Palms of Our Hands

A Polytheist's Blog


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Don’t look under the flower pot, please.

This is exactly what I feel like right now.

This is exactly what I feel like right now.

(It’s been awhile since I’ve posted here. If I could find my notebook I’d be writing it there instead. But all my things have been moved and this is literally the last place I can write it in peace. So this post will ramble. Better for me to put it down than let it eat away my self-esteem faster than my meds can keep up.)

I didn’t get to sleep till 4 am yesterday, so I was already low on both energy and will power. And just before the sun went down today, I got a mental shakedown that left me both exposed and maybe this time, poised to make changes in myself.

In hindsight, there HAD been a sign of the impending shakedown. My parents had come over to help me clean up some space for the electric company inspectors to do their electric jobs. And while we were making smoothies to cool off, the glass bowl we were using to break smaller chunks of ice shattered. The bowl ended up looking like a jagged, terrifying glass doughnut. No way could we salvage the ice to make any more smoothies–glass shards in clear ice? That would have probably cut someone while swallowing.

The crazy thing was, I thought absolutely nothing of it. Me, who gets tied up in knots over other countries’ superstitions when I have never followed their spirituality or poked into their patheons. Who overthinks whether to get an iced mocha on a day that I actually scheduled myself to buy one. Glass broke, a consistent sign that something’s about to go down? Oh well, couldn’t mean anything…

Just before they were about to leave, my father saw the state of my room. He did the fatherly thing and Got Shit Done. We all started cleaning under his direction, whether I wanted him to or not. (Seriously, I didn’t.)  Part of me, the side that sees the long game, says it was absolutely the right thing to do. I’ve been stagnating in my own junk for most of the year! That practical side knew I wasn’t going to do it, despite my inner promises, so here’s some movers and shakers to bypass the bullshit on script and get things moving again.

The other side of me, the one who likes routines and being comfy and safe, felt incredibly violated.  Just like those little potato bugs scurrying for dear life when their flower pot gets moved, the stuff I’d accumulated, used, lost, or forgot came to cringing light. I was simultaneously six again, getting scolded for being so sloppy and yet now old enough to know I had no answer to rhetorical questions like “Just like before, you couldn’t keep things clean. Every time…” Thirty-something years of life has not yet cured me of being a clutter bug.

They were also getting too close for comfort to my paganism/polytheism materials. Pieces of me, of my interests and joys, overturned and clinically examined and tossed into a bag for the garbage bin. It was junk, but it was MY junk. I cleaned in a distant daze, and my parents were kind enough not to go for my jugular and didn’t start with “You’re always so…(quality that is disappointing)” At least not out loud.

In the solitude, I ask myself why I didn’t want them in my room. Words continue throwing themselves at me: failure, scolding, you are bad, they are always right, they don’t care what you think, weakling, emotions are weak, stop being all this emotional tear ball, disappointment, huh, it’s …you.

pill-bug-rollie-pollie-doodle-bug

I see now why they tell the clutterer to not be present during the actual clean-up. The things that comforted me, that gave me a positive feeling for a time, even since I don’t use them anymore, are picked up. They’re examined (What the hell is so special about X?). They’re tossed somewhere, to keep or not keep made by their whim, no longer quite mine. The stuff tells a story about me as a person, to have collected all this stuff. They are the ultimate disinterested readers, out to find what’s exactly wrong with me in order to build some structure.

It showed me one of my fundamental faults, stagnation. It replayed one of the scripts I’d built into my head so early in life that I followed the directions long after the words were spoken. Now it’s played loud enough for my mind to hear the negative, self-criticism. I’ve been alive long enough to finally have the mental space to say, “I’m not…just this.”

To cap that emotional shanking, the coincidental timeliness of posts on the gifts of Loki and Disciplina tell me that this is something to gain from this all. I should be happy about this. If I say I’m happy about this, can we move on and I never make a mistake again? 😦

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Pagan Blog Project: A is for A Sense of Place

Today I read a Seattle Times article bragging “If you weren’t born here, you’ll never be one of us.” I read one just like it a couple years ago, and another one a couple years from THAT. It makes me sigh because if the author was really exercising the nature-loving, homebody Pacific Northwest traits, the article would have started and ended at, “I was born here.” Good, now keep that to yourself.”

The comments following the article became a who-was-born-here-first tennis match. Everyone agreed the native Northwest tribes like the Duwamish were here first…and then they get back to arguing.

