope that feeling never goes away.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Saxon pagan, at last

Things are improving on most levels.  I'm still battling fatigue and depression but that is a lifelong thing and I don't anticipate any change there any time soon so I muddle on.  I found a book that put a lot of what I believe in perspective for me.  It's called Travels through Middle Earth:  the Path of a Saxon Pagan.  It pretty much sums up where I am spiritually.  Or at least where I want to be.  I especially love his take on magic and its variations.  I also got his other book Wyrdworking:  the Path of a Saxon Sorcerer.  I just started reading it so I can't say yet what I think of it.

I'm not really into using all the Anglo-Saxon vernacular.  I mean, I call an altar an altar and a ritual a ritual.  I can appreciate others who want to use the old language but I just don't think it's right for me.  Maybe some terms that don't really have a corresponding definition, but for the most part...I plan on just using the terms I'm most familiar with.

The Wyrdworking book has the Anglo-Saxon runes, which contain more than the Norse runes.  I have other books on the Norse runes so that I'll have to figure out later.  But on the whole, the Saxon path seems more me than any other path I've encountered so far.

After reading Teo Bishop's post on his relationship with the space he uses for his altar and to keep his tools and books, I got to thinking about my altar as well.  I have most of my tools and such in my bedroom, in the armoir and headboard bookcase so that's not likely to change, but the altar itself...well, that made me think a lot.  It's always been so cluttered with stuff because I can't decide what not to have on it.  I also use lots of candles because I like the effect.  But it was all about what I liked and what I wanted on the altar and nothing about what I thought the gods might want on there.  So I took it all apart and put back on there what I thought was most essential.  I used animal and other representations of the gods because I don't have statues (those seem to run from $50-$80 at the cheapest) and because I'm one of those who needs something to focus my attention on when I pray or worship.  Or do ritual.

So here it is.  In all it's simplicity and plainness.  And I think I like it better.  The spinning wheel represents Frigg, the quartz crystal Thunor, the wolf Wodin, the cat Freo and a tip of an antler represents Ing. Tom has an antler rack but it's pretty large and too big for the altar.  In the future I intend to make my own statues and such out of clay or draw them but for now this is what I'm using.  I also have an incense burner that has a sun face that I will use to represent Sunne and a picture of the moon above the altar to represent Mona.  I have pictures above the altar of goddesses and one of a yule tree, another of the Northern Lights but I'm not sure they are the goddesses I worship so for now, they're just decoration.  Aside from the picture of the moon.

And of course the dragon oil burner I'm using to hold my votive candles.  It wouldn't be complete without that.  The jar on the left has raw barley in it, the white bag holds my crystals and stones, the red bag my tarot cards and the box under it my Animal Oracle cards.  I don't know that I want any runestones since I don't plan on using them for divination but it might be nice to make a set just to have.

I'll have more to say after I've gotten more comfortable with this path but for now I like where I am.  I like it very much.