bloodteethandflame

A life in threes

Category: relentless

Food for thought: a re-blog, and my spirit animals

Asbjorn Torval’s latest post on spirit animals brings up some good points regarding spirit animals, personal bias and what he terms ‘power play’ when considering why there are so many folks who choose wolves and bears as their spirit animals, and yet no one seems to choose cockroaches or rats.

Why indeed, and this post has given me much food for thought regarding my own experiences in that if I were to choose a spirit animal, I would likely choose the fox, the horse, or the raven

– and yet, if I were to be honest –

The reality seems to be that my spirit animals are

 

 

Vultures

(L-R: Turkey vulture; Black vulture)

and

 

 

Possums!

(L-R: angry possum; possum ‘playing dead’)

You see, ever since I began working with Loki – and then later (and at present) Odin – my life has become overrun with vultures and possums!

Did I expect the relentless presence of vultures and possums in my life?

Well, I cannot say that I did, and yet – much like the Gods Themselves – I find that my life is full of signs of their presence at every turn.

So what have all of these interactions with vultures and possums taught me?

As many long-time followers of this blog may recall that I have written of my mundane (and spiritual) experiences with vultures, I don’t think I have ever written about my interactions with possums.

I grew up in a rather rural town in Massachusetts.  My father had quite a sizeable garden on the 1/2 acre property, and as you might imagine, I came across possums – both living and dead – quite often.

As a matter of fact, a dead possum was likely my first childhood experience with death – when, at the age of five or six years old – I found the very much dead body of a possum under an outdoor picnic table in the backyard. I remember my father explaining to me how sometimes possums would ‘play dead’ – just like I’d seen in cartoons – but that this one was really dead 😦

As well, my siblings and I would often come across live mama possums -with tiny babies – living in our root cellar, or trying to survive the winter by sneaking under the bulkhead stairs and into our basement. (I remember my older siblings and I learning to build a (humane) catch and release trap (courtesy of a Mark Trail book) for catching all the possums and other animals that snuck in, and how aggressively we competed with each other for the exciting and very honorable privilege of being the one who help our father carry the [occupied] trap into the woods to safely release whatever animal it had caught.)

But then, once I grew up and left home, I spent many years living in suburban areas and in bigger cities like Boston, Orlando, and Newark…and I didn’t see another possum for almost 25 years.

Fast forward to 2010, when my husband and I bought a house in a large Central Florida suburb…and I am telling you, I have never seen so many possums in all of my life.

In the month of July 2013 alone, I came across eight dead possums in my backyard; I swear that the vultures were bringing them – perhaps even dropping them – into my backyard, which is surrounded by a 6 foot privacy fence.  Two of them were huge- larger than each of my three full grown house-cats – and even my 75 lb Labrador retriever was afraid to go near them. (They were very dead and very heavy – and the body of one of those particularly big ones would not fit on the scoop/blade of my largest shovel.)

And nowadays, I’ve seen a few (thankfully live) possums while walking my dogs at night, either trotting down the middle of my street, or perched on my next-door neighbor’s fence or in the tree overlooking their swimming pool.

My dogs go berserk and stand out there barking at them every time one of the possums show up- but I don’t think they even blink anymore :/

~~~

 Most of those ‘What’s your Spirit Animal?’ websites (like this one) often portray Possum as a sort of trickster and problem solver:

  • Possum comes up with alternative plans for difficult situations that don’t require fighting/violence. They have an effective strategy – either by putting on an impressive display of ferocity or by playing ‘dead’ – and both strategies are indicative of one who is a master of projecting an impressive image of what they want others to see.
  • Possums are highly social with curious, inquisitive minds. They know when to run, when to hide, and when to move forward.
  • Possums are short lived creatures associated with youth and vulnerability. As a spirit animal, Possum assists those who are either young in spirit – or those who need to reconnect with their own vulnerability (or their inner child).
  • Possums are nocturnal creatures who are comfortable in the dark (in burrows underground) or in trees. Thus, Possum has strong element ties with the Earth and with trees. They have mastered navigating darkness and Possum serves as an excellent guide for those who seek to develop their navigation of darkness to uncover elusive truths, especially spiritual truths.
  • When Possum shows up – ask yourself if you are taking the right path toward your goals or if you have wandered off track. If the latter, Possum might be saying: ‘Be still and play dead’ and take some time to reflect and assess your circumstances. But likewise, Possum symbolizes to expect the unexpected and always be on the lookout for deception and lies. You are being called to challenge the status quo and outsmart the people who may wish to trick or deceive you.
  • Possum can indicate the need to be prepared for change – opportunity knocks! – but Possum’s message is one of caution: Not all is as it would seem. Some options will leave you exposed and vulnerable, while other options may divert you from your goals. Possums are creatures who look for the path of least resistance.
  • Ultimately, Possum is a survivor and the possum is a reminder that you will survive whatever threatens to overtake you, including your fears, doubts, or emotional trauma. Stay guarded, listen, and bide your time.