Still, the article got me to thinking about my own little slice of earth here in Washington.  I live in one of those old rambler homes that sacrificed house size for lot size, so my backyard is part lawn, part jungle, and very green.

Backyard 2

There’s an enormous evergreen tree straddling the line between my yard and the neighbor’s yard, which is a sudden 8 feet lower than my lot. It’s held up by stubborn tree will and prayers, since if it crashes down me and/or my neighbor are screwed.  I consider this tree the representative of the land. This may sound odd, but I feel more wariness toward the smaller spirits of the lot than this massive one. At least this one I always know where it is, right?

Backyard 1

This place is my home base. Despite how long I’ve lived here, I am still learning about the spirits of place here.  Some things I have learned about the relationship between me and the land:

-I’m attracted to the concept of growing my own food. Not because I’m a hedgewitch (I have no strong inclination toward it), but for basic survival.  The ground is wonderfully fertile here.  I managed to grow four tiny onions last year. More like onion bombs; I had to flee the room after cutting one of them and rinse my eyes out.

-My closest animal allies appear to be insects and some birds.  When I have addressed the spirits of the land, I found a few more bees around me afterwards, including one quite large that I hadn’t seen before or since. Birds like chickadees and robins hang around my lot more often too.  I’m pretty chill with honey bees, and will plant more bee-favorite flowers/crops this spring.  I even had a wasp neighbor that used my yard as a watering hole. Really!

-Though I live on this land and get to reap the fruits (literally) of its abundance, the relationship between me and the other spirits is one of caution and wariness.  Blackberry bushes have owned much of the yard before it was cleared out, day by day, by me and my brother. They’re still around, and sometimes I really do feel Their eyes on me, especially if I’m in the yard as it’s getting dark. They spread their runners everywhere, their stems grow at near 90 degree angles for maximum entanglement. Their thorns will snatch at you when you cut them down.  I fight fair; when I do clear them out, it’s with a blade and not chemicals.

-I’m still juggling the sense of land spirits with the Canaanite gods.  The land spirits were here first, so it seems that when I have given thanks to Ba’lu Hadad for his rains, or Athtar for helping maintain the cultivated side of the land, there’s an affronted ‘what about Us?’ Well, I think I could thank Them more properly as well if I didn’t feel so scattered and ignored addressing Them!

-Since I started disposing of my olive oil offerings in the yard, I’ve included the land in gratitude. Standing on the hill edge, smelling the wet leaves, I get the sense of timelessness, of standing on ground on borrowed time. Other things crawling just beneath my feet, me scurrying from work to home on the skin of the Earth.  I think that the land is getting more familiar with me, not just as an intruder in spring and summer. I still have to cut those blackberry bushes again…

So, that author might have been onto something with the Pacific Northwest character.  The land spirits ARE there, but keeping to themselves. Well, even if I’m not always welcome (especially when I bring my shears out), I can be a little more neighborly.


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Waking up to 2015

starting-line by Katy Peters

Hello blogging world! Where have you been? Honestly, I’ve really been under a rock. I feel like I’ve been looking at my shoelaces while a new race is starting. The starting ‘pop’ has gone off, and I’m standing in the dust. ‘Go go go!’ says my brain.

I will! Just not herpy-derpy running, despairing at how far everyone else seems to be.  Last year, I went into panic room mode: talking only to people as necessary, doing my offerings/devotions to the Iluma haphazardly (but daily!).  I lost an entire month’s pay when a new recipe for my meds got tweaked just a little bit, sending my blood pressure and anxiety through the roof.

I had retreated to pencil and paper notes, recording my observations of the deities and my practice to my spiritual journal. By the time I had finished writing, my energy and drive to rewrite it for this blog was gone. So, I plan to simply write my drafts here and post it, kicking the Editor aside.

The founder of the Pagan Blog Project has decided to move on from the project after 2014.  The mantle was taken up to continue this community spirit of pagan blogging with The Pagan Experience. I’m hoping that the new format will shake things up a little bit for me, get me to post more, even just for my own posterity.  And thanks to my friend Habbalah from Pagan Forum, I’m drawn to talk about my spiritual journey out loud, instead of meandering silently like I always do.

There’s one adversary I always have.  It’s not the most powerful, but it is the most cunning, because of all circumstances that happen in my life, when trouble comes knocking, this adversary…is knocking from the inside.  Myself.

