First Devotional

I did my first Devotional today.

I feel very relaxed afterward, even if I felt a little clumsy and intrusive during the ritual itself.

I cleansed the area I was working in (my apartment patio) with a sage smudge stick, asking for guidance while I worked.

I’m sure I got something out of order, because I wasn’t sure if I setup my offerings before or after opening the Gate. I opened it first, filled the bowl with water, lit the candle, acknowledge my stand-in tree, and then burnt the offering of incense.

I babbled to Heimdall, or any ancestors or other spirits who may have been willing to listen the entire time. I went with Heimdall because the Norse pantheon spoke to me the most while I was reading up on things, and maybe it spoke a bit louder because according to a DNA test that’s where the bulk of “me” comes from.

What little I know so far leads me to believe that Heimdall sees a lot – if not everything – if I was going to be a tiny little unsure speck in the vastness I wanted to make sure someone who was good at noticing could hear me.

I spoke about my concerns, about my desire to honor the gods, to honor the cosmos, to honor life. I spoke about how clumsy and unsure I was, and I asked for guidance and help in this journey so that I could both grow and be useful in whatever capacity I could.

Finally, after I felt calm I listened for a few long moments. The clouds blocked the sun, the wind blew – it didn’t feel like a bad omen, there was something comforting about it. More like I was being protected by the clouds and that stale air was being blown away to make room for something new, or different. Something came across my vision, a bird of some kind, but I couldn’t open my eyes to see it until it had left.

I drew three runes and set them in front of myself.  I don’t know any of the runes off the top of my head so I had no idea what I was looking at. I forgot to thank everyone for their help (I think, I might have said something but I don’t remember right now). I took a sip from the bowl because it seemed right to share it and be a part of it – I don’t even know why I did it, other than it felt the thing to do.

I put out the candle, poured the bowl out, and let the incense be. I closed the gate and sat on the patio for a long moment before pulling out a book to see what my runes might mean in relation to what I talked about and felt.

runes

The first is how they came out, the second is just flipping over the one that was face down.

The first is Naudhiz which according to Taking Up The Runes is a sign of frustrations, blocks, but may also be hopeful as a chance for growth and change.

This makes sense to me because I was frustrated and blocked coming into the my first devotion. I felt lost and was stumbling because of that. Outside of the immediate however, I have personally felt a bit off. Not horribly so, but enough that I’ve been questioning if my art is really the way to go for me. This run makes me feel like I need to persevere in both endeavors, and that there will be times when neither will be easy, but the rewards for my self, my spirit and my life will be worth it.

Next was Othala, and it was face down AND upside down. I’m not sure how to take that at this point, if I should’ve read it differently, but we’ll see. According to the book it’s basically full of meaning – from one’s place in their family or community, to their place in a group or with the land or even to their inheritance (be it land, psychological, physiological, etc), or inner nature and essence.

I’m cemented soundly in my family, always have been. Community maybe a bit less, but I’ve the desire to improve on that especially as of late. I’m not sure about the inheritance, but to me the inner nature and essence just kind of leaped out at me.

It was upside down and turned over, in a knot, like I am. I’m walking along to find myself and to figure out where I fit and how I can be a better me, and it’s like the path solidifies when I plant my foot, but I’m never really sure where to plant it, and the path keeps shifting and changing while I’m trying to make up my mind.

But I’m going to find it, this is the feeling I get from Othala – that I’m tending to things and there’ll be a learning curve, but this is my center, my inheritance, and I’m making my way toward it even if I’m stumbling along the way.

Finally I drew Jera and it’s meaning is summer, the year, the movement of time and the flow of energy.

Jera to me is the last nail I needed. It’s the reassurance that I will find my flow – it’s reassurance that devoting a Year to walking the ADF path was the correct way to go. It quietly assures me that this is the correct path, while affirming that the result will be equivalent to what I give. I can’t just half-ass this and expect a ginormous return.

And maybe – though this might just be me being dramatic – Jera gives me the sense that I have a natural gift for the Flow. Maybe not in manipulating it, but in seeing it and knowing that it exists. That there’s definitively this cosmic connection from star to planet to person to bug to death to life and it’s not necessarily in that /order/, that there’s not exactly an order at all, but it’s all connected. That we’re all bits of billions of stars that are bits of us and there’s this heart beat if you can just hear it.

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Some Light Reading

I’m beginning to wonder if I’m ever going to sleep again!

But, busy is good and I’m okay with it. So I haven’t kept pace with my #Blaugust stuff, but to be fair it’s been a crazy week and I’m just happy I haven’t dropped the ball on a drawing a day stuff as of yet.

For right now, I’ve got 460 page book to devour – and I say devour because not even 6 pages into it and I’m finding it’s dangerously hard to put down. It was recommended to me, and I recommend it to you, whoever you are. Margot Adler’s Drawing Down The Moon is a very well-written, and easy to read, book. It covers a lot of stuff about Paganism, Neo-Paganism, and it’s place in this modern world.

Even if you’re not taking a Journey to find your own spirituality it’s still worth the buy in my opinion. It’s a practical look things – neither overtly praising or demeaning of any given religion. Be prepared though, it’s dense. I stand by the fact that it’s easy to read, but there’s a LOT there.

Two other books I’m planning on devouring once I’m done with the first are Bonewits’s Essential Guide to Druidism, and Taking Up The Runes. Mostly because I’m deeply interested in Druidism – and Adler’s book focuses more on Witchcraft than the other Neo-Pagan ideals (I don’t yet know why, but I imagine it had to do with access), and also because the concept of Runes has been a draw for me since I was very young.

There’s just something… connective about them.

Anyway, I’ll try to read them as quick as I can, and subsequently share my thoughts on them here. I’m rather excited, it’s been a long time since I’ve had the access and drive to dive into religion and spirituality, and if I’m really lucky I’ll find what I’ve been looking for finally.

Thoughts: The Egg

I think the most comforting thing about Andy Weir’s short story The Egg, is that it really puts into perspective the absurdity of gender, age, race, religion, income, etc. To be every life is to finish your journey understanding how the victim feels, how the perfect criminal feels, how the officer feels – the burden of the judge, the fractured mind of the grieving parents, the perfect calm of the enlightened mind.

By the time your journey was done you’d know the reasoning behind every decision, every choice. You’d understand regret, and pride, and shame, and love – You’d know them from  the eyes of a child, teenager, woman, man, disabled, sick, mental, successful, downtrodden life to ever live. You’d know the world from nobility – from assigned love, to finding and connecting with someone within seconds. You’d know the world from poverty.

You’d experience starvation, opulence, death while in the womb, and life after the turn of two centuries. You’d know the pleasure of advanced technology and knowledge, and the pleasures of living slower in solitude barely aware of the existence of others.

You’d be connected, and spurned. Filled with rage, and spilling over with love.

But as essentially the same person – the same soul – then you’d never be apart from the ones you love and care for. You would hug and comfort every part of yourself and support you as you grew.

 

But I think, best of all, you’d live – once born – without fear. You would have faced every fear, every concern, every possibility. Nothing would be extreme as you would’ve been the extremist on both sides of all the debates. There’s a comfort in that, that is to me almost more comfortable than the idea that we’re connected molecularly – that the only person you’ve harmed is yourself.

Which, in that thought, wouldn’t you stop?

Egg

This is something you’ll see me come back to quite often.
Best to put it here for now.

The Egg

By: Andy Weir

 

You were on your way home when you died.

It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.

And that’s when you met me.

“What… what happened?” You asked. “Where am I?”

“You died,” I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.

“There was a… a truck and it was skidding…”

“Yup,” I said.

“I… I died?”

“Yup. But don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies,” I said.

You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. “What is this place?” You asked. “Is this the afterlife?”

“More or less,” I said.

“Are you god?” You asked.

“Yup,” I replied. “I’m God.”

“My kids… my wife,” you said.

“What about them?”

“Will they be all right?”

“That’s what I like to see,” I said. “You just died and your main concern is for your family. That’s good stuff right there.”

You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn’t have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it’s any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.”

“Oh,” you said. “So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?”

“Neither,” I said. “You’ll be reincarnated.”

“Ah,” you said. “So the Hindus were right,”

“All religions are right in their own way,” I said. “Walk with me.”

You followed along as we strode through the void. “Where are we going?”

“Nowhere in particular,” I said. “It’s just nice to walk while we talk.”

“So what’s the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won’t matter.”

“Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don’t remember them right now.”

I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. “Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It’s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it’s hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you’ve gained all the experiences it had.

“You’ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for long enough, you’d start remembering everything. But there’s no point to doing that between each life.”

“How many times have I been reincarnated, then?”

“Oh lots. Lots and lots. An in to lots of different lives.” I said. “This time around, you’ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD.”

“Wait, what?” You stammered. “You’re sending me back in time?”

“Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.”

“Where you come from?” You said.

“Oh sure,” I explained “I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know you’ll want to know what it’s like there, but honestly you wouldn’t understand.”

“Oh,” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.”

“Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s happening.”

“So what’s the point of it all?”

“Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? You’re asking me for the meaning of life? Isn’t that a little stereotypical?”

“Well it’s a reasonable question,” you persisted.

I looked you in the eye. “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.”

“You mean mankind? You want us to mature?”

“No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.”

“Just me? What about everyone else?”

“There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, there’s just you and me.”

You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on earth…”

“All you. Different incarnations of you.”

“Wait. I’m everyone!?”

“Now you’re getting it,” I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.

“I’m every human being who ever lived?”

“Or who will ever live, yes.”

“I’m Abraham Lincoln?”

“And you’re John Wilkes Booth, too,” I added.

“I’m Hitler?” You said, appalled.

“And you’re the millions he killed.”

“I’m Jesus?”

“And you’re everyone who followed him.”

You fell silent.

“Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “you were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you.”

You thought for a long time.

“Why?” You asked me. “Why do all this?”

“Because someday, you will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my child.”

“Whoa,” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?”

“No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.”

“So the whole universe,” you said, “it’s just…”

“An egg.” I answered. “Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.”

And I sent you on your way.