~~~

So, considering best laid plans and all that…

Every time I see a vulture, I take it as a reminder that I need

  • to rely on the tools given to me
  • trust in the process
  • look for opportunities to transform
  • accept that what seems like an end is not the end of the world

And, oddly enough, when I see possums, I take it as a sign that I need to:

  • Be resourceful
  • Meditate on my options
  • Learn to navigate the darkness and don’t be afraid of it
  • Learn to accept that appearances can deceive
  • Be cheerful

That being said, I think Vulture and Possum are my unexpected spirit animals

…and I imagine that they are here to stay.

 

 

 

 

 

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Indeed

There’s an interesting game going around Twitter

– and now the Internet –

that involves writing your autobiography using predictive text feature on your phone:

 

Have you played it?

This is what I got:

“I was born in the middle of a lesson but i think its not the same thing that ties into my head from the past.”

O.0

Heh.

Born in the middle of a lesson, indeed.

 

Month for Loki, Twenty-Seventh: Tipping His hand.

I’d been meaning to write about this earlier in the week, but somehow I’d never gotten around to it.

First, some background:

During my daily walks, I’ve come across some pretty strange items over the years.

I’m sure that there’s a word for it – divination through found objects – but nothing seems to capture exactly what happens.  Apantomancy comes close (as apantomancy is a form of divination through chance encounters, usually involving, though not limited to, encounters with animals) or even oryctomancy (which is divination using excavated objects), but nonetheless, I’ve found some unusual items during my daily walks.

Something I find a lot of is… playing cards.

Now I cannot express to you how often I have come across a single playing card in a random place:

  • In the middle of the woods, half-buried by leaves.
  • Floating in a drainage ditch that runs along the side of the busy road.
  • Skittering along in a light breeze across the gravel path of a New England cemetery, while my husband and I searched for the grave marker of my husband’s best childhood friend who died in 1987.
  • Folded in half and wedged between two crumbling bricks in a brick wall in the alley way behind a busy suburban restaurant – and the only reason I noticed it is because I had stepped out to get some quiet and privacy in order to make an important phone call – as I happened to be staring at that particular wall while I was waiting for the other person to pick up.
  • In the trunk of a newly delivered vehicle in a car-sales lot in Orlando – but the car only had 6 miles on it and the salesman insisted that no one had ever driven it before, as it had been delivered on a flat truck that morning from the manufacturer’s warehouse.

As well, I have had several vivid dreams over the last four years wherein Loki has shown me playing cards or made a direct reference to playing cards.

I didn’t know what to think, but it had gotten to be such a thing that I started to wonder if I should be considering these occurrences as some sort of message.

Could playing cards be used for divination?

The hell if I knew.

~~~

Such as eight months ago, I found this card:

Now while I was aware of cartomancy as a form of divination, I’d assumed that the ‘divination by cards’ definition referred exclusively to tarot cards.

Again, I wondered if there was some connection between tarot cards and playing cards, but I hadn’t thought to explore it further until that day.

I was surprised to find that playing cards and tarot decks are more closely related than I’d assumed, as according to this website, playing cards may have originally been invented as a means of divination long before people used them to play games of poker or bridge.

(The chicken or the egg…does it matter?  I didn’t know either way.)

So, I bit… what is the meaning behind the 9 of clubs?

Various websites define the clubs suit as a suit that governs finances, achievements and ideas. And 9 is the number of completion, fulfillment, unity and insight.  Most interpretations of this card focus on the concept of ‘small’ or ‘short’ as well as contentment and finality without fanfare.  9 of clubs signifies to keep your eye out for small successes, a new idea that can lead to a slight increase, or a step towards positive change.  Perhaps there will be a slight increase in pay, some progress towards a goal, the completion of a short-term plan, or the subtle end of a process.  Several describe the 9 of clubs as indicating a new friendship or taking up with a new lover.  And nearly every one of them mentions something odd:

Don’t be stubborn

And considering that, I have to laugh.

Stubborn is definitely something I can be.

And that definitely sounds like something He would say in response.