And right now that adversary says I’m falling behind, and it’s not worth putting the effort to struggle and make noise. So for right now, my only resolution today is to accept where I am, all of the fears and procrastination and shifty-eyed parts of me.  Because from there, I will know where to start. And gods and Iluma willing, I’ll make a better stand for what I want and how I live.

Peace, and shalamu

M., aka Turningtides


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Where am I?

I wonder if it’s just the nature of April and May, for these months have always been the busiest for me.  Perhaps that makes sense, since I work for a school district.  For almost two  months I was waking up at 5 a.m. to be at work by 6:30 am, which only proved to me that I am not a morning person!  I was also getting paid a lot more money that I normally earn as a para-educator, so I made those 6:30 mornings.

Now, I’m asleep by 11pm and find waking up at 7 a.m. to be “late”…even if I have nowhere to go. 😀

In the midst of that work, my blogging/writing and devotions fell hard by the wayside.  The Pagan Blog Project is on the letter L. The letter I last worked on was C for cleromancy,  yikes.  The guilt of not praying and putting offerings to the ‘Iluma kept chewing on me.  I finally went to my notebook, and wrote out that these offerings have to be relatively easy for me to do; they must not draw undue attention (because my family is Catholic, and would pack me off to the next church meeting they could find); must be easy to dispose off; and be a resource I can get consistently.

This winnowed down my choices to two: incense and olive oil!  I’ve been doing this new schedule for about 2 weeks, and so far it seems to have been accepted by the ‘Iluma. I think this is so because the very first morning I gave an offering of olive oil, the teacher I worked with for that day actually stopped to tell me, “You should get back into teaching.”  Seriously! Perhaps the teacher always thought this, or meant to tell me some time in the future, when the class wasn’t so hectic.  But, there it was, a signpost that may possibly(?) be pointing toward a career, not just a job.  Actually getting on that track is another story…

So I’ve been getting my ‘pagan fix’ by doing lots of small things.   From reading on Sannion and Lupus‘s blogs, the Polytheistic Leadership Conference sounds amazing, and it’s happening on my birthday no less <3.  Making small, daily offerings to the Canaanite deities.  I’ve also got projects in mind:

-creating prayer beads for the gods to use as a devotional object

-making a small symbol (the kappu) to bless my car (much like Catholics  hang rosaries on their rear-view mirror)

-and possibly one to wear discreetly all year

-make anointing oil to cleanse myself of khat’sa

-write new prayers/UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis) for the ‘Iluma

-meditation with the Phoenician alphabet runes I made a few months ago; if I don’t connect with them, I’ll have to put them aside and try a different system.  Then again, I don’t know if divination is my strength, compared to writing and making stuff with beads.

May the Gods bless you on your path! Shalamu.

 


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Khats’a, and a Window with a View

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Arles-abadia-3.jpg

Image from Wikipedia Commons.

Today I decided to set my ass down and actually talk to the Deities that I’ve been trying to speak-with-and alternatively-push-away.  (I keep my very, VERY beginner invitations to ‘Ilu and ‘Athiratu, the Father and Mother of the Canaanite pantheon, the Divine Assembly, to ‘Anatu (the Warrior Goddess and Whose Name scared me so many years ago…and then became the first clue that led me to learning about Them), and Choranu…who seems interested in me for His own reasons.

I’m wondering if my avoidance issues are partly hormonal or chemical, because this backing-away crashes a lot of my life. The general impression I received from speaking with Them was that it was ridiculously easy to accrue khats’a, which in Canaanite religion is regarded as ‘sin’.* Not the ‘sin’ of Christianity, where sinning equals disobedience equals spiritual and eternal death (thanks, Christianity…). But sin as in imbalance of the self and/or soul.  As Tess Dawson writes in The Horned Altar (p. 27),

The Canaanite concept of sin implied that the order of the universe had gotten out of alignment: someone tweaked nature or community the wrong way, or a person had committed a baneful act. The Canaanite concept differs in nuance from the modern Christian idea of disobedience to the church. Khats’a–sin, transgression, or misdeed–results from cause and effect: you commit a wrongdoing, and entropy results.  Although punishment can follow from committing a misdeed, any ill effects usually come of natural cycles.  Correcting the wrongdoing or performing certain activities restores balance, exorcises the pollution, and restores “beauty”.

