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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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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O is for — Overthinking things into the ground

I find hard to write blog posts, even for the Pagan Blog Project.  This week I’ve been troubled with how to approach the Deities. It turned out that I was trying to tackle so many things at once, and cursing myself for not being superhuman.

But, I realized I was over thinking things.  And this clip from Coming to America (ignore the ad at the end of the scene), captured my situation perfectly:

How badly was I overthinking things? I was feeling guilty because a meditation on raising energy was outside the (Canaanite) Way of Doing Things. I wanted to make and practice a divinatory rune set, but was going to ‘Canaanize’ it so that it would be pleasing to the Deities.  And I felt badly for still having a good relationship with Uriel and the other Archangels.

And because I wanted things to be Done Right, I was avoiding talking to the Gracious Gods I was working so hard to change for.

This reminds me of born-again Christians swearing off everything they were before, in order to become clean, good Christians for Jesus.

Or maybe that Significant Other than, in the honeymoon phase, does everything together and do whatever the SO wants. I’ll eat only what the Deities’ peoples ate. I’ll listen only to the kind of music the Deities would be familiar with.  I’ll do magick and prayer only the way it was done in the Late Bronze Age…

No wonder I was so wrecked. I wasn’t just trying to change a whole life in a week, I was trying to erase anything about me that wasn’t reconstructionist for the pantheon. All the while desperately hoping that They would be pleased, that a mistake wouldn’t draw disfavor…All the while, They are not getting to know me because I’m not talking to Them, but about Them…

No, no no NO NO.

I started getting the message when I would pick up the books or visit random websites (pagan and otherwise) and open to the sections that encouraged a sincere, if clumsy, heart-felt devotion more than by-the-book ritual.  Also, I did get help from the Deities, not because I had the ritual well, but because I asked for help, and They answered.

(I am not singling out the Canaanite gods or Natib Qadish.  It just happens to be mentioned here because it is the reconstruction path I have started on. )

I don’t need to change my friends (other Guardians/Deities). I don’t need to suppress the interests and things that are outside the reconstructed path.  I don’t have to do things in the Reconstructed Way.

For now, I’ll keep things simple–a candle, maybe some incense, and time to sit and talk with Them.


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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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Pagan Blog Project – N is for…Not Good Enough Syndrome

(“Frustration”, artwork by Richard Young)

Artwork by Richard Young, http://www.ryoung-art.com/Default.htm

Artwork by Richard Young, http://www.ryoung-art.com/Default.htm

Perhaps this is a condition particular to me, but in anything (and everything), I will reach a point where it seems I have an idea of knowing what I’m doing.  Then almost out of nowhere, I freeze faster than an ice cube in Antarctica.

I will find myself pulling back, thinking “Hmm, there’s something I missed. I better double-check before I go forward with this project/prayer. I don’t have the information? Or the supplies? Best to go look it up on the internet/buy it/search the library…”

Picture that there are two sides. One side–where I am–represents the current me; what I know, my daily schedule, my mundane self, the Self that sees where she wants to go, and is working toward her goals.  On the other side is where those goals are–finishing a novel, connecting with the Deities who are talking with me, getting that job, having a relationship, etc., etc.

Of course, there is this gap in the middle.  As one memorable quote I keep on my Kill Procrastination page goes, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”

That ‘something I’ve never done’ is represented by that gap.  It’s that gap where theory and understanding is put to practice–writing that paragraph, doing that dance move, filling out the job application, cooking that recipe.  That gap is where my feet leave the ground.  I want to get to that other side! But…

Is that gap a foot deep? A thousand feet deep? Whatever it is, I don’t want to fall into it.
Without a WORD, because my subconscious/unconscious is sneaky like that, I find myself backing away. I retreat into a “need more X” of everything. I can say I’m gathering up the courage to build a bridge, but wood and nails piling up in a neat corner is NOT a built bridge.  Then my frustration builds because I know there is something I want, and I know, intellectually, the steps in the everyday world that I need to take. (Fill out the application, make dinner, call a friend, write a page, etc., etc.).

I find myself doing that in my practice to honoring the Deities.  Currently on a revivalist/reconstructionist path, I’m paralyzed with the fear that I’m Not Doing It Right.   “The Head Priest/Priestess of X Gods has to do so much in his/her day just to greet the Deities! How am I even supposed to compare to that?  What I know/do is so little, it’s practically worthless.” I’m so paralyzed that instead of going ahead and letting the experience or the Gods teach me what I should do, I simply don’t go. Better to talk about Them than to Them, because the Gods will forbid me from ever speaking to Them again if I…blunder in my myriad ways, thanks to being a squishy, fallible human being.

This is what’s ridiculous.  I reach a point where I will have to start taking ownership (responsibility) for my decisions and actions before Gods and men, and I choke.

So this is my message to my SELF, and anyone who needs the clue-by-four when your life feels stuck in neutral and you haven’t shifted the gears to get yourself going again:

You cannot wait for the Perfect Moment.  You will make mistakes and THAT IS OK.  For as long as you’re alive, you are GOOD ENOUGH.