~~~

Moving onward, I found myself coming across a few more playing cards in random places while walking and cleaning house, and a few more meditation visuals and dream-sequences of Loki that featured what appeared to be references to poker, gambling and…lottery tickets.

Two weeks ago, a particular meditation visual was so strong that I suggested my husband buy a lottery ticket.

And he did.  Sort of.

He bought scratch tickets…and the theme was something along the lines of ‘Set For Life’ — referencing the game of poker, with the usual logo of lucky playing cards.

(P.S – we did not win.)

~~~

So, this past Saturday, I went to a local mystical shop.

I was looking for a particular tarot deck that I’ve been wanting for a while, but they did not have it in stock.

While I was browsing their selection of tarot decks, I noticed these ‘Lenormand’ card decks and card kits were mixed in with displays.

Although I’d heard of Lenormand, I didn’t know exactly how a Lenormand deck differed from any other tarot deck.

But according to the blurb-descriptions on several of their featured decks…

Lenormand follows the heritage of fortune telling cards based on playing card decks.

So I bought a deck designed by Ryan Edwards, called Maybe Lenormand.

The two decks – one base deck of 36 cards and 16 additional – feature these lovely Victorian-inspired line illustrations that I absolutely adore.

You know, having some delightful artwork to focus on certainly helps as I learn this new divination skill.

And so, I am exploring a new divination skill –  and perhaps that was what He was nudging me toward all along.

And here I thought He was encouraging me to play poker or gamble more.

Heh.

 

 

 

 

Month for Loki, Twenty-Sixth: Reveal (a poem)

REVEAL

(A Prayer to Be Free of Masks, [WIP])

Dear Loki

All of my life I have been wounded

By the judgments of others, the shame of others,

And I’ve been holding myself prisoner

With my own judgments, my own shame.

So I put on many masks

To hide my wounds, to hide my shame.

Masks of strength and certainty

To hide my fear and my vulnerability

Masks of indifference and anger

To hide my grief and my pain.

Help me, Loki

To set myself free.

Oh Loki

Reveal my lies to me.

Take my masks from me.

Show me my truest self

Teach me to be fearless

With no need to hide

Behind these masks.

Month for Loki, Twenty-Third: Kenning.

Inspired by Lokean Welcoming Committee’s outline of topics for Month for Loki, today’s post:

Find out some of Loki’s kennings, or other names, and what they mean. Which one(s) resonate with you the most?

Since many of Loki’s kennings resonate with me, it was difficult to choose one that resonated with me the most…but I think that there is one in particular that actually took me by surprise, and so, I am going to write about Gammleid today:

In July 2014, I took a course from Cherry Hill Seminary. This course dealt exclusively with studying the role of shapeshifting in the lore of several cultures. Though the course mainly focused on shapeshifting lore in South and Central America, the final project was to present how shapeshifting might feature in our personal spiritual practices.

Thus, I performed a personal meditation ritual in mid-July 2014 that was meant to introduce me to my ‘spirit animal guide.’

And much to my surprise, Loki showed up and suggested the vulture as the ‘spirit animal guide’ in that first meditation, and again, vultures featured in a few more interactions thereafter.

I was baffled, but like a good student, I resolved to research the connections between Loki and vultures.

Soon enough, I came upon a list of Loki’s kennings, and even more surprisingly, the kenning, ‘vulture’s path’ came up.

But oddly enough, I wasn’t able to find much scholarship that even speculated as to what this kenning might represent, until I found this:

Gammleið

This Old Norse word  is commonly translated as “vulture’s path“, i.e. Lopt “the air”

-from ÞÓRSDRÁPA  Stanza 2, verses 1-4, The Codex Regius from this site 

~~~

Meanwhile, I’d begun amassing quite a collection of vulture feathers:

– from both turkey vultures and black vultures as I began to notice quite a lot of them in my neck of the woods from late March to June of that year (2015)