In the Catholic school I went to, we had our First Confession with the priest.  We could sit face-to-face with him, or go sit behind a screen for some anonymity and privacy.  It was rather formulaic: we had to recall our sins (or think really really hard on what qualified as sin!), and as penance, the priest often gave us a certain number of Hail Marys (or the Marian prayer at the end of the Rosary, the Hail Holy Queen) to recite.  All the way to eighth grade, it was some variation of the same theme.  Did it bring peace of mind and soul? It did.  Did it mean I would never ever sin again, and be good with God forever? Hardly…  This “Confess and recite X number of prayers” did its job in introducing the idea of recognition and rectitude of spiritual imbalance to a seven-year-old.

As an adult, I think of it as a window getting cloudy. Did that window get cloudy from the general comings-and-goings of life?  Did it get cloudy from me throwing dirt or other objects at it in anger/frustration/resentment?  Did it get cloudy because I neglected to clean up after myself where I could?  The difference then is that I developed a near-panicked desire to always keep my window clean, and the first new splotch of dust signaled how unworthy and disgusting I was to God.  Nowadays, I look at it as how I would look at cleaning my own body, or brushing my own teeth or something just as mundane.  The ideal would be to always be clean. But having to attend to a dirty dish, or a dirty body by cleaning doesn’t mean that I am forever a horrible, disgusting creature. Just clean up! How and why the window got dirty, to me, equates to the situation at hand. Spraying Windex on a window is different from having the window shatter and replacing it.  In both situations, action is necessary because leaving it as it is means imbalance.  However, taking the action does not demean the God, or the human trying to return to a right relationship with Them. At least, that is my thought so far.

Through actions (good and bad), and daily living, the miasma of khat’sa clings to everyone.  And as for me, it appears I accrue khats’a like a white shirt at a tomato spaghetti luncheon.  I thanked the Deities and asked Them to help me with living in right accordance, to clean my ‘window’ to Them.

Right after giving my offerings to Them, my brother decided to visit and help mow my lawn.  Right after THAT, my father wanted to come to my house and re-landscape the way he wanted it to look–tear down the old fence and make way for a fresh image.  I grumbled and muttered through the serene Saturday being turned into a construction day, but at the end of it, the yard looked better, if a little ragged at the edges. It also made me wonder if this was a result of talking with the Deities today.

If I had known that there was going to be large-scale earth-moving and weed pulling, I would have told the land and house spirits before my family came over.

Which brings me to another dilemma about myself that I’ll cover in a different post: what kind of pagan am I?

*Excerpt from The Horned Altar.


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Looking for Pagans in Seattle

One thing about being an Eclectic/Christopagan is not having a Pagan (usually Wiccan) community to visit.  Seattle and the surrounding cities actually have various Pagan/Wiccan/Eclectic groups practicing and meeting all year long.  There’s been at least one obstacle that I see and say “Nope, can’t do it.”

1. Too Far Away!  I have a little car that can get me between work and back.  It’s 12 years old and on its last legs, but it works for me.  Many of the events are actually held out in nature…which unfortunately, is not so much in downtown Seattle.  It would be cool to go to a weekend ritual held by Our Lady of the Earth and Sky in Redmond but not so great if my car breaks down there, which is way out of my way. Because…

2. I’m Still in the Broom Closet.  I’m already in one too many closets as it is.  My family doesn’t like it when anyone rocks the boat–socially, politically or ye gods, spiritually.  Opposition is ferocious.  For a long time, they thought the only religions in the world were Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  Because anything else is clearly satanism…right…

3.  Strangers or Family?  The groups I’ve researched around the Puget Sound area seem to be very close, and not really set up for seekers that are testing out the spiritual waters.  From attending the beginner’s classes in Wicca, they are very friendly. It just seems that I don’t have the time to visit and study with them…

…Of course, these are just as much excuses as they are reasons.  If I really wanted to get more involved, I would find a way.  (Other than the car issue, there is ALWAYS a way.) It’s just getting the nerve up to do so that holds me back.

Speaking of pagan community, there’s been more activity to connect and network WA state’s pagans together.  The local pagan store, Edge of the Circle Books, is hosting the beginner’s classes about Wicca again this month.  There’s also the Puget Sound Pagan Resource Guide that went live online a few weeks ago.

I want to make this year different.  If I’m gonna make it count, I need to make the choices that show it matters to me…