The Nature of the Gods

My personal theological position has moved as my Craft has grown and changed, and I find that it loops around. For a long time, I identified as a hard polytheist. More recent experiences make me less sure. But ultimately, I appreciate the paradox that presents itself in so many magical traditions: one can hold multiple positions without being in a perpetual state of internal conflict. Here, I think out loud about the nature of the divine, how we experience the gods individually (and collectively), and why so many of our questions won’t ever get satisfactory answers.

Moving, Materialism, and Finding My Feet Again

58480548420__DCFD3CB4-E232-4B1E-ABF9-EFE9718B1AF7Moving teaches you a lot about yourself.

I don’t know if this is real, or what sort of metric you could even scientifically apply here, but I’ve read several times that in terms of stress moving is on par with a death in the family. I suppose that depends on who’s dead and on how far you’re going. In any case, it’s fucking stressful.

I’m feeling very unmoored, for many reasons.

Seeing all of your stuff boxed up and laying in piles really makes you consider how much it’s possible to acquire being stationary so long. I’m not even talking about the books, because, sure they’re heavy, but they’re at least relatively uniform and easy to explain. The giant pile of old program flyers from Pagan festivals collected in the last twenty years? That’s trickier. Magical tokens gifted from friends over the years, spells remnants, magicked objects that felt very necessary five years ago but aren’t so much now, and an ungodly amount of snake shed collected from outdoors and my own pet corn snake…that’s a lot harder to justify keeping. I have floppy disks containing old book of shadows information, and no way to access their content. What do I do with such things? Not only moving, but downsizing, means that some of it simply has to be let go. Along with furniture and dishes and art and hobby supplies and things that fall into more normal categories.

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Working with Personal Cycles

I’ve learned that, like the Wheel of the Year itself, my life moves in cycles. I can remember being a Blue Star Dedicant years and years ago and realizing—courtesy of my very astute teacher who told me I needed to keep track of these things, which sounds obvious now but totally was not at the time—that my interests, moods, relationship with my body, and connection to the gods all ebbed and flowed according to the seasons. I am the happiest and most ambitious over the summer. In August, I have to be mindful of depression, which will set in as school starts. Halloween is fun, but I tend to be sick or injured this time of year. December is a good time to talk to the gods and feel them most strongly in my life. Imbolc always has be gunning to start some new spiritual project that’s usually a little beyond my scope at the time. I spend too much money in May, because all of my Taurus is hanging out and I feel good about the coming time off. And so on.

Years of doing this, and I finally have a reasonably good sense of myself. I used to try to fight it, but I find that it’s easier to just flow and be patient with myself. Work isn’t going away, and neither is depression, tax season, or final exam schedules, so better to just do what I can to prepare and move through these things as gracefully as possible.

My coven has a cycle to it to: times when it’s easier to meet often, times when people need extra support, and times when I feel like the worst high priestess in the world because I have to relinquish much of the coven’s functional work to others for the sake of my mental health. It’s not a problem, but in the past it’s been very frustrating. When you don’t recognize patterns and respond accordingly, it can feel like everything is just happening to you beyond control.

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Conversion and Trauma

I turned in my first short story to my writing workshop last week. I’m new to fiction, and I had a blast writing thirteen pages (haha) about a Wiccan shopkeeper who’s lost his belief in magic.

Mostly, I wrote it to amuse myself and my friends. I knew going in that the biggest challenge would be writing a story that felt authentic without excluding my non-witch audience. How to work in community jokes and contemplations on stuff that really matters to my personal experience while not alienating a roomful of people (one of whom is responsible for my grade) who might have zero experience with any kind of Pagan anything?

The feedback was surprisingly useful, and I was pleased that they seemed to think I’d pulled off something worthwhile (or, at least, not just produced a steaming pile of garbage). As a room, however, one snag sat at the center of the critique:

“I need to know this narrator’s religious background,” said my professor.

I should add, here, that the rules of our workshop prevent the author from speaking. We’re required to listen, take notes, and be thoughtful. I was not permitted to engage and instead practiced my (still bad) poker face.

“A loss of faith narrative could be interesting, but it matters where he’s coming from. Was he raised as a witch? And, if not, what trauma led to his conversion?”

Whoa. Trauma?

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Finding Community on YouTube

I don’t know how many people are aware of this, but I got my start as a writer and Internet witch (that’s a thing, right?) on YouTube.

I was studying French in Paris in preparation for beginning graduate work in religious studies, and I was miserable. Not because I was in Paris—Paris is amazing and this was a highlight of my life—but because I’d just escaped an abusive relationship with a dude who, aside from being an asshole, also thought Wicca was stupid (I believe the word most used was “childish”).

I’d spent more than three years not practicing, barely having contact with my Pagan friends, drinking unbelievably, and abusing amphetamines when I wasn’t hysterically trying to use my GPA and academic pursuits to make myself feel like a worthwhile human being. Oh yeah, and I was cutting myself.

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