And then, shortly thereafter, I read this in Dagulf Loptson’s ePub, Playing with Fire: An Exploration of Loki Laufeyjarson :

               “The name “vulture’s path” is possibly a kenning for air, which connects with another of Loki’s kennings, Loptr. However, we are left with no explanation as to why the vulture, as opposed to any other kind of aerial creature, is used to illustrate flight through the air, especially since Loki typically takes the form of a fly or a falcon. I personally feel that vulture might be associated with Loki for the following reasons.
Both vultures and ravens are well known scavengers, making them both symbols for death. It isn’t unreasonable to assume that our ancestors often saw vultures and ravens together while the birds were eating bodily remains. As Odinn is always with ravens, perhaps his blood-brother and traveling companion Loki was associated with vultures.
The vulture could also be linked to Loki…in his aspect as a god of death and cremation, as a traveler to the underworld, or as a dissolver of illusions.” *

**Cue the sound of my mind being blown**

~~~

But what did working with Vulture teach me?

On the surface, a lot of folks (including myself, at one time) see vultures as birds of the dead, and they are.  But, much like crows – another creature I associate with Loki – Vulture’s work is one of transformation, as vultures, like crows, are carrion eaters.  Ancient cultures, such as the Greeks, Assyrians and Egyptians saw the vulture as a purifying, transforming force — a creature who purifies the landscape and environment through its consumption of the dead and decaying remains.  Symbolically, carrion eaters make use what others have abandoned or cannot use, and through that process, the carrion eater ensures the continued health and life of other living things. Vulture symbolizes that process – of turning poison into medicine, death into life – and therefore, the vulture represents transformation and regeneration.  Connected to that transformative aspect, vultures can teach us that our difficulties and struggles are temporary, and that what seems like an end (death) or a loss (sacrifice) is simply a phase in the process of growth and change.

 

Hail Loki, Gammleid ❤

And of course, Hail Vulture, Resourceful One, Patient Teacher, and Master of the Skies ❤

 

~~~

*Loptson, Dagulf, Playing with Fire: An Exploration of Loki Laufeyjarson, Asphodel Press, Hubbardston, MA, published July 7, 2015; pp 57-9.

Good advice, actually:

powerreaction

Month for Loki, Twentieth: Antagonist.

an·tag·o·nist

anˈtaɡənəst/

noun

  1. a person who actively opposes or is hostile to someone or something; an adversary.

    ~~~
    There was more… an hour’s worth of sudden realizations and navel gazing lessons and what-not expressed in 1481 words.
    But…No.
    I wasn’t important for anyone to read them.
    WordPress has the hiccups….or something.
    I hit ‘post’ and suddenly I’m met with a page containing three random letters and a blinking cursor.
    So I guess it’s no context for you.
    Meanwhile, here’s an excellent article/ritual from Thenea on WordPress concerning working through shadow-self issues with assistance from your Divine Ally to face the Divine Antagonist.
    A highly recommended read.
    Please note this ritual accesses forms from Greek narratives in its structure…but you don’t need to worship Greek gods for it to function. Feel free to substitute (your Gods) *here*

    https://magickfromscratch.com/2016/09/05/a-ritual-for-working-with-the-divine-antagonist/

Month for Loki, Twelfth: Love You Madly

For the past few years, this song was on my Loki playlist.

But lately, I have come to realize that this song could easily be evocative of both of Them.

Now I don’t know so much about kissing

but I do know that I have

(at one time or another)

sat across the table from either of Them

wishing I could run.

So.

That being said

 if Loki requests that I welcome Odin as I’ve welcomed Him

Then I might as well accept that I have gone a bit mad, eh?

Because I do want to love Them madly.

(Perhaps ‘madly’ might be the only way one could love Them.)

Words fail.

~~~

As well Perfect Drug is starting to have Blood Bros overtones too…

O.o

Month for Loki, Eleventh: Burn.

Because He is the fire

He is asking me to burn.

Poem

This lovely poem was shared by a friend on my social media feed this morning, and though I was skeptical that its words ‘could change one’s life,’ I will grant that its overall message is rather profound one…and personally relevant.

(Thanks Sarah!)

~~~

THE GUEST HOUSE

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Jelaluddin Rumi,
Translation from